Hot Water Cornbread

 

This is another favorite from my childhood. It’s a Southern classic. My Dad used to add in shredded sharp cheddar cheese, minced onion, and minced jalapenos to his hot water cornbread mixture before frying. Experiment with the add-ins. The possibilities are endless. I like my hot water cornbread simple, plain. I’ve been known to dip mine in ketchup, but others like them drizzled with honey are maple syrup. They go great with a nice pot of pinto beans.

Hot Water Cornbread

2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 cups boiling water
oil for frying

Add about an inch of oil to a cast iron skillet. Heat oil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well. Let the mixture cool slightly. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape into patties by forming a ball with about 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture and then flattening it into a 1/2-inch patty with your fingers. Fry the patties in the hot oil in small batches, turning often until golden on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

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Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

This Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie is so quick and easy. There is also minimal cleanup involved. Yay! The cookie comes out soft and delicious. It is awesome on its own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Cast iron skillets come in a variety of sizes and are usually numbered. The skillet number is often marked on the bottom of the skillet or on the handle. The numbers range from 0 – 20. The 0 skillet in tiny, while the 20 skillet is humongous (and hard to find). The numbers are not universal and depends on the cast iron skillet’s manufacturer. I have a vintage number 8 (which is about 10 1/2 inches in diameter) and a Lodge number 10 (which is about 12 inches in diameter). For this recipe, you want a basic 10 – 10 1/2 inch cast iron skillet.

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2  large eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Melt the butter in a number 8 cast iron skillet (which is about 10 1/2 inches in diameter) over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix well. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture in the skillet. Mix well. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and spread the dough evenly in the skillet.

Place in the preheated oven. Bake 25 minutes at 350º F, or until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool about 15 minutes before slicing.


Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto

Risotto takes a little time, but is very easy to make (and hard to mess up) and it always seems to impress. You can add a variety of ingredients to a basic risotto recipe to create endless combinations. Shrimp is my favorite, but I also like mushroom, or a combination of fresh vegetables. It’s a great way to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your menu. Asparagus and baby peas in the spring. Corn, tomato, and zucchini in the summer. Wild mushrooms in the fall. Winter squash in winter. It’s all good.

Shrimp Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1 pound shrimp
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced (or substitute 1 small onion, finely chopped)
½ cup dry white wine (or vegetable broth)
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons heavy cream (half and half will work too)
salt and pepper

Have the vegetable broth simmering in a pot close-by before you begin.

In a large skillet with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the arborio rice and sauté with the shallots, stirring often, until the rice starts to get some color, about 5 minutes. Carefully add the white wine (or vegetable broth) slowly, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Once the rice has absorbed the wine (or broth), add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, continuing to stir often. Continue to add the broth (about ½ cup at a time) as the rice absorbs the liquid and the pan becomes dry, until all the broth is absorbed. This should take about 20 minutes (the risotto will become creamy). About 3 to 4 minutes before the risotto is done (about the time you add the last bit of broth), add the shrimp and cook until pink. Stir in the butter, Parmesan, and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Top each serving with additional Parmesan cheese.


Stacked Enchiladas

This is one of my go-to meals when I don’t feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. New Mexican-style stacked enchiladas are super easy, inexpensive (less than $5 for the whole meal), fast (20 minutes from start to finish), and delicious. I serve the enchiladas with black beans, which meshes really well with the enchilada sauce.

Stacked Enchiladas

3 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 cups water
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

oil
corn tortillas (3 or 4 per person)
shredded cheese (I used cheddar, Monterrey jack, or a Mexican blend)

To make the enchilada sauce:  Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the ground cumin and garlic powder. Gradually whisk in the 1 1/2 cups of water. Continue to whisk as the sauce thickens. Add the can of tomato sauce and season with salt. Reduce the heat to low and keep the sauce hot, stirring occasionally, as you prepare to make the enchiladas.

To make the enchiladas:  Heat about an inch of oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Briefly fry the corn tortillas until they are soft, but not crispy. Remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.

