Corn Bake Recipe

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with delicious food!  Mine was incredibly relaxing, but I do not recommend cooking an entire feast at one house and then transporting it to another house 45 minutes away.  As a result, we had to microwave everything, which dried everything out. 😦  Ah well, I still enjoyed spending time with Jonathan’s family.

I made the family corn bake recipe this year.  This recipe is a no-fail deal, and it’s probably the most requested recipe in my repertoire.  The gooey cheese mixed with the crunch of the corn is a perfect combination.

I make this around the holiday season, for cabin weekends, and potlucks.  It can easily be served year round, and it should be.  Nom nom nom.

You will need:

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 onion

1 Tbsp. butter or oil for sauteing

3 cans corn-drained

2 cans creamed corn

2 eggs-beaten

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix

6 oz. sour cream

6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Nothing says homemade goodness like creamed corn.  Mmmm

Experimenting with food photography

This is where it’s handy to have a sous-chef.  If you’re not an Iron Chef, you will have to chop the peppers and onion yourself.  *sigh*  Isn’t life hard?

Lightly sauté your veggies in 1 Tbsp. butter or oil.

Now, this is the amazing part.  Grab a big bowl and dump in the corn, creamed corn, corn muffin mix, eggs, and sautéed veggies.

A big ole mess o corn!

Make sure you stir it up until the wet ingredients have soaked up all of the corn muffin mix. You don’t want any clumps of muffin mix.  Blegh!

Now, pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Mix the sour cream and cheese in a separate bowl and dollop into the casserole.

See the dollops in there? That's what you want. Mmmm dollops of cheesy goodness.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until it is golden brown.

Obviously I didn’t take a finished product picture because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.  Either that or I am an airhead.

Enjoy!

-Mads

This week’s CSA box

I love waking up on Friday mornings to the shrill buzz of our apartment door.  Not because I love flying out of bed at 6am because I think there is a fire, but because it means the CSA box has arrived.

It’s Christmas every two weeks.

The arrival of the CSA box also means that I need to get my thinking cap on.  I love fruits and vegetables, but Jonathan and I noshing through a plain head of lettuce every week just isn’t happening.

This week’s box is looking a little green:

Today’s lesson in cropping: it’s ok to zoom in on something that makes you chuckle:

tomato butt

The bounty:

3 plums
1 head of lettuce
2 zucchini
2 green bell peppers
2 tomatoes
1 bunch green beans
1 muskmelon (aka funny cantaloupe)
1 bunch green grapes
 

I pay $25 to get this.  It’s all organic and local and sustainable.  It’s more than the grocery stores, but I stand by my decision to buy this every other week.

My “filler” items that I get at Trader Joe’s in between CSA weeks are: onions, bananas, berries, avocados, and pre-made salads.  Those are things we (we meaning me) eat on a daily basis.  Jonathan eats them if I sneak them in.

So, back to my thinking cap…  I might have used up my creative juices on the last bounty.  This green box has me stumped.

Do you have any recipe ideas for these bad larrys?

What are your repeat offenders for fruits and veggies?

-Mads

Guest Post: Basic Guide to Canning Dill Pickles

My dad’s cooking is delicious.  I’ve already posted “Dad’s Badass Chili” and the pesto was his original creation.  I’m sure there will be more.  Anyway, he has taken up a new hobby of pickling everything and anything in his sight (his salsa is insane).  I’ve asked him to guest post for me with a how-to guide to canning.  Here is his dill pickle masterpiece:

Canning Hints for Making Dill Pickles –

-In advance of your pickling day, buy and wash plenty of quart size canning jars, rings and new lids.  You can’t re-use lids!  Have on hand your large boiling kettle, a kettle for preparing brine, a quart-sized pan for heating lids in near-boiling water, and a canning tool for grabbing hot jars in the boiling water bath.  In addition, I use a magnetic extension tool for retrieving lids from hot water (available at hardware stores).

-Purchase pickling spices and supplies in advance.  See spice options below.

-Wake up early on a Saturday morning in late July or early August (in Minnesota, anyway).  Stop by your local coffee shop for a cup of your favorite dark roast then head to the nearest Farmers’ Market.

-Wander the rows of vegetable displays and scope out the best – freshest – cleanest pickling cucumbers.  Buy ½ bushel of pickling cucumbers or however many you feel ready to can.  I prefer small sizes (2” – 3” long…about like your index finger).  Process soon – while fresh.

-In your kitchen sink, rinse the cucumbers multiple times until water runs clear.  Get your hands in there and stir them up – they hold a lot of dirt.  A good friend actually tumbles hers in the washing machine in a pillow case.

-Cut off any stems.  Sort to maintain quality.

