Monday, February 21, 2011

Stocking the Pantry: Cornmeal

Over the years I have learned to stock my pantry with ingredients rather than boxed mixes which gives me better flexibility in the kitchen and is easier on the budget, too.

Cornmeal is something I buy regularly and always keep in my pantry. I grew up on the Jiffy cornbread mix. I especially remember my mom making cornbread to go with our ham and beans, which I still make whenever we have a ham bone, but as I grew more curious and adventurous as a cook I wanted to do more than just make cornbread.

I remember the first time I bought cornmeal. My husband loves breaded and fried catfish and wanted to have it for dinner many years ago, so I went to the store and bought some yellow cornmeal (it also comes in white and self-rising). He then taught me how to make fried catfish.

Well, since I had all this cornmeal left over, I got out my cookbooks and learned how to make cornbread from scratch, which led to other ways to use up cornmeal.
Cornbread made in a castiron skillet-yum!

Here is my recipe for cornbread, with some things you can add to make it even better!


1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your cornbread)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or butter
1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the oil or butter in a castiron skillet or 8- or 9-inch square pan. Place the skillet or pan in the oven while you prepare the other ingredients until the butter is melted.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and egg. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry beating by hand just until smooth. Take the skillet or pan out of the oven and add the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Additions and variations: Fry 4 to 5 bacon slices until crips, drain on a paper towel and substitute the bacon drippings for the oil. Sprinkle the batter with crumbled bacon before baking.

Mexican cornbread: Prepare the batter using 2 eggs, slightly beaten. Stir in 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup chopped green chilies and 1/4 cup finely chopped onion. Bake 22 to 28 minutes.

I've used cornmeal for my Cracker Barrel Copycat Chicken Casserole, which is much like cornbread on top of a chicken casserole. I've also used cornmeal for breading chicken. Here's one of our favorite ways of using it on chicken:
Southwestern Baked Chicken
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 bonesless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Cooking spray*
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cornmeal, bread crumbs, and all the spices in a large plastic bag and shake well. Combine the Worcestershire sauce, and egg whites in a small bowl. Dip the chicken breasts one at a time into the egg mixture. Allow the excess to drip off, then place in the bag and shake to coat. Spritz a shallow baking pan with spray then transfer the chicken to the pan. Spritz the chicken with the spray. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 mintues or until cooked through.
* Instead of the cooking spray, you could place a couple tablespoons of oil or butter in the baking dish and place in the oven to melt the butter or heat the oil a little. As you place the chicken in the dish, turn it over into the oil/butter to coat on both sides. Continue to bake as instructed.
Other uses for cornmeal are hushpuppies, spoon bread, and Red Pepper Corn Muffins. Cornmeal is also used for Polenta, which I've never made but is next on my learning how-to-make list.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I love food and I have lots of bloggy friends who love food, too. So, when I received this fabulous award from Little Kitchen on the Prairie I was thrilled. This is this blog's first award! So, thank you, Catberner, for this award.

Now in accordance with the award's rules, I am going to share 7 things about myself, some my readers may already know, some maybe not.

  1. I am an avid reader. I go to the library about twice a month and come home with a pile of books.

  2. I have 2 cats and one dog. Whenever I sit down at home, there is at least one pet beside me or in my lap.

  3. I love spending time with my grandchildren: Lorelei, who is 19 months, Lydia, who is 4 months, and Noah, who is 2 months. They are a joy!

  4. I record all of the PBS Masterpiece Classics and love to watch them when I am home by myself.

  5. I collect lighthouses and have lots of them throughout my house.

  6. Cooking and baking relaxes me.

  7. I love going on day-long trips with my husband. Sometimes we will just grab an atlas of our area and pick a road to see where it will take us.

Here are some of my favorite blogs to read and am passing the award to these 10 bloggers:

Books and Chocolate

Mary Ann's House

Nagle 5 News

Rae's Craft and Chat

Real Life Living

The Texas Hills

Vista Woman

Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Queen of the Castle Recipes

EKat's Kitchen

Valentine's Day Peanut Butter Cookies

I've been making peanut butter cookies since I was a kid, but today, in honor of Valentine's Day, and because they are my husband's favorite cookie, I decided to make some to hide in his lunch for work. I made my good ol' stand-bye peanut butter cookie recipe, chilled the dough and rolled it out like you would a sugar cookie. I then cut out the cookies using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

But, just in case you don't have a good peanut butter cookie recipe, here's our favorite.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the butter, peanut butter, sugars, and egg until creamy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl and add to the peanut butter mixture a little at a time until it is all incorporated and mixed together. Chill the dough for about an hour or so. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll into balls the size of a large walnut and place 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork dipped in flour and make a criss-cross design. Bake until set but not hard about 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

I'm linking up with Sweets for a Saturday.

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