Cheddar Corn Bread: Simplified

Whenever I make chili, I love to serve it with a crisp green salad and cornbread.  Because the cornbread is usually an afterthought, I keep a few boxes of corn muffin mix on hand in my pantry.  This makes extremely quick work of whipping up some muffins or “Johnny cakes” which is just cornbread prepared in a cake pan.  However, because they are box mixes, they aren’t exactly exciting.  This is where you can get creative.  I’ve added chopped scallions, fresh herbs (cilantro or parsley are both great), roasted red peppers, or even green chilies.  However my favorite embellishment for simple corn bread is to add cheese, and lots of it!

We are all products of our parents, and mine were not the wasteful sort.  Growing up we turned over ketchup bottles to get every last drop, washed out plastic baggies (before it was in vogue to be “green”), and tried not to waste anything.  I’ve taken this with me into adulthood, and am forever trying to figure out how to use leftover things in my refrigerator.  I hate nothing more than to throw something away, especially when it is food.  So, when I had a half-used container of spreadable cheddar (the slightly more natural version of that horrible, pasty wine cheese we all grew up eating), I decided it would be perfect for cheddar corn bread. 

Because I’m definitely a short-cut baker, I still used a boxed mix for the base of my corn bread.  However, by stirring some room-temperature spreadable cheese into the mixture, this bread goes from boring to ‘bada-bing’ in a couple minutes!  You could also toss in any of the aforementioned ingredients too, which will ramp up the flavor even more.  I’m kicking myself for forgetting about my newly sprouted AeroGarden parsley, which I would have gladly added to brighten this bread with some fresh green color.

Corn bread is perfect to serve with chili, roasted chicken, or any comfort-food.  I love it warm, slathered with butter, but it is also good at room temperature and will keep well in an airtight container for a day or two. 

Cheddar Corn Bread

Serves 6-8

1- 8.5 oz box corn muffin mix, prepared according to package directions

1/4 cup spreadable cheddar cheese, at room temperature  (may substitute 1/2 cup shredded cheddar)

2 tablespoons fresh herb (parley or cilantro), chopped

non-stick cooking spray

8-9 inch cake pan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray cake pan with non stick cooking spray.

Prepare corn muffin mix and stir in cheddar and herbs.  Make sure the cheddar is completely incorporated into the batter and there are no lumps.

Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and top is lightly golden brown.

Cut into 6 or 8 wedges and serve warm.

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