-Pack baby cucumbers in ice for at least 4 hours.  I suggest simply holding them in an ice water bath in the kitchen sink while you prepare the canning materials.

Pickle Ice Bath p.s. I totally love how my parents wash and reuse Ziplock baggies. Can you find the drying baggie? haha -Mads


The Pickling Process –

-Begin a boiling water bath in your largest canning kettle (to sterilize empty jars and then to boil filled jars for last step of the canning process);

Sterilizing cans in boiling water

-Prepare a brine solution in another large kettle (make more or less depending on amount of cucumbers purchased – sufficient to fill all jars):

  • 16 cups water
  • 8 cups white vinegar (I’ve used apple cider vinegar before with successful results)
  • 1 cup pickling salt
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

-Bring the brine to a boil until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.

-In the bottom of each of the sterilized jars, place 1) sprig of fresh dill, 2) wedge of white onion, and 3) 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

-Add combinations of pickling spices to the jars – depending on your preference.  I usually add mustard seed, 5 or 6 whole cloves, and allspice (they’re dominant flavors – make sure to judge accordingly).

-Pack the cucumbers as tightly as possible with various sizes (they float once the brine is added), and add another sprig of dill, onion wedge and garlic clove midway during packing.

Packing pickles

-Pour brine into the jars to above the “shoulder” – about ¼ – ½ inch from top.

-Heat lids for a couple of minutes in steeping water in quart-sized pan to activate the rubber seal material.

-Seal jars with lids and rings.  Make sure jar lips are clean and free from ingredients.  Continue with the rest of the jars and pickles.

-Making sure boiling water bath continues at a rolling boil, grasp top of each jar with your canning tool and insert into bath for 4 minutes.  I usually boil 5 jars at a time so that you can maintain temperature.  Boiling water must cover the jars.

-Remove jars from bath with canning tool and let cool on counter top.  As they cool, the lids should “pop” as ingredients contract.  If you can push the lids down after cooling, they probably haven’t sealed properly and you need to re-do the bath with a new lid.  Clean rims of the jars…

-Store in a dark, cool place for at least two months. Chill and eat!

Wait 2 months before eating


Homemade Pickling Spices –

Bunches o' Dill

2 large bunches of fresh dill (purchase at Farmers’ Market or produce department of grocery store)

1 jar mustard seed (3 oz.)

1 jar whole allspice (3 oz.)

Dried red pepper flakes

1 jar coriander seeds (3 oz.)

1 jar whole cloves (3 oz.)

2 jars cinnamon sticks (2 inches – add a stick to each jar)

Have you ever pickled before?

What is your absolute favorite canned treat?

What I made with my CSA produce

I recently received my first CSA box.  Fruits and veggies everywhere!

Jonathan claims he doesn’t like fruit, but he really just wants someone to do the grunt work for him.  The second I sliced up the pineapple and cantaloupe, he had eaten almost the entire bowl of fruit!  True story.

I knew we would be eating a lot of salad and raw fruits, but I wanted to spice things up a bit with my remaining vegetables.

What to do with avocados and tomatoes?  Guacamole!

What to do with sweet gypsy peppers?  Roast ’em!

What to do with strawberries and oranges?  Smoothies!

Goodmorning world!

What to do with potatoes?  Mash ’em!

 

I absolutely can’t wait for next week’s box of goodies, and I know Jonathan can’t wait for more fruit!

What’s your favorite veggie or fruit dish? 

-Mads

MY VEGGIES ARE HERE!!!!

I’m not sure if I told you peeps about the CSA box I decided to order or not.  I could check my old blog posts, but that would be waaaay too much effort.

So, here’s the deal, I decided to order a CSA box!  CSA is Community Supported Agriculture…basically you sign up to receive a box (you can pick the size) of various produce items (you can pick your favorites) to be delivered to you on a regular basis (you pick how often).

SQUEEE!!!!!

Jonathan and I decided on a mix of fruits & veggies to come once every 2 weeks.  We told the service about our dislike for beets, mushrooms, and lima beans, and they don’t ever add those icky things to our box.  The items that they add are whatever happens to be in season from local farms.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see vegetables in my life!

Our first box contained:

3 oranges
1 cantaloupe
1 small box strawberries
2 avocados 
5 tomatoes
5 sweet gypsy peppers (excited to try these!)
6 carrots 
10 baby gold potatoes
1 head of romaine
 

Before you get too excited, it does cost a bit more than grocery store produce.  We paid $25 for these local organic fresh goodies to be delivered.  Worth. It.  Especially for us city folk.

Check out Yelp! to find one in your area.

Do you have a CSA box?  How do you squeeze fruits and vegetables into your meals?

-Mads