Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sometimes good things happen to good people.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jambalaya Muffins

I should have known better. Much like the cool guy in high school that everyone later realized was just an alcoholic bully reading this recipe after the fact is a smack in the head. Diced meat? No spices yet called Jambalaya? Doom.

I considered linking to it but since I have almost nothing nice to say I'm going to do the honorable thing and say it behind her back. I will say that it can be made in stages which is always a good thing at my house. The meat was diced while my daughter was coloring. The veg were diced, break for a diaper change (and hand wash) and then sauteed. Once you start combining the wet and dry ingredients it's all systems go but up until that point it's pretty easy to take breaks as needed.

The basic cornbread recipe is sound. It should be. It's the one on the back of the box. The jambalaya additives are not OK. The first bite immediately brought to mind vomit. I don't mean it reversed my gears into the technicolor rainbow but the combination of meat flavor and grainy texture was devastating. I kept waiting for the burning sensation of tequila to follow the taste. Really, how often do you have a mouthful of tiny bits of pork and it's not because you horked? The green pepper and onion added a bit of flavor, but they were the flavors of green pepper and onion not jambalaya. It would have been easy enough to throw in some of the cajun seasoning that every home has but never uses but I had recipe tunnelvision. Surely it would be good. It was on the internet.

The final result did inspire one of the longer sentences my daughter has ever spoken. "I don't want it." The child loves bread, pork, and things that fit well in her hand. These should have been her new favorite but she's savvy. She knew that meat should not be pureed. Ever. Even mincemeat pie has evolved to meatlessness.

Should your family need to be punished or you want to inspire greater communication with your toddler, here's the recipe. You were warned.

Jambalaya Mini Muffins

3 T butter
1/2 c onion, very finely minced
1/2 c green pepper, very finely minced

1 c cornmeal
1 1/4 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt

2 eggs
2 c buttermilk

1 c cooked ham, very finely minced
1 c cooked Italian sausage, very finely minced

Preheat oven to 400°.

Melt butter and saute onion and green pepper until softened, then let cool slightly. In a large bowl whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt. In a large measuring cup beat eggs into buttermilk. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients all at once. Stir until just combined, taking care to break up any clumps. Gently fold in ham, sausage and vegetables.

Grease mini muffin pan (I use Pam!) Scoop a generous tablespoon of batter into each cup. Bake 15-16 minutes until tops starts to brown.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Beaten by Butter

My moms' group made cookies in a jar today. One of those allegedly simple recipes where you just add the wet ingredients, pop in the oven and wait a few minutes and savor the delicious treats. As you may guess from the title, it was not to be.

At 2 I took out two sticks of butter in anticipation of afternoon cookie fun with Froggy, my toddler. Five hours later I finally got a chance to make the cookies. Froggy's job was to unwrap the butter and put it in the bowl. Mine was to run the mixer to combine the egg and butter into a light creamy blend. She completed her part and even put the wrappers in the trash. I couldn't get past runny and lumpy. I decided the bowl should have had high scrapable sides instead of being wide and deep but my proper cookie bowl was already involved in another project. Ah well, we're going for it anyway. In went the dry mix.

It mixed... not so nicely. I added 2T of water just to get everything wet. I rationalized it as margerine offset. The batter looked fine so we proceeded with an absolute absence of caution. With my skilled leadership Froggy was able to coat the sheet in cooking spray. Translated, she pushed the button and I moved her hand. Then she counted while I scooped. We popped the first trays into the oven. It seemed as if cookies were imminent.

Upon baking they flattened and spread. When removed from the sheet I could read through them. I don't mean they were paper thin, that might have been an achievement. I mean they crumbled and broke. My two year old is equally delighted by cookies or cookie bits. My husband, God bless him and the Army, will eat just about anything I put in front of him. Regardless, I will not be attempting cookies in a jar again for a while.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Caramel Popcorn

I'd make a terrible superhero. I have far too many weaknesses. One of them is seasonal merchandise. I'm sure I could buy caramels any time of year if I tried but at Halloween they put them in a pretty display at then end of the grocery aisle just to tempt me. As I said, I'm weak and this year they're new and improved. Caramel BBs, for easier melting. Who can resist weaponized candy?

After a few days of pondering I decided to take the easy route and pull a recipe off the Kraft website. They should know what to do with their freaking caramel ammo. Turns out they really don't. Their recipes focus on the 12 oz bag of individually wrapped cubes. The bag of BBs is an ounce short. Oh well. We're making caramel popcorn anyway.

Here's the recipe as presented by Kraft. They don't come close to telling you everything you need to know.

1. Buy an air popper. A year ago I never ate popcorn. Now I have a toddler and it's a regular occurence. Microwave popcorn has made me Orville Redenbocker's rugar mama. No more.
2. Pop a batch of corn. The recipe says 12 cups. That's more than one batch in my popper and more than my biggest bowl will hold. Less corn = more caramel per kernel. I see no problem.
3. Decide that pecans are a much better choice than peanuts and have the added benefit of already being in the house.
4. Melt the sack o' caramels, 1 T water, 3 T butter. Stir often. Decide you should have used less butter.
5. A bit at a time mix the ridiculously hot and sticky caramel into the easily shattered popped corn. Curse often.
6. Fight your demons. You do NOT want to try to eat the corn after it has been in the oven for ten minutes. Really. Sugar which has been in a 300 degree oven is now 300 degrees. Skin from your tounge or fingers will ruin the taste of your corn.

Once done it's a tasty treat. Thank goodness I only buy caramels seasonally.