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Friday, November 16, 2012

Cheese-y Corn Pudding...Or Whatever You Want To Call It.

For some reason, yesterday I really wanted corn. Has that ever happened to you before? No? Hmmm...ok, well, it did to me. I had someone ask me for my favorite cornbread recipe last night (Yum!), so I'm thinking subconsciously that may have triggered it. Anyways, moving on. I knew I had a bag of frozen corn in the freezer. Don't wrinkle your nose. There's nothing wrong with frozen veggies. They're picked at the peak of freshness and they're so good to have in a pinch. (Be sure to check the ingredients and make sure there's no other junk in there. That's a different story.) So back to my frozen corn...what could I do with it? I wanted to do something decadent with the corn. Maybe some kind of souffle? That takes a while. I was looking for easy. Looking in may pantry, I had the most random ingredients: some bacon, some cheese...the wheels were turning. I am a secret lover of southern food. I guess it's not a secret anymore if I just told you. Come to think of it, this all could have been because I just watched an hour worth of Paula Deen on the Food Network. After much deliberation and brainstorming, this is what I came up with.

What you will need:
- 2 bags of frozen corn, any brand, 12oz each
- 2 slices of bacon, diced
- garlic, about 2 cloves, minced
- 1 tsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk, I used 1%
- 2oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- Paprika
- loaf pan

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray your loaf pan with non-stick spray. I'm quite sure this mixture won't stick to the pan, but hey, you never know. In a small pan on medium heat, start to brown the bacon pieces until they're nice and crispy. As the bacon crisps up it will release fat, so you don't need to add any oil to the pan. Once your bacon is the way you like it, add a teaspoon of butter (I know what I just said!) and your minced garlic. Flavors, flavors, flavors. Immediately take a nice, deep inhale because your kitchen will be smelling awesome! Mix all the ingredients around and cook for about a minute. To your mixture add your flour. Mix well and you will see the bacon and flour turn to a paste-like consistency. This is called a rue, and this is exactly what it should look like, so don't think you did something wrong.

Here's where I tested out a few things. You have a cup of milk, but add about half of it to start. Turn the heat up to a boil and keep stirring. The combination of the rue and the hot milk will form a cream sauce. If the cream sauce is way too thick, add more milk. You do want a creamy sauce, so think along the lines of a consistency like cheese sauce...and that is exactly what we will turn this into. Turn the heat off and add the cream cheese. Stir till it's fully incorporated, and then add the cheddar cheese. I know what you're thinking, and trust me, it sounds like a crazy combination of random things, but it's pretty tasty. Especially if you like cheese. :-)

Pour your corn in the loaf pan and add the cheese sauce. Mix it well and top with a small sprinkling of cheese. I hope I still have your attention. I said "cheese" about 9 times. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until nice and bubbly. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then serve on the side of your favorite dinner food.

Just remember, it's cheese-y, it's gooey, and it's only for those of you who are very adventurous. Keep an open mind with this dish, and you may be pleasantly surprised. Let me know what you think!

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