Rotisserie Chicken Streamlines Spring Suppers

I’m sure many of you have discovered that rotisserie chicken is a great shortcut to many of our favorite dishes. From chicken salad to casseroles, it dramatically cuts preparation time. Of course, roasting or cooking chicken at home is the most economical option, but there are times when convenience is worth it. I like to debone the whole chicken and freeze the excess to use later.

A chicken casserole is perfect for a spring supper when the evenings may still be cool. Easy Pickin’ Chicken Pie has been a Martha White® Kitchen favorite for years and one of my “go to” recipes. I have often combined the filling ingredients in a baking dish in the morning and stored in the refrigerator until dinnertime. Then all that’s left to do is mix self-rising flour, milk and melted butter. Pour over the top and bake according to recipe directions. To be so simple, it is amazingly comforting and delicious.

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We’ve talked about cornbread salad, the Southern version of the classic Italian bread salad, but I don’t think I have ever shared this TexMex version. Chicken Salsa Cornbread Salad is a great combination of cornbread cubes, chicken, cheese and a variety of vegetables. The dressing is simply salsa and sour cream. Feel free to vary the vegetables according to your family’s taste.

Caprese Skillet Cornbread

Hey friends! It’s me Brandie again from The Country Cook! I love sharing simple, everyday recipes for the busy cook. Today I would love to share this Caprese Skillet Cornbread recipe with y’all!

Insalata Caprese (in Italian it means: Salad of Capri) is a simple Italian salad of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. A bit of olive oil is drizzled over the top of the whole salad. It is that recipe that inspired this recipe for Caprese Skillet Cornbread!

We’re making it simple by using my favorite Martha White® Cotton Country™ Buttermilk Cornbread Mix. It is super delicious and tastes just like homemade, so it’s my go-to when making skillet cornbread. And I’m making it all in my 10 1/2-inch Lodge® Cast Iron skillet. Cooking in a pre-heated skillet gives me those crispy edges that I love on savory cornbread. But you can definitely use a 9×9 baking dish for this recipe (no pre-heating necessary).

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I’m also using sun-dried tomatoes. The tomatoes are kept soaking in flavorful olive oil to keep them pliable and delicious. It takes this cornbread over the top! So let’s get to this recipe!

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Ingredients:
2 (6 oz) pouches Martha White® Cotton Country™ Cornbread
1 1/2 cups water
1 large egg
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 12 oz container marinated mozzarella balls
1 (7 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes

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Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Coat a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet with a generous layer of vegetable or olive oil. When oven is finished preheating, place the skillet into the oven to warm up (for about 6-8 minutes).

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While skillet is warming up, prepare the cornbread mix. In a large bowl, combine both pouches of cornbread mix with water and egg. Finely chop basil and sun-dried tomatoes. And cut mozzarella balls in half.

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Add basil, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes to cornbread batter. Stir gently until combined.

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When skillet has warmed, add cornbread batter to the skillet.

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Bake cornbread (on middle oven rack) for approximately 15 to 20 minutes (until golden brown).

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Blueberry French Toast Bread Pudding with Smoky Bacon Highlights Winter Brunch

If the winter months seem long, and cabin fever is setting in, maybe it’s time to invite some friends over for a cozy winter brunch. Whether you sit around the kitchen table for a traditional breakfast, or relax in the den with finger food, the casual camaraderie is sure to warm your heart. In the South, we’re all about sharing food, so don’t hesitate to take your friends up on their offer to bring something.

No matter what the menu, topping it all off with this delectable Blueberry French Toast Bread Pudding with Smoky Bacon is sure to delight your guests. We’ve talked before about bread puddings made with biscuits, but this one is even easier. Begin by baking up muffins using a Martha White® Blueberry Flavored Muffin Mix. The muffins can be made in advance and placed in the freezer if you want to get a little head start.

Cut muffins into cubes and place in a baking pan or dish. The custard is rich with cream, eggs and flavored with brown sugar and maple syrup. Pour the prepared custard over the muffins and top with chopped toasted pecans. Bake and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and syrup. The sweet and savory flavors are so enticing everyone will be coming back for more.

Let’s Make Yeast Bread

Quick breads like biscuits, cornbread and fruity nut breads are much more a part of our Southern heritage than yeast breads. Probably because corn was sometimes the only grain grown on small farms. The wheat grown in the South is low protein and better for quick breads or soft yeast breads.