To assemble the enchiladas:  Put a large spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of the hot enchilada sauce on a plate. Top with a softened corn tortilla. Top with another spoonful of hot enchilada sauce, making sure the whole tortilla is covered, and sprinkle with shredded cheese (about 2 tablespoons). Layer with another softened tortilla. Repeat the process….sauce, cheese, tortilla…..until you have a stack that contains 3 or 4 corn tortillas total. Finish the last tortilla/enchilada stack with more sauce and a little more cheese. Serve immediately.


Sheet Pan Dinner: Panko-Crusted Chicken and Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Sauce

This is a fairly quick meal that is sure to impress. I love the garlic-y roasted broccoli. I use the Very Hot Crushed Red Pepper from Penzeys and it definitely has a kick. The Parmesan Sauce makes this meal extra special. Serve it with a tossed salad.

Panko-Crusted Chicken and Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan Sauce

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the broccoli:
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

For the Parmesan Sauce:
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Combine the melted butter and mustard in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, combine the panko and grated Parmesan cheese. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dip the chicken in the butter-mustard mixture and then dredge in the panko-Parmesan mixture. Make sure the chicken is evenly coated. Place on one half of the foil-lined baking sheet. Set aside while you prepare the broccoli.

Place the broccoli florets in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Place the seasoned broccoli on the other half of the baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet with the chicken and broccoli in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the chicken and broccoli are browned. You want the chicken to be cooked through and the broccoli to be tender.

While the chicken and broccoli are in the oven, make the Parmesan sauce.  Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the milk, a little at a time. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. Whisk in the grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until the chicken is ready.

Serve the chicken and broccoli with the Parmesan sauce.

 


Quick Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Quick Broccoli and Cheese Soup

So, Publix had 8 ounces packages of Kraft shredded cheeses on sale for $1.40 this past sales cycle. That’s the lowest price I have ever seen for them. I may have gone a little crazy and bought more shredded cheese than I needed. My cheese drawer is stuffed. I’m pretty sure my family thinks I have a problem.

This morning my plan was to come home after I dropped the kidlet off at school and work on an online class I need to finish before heading to work. Instead I made this Quick Broccoli & Cheddar Soup for breakfast. I used some of the cheese! Priorities.

Quick Broccoli and Cheese Soup

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth is fine too)
1 10 – 12 ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli (cuts & florets are fine too)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus a little more for garnishing (I like mild cheddar)
1 cup half & half or milk
salt and pepper, to taste

In a small soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and let cook for a minute. Whisk in the broth, a little at a time, until smooth. Add the frozen broccoli. If I am using frozen broccoli cuts or florets, I will run a knife through them to make the pieces smaller before adding them to the soup. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, stirring often. Whisk in the cheese and then add the half & half. Warm through and then turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional shredded cheddar cheese for garnish.


Pinto Bean Burgers

I keep a well-stocked pantry. I almost always have a variety of canned beans on hand for quick meals. One can easily prepare bean burgers using canned beans in about 30 minutes. Bean burgers can be made with almost any type of beans (I’ve made them with black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black eyed peas, lentils, and pintos). By switching up the type of beans, condiments, spices, and additions, bean burger variations are limitless. You will never be bored with this vegetarian meal.

Pinto Bean Burgers

1 15.5 ounce can pinto beans, drained
1/2 small onion, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs

butter

hamburger buns
condiments and toppings of choice

In a bowl, coarsely mash the pinto beans with a fork or potato masher. Add the onion, jalapeno, BBQ sauce, spices, and beaten egg. Mix well. Add the bread crumbs, a little at a time, until the mixture can be shaped into a patty. You don’t want it to be too moist, but you don’t want it falling apart. Divide the mixture into 4 – 6 equal portions, depending on how hearty you want the pinto bean burger to be. Shape each portion into a patty (roll mixture into a ball and then press down gently with fingers, turning to ensure evenness, to flatten).

Melt some butter (about 2 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pinto bean burger patties and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Melt a slice of cheese on the tops of the burgers, if you wish. Serve the burgers with toasted hamburger buns and condiments and toppings of your choice.