Whip-It-Up-Quick Cornbread

When I think of a bread being quick, to me it is more about the amount of time mixing and getting it baked…but it actually refers to the fact it is leavened with baking powder.

Cornbread falls into the quick bread family…I’d say for both reasons haha…the baking powder AND the ease of getting it mixed and into the oven. 😃

We are given the option of a plain version in the recipe, or the option of many add-ins. I went the route of adding all the add-ins and was not disappointed!

The batter is mixed up with the usual ingredients: butter, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cayenne, and buttermilk. To this I added all options: bacon, corn, jalapeño, scallions, and topped with cheddar cheese(…although that seemed to overcook). I mean the combination sounded amazing…and amazing it was!

In my family I have some cornbread lovers and some that are, not so much…but everyone LOVED this version. It was gone.

The ease with which this comes together and the reaction everyone had, makes this an easy winner of a recipe.

This one is a keeper!

Speaking of “This one is a keeper”…Wordpress reminded me that January 27, was my 10 year anniversary of registering and February 7, 2012 was my first post for this baking journey and beginning the new cookbook Baking with Julia…first task was “White Loaves”. Crazy how time flies and how much fun this adventure has been for both me…and my family and friends that have encouraged me and have been steadfast tasters for the duration! It has been so much fun and I have learned so much!

Baking With Julia: complete ✅

Baking Chez Moi: complete ✅

Currently underway: Dorie’ s Cookies, Everyday Dorie, and Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple.

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Pasta with Sardines, Fennel, and Pine Nuts

We learn in the intro that there are many, many recipes for pasta and sardines and that this one is based on a popular Sicilian dish.

Who knew sardines were so popular 🤷‍♀️?..not me.

This one took some dedication to the process of cooking through a cookbook to pull off. Neither my husband nor I have ever eaten sardines and yet we both had the idea we wouldn’t like them..weird especially since we eat so much fish. Why are the thought of sardines so off putting I wonder?? All I can think of is from watching cartoons as a kid. 🤷‍♀️😂

The ingredients to this dish are wonderful: toasted pine nuts, onion, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, capers, basil, lemon zest and juice. The sardines are folded in almost at the end.

I actually made this as a side dish because I was not feeling too confident in us liking this as a main course for dinner. The build up I know is killing you…what did we think, are we sardine lovers now?

No, we are not.

BUT, we did eat quite a bit of it and didn’t think it was too bad. We are both super glad we had the opportunity to try sardines because we never have before. Interestingly, the rest of the dish minus the sardines is absolutely fabulous! We loved the rest of the pasta and ingredients and will for sure make that again and maybe just add in shrimp instead of the sardines haha.

All good…and super glad to have tried sardines!

***Update…made this again with the shrimp and it was as amazing as we thought it would be! Oh…and I should say I omitted the raisins both times…didn’t really go to me!

Swedish Dream Cookies

This cookie, we are told, is reminiscent of a Swedish cookie called a drommar, meaning “dream”. Those are similarly buttery and crumbly but have some jam in the center rather than the almond.

We make brown butter to start off baking these cookies. That takes a bit of patience waiting for the brown bits to show up…and then the butter is cooled to room temperature for 30 min and then chilled for 2+ hours.

The dough, which is mostly butter, flour, a little sugar with some cardamom and vanilla, is pretty crumbly. We are to work it into balls and then press an almond into the center…knowing that it may crack and that is ok.

Nothing was really hard, but I felt like it wasn’t easy either haha. In the end, they turned out great and everyone liked them so I guess they were a win. 😃

Mary’s Maine Bars

If these don’t scream Christmas I don’t know what does. 😂

I am not usually a fan of gingerbread, but these were different. They were moist, and chewy, and not overly flavored by the molasses. Although the flavor was there, it was complemented by the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves…surprisingly no ginger is added. I really liked the texture…as did all of my tasters. One commented it was like a gingerbread brownie..which I had to agree.

Everyone also said they loved the sanding sugar on top…that really does elevate a recipe from ordinary to something special. We were fans.

I would say these are definitely a November/December dessert…but I would for sure see myself making them again later this year during the holidays!

These are a keeper!

Portofignos

Our recipe this month won a contest…one where the participants were to come up with a cookie to savor with port. Chocolate and port, we are told, are perfect partners so it is of no surprise the winner combines chocolate and port infused figs…along with some toasted walnuts.

The first question I had was…what is port 🤷‍♀️😂. Had to google it…my knowledge consisted of when I am reading, people drinking “port”, but I didn’t actually know what it was. THAT is what I love the most about this baking group…truly expands our world and experiences. I have now, found, bought, baked with, and tasted port!

I would say these cookies were easy to put together. First things are to toast the walnuts and simmer the figs in the port until they absorb all the liquid.

