Posted by: aauntiem | June 4, 2010

My Grandma’s Broccoli Cheese Cornbread

My Nanny is a family-famous baker. She does things to cakes that people don’t believe are possible. And, my Nanna’s way isn’t to carve the icing into a Cinderella castle; instead she will just make that icing sing.

My father’s side of the family is from Louisiana—everything is Cajun, made with spice, soup, rice, and something freshly caught or grown. And, it too, is delicious (in fact my Uncle Dee’s biscuit are unmatched by all other biscuits I have tasted, anywhere. I will bet …well something really important on it).

And, while I love the dishes of Louisiana, they don’t lace my dreams. I am a Louisiana “L family” child in spirit and personality. Like my Grammie, I am stubborn, proud, and passionate. In fact, my family teases me about this passion, which is just their nice word for loud-mouthed and opinionated.

But, mostly, I imagine my momma’s side and my Nanny. My nanny who lives by the Gulf, grows the largest and prettiest shrimp plants I have ever seen, has a flowering garden all year, and who makes roast on the first night your arrive at her house whether it is August or December. My Nanny, a woman that somehow manages to make fruit cake taste good.

And, visiting my Nanny’s house is always laced with a little bit of dreams for me. When we cross the big bridge, take the winding and scenic drive around the bay, and then under the graffiti tunnel my body always senses that it is almost there. The second drive across the Bay Bridge we roll down the windows and smell the salty stench of the air. We almost always arrive by night and the moon sprinkles light off the bay like a crystal prism caught in light. My Dad asks for times, we all guess the minute we will arrive. It is a game we have played since childhood. Depending on his time, he slows down—to win but really he always guesses late to draw it out and to slow down because the speed limit in my Nanny’s small town is strictly enforced on out of town plates.  On that bridge, I always feel like I have come home—though it is to a place I have never lived and only visit. We take the four turns, half way across the small peninsula, and make it to my Nanny’s little brick house.  And, always, the first thing she does is offer us some baked treat or her roast hot from the oven.

My Nanny, the family-famous baker, shows her love with food. It is something that I have learned from her, what it feels like adding in some giving or expectation as an ingredient in a sweet dish. Two Christmases ago, I asked her to teach me to bake and asked that she give me some of her recipes. Then, when I didn’t know my way around a spoon (not that I know much more than that now) she sat on a stool, telling me how to do this and that, and scolded me for not having a large mixing bowl, or a flour sifter, or this and that kitchen thingy.

I learned how to make many things that Christmas. Mostly, though, I learned to be patient with the recipe and try not to get so overwhelmed with the whole but to just focus on one step in the recipe at a time.

Last week, I thought of her cornbread and promised myself I would make some this week.

Yesterday, after a long and exciting day of interviewing and what nots, I let myself relax and let myself get lost in the step-by-step of the recipe. Noisy kitchens full of family and laughter mean holidays to me, but a quiet kitchen with no one around, just me and the