Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Corn Bread Pudding Debate

It was a pseudo face off. . . The Chi Chi's mix versus a new recipe.

Recipe Ingredients vs. the Mix

Christmas Dinner was the battleground.

 For years, Chi Chi's Sweet Corn Cake Mix has been a staple around here. Add a can of creamed style corn (to date I'm not sure what else you would use that for), some water, and melted butter, and you had a sweet treat that transported you back to simpler times when Chi Chi's was a destination of a Friday night and you could have seafood enchilada's that masqueraded as Mexican fare and fried ice cream for dessert. Those days are long gone but the sweet corn cake still lived on. Until recently. The last few times I have made it, it hasn't tasted quite right. I thought maybe I messed up, not following the directions to a "t", or the batch we had was stale. But last time, a couple of weeks back, I realized something has changed in this mix and it's just not right!

I did a little research, exploring recipes for homemade versions. I am hesitant to use the word "homemade" because there is still a mix involved but there was a list of possible ingredients. Of course, there were more sophisticated versions of this type of fare, ranging from Alton Brown's version with cubed bread, stone ground cornmeal, and shredded cheese and heavy cream, to a dessert like rendition with raisins and maple syrup.

I settled finally on this recipe for my foundation, staying true to the ingredients with the exception of adding a topping brown sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika and shredded Mexican cheese to spice it up a bit. The rest of the recipe I really did follow, mixing the first five ingredients (eggs, sour cream, two types of corn, and melted butter) together before adding the dry cornbread mix. 

After that I made a topping of the brown sugar (about 2 Tablespoons) with a 1/4 teaspoon of paprika and a dash of cayenne that I stirred with a fork in a bowl. I sprinkled that on the batter and then added a healthy dose of the shredded cheese before I put it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. The final result? It was as good as Chi Chi's and was a slightly more textured (crunchy) version and the added flavors did not overpower the final casserole. 

Before Baking

After Baking

The Corn Bread Pudding had good company with a list of other side dishes at our Christmas Dinner tonight. There was green bean casserole (the original Durkee French Fried Onion version), along with regular corn with butter, beer bread, mashed potatoes and fried brown sugared ham. Sometimes tradition outweighs culinary adventures.

This was our first Christmas in our new home and it was really special. Rather than eating  in front of the TV, we actually ate at the table, by candlelight no less. One of my resolutions for the coming year is to enjoy what I have rather than "saving" it. So the china that has been stored for the past fifteen years, but never used, came out today. Candles that we have had for I don't know how long actually were lit. It was a very nice meal, complete with Christmas music and laughter and love.

 Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season. 

Here's to a New Year full of laughter, love, happiness and of course, good food!

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