I think sometimes we get stuck in cooking ruts… I know I do.
Take cornbread, for example. I had long ago firmly decided that I like savory cornbread, not sweet. And that I like my savory cornbread to have an extremely crispy bottom crust (practically fried from the cast iron skillet.) And that was that.
And just when I’m sure there simply isn’t any other type of cornbread worth sniffing at… THIS little beauty pops up on my front porch and rocks my cornbread world.
As I sat at my kitchen table wolfing down piece after piece, a thousand questions raced through my mind.
“Is this cornbread or CAKE?”
“What witchcraft is making this cornbread so SOFT??? I feel like I’m eating a pillow.”
“It has broccoli in it… so why do I feel like I’m eating dessert!”
“Is this really my fourth helping?”
And so on and so forth…
And to think all these years I’ve stayed in my crispy/savory cornbread rut and missed out on the glorious-ness that is sweet, broccoli & cheese-filled, buttery, Devil’s food tender cornbread. As the young people say these days… #smh.
Anyway, I have Sherri Garner and her lovely daughter Kyndall to thank for introducing this cornbread into my life. Kyndall sweetly volunteered to bring a meal by our house tonight, as I am recovering from surgery. (My third this year. Ick!) And that is one of the things I SO love about food… that we can use the gift of cooking as a gift to bless others!
I’m thrilled that the Garner ladies have agreed to let me share this recipe with all of you.🙂 Now we can all bake it for people we love and they can marvel at our ability to make something as simple as cornbread so irresistible!
In closing, make this cornbread. Now.
Sherri Garner’s Broccoli Cheese Cornbread
Featured On: The Pretty/Hungry Blog
–2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix
–1 10oz pkg of frozen chopped broccoli (cooked & drained)
–1 C cottage cheese
–1 1/2 sticks melted butter
–1/2 cup diced onions
–4 eggs beaten
–1/2 C mozzarella cheese
Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
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Have you noticed this “Desserts in a Mug” craze going around the internet??
I have to admit, when I first noticed single-serving desserts popping up on my Pinterest feed, I was uber skeptical. Up til then, I had managed (through sheer laziness!) to avoid giving in to my late-night sweets cravings, simply because giving in would’ve meant getting up off my lazy butt to make a whole pan of brownies, cookies, or cake. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But now you’re telling me I can make a personal-pan brownie in a matter of minutes, anytime the urge strikes??? “This is not good,” I thought. “I need to stay far away from these,” I thought.
But here’s the thing… single-serving desserts are kiiiinda winning me over! Oops.
Yes, on the one hand they make brownies that much more accessible (and that can be dangerous.) But on the other hand… there are ways to make single-serving desserts healthier! AND if you’re still below your calorie goal at the end of the day, can’t we call it good?
Yes! We can! Of course I’m not advocating a steady diet of sweets that is devoid of necessary protein, vitamins, and antioxidants… but I do think that occasional treats are ok if they fall within your daily calorie recommendations. Yes, even during Super-Healthy-October! 🙂
Especially when you take the time to make your sweet indulgences a little healthier by using whole grains, healthy fats, and naturally low-calorie sweeteners. Like my scrumptious brownie in a mug!
This baby is healthy yet heavenly. Decadent yet oh-so-sensible. And while my recipe calls for a touch of milk… you can easily trade that out if you want and make it totally vegan! (Whaaaat?!?) And for only 280 calories, you should have no problem budgeting it into your day (calorie-wise.)🙂
I highly recommend embracing dessert and making room for it in your healthy lifestyle. It makes you a much happier person!
Here’s how ya make it…
Healthy Brownie in a Mug (Only 280 calories!)
(Source: Pretty/Hungry Blog)
Prep Time- 5 minutes!
*Lightly spray your favorite mug with cooking spray. Set mug aside and use a measuring cup to mix ingredients. Start by combining the following dry ingredients:
-2 Tbsp. oat flour
-1 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
-1 Tbsp. brown sugar (or Sucanat, which is just evaporated cane crystals)
-pinch of salt
-4 tsp. cocoa powder
-scant 1/8 tsp. baking soda
-1/8 (slightly heaping) tsp. Stevia powder
*Once these have been stirred together with a fork, begin adding in the wet ingredients.
-1 1/2 Tbsp. applesauce
-3/4 Tbsp. coconut oil (or canola oil)
-2 tsp. pure maple syrup
-1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
-4 tsp. milk of choice
-1 tsp. mini chocolate chips (Or other favorite chips… I like peanut butter chips!)
