Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rated E for Excellent: aka: Someone actually reads this!

I was really excited and surprised to get a comment from my fellow Illini fan Erin over at Milk & Honey telling me that she had nominated my blog for the E for Excellent Award! This is my first blog award and I am totally excited. Sometimes I start to wonder if anyone actually reads this blog (with the exception of those who I force at steak knife point... don't worry, I'm kidding). So now on to some of my favorite blogs:

First is Elly at Elly Says Opa! Elly's blog always makes me really, really hungry.

Next is Amber at Amber's Delectable Delights. This is another one that I know will always make me hungry.

Then there is Julie's blog Jewels in the Kitchen. I love, love this blog and Julie, she is one of the sweetest girls over on the cooking board I visit.

Then there is Annie at Annie's Eats. Annie's blog is where I turn when I need something to wow someone.

Next is Maci over at My Yummy Goodness. Maci is a Southern sweetheart and a fellow DMB fan, so you've gotta love her :)

Finally, I will give you Katie at Good Things Catered. This blog is responsible for my to-be-made pile doubling within the last couple of weeks, everything she makes just looks so good!

Now it is your turn:
Please find at least 10 more blogs, of any kind that you love to read. Write a post about the blogs you picked, linking back to me and to them. Once you’ve posted, return here to let me know your post done and be sure to let them know too!!! (If you don’t come up with 10, that’s fine too!)

Cornbread Heaven in Salad Form: An Eat to the Beat Entry

Doug and I both share a love music, we actually met in band in high school (yeah that's right, we were band geeks). Over the years we've both played a number of different instruments (some well and some not so well; he always better than I). We love to share new songs that we've heard with each other, he loves to expose me to great old bands he enjoys, and I occasionally will force some so-so pop artist upon him. But there is one band that has a very special place in both of our minds: The Dave Matthews Band. The first time I ever rode in a car with Doug he had DMB playing and the song Crash Into Me came on. I had always loved that song and the music video (way back in the day when MTV still played videos) and we started talking about the band (he knew way more about them than I did) and how awesome they were (and shortly after the song ended we shared our first kiss). Needless to say, that became our song. The next year we went and saw DMB perform, our first concert as a couple and had a total blast. Last year when we got married we hunted for the longest time for the perfect song (our reception was at our church, so Crash Into Me was not appropriate: that whole "lift up your skirt and show your world to me" part kind of nixed it); going through lists online and through every cd we both owned before we finally went "hey what about" and then proclaimed Steady as We Go to be the winner. This past summer we went to another DMB concert (our first as a married couple) and had an incredible time. DMB concerts are a blast: they last for a very long time but you never notice it because you are having so much fun.

After the concert I went into a major DMB phase, listening to every one of their cds we owned. During this I realized that one song that I really liked wasn't played at our concert (but I later found out it was played at the first night's show). That song? Cornbread. I won't totally go into details about what this song is about (this is a family blog after all) but let's just say the Dave isn't inviting you over for a nice Sunday lunch featuring fresh baked cornbread! You can check out the lyrics here, if you want to form your own opinion on what the song is about. But it is an incredibly fun song that gets stuck in your head for days and I love it.

Now, I told you all that to lead up to this dish. Last summer Doug's cousin got married in Mobile, Alabama. It was a great wedding with an awesome reception that featured a bunch of tasty salads (among other things). And one of those salads was a Cornbread Salad that we all loved. Doug's aunt thought this was extremely funny because she said every Northerner loves that salad. Then she promptly stated that the caterer refused to give out the recipe. No problem. A few months later I received a cute community cookbook from Doug's grandmother as a gift at my bridal shower and what recipe was in the salad section? That's right, Cornbread Salad. And what's the main ingredient in Cornbread Salad? Cornbread, of course!

So, using DMB's Cornbread as my inspiration and backing track, I offer up this tasty side dish. It is relatively easy to make and very tasty to eat. And I declare it "A little bit of heaven, and a little bit of aw yeah." Try it out yourself, and check out DMB performing the song here.

