Cornbread Muffins

Breads.  Even though Thanksgiving dinners are generally carb heavy no meal truly seems complete without some type of roll, muffin or biscuit served along side.  Depending upon whether we are having stuffing or not our family preference is either cornbread or biscuits.  If we’re having a white bread stuffing I like the contrast of these simple muffins as the “bread”.

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These are very simple to make and can be whipped up right after the turkey comes out of the oven and bake while you are preparing the gravy.

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Organize & assemble:  measure out the milk, whisk your eggs, chop the green onions, shred your cheese and measure out and combine dry ingredients and grease your muffin tins (or use liners for easier clean up)

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Whoa, did we skip a few steps?  No, we just had a few too many irons on the fire to get all the pictures:)  Add the egg and butter mixture to the dry mixture stirring only until combined.  Add the green onions and cheddar cheese stirring only to combine.  Pour into your muffin tins and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then an additional 5 minutes out of the pan.  Serve warm and enjoy!

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Recipe & Ingredients

1 1/2 cups stone ground cornmeal (you can use yellow or white)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
2 tbs lard or butter, melted
1 cup raw buttermilk*
1 tbs chopped green onions
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

*this can be difficult to find; I don’t always have this on hand and while I can purchase buttermilk in my grocery store I don’t like using pasteurized dairy so I will ‘make’ my own using the raw milk I have on hand.  To one cup of raw milk add 1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar-stir well and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Preparation

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease your muffin tins with butter, lard or coconut oil or use liners for easier clean up.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and mix well.  Whisk together the egg and very quickly stir in the melted butter or lard so not to ‘cook’ the egg.  Add to the flour mixture until just combined taking care not to overmix.  Gently stir in the green onions and cheddar cheese just to combine. Fill the prepared muffin cups to 2/3 full and bake 15-18 minutes are until just golden.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Cool on wire rack for an additional 5 minutes and serve.

Pumpkin Prep

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Pumpkin prep?  Yes, you like pumpkin pie and all the other delights that this gourd will bring–don’t you?  Thanksgiving is right around the corner and planning is essential.  You wouldn’t want to use canned pumpkin and there’s more than enough to do the day before and of.  So let’s get a head start. Back in 1987 when I was asked to make the pumpkin pies for our Thanksgiving gathering I promptly started searching for the best recipe.  And since pumpkins pies come from pumpkin what better way than to use a fresh one!

Pumpkin pie, recipe coming soon

End result:  my pumpkin pie, recipe coming soon

Once I tasted a pumpkin pie made from “real pumpkin” there was no way I could ever go back to the canned version.  And the simplicity of using fresh pumpkin made me wonder why anyone uses canned.

Around the first of October when I first spy the pretty fall pumpkins in the store I start stocking up.  They last quite awhile and make a beautiful table decoration for the month of October.  Then I cook them up ahead of time and freeze the pumpkin so that the day before all I have to do is make the pies.

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This year being as busy as all the rest I kept putting off cooking my pumpkins waiting until I “had time”.  Yea uh huh like that’s going to happen.  Anyway it had been an especially busy week with a couple of coaches out of town and covering some extra classes.  I got home on a Friday night around 6:30 pm and while cooking dinner I said to my husband, I have to cook these pumpkins on Sunday.  We were going to be out of town for a wedding on Saturday so that appeared to be my only option.  I went over to check my beloved pumpkins and noticed a soft spot or two.  That’s not good. You let them set too long and you will lose them.  I buy organic pumpkins and those babies are not cheap.  Uh oh I said.  These may not last until Sunday.  What choice did that leave me but to cook them tonight.

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Cut them in half; carefully — they are pretty hard.  Scoop out the seeds and save for roasting if you are ambitious.  Place cut side down in a Pyrex baking dish and fill with water to about 1 inch.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until fork tender.

There were three pumpkins, it was not going to be a short evening but I put them on to cook —  set the timer and went about cooking, eating dinner and finally dropping on the couch to relax aka pass out.  The timer woke me up and around 10:00 pm all the pumpkins had been saved and safely cooked.  You then remove them from the pan and allow them to cool before moving on to the next step.  I was tired so I covered them up with some saran wrap and went to bed.

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The next morning I awoke refreshed after a solid 8.5 hours sleep and immediately got into the kitchen and put them through the processor.  Scoop the pumpkin out mashing it slightly before putting into the food processor.  Process until nice and smooth.  Measure out into Ziploc freezer bags.

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My pies generally call for 3 cups of pumpkin so I bag for each pie I am making and 1 extra that I will usually bake sometime in December.  Other recipes like pumpkin pancakes, muffins, cookies etc. . . generally call for 1 to 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin so I will bag some in smaller amounts giving me enough to last through the holidays or pumpkin season.  The 3 pumpkins pictured above netted me 12 1/4 cups of pumpkin.  I am set for the season!