*Stir with a fork to combine, then use a rubber spatula to scrape batter into prepared mug. Cook in the microwave on High for exactly 1 minute 15 seconds. And then voila! Party time. :)
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Over the years, October has become my unofficial “Be Extra Good To My Body” month. And I’d like to invite you to join me in making October “extra good” for you too!
The gist of this undertaking is as follows:
We all know that as hard as we try to maintain our healthy lifestyle, our ideal body weight, our workout regimen, and our “everything in moderation” mentality through the two landmine-filled Holiday months of November & December… it is dang near impossible!
Halloween kicks off the food-fest with a bowl of Reese’s cups that sits around your house tempting you for at least the 1st week of November. Then your office has a Thanksgiving potluck… oh and your church, and your ladies’ bible study, and your book club. Then Thanksgiving Day itself arrives (and the leftovers linger long afterward.) And then before you know it, it’s December and the Christmas parties are coming at ya every weekend! And sweet little neighbor ladies are delivering trays of fudge and sugar cookies to your doorstep. And Pinterest becomes a tidal wave of cinnamon rolls, peanut brittle, and chocolate cheesecake. And your boss gives you a ham as a Christmas Bonus! And everywhere you look there is pie, hot chocolate, and lil’ smokies! AHHHH!!!!
Ok, so that is a dramatization… but it comes directly from my REAL-LIFE experience, and I can only assume you encounter similarly gale-force temptations during the Holidays.
Now do hear me say, I am NOT advocating any kind of crash diet before the Holidays begin (or any time of year, for that matter.) But I have found that for me, the Holidays are far more enjoyable when I start them off in the best shape possible. I feel better, I have more energy, I avoid the flu, and (perhaps most importantly) I have little to no guilt about consuming a few fun Holiday treats because I’ve worked hard to earn them! What I’m suggesting then, is that if you (like me) are generally disciplined when it comes to your diet but anticipate the Holidays will be extra challenging and not altogether “slimming”, commit yourself to using the month of October to be extra good to your body in preparation for the coming indulgence.
*Side Note (If you have diabetes, heart disease, or have for any other reason been told by a medical professional that your weight is dangerously high, then I do NOT recommend “being good” in October so you can slack during the Holidays. In fact, I encourage you to employ the phrase “Get Behind Me, Satan!” as often as possible during the coming holiday season. The planned indulgence I’m referring to above is not advisable if your health is in jeopardy.)
So here are a few of the things I do to be “extra good” to my body during the month of October. I’d love it if you’d shout out your favorite healthy tips in the comments section too. Share the love! And let’s do this. :)
1) I start off my day with a vitamin-packed green smoothie!
2) I limit my fat intake to the healthy fats (like olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, raw nuts, & flaxseed)
3) I keep my daily calorie intake below 2,000. (The proper number will look different for everyone. See what your ideal caloric intake is here!)
4) I guzzle water like it’s going outta style!
5) I try (key word: TRY) to be done eating at least 2-3 hours before I go to bed. If you are like me and cutting out late-night munchies is a non-option, here’s a great list of healthy late-night snacks!
6) I try (again: TRY) to get more sleep. At least 8 hours a night is so deliciously good for your body!
7) I attempt to include veggies in every meal. And I cook at home so that I know what’s going into our meals. (Restaurants are NOT stingy with the butter and salt, in case you didn’t know that.) But the good news is, you can hide vegetables in so many things!
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I’m such a rebel, man! (Ok, not really😛.) But when it comes to cooking with pumpkin, I kinda am. I’m always hunting for ways to eat it that stray from the “traditional” sweet breads, pies, and other cinnamon-y concoctions out there. I don’t know why either, because those things are seriously delicious! I really do think it’s some internal rebellious desire inside me that just wants to stick it to the man and go my own way. I was pretty calm as a teenager so maybe this is me “acting out” to compensate as an adult.
Anyway, this week I whipped up a quick pumpkin pasta dish that was HEAVEN. By the way, do you regularly use rigatoni pasta noodles? Because you NEED to. They hold so much more sauce than your basic spaghetti and linguini noodles! It is probably my favorite type pasta of them all!
This dish is meatless, but I have also made it with the addition of chopped rotisserie chicken and it is truly wonderful either way. And those toasted pecans on the top? Dang. That’s all I can say. They add the most perfect, toasty/sweet crunch. DO NOT leave them off, do you hear me? (Of course I’ll never know… so do what you want. But add the pecans. Do it.)
My husband loooooves this pasta. He keeps asking me when we’ll be having it again… when I can make it for his parents because “They would really like it” etc, so I’d say it’s a clear winner.
