Sweet Corn Bread
I mentioned in my Sweet & Smokey Chili post that I was trying to cheat and use a boxed mix to make corn bread. I was undermined by some pesky summer invaders and found our rogue box of Jiffy to be unsuitable. So what did I do? I called my mom. I was hoping she had a box of Jiffy but alas, she’s been cutting back on mixes and packaged food but she did have cornmeal. I wasn’t feeling great (hence the desire to cheat a little bit) so I walked over and grabbed the cornmeal, that beat the alternative of putting on real clothes and going to the grocery store. By real clothes, that means a bra and switching from sweatpants to yoga pants…
I’ve baked a lot of things in my short life, but cornbread from scratch was not one of them. I can’t believe I’ve never done this, its SO easy. Almost as easy as the box mix. With the addition of bacon drippings, it has to be better!
Sweet Corn Bread
- 1 1/2c Cornmeal
- 1/2c Four
- 1 1/2t Baking Powder
- 3T sugar
- 1t Salt
- 1 1/4c Buttermilk, or milk with 1T vinegar
- 1 egg
- 2T Bacon Drippings or Butter, melted
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk dry ingredients, including sugar in a bowl. Combine milk and egg and whisk. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
If using a cast iron skillet, heat bacon fat or butter on the stovetop until very hot. If using 8×8 pan, melt fat and add to pan. Add batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Adapted from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything
Sweet & Smokey Chili
Winter finally decided to show up and nothing screams winter like chili. I prefer most foods that incorporate some sort of sweet along with savory. A good friend introduced me to her grandmothers “Sweet and Sassy Chili” but it has a little too much fat and sugar for us to eat all the time. This is a tamed down version and with some added spices.
When I decided to make this, I was short on tomatoes and had no kidney beans. So this recipe is a little funny but add and modify for whatever you have in the pantry. I’d be lying if I told you that was my first bowl. It was so good I forgot to take a picture. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to have seconds.
I was going to throw together a quick cornbread mix but realized that our summer time issues with moths had rendered it useless, so I decided to venture to my parents and snag some cornmeal and make it from scratch. It was wonderful and I’ll post that recipe soon. Save some of that bacon fat if you remember
Sweet and Smokey Chili
Makes 8 servings
- 1lb Ground Beef
- 1/2lb Bacon, diced (center cut)
- 1T Bacon Drippings Reserved
- 1 Large Onion, diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 3 Cans of Beans (Black, Pinto, White), drained and rinsed
- 28oz Canned Diced Tomatoes
- 1 can Tomato Paste
- 1c Marinara or Pizza sauce mixed with 1c water (I was short on tomatoes)
- 2T Smoked Paprika
- 2T Ancho Chili Powder (or to taste)
- 1T Cumin, ground
- 1T Mexican Oregano
- 1/4c Brown Sugar
- Maple Syrup (to taste)
- Salt (to taste)
Heat a med/large Dutch oven over Med/High heat and spray with non-stick oil, I use my Misto with olive oil. Brown the ground beef until it is no longer pink. Drain (if desired) the beef and set aside.
Add bacon to pan. Cook until brown and crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and add to beef. Drain drippings except for 1 tablespoon. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add beans and tomatoes and/or tomato sauce. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan.
Add meats and all spices except for maple syrup and salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer covered for at least an hour, more is better. Taste for seasonings and add salt if needed (you might not).
To serve, top with a drizzle of maple syrup, cheddar cheese and sour cream (plain yogurt). Best with a piece of fresh corn bread.
By Kensington Button
I love to cook and I love sharing what I cook. Unfortunately I married a non-foodie. A man who really doesn’t care about what goes in his belly on a day-to-day basis. As long as he is full when it’s over, he’s pretty happy. Some people might be THRILLED to have someone so easy to please. Not if you’re a foodie. If I have to hear “it’s OK” one more time about something I slaved over… I digress… (He’s getting better about it) So I like to feed people, especially people who need it, welcome it, and appreciate it.
I have a few people in my life that could really use an easy to grab, pop it in the oven or microwave meal. I have some time on my hands and some love to give, so I have started making freezer meals and will make these slowly over the next few weeks. I have purchased a FoodSaver from a friend’s mom who was going to sell it at a garage sale. I chose to use recipes from Skinny Taste because 1. I hear her recipes are pretty tasty (I’ve finally made some and they are very tasty, although I omitted any extra salt, and they were STILL good) 2. she lists all of her nutritional information which I like to include on my labels and 3. she uses ZipList. I can pick all my recipes and add them to a shopping list. Say what? So my shopping list is done, I can even take off the stuff I already keep stocked in my pantry. I’m also a sucker for her pretty food pictures. (Excuse my not pretty pictures. I have a point-and-shoot and no natural light. Eventually I’ll drag my food to the living/dining room to get better pictures, but for now, just deal.)
I have already made simple labels, but if I’m feeling really creative, I might find some printables and make them a little fancier, but we’ll see. Neither of the recipients care about anything but whats inside the pretty package.
After selecting recipes my steps are:
- Decide which recipes I am making at one time and prep all the ingredients ahead of time. For example if both recipes need onions, chop them all at once to save time. This weekend I decided to do a lasagna and mini meatloaf muffins.
- Figure out the cooking time for each step. I don’t want to have my microwave or oven out of commission for 2 hours if all I needed to do was defrost some spinach. So I do the quick stuff first or start the sauce first if it needs to simmer for an hour on the stove top.
- Prepare according to directions.
- There are two choices here. To cook or not to cook. I have done this both ways. If you know the recipient is likely to want to just microwave and go (or there are raw eggs in the recipe), cook according to the directions. On the other hand, if you know the recipient would rather bake/broil it in the oven and have it fresh cooked, don’t cook according to directions. If you choose the latter, make sure to include all baking/cooking directions on your labels.
- So now I have baked my lasagna and my meatloaf muffins. I let all the food cool to at least room temp if not in the refrigerator overnight. This helps the vacuum sealer to not pull all the juices out of the food. If I were making a baked pasta dish, most of the ingredients would be warm, so I would still pop it in the refrigerator overnight let it solidify.
- Divide into individual servings and package for delivery. In this case I used a FoodSaver and labels. Other times I have used disposable tins that can be put directly into the oven. One other way to do it is foil or plastic wrap line your 9×12 or 8×8 dish before adding your ingredients. Freeze. Once frozen you can easily lift the food out, wrap it up, and put it in a Ziplock freezer bag or FoodSaver bag. Put the heating direction on the bag and the recipient can put the food in their own 9×12 or 8×8. If you use foil, you will have to leave it on the food. If you use plastic, you can take the plastic off before re-freezing.
That’s really it.
As far as labels go. I use the standard Avery 1×2 address labels. However, if I continue to do this for all those new mommies out there, I might start to use Photoshop and make cuter ones. I’ve noticed that the new mommies are too tired to care if their labels are fancy.
Example of a simple label
Next up in the freezer meals: Chicken Cordon Blue, Mini Egg White Muffins, and Cauliflower Mash.