Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cornbread

Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cornbread2

Make cornbread special with the addition of sweet onions. The onions caramelize and add just the right flavor to this slightly sweet cornbread. This recipe is easy enough to make anytime and is sure to impress.

Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cornbread

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium Vidalia onions (or other sweet onions like 1015s or Walla Wallas), peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet (I use a 10 1/4-inch cast iron skillet) on the stove top over medium heat. Arrange the onion slices, taking care to keep the slices intact, in the melted butter in the skillet. You can half and quarter the onion slices to fill in empty spaces. You may not use all of the onion slices. You can save leftover onions for another use or finely chop them and add them to the cornbread batter. Let the onions cook over medium heat while you prepare the batter. Do not turn the onions while they are cooking.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the milk, canola oil, and eggs with a fork. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir  until just combined.

Take the skillet off the heat. Pour the cornbread batter evenly over the onions. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25 minutes.

Carefully invert the cornbread onto a cutting board or plate.

Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil is a classic one-pot meal from the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia (the Low Country). Also known as Frogmore Stew or Beaufort Boil, Low Country Boil is a simple, yet delicious meal that is a lot of fun to eat. This particular recipe serves about 4, but by increasing the quantity of ingredients, you can feed a crowd. You can even find Low Country Boil calculators online to determine the amount of ingredients you will need to feed a particular amount of people.

This is a basic recipe, but you can do your own thing. I have seen recipes that include crabs, crab legs, clams, green beans, mushrooms, bell peppers, etc… I added mushrooms to my Low Country Boil, as seen in the picture. Serve with crusty bread and cold beer.

Low Country Boil

1 gallon water
1 lemon, halved
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into eight wedges
2 pounds baby potatoes
1 sausage rope (about 14 ounces), cut into bite-size slices
4 ears corn, shucked, cleaned and cut into fourths
2 pounds fresh shelled shrimp

melted butter
cocktail sauce

Bring the water, lemon, Old Bay, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves to a boil. Add the onion and potatoes, return to a boil, and cook 10 minutes. Add the sausage and corn, return to a boil, and cook 10 more minutes. Check to see if potatoes are tender. If so, add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3 minutes. If the potatoes are not tender, cook a few more minutes before adding the shrimp. Drain and serve on a large platter (or on newspaper in the middle of the table) with melted butter and cocktail sauce.

Quick Spaghetti Sauce

This is another recipe I developed for my kids’ cooking class.  It’s a scaled down version of a sauce I have been making for years.  I just love this sauce.  The whole can of tomato paste really gives it a concentrated flavor, as if the sauce had been simmering for hours.  Sometimes I add anItalian herb blend from Penzey’s to the sauce.  This sauce freezes really well.

Quick Spaghetti Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions (about 1 small onion)
1 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (diced if you like a chunky sauce)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
pinch black pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and the remaining ingredients.  Cook, stirring
occasionally, for about 5 more minutes, or until sauce is heated through.

Green Bean Casserole

I love green bean casserole. I don’t make it often, but when I do, I usually make the nostalgic version using canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and fried onions. I was perfectly happy with it.  I had never made green bean casserole from scratch until recently, when I had green beans, mushrooms, and half and half in the fridge that needed to be used. Wow! I didn’t go the extra step and make the fried onions to go in/on the casserole, but nonetheless, it was amazing!  I’m adding it to our Thanksgiving menu this year.

Green Bean Casserole

1 pound fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed, and cut in half
1 8 ounce package mushrooms, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup half and half (more may be needed to reach desired consistency)
salt and pepper, to taste

1 large onion, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To prepare onion topping (optional):  Toss the onions in the flour and shake off excess flour. Fry onions in hot ail in small batches until golden brown.  Remove from oil and let drain on paper towels.

To prepare green beans:  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for 5 to 10 minutes (or until they reach desired doneness – remember, they will continue to cook in the oven). Drain green beans in a colander and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter.  Once melted, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir. Cook for about 1 minute, not letting the flour burn. Decrease the heat to medium-low and whisk in the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring often. You may add more half and half to thin the sauce if it gets too thick.

Add the reserved green beans to the sauce. You may also add some of the fried onions (if using) to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a small casserole dish. Top with the remaining onions (if using). Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Alternatively, breadcrumbs can be used to top the casserole instead of fried onions.

Cream of Celery Soup

Cream of Celery Soup

From November 19, 2006:  Celery is pretty cheap at the grocery stores right now.  I got a couple of heads of celery at the grocery store this week for 49 cents each.  Yesterday, I made this soup for lunch and it was yummy. I have never made cream of celery soup before and I was a tad bit apprehensive to make it.  I like celery as part of a whole recipe, but it has a strong flavor and I wasn’t sure how it would be on it’s own.  I made a cooked celery side dish in the past and didn’t like it at all.  Luckily, this soup was nowhere like that old dish.  This is another soup recipes that I’ll add to my favorites list.  This recipe makes about 2 servings.

Cream of Celery Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, diced (including leaves)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup cream (or half & half)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan, over a medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, add the
sliced onion and garlic, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the diced celery, and continue cooking for 1-2
minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth, then lower the heat to a simmer, for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.  Blend with a hand (stick) blender until smooth (or pour in a blender and blend until smooth).

Chicken Hash

Chicken Hash

This recipe is loosely based on one by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa).  It’s delicious, comforting, and fairly easy to make.  My hubby really likes it and so do I.   As written, this recipe does not make enough for leftovers.  I like  to have leftovers so that we can have easy lunches for the next day or so.  It’s easy to double the recipe (or just add more potatoes). Sometimes I buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and use the meat as a shortcut for this dish.

Chicken Hash

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
dried basil
1 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Rub each chicken breast with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and dried basil. Bake the chicken for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then cut the chicken into large dice and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, and drain. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them into 1/4-inch cubes.

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes in a single layer and fry them for 5 to 7 minutes (or longer), until crisp, evenly browned and cooked through.

In a separate saute pan, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until soft and starting to caramelize. Turn up the heat a bit.  Add the red peppers and saute on high heat for 2 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.

Lower the heat, add the garlic, thyme, paprika, 1 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Add the chicken cubes to the onion/pepper mixture, and heat through. Add the potatoes and serve.