Next you combine the batter ingredients..butter, sugars, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Then add in the figs and walnuts. The dough is then split into two and rolled into two logs about 12 inches long. Wrapped and frozen for an hour…or as is suggested overnight so the flavors can meld together. That is what I did..which made it really easy to make the cookies the following day.

The logs are cut into rounds and then popped in the oven for a very specific 14 min which was perfect timing.

My only experience with figs, is eating Fig Newtons as a kid haha. That sure takes me back…I don’t know if they even still make them. I was curious to see if I would still like the flavor…although paired with chocolate I figured we were on to something!

These were delicious…a favorite with EVERYONE..top tier of the recipes I have made I was told…and given an A+ from my son! Who knew haha. I was informed I will need to make them again, so a real winner! My husband said it was one of his favorite cookies I have made…I was like, even better than the Mokonut Rye Cranberry…and he said, I think so! 😂

I am not sure what made everyone love them so much as we aren’t fig eaters or port drinkers but the combo was super tasty!

This one is a keeper for sure.

Steph’s Bakewell Tart

I was excited to bake this one! As a big fan of The Great British Baking Show, this recipe stood out…the Bakewell haha. I had to look it up one time when I was watching because I had no idea what this “Bakewell” was that they kept referring to. Now I have baked one…pretty cool…even better was the fact it was LOVED by all!

The “Bakewell” always has three components: the crust which is firm and flaky, the layer of gooey jam…usually raspberry, and a layer of slightly chewy almond sponge cake. Optional would be a sprinkling of sliced almonds on top, and a drizzle of icing. Icing makes everything better so of course I went the optional route, using both.

Nothing about this was difficult, although there is some chilling time with the crust and a few steps so you don’t just throw this one together. I was unsure about the amount of jam in the final product as the picture in the cookbook looks like a thin layer, although it is hard to tell. The rounded cupful the recipe calls for gave quite a layer of jam in the cake. I was thinking it might be too much but every one of my tasters said don’t change anything when I asked hahaha.

This was a fun one, and so loved that of course I would bake it again. 😍

Stuffed Cabbage

“The cabbage packets are layered between the sauce and a cushion of grated apples, shredded onions and cabbage and braised for 3 hours-the aromas draw everyone to the kitchen”

The aroma from this cooking in the oven was amazing! Dorie was not exaggerating! I am one of the people she was talking to…the ones who have never made stuffed cabbage…in fact my husband and I both can’t remember ever eating it either. Weird…I know. Especially hearing her talk about what a beloved dish this is in many cultures and revered in Europe. 🤷‍♀️

This was a labor of love to make…took me a little over an hour to prepare, and then cooks for 3 more. The anticipation was building as we smelled it…would we like it, would it be worth all the effort haha.

Glad to report, it was absolutely delicious. I am not sure how Dorie got such a great picture, because that was a challenge pulling the bundles out of the Dutch oven and making it look nice.

I think the hardest part in preparing this dish was trying to get my cabbage leaves freed and still in tact. Once I had accomplished that, the boiling of the leaves, mixing the filling (I used Turkey), assembling the bundles and making the sauce all went smoothly. My husband and I both really liked the sauce and the nice kick you got from the cayenne..my husband probably would have liked more of a kick but it was perfect for me.

I would have to say this was a huge success…delicious and fun to try. I would make it again, especially knowing the end result would be something we would like!!

Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Traditional Tabbouleh is made with finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion, and bulgur….seasoned with olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.

This is a modern take, substituting grated cauliflower for the bulgur. The recipe is more of a guideline, and we are encouraged to add whatever toss-ins we would like.

In addition to the cauliflower and chickpeas the recipe calls for, I added in finely chopped celery, carrots, and red onion. That was all tossed with lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It is chilled for at least an hour. (I omitted the mint)

We had this alongside some Cajun seasoned tilapia, and it was a hit. This was a very fresh tasting vegetable salad. The lemon really gives that clean, fresh lift. I think my husband and I were a little surprised we enjoyed it as much as we did because neither of us are big cauliflower fans…just one of the few vegetable we don’t love. What I did love about this recipe, is it is a way to incorporate cauliflower haha. I guess grated with some dressing gives it a new life.

Pleasantly surprised…we will have this again.

Grain and Seed Muffins

This was a perfect…start the year off right…healthy muffin! These are sturdy, and hearty, and pointy-topped.

These pack a punch of healthful ingredients: whole wheat flour, wheat bran, oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds…sweetened up with some cinnamon, brown sugar, maple syrup, and dried cranberries.

The batter is easy enough to mix together, and bakes up 12 golden brown, pointy topped muffins.

The muffins were a bit polarizing…not really any middle ground. People either really liked them, or didn’t quite care for them. 🤷‍♀️

No worries though, everyone is always happy to taste the new bake…always! 😍

Happy New Year!