Paula Deen’s Moist and Easy Corn Bread

Moist and Easy Cornbread

Baking from scratch and buttermilk have always intimidated me. I was looking for something to go with the Weeknight Baked Bean Chili and found this. The time to take on these two enemies had come! It was simple. It was quick. It was the perfect addition to chili night. I used a 1 1/2 quart rectangular (10″ x 6″ x 1 1/2″) baking dish. It was the perfect size.

Things That I Learned Doing This

  • The recipe calls for buttering the dish or pan. I’ve done that every time and the cornbread is tough to get out of the pan. I think I used plenty of butter. Next time I’ll try parchment.
  • When you buy cornmeal, make sure the word YELLOW is printed on the bag. Don’t get any other kind of cornmeal, even if the bag is yellow.
  • This was my first experience with buttermilk. I opened the bottle and took a sniff. It smells exactly what sour cream would smell like if it was liquid. Someone who really knows their way around a kitchen could probably make this recipe work with sour cream. That someone isn’t me.


Joe Harkins

Meal Planner Pro’s Baked Bean Chili

Weeknight Baked Bean Chili

Hard-core chili lovers are a special breed. They carefully combine an armful of ingredients and cook them all day. Chili takes a lot of work but it is a labor of love. If you expect to serve this recipe to a chili lover, give it a different name.

Chili lovers wouldn’t consider this chili. It’s too simple to make and cooks too quickly. When you taste it, you won’t believe that it was only nine ingredients and took less than an hour to prepare.

The secret ingredient is a 28 ounce can of baked beans. For mine, I use Bush’s Original Baked Beans. If you prefer a different variety, go for it. Your chili lovers may not care for it. Your chili haters may become converts.

I serve it with made-from-scratch cornbread.


Joe Harkins

The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti

Food Network’s Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond

Baked Ziti

This is an absolutely fantastic recipe. It calls for one pound of ziti, two pounds of meat, and a small mountain of cheese. It says 12 servings. I wouldn’t have believed it but it’s true.


The recipe calls for 29 ounces of tomato or marinara sauce, one 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, and one pound of ground beef. I went with 2 pounds of ground beef, three cans of crushed tomatoes, and increased the sauce spices by 50 percent. That way I could have meat sauce to put on the table with the ziti.

If you have people who don’t like spicy food, I’d back down on the 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or leave them out altogether. You could always put it on the table with some extra grated Parmesan cheese. After all, that’s what they do in restaurants.

The directions call for baking it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. That seemed a bit short to me because the weight of the ingredients in a 9″ x 13″ pan comes to more than five pounds. The last time I made it I just followed the clock and it was bubbling. Still, it wasn’t as hot as it should have been. That’s not a problem because everything in the pan had already been cooked once or could be eaten without cooking. Next time I’ll let it go longer, maybe 30 minutes or more. I’ll also check it with an oven thermometer although I have trouble with meat thermometers in shallow food.

Add a salad and garlic bread.


Joe Harkins