Silver Dollar Corncakes
Silver Dollar Corncakes

These tender, tiny cakes are simple to prepare, and disappear off the platter.

Makes twenty four 2-inch cakes

3/4 cup yellow or white cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil

In a medium bowl stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter or oil. Add the milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. Preheat a griddle or non-stick skillet until hot. Using a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, portion out the batter onto the hot griddle or skillet. Cook until bubbles open up on the surface of the cake and the bottom is golden brown. Working quickly, flip the cakes and continue to cook until the other side golden brown. Keep warm in a 200°F oven if necessary until ready to serve.…

Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Soup
Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Soup

It’s not unusual to find a pot of beans on the stove in many Southern homes this time of year. The best male cook I know grew up in a family that always made a pot of navy bean soup for the new year. A neighbor baked a fresh ham for Christmas this year and her mother took home the ham bone to make a pot of bean soup on New Year’s Day. The story goes that beans are considered a source of good luck and prosperity for the New Year. I’ll take some of that.

Black-eyed peas have an earthy flavor, and their cute little “black eye” makes them a favorite in our house. This recipe uses a smoked ham hock, but if time is short it’s no problem to substitute 1 cup of chopped ham or 1 cup chopped smoked turkey sausage for the ham hock, and reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes. Once I even prepared these beans without any ham or meat, and substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth making quite a tasty, vegan good-luck meal. Always remember there are not many rules in cooking savory meals, especially soups. My recipes are intended to be a guide and provide inspiration, nothing more. Here’s to a year filled with good luck, prosperity, and beans!

 Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon thyme
1 smoked ham hock
One 16-ounce bag frozen black-eyed peas or 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
8 ounces fresh or frozen chopped turnip greens or kale (about 1  1/2 cups)
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or stock
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Creole seasoning, and thyme. Cook stirring for 1 minute. Add the ham hock, black-eyed peas, greens and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Turn heat to very low and remove ham hock from the peas. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the hock. Chop the ham and add back to the beans. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately.…

Oven Baked Chex Mix Recipe
Oven Baked Chex Mix Recipe

Makes about 12 cups

What’s your favorite tidbit to pick out of the Chex Mix?

It’s a good thing I clipped this recipe from the cereal box a few years ago. I noticed this year (and maybe this was true in recent years too) the recipe for Chex Mix included only a set of microwave directions. I’m a little funny about using the microwave to “bake” something. I’ve never tried making this in the microwave, but knowing what I know about roasting or baking I predict Chex Mix baked in an oven tastes better than Chex Mix stirred in the microwave. It does take a little longer, but that’s a wash in my opinion, because either way you have to cool the mix before eating.  If you want  microwave instructions just look on the back of a Chex cereal box. By the way, this recipe works perfectly fine with a store-brand Chex-type cereal if you so desire.

6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-size pretzels
1 cup bagel chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In an ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in the oven. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir in chex cereals, mixed nuts, pretzels, and bagel chips until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels until cooled. Store in an airtight container.


Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green, RDN, LD coaches first-time cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. 

Would you like to write a cookbook, but feel alone in the pre-publication phase of writing?

Are you stuck thinking about your cookbook idea or has you project fizzled?

Do you feel overwhelmed with publishing options and the recipes, photography, and publishing process?

I’ve been there. I know first-hand that there’s not a lot of support for first-time cookbook authors who don’t have an agent or a publisher yet.  That’s why I started my work as a cookbook writing coach.

Here are a few resources for you as you venture into the world of cookbook writing: 

Checklist
An 11-point checklist that helps you answer the question, “Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?”

Cookbook Writing Workbook

What Is A Cookbook Coach? 

10 Reasons to Hire A Cookbook Coach

 

 …

Winter Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 8 to 12

This recipe calls for 6 cups of cooked wheat berries, although 6 cups of another cooked grain such as brown rice, quinoa, pearl barley, or bulgur can be substituted for the wheat berries. Be aware that the cooking times for whole grains vary. The procedures and cooking times for other whole grains can be found at the Whole Grains Council .

Place the wheat berries in a large saucepan and with enough water to cover the berries by a few inches. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Taste and see if the wheat berry is cooked. You want a soft, but still chewy texture. If desired, cover and cook for 15 to 30 more minutes until the desired texture is reached. Drain off the water and allow the wheat berries to cool to room temperature.

2 cups wheat berries
1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium apple, unpeeled, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Meanwhile, combine dried fruit, carrot, celery, apple, parsley, scallion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce, tossing thoroughly to mix. Stir in the cooled wheat berries and add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or store in the refrigerator until served.…

Quick Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

Serves 8

 

Chock full of cold- and flu-fighting spices, this soup is perfect for a quick meal, anytime.