If you have not made yeast breads, but always wanted to try, Holiday Cinnamon Rolls are a great place to start. They’re not totally dependent on texture, providing a variance in finished product from a little chewy to light and airy – delicious either way.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Yeast is a plant that produces gas to make the dough rise.  When adding the liquid it needs to be warm, but not hot. Recipes will usually suggest the proper temperature which you can check using a thermometer. Just remember, it should be similar to the temperature of a baby’s bottle.
  • Forget the gentle handling. Most yeast doughs need to be kneaded for several minutes to create the elastic structure needed for the dough to rise.
  • Most recipes suggest putting the dough in a warm place to rise. Alice Jarman, who started the Martha White Test Kitchen, always let her dough rise in a cold oven with a pan of warm water on the rack underneath. But it will rise on the counter or even in the refrigerator.

Give it a try. You’ll enjoy the process and the wonderful results.

Sweet and Savory Cheesecakes for Brunch

I never tire of singing the praises of brunch – it’s a great way to entertain all the way around. It comes at a convenient time of the day, offers the opportunity to serve a variety of favorite foods and exudes a fun and festive aura. My brunches tend to lean more toward breakfast, simply because I love breakfast foods. But brunch menus also often include typical lunch foods, too.

Here are two cheesecake recipes sure to add a festive twist to a holiday brunch.  Both were past recipe contest winners and feature an easy-to-make crust made with a Martha White® muffin mix. Savory Apple Cinnamon Bacon Breakfast Cheesecake features savory cheesecake seasoned with bacon and sautéed onion. The crust has a slightly sweet twist from using the Martha White® Apple Cinnamon Flavored Muffin Mix. You could substitute with other muffin mix flavors like Blueberry, if you prefer.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Cheesecake is a dessert cheesecake that requires only six ingredients. The crust can be made with a Martha White® Apple Cider Flavored Muffin Mix or a Martha White® Cinnamon Sugar Flavored Muffin Mix and butter. The filling consists of Neufchatel or cream cheese, sugar and eggs, swirled with caramel topping.

Either recipe will add a festive touch to you holiday brunch whether it’s breakfast or lunch inspired.

What are your favorite brunch dishes?

Fabulous Banana Bread Comes in Handy for the Holidays

Bananas are a Southern baking favorite. They contribute great flavor and moist texture to quick bread loaves, muffins, cakes, pancakes and other baked goods. Banana breads and desserts appeal to thrifty Southern cooks as overly ripe bananas are perfect for baking.

Although made throughout the year, banana bread loaves are especially popular during the holidays. It is a good idea to bake up a few loaves and stash in the freezer, because they will certainly come in handy in several ways. When I picture my mother’s banana bread, I always picture it wrapped in crumpled foil from continuous wrapping and unwrapping to have a little bite. It’s one of the many foods that tastes even better a day or two after baking.

Baked in large or small loaf pans, banana bread is a perfect little gift for neighbors and friends and comes in handy for unexpected guests. This bread is perfect to serve with a cup of coffee or tea. Don’t forget about little sandwiches on hand to add to your holiday buffet.

I never pass up the opportunity to recommend Aunt Lois’ Banana Nut Bread. This delicious recipe was shared with us many years ago by a friend and former coworker in the Martha White® Kitchen. It’s easy and absolutely delicious.

Family Friendly Supper Solutions – Tex Mex-Style

Family mealtime rituals and home cooking are things we cherish, but busy Fall schedules don’t leave a lot of time for preparation. The first step to success is planning. Start by collecting quick and easy recipes that taste great.

From time to time I’ve tried different methods of keeping track of recipes I came across in cookbooks, on websites or in magazines, but many of these methods turned out to be too cumbersome and time-consuming. I needed a way to organize them that did not involve retyping or writing on a recipe card. For me personally, my best organizing method was an accordion file, labeled by category. All I had to do was print, copy or tear out the recipe and stick them in the file. This method of organization has served me well for many years and I always recognize favorites by the food stains they now feature!

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Have-It-Your-Way Taco Pie

Here are three easy recipes you might like to put in your go-to file. Each one has an easy-to-prepare filling covered with a cornbread topping and a small list of ingredients. The filling can be prepared in advance – making these recipes even easier! At dinnertime, just put the filling in a cast iron skillet, heat and add the cornbread topping. They all bake in 30 minutes or less!

You can hardly go wrong with these simple Tex Mex-Style dinners that will have you sitting down at the dinner table with your family in no time.