Favorite Cornbread

Unfussy
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This is my favorite cornbread recipe. I feel like it splits the difference between Northern (dry) and Southern (sweet) style cornbread- it’s tender and lightly sweetened. I usually make it in a cast iron pan with bacon drippings because that is how Mother Nature intended cornbread to be made. My Dad splits cornbread and tops it with a pat of butter and a heavy drizzle of sorghum, which is hard to beat.

  • 1 TBSP butter or bacon grease
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 4 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place 1 TBSP butter/bacon grease in an 8-inch cast iron pan and place in the oven to melt. Alternately, grease an 8-inch pan and set aside.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

Whisk milk and egg together in a large measuring cup. Pour over cornmeal mixture and whisk until smooth. Stir in 4 TBSP melted butter.

Remove pan from oven and swirl butter/grease around so it coats the bottom of the pan. Pour batter into pan.

Bake 20 minutes until lightly brown.

Leftovers can be made into Cornbread Skillet Cake: https://bakersanonymous.org/2019/10/08/cornbread-skillet-cake/

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Breakfast, Muffins, Unfussy

These muffins pop up in my kitchen and my sister-in-law’s kitchen frequently – pretty much whenever there are 3 ripe bananas that need to be used. They stay moist and are kinda healthy.

This recipe is from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (3 large)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, banana and honey and mix until smooth. Beat in eggs. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add to egg mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Remove from mixer and give a good stir to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.

Fill muffin cups almost to the top. Bake 20-25 minutes, until firm in the center.

Hello Dolly Bars

Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy

These are completely uncalled for. This is a variation of a hand-written recipe titled “Hello Dolly Cookies” that has been in my recipe box for years, but I have no idea who’s handwriting it is (please let me know if this sounds familiar). It was a very forgiving recipe – I used up a variety of cookie crumbs and flavored chips that I was food-hoarding in the pantry. You could do the same. These are sweet.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade speculoos cookie crumbs (or Biscoff or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips (these can be hard to find, but they are not too sweet so I like them. I get them at the Amish grocery store in Iowa.)
  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs ( I used some of my chocolate shortbread cookie crumbs)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a 9″ square pan. Sprinkle speculoos/graham cracker cookie crumbs over butter and mix a little bit, then spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly over the top in this order: coconut, then chocolate chips, then cinnamon chips, then chocolate cookie crumbs. Pour condensed milk evenly over the top. Finally, sprinkle pecans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until they are well-caramelized and not too gooey. They shouldn’t be wet when you press in the center.

Cool completely before cutting into small squares. Makes 16 diabetic sugar bombs.

Bran Muffins

Breakfast, Muffins, Unfussy

These muffins are super moist, light, and delicious. Mix them by hand in a large bowl, bake what you want, then refrigerate the batter for up to 2 weeks and bake them as needed. This is my mom’s recipe.

  • 3 cups All Bran cereal
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (you can substitute up to 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or line your muffin tin.

In a large bowl, mix bran with hot water until moistened. Stir in brown sugar. Add buttermilk, eggs and oil, stirring until well combined. Add flour and baking soda, then raisins, if desired.

Scoop batter into greased muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the tops spring back when touched. Serve hot with butter or jam or both or none.

Makes 24 muffins

White Bread

Unfussy

This is as easy as bread gets and practically fool-proof. Makes 2 loaves so you can eat one right out of the oven and still have one left.

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup dried skim milk
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 stick butter, melted

Put everything in a stand mixer with hook attachment – just make sure not to put the yeast and salt on top of each other. Mix at low speed for 3-5 minutes, until a rough dough is formed. Turn off mixer and let rest 15 minutes. Mix again at low for 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and uniform.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size – about 45-60 minutes. Grease 2 bread pans. Divide dough into two pieces. Flatten each piece into a rough rectangle and roll up into a cylinder. Place in prepared bread pans and punch down to flatten. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size. About 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes in pan, then turn out. Try to wait 30 minutes before slicing.

Granola

Breakfast, Unfussy

This is my favorite granola recipe – adapted from an Alton Brown recipe. This time I used cashews, Craisins AND raisins because I don’t want to get on Big Raisin’s bad side.

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 3 cups whole or chopped nuts
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups dried fruit

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine oats, coconut, flaxseed, nuts and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, maple syrup and vegetable oil. Pour over oat mixture and stir to combine really well, about 5 minutes- making sure the oat mixture is well coated.

Divide between two rimmed baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake at 250 degrees for 25 minutes. Rotate trays and bake for another 25 minutes. At this point I usually turn the oven off and let the granola cool down completely with the oven.

Toss dried fruit and granola together. This makes a large batch, but keeps in an airtight container for several weeks.

Cream Cheese Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

This is a slightly adapted version of my Grandma Suzie’s favorite Christmas cookie. They are a not-too-sweet slice-and-bake cookie. The beauty (and problem) with them is that they can be eaten at any time of day or night, even if you are not hungry in the least.

  • 14 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs green food coloring
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • red hots

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and several drops of green food coloring (the color will fade significantly after you add the flour, so make it a little brighter than you’d like). Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder and mix well until a uniform dough is formed.

Shape into 2 rolls, each about 12 inches long. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until firm.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If desired, roll outside of dough in colored sugar. Slice about 1/4 inch thick and place on lined baking sheets, about an inch apart. Press red hots into center. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm to the touch.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Snowballs

Cookies, Unfussy

Man oh man are these good. My grandmother made these with all oatmeal and called them a humbler version of Mexican wedding cakes. I like to split the difference and do half oats and half pecans. I don’t think it’s possible to mess these up.

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer with paddle attachment. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour, salt, oats and cooled pecans and mix until combined thoroughly.

Scoop or shape into balls and place on a lined baking sheet – only about an inch apart as these do not spread. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Coat in powdered sugar and let cool completely on cooling rack before storing.

Gingerbread with Whipped Cream

Unfussy

It’s kind of a tradition in my family to make gingerbread the first weekend of December, usually on Sunday night. Isn’t that cozy? It’s best eaten fresh, but this makes a large pan, so I usually zap a piece in the microwave for breakfast the next couple mornings and it does just fine.

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup butter, softened, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.

Combine butter, brown sugar and molasses in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for butter to melt and mixture to cool. Add eggs and mix well. Mix in dry ingredients, whisking well to blend, but do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the gingerbread springs back in the center when touched.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate and Ginger

Cookies, Unfussy

These are my favorite shortbread-style cookies – the dough is easy to work with for rolling and cutting out. Chocolate and ginger is a tasty combination, but you could put anything in there. Or nothing. Perfect for that card club you’re hoping will gain some traction.

  • 1 1/4 cups (142g) powdered sugar
  • 18 TBSP (255g) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (326g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (165g) chopped candied ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) chocolate chips

Combine sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt and vanilla in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, add the ginger and chocolate chips, stir until well mixed.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and let dough soften for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out to the thickness of the chocolate chips, using extra flour to keep from sticking, if necessary. Cut in desired shapes, place on cookie sheets leaving about an inch between cookies (they don’t expand much at all).

Bake 15 minutes, until the edges just start to show some color.

This recipe is modified from King Arthur Flour