I went ahead and took process photos of this pasta because the steps might not be familiar to everyone. Just know in advance that I’m aware of how horribly disgusting my stove top is in these photoes and have no excuses to offer. My kitchen gets dirty and sometimes I don’t clean it before I cook something new. I hope we can remain friends.
Start by finely dicing the onion & garlic and sauteing them in a little oil, butter, or even reserved fat from cooking another meal. (I love to save the fat from breakfast sausage to cook with. Yum!) Sprinkle in the herbs, along with a few pinches of salt and pepper and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes until onions are soft. Sprinkle 1/8 Cup of flour evenly over the mixture and stir it around for about 1 minute to allow the flour to cook. Then pour in 1/2 C. chicken broth and 1/2 C. cream (or half & half).
Stir in the broth and cream and allow it all to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes, until it has thickened into a nice sauce. It will look like this when you drag your spatula along the bottom of the pan (thick enough to take a few seconds to cover the empty spot.)
Now, add in the pumpkin puree, and all the delicious cheeses (cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and sharp cheddar. Goat cheese would also be a delicious substitute for cream cheese if you wanted to go that route.) Stir over low heat to melt.
Meanwhile, you’ve had your noodles boiling in salted water for about 9 minutes. (Sorry, forgot to mention that before, but I’ll be sure to in the printable.) Before draining them, reserve 1/4 Cup of the starchy pasta water to add to the sauce later.
Then just drain the noodles and dump them directly into the saucepan.
Toss to coat all the noodles in the heavenly sauce. (It is at this point you could add chopped chicken if you so desire.)
Garnish with fresh thyme and a dusting of toasted, chopped pecans. (I toast my pecans quickly in a dry skillet on the stove top. It really makes them crunchier and sweeter so try not to skip that step.)
Ooooohhhh man, I wish I could come to your house and make this for you right now. Just to show you how worth it it is! This is one pumpkin recipe to hang onto. And as a nice bonus, it can be prepared in under 30 minutes, so it’s a great weeknight meal for when you’re short on time.
Can’t wait to hear how you like it! I love me some savory pumpkin!
Here’s the printable recipe:
Rigatoni with Cheesy Pumpkin Sauce
Source: Carissa @ Pretty/Hungry Blog
-1 tbsp. desired fat (oil, butter, or reserved cooking fat from another meal)
-1/4 onion, finely diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-sage, thyme, & rosemary (1/2 tsp of each if using fresh, 1/4 tsp of each if using dried)
-salt & pepper, to taste
-1/2 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
-1/2 Cup half & half cream
-1/2 Cup pumpkin puree (to make your own, see here!)
-2 Tbsp. cream cheese
-2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
-1/4 Cup grated sharp Cheddar
-1/4 Cup toasted, chopped pecans (toast over medium heat in a dry skillet, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes)
-fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
-chopped, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken optional)
In a small, dry skillet, toast 1/4 Cup pecans over medium/low heat, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes until you begin to smell a nutty aroma. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Set aside.
In a separate medium skillet, melt desired cooking fat and saute diced onion & garlic over medium heat, along with herbs and a pinch each of salt & pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add in 6-8 oz rigatoni pasta. Set a timer according to package instructions for al dente pasta.
When onions are soft (after about 5 minutes), sprinkle 1/8 Cup flour evenly over them and stir to distribute. Allow to cook about 1 minute. Pour in 1/2 Cup chicken broth and 1/2 Cup half & half cream. Let bubble gently to thicken (about 3-5 minutes) until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Then reduce heat to low and mix in 1/2 Cup pumpkin puree, 2 Tbsp. cream cheese, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, 1/4 Cup sharp cheddar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to gently melt cheeses.
Reserve 1/4 Cup pasta water before draining noodles. Then add drained noodles directly to the sauce pan and toss to combine. (Add 1 Cup chopped, pre-cooked chicken at this stage, if desired.)
Garnish with toasted, chopped pecans, and fresh thyme.
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I am a big fan of weekend breakfasts. Throughout the week, we are cereal & oatmeal people. But weekends are when we pull out the big guns! Bread Pudding, Breakfast Pizza, and my husband’s personal favorite, Biscuits & Sausage Gravy. Of course, we can’t eat this way all the time… but special occasions come around often enough to keep us happy.🙂
This week I whipped up a big batch of biscuits for the freezer! You’ll have to pardon the fact that there is no photo of a “finished” biscuit. These were made to be frozen (which is a great thing to do when you have a little extra time. Make a double-batch of biscuits and then you can pull out the exact number you need anytime!)
