Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quick dinner: Beans and cornbread baked as waffles

Tuesdays are dance class nights and my 4-year-old isn't the only one who has to shake a leg. We get home about 7:15 p.m. and I have to make dinner fast under the looming deadline of 8 o'clock bathtime. Soupbeans and cornbread have been in my repertoire of quick meals for years. But I've just found a way to make it even faster.

Some folks might cook their own beans but I haven't tasted any better than Randall's Great Northern Beans in a jar. I use the cornbread recipe on the back of the Quaker corn meal box, but I bet Jiffy mix would work OK, too. The timesaver is in how you bake it.

Use the waffle iron!!!

I can't take credit for that tip -- I read it in Cook's Country magazine. But it works great in a couple of ways: it saves time and eliminates wasted leftovers.

In the past, we've had lots of leftover cornbread that went to waste when the beans ran out. Baking the batter into waffles lets us easily freeze the extras and because of their shape and uniform size, the next time we need cornbread, we just have to set the toaster to "defrost." The batch I made tonight probably yielded enough leftovers for two more meals for our family of three, one more dinner if we had company to share it with. Each waffle takes just a few minutes to bake and, altogether it might take just as long to bake a pan of cornbread, but if you're really in a hurry, your family can eat assembly-line style and get on to what they need to be doing next. And next time, with the frozen extras, it won't take that long at all.

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