Jalapeno and Cheddar Corn Bread Muffins

Living in the South, it is pretty much mandatory to have a go-to corn bread recipe. Nothing against Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix, as I made that for a long time, and it really turns out just fine. But for barely any more work, you can try this one which is absolutely delicious, and has that made from scratch, pure goodness to it.

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I started with a recipe from The Comfort of Cooking. Really, the only change I made was instead of using regular jalapeno’s, minced, I started with jarred sliced jalapeno’s and minced them. As a personal preference, I did not want the chance of having crunchy jalapeno pieces in the muffins, and I wasn’t sure if the bake time would be enough to soften them. I trust the muffins are great either way. I doubled the below recipe to make 24 muffins, as I was making them for a crowd. It doubled perfectly, and were great served slightly warm. You could also use this recipe for a corn bread made in a 8×8 baking dish.

Enjoy!

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Jalapeno and Cheddar Corn Bread Muffins

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons jarred jalapeno slices, minced (more to taste)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, stir butter, sugar and honey together. Whisk in eggs and buttermilk. Add cornmeal, flour, salt and baking soda. Do not over-mix. Fold in jalapeno and cheese.

Divide batter equally between the cups of a greased muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes. Test the center of one muffin with a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean. If not clean, bake for about 5 more minutes.

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Baked Beans, Southern Style

Truth be told, baked beans out of a can, such as Bush’s Baked Beans are really quite good. One of my favorite meals is a couple of hot dogs, cut up and heated in a skillet, and then a can of Bush’s baked beans thrown on top and mixed together. Comfort food at it’s finest.

But of course, there is always the element of personal satisfaction of making something from scratch, that rivals or beats your perceived gold standard. These beans are one of those dishes. Incredibly easy to make, and pretty much fool-proof. It takes some time, but after the initial couple of stages, all the time is the beans sitting, simmering in the oven. If you are on a gluten free diet, these beans are perfect for you.

This recipe is from Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. As with most of her recipes, it feeds a small circus troupe. If I am making this for just my family, I half the recipe and make it in a 8×8″ glass dish. If having company over, I leave it as is and use a 9×13″. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed!

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Southern Style Baked Beans

Serves up to 18

8 slices bacon, halved

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice

3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar

2 teaspoons dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients). Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

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Jalapeno and Green Apple Fried Rice

Have you ever been stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking, seldom branching out from what you know and like best? A few weeks before Easter I started planning our Easter dinner, and couldn’t get the old staples out of my head. Those staples are great for a number of reasons, but I wanted at least one new dish to be new.

Along comes a friend who recommends Jalapeno and Green Apple Fried Rice. First, I did a double take sure that I heard wrong. But lo and behold, I had not. Not having the confidence of a seasoned cook yet, there was no way I was serving that for Easter without trying it first. With two weeks to spare, I had plenty of time. Halfway there, I convinced my wife we needed to try it, no matter how out in left field it sounded. We did, and I baked a couple of simple chicken breasts to go along with it. For me, I turned it into a sort of rice bowl with the chicken cut-up on top, see below.

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It was REALLY, REALLY good. And as odd as the combination sounded, it really came together so nicely, balancing itself out perfectly. So, it was made again for Easter and all our guests really enjoyed it, albeit everyone had to ask what it was when they peered into the bowl. Ha! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. One of our eaters is on a gluten free diet, which this dish is perfect for.

This is the Easter version. I was running around like a madman trying to bring everything together, that I am surprised I even got a picture of it at all. Sorry it’s not pretty!

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Jalapeno and Green Apple Fried Rice

1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and thinly sliced

1 ½ – 2 Jalapeno pepper, veins and seeds removed, and diced

½ small red onion, diced

3/4 teaspoon fennel or anise

2 TBSP EVOO

1 glove, garlic

1 cup Jasmine Rice

2 cups hot water (more if needed)

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Core granny smith apple, leaving skin on, and slice them;  Saute apples, pepper, onion all in evoo and add anise or fennel seed. Add jasmine rice and continue to saute on med low heat till rice is lightly toasted. Add hot water, bring to a boil for 10 minutes, reduce heat to low, tightly cover with seran wrap and lid and continue to cook on low for another 30-45 minutes. You may to add some water over rice at the end, depending on how tender and sticky you want the rice.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Crunchy Bread and Butter Pickles

I feel like I conquered another challenge this week, to go along with my pulled pork success. Good thing it is the end of the week, or I wouldn’t know what to do with myself now! Ha!

My wife Loves pickles, and can eat them with a variety of dishes. Even though I REALLY do not like pickles, I wanted to make them for her. So about a month ago, I made my first attempt at homemade pickles. The actual pickle making process is easy and straightforward. The waiting time until you can eat them is what stinks. On the first batch, I was so excited for her to try them, the week long waiting period seemed to take forever. Finally that day came, and I basically forced them on her. I think it might have even been before breakfast, but I didn’t want to wait any longer. As soon as she bit in to the first one, my hopes of them being perfect were dashed. I could just tell before she ever said anything they stunk. I was down, but not out!

So, I scour and search the internet looking for the answer. Once I have my mind set on something, there is not much that can change it. I was determined to make a damn good pickle, no matter how long it too. Finally, I stumbled back to a blog I check out every once in a while, White on Rice Couple. They always have pretty interesting recipes, and I noticed they had a bread and butter pickle recipe, utilizing old family pickling techniques. I was intrigued, and this week decided to give it a shot.

I made them on Monday, and decided I couldn’t wait a full 7 days to find out if I had a hit or miss. Friday night we were eating pulled pork sandwiches, and I figured pickles would be a great compliment to the sandwich. So my wife tried them, and Loved them! She kept going back to the jar for more. The ultimate test was, when I asked her if they sold them in the store, would she buy them over her normal favorite pickle brand. She said yes! And trust me, this gal does not pull any punches with my cooking. She is not slow to tell me something stinks when it does, so I trust her honesty in this. You should to!

So, if you like B&B pickles, these are a must try! I cannot confirm that this recipe is for true canning, which in my mind means processing the cans until sealed, and let them sit in your pantry for a year. I know nothing about canning, other than certain recipes are good for that, and others are not. I will keep these cold in the fridge, for up to a couple of months or so, but I know they wont make it that long anyway!

The next time I make these, I will take more pictures of the process.

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Bread and Butter Pickles

Ingredients

3 pounds crisp cucumbers, slices ¼ inch thick
½ onion, sliced thinly
¼ cup kosher or sea salt
2 cups white vinegar
½ cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric

Directions

Toss the cucumbers and onions with the salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a strainer sitting over the sink. Let rest for 1-2 hours. The cucumbers will release a lot of water during this, which is a good thing!
 
Rinse the cucumbers and onions well, and place on a couple of sheet pans lines with paper towels. Add a sheet of paper towels on top as well. Let them dry for 8-10 hours, or even overnight.
 
After the drying period, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large saucepan. Heat to boil. Add in the cucumbers and onions, and continue to heat until it reaches a boil again.
 
Remove from the heat, and place the cucumbers and onions in canning jars, topping each jar with the vinegar mixture, and close with the lids.
 
Let cool for a few minutes, and then place jars in the refrigerator. Allow at least 4-5 days for the pickles to marinate before eating, to allow all the flavors to blend.
 

Recipe from White on Rice Couple

Green Bean Bundles

The trend lately in cooking is to take a not-so-healthy dish and try to lighten it up, while preserving the great taste. I am doing my best today to turn that upside down! I believe this recipe manages to take a very healthy food, green beans, and make them as bad for you as possible! But I guarantee at the same time, you have never tasted green beans as good as these. So go ahead and splurge once in a while. Always makes for a delicious side dish at Thanksgiving, or any other day of the year for that matter!

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And as these pretty much taste like candy, it is also a very kid friendly dish and will get your kids to eat their vegetables, albeit ones coated in sugar, bacon, and butter! lol

And a note on the portion. The below measurements are perfect for a family of 4. If you are feeding more than two adults, or plenty of kids, simply double the ingredients and place in a 9×13 pan. You can also assemble the entire dish ahead of time, refrigerate, then stick in the oven when you are ready to cook.

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Beans wrapped, and secured with a toothpick.

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Out of the oven.

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Umm…..yeah, no matter what is surrounding it, you can still say you are eating a serving of vegetables! 🙂

Green Bean Bundles

Ingredients

1 can of whole green beans, drained

6 slices of bacon, cut in half

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup butter, melted

¼ – ½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange approximately 10 beans together, wrap with ½ slice of bacon, and secure with a toothpick. Arrange bundles in a 8×8 pan.

Add last four ingredients to a medium bowl, mix thoroughly. Pour marinade over the bundles. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.