Simple Cake Mix Corn Bread


This recipe is almost too simple to be real.  As my coworker was describing it to me, I  wondered if there was any possible way it would work.  You literally just combine corn bread mix and butter cake mix and call it a day.  I really liked the idea, and I’m always on board for shortcuts that save time and effort on a weeknight.  I decided that I wanted to try to make taste more  summery and farm-fresh, so I added in a cup of corn, and was so glad I did.  It made the bread taste fresh, but didn’t take away from the fluffy texture.  We cut up the leftovers and threw them into the freezer, and I can confirm that they thaw beautifully.

Of course, at dinner when we served this bread, Jake and I make the mistake of describing this recipe as a corn bread cake to Lily in order to get her to try it.  She was very disappointed to learn that there was a discrepancy between what she envisioned as cake and what this cornbread is.  Where’s the icing?!  She looked up at me as though she might never trust me again.  But then once we added butter, which this recipe actually really doesn’t need, she was back on board.  I’m not sure where her love of butter came from (certainly not her mother!  ha!)  but for some reason she has a current fascination with it.  So she had butter on top of her cuttery corn bread.  Hey, if it gets her to try new foods, I guess I shouldn’t complain!

Simple Cake Mix Corn Bread

2 boxes of corn bread mix (like Jiffy), prepared to box specifications
1 box of butter cake mix, prepared to box specifications
1 cup corn

Preheat the oven to the temperature that the cake mix box calls for (usually 325 or 350).  Spray a 13×9 inch pan with baking spray.

Mix the corn bread mix and the cake mix according to what their boxes say (usually you need eggs, oil, butter, etc).  Combine the two mixes in a large bowl.  Fold in the corn.

Put the mix into the prepared pan and bake according to the cake box directions, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Slice and serve warm.

Source: A woman from my work (I’m not sure where she heard about it from!)


Green Tinkerbell Smoothie

xIMG_8186In case you either don’t have a little kid or or don’t follow mainstream media at all, you should know that Frozen came out on DVD last week.  Meaning that we have had it playing in our house non-stop all weekend and even  after school on Monday for good measure.  Since we lost the remote, we watch the previews every.single.time which is normally annoying, but this time they introduced us to a gem of a movie called The Pirate Fairy.  Lily can’t wait until it comes out for us to take home on Blu-ray and Digital HD (conveniently, it came out today, so we won’t have to wait long!).  Anything combining pirates and fairies is pretty much a guaranteed winner around here. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m excited to see it, too. :)

To get ready to celebrate the release, I made a green Tinkerbell smoothie.  I figure, it’s kid-friendly but still packed with nutrition.  Including spinach!  This is the first time I made a smoothie with spinach, and I was worried at first, but it’s 100% true that you can’t taste it against the other strong. sweet fruit flavors.  It’s magical.  Much like the fairies.  The sprinkles around the rim of the glass are optional, of course, but they sparkle and shimmer and make the smoothie fun.  I’ll definitely make these again and try out different fruit combos!


Green Tinkerbell Smoothie

Green and/or white sanding sugar
2 Bananas, peeled and frozen
1 8oz can pineapple (or 1 cup of fresh pineapple)
The juice of 1 orange
1 green apple, sliced (peel for a smoother smoothie)
1 handful baby spinach, washed
1 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
A handful of ice cubes, as needed for texture

Dip the rim of a glass in water and then dip into a shallow dish filled with the sanding sugar.  Set aside.

In a blender, blend the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into the glass and enjoy!

Source: L+K Original

Slow-Cooker Black Beans


Ever since she was new to solid foods, Lily has loves black beans.  Which I love because they are healthy and soft and easy for her to pick up, but I also always wondered when she would grow out of it.  They just don’t really seem like a “kid” food, and I was sure that she would start to find something wrong with the flavor or texture.  She never did. (Woohoo!)  There is a Chipotle located dangerously close to our house, so we end up eating there fairly often, and beans and rice are what she always asks for (I’ll have to make cilantro-lime rice soon!).  And while it’s cheap and easy to get black beans while out, I’ve been wanting to make them at home, too, try out different spices and additions.  This recipe is a great start.  Plus, it’s made in the crock pot, so the ease is just too good to pass up.

I found this recipe from Life on Food as a part of the March SRC swap.  I loved looking through all of Emily’s recipes, and almost made something sweet, but since I’ve always wanted to make homemade black beans, so my curiosity won out.  They make a great side dish or component of a main dish.  Conveniently, this recipe makes a huge batch, so I’ll be able to experiment!


Slow-Cooker Black Beans

1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 lb dried black beans
1 dried chile
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp table salt
8 cups water
Juice of 1 lime

Submerge the beans in water and let soak overnight.

Drain and rinse the beans and put into a large slow cooker.  Add all of the other ingredients except for the lime juice.  Stir to combine.  Close the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the beans are tender.

Add the lime juice and stir.  Serve warm, topped with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc., or plain.

Source: Slightly adapted from Life on Food

Loft House-Style (Soft Baked) Sugar Cookies


I’ve been looking for an excuse to try making loft house-style sugar cookies, so when I saw cute green and white sprinkles at the grocery store, I figured there was no time like St. Patrick’s Day for cookies.  You need something sweet to offset that salty colcannon and sauerkraut , right?  My dad had us over to his house for corned beef sandwiches (I had a grilled cheese made from swiss cheese, tomato, and thousand island dressing and it was actually pretty delicious!) so I brought these cookies.  They got thumbs up from everyone, as did the ones I took to work on Monday.  So, I guess this recipe is a keeper!


I like them because they are soft and fluffy (and because when you make them yourself, you can use as much frosting as you want… read: a lot), but it’s also nice that they are so easy to make.  I didn’t chill the dough in the fridge because I figured that since they weren’t going to be cut-outs it wouldn’t really matter.  And it didn’t.  Which is glorious.  They were mixed and baked within half an hour.   I made the frosting while they cooled, and then they were ready to go.  These are like the cookie version of a quick bread (which, to me, is perfect in every way).


Loft House-Style (Soft Baked) Sugar Cookies

For the cookies:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until they are well combined. Add the dry ingredients in slowly and mix well. Form dough balls (about 2 Tbsp. each) and flatten into thick circles with your hands.

Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8-10 mins or until just the edges of cookies start to turn a very light golden brown. Don’t over-bake!  Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp milk
Up to 6 cups powdered sugar (thicken to desired consistency)
food coloring

Whisk butter, vanilla, milk and egg yolk together. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. If it gets too thick, add more milk in very small amounts.

Source: Hostess with the Mostess

Waffle Iron Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze


I almost accidentally murdered my brother and his fiance, Lea, last night.  They were staying in our guest room while in town for the Arcade Fire concert, and came home well after I was already asleep.  As it turned out, they opened the front door at the exact moment that I was having a nightmare about someone breaking into the house to steal Lily (yes, I might need a therapist).  So, the door chimed loudly as it opened, Buster jumped off the bed and started barking, and I went straight into full panic mode.  Like, screaming bloody murder.  In that moment, I truly thought that I was in the middle of a baby-snatching invasion.  Jake took my screams as a sign that something was dramatically wrong, so he jumped into action, too, sprinting toward the staircase and screaming himself.  By the time we were both awake enough to realize who the intruders were, we were halfway down the stairs and they were plastered against the wall with shocked faces, wondering what the heck was wrong with us.  They’re lucky I didn’t have my pepper spray in hand (and they’re really lucky I don’t keep a loaded gun under my pillow)!  I have a feeling the next time they are in Pittsburgh, they’ll couch surf at my dad’s house.   I wouldn’t blame them.  


Before the concert and subsequent home invasion, they kept Lily home from school yesterday to play with her and to practice taking care of a 3-year-old.  Which I loosely compare to when a wealthy, well-fed person spends a week doing the food stamp challenge: the participant feels accomplished in the end but leaves with very little knowledge of the actual situation they are trying to emulate (she didn’t even bother to puke, pee her pants, or throw a major tantrum in a public place).  BUT, in this specific situation, it all worked out for the best because Lily had a great time, Dan and Lea experienced enough booger picking/eating to last them until they have a kid of their own, and Jake and I woke up to the kid crying this morning because she is going to miss them so much.  Super cute.


SO, after all that, I think everyone deserves a cookie fresh from the oven waffle iron.  While one could argue that making them on a cookie sheet in the oven is just as easy, I would argue that it a) isn’t as good in the summer when you don’t want to turn the oven on, b) doesn’t have the nooks and crannies to hold the vanilla bean glaze, and c) needs to be rolled and cookie-cuttered (?) to look this cool, which is decidedly not quick and easy.  So, there you go.  But if you are making these, you’ll have to play around with your waffle maker to see which heat settings work best.  Once you have that down, you really can’t go wrong!


 Waffle Iron Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze

For the cookies:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 vanilla bean
pinch of sea salt
1 cup powdered sugar
Sprinkles for topping

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter on low until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating for until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds after each addition (scraping the sides as needed). Add the vanilla and combine.

Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and carefully mix until just combined (don’t over-mix).

Preheat your waffle maker to medium-low.  Place a heaping spoonful of batter onto the center of each waffle segment.  Close the lid and bake the cookies for about 1-2 minutes (depending on your cookies and waffle maker.  You will need to experiment with your machine to see what works best). Remove the cookies when they are just starting to turn golden.  If you overcook they will get hard quickly, so keep an eye on them.  Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, salt, and vanilla bean seeds until combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar until everything is well combined.  Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and top with sprinkles while they’re still wet. Allow glaze to dry before stacking.

Source: The Blonde Buckeye