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Aaaaah, one less thing to do on Sunday.  With the pumpkins safely tucked away in the freeze off to the wedding we went.

Labor Day Corn Dogs

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Corn Dogs?  Are you kidding, what has happened to this formerly annoyingly strict Paleo girl and aren’t those found only at state fairs?  They are loaded with unhealthy ingredients and fried in nasty oils.  Here’s a sampling of just what might be in them

corn dogs“Batter/Breading Ingredients: Water, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Corn Flour, Sugar, Corn Meal, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Modified Food Starch, Soy Flour, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Brown Sugar, Soybean Oil, Salt, Soybean Lecithin, Egg Yolk (Dried), Egg White (Dried), Dried Honey, Sodium Caseinate, Nonfat Milk, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Cooked in Partially Salt, Egg Yolk, Egg White, Nonfat Milk, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Cooked in Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil. Frank Ingredients: Beef and Pork, Mechanically Separated Turkey, Water, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Salt, Potassium Lactate, Flavorings, Hydrolyzed Beef Stock, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Sodium Nitrate, Extractives of Paprika.”

Oh NO!!  We would never eat those.  However, that doesn’t mean that from time to time a hankering for a corn dog must be denied.  Made the right way they can be an occasional treat.  These corn dogs are gluten free and fried in freshly rendered beef tallow.  I will admit, they were a bit of a challenge to make but well worth it for our Labor Day barbecue. . .

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Start with organic, grass fed, uncured, nitrate/nitrite free hot dogs.  Quality always counts.

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Freshly rendered beef tallow

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Mix the dry ingredients together,

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Warm the milk over very low heat just until the butter melts

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Cut your dogs into thirds

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Dredge in flour and then dip into the batter.  Got a little hairy here and I failed to get a picture of that.

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Heat the tallow to 360-370 degrees

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Cook for 3-5 minutes until brown and crisp

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Drain on paper towels.

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Serve with your favorite sides.  We had broccoli slaw and Southern Baked Beans and a Dijon onion dipping sauce

Recipe & Ingredients

8 uncured nitrate/nitrite free hot dogs (quality counts)
1 3/4 cups stone ground organic cornmeal
1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup raw milk
1 tbs raw butter
Rendered tallow

Preparation

In a medium bowl mix together all dry ingredients.  In a small saucepan over very low heat warm the milk slightly and add butter until just melted.  Stir well and cool slightly.  Whisk the egg and slowly add the lukewarm milk and butter mixture and blend well.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients stirring only until combined.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Cut the hot dogs into thirds and skewer with a 10″ wooden skewer.  Place some gf flour in a small bowl and lightly dredge each piece shaking off any excess.

Melt the tallow in a deep fryer or otherwise deep heavy cooking pot.  Pour as much of the batter as will fit into a tall glass.  Heat the tallow to a temperature of 360-370 degrees.  Dip a dog piece into the batter making sure it is well coated on all sides.  Plunge into the hot oil along with as many pieces as will fit comfortably in the fryer or vessel used.  Fry until deeply browned and crisp about 3-5 minutes swirling occasionally.  When done remove and drain on paper towels.  Batter and fry the remaining pieces in the same fashion allowing the oil to come back up to temperature after each batch.

Serve with your choice of ketchup, mustard or a little of both.

Classic Corned Beef & Cabbage

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I’m only 1/4 Irish but eating corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s day along with watching The Quiet Man (boy am I dating myself) is a tradition that goes back further than I can remember.  Over the years I’ve tried many renditions/variations but keep coming back to the Classic version. . .

The Meat:  2, 3-4 lb beef briskets

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I tried brining my own beef one year but that was more trouble than even I wanted to go through.  To avoid the chemicals simply purchase a better brisket.  Look for one that is uncured, nitrate/nitrite free and from beef raised without hormones and antibiotics.   Why 2?  Leftovers;  it will be great the next day for breakfast, lunch or even dinner again.

LONG & SLOW is the secret here.  Top of the stove or crockpot will work but my preference is in the oven.  Place your brisket in a large roaster (without a rack) and just barely cover with cold water.**  Put a lid on it and place in an unheated oven and set to 300 degrees.  Let it do its thing for about an hour to an hour and 15 min.

**Back in the day before I knew the evils of gluten I used 2 bottles of Guinness stout along with the water to simmer it in.  It did add a special flavor to it.  I go without nowadays but your choice depending on how it affects you.

Remove from the oven and add in 1 medium head of cabbage cut into small wedges, 10-12 small red potatoes and 3-4 carrots

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Back in the over for another 2-3 hours.  Check after 2 and when your fork slides easily out of the meat it’s done.

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Spoon cabbage, potatoes and carrots into a bowl with some of the juice, slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with sauces on the side

The Sauces:

Creamy Horseradish Sauce
2-3 tbs horseradish
1/3 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp lemon juice
sea salt to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl

Mustard Sauce
1/3 cup homemade mayo
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs creme fraiche
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl