Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mexican Cornbread

So one of my favorite foods of all time is bacon, and with good reason! It's very flavorful and you can use it in baked items, in sweet or savory recipes, or enjoy by itself!

On a road trip with my family, we brainstormed ideas of new ways to use bacon, because I love it so much. We all do. And really, who doesn't? One of my ideas has since become in high demand in my family and around the office, so it's time to share it with you, too.  You will need a cast iron pan or cast iron baking mold of some sort. Alright, get baking!

1 1/2 C. corn meal
1/2 C. self-rising flour  
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 jalapenos 
1/4 C. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled 
1/2 C. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 C. caramelized onions, diced
1 C. whole corn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a cast iron pan to prep. 
Mix corn meal, flour, and kosher salt in separate bowl. In a second bowl, lightly whisk eggs and buttermilk together. In a larger bowl, mix dry and wet ingredient bowls together--mix with hand-mixer quickly. Do not over-mix. 
Add diced jalapenos, Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled bacon, diced onions and whole corn in bowl. Mix til all ingredients are incorporated. 
Add cornbread mixture to your buttered cast iron pan. Bake in 450 degree oven for 25 minutes. Keep an eye and make sure only lightly browned on top. Bake on lower-third of oven. Cornbread is finished when toothpick test pulls clean. 


Fall Frenzie: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

In a previous post I mentioned making cupcakes for work...well everyone loved them! Which is good, because I like to cook and am trying to practice baking more before heading off to culinary school....BUT now that everyone thinks my cupcakes are better, they ALWAYS ask me to make some sort of baked good for every birthday. A bittersweet problem indeed. But at least it gives me an excuse to get in my kitchen and do work, and we all know I love that :)

So now that it's October, we wanted to have a birthday celebration for a team member this month that was a little festive. What did we go with? Pumpkin. But I had a little confession: I had never baked with pumpkin before. Sure, I've watched my mom or grandmother make a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving thousands of times. But I've never made one myself. I've never cooked pumpkin either, it seemed quite intimidating. Not to mention it would have added to my prep and cook time with this chore. And I'll be honest, I don't like doing chores for work (off the clock) before I complete a to-do list for my apartment (that seems to grow by the minute these days). So I tried to develop a quick recipe to help out people like me who sometimes have a lot on their to-do list, but want to throw a pumpkin cupcake on their plate too! It was an experiment in kitchen and here's what I came up with for the cupcake recipe:

4 C. self-rising flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
2 C. packed light brown sugar
1 C. soft butter (2 sticks)
4 large eggs
15 oz. pumpkin puree, NOT pie filling 

Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in pumpkin puree. On low speed, add all other ingredients just until blended. Pour into muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Yields 24 normal-sized cupcakes, or 48 mini-cupcakes 

Icing options:
I went with my classic cream cheese icing, and it was delicious! However, someone at work doesn't like typical icings, so they special ordered an option involving mixing vanilla pudding and cool whip together. I was skeptical at first, but it also paired well with this pumpkin cupcake.