By Rose McAvoy
I am going to board a plane Thursday destined for Austin, Texas, and the annual Blogher Food conference. You can imagine how excited I am to be jetting off for four days. It is not often I am able to combine travel, education, meeting friends and sleeping in a bed all by myself. My trip means I will be missing this week’s “Cooking Matters” class. There will be a substitute chef, but it was a little strange to get the hang of things and then say, “see you in two weeks.”
The first week was a little scattered. I wanted to follow the outline, teach the recipes, and share piles of information with the participants. I tried to talk, listen, demonstrate, delegate and be a top-notch volunteer all at the same time. We did finish the recipes but the cooking cut into the other educational components and we had to shuffle a few things around.
Many of my best intentions were abandoned and I focused only on moving the class forward and doing my best to look like I knew what I was doing. Having just met everyone, I wasn’t sure how to read all the reactions to the activities. Some participants spoke up at every chance while others faded into their seats. Just when I was feeling like things were about to completely fall apart I heard one of the participants chuckle and say, to no one in particular, “this is really fun.” Thank God for the small things. Her delight helped me take a breath and power through the remaining steps of our recipes.
Aside from the participant’s comment, the highlight of week one came when everyone dug into the meal we had prepared together. We talked about alternate ingredients to vary the flavors of our dishes and generally got to know each other a little better. This reminded me of why I was drawn to the program in the first place. When a group of people share an experience it binds them, hopefully in a positive way. Involving food can expedite that positive growth. I appreciate the way Cooking Matters empowers communities to become healthy together through increasing nutrition awareness and sharing healthy meals.
This cornbread was one of our week one recipes. Even with my harried approach, it came out moist and fluffy. I was delighted by the little bursts of sweet corn and spicy jalapenos. By the time everyone was finished not a crumb was left behind. I enjoyed the recipe so much I made it at home a few days later. Mr. Second Helpings confessed that he is not a lover of cornbread but was impressed by this version. I knew it was a keeper when The Little Helping dug right in to his serving rather than first taking it apart to inspect all the colorful bits.
Confetti Pepper Cornbread
This moist and fluffy cornbread will enhance any barbecue or summery celebration. The sweet and spicy vegetable additions turn the delightfully simple recipe into a party worthy side dish.
Slightly adapted from Cooking Matters Confetti Pepper Cornbread
Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 30 minutes; Yield 9 servings
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1∕3 cup sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1∕3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 red or green chili peppers, like jalapeno or serrano
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup corn kernels
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-by-9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray or wipe the inside with a little oil, set aside.
2. Prepare the chilies. Remove the stems then slice from top to bottom. Use a small sharp knife to remove the white membrane and seeds. Finely dice the chilies, the pieces should be approximately the size of grains of rice. For a little more heat in your cornbread leave some of the seeds. The diced chilies should equal between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 of a cup. Discard stems, seeds,and membranes then wash hands immediately with warm soapy water. Set prepared chillies aside with the diced bell pepper and corn kernels.
3. In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.
4. In a large bowl, gently lightly beat the egg before adding the buttermilk and yogurt. Whisk wet liquid until it is uniform in color and texture. Mix the chilies, bell pepper and corn into the liquid.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid in two batches, mix just enough to combine the wet and dry ingredients. The batter will be thick. Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden and the edges are slightly brown. Check the center of the cornbread to see if it’s done by inserting a toothpick straight in the middle, it should come out clean.
7. Allow the cornbread to cool and rest in the pan for 10 minutes prior to serving.
Approximate Nutrition per Serving: 160 calories, 2 g. fat, 33 g. carbohydrate, 3 g. fiber, 5 g. protein, PP = 4