Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Delicious, delicious cornbread.

There is no possible way to make homemade cornbread without butter. Embrace it. If you wanted to eat well - you wouldn't be making cornbread in the first place, right? Right.

Homemade Cornbread - From Scratch!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk (lowfat works fine)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (you can grab this in bulk bins at Sprouts or Whole Foods as well)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

This is best made in a cast iron skillet - if you don't have one, it's not the end of the world, you can use a 9" baking dish or a 9" cake pan if you're truly desperate.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, sugar and salt and whisk together until well combined. In another small bowl, microwave the butter until completely melted. Butter the bottom of your baking dish (or pan) with just a little bit of the melted butter. Pour the rest of the melted butter into the buttermilk mixture, being careful not to scramble your eggs and mix until thoroughly combined. Add in the cornmeal, flour and baking soda and mix with whisk until mixture is mostly smooth. Pour mixture into the pan/dish/skillet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes before checking. Mine generally takes about 25 minutes to cook and get golden brown on top. It's difficult but let it cool before you serve it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Good news. You know all that marinara you made a few recipes ago? We have a use for it! I love stuffed bell peppers. I use them to clean out my fridge when I've gone a little postal with produce and ground meat. Seriously. I love Sprouts. When there's a sale on bell peppers, I just can't help myself.

Mr. Travis's Stuffed Bell Peppers (they can't all be named after me!)

  • 4 bell peppers, red or green (tall ones work best!)
  • 1/4 cup, dry bread crumbs (italian, regular, whatever)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1/3 cup, grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound, lean ground chicken/turkey/beef/sausage (any work here!)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • marinara

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown up the meat until 75% done - then add chopped onion and chopped bell pepper. Mix together until everything is 100% cooked - should take roughly 10 minutes from start to finish. If you see any pink - keep cooking! Empty the skillet into a bowl and let it cool off until you can touch it. Add Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and 3/4 cup of marinara sauce. Stir together and set aside.

Cut the top off each bell pepper. Take 1 bell pepper and "stuff" it with the meat/onion mixture. It's okay if you overstuff it - it's actually better that way! Stand the stuffed pepper up in a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Repeat until all peppers are in the dish. Pour 1-2 cups of marinara sauce on and around the peppers. Sprinkle the peppers with additional Parmesan cheese if you would like :) Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, checking every 10. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. These stay hot for quite awhile!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Time for Some Veggies

After my ode to peanut butter and chocolate the past few days, I feel the need to impart some healthier recipes. Call it guilt. Call it the fact that I'm reasonably sure after the past few days that I am at least 1/8th Reese's Peanut Butter Cup now. I'm going back to Crossfit tomorrow consumed with guilt and ready to take my 800m unlimited runs as punishment. These roasted veggies are a real time saver for my household during the week - it makes a pretty decent amount and the leftovers reheat really well. Delicious with a rotisserie chicken from the store when you're not in the mood to cook the next day. :)

Roasted Vegetables*

  • 2 red bell peppers

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 1 sweet yellow onion

  • 1 bunch asparagus

  • 7-8 red potatoes

  • 1 head broccoli

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1.5 teaspoons pepper

  • Extra virgin olive oil (enough to drizzle, not drown)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop all the vegetables into 1-1.5" pieces. In a large shallow baking dish or on a large cookie sheet (must have sides to it!), place all the chopped vegetables in a single layer. Sprinkle liberally with the salt and pepper (they take more than you think they need, trust me!) and drizzle with olive oil. At this point you get dirty - toss the vegetables together with your hands to coat. Rearrange back into a single layer and pop the tray in the oven. Every 15 minutes, take a spatula and "shake up" the vegetables, so they do not stick to the tray or burn! Anywhere from 45 minutes - 1 hour depending on how you like your veggies and they're done! How easy was that?

*The secret to this recipe is - there is no secret. Whatever veggies you have will work here - squash, broccoli, carrots/baby carrots - whatever. This is the easiest side dish AND it's delish!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Getting ready for grilling!

Aaron's birthday is coming up and in honor of that fact, I intend to char some meat on the grill. Not just meat, but my famous corn on the cob which if it's 20 below or you don't have a grill can also be made in the oven. I'm handy that way.

Kelly's Garlicky Corn on the Cob

  • 6 ears of corn - sans anything but corn & cob - no silk, etc.
  • 1 stick of room temperature butter
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic (or more, depending on love of garlic)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional also depending on love of garlic)
  • Aluminum foil - 6 pieces, enough to wrap the corn in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or grill to medium). De-husk and de-silk the cobs of corn. In a small bowl, mix together the soft butter, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined. On a sheet of aluminum foil, place 1 cob of corn. (here's where it gets messy since I generally use clean hands for this part). Slather cob of corn in the garlic butter mixture, coating all sides. Roll the corn on the cob up in the foil. Repeat with other cobs of corn.

If using oven - place corn directly on the rack in the oven. Rotate every 6-8 minutes, rotating until 25-30 minutes cooking time. If using grill - place foil-wrapped corn directly on the grill, reducing the heat to medium. Roll the corn, rotating to a different side every 3-4 minutes for a total of about 15 minutes. Check the corn by gripping the foil with tongs and slowly unrolling. When the corn is a dark yellow/lightly browned ( a few darker spots never hurt anyone either) - it's ready and delicious. Give it a few minutes to cool off or you'll burn your tongue!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A little prep work is necessary

I think gingerbread cookies aren't just for Christmas. They require a bit of prep work as you have to chill the dough for at least a few hours (or overnight if you have the time). However, your neighbors will be jealous by the lovely, lovely scents coming out of your kitchen.

Gingerbread Cookies - makes 18 cookies
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 dark corn syrup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a medium saucepan, stir together butter, brown sugar, and dark corn syrup over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture into a large mixture bowl, and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Once cooled, stir in the egg and vanilla until smooth and combined.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Once combined, mix into the wet mixture in 1/3rds until combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight if possible.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until about 1/4" thick. Dip cookie cutters into flour and press out shapes. Gently lift off the board and place on unbuttered cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cookies are firm. Let them cool and decorate if you wish - or just devour!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Easy Dessert For When You Don't Have All Day

I love to bake, but I don't have all day sometimes. Our lovely friends, Shelly and Jerome come over for dinner quite often and I like to have something for us all for dessert. This one is delicious and simple. I think you'll find it on the menu rotation quite a bit. :) Serve it with some vanilla ice cream.

Baked Apples
  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Core the apples and peel a ring of the core off the center of each apple. In a small bowl, mix together the butter and the brown sugar until combined. Stuff each apple with 1/4 of the mixture and sprinkle with the cinnamon and chopped pecans.

Stand each apple up in the baking dish and add water to the pan (just enough to cover the bottom of the dish). Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the apples are soft.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Warning: Do Not Eat This Alone

I warn you not to eat this alone because you will eat the whole loaf. A guest will at least add a sense of shame if you ignore the main course and eat all the bread instead. Plus, you'll have to share. Or kick them out and wolf it all down. ;)

The Most Delicious Homemade Garlic Bread

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon, garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 loaf of French bread

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the butter, garlic salt, rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Cut the french bread in half, length-wise. Spread the butter mixture equally on both insides of the bread. Feel free to add as much extra Parmesan cheese to the bread as you want - it's delicious.

Place the bread halves crust-sides down on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes until lightly browned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homemade Croutons

I love croutons. They are not old, dried-out bread. They are the treasures hidden in a salad. They're the thought that gets me through 4 cups of romaine, hunting for a crunchy bite. They're absolutely worth it, and ridiculously simple to make at home. I've finished my Crossfit Challenge and am now starting to dream about bread so there might be a few bread related posts coming up. I refuse to apologize. :)

Homemade Croutons
  • 4 slices stale Bread (whatever you've got but this recipe is scaled for 8 servings)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup, extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your stale bread* and cube it. In a skillet on medium heat, heat up your olive oil. When the olive oil is warm, add in the garlic and stir for one minute. Add in bread cubes and stir until coated in olive oil and garlic. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste (never as much pepper as salt!) and stir. Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet in one layer and bake for 13-17 minutes - or until dry and crispy. I recommend checking them every 5 minutes or so, so you don't end up with burned croutons! Let them cool and add them to your salad or just eat them plain. I won't tell.

*When I say stale bread, it must be STALE. Leave it out on the counter overnight, it should be nearly crunchy - not just day old!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Decadent Creamy Tomato Soup

In the cold weather, I'm always reminded of winters at my Grammy's house in Maryland and her delicious homemade soups. I'm sharing one today that is my recipe and not hers - but I promise to share more of hers soon. They are favorites of everyone inside my family - and anyone we actually will share them with!

Decadent Creamy Tomato Soup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 4.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen makes a fire roasted kind that adds delicious flavor but it's good with any!)
  • 3 springs each of fresh thyme and fresh parsley
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large soup pot
  • 1 blender
Using kitchen twine, tie together the thyme, parsley, and bay leaf and set aside. (If you have cheesecloth, you can make a spice satchet of it as well, but if not - this works just as well.) Heat the butter in the large soup pot over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add in the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir to coat with butter and let soften. After 3-4 minutes, add the garlic in and stir until combined and softened - about another 4 minutes. Add in the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Let it cook another 3 minutes to get rid of the flour taste. Next, add in the broth and canned tomatoes. Stir continuously while the mixture comes up to a boil.

Add in the satchet of thyme, parsley, and the bay leaf and stir it into the soup. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 hour to let all the flavors combine. Next, remove the herb satchet and transfer the soup (probably in batches unless you have the world's largest blender) and puree in a blender. When all the soup is pureed smooth, add it back into the pot and turn the stove back up to medium heat. Add in the cream, salt, and pepper and stir until thoroughly combined.
I realize this one's a lot of work but the bonus is - you can freeze it and have soup whenever you want, or put it in the fridge and nibble off it until it's gone. Delicious with a grilled cheese!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Chocolate. More Peanut Butter.

Sorry, apparently I've got a craving for peanut butter and chocolate this week! Here's another no bake recipe for a chocolate/peanut butter dessert just in case you're craving it too!

No Bake Peanut Butter Squares

2 cups confectioners'/powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil (leaving an overhang on the sides) and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the confectioners' sugar, butter, 1 cup of peanut butter and the vanilla. Next, with a rubber spatula and fold in the graham cracker crumbs. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place the chocolate chips and the remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals at half power, stirring after each, until fully melted and smooth.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter layer and spread it evenly. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until the chocolate is set. Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan. Remove the foil from the bars and cut into individual squares. Return the squares to the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 hours, or until firm. Store the squares in the refrigerator until you've devoured them all or had to take them to work to avoid eating them all!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Coleslaw is rapidly becoming one of my favorite summertime side dishes. It's perfect to take to a bbq or to enjoy with your family and friends. This is my recipe for it, hopefully it'll be one that you enjoy enough to make it yours.

Kelly's 'Slaw

1 small head cabbage, shredded *
3 medium carrots, shredded *
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar

*Feeling lazy? Buy two packages of the premixed cabbage cole slaw mix and take it from there!

In one bowl, mix the cabbage and the carrots together (or bust out your cabbage mix!). In another small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, and sugar. Pour about half the mixture into the bowl of carrots and cabbage and mix together. You can always add in more of the mixture, but can't take it away if you overload it! Add in as much or as little as you want. I let it marinate for at least 4 hours and serve it cold.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Peanut Butter. And Chocolate. Nuff said.

This dessert is especially awesome in the hot summer months (which feels like it's light years away at the moment in this cold weather!) and has gotten rave reviews from our out of town guests. Share it with yours (or keep it all for yourself!)

No Bake Peanut Butter & Chocolate Pie

- 8 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese
-1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
-1 cup of reduced-fat creamy peanut butter
-16 ounces of Cool Whip (nonfat works well), thawed
-1 cup chocolate syrup
- 2 ready-made graham cracker crusts (9 ounce size)

With a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Next, add in the chocolate syrup and peanut butter and mix until mixture is well combined. With a spatula, gently fold in the thawed Cool Whip until just combined - do not overmix!

Pour mixture into the two graham cracker crusts and freeze until firm (generally at least 4 hours). Keep frozen until you serve, and refreeze the leftovers. Feel free to serve with even more chocolate syrup :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time For a Little Comfort Food...

Every time I see spaghetti and meatballs, I think about that scene from Lady and the Tramp :) For when you're in the mood for a good home cooked meal - keep this recipe around and give your taste buds a treat.

Italian Meatballs & Sauce

12 ounces lean ground beef

4 ounces ground pork
1 cup preseasoned Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, beaten


3/4 cup chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 bay leaf
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

In a large bowl, combine ground meat, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder and beaten egg. Mix well and form into 12 meatballs. Store, covered, in refrigerator until needed.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent. Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 90 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, basil, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and meatballs and simmer for another 30 minutes.