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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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.


Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie is great for a light lunch or dinner. Since it is very quiche-like, it is also perfect for breakfast. No matter what meal you eat it for, it is sure to become a favorite. Jazz it up with the addition of herbs. Basil, cilantro, or oregano are all delicious additions to this pie.

Slice of Savory Zucchini Pie

Savory Zucchini Pie

1 prepared pie crust (I just use store-bought)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium-sized zucchini, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded cheese (I like a combo of cheddar and mozzarella, but feel free to use your favorite cheese)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, stirring often. Add the sliced zucchini and continue to sauté until tender. Add the shredded carrot and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Combine the beaten eggs, cheese, and a little more salt and pepper together. Add the egg and cheese mixture to the zucchini mixture. Pour into the pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean.


Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.

Shown here:  Southern-Style Green Beans alongside baked chicken and hashbrown casserole.


Jambalaya with Sausage

Once or twice a year, I am able to get sausage super cheap at Publix by pairing coupons with a sale (BOGO). I have been using http://www.southernsavers.com to match coupons with sales for years now. I think the website/app is a wonderful tool to help save lots of money. It certainly helps me stick to my grocery budget.

By getting the sausage for a steal, I was able to make this batch of Jambalaya with Sausage for under $5. Thrifty. It’s a super easy recipe that makes plenty to have again another day.

Using the frozen vegetable seasoning blend is very convenient and helps get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Great for a weekday meal.

Jambalaya with Sausage

12 ounce package rope sausage (I used Hillshire Farms Beef Smoked  Sausage, but Andouille sausage would be perfect)
10 ounce package frozen vegetable seasoning blend (I used Publix brand with onions, celery, sweet red & green peppers, and parsley)
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
2 cups long-grained white rice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon your favorite Cajun seasoning mix (homemade or store-bought)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste

Slice the sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Cook over medium-high heat in a large soup pot until evenly browned. Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add the frozen vegetable seasoning blend to the hot sausage drippings. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning mix, and cayenne to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low. Cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid has cooked out. Fluff with a fork and serve.


Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

I bought a spiralizer at a school fundraiser yard sale for $1 and now that it is summer and zucchini is pleniful, it’s a perfect time to use it to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).

I haven’t had much luck with growing zucchini in my garden. This year, I planted some zucchini in a bucket on my deck and so far have only gotten 2 zucchini from it. They were kind of funky-looking, but tasted great as zoodles.

I have worked on perfecting my Peanut Sauce for years and I think I have finally nailed it. This stuff is great on all kinds of noodles (rice noodles, spaghetti, zoodles, etc…) and as a sauce for grilled chicken (think Satay) and Summer Rolls.

The Peanut Sauce recipe includes a paste made from a clove of garlic. This is an excellent tutorial on how to make garlic paste with a knife. This is how I do it:

Zoodles with Peanut Sauce

Special tool needed:  spiralizer

1 tablespoon (or less) of mild-tasting oil (I used canola)
4 medium-sized zucchini, ends trimmed, spiralized
1 carrot, peeled and grated
prepared Peanut Sauce (recipe below)

fresh cilantro
crushed peanuts

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spiralized zucchini and shredded carrots and cook, tossing often with tongs, until tender (but not mushy). Turn off the heat and add the peanut sauce to the zoodles. Toss to coat. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced and made into a paste with the side of the knife’s blade (see tutorial video above)
1 – 2 teaspoons sriracha
juice of 1/2 lime
warm water (about 1/2 cup)

Combine the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic past, sriracha, and lime juice. Add water, a little at a time, until you reach a somewhat thick, but pourable consistency. You want it just so that it coasts the noodles but isn’t too thick or too thin. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.


Summer Squash and Corn Casserole

Summer Squash and Corn Casserole 2

Squash Casserole is a Southern staple. This is the best one I have ever made. Ever. I went all out with the addition of mayonnaise, sour cream, and lots of cheese, foregoing previous attempts at trying to make squash casserole healthier. It tasted so good. It really needs those ingredients to make it rich and creamy. The extra calories are worth it!

I love the addition of corn. It’s sweetness compliments the squash so well. I used pattypan squash from my CSA share for this particular casserole. You could use yellow squash and/or zucchini instead (or in combination).

Summer Squash and Corn Casserole

Summer Squash and Corn Casserole

6 – 8 summer squash (yellow or pattypan), sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup breadcrumbs + 1/4 cup for topping
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cook the sliced squash in salted boiling water until tender, but not mushy, about 5 – 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander. I press the squash down with a spoon to remove as much moisture as possible.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the minced garlic and cook a few more minutes. Turn off heat.

In a large bowl combine the drained squash, browned onions and garlic, corn, mayonnaise, sour cream, breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake in the 350 oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.