I also have a handy little trick that saves me lots of time. I’m extremely impatient when it comes to “cutting” butter into flour for things like biscuits and pie crust… I don’t like doing it. So I suggest putting your butter into the freezer half an hour before you make the biscuits, and grating it into your mixing bowl! SO much easier. And quicker!
Here is my recipe. Enjoy!! It makes a lot (about 24-30) so you might want to cut it in half.
Carissa’s Homestyle Biscuits
-3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour + 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour (plus extra for dusting)
-2 Tbsp baking powder
-3 tsp. salt
-3 sticks butter, pre-frozen for about 30 minutes
-1 Cup cold whole milk, mixed with 1 T. lemon juice
-2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 425. In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine. Grate in the frozen butter using a cheese grater. (After grating in each stick, toss into the flour to distribute.) In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs. Stir in the lemon/milk mixture. Gradually pour the milk/lemon mixture into the flour mixture, stirring with a fork to form a wet dough.
On a lightly floured work surface, turn dough out and use your hands to form it into a thick disc. Use a floured rolling pin to roll it to about a 1″ thickness. (At this stage, I like to fold the dough over itself once, then twice, and roll it again to 1″ thickness. I find this gives the biscuits nice “flaky layers.” But this step is not necessary.) Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out 24-30 biscuits.
If freezing, place on a large baking sheet lined with wax paper and dusted with flour (spaced apart so they don’t freeze together.) Place baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Then transfer biscuits from baking sheet to a large zip-top bag, and store in the freezer until needed.
OR if baking immediately, place biscuits on a baking sheet (brush with eggwash, if desired, for a browner top) and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with butter and jelly, or sausage gravy. (Sausage gravy recipe can be found here.)
*Note: It is not necessary to totally thaw your frozen biscuits before baking, but I do recommend at least partially thawing them (30 minutes or so at room temp) before baking.
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Do you know what my most FAVORITE category on this blog is? Not dessert, not bread (though I love both those things)… but Budget! The thrill I get a from a good deal is unmatched. :) So today, I’m sharing with you a meal idea that is not only extremely budget-friendly, but a big-time crowd-pleaser. (And sometimes, my recipes are kinda… different… so I’m excited about this one because I know it’ll be a hit no matter who you make it for.)
So let me share a little secret with you about my grocery budget.
Shhh… here it is. I only buy one meat item per week!
(Ok, two if you count breakfast meat, since I try to have sausage or turkey bacon on hand for my girl’s breakfasts, and for “Brinner”). But other than that… my general practice is to pick what’s on sale that week (maybe it’s bone-in chicken, maybe it’s ground beef, maybe it’s chuck roast, maybe it’s pork chops) and make it stretch into at least 3-4 meals for my family of 3. The other 3-4 meals of the week are either meatless or low-meat (incorporating eggs, beans, pepperoni, bacon, etc.) I would say I aim to spend $5 per week on my main meat item, and under $2 for a secondary meat item like sausage or bacon. Believe it! We do it, and we eat well around here!
Now, I don’t share any of this to imply that you should be doing the same. Just sharing what works very well for us! By limiting my meat purchases this way, I save SO much money and I can use it for other weekly necessities.
Some of you like to stock up on meat when the prices are low, and that is wonderful! But if you are not someone who can afford a large meat purchase all at once, this is another great method to try.
And despite what you might think, I don’t find it boring at all to use the same “type” of meat throughout a given week. In fact, I find it sparks my creativity, coming up with different flavor combos and meal ideas for one type of meat. Click here for an example of how I recently used one roast beef for three different meals!
This week, I had a coupon for a Rotisserie Chicken, which dropped the price down to exactly $5. Yay! This was a major score because I love not having to cook the meat before using it!
I’ve learned over time that my baby does not care for chicken breasts because the meat is drier and harder for her to eat. So when I buy a rotisserie chicken, I reserve a few thighs or legs for Elsa’s lunches throughout the week, and use the breast meat for family dinners. I also make sure to keep the bones and the flavorful, herb-encrusted skin, for making broth.
And this breast meat is what I used to make our dinner tonight, which happened to be these amaaaazingly addictive Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas. I spotted them originally on Chocolatemoosey.com, and adapted them a bit to fit our family’s tastes.
Start by carving off one of the chicken breasts from a grocery store pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. (Or whatever chicken you have on hand. Even canned will work!)
Chop it up into nice little shreds, and gather up the rest of the ingredients.
Onion, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Hot Sauce, Ranch Dressing, Cream Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, & Tortillas. (Note that I was a little low on Ranch Dressing… all I had was a leftover packet from Zaxby’s, so I supplemented with some mayo. Ain’t no thang!)
Finely chop the onion, garlic, and bell pepper, and saute them in any fat you desire (oil, butter, leftover bacon grease) until soft.
Add in the chicken, the ranch, and the hot sauce.
Stir over medium heat until the mixture is well combined. Then add in the cream cheese and cheddar and stir gently until they are melted and completely incorporated.
Next, just spray a clean skillet with cooking spray, place a tortilla inside, and spoon a generous amount of Buffalo Chicken Dip onto it. Spread it out almost to the edges.
Cover the dip with another tortilla and spray it with cooking spray as well. Allow the tortilla to gently crisp up over medium heat for a few minutes, then use a large turner to flip the quesadilla in the pan!
It doesn’t get much easier than quesadillas, folks! And it definitely doesn’t get much more delicious!
Cut each quesadilla into 6-8 triangles, and serve.
I will say that these babies are NOT low-calorie, so to go along with them I like to serve a delicious (and also budget-friendly) Green Smoothie!
Hang on, hang on… don’t knock it til you’ve heard me out! My green smoothie recipe is such a nice pairing to this spicy Southwest-flavored dinner! It combines lots of tropical flavors like lime, coconut, and banana… and is just the perfect creamy compliment to a spicy meal. Plus, it gives you a much-needed serving of veggies alongside this calorie-laden quesadilla. I can’t sell it strongly enough. Hop on the bandwagon and become a green smoothie drinker! (And they’re not just for breakfast, as today’s recipe clearly demonstrates.)
Avengers Cup Optional… It’s just how we roll in my household.
I know you will gobble these quesadillas up! Be sure to tell me all about it in the comments and share the Buffalo Chicken love with the world.😉
Here’s the recipe:
Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas
-1 T. oil, butter, or reserved fat from cooking
-1/2 onion, finely chopped
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1/4 C. bell pepper, finely chopped
-1 pre-cooked chicken breast, diced
-1/4 C. Sriracha (or other favorite hot sauce)
-1/4 C. Ranch Dressing
-4 oz. cream cheese
-1/2 C. sharp cheddar, grated
-4 flour tortillas
Saute onion, garlic, and bell pepper in oil until soft (about 5 minutes.) Add in chicken, hot sauce, and ranch dressing. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add in cream cheese and cheddar cheese and stir to melt. Remove from heat. In a clean skillet, spray with cooking spray and place one tortilla inside. Spoon half the buffalo chicken dip onto the tortilla and top with another tortilla. Spray the top tortilla with cooking spray as well. Allow tortilla to crisp over medium heat for a few minutes, then flip to other side. Cut into 6-8 triangles and serve alongside Tropical Green Smoothies!
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Have you jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon yet?
I’m decidedly un-trendy on most fronts, but this is one trend I have definitely gotten behind! The Green Monster movement is really nothing more than adding a handful of healthy greens to a blender with a few sweeter ingredients, to make it more appetizing! Sometimes I just don’t feel like steaming up a bowl of broccoli, you know? (Don’t feel like steaming it AND don’t feel like eating it.) Enter, the green smoothie.🙂 Perfect any time of day for a meal or a snack. (And much more delicious than a nasty V8, I might add.)
The Avengers cup is totally optional. That’s just how we roll in my household!
There are a million recipes out there that you can try. For mine, I always make sure to throw in these three musts:
-a handful of frozen spinach (much more budget-friendly than fresh, and just as healthy!)
-a few scoops of yogurt (for healthy probiotics and a creamy texture)
-frozen banana (for potassium and to give it that perfect consistency that is almost like ice cream!)
Beyond that, anything goes! I sometimes throw in lemon juice, or coconut oil, or ground flax seed, sometimes peanut butter, sometimes frozen berries. Basically whatever I have that sounds good! I love adding avocado too. It makes it so silky!
Here’s the recipe for my “Tropical” Green Smoothie. It pairs amazingly well with Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas. The cool, creamy drink calms the palate from the spicy buffalo chicken, and gives you a much-needed serving of vegetables to go along with the slightly-less-healthy quesadillas. (Ok, a LOT less healthy. Ha!)
Carissa’s “Tropical” Green Monster Smoothie (For 2)
-1 frozen banana (cut into chunks prior to freezing)
-1/2 C coconut yogurt (vanilla is okay too, but coconut is much better!)
-1/2 C. milk of choice (almond and soy work as well as dairy.)
-2/3 C. frozen chopped spinach
-2-3 T. lime juice
-1/8 tsp Stevia (or 2 T. honey)
Blend on high until spinach is well broken down and smoothie texture is very smooth. :) Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula and pulse a few more times just to be sure. Pour into two glasses and serve!
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