Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mexi-Que Un-Cupcakes



Tonight was the Slow Food Atlanta Annual meeting, an event that I really look forward to for the chance to catch up with old friends and make new, to hear what is on the agenda for the upcoming year, and enjoy a potluck hors d'oeuvre and dessert buffet created by members. With a group like Slow Food Atlanta, you can expect that there will be excellent food, after all, some of Atlanta's top chefs, farmers and artisan food creators are members. I really enjoy being a member, but I get a little stressed trying to come up with the perfect dish to bring. I usually go to sweets first, because I enjoy baking, but today I wanted to do something a little different. I started thinking about southern foods and barbecue immediately came to mind, then I decided that cornbread would be delicious with it, so I decided to combine them both in a savory cupcake form. I had planned to do a cream cheese-barbecue sauce "frosting", but I had a hard time getting the right texture, so I just brushed the tops with the sauce instead.

closeup


Ingredients
1 batch Ultimate Cornbread
1/2 lb smoked pork
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, split in half
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins. Combine the pork and 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce. Spoon cornbread about 1/3 of the way up the tins, then top with pork mixture, see picture below. Top with another spoonful of cornbread batter, being careful not to overfill, tins should be filled to the top, but not mounded. Sprinkle shredded cheese over each cupcake. Bake 11 minutes if using mini-muffin tins or 20 minutes if using standard size ones. Leave in tins for about 3 minutes, then remove to rack to cool. Brush tops with remaining barbecue sauce just prior to serving. One batch makes 48 minis and 9 full sized.

pan

I was happy with how my un-cupcakes were received at the meeting. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and best of all, being among such a talented, creative group inspired me to come up with a few new variations on this theme. In the future you may see posts on Viet-Que Un-Cupcakes, Peking-Que Un-Cupcakes and more!



The crispy cheddar bits around the edges are delicious!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Super Saver Sunday Supper



I'm not generally one for New Year's resolutions, but this year I am making an exception. With the economy being in a hole and sky high inflation affecting every aspect of my life, it is getting harder and harder for me to make ends meet. Thus, this year I have made a trio of resolutions:

1: Cook for myself and eat at home more often

2: Cut grocery bills using coupons and sale items

3: Don't throw away food

For those that don't know me, while I love to cook, I'm not really a fan of cooking for one. I'm more a dinner party for 8 kind of person. One of the problems is that there aren't a lot of good recipes for one person and I don't like leftovers. Plus it seems like a lot of effort, when I get home late after a long day at work, to figure out something to whip up for dinner. But, I've made these resolutions and I have to say that so far I'm doing pretty well. Like today, I created a tasty Super Saver Sunday Supper after browsing the Publix sale flyer and spending a few minutes looking for coupons online.

Today's big buys were Cabot cheddar at 2 for $5, Wolfgang Puck Organic Chicken Stock also 2 for $5 and half off all frozen Birds Eye vegetables, which, when combined with a $1 off coupon for a purchase of any 3 products that I got on their website, it was a real steal. My total savings today was $48.53. With my grocery haul I made Broccoli-Cheddar Soup with cheddar quesadillas on the side. As soon as I got home, I dumped a bag of Birds Eye Baby Broccoli Florets in a large saucepan with half a carton of chicken stock and brought it to a simmer while I unpacked the rest of my groceries. Then I shredded several of the blocks of cheddar in my food processor, enough for the soup, quesadillas, plus plenty left over for nachos or omelets or anything else I want shredded cheese for this week. By the time I had everything put away and the dishwasher unloaded, the soup was ready to blend. The finished product was tasty and inexpensive, with very little prep time or clean-up, now that's what I call a winner!

Ingredients
2  14 oz bags frozen broccoli florets (If you get to Publix before 1/11/12, you can get the 50% off deal)
2  cups chicken stock
1  cup shredded cheddar cheese (The sale price on the Cabot was even cheaper than Costco)
salt & pepper to taste

Place 1 bag of florets in a large saucepan with the stock and simmer over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup while still on the stove. Once it is smooth, add the remaining bag of florets and heat until warm, about 10 minutes. Adjust for seasoning and serve with a garnish of shredded cheddar.

Monday, January 2, 2012

That Ruby Stalk

While I am not normally a huge vegetable fan, I make an exception for rhubarb. While it is botanically classified as a vegetable, it's considered to be a fruit in the US, as that is how it is most traditionally prepared. In my family, we definitely treat it like a fruit, including it in jams, pies and, my favorite, rhubarb cake. This is an old family recipe and so simple to put together, it makes a great last minute dessert for when you are craving something sweet.

cake

Ingredient List
1/2 c. softened butter
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. self-rising flour
16 oz rhubarb, chopped about the same size as you would celery for chicken salad



For Topping
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combined in small bowl



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch glass baking pan. Cream butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla - mix just until combined. Add flour and beat until incorporated, batter should be smooth. Fold in rhubarb, then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar topping mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center removes cleanly.

While this recipe tastes best in the Spring when rhubarb is just emerging from the soil, one of the first signs that Winter is at an end, you can also use frozen rhubarb, which I have started keeping on hand for last minute cake cravings. If you do use frozen, be sure to thaw it before adding it to the batter. There may also be some mutant pieces in there, so I pick through and cut the ginormous slices into more manageable bites.



Speaking of cake testers, my mom bought me this artsy-fartsy (their words, not mine) one and gave it to me for Christmas. It is so much nicer than stabbing my cakes with splintery toothpicks. They also suggest that you can use it as a sun catching plant stake, I just might have to order a few more for that purpose.