Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day, and HOTY Zenyatta!

Two acronyms today, and two simple recipes. It is of course, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, which falls on the Monday closest (I think) to his birthday, which was January 15th.

Now, I'm not going to make the mistake that the Denver Public School system did a few years ago, and add a bunch of stereotypical (i.e. racist) Southern Soul Food recipes to the lunch menu -- even if Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Cornbread, and Pecan Pie, was Dr. King's favorite meal -- it is not appropriate to celebrate it in such a blatant fashion. After all, what are school kids to think? Where's the Kool-Aid, and the watermelon?

Actually, I would be more than happy to be eating such a wonderful meal in honor of MLK, but the Dollar Store doesn't sell fry-able chicken, collard greens, or pecans. So, I'm gonna have to settle for cornbread.

But you know me . . . cornbread, plain ole cornbread? Where's the fun in that?

So I found a very simple recipe online that had just 5 simple ingredients (1 corn muffin mix, 1 can whole corn, I can creamed corn, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup margarine), that can all be purchased at the Dollar Store -- Jiffy (you can use any mix) Cornbread Casserole.

But, this isn't just MLK Day . . . this is also the day the Eclipse Awards are announced, horse racing's version of the Oscars, and fabulous Zenyatta is up for Horse of the Year, once again.

Zenyatta, of course, isn't your average horse. She drinks Guinness, she dances, she soothes crying babies, she infuriates the Fuhrer, she has songs written about her, she adores her fans, and she was undefeated in 19 races against all comers, including the boys in the Breeder's Cup Classic in 2009.

Last year she lost by a nose in the Breeder's Cup Classic when the twilight racing and bright lights, confused her as to exactly where the finish line was. Of course, she lost with dignity and grace, and it is *I* who is making excuses for her . . . after all, she doesn't talk (or does she?), no one can talk to a horse, of course !

So . . . cornbread with beer? That sounds good, but how about a little jalapeno, and cheese to really make these muffins put on a show? Okay, so let's start cooking. Add 1/2 cup of beer to the corn muffin mix. Add 1/4 cup whole kernel corn (drained), 1/8 cup finely diced jalapeno (a little kick goes a long way), and about an ounce of finely shredded cheddar cheese. Mix this all together, and spoon into 6 muffin tins (I line with cupcake cups, as opposed to greasing the tins). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. That's it.

Now, let's make that casserole (I like to hedge my bets, and cook a couple things at once that have similar ingredients). Mix the whole corn (drained - the rest of the can you opened), and the can of creamed corn together with a package of cornbread mix. Add 1 cup sour cream, and 1/2 cup of melted margarine. Mix by hand and pour into casserole dish (I like to line one with foil, instead of greasing). Cook at 350 degrees for about an hour or until it starts to brown on top.

The Cornbread Casserole turned out to be the clear winner here. It had a slightly crunchy crusty bread like top, that gave way to a creamy bottom. A trifecta of corn deliciousness . . . so yummy. The muffins are good too, with an interesting blend of flavors . . . but I keep returning to the casserole -- comfort food at its best.

This will go great with my leftover Drunken Bean with Bacon soup. So Happy Birthday MLK, and Congrats to Zenyatta for winning HOTY!!!

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