I'm entering this into Eat To The Beat over at Elly Says Opa. This is a blog event that Elly created where you enter a food item that is in some way connected to a song or band, whether it is named after them or just somehow inspired. So go check out Elly's blog (and prepare to be hungry!)

Cornbread Salad
By Teresa Stanley
From Treasured Recipes By the Monticello United Methodist Church
1 (8.5 oz) package cornbread mix You could make from scratch if you wanted
1 Envelope ranch-style dressing mix I used Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 Cup sour cream
1 Cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
1/2 Cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 Cup sweet red pepper, chopped I didn't add this item this time
1/2 Cup onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) Can pinto beans, drained
2 Cups fresh or frozen corn
2 Cups cheddar cheese, shredded I left this out
10 Slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional) I added this
Bake cornbread mix according to package directions and crumble. Combine ranch-style dressing mix, sour cream and mayonnaise in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix together peppers, onions, tomatoes, pinto beans, and corn. In a 3-quart salad bowl, layer half of the cornbread, half of the vegetables, half of the cheese, half of the bacon, and half of the dressing. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Note: Use low or no-fat sour cream and mayonnaise to reduce the calories in this dish. The longer this dish sits, the better it tastes.
I just mixed all the ingredients together (cornbread, vegetables, and bacon) and then mixed the dressing into it, that is how we had it before. I made this the day before we ate it and it was really good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Quick, Budget Friendly Meal

So it has been a while since I last posted. I've been fighting off a cold which has made cooking and being on the computer seem unappealing. But I am finally feeling better and am now pretty backed up on blog updates. So keep an eye out for some tasty items coming up, including my entry to Eat to the Beat and another birthday cake.

But first here is this tasty treat that Doug and I had for dinner not too long ago: nachos! I love nachos but had never made them at home before. They are so great: really easy, affordable, and you can add whatever you want to them. We kept these pretty simple but next time I may get more to put on them. One great thing about these is a last minute move by Doug. When it came time to add the water and taco seasoning to the ground beef (yes we use taco seasoning, we have a big container of it actually) instead of adding water he added beer! At first I was a little skeptical, but it added this awesome depth of flavor to the meat. It was just Budweiser that he added, though I think any beer would work as long as it wasn't one of the ones that has a different flavor to it (I'm pretty Blue Moon wouldn't work, it would taste weird). I'm not really a beer fan even, but I thought it was a great flavor.

This entry also sees the addition of a new tag for this blog. With money being so tight for many people there have been a lot of posts over on WC for budget friendly meals. So with that in mind I am creating a Budget Friendly tag, and I plan to go back eventually and add it to past items. That way I can easily point out these recipes to friends and they will be easy to find on here.

There isn't really a recipe for these nachos, just add whatever you would like to a pile of chips and you are good. You could do chicken or refried beans instead of the beef and your choice of vegetables, cheese, and toppings to make these truly yours.

What we used:
Nacho chips
Mexican Shredded Cheese
Ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning and beer
Sour Cream
I realize that isn't the best picture, but nachos are hard to make look good for the camera :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Timeless Classic: Oatmeal Scotchies

These are one of my favorite cookies that I really associate with fall. I'm not totally sure why that is, except for the fact that the tastes (oatmeal, cinnamon, butterscotch) all just scream fall to me. Plus I (and my mom) only really ever make them in the fall and winter. So when my yearning for fall got to be to much last week (when it was still in the 80s here) I decided to bust out the one bag of butterscotch chips I was holding in my pantry and whip up a batch of these bad boys. I always just follow the recipe on the back of the bag and they are so good. The remind me of growing up, of fall, and of the holidays (and if you get a Christmas present from me this year do not be surprised to find these cookies!). So here is the recipe for these incredible cookies, whip up a batch and bite into a great taste of fall.

Oatmeal Scotchies
Source: Nestle (find the recipe here)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Morsels

Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.