Sunday, February 15, 2009

Aahhh Asparagus

I was born and raised, not just in The South, but in The Deep South. Deeper than deep. Central and southwest Louisiana Deep. I grew up with Southern Vegetables. Purple hull peas, butter beans, sweet corn, green beans, yellow crook-neck squash, green bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. The only asparagus I was ever exposed to was the canned variety, which I thought Smelled. Bad. So I never ate asparagus of any type until just a couple of years ago. Just by chance I ordered a meal in a restaurant that came with grilled seasonal vegetables. Asparagus was the vegetable of the moment, and I became a convert. Not to cooking it, but to eating it. Not the canned variety, I still think it smells bad, and tastes worse. But beautiful fresh asparagus, cooked by other, more skilled hands. I had it grilled, steamed, and sauteed with butter and lemon juice. It was wonderful.

I started paying attention when my favorite cooking shows made anything with asparagus, but still I deferred. Finally my mom and I got brave. I told her I would buy it if she would help me cook it. We made it for a family dinner, lightly roasted in a convection oven, with a little olive oil, and some butter and lemon put on it at the end. It, too, was wonderful.

This weekend I finally broke down and cooked fresh asparagus, all by my big girl self. I used a little bit of olive oil, some kosher salt, a little lemon pepper seasoning, and little butter added right at the end.

I sauteed this about 5-6 minutes. The asparagus I had was really young (skinny) and tender, and I think--I know--I overcooked it a little waiting for the rolls to cook. But, even though the bud ends were a bit limp, it still tasted wonderful.

I paired it with pan-seared steak, sliced cucumbers, and crescent rolls. Not Gourmet, but delicious.

You may have been cooking asparagus for years, but maybe there's some other ingredient or dish that intimidates you. Break out of your comfort zone, and try something new and "exotic" to you.

For other recipes, check out the links at the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Good cooking, and good eating!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Believe It Or Not, Peanut Butter Cookies

I grew up in a family where peanut butter was a staple. My younger sister ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day for lunch from as far back as I can remember until she suddenly (and inexplicably) switched to hamburger dill pickles and miracle whip, sometime around junior high or high school. And yes, she eats "normal" food now. Suffice it say, we always bought peanut butter in the Large Economy size. Our brand of choice became the Cook Shack brand--the "store brand", at least at that time, of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain. (Anybody else remember Piggly Wiggly? They still exist in some parts of the south, including south Georgia). Nowadays I'm a Jif gal myself.

We used to make a lot of things that had peanut butter in them, too, like peanut butter frosting to top off a plain yellow cake; a yummy peanut butter/chocolate bar concoction that became the requested birthday cake/dessert of choice at our house for years; and of course, peanut butter cookies. (My sister and I used to make cookies and enter them into competition at the parish fair every year, because you got a free gate ticket for every entry you made. We made lots of cookies.)

This recipe today is a bit different from the traditional peanut butter cookies my sister and I used to make, but to me they're every bit as good, and a lot simpler to make. They call for NO flour, and only four ingredients of any kind, all of which you probably keep on hand. And best of all, they make a small batch, so once you mix the dough, you aren't tied to the kitchen for the next hour, taking pans of cookies in and out of the oven.

If you try these, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good they are.

  • 1 c peanut butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients. Roll into balls, then place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten with a fork dipped in water to make the traditional criss-cross design on top.

Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes. Cool (if you can) and enjoy.

Note: I know that peanut butter flavored cookies, etc, have been suspect lately due to the salmonella outbreak, but the peanut paste involved in these cases have come from one particular plant who sold to industrial and institutional customers. As of last note, commercial peanut butter and peanut butter made fresh (like at health food stores) is not involved, but if you're concerned, Lynn's Kitchen has a recipe for homemade peanut butter that I think would be great in this recipe!

Don't forget to check for other recipes at Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday .
Good cooking, and good eating!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quick And Easy Mexican Cornbread

I don't know about you, but I get in a rut sometimes (!) when it comes to what I cook. I tend to cook the same few things over and over again for a while. Then I'll switch out a recipe or two, and make those same few dishes over and over again! This recipe today is a tried and true one that I make in spurts--sometimes more than others! It's not a typical cornbread, it's a meal in itself.

Too, brown, but doesn't it look good?

There are a couple of different ways to make Mexican Cornbread, but this is how I did it today.


  • 1 lb ground meat

  • 2 pkgs cornbread mix

  • 1 can cream style corn

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 8oz container sour cream

  • cheese

  • chopped or sliced jalapenos or other peppers, or chopped green chilies (optional)

Cook the ground meat and drain. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cornbread mix, eggs, sour cream, and corn. Today I'm baking this in a large iron skillet, sometimes I just use a 9 x 9 pan, or even a 9 x 13. When I use the iron skillet, I add a couple of tablespoons of oil and heat the skillet, either in the oven or on top of the stove. If I use anything else, I skip that part and just grease the pan. Add about half of the batter to the pan. Layer the cooked ground meat, sprinkle with peppers if using, then cover it with cheese of your choice. Today I had some sandwich sized slices of cheddar, and also some grated Mexican blend. Cover with remaining cornbread batter and bake at about 350 F for 30-40 minutes, or until the center seems set and the top is slightly browned. (As you can see from the picture, I let this one get too brown-my oven gets too hot, and it should have been adjusted down a little more.)


Sometimes I use Mexican cornbread mix, usually one Mexican and one regular. I've also used Mexi-corn or whole kernel corn in place of the cream-style corn. When our son was small, he didn't like the "red and green things" in it, so I started using the plain.

Today I used regular Jiffy cornbread mix; at home or when I can get it, I like the Corn-kits brand. You can certainly use any scratch cornbread recipe that you may have, and just add the corn to the batter.

This is very filling, and leftovers reheat well, either in the oven (wrap in foil so it doesn't dry out) or in the microwave.

Give this a try and see how you family likes it!

For more links to other recipes, see Tasty Tuesday at Forever...Wherever, or Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Good cooking, and good eating!