Sunday, November 30, 2008

Southern Skillet Cornbread

I can't believe the first time I had cornbread was only just over a year ago! It is such a wonderfully satisfying food and it has quickly become one of my favorite comforts as well as my husband's. This recipe is pretty easy and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry! I LOVE this recipe and I know you will too. :)

-2 cups cornmeal
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 tbs. baking powder
-2 eggs
-1 cup margarine, melted
-4 cups buttermilk
-Corn oil (enough to coat skillet)

*Preheat oven to 400°F.

*In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
*In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, butter, and buttermilk.
*Add corn oil to skillet and swirl oil around to coat bottom and sides.
*Leave remaining oil in pan.
*Return to high heat for 1 minute.
*Pour the cornbread batter into the skillet and cook on high heat until bubbles start to form in the center.
*Remove from stove.
*Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
*Serve warm!

Southern-style Collard Greens

Collard greens are one of those secret treasures that not many know about unless they're from the south. I discovered this tasty find when I began my quest to learn southern cooking. Collard greens are quite pleasing to the palette when made the right way and they're a great way to sneak in some of those leafy greens that are so good for our health into your diet. This particular recipe is a variation of one given to me by my mother-in-law. I added a few of my own touches to it. Give it a try! :)

-4 bunches collard greens
-1 and 1/2 cups seasoned salt (I use Lawry's)
-3 beef bouillon cubes (I use Maggi)
-1 pkg. (about 10 strips) smoked turkey bacon

Preparing the greens:

It's important to make sure your collard greens are properly cleaned as they may contain a lot of dirt, bacteria, and even little bugs sometimes.

*Fill up your (clean) sink with cold water and add lots of salt (to kill any bacteria).
*Submerge collard greens in water and move around with your hands.
*Leave greens in water for about 10 minutes so that all of the debris falls to the bottom of the sink.
*Drain water and gently wash off any remaining salt and/or debris from greens.

In a large pot:
*Bring to boil about 4 qt. water.
*Add seasoned salt, beef bouillon cubes, and turkey bacon slices.

*Gently pat the excess water off of your greens with a paper towel.
* Roll out each leaf and cut out the stem so that all that's left are two clean halves of a leaf. (Some people like to keep a little stem, but it's really up to you)
*After all the greens have been destemmed, stack 5 or 6 leaves on top of each other and roll up.
*Cut the roll of greens in 1/2 inch chunks.
*Place all cut up greens into a bowl as you go along.
*When all greens are cut up, add them to your pot of boiling liquids and turkey bacon.
*Reduce heat to medium-low and allow greens to cook for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes.
*Drain water, discard turkey bacon slices, and serve hot!
(Optional: Southerners often like to add some hot sauce to their greens)

Bon appetit!

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are one of the simplest comfort foods to make. They're also one of the most satisfying. Try this classic recipe!

-2 lbs. Idaho (brown) potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (about 5 cups)
-3/4 cup hot milk (1%, 2%, or whole milk)
-2 tbs. butter
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. black pepper

Optional ingredients:
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
-2 tbs. freshly chopped parsley or dill

*Place potatoes in large pot and add enough water to cover potatoes.
*Cook 13 to 15 minutes or until very tender.
*Drain potatoes in colander.
*Return cooked potatoes to pot and stir over medium heat, about 1 minute, until excess water has evaporated.
*With potato masher, mash in hot milk, butter, salt, and pepper.
*Beat with wooden spoon until potatoes are smooth and creamy. Stir in any optional add-ins, if desired.

Enjoy! :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Candied Yams

When my husband and I got married, I began learning about southern cooking and "comfort foods" to remind him of the food he grew up eating. Luckily, over the past year I've become a pro in the art of soul food. The first I heard about candied yams, it sounded like the least appetizing food possible, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. Candied yams have become one of my personal favorite comfort food dishes. The sweetness of candied yams also blend in well with other southern foods like mashed potatoes, collard greens, corn bread, and even turkey or chicken. I'm sure you guys will love this recipe as much as I do and it's so easy to make! :)


-2 cups water
-2 cups granulated sugar
-4 tbs. butter
-1 tsp. lemon juice
-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-8 small yams (or sweet potatoes)

*Peel outer skin from yams or sweet potaoes and slice into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick circles.
*Rinse in cold water, allow to drain, and set aside for later use.
*In a medium pot, bring water and sugar to a boil, add butter, lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon and sliced yams or sweet potatoes.
*Return to boil, cover pot and reduce heat to simmer.
*Cook yams or sweet potatoes for 35 to 45 minutes until tender.
*Gently stir while cooking.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries

A while back, my friend Emily asked me for a good recipe for sweet potato fries. I had these for the first time last summer at the Ugly Tuna Saloon in Columbus and let's just say it was love at first taste. ;) I tried my own version of this recipe and I was quite pleased with the results. I hope you all are too. :)


-4 yams (sweet potatoes)
-1/4 cup olive oil
-Salt to taste

*Preheat oven to 400°.
*Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch thick lengthwise strips and toss with olive oil.
*Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and arrange potatoes on baking sheets.
*Bake potatoes for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on bottom.
*Turn potatoes over and bake about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown all over.
*Sprinkle with salt and serve!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bariis Iskokaris and Hilib Ari

I've always been a big fan of rice. Whether it's Indian biryani or Somali bariis iskokaris. Ever since I was a child, my mother would tell me how I hated pasta and bread, but would always eat rice. So at a young age I learned how to make bariis iskokaris (mixed rice). I decided to make some for the family tonight even though my family would prefer pasta over rice :) I hope you guys like it!


-2 lbs. chopped lamb or beef (I think it tastes better with lamb) :)

-4 cups basmati rice

-2 large onions

-4 Maggi chicken bouillon cubes (available at any Indian, Somali or Arab grocer. If you don't want to use these, you may substitute one cup of chicken broth instead.)

-2 tbs. garlic

- 1/3 cup vegetable oil or ghee

- 1 tbs. saffron

- 1/3 cup ghee

-1 cup mixed vegetables

-4 cinnamon sticks

-2 large brown potatoes

*Before beginning, place lamb in a pot and add a lot of water.
*Add 2 Maggi chicken bouillon cubes instead of salt.
*Cover it and put it on the stove without adding anything else.
*Leave and allow to cook for at least 2 hrs or more until the meat becomes well done.
*Make sure you taste your meat and that the salt (from the bouillon cubes) is not too much.
*Be sure to add water if you think it will evaporate because we'll be using all that lamb broth to make our bariis iskukaris (mixed rice)

In a separate pot:

*Heat the ghee and add the onion when ghee is very hot.
*Wait until the onion is red and it almost becomes black.
*Add Maggi cubes/chicken broth, cover it and wait for at least 3 minutes.
*Add the garlic and cover it again this time adding 2 Maggi chicken bouillon cubes.
*Wait for 5 minutes until everything cooks and almost dissolves.
*Add the vegetables and cinnamon sticks together--all this time you're not adding water.
*Make sure the stove is on medium heat because you don't want your vegetables and ghee to burn.
*Wash your rice and add it, stirring for about a minute.
*Go to your other pot that had the lamb juice and take the lamb out.
*Add about 4 cups of the lamb broth into your rice and cover it for about 20 minutes.
*Mix saffron with a half a cup of water, stir, and add to one side of the rice ( it doesn't matter which side).
*Turn oven to 350°. (I usually put the oven at about 400°, but you shouldn't if it's your first time because you don't want your rice to get burned or dry.)
*Take your rice and put it in the oven.
*Wait for at least 10-15 minutes and turn oven off.
*Make sure it doesn't get burned.
*Your rice is ready to eat, but don't eat it yet because you'll want to have it with your hilib (lamb!

By now you should have your lamb waiting on a plate or in the pot. Remember we didn't use the lamb itself to make the rice but we used the lamb broth. I bet you were wondering what you would do with the lamb. Now pay attention here because this can get little tricky ;).

*Now take about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil or ghee and warm it in a separate pot and add your onion when the ghee gets warm.
*Add the 2 remaining Maggi cubes and cover it for about 2 minutes.
*Add the lamb that was already cooked, add half cup of water, and cover it for about 5 minutes.
*Add the potatoes that you already pre-sliced and cover the pot.
*Make sure the heat is on medium because we don't want our lamb burning, leave it for about 20 minutes and it should be ready... eat it with your rice :)

If you have more questions about this dish you can ask me on the blog or send me an e-mail. I hope you like it as much as I do! :)

Oven Home Fries with Peppers and Onions

This recipe is quick and easy and makes a great snack or side to any meal!

-2 and 1/2 lbs. red skinned potatoes
-3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
-1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 tbs. grill seasoning (I personally love any of McCormick's grill seasonings)
-2 tsp. sweet paprika

*Preheat oven to 500°
*Coarsely chop potatoes into wedges and transfer to a non-stick cookie sheet.
*Toss with oil, peppers, onions and seasonings and place in the oven for 25 minutes, turning twice with a spatula.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Orange Chicken


-2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
-1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
-Salt and ground black pepper
-1/2 cup chicken stock (or one bouillon cube dissolved in 1/2 cup water)
-4 to 5 thyme sprigs
-1/4 cup orange marmalade
-2 lemons, 1 sliced into rings, 1 zested and juiced

*Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
*Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with about 2 tbsp. olive oil.
*Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
*Transfer the chicken pieces to an ovenproof dish and place into the oven to finish cooking, about 20 minutes.
*Place the skillet the chicken was cooked in back over medium-high heat and deglaze the pan with a couple of tsp. of water, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom.
*Add the chicken stock, thyme sprigs, marmalade, lemon slices and zest to the pan and bring to a bubble.
*Reduce the heat to medium low and reduce the sauce until thick and syrupy, 8-10 minutes.
*Remove and discard the thyme sprigs, add in the lemon juice from the zested lemon and toss the chicken in pan with the glaze to coat.

Serve with white rice or eat plain! Bon appetit!