The Best Ever Cornbread

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I have had some really good and some really bad cornbread over the years, and I'm sad to say that more often than not the cornbread in restaurants are the most disappointing.

So a few weeks ago we were in Montana visiting friends and we had this cornbread. Aaron has said many times since then that it was the best cornbread he has ever had, so needless to say I had to make it. Now the key to making this cornbread extra delicious is bacon drippings. I know, I know, your probably thinking bacon drippings - seriously? But trust me, it gives it the exact flavour that is needed to make this cornbread delicious. But, if you haven’t recently cooked some bacon or it’s just not your thing you can always use butter.

The other great thing about this bread is that it’s made in a cast iron pan which is one of my most favourite thing to cook with. It gives nice even heat and cleans up so easily contrary to what many believe.

So next time you are making your favourite chilli or almost any food that saucy and includes BBQ sauce make sure you whip up this cornbread. It’s a classic combination that just can’t be beaten!

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prep time 15 minutes

cook time 30 minutes

total time 45 minutes

servings 12

Ingredients

4 tbsp bacon drippings or butter

1 1/2 cup medium coarse cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup half + half or milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375. In an 8 or 10 inch cast-iron pan place bacon drippings or butter and put in the oven.

While the oven is preheating combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt + sugar. In a small bowl combine eggs and half + half and whisk until well combined. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Remove pan from hot oven and carefully pour the batter into the pan then using the back of a spoon or spatula even out the top.

Bake of 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the bread has pulled away from the edges. Serve while hot or warm.

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Pineapple, Zucchini + Carrot Loaf

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Pineapple, Zucchini + Carrot Loaf - I think it’s such a great alternative traditional banana bread, though this recipe does have a secret banana hiding inside!

So, this recipe is a take on muffins that my mom use to make when I was a kid, but sadly it’s a recipe that seems to have disappeared which means a bunch of recipe testing to try to get it just right. Now, while I know this isn’t a muffin recipe it can easily be baked in muffin tins, and I must say its a dead ringer of the recipe from my childhood.

So, there are a couple of things I have changed from that classic, and that is the addition of zucchini and banana. Most healthy-ish baking recipes tend to use applesauce, which is a good way to cut back on sugar and keep it nice and moist, but I don't know about you, I don’t usually have apple sauce on hand, so that is where the banana comes in. I am way more likely to have bananas, and even if they aren’t super ripe and brown they still work just fine. Now while this recipe has a decent amount of sugar it also has almost 3 cups of veggies and a bunch of fruit so you can feel pretty good about that!

This is a great recipe to make if your garden has produced an overabundance of zucchini and carrots, or you just want a super yummy breakfast or snack - either way, it’s perfection!

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prep time 20 minutes

cook time 55 minutes

total time 1 hour 15 minutes

servings 16 - 20 slices

Ingredients

3 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 medium banana

2 cups white sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups shredded zucchini

3/4 cup shredded carrots

3/4 cup finely chopped pineapple

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup walnuts

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 2 loaf pans with cooking spray or parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine eggs and oil and whisk to combine. Add in the banana and mash until it is fully broken down. Stir in sugar, vanilla, zucchini, carrots and pineapple.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and walnuts. Add the flour to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Evenly distribute the mixture between the loaf pans then bake for 45-55 minutes or until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

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Caramelized Onion Skillet Focaccia

Warm pillowy focaccia with sweet caramelized onions and chunky salt flakes = bread perfection!

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To dip or not to dip - that's the question! Me - I’m a major dipper, I mean how can you eat focaccia without balsamic and olive oil? I seriously don’t understand when restaurants bring this style of bread with nothing to dip it in - butter doesn’t work for focaccia, and that is coming from a butter lover.

So if you are on team no dip you are in luck with this one. Since it has the caramelized onions on top it has so much flavour you almost don’t need the balsamic - almost.

Now if you are not a big bread maker this is a great one to get you started. It’s super easy and if you have a stand mixer, it doesn't require you to do all that much work. If you have made bread in the past but not focaccia the biggest thing that may seem unusual is that finger poking that you do before you put it in the oven. This is what gives it it’s traditional look and it's a must. Don't be afraid to poke it too much - you want to do it a lot and you want to press your fingers all the way down to the bottom of the pan - trust me.

This bread is also best served warm and the day that you make it. While you can certainly store it in a ziplock bag you will lose that good crust that makes this bread so delicious. So whip this up mid-afternoon and treat your friends and family to this bread for dinner tonight!

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prep time 1 hour 40 minutes

cook time 40 minutes

total time 2 hours 2 minutes

servings 8 pieces

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup warm water

2 tsp sugar

1 pkg active dry yeast

3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup olive oil + more for for the top

2 tsp coarse sea salt + more for the top

2 sprigs rosemary

1/2 white onion

2 tbsp butter

Instructions

In the bowl of your stand mixer pour warm water and sugar then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.

To the yeast mixture add in flour, olive oil, and sea salt. Mix on low/medium for 5 minutes or until the dough has come away from the sides and is forming a ball (adding more flour if needed). Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball then place in a clean greased bowl and cover for 45 -60 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven of 400. Once the dough has doubled remove from the bowl and place in a cast iron skillet - pressing dough into the pan so that it is evenly distributed. Cover again and allow to rest for another 20 minutes.

While the bread is resting place butter into a medium frying pan and allow to melt. Add in the sliced onions and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until onions are golden brown and caramelized (being sure to stir often so they do not burn).

Remove the towel and press your fingers firmly into the dough - being sure to press all the way to the bottom of the pan. Top with caramelized onions, a generous sprinkle of sea salt, rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread is light golden brown.

Remove from oven and give another small drizzle of olive oil. Allow to cool before removing from the cast iron skillet.

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