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 ribs celery, thinly sliced

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 4 cups)

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

4 large cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper – optional

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or stock

One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups cooked chick peas (or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)

 

 

In a large Dutch oven heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 5 minutes. Stir in sweet potato, ginger, garlic, paprika, turmeric, oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and if desired cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute to blend ingredients and start to soften the garlic. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, and chick peas. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes. Season more to taste with salt if desired.

 

Smoky Chili Non Carne

Serves 8 hungry adults

Since the mid-eighties I have always been faithful to a vegetarian chili recipe from an old Jane Brody cookbook. The list of spices in her recipe initially seemed daunting, but the resulting chili was always full of complex flavor. This chili recipe is my adaptation of her recipe. Don’t let the long list of spices be a deterrent. This chili contains no meat, thus the name non carne. Smoked paprika (even McCormick brand sells this spice) adds a beautiful red color and sweet smoky flavor. This is a “spicy” chili, with a deep, rich flavor, not a “hot” chile pepper-type of chili. I prefer to build the flavor, and then if anyone wants their chili “hot”, all they have to do is shake their favorite red pepper sauce over the top of their serving.

1/2 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced thin

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons mild chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Generous pinch ground cloves

Generous pinch ground allspice

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey

One (6-ounce can) vegetable juice (3/4 cup)

One (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juice

One (15-ounce) can chick peas, drained and rinsed

One (15-ounce) can red beans, drained and rinsed

One (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

3 cups cooked brown rice

Chopped avocado for garnish

Sliced green onions for garnish


In a Dutch oven or shallow soup pot, cook the onion and carrot in the olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out the spices and mix together the garlic, chili powder, cumin, thyme, smoked paprika, salt, coriander, cloves, and allspice. Add the spice mixture to the onions and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the maple syrup or honey, vegetable juice, tomatoes, chick peas, red beans, black beans, and the broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and for 30 minutes. Serve in a bowl over a portion of cooked brown rice. Garnish with chopped avocado and sliced green onions.…

Chestnut Soup

Serves 6

The earthy aroma of chestnuts are synonymous with fall. If fresh chestnuts are not available, and even if they are but you don’t want to fuss with peeling the fresh ones, vacuum-packed chestnuts work perfectly.

1 1/2 pounds fresh chestnuts or 14 ounces vacuum-packed, peeled chestnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 small rib celery, diced
1 leek, white and light green stem only, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
5 cups chicken broth or stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup half and half
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
Pinch ground nutmeg

1. If using vacuum-packed chestnuts, skip to step #2. For fresh chestnuts: Preheat the oven to 400°F, or bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, slice an X on the flat side of each chestnut. Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the pre-heated oven, or boil them until the outer skin begins to curl, 10 to 12 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the outer and inner layers of skin from the chestnuts and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, leek, and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, thyme, bay leaf, and peeled chestnuts. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes until the chestnuts are soft and can be poked with the tip of a knife or with a fork.

3. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender, in batches if necessary and puree the soup. Add back to the saucepan and stir in the half and half, brandy, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve immediately. Can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat just before serving, being careful not to boil.…

Flat Iron Steak with Brown Sugar Rub

Serves 6

A simple rub, using a unique combination of readily available ingredients, enhances this beefy tender steak. Be sure not to overcook, and it’s best to let the steak rest before slicing. If it’s too cold to grill outdoors, cook the steam under the broiler (an upside down grill – who knew).


One 2-pound flat iron steak

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Lay the steak(s) in a shallow pan or baking dish. Mix the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and salt together in a small bowl. Evenly distribute half of the rub over the top of the steak and rub and press into the meat. Flip the meat over and repeat with the remaining rub. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Place the steak on the grill and cook for 6 minutes. Flip and cook for about 4 more minutes for medium-rare, 6 more minutes for medium and 8 more minutes for medium-well or well done. Remove from the grill to a platter and cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into thin or thick slices as desired.

Beer Batter Bread

With the leaves turning yellow, and the air predicted to turn crisp, my thoughts turn to cool-weather food. I enjoy making “dump and stir” savory breads almost as much as taking the time to make focaccia or ciabatta. Made with dark, rich stout this bread pairs well with a hearty stew or soup. Use a lighter lager or ale to serve with salad. Delicious either way.

Makes one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the loaf pan

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 (12-ounce) bottle lager, ale, or stout, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with some of the butter.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the beer and 2 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter, stirring just until combined. (The batter will be somewhat lumpy.)

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, then invert onto the rack to cool until warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.…

Quick White Clam Sauce

I like to serve this quick and easy sauce over a long, thin pasta such as linguine or spaghetti. Fresh parsley, either curly or flat-leaf Italian, introduces beautiful color and a shot of fresh herb flavor. The finely chopped, or grated, carrots cook quickly while adding a hint of sweetness and more fresh color.

Serves 4

Two 6-ounce cans chopped clams

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup chopped green onion or shallot

4 carrots, peeled, and shredded or chopped fine

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the chopped onion and the grated carrot. Cook stirring until soft about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for 2 more minutes until the garlic is fragrant and softened. Stir in the white wine, increase the heat to medium high and cook until the wine is reduced and slightly thickened about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, and the clam juice. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 more minutes to thicken.Stir in the chopped parsley, red pepper flakes and reserved clams. Heat through about 1 minute and season to taste with salt and fresh black pepper. Serve immediately over fresh, hot pasta.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 package (3.4 ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies in rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes until the edges are just brown.

 

The Cookie Contest
The Cookie Contest

Every year Hixson hosts a cookie contest at their employee picnic. This year my oldest son and I judged the contest, along with a handful of other interested people who were willing to wade through tasting about a baker’s dozen homemade delights. Tuxedo Bites, Lemon Squares, Nutkins, Thumbprint, Old-fashioned Peanut Butter, Soft Chocolate Chip, Zebra Kisses, Salted Peanut Crisps, and Chocolate Peanut Chip lined the old wooden bar at the boat club. “Take a bite of each and vote on your top three favorites”, were our judging instructions.

Heading into the competition I was fully prepared to vote for something different, an unusual cookie that tickled my taste buds. I did what I was told (typical middle child) and tasted bite after bite. For some reason, despite the flavor contrast in the Salted-Peanut Crisps, or the nutty sweetness of the Nutkins, I kept returning to the Soft Chocolate Chip cookies. The distribution of chips tasted heavenly and the edges were slightly crisp, with a just-baked-soft center. I cast my vote, my son followed suit, and the winners were announced: Tuxedo Bites, Lemon Squares and….. Nutkins. My beloved softies sat scorned on their oblong, yellow platter.

A few days later a recipe book with all cookie contest recipes arrived in my kitchen. I furiously flipped through the pages dying to know what secret ingredient created the just-baked softness in my favorite of the cookie contest. The ingredient list seemed perfectly normal: flour, baking soda, butter, brown and white sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, instant vanilla pudding mix. What, instant vanilla pudding mix in the cookies?.

You must know, if you’re not already aware, I tend to be somewhat of a purist when it comes to baking and even cooking. You know my type – real butter, pure vanilla extract, large fresh eggs. If I’m going to bake, I’m going to bake with simple, fresh ingredients. No “just add vanilla pudding mix” baking for me.

The next few times I shopped I neglected to buy pudding mix. Then my youngest son was prescribed to wear a retainer, glued into his mouth, for one week. In a search for soft food and convenience I picked up a few boxes of pudding mix. Then I remembered the cookies and the recipe. The deal was sealed.

The cookies turned out even better than I expected. The slightly-crisp edges and just-baked soft centers were just as I remembered.

In a recent New York Times article, “Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret”, David Leite makes a quest to discover the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. On his journey he discusses cookie recipe nuances with pastry chefs, bakery owners, and food scientists (including my friend, Shirley Corriher), and makes a strong case for canonizing Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House Inn, creator of the iconic chocolate chip cookie. In the end he presents a recipe that uses bread flour and a 36-hour refrigeration for the dough. Deterred by leaving the dough in …

Red Beans and Rice with Chili Vinaigrette

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe has been part of my repertoire for over 20 years and I’ve made it many, many times. It travels well to a potluck and tastes best served at room temperature – and that’s a bonus if the weather is warm.

 

3 cups cooked brown or basmati rice

1 1/2 cups cooked light red kidney beans, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups frozen or canned corn kernels

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped green onion, mostly green part

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

 

In a large bowl combine the rice, beans, corn, red bell pepper and green onion. Toss to mix. In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and salt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is well blended. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally for up to 4 hours before serving, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

 

 

Nina's Coca-Cola Cake

Makes One 13×9-inch cake

 

Cake ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup Coca-Cola

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons Coca-Cola

1 pound (1 box) confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

 

Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a small bowl. In a large saucepan, melt and stir together, until well blended, the vegetable oil, 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 cup Coca-Cola. Stir in the flour and sugar, mixing well. Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake is set in the middle, and springs back when lightly pressed with your index finger. Cool on a rack. The cake can be frosted while still warm, if desired.

Meanwhile, prepare frosting by mixing and bringing to a slight boil, 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 6 tablespoons Coca-Cola. Remove from heat and immediately stir in confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Stir in nuts. The frosting may look thin, but it will set up when cooled. Immediately pour frosting on cake, and quickly spread the frosting with a spatula or knife. Allow cake to cool for several hours before serving.