Friday, October 23, 2009

Beans and Cornbread: Two Great New Recipes for Fall

Was reminded this week of a great fall recipe I haven't made in a while. It's also a favorite of mine to make for friends who've just had a baby or have a sickness in the family and need a hand. You can also make ahead and freeze to pull out in a pinch. And I've included a new favorite side dish that goes great with it: Grape tomato and Avocado Salad.

Chili Casserole with Cornbread Topping:

1 lb. Lean Ground Beef or Turkey
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 15-oz. can of beans (pinto, black, red kidney, or chili beans)
1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes (can use diced tomatoes with chili peppers for a spicier version)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
red pepper flakes to taste

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, or Monterey Jack)
1 15 oz. can creamed corn
1 tsp. sugar
1 packet Martha White Cornbread Mix (Can use jalepeno cornbread mix if you like)
buttermilk as needed*

Saute onions and peppers until tender, add ground meat and brown. I add the salt to the meat while it is browning. Next, add beans, tomatoes, and spices. Simmer until well blended and aromatic.

While chili is simmering, prepare Cornbread mixture. Add creamed corn to cornbread mixture with tsp. of sugar. Add buttermilk slowly as needed to help cornbread mixture reach smooth and spreadable consistency.

Pour chili mixture into a casserole dish and add layer of cheese over chili. Then pour/spread cornbread mixture over chili and cheese. Bake in preheated 350ยบ oven for 45 min. or until cornbread is golden brown on top.

Serve with dollop of sour cream and grape tomato and avocado salad.

Grape Tomato and Avocado Salad:

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3 ripe, but firm, avocados, chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley or cilantro (or both), chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 T lemon juice
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt to Taste

Toss all ingredients together in a non-reactive (glass) bowl. Serve immediately or chill for up to 3 hours before serving.

If you try these out, let me know what you like and what you don't. I made this salad for friends who just had a baby last night and wish I had photographed it. It was really beautiful. I may make it again this weekend for us and if I do, I will take a picture and add it.

If you have any great fall recipes you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments section and I will post them with a link to your site.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Great Moments in Parenting

Generally speaking, I think Scott and I do a pretty great job parenting our two sons. We are loving, supportive, encouraging, provide structure and discipline to their lives. Every now and then, however, we have our moments when we go slightly off the range and our words or actions in relation to the boys might be called into question.

Sometimes, thanks to my short fuse, I think I'm just one perfect mom who never makes mistakes away from a call to DCS. Like the witch lady in the waiting room at Scottish Rite's Therapy Center who looked at me in horror and disbelief when I groaned loudly and exclaimed, "Beckett, I am so mad at you right now!" after Beckett stood in the middle of the waiting room and peed all over himself and the floor and then says to me, with a smile on his face, "Mommy! Pee!" In my defense, he had been potty-trained for over a month and it was the first day of his now-week-long potty strike and the fifth time that day he had wet his pants and found it amusing. So, while it should not have been put on public display probably, I do feel my frustration was warranted.

That negative moment aside, the questionable things we say and do are, as often as not, just plain silly. Like the time I told Brendan that he had to brush his teeth because the tooth fairy would not want his teeth if they were yucky and had cavities. When he pressed me on what she did with the teeth, I told him she makes necklaces with them and only wants pretty teeth. Whether he has nightmares about a Tinkerbellish lass with a ropeful of children's teeth dangling about her neck or not, I couldn't tell you, but it did – at least for a while – make him an avid proponent of dental hygiene.

Then there's the story Scott told Beckett last week when the wee one was on the verge of a meltdown because he didn't want to go to preschool. Seeing Beckett's bottom lip start to quiver when I said, "It's time to go to school," Scott took quick, evasive action before the four winds of the toddler apocalypse started to blow in full force. He said, "Beckett, you have to go to school today. This is the day the monsters come to help Mommy clean house."

Monsters? Instantly, he had Beckett's attention and mine. "Yeah. While you're at school the monsters come and they wash the walls for us. But they're kind of scary and you wouldn't want to be here while they're here."

"Oh. Otay," Beckett replied and that was that. He looked a little befuddled, but he acquiesced and came downstairs calmly and was ready to go to school. And it hasn't come up since.

I was duly impressed with Scott's quick work in diffusing the situation and even more impressed with his creativity. Which really should be no surprise considering the fact that he's a musician. But then again, I am a writer, but not nearly so quick off the cuff.

Now, however, I am dying to know about your parenting highlights? What are the funniest, weirdest, silliest, dumbest things you've said or done with your kids and how did they work out? Please share....