Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mississippi Cornbread Salad

I've veering away from my TV spot recipes to share a great recipe I discovered at a church potluck. I love potluck dinners. You get such variety and rarely does anyone refuse to share a recipe-that is, if they used a recipe! This salad has an unusual ingredient - crumbled cornbread!

I just served this at a party at our house this past weekend. You can make it a day ahead if you make your own dressing and it goes together very quickly too. I discovered real bacon bits are a great substitute for frying and draining bacon. Ok, I guess I better get the recipe here so these comments make more sense.

Mississippi Cornbread Salad

1 pkg. Jiffy Cornbread mix, prepared with pkg. directions, baked and cooled
10 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
Shredded cheddar cheese
1 1b. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can mexi-corn, drained (regular corn can be substituted)
5 green onions, sliced (or about ¼ c. chopped onion)
2 tomatoes, diced, drain away juice
1 green pepper, diced

Ranch dressing: (You won’t need to use all of this in the recipe.)
1 pkg. Hidden Valley dressing mix
1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
(You can substitute bottled dressing but the thicker consistency above keeps the salad from getting soggy-if you think the dressing is too thick to spread, thin with a little milk)

Crumble the cornbread, then layer half of each ingredient as follows: cornbread, bacon, cheese, beans & corn, fresh veggies then a layer of dressing. Repeat the layers, finishing with dressing and top with additional shredded cheese. Chill until serving.

When I doubled the recipe the first time, I used only a single recipe of dressing. The amount of dressing is really a personal choice. The amount of fresh veggies is also personal choice-I like lots of tomatoes and peppers but do remove the juicy seeds portion of the tomatoes. It looks beautiful layered in a clear glass bowl, but for serving ease, I like to put it in a glass 9 x 13” dish. A double recipe filled that pan and a 9 x 9” pan. Because of more surface area with these dishes, I used 1 ½ recipes of the dressing. I have also used yogurt in place of some of the mayo for a tangier and lighter taste.

Be sure you grab a dressing mix and not the ranch dip mix. The dip mix has a thickening agent that tends to keep the prepared dressing on top instead of blending a little more with the other salad ingredients.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

This recipe was a delicious find. There is plenty of fresh rhubarb now, so it is a great time to make this dessert. Although the recipe says to use a cast iron skillet, I've done it successfully using a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch square pan.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake


3 c. sliced fresh rhubarb (1/2 in. slices)

1 cup sugar 2 Tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon 1/4 c. butter, melted


1 1/2 c. flour

3/4 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. butter, melted

2/3 c. milk

1 egg

Sweetened whipped cream, optional


Place rhubarb evenly in a greased 10-in. heavy oven-proof skillet. Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon; sprinkle over rhubarb. Drizzle with butter. For batter, combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add butter, milk and egg; beat until smooth. Spread over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 minutes or until the cake tests done. Loosen edges immediately and invert onto serving dish. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream, if desired. Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Cooking in front of a camera

For twelve years, usually on Tuesdays, I followed this routine. I packed my car with food, cooking utensils, sometimes an electric skillet or grill and drove 23 miles to the KNOP TV studio north of the city of North Platte. Unlike bigger television studios with beautiful kitchen studios, I had one long fold-up table with no appliances other than what I brought myself. Luckily there was a tiny fridge and a microwave in the staff break room that I could use during my set-up. Each time I would unpack my boxes and get ready for my slot of the live half-hour pre-noon community highlights show. After the show anchor did a short news segment and then visited with another guest about a community event, it would be my turn. The show anchor joined me at my table and in 5-10 minutes, I would demonstrate a recipe that featured beef, a dairy product, or pork depending on my segment sponsor. Initially, I wondered how I could complete a recipe in that short time but soon it became old hat and I could almost do a recipe without even practicing at home first. I never had to learn to "talk to the camera" since I was always interacting with the show anchor.

How this got started will be the topic of another post. After doing the cooking spots, first once a month, then twice and finally weekly, I had lots of recipe ideas and quite a following. I would walk down the street and someone would stop me and say "aren't you the lady who cooks on TV?" It was great for my ego, if not for my pocketbook. I generally received about $40-$50 dollars each time and that had to cover ingredients, my time, and car expenses. I stuck with it because I felt a responsibility to promote dairy products since our family business was milking cows and to promote farm products in general. And who knew-Julie Childs had to start somewhere! People liked the simplicity of my recipes and the use of everyday ingredients. No one had to run to a gourmet food store to make what I demonstrated. Of course, North Platte was a little short of gourmet ingredients anyway, at least in the late 80's and 90's.

I always wanted to put my recipes together in a cookbook but I didn't have time when I was also a mother of two, a farmer's wife, and even sometimes, a school bus driver. There was also the fact that many of my recipes had come from other cookbooks. For the 1992 Hershey centennial celebration, I was the cookbook committee chairperson. We carefully checked recipes for missing ingredients and when we had too many recipes for our book, we looked at similarities between recipes that could simply be listed as variations of the same recipe to save space. The cookbook sold like wildfire and several years later was reprinted by the Hershey Educational Foundation to sell more. Needless to say, I used recipes from the cookbook for my cooking spot and shamelessly plugged the Hershey cookbook. While I could argue that many cookbooks have the same shared recipe, I just never got my cookbook done. My recipes are still sitting in folders and in computer files.

Just this week, an idea came to me. Since I'm often looking at recipes on the Internet, why not share mine here too. I always wanted my future cookbook to include not only recipes, but also extra tidbits about each recipe so blogging seems like a great way to do this. So, with all of that said, I'll start sharing recipes with my next post. I'd appreciate comments so I have some motivation to continue.