I’m pretty sure any blog is incomplete without the obligatory corn casserole recipe around this time of year. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy I call it a corn souffle. Because, you know, casseroles get a bad rap a lot of times (they really deserve more, if you ask me). And maybe sometimes I call it spoon bread. Just because. Who knows?! Regardless of whatever I decide to call it at the moment, I have to admit that I find myself drooling a little bit every time I see corn casserole/souffle/spoon bread. SO, SO GOOD! Most recipes use a corn muffin mix as a base, which is scrumptious. BUT this one is just as amazing and made completely from scratch! YAY!
I haven’t made this recipe more than like one other time in our marriage because I was SURE that Travis wasn’t a fan. It’s funny how notions like that get stuck in our heads because as it turns out he really does like it. He even asked why I haven’t made it more. At that point I wasn’t sure if I should cry a tear for all the missed corn casserole opportunities or jump for joy for the many corn casseroles in our future. I just played it cool in reality. Didn’t want to seem like a total food dork, even if I am one.
The real test was on our 1-year-old son, who has decided corn is on the “do not eat” list. He literally finds every piece of food he doesn’t like (a.k.a. almost every vegetable) and promptly drops them on the floor. I like to tell myself he’s a future scientist and is testing the laws of gravity, but I think I have to accept that he just likes dropping food he thinks is disgusting on the ground. We ate this casserole 3 times during different meals. The 1st two times the corn casserole ended up on the floor. BUT, 3rd time is a charm because….SUCCESS! My child actually ate corn! Without any sort of manipulation or begging on my part. Major win.
So I’ve learned a few lessons here. First, make sure to ask your husband/significant other/whoever you cook for if they like or dislike something before assuming one way or another. Next, persistence is key with a 1-year-old. Finally, I’ve learned that my love of corn casseroles is for reals and I will be making many more variations in my near future.
Side note…We ate a random helping of sides with this including orange pomegranate coleslaw and my recently posted Thanksgiving dinner rolls. Sometimes side dishes are where it’s at! I just realized my “side note” talked about sides. HA! I crack myself up sometimes.
This could not be any easier, folks. There are some super tempting, most definitely delicious applesauce recipes out there that have all sorts of ingredients in them, including loads of sugar. Nothing against those applesauce recipes, but a couple of things to remember about unsweetened applesauce:
It’s Fall, so the apples are fresh and naturally sweet and AMAZING! Let the apple flavor be the star ingredient, not added sugar!
When you cook the apples low and slow, they literally melt apart and form into the most magical applesauce ever.
I have a 1-year-old and sometimes the simple, no sugar added option is the best for little bodies (and for big bodies too, really).
I can’t even concentrate anymore because my house smells like I live in a ginormous apple pie…I’m seriously having a brain fart here.
I used McIntosh apples because they’re so naturally sweet. If you use another variety of apples (such as Jonathan or Braeburn), or if the apples aren’t at all sweet for some reason, there’s a chance you MIGHT need a touch of sugar. However, I beg you to try it without the sugar first! You might just be surprised. I mean, I have a SUPER sweet tooth and 9 out of 10 times I don’t need to add sugar. If it needs a little something, try cinnamon first. Sometimes that gives it just the boost it needs to be perfect! Then, if it really does need the sugar, so be it. You can call me liar forever. I accept this possibility as long as you give it a try.
Fun fact about McIntosh apples that I learned from my sister — I guess McIntosh apples make an applesauce with a slightly pinkish tint to it. It makes sense since they turn a little pink once you peel and dice them. So interesting, though! Yeah, I know. I’m a nerd for being fascinated by simple food facts like that.P.S. I heated some of the applesauce up until it was warm and just starting to bubble. I sprinkled some granola on it and ended up with a healthy little dessert. It was so, so satisfying!
P.P.S. Extra credit if you noticed that the apples in the final pictures are Gala, not McIntosh apples, like I used for the applesauce. I got so carried away, I used all the McIntosh apples I had for the applesauce and left none for the pictures. Oops!
splash of water (enough to barely cover the bottom of the pot)
cinnamon, optional, to taste
Peel and dice apples into 1/2" pieces.
Put a splash of water in the bottom of a large pot (enough to barely cover the bottom) along with the apples. Cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. The applesauce should be slightly chunky but tender.
Add cinnamon, if desired, to taste.
Serve warm or chilled. Store in refrigerator.
Makes about 3 cups of applesauce
You can use other kinds of apples to make applesauce, such as Braeburn, Cortland, Jonathan, etc. However, I love how naturally sweet the McIntosh apples are. If you use a variety that is more tart, you may have to add a pinch of sugar.
If you want completely smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender or blender to blend until smooth. Make sure the applesauce is cooled before transferring to a normal blender.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/
I’ve had a handful of meals that I would consider particularly memorable in my life. The meal after Travis and I got married in Savannah, Georgia immediately comes to mind as well as the meal Travis and I ate in a revolving dining room overlooking Niagara Falls. Then there’s the meal I shared with my family at Pinocchio’s restaurant at Disney World overlooking the It’s a Small World ride. Hey, just because I was probably 8 and eating chicken fingers doesn’t mean it wasn’t life changing.
I’d have to say that definitely in the top 5 most memorable meals in my life so far was the meal Travis and I shared in Rome in a little plaza overlooking the Pantheon. There are things that just don’t fade in your mind such as the red gingham tablecloth, the fact that it was probably 45 degrees but the heat lamp next to us kept us warm, the view (of course), and the FOOD. Focaccia was served along with my entree of Fettuccine Alfredo in a Parmesan cheese bowl. Yes, best day ever.
prepared biga (I could have used a larger bowl)
Let’s think about this a little longer to let it sink in. There was a basket of focaccia served to us, perfectly crisp from being smothered in olive oil before baking. There was Fettuccine Alfredo, possibly one of my most favorite dishes. There was a BOWL made out of Parmesan cheese. A BOWL, people. It was wonderful and I loved it. I ate it all. You don’t let focaccia and Parmesan bowls go to waste when you’re in Italy. You just don’t.
I won’t pretend that this focaccia can come close to the memory that I have of that meal. I have to face the fact that I do not live in a plaza next to the Pantheon so it’s a bit hard to recreate the mood. BUT, I will say that the time that goes into this bread is worth every last mouth-watering bite. You will not be disappointed. The ingredients are so simple but scrumptious when combined the right way. The bread isn’t greasy from the olive oil. It’s rich and crisp and wonderful. I have nothing more to say than go now. Go now, and make this bread. Now. Please.
Prepare the biga the night before baking the focaccia - combine 3/4 cups of lukewarm water and 1/4 teaspoon yeast in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot for at least 8 hours.The biga should be light and airy when it's ready.
Combine the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the biga, 1 cup of water, 3 cups of flour and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix for about 2 minutes on low, add 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, and mix for another 3 minutes on low. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in small increments until it is no longer sticky.
Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
Let it rise is a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Knock down the dough and fold it over a few times before covering again and letting it rise another 45 minutes.
Coat two 9" metal* cake pans with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Split the dough in 2 and place half in each of the cake pans. Spread the dough out until it reaches the edges. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your fingers to poke indentations in the dough. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each focaccia (this will pool in some of the indentations). Sprinkle the rosemary and sea salt (I used pink sea salt but regular sea salt is good too) over the focaccia and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks before serving.
Make sure to start the biga for this recipe the night (or at least 8 hours) before trying to make the bread. It's a long process, but worth it!
Pretty much everything in this recipe is divided! Please note the amounts needed for the biga and for the bread-making process in the directions.
*I tried this recipe in a glass baking dish and it did not come out as crispy as when I used the metal pans. However, you could use an 8x8" or 9x9" metal baking dish if you do not have round cake pans.
Having a newborn has completely changed my view of food. My food thoughts these days consist of things such as: “How can a little baby pack away that much food? He must be a magician,” and “I’m SOO hungry…I will eat anything. Seriously. Anything.” (Breastfeeding moms, are you with me there? I can eat all day and still be hungry). Oh, and my favorite recently pondered question is whether or not I have somehow turned from human to milk-making machine. Because sometimes I feel like that’s my new job. Actually, that is my new job along with professional cuddler, diaper changer and swaddler. I’m learning on the job. I think my client is happy but he doesn’t talk yet.
Along with these very deep and profound thoughts (hey, they’re profound if you’ve been sleep deprived), there’s just no more TIME! I was always the person that used cooking and baking as my calming factor after a busy day. Kind of like yoga for someone who can’t balance on one foot. No joke, I made a hot dog the other day on an indoor electric grill and was proud of myself for the amazing feat I accomplished…I don’t even like hot dogs! Well, except for at a good summer cookout. But that was one good hot dog because I made it myself! One step at a time…I’ll get back to making full meals I’m sure!
So I guess where I’m going with all this rambling is that despite the fact that the next several recipes I’ll post, including this kohlrabi and potato recipe, are fairly simple and 100% delicious, I was smart enough to stock up on recipes and photos prior to baby’s arrival. I don’t feel like you all would be impressed with a recipe on how to make a hot dog. Just a hunch.
Back to the reason you’re here…I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of potatoes so let’s jump right to the kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a mystery ingredient for many. I must admit I had no clue what it was or how to use it prior to acquiring this fine specimen from VanScoy Farms awhile back (again, I made this before the little guy arrived). After some research, I found a simple recipe and was on my way. I personally think kohlrabi kind of tastes like brussels sprouts a little. You can disagree though. I won’t take it personally.
To prep the kohlrabi, remove any stem or leaves. Slice it into quarters and cut the core out. Peel the kohlrabi through the outer fibrous layers (if you have a bigger kohlrabi like I did, make sure to get through all the outer layers to the completely white part or you’ll end up with tough sections. I learned from experience). After that, you’re ready to dice and use!
Let’s start with the good stuff. I was able to make this delicious rosemary cheddar squash bread recently which was AMAZING! I’m so used to seeing zucchini or squash in sweet cakes or breads. This recipe was quite the welcome change and totally worth it! When my in-laws came to visit recently my mother-in-law brought me some gorgeous squash from VanScoy Farms in Ohio so of course I immediately started thinking of options. After eating some of it plain because, yum, I used about half of a yellow squash to make this bread. Also, yum.
The rosemary adds that lovely earthy flavor that I adore. I am obsessed with the fact that our rosemary is finally growing in our back yard so I was super excited to put it to good use. You can certainly mix up the herbs in this recipe to fit your taste or use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh (but try the fresh if you can!). Chives seem to always be in abundance in our yard and it’s a perfect pair for this savory bread. Also, let’s at least mention how the olive oil is SPOT ON in this recipe and adds more earthy, savory flavor that can’t be replicated without it. Scrumptious!
Now to the not so good stuff of the week…the worst thing that could possibly EVER happen to a food lover happened this week. Yes, my oven broke. Dun dun duuun. I was making Travis his birthday dinner (steak and mac and cheese, of course) when all of a sudden my oven popped and sparked and then it started beeping and beeping more and beeping louder and LOUDER and then the dreaded “error” suddenly appeared on the little screen. *Sigh* Keep in mind, the beeping kept going. And of course this entire time I was panicked from the loud pop and spark and was absolutely CERTAIN the oven was about to explode. I can be a little overdramatic at times. But hey, an oven freak out is not something that happens everyday.
After I got my head a little more together, which was hard with the beeping from the oven that would not go away, I decided the best route of action was to turn off the electrical fuse. Travis was running an errand so I was pretty proud of myself to think of this…even if it’s fairly obvious. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the right fuse so I was becoming more and more panicked as everything else seemed to turn off EXCEPT the oven. And the beeping. just. would. not. go. away!! Luckily as I started to reach maximum panic, Travis showed up and took over the situation. Thank goodness for handy husbands that can read panic on their wives faces.
I am happy to say that dinner was mostly done at this point, so we were still able to eat an unfortunately somewhat average birthday dinner due to all the issues. Nonetheless, it was food and it was cooked. Also, in other good news, my handy husband was able to order a new electronic panel (which apparently is what shorted and popped and sparked) that showed up magically fast and the oven is working very nicely again. No explosions did occur in this situation despite my panic and all is well in my kitchen again. We only ended up with a few days thrown together leftover meals until the oven part came, so I really can’t complain that much. Let’s just say, I love my oven when it works. Especially to make things like this squash bread!