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Let’s take a healthy, fresh, delicious summer crop and make it as unhealthy as possible, shall we?  Unhealthy in the best way possible.  I mean, this is really good.  Obviously, considering the recipe came from Paula Deen.  She puts a pound of butter into every food she makes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  It has certainly never stopped me from eating her recipes.

My mom used to make a corn casserole but we called it “corn mush” and I think that it was essentially the same thing as this but in a smaller, deeper baking dish so you had to scoop it out.  I remember one time when I was little I asked my mom what was in corn mush and she looked at me with an apologetic expression and said, “Oh Lindsay, you don’t want to know.  You would never eat it again.”  Of course she was implying that it was just a lot of unhealthy foods that I guess she was ashamed to be giving her family, but in my mind I thought she meant that there was something gross ground up in there.  Why I thought that my mom would put worms or maggots or worse into something that she was eating too is beyond me.  But, either way, it was never the same again. 

Now, Paula makes this casserole with canned corn.  I have no idea why.  Do they not grow corn in Georgia?  Maybe she was just trying to make the recipe easier for people.  Either way, I used fresh corn instead.  I didn’t add any extra cream or anything (one of her cans was creamed corn) and it still ended up great.  I actually had leftover corn, so I shucked it and froze it wrapped in aluminum foil for about a week like so:

And it ended up great!  Why buy corn and freeze it during corn season?  It was on sale, but only if you bought 12 ears of it.  And 12 ears of corn is a little ridiculous for a household of 2.  So that’s my story, but really fresh corn would probably be even better.  Just boil it and saw it off and you’re good as gold!

Corn Casserole (adapted from Paula Deen):

6 ears of fresh corn
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (like Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and put the shucked corn cobs in.  Let the water come back to a boil and turn it off and let it sit, covered, for about 12 minutes.  Let it cool a little bit and then cut the corn off the cob. 

In a large bowl, stir together the corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Talk about a labor of love.  This is it.  In order to make eggplant parmesan you need to “weep” the eggplant juices, rinse and dry the slices, bread them, fry them, assemble them in a dish, and bake them.   This is not a weeknight dinner!  But, Jake loves eggplant parm, so I made it for his birthday weekend.  As you can probably tell from the last several posts, I was chained to the stove for 48 hours straight.  But he is a good husband and helped out along the way.

       

Here is the recipe (adapted from Food Network Kitchens):

2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick round slices
Kosher salt, as needed for the weeping, plus 1 tablespoon
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
All-purpose flour for dredging
5 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons buttermilk (or regular milk)
Olive oil, as needed
7 cups marinara sauce
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
1 pound mozzarella, either shredded or thinly sliced

     

Arrange the eggplant slices on a couple of baking sheets and sprinkle generously all over with kosher salt. Set aside to let the bitter juices weep from the eggplant, about 1 hour.  I had never heard of letting the juices weep before making this recipe, but it sounds really traumatic, no?

Transfer the eggplant to a colander in the sink, and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer eggplant to a work surface and blot very dry with paper towels.  This takes a while because of the thick slices, but if you do thinner slices it will be a bit easier.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, and season with pepper.

Place the flour in a medium lipped plate or bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Dredge an eggplant slice in the flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, and finally dredge it in the bread crumb mixture. Shake off any excess breading and transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

In a large straight-sided skillet, pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium heat until it registers 400 degrees on a deep frying or candy thermometer. The oil should be heated to 400 degrees so that the breaded eggplant, when added, will drop the temperature of the oil to the proper frying temperature of 375 degrees.

Working in small batches, fry the eggplant slices, turning once, until golden brown. You want to do maybe two slices at a time so that it doesn’t make the temperature drop too much.  Using tongs, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt to taste. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush a 15 x 10- x 2-inch-baking dish (or something close to that) with the olive oil. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1/3 of the marinara sauce and arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce. Cover the eggplant with another 1/3 of the sauce. Scatter half of the Parmesan and half of the mozzarella over the sauced eggplant. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, sauce, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Bake until hot and just beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.

At this point I usually say something along the lines of “that’s it!” but it just doesn’t seem fitting for this recipe.  The eggplant parmesan did end up tasting great though, so it is worth the effort… once a year.

When you make bread as moist and tasty as the banana-oatmeal bread that I wrote about yesterday, it just seems to be a shame to smear some butter on it and call it a day.  There has to be more to this world than bread and butter, right?  Well, Elvis would be proud because I decided to take the banana bread and throw on some PB (though he might not be as happy that I left out the bacon… it just didn’t seem right, but maybe next time!).

      

This sandwich could be served for breakfast or a snack or even dessert .  Really, just eat it whenever you want to because it’s tasty and fun.  And a little bit messy with the melty PB.  If you are really feeling wild, you could throw some chocolate chips in there.  Oh, yum. 

Here is how you make the grilled PB&A (this makes two sandwiches):

4 slices of banana-oatmeal bread
4-6 thin apple slices
4 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 tsp. butter or margarine

The process for making this sandwich is just like making a grilled cheese, but with different ingredients.  For each sandwich, spread 1 teaspoon of butter on one side of each slice of bread.  These will be the outsides of the sandwich.  Then spread peanut butter on the insides of one of the slices (2 tablespoons).  Lay the apple slices on the pb and then put the other slice of bread on top. 

Put the sandwiches on a skillet over medium heat.  Let them cook for about 5 minutes (or until the bread is toasted) and then flip them and cook the other side. 

Then you’re done!  It’s that easy!


Since most of the country has been getting hit with snow recently, I asked myself, “What could possibly be better than making a treat out of all snow-white ingredients?”  Ok, that’s not exactly how it happened, but it would have made a good story, right? 

In reality, Jake and I happen to have a super pack of popcorn that I got on sale, and when that is combined with the marshmallows, white chocolate, and sea salt that were already in the house, it makes a very tasty winter-themed treat.  It reminds me of those kids who will only eat things that are white (potatoes, bread, vanilla ice cream, etc.).  This would be perfect for them!

Here is how I made it:

1 large or 2 small bags of popcorn
~20 marshmallows
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp sea salt

Pop the corn and spread it out on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Make sure that you take all of the unpopped seeds out at this point or you will regret it later when you are biting into the treat and you end up making an emergency trip to the dentist.  

Over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the marshmallows, stirring constantly.  Don’t rush it!  Using a higher heat will just burn them. 


Once they are completely melted and liquidy, remove from the heat and pour over the popcorn.  Using a silicone spatula (just because it is less sticky than other utensils), gently toss the popcorn with the melted marshmallow and try to push it down into a somewhat flat layer without breaking all the kernels.

Next, melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring it every 30 seconds. 


Evenly drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn, and while it is still wet sprinkle the sea salt on top.  Then let the whole thing sit for about half an hour so that it will have a chance to set up and not be as sticky when you eat it.  Unless you don’t mind liking your fingers.  In that case, just go ahead and eat it right away.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a big fan of the salty/sweet pairing (chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate caramel crackers).  This popcorn treat is just another example of why it is the best food combo ever.  Yum.

Granola bars aren’t just for hippies anymore!  Not that I have anything against hippies.  Or against peace, love, and happiness.  Actually, I like all three of those things.  Maybe I’m a hippie.  But I digress… What I meant to say is that these things are good enough that anyone would love them.  I sent some to my grandparents for Christmas (along with a bunch of candy) and they said that the granola was the first to go. 

I like this recipe because it is a little bit salty and a little bit sweet.  And it is something that you can feel good about eating because there really aren’t any bad ingredients.  Plus, these bars are easy to pack in your lunch or take with you if you are on the run.  A win-win situation! 

Here is the recipe, adapted from Ina Garten

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup craisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 x 12 inch baking pan with cooking spray (like Pam).  Toss the oatmeal and almonds together and then toast them on a sheet pan by baking them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When you take the toasted mixture out, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the toasted wheat germ.  Then add in the honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt while it is still warm and mix it all together.  It helps to do the mixing with a non-stick spatula, or with a utensil that you have sprayed with cooking spray.  Add the raisins and craisins and stir well. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and press the mixture evenly into the pan. And I mean PRESS it because if you don’t then the bars will fall apart.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours at room temperature before cutting into squares.

 

So, everyone has heard of the pumpkin muffin trick to mix one can of pure pumpkin with one box of spice cake mix, right?  It is a completely obvious thing that you can’t graduate from college without knowing?  Well, no one told me about this little gem before this fall, so of course once I found out about it I felt a need to make them every 3 days.  Same goes for soda cupcakes, but I will write about those some other time. 

My dog Buster had a playdate with his buddy from down the street (yes, you read that right), so I figured that I shouldn’t show up empty handed.  Pumpkin muffins were in order. 

The muffins ended up yummy but especially on the second try when I added in brown sugar. 

So, essentially, this is what you do: Mix one box of spice cake mix with one can of pure pumpkin and mix them up.  It is a very thick batter, but don’t give up or add liquids.  It will work out, I promise!  Once they are in the muffin pan you sprinkle each muffin with brown sugar.  Then bake the muffins just like they tell you to on the box.  Easy, right?!

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