Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pineapple-Cheddar Cornbread

I always know summer is approaching when our calendar starts becoming packed with out-of-town trips. A trip up to New York to visit my husband's family, a Memorial Day trip to Virginia for a family reunion... and that was just May. But wanna know one of my favorite things about taking trips? I buy a ton of magazines to keep me occupied for the long drives. Cooking Light, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart, Good Housekeeping, Gourmet... just to name a few. And you better believe I have a huge pile of clippings by the time we get home.

Well, this recipe was like striking gold in the very, very back of a Better Homes and Gardens. Man, this is delicious cornbread! I don't think I can rave enough about it! Even my husband, who is so not a fan of cornbread, gobbled this right up. He usually complains that cornbread is too dry. But this bread? Just the opposite. It's moist and flavorful and... did I mention it's just delicious?

This bread is so easy to make and is a fantastic side dish to just about any meal. The cheese really gives it a great flavor while the pineapple makes it incredibly moist. This is not your run of the mill, ordinary cornbread. Make this with dinner tonight, you won't be sorry!

Pineapple-Cheddar Cornbread
(from Better Homes & Gardens)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, lightly beaten
14.75-oz. can cream-style corn
8-oz. can crushed pineapple (juice pack), drained
4 oz. cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease and flour a 2-quart rectangular baking dish (I used an 8-inch square pan); set aside.

2. In medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture on low speed just until combined. Stir in corn, drained pineapple, and cheese. Spoon batter into prepared dish.

4. Bake about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cut in squares. Serve warm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Bread

I have never in my life cooked with a mango. But I really love when the Tuesdays with Dorie selections are something other than pies and cookies. So I got really excited to give this a try. I had to go in search of mangoes, because my usual grocery store didn't carry them. I finally found them at the Fresh Market, where I can always count on finding any fruits and vegetables that aren't at the grocery store.

And wow, mango is surprisingly good! I ate several pieces of it as I was dicing it, and thought it was delicious. The bread came together very easily. My batter seemed a bit dry, even after stirring it for a while. But it tasted fantastic after it was baked. I love the flavors in it! I made a loaf for my neighbor who I owed a big thank you for watching over our house while we were on vacation, and I made a mini loaf for my hubby and I. It won't last long, I'm sure!

Thanks to Kelly of Baking with the Boys for the great selection this week. If you'd like to make this bread yourself, she'll have the recipe, so go check out her site!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pasta Pie

I didn't realize I had an obsession with baked pasta dishes until I just typed the name of this post. I do believe this is my third variation of pasta pie that I've posted. But each one is different enough to excite me and make me have to try it. I guess I like Italian!

This pasta pie really intrigued me because it's so different. And I LOVE its presentation. It has all of the usual characters - the pasta, the sauce, the cheese, and the ground beef. But it's baked in a springform pan so the sides can be removed and voilĂ  - you have a gorgeous dish!

It's incredibly easy to make. But be warned, it requires getting your hands a little dirty. Your pasta has to be stood up in your pan - one piece at a time. A little time and patience is required, but it pays off in the end.

And then comes the part where you'll really get your hands dirty. Take your sauce and pour it over your pasta. Stick your (CLEAN!) fingers in and push the sauce and ground beef down into the holes of the noodles. Be sure to get the sauce into every single noodle or else you'll be able to tell after it cooks. Instead of a nice top to your pasta, you'll see empty holes. I had one or two that I accidentally missed. But I still thought it looked great.

The pie slices really well and is incredibly easy to serve. This is a very tasty dish that's easy enough for anyone to try making. So go ahead and try it, I guarantee you'll impress your guests and it's a great conversation piece!

Pasta Pie
From Noble Pig, who adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart

1 pound rigatoni
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can (28 ounces) good quality crushed tomatoes
Butter, for pan
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces coarsely grated mozzarella

1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until slightly underdone (I cooked mine for 12 minutes when the box indicated 14 minutes). One pound of pasta should be cooked in 6 quarts of water, make sure you are using a big enough pot so the pasta doesn't stick together. When done, rinse in cold water and drain again. Toss pasta with 1 Tablespoon olive oil to coat. Set aside.

2. Heat remaining 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more.

3. Add crushed tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.

4. Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end. Spread meat sauce on top of pasta.

5. Push the meat sauce into the pasta holes filling each one up. Stuffing the meat into the holes is a weirdly satisfying task. Enough said.

6. Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and then unmold.

7. Cut into wedges and serve with any remaining meat sauce you might have.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Inside-Out BLT's

I'm still here! Nearing the end of my first trimester and starting to get my energy and appetite back. Life is busy, though, and I know I just don't have the time to post to my cooking blog like I used to. But I promise to share anytime I find a great new recipe! I love to cook too much to stop!

I've made these Inside-Out BLT's a few times now and really enjoy them. I'd kind of gotten tired of the usual dips and meatballs that I usually turn to for appetizers, so I went searching for something new and found these. They're a unique appetizer that will go with just about any type of dinner you're serving. They're also quite easy to put together. Everyone who tries them always likes them. So whip these up for your next get-together!

Inside-Out BLT's
(from My Tasty Treasures)

3 slices of bacon
⅓ cup chopped Romaine lettuce
⅓ cup coarse soft bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium Roma tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels and chop into chunks.

2. In a medium bowl, combine bacon, lettuce, crumbs, cheese and olive oil. Mix well and set aside. Halve roma tomatoes lengthwise. Scoop out insides leaving a ¼ inch shell. Sprinkle black pepper on each tomato half. Brush with some of the mayonnaise. Mound the bacon mixture into tomatoes; transfer to baking pan.

3. Roast tomatoes, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until tomatoes start to wilt.

Makes 2 servings, but can be multiplied easily.