Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I recently stumbled across a local used bookstore where I happily purchased my first cookbook by Ina Garten called Barefoot Contessa at Home.  I have wanted one of her cookbooks for a long time.  So, I immediately read it cover to cover, making a list of several recipes that I couldn’t wait to try.  This one was found at the top of the list due to the jalapenos that we have coming out our ears from the garden.

It is really delicious!  Of course I knew Ina wouldn’t disappoint me though.  So far we’ve eaten it with soup and meatloaf and it has been fabulous left over.  And, even with 6 jalapenos – it isn’t hot.  Actually, I mentioned to Tim that I wished I had put in a few more peppers.  But, Tim said he liked it as it was…that the peppers impart enough flavor so that you know they are there, but they don’t overpower.  He said he wouldn’t want any more peppers in it because you wouldn’t be able to taste the cheese.  So, I guess he is right!

 He also asked how it tastes like the piece is already spread with butter?  I didn’t tell him that its because there are 2 sticks of butter in it!  Shhhh – its our secret. 🙂

I usually fail to prep ingredients in advance, so learn from me here – have the ingredients for this recipe ready.  You will need to chop the peppers {wear gloves!} and onions, grate the cheese, melt the butter, and grease the dish.  The batter needs to sit for 20 minutes once mixed and it needs to bake for 30 minutes, so have everything ready so that is goes as quickly as possible.


Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread {serves 12}


3 cups AP flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 T. baking powder

2 tsp salt {I used 1 tsp}

2 cups milk {I used skim}

3 extra large eggs, lightly beaten {I used 4 large eggs}

2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted.  Plus more for greasing the pan.

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated and divided

1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts {I didn’t have any scallions, so I subbed red onion}

3 T. seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers {I doubled this and used 6 peppers}


Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl with a whisk.  In a separate large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter.  With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are gone.  But don’t over mix.  Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the onion, and the jalapenos.  Allow the batter to sit at room temp. for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350* and grease {grease it well!} a 9x13x2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and sprinkle with remaining grated cheddar and onions.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Serve warm.

Homemade Tomato Soup

The tomatoes are finally becoming ripe in our garden, and thankfully doing so a few at a time.  I would be in big trouble if they all ripened at once.  So I created this soup to use the four that ripened first.

I also used a carrot, onion, and basil from our garden.  It is so rewarding to create something delicious with veggies we grew ourselves!


Tomato Soup (2 large servings)


4 medium tomatoes; peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup {one medium} onion, chopped {I used a red onion, but white would be fine too}

3 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 T. butter

1 T. olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper to taste

1 T. sugar

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 cup low sodium chicken broth


In a dutch oven or medium saucepan, saute onion, carrot, and garlic until tender over medium heat in butter and oil.  Stir in the sugar, salt and pepper, and the tomatoes breaking them up with wooden spoon.  Bring to a boil {this will happen very fast because there isn’t much juice}. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Add basil leaves.  Blend with an immersion blender to desired consistency.  Add broth and heat through.

Serve with croutons, Parmesan cheese, or other topping of your choice.



Key Lime Meltaways

I bought 2 limes to use in a salsa recipe and ended up not needing to add the juice after all.  So I began a search for an alternate use for limes and that lead me to Erin’s recent blog post.

Although I’m not usually a fan of slice and bake cookies, I was attracted to several aspects of the recipe, including the fact that I could make the dough one night and bake the cookies the next, I worship trust Martha Stewart’s recipes, and I’ve never made a lime dessert before.  So I gave it a shot!

They are great and certainly do melt in your mouth!  The only issue I had, was that I added the last batch of cookies to the bag of sugar while they were still too warm and they pretty much crumbled.  It was totally my fault though.  The first 2 batches had cooled for 10 minutes each and they came out fine.  I stupidly rushed the final batch.  So, learn from me and listen to Martha’s directions – cool for 10 minutes before shaking!

Just a few other notes:  I used regular limes, not Key limes.  I wouldn’t say that my butter ever got “fluffy.”  More like very smooth and creamy.

Lime Meltaways

Yield:  approx. 4 dozen

from Martha Stewart Cookies as seen at Erin’s Food Files

12 tablespoons (1 -1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s {powdered} sugar
Grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.

Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll {form with hands} dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.  I chilled them for 24 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.

Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still slightly warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Peach Cobbler

I had my doubts about this recipe, but it actually worked out just fine both times I made it!  I just didn’t see how it was possible for the batter to rise over the peaches.  I also think it is key not to over mix the batter.

The first attempt was for a family picnic, and it looked a little flat in the dish {I used a 9×13}.  It definitely was not a deep dish type of cobbler.  Tim said it was fantastic though and he practically licked the dish clean.

The next time I made it, I used a smaller dish {9×9} and it was terrific. I also forget about the Cinnamon the second time I made it, but we didn’t miss it.

Peach Cobbler

{recipe adapted from Dinner & Dessert and Vintage Victuals}

Serves 4-6


4-5 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced {about 4 large peaches}
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
A dash of salt
3/4 cup milk – I used vanilla soy milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the sliced peaches and the 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Cover and let set until the juices start to run.  I left mine for about 20 mins.

Place the butter in a 9×13″ baking dish. Put it in the oven for 3-4 minutes, until the butter is completely melted.

Meanwhile, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and stir just until combined. Do not over mix, lumps are okay.

Remove the dish with the butter from the oven.  Immediately pour the prepared batter over the butter. Do not stir!

Next, pour the peaches over the batter and butter. Do not stir!

Finally, sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the top. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the batter sets and turns a golden brown on top.



Hot and Sweet Drumsticks

I wanted to try a recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s new site called Tasty Kitchen, so I went with a recipe that PW had made herself.

It was really tasty!   The only issue I had was that it took longer than 45 minutes to cook.  I think mine took an hour, but I was using larger drumsticks.  Next time I’ll probably just use the sauce on chicken breasts so they cook faster.


Hot and Sweet Drumsticks

(source : posted by Teri L. on Tasty Kitchen)


  • 1 Cup Apricot Preserves
  • 1/2 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Hot Pepper Sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • 3 Lbs. Drumsticks (about 12) I had a 3 # package of 7 larger drumsticks


Preheat oven to 350*. In a small saucepan, combine preserves, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic and hot pepper sauce. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until preserves are melted.

Arrange drumsticks in a single layer on a 13 x 9″ baking pan. Pour sauce over drumsticks, turning to coat. Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes or until chicken is done, spooning sauce over drumsticks while baking.  Serve over rice.

Serves 6

Foil-Pack Taco Chicken

I’ve had this recipe from an old issue of Kraft’s Food & Family magazine sitting in my “to make soon” pile for about a year!  I finally got around to it a few nights ago when I had several of the ingredients on hand and needing to be used.  Almost perfectly I had an open jar of salsa, 3 chicken breasts, and 2 small potatoes.  It was meant to be.

It is a very easy and tasty recipe that you can adjust to serve 2 or more.  I made several adaptations that are noted in italics.


4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (one breast per person, I used 3 and Tim took the third to work the next day)
4 tsp.  taco seasoning mix
1/2 lb. red potatoes, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) (I used about 1 cup or two small potatoes)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup Mexican blend or cheddar shredded cheese
1/2 cup  salsa
1/4 cup  sour cream – optional

HEAT oven to 400°F.  Spray sheets of foil with non-stick spray.

SPRINKLE chicken with seasoning mix and set aside.  Place 1/2 cup potatoes on center of each sheet of heavy-duty foil; sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper, top with onions, chicken, cheese and salsa.

BRING up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Place on large baking sheet.

BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until chicken is done (165°F). Cool 5 min. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening. Top with sour cream.


Cucumber and Penne Pasta Salad

To me, this is a perfect summertime picnic salad.  I’ve taken it to our block party before and it got rave reviews.  It has a surprisingly sweet and tart dressing that is very different, but perfect nonetheless.


Cucumber and Penne Pasta Salad

{Source:  my Mom}

Serves a crowd!


1 pound penne pasta

2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 large onion, sliced

1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced – optional

1 can black olives, sliced – optional

1-1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/4 cup oil

1 Tbsp dry mustard

1 Tbsp dried parsley

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder


Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, slice veggies and place in large bowl.

Make the dressing by putting the sugar, vinegar, oil and seasonings into a large bowl.  Whisk until sugar is dissolved.  {Or place dressing ingredients in a large jar with a lid and shake to combine.}

Add cooked and cooled pasta to bowl of veggies and pour on dressing.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.  It may seem like a lot of dressing, but a lot of it will be absorbed by the pasta, stir well to coat before serving.

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