Monday, September 26, 2011

The BEST cornbread

My husband grew up in a family with some pretty good cooks. Not only his parents and sister, but his extended family are pretty talented too. I've got a few of those recipes waiting to be made, but for the time being, I have to share BC's sister's cornbread recipe. It is seriously so good. I have always tried to find the perfect balance of corn-y taste to sweetness, but never could figure it out. Once I had his sister's cornbread, I was sold! I had to have that recipe. And now, I share it with you.

Anna's Cornbread
1/2 c. butter (salted)
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. yellow cornmeal (fine ground is best here)**
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375.

Butter and flour an 8x8 baking dish. In a large bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, in order. Stir vigorously until few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure not to over-bake!

**A swap-out: use a 8.5 oz. box of the Jiffy corn muffin mix instead of the fine ground cornmeal. It tastes great as well! If you make this swap, drop the flour amount down to 3/4 cup.

Cinnamon Rake

I stumbled across this recipe after I saw a very delicious-looking picture on Pinterest. I followed it to this recipe on Cookin' Up North's site. I decided to shorten up the name a bit to a "rake"--part roll, part cake, completely delicious.

I was a little skeptical, because the recipe seems like it makes so much food, but after a few tweaks, it turned out to make just enough. I'm pretty sure my husband and I devoured it in a day and a half.

 (before the can see all the pretty swirls!)

Cinnamon Rake
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter (salted), melted

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tb. flour
1 Tb. cinnamon

1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tb. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all cake ingredients, from the flour through the vanilla on the list. Slowly stir in the melted butter. Pour into a buttered and floured 9x13 pan. In a separate bowl, mix together the mix-in ingredients. Drop the mixture in small bunches, about a tablespoon amount each, all over the top of the unbaked cake. Take a butter knife and swirl the mix-in ingredients all around the cake batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

While the "rake" is baking, mix the icing ingredients together. Start with the amounts listed here, and then add more milk or powdered sugar to adjust to desired thickness. Everybody likes something different when it comes to icing!

When the cake is done baking, pull from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes. Poke a few holes on the top of the cake to make sure the icing sinks into the cake in a few places (not too many though!). Making sure the cake is still warm, slowly pour the icing all over the cake.

Try not to lick the bowl clean. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

Mmm MMM! I love pancakes :) My Dad always made pancakes growing up in old cast iron skillets. He always had the skillet seasoned just right and had the oil heated perfectly. He always made the most delicious bacon, but more on that in a second. I have made pancakes over the years for myself, and always went with the box mix. Quick and easy. That's what my Dad used, after all. BC never really liked pancakes, and that always made me a little sad.

I was therefore determined to figure out an easy, delicious, homemade recipe to bring him to my side! And here it is:

 (finished product)

(one of those giant non-stick griddles is a must-have!!)

Buttermilk Pancakes
(as adapted from Or So She Says)

1 C. all-purpose flour (again, used White Lily for the fluffier pancakes. If using this brand, please add 2 Tb. for every cup of flour used)
2 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 Tb. melted salted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients together first. Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry slowly, whisking as you go. When it is all just combined, stop mixing. Don't over-mix! Heat up your griddle to medium heat. Take a butter stick and run it all around the griddle. When the butter starts to get all melty and shiny, start dropping pancake batter onto the griddle, in whatever size you want. The most important thing is to wait to flip them until bubbles start forming on the batter. Essentially, you want them to cook almost all the way through on one side before you flip. So wait for lots of bubbles. I always peek underneath with a spatula to make sure they aren't burning. If they are getting too brown and not many bubbles have popped up, turn down the heat!! You need a nice browning to bubbling ratio.

Once they are done, you should add some real cream butter to the top and only use real maple syrup. I'm convinced it is the ONLY way to eat pancakes :)

As for the bacon....well, the secret is to cook it in a cast-iron skillet and pull it out just before its finished., It will continue to sizzle a bit once out of the pan. You want that just-crispy-enough taste!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

'Joes and 'Toes

I love sloppy joes. When I was younger, I hated them. I unfortunately had a Manwich one time and it totally grossed me out. (What's in those things anyway?) I guess in my tiny brain I figured that's how all sloppy joes tasted and I was not going to deal with that as a meal option ever again.

Then, one day, Mom decided to make sloppy joes from the little spice packet. And you know? They weren't too bad. My hatred therefore subsided, and sloppy joes and I were totally cool with each other.

I wanted to make a fun dinner for BC and my parents last Friday so I decided to make sloppy joes, fried green tomatoes, and sweet potato french fries.

DISCLAIMER: There is no set recipe for the sweet potato french fries. I have made sweet potato french fries forever, and love them too. I usually cut them up in little strips, toss them in olive oil and Tony Chachere's, and cook them at 425 degrees for like 15 minutes. I saw something on Pinterest that said to toss them in cornstarch first to make them crunchy from the oven. Tried it. Ended up with cornstarch-y tasting fries. BOO.

The fried green tomatoes were a first time try for me. They turned out great!

Sloppy Joes
(as adapted from Plain Chicken)

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 1/2 Tb. onion powder
1 14-oz. can tomato sauce
3 Tb. yellow mustard
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. taco seasoning (my own personal mix)

Place the meat into a pan and sprinkle onion powder all over it. Brown meat. Drain if any rendered fat. Add in the tomato sauce and remaining ingredients. Heat to medium heat and then reduce for 10 minutes. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to taste. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes.

Its important to let this mixture cook for a while before you add in more seasonings. I discovered that the taste actually changed the longer that it cooked. The longer it cooked the better it tasted!!

Fried Green Tomatoes
(adapted from My Recipes)

2 green tomatoes
bacon grease (I know, I know)
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp Tony Chacheres (or whatever seasonings you like)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Take the bacon grease and put a couple teaspoon fulls in the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Turn on the stove top to medium low and allow that to melt. Then add in some cooking oil (I used peanut) to have just enough to fry in. (I added enough that the tomatoes could just barely be pushed under the surface and be completely covered by the oil when cooking.)

Whisk together the egg and buttermilk and set aside. Stir together flour, cornmeal, and seasonings.

Dip a slice of tomato in buttermilk mixture and then into the flour mixture. Make sure the slice is completely covered by the flour mixture. Slowly drop the tomato slice into the hot oil. I was able to fit about 4 slices in the pan at a time to ensure even cooking.

Extra salt and pepper when they come out of the oven!

**I used regular yellow cornmeal for these. The original recipe called for cornbread mix, white probably would have been less coarse, and possibly more tasty, but I wasn't about to break open one of my little cornbread mixes without using all of it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


First off, I love this recipe! When I've made it in the past, I've used canned enchilada sauce. No more, my friends! The recipe comes partly from this recipe from the Pioneer Woman for the enchiladas, and partly from this recipe from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures for the sauce.

(Please notice the Spode dish. I LOVE this thing! I bake in it all the time!)

Enchilada Sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatos with green chilies
1 Tb. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic/1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. taco seasoning*

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into saucepan and heat all the way through.

*I made up my own taco seasoning. Its really delicious, and I like being able to throw the spices into dishes whenever I want without opening a packet. You can find the recipe I used here, on All Recipes.

1/2 c. chopped green onion
1 c. light sour cream
1 12.5-oz can shredded chicken
1 c. to 1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used a combo of mild cheddar and monterey jack--what I had in my fridge!)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper/ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. my taco seasoning
6 flour tortillas
1 recipe of enchilada sauce (or you an use a can of the pre-made stuff if you're in a hurry)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine chicken, sour cream, chopped green onion, all spices, and 3/4 c. of the cheese. Give it a taste, make sure the spices are where you want them...add more if you like really spicy stuff! Get ready to get messy here: take a large plate, spread some of the enchilada sauce on it and put one flour tortilla on top of the sauce. Spread more sauce on top and flip it over to make sure the tortilla is covered. Its ok if not a lot of sauce sticks to it. Take a spoonful of the chicken mixture and put it in the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla, making sure to fold in the sides so the mixture is completely contained. Place into an 8" x 8" baking dish. Repeat with the remaining 5 tortillas. Once finished, spoon more of the sauce on top of the enchiladas. Top with the remaining cheese, depending on how much you prefer.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted.

These enchiladas are so good! The sour cream makes them so gooey and yummy! And the homemade enchilada sauce puts it on the map for sure! It seriously only took me a few minutes to make it up, and really makes all the difference in the dish. Give it a try!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I have really been wanting to usher in the fall season by making something pumpkin-y. I like pumpkin flavored stuff, but I can't deal with the ones that are super overwhelming. I discovered some recipes through Pinterest, and took the cake part of this recipe and tweaked it a bit to create my own recipe! The result is an amazingly moist and tasty cupcake! The frosting part of the cupcakes were replicated from this recipe and turned out so yummy! The cream cheese is a perfect tart combination for the light pumpkin flavor.

1 box yellow cake mix
2 cups of Pumpkin Pie filling (about a half a can of the Libby's Pumpkin Pie filling)
3 eggs
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir everything together, mix until completely smooth and combined. Bake for about 18-23 minutes. I stopped at 18 minutes and let them rest for quite a while to maintain the soft texture.

2 8-oz. cream cheese packages
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream the butter and cream cheese together first until completely beat together. Then mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beat again until light and fluffy. Place frosting in the fridge (if you have the time) to allow the frosting to thicken up a bit for better piping/spreading.

These are so good! You will love them! Promise!

**I brought these to work, and we started eating them immediately. Like, at 8:30 in the morning. We consequently decided that cupcakes are considered "muffins" when eaten before lunch ;)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pizza Puffs

Last weekend, BC and I went over to my parents house to check out the Alabama game. I made up a couple different finger foods, and this was one of them! I ran across the original recipe on Annie's Eats and tweaked it a little bit from there. I LOVE pizza, and I couldn't resist giving this one a shot!



1 "batch" of raw pizza dough (enough to make one pizza)
mozzarella sticks, cut into cubes
pepperoni slices
italian seasoning
olive oil
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a 9" pie plate with cooking spray. Pull off a piece of pizza dough, a little smaller than the size of a golf ball. Take one piece of pepperoni and one small cube of mozzarella, and press into the dough. Seal the sides of the dough up around the pepperoni and cheese. Be sure to seal up completely, or else the cheese will melt out! Once you have used up all the pizza dough, brush tops of the dough balls with olive oil. Sprinkle with italian seasoning and parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pizza puff tops turn golden. At about the 15 minute mark, bring the puffs out of the oven and brush again with olive oil and sprinkle with more italian seasoning and parmesan cheese if necessary. (The second brushing will help to keep the pizza puffs moistened in the hot oven.)

*When I made these, I didn't watch when I was sealing up the pizza puffs and had a lot of the cheese melt out. In the future I may try and bake them sealed side up, just in case, or else just make sure the sides are sealed up really well.

Sweet Cheese Biscuits

There is a restaurant in various locations in Alabama that has the BEST cheese biscuits!! Its called Jim n' Nicks and they have perfected these delicious treats, and I have so longed to learn how to make them! There is something secret in them, and I have yet to figure it out! In the meantime, I made these biscuits, as created by Stephanie over at Plain Chicken.

I have to say, while they don't taste exactly like J&N, but still, these biscuits are pretty tasty! The combo of cheese and sugar may sound weird, but they are pretty delicious! And they are super moist, so they will make a great addition to any meal!

Sweet Cheese Biscuits

1 1/2 c. Bisquick
3/4 c. buttermilk
3 Tb. sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients. Spoon batter into muffin cups. For easier removal, spray muffin cups with cooking spray. For mini muffins, bake about 15-20 minutes. For larger sized muffins bake about 20-25 minutes. Cooking times will vary with how full muffin cups are, and due to high heat, check muffins periodically to ensure they don't burn.

*As you can see from the pictures, the batter provided me with 12 mini muffins and 3 larger ones.
* Don't mind the squished in tops of the larger muffins...I was in too big of a hurry to go find a toothpick so I crammed a fork down in the middle of them and crushed the tops. Whoops :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Poppy Seed Party Sammies

I LOVE these little sammies! They are so good. I had them the first time during a holiday dinner at BC's parent's house. They have a family tradition of making tons of finger foods the night before Christmas, and this was one dish. So, when I was planning what to bring to my parents house to watch Alabama destroy Penn State, I took that recipe and the recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake to create my own.

(I know this picture doesn't look appetizing. Try this, I promise you will love it!!)

1 package of Original King's Hawaiian Rolls
1 package of swiss cheese slices (I think there were 8 pieces in my package)
1 package of honey ham
1 stick of salted butter
1 1/2 Tb. poppy seeds
1 1/2 Tb. yellow mustard
1 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp onion powder

Take the rolls out of the packaging and slice all the way through so you have a connected half of tops and a connected half of bottoms. Set the bottoms into a baking dish. I used a 9"x9". Melt the butter in the microwave and mix in the poppy seeds, mustard, worchestershire, and onion powder. Spread some of this mixture onto the bottoms of rolls, just enough to cover. Place the cheese slices on top of the butter spread and then place the ham on top of the cheese. Top the ham with the tops of the rolls. Pour the remaining butter mixture over the tops of the rolls and brush all over to even out.

Top with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

*You can use a variety of different types of rolls if you can't find the King's rolls. For example: the Colonial bread company makes a pan of rolls that are smaller and come in their own tin tray for easy baking. You can use all the same measurements for this recipe, even if you use other types of rolls.

Buttermilk Biscuits

I'm SO excited to share this recipe with you all! I made these this morning, and they were absolutely AMAZING!

I've always wanted to make really delicious biscuits. I've never really known the tricks, and I've always been jealous of women who could bake really well. For some reason, I felt like if I could master biscuits, I would be finally be a "true" Southern woman. After lots of questions and yucky trials and a very serious pow-wow with Mrs. Sue, an amazing cook and one of the local judges' judicial assistant, I've discovered this recipe:

Buttermilk Biscuits
recipe from the White Lily package and my brain
2 cups All-Purpose Flour (I used White Lily, a flour available in most Southern stores)
1Tb. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter (salted) (VERY cold)
3/4-ish cup buttermilk (use enough until the dough is just barely wet enough)

Cut butter into small pats and lay out on a cookie sheet lined in wax paper. Stick in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Prepare cast iron skillet with a tiny amount of bacon grease, if available. Easiest thing: fry one piece of bacon, wipe out the pan, and you're good to go!

Combine all the dry ingredients together and then cut in the butter. Cut in until the butter is about pea sized, relatively well mixed in. Add buttermilk. Add slowly until you have just enough where the dough separates from the sides of the bowl. Stir until just combined and roll it out onto a well-floured surface.

Before kneading, cover with some flour. Knead a couple of times and flatten out to about 1" thickness. (Honestly, the thicker the better, because they rise so beautifully!) Using a biscuit cutter, or just a glass cup, cut out biscuits. Press straight down, don't twist the cup/cutter.

Place biscuits in a cast-iron skillet and be sure biscuits are touching.

This recipe doesn't make a ton of dough. Especially if you end up using a large biscuit cutter. See the butter?

This is how thick I usually keep my dough. It rises the best if you can keep little chunks of butter in it! Please ignore the very messy kitchen area.

The finished product!

Bake at 500 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. At about the 6 minute mark, take the skillet out of the oven and brush the biscuits with melted salted butter. You pretty much have to brush the tops with butter. This is an integral part of the baking process. And be liberal with it, brush on the sides of the biscuits if they are showing.

There are some really important notes that go along with this I need to share:
*White Lily flour is important. Apparently its made with a certain kind of wheat that makes it have a lower protein count than most generic flours. It makes the biscuits lighter and fluffier. Even if you don't have that kind, try to get one that is made with a soft winter wheat.
*Make sure the butter is salted and SUPER cold.
*Cooking the biscuits in the cast iron skillet is the best part! Use one for best results, and try to put some sort of grease on the bottom. You don't want a lot in the pan. If you do fry up something in the pan, be sure to let the grease cool, pur it all out, scrape the pan, and use a paper towel to soak up the rest. All you are looking for is a faint sheen on the bottom!
*You can use whatever size biscuit cutter you want. I've made big "cat-head" biscuits (as my North Carolinian husband called them) and small ones. However you adjust the size, just be sure to watch them carefully while in the oven and keep the dough THICK, regardless of the size of cutter you use.

Go give this recipe a try, they taste amazing!

Update: this was my very first submission to Tasty Kitchen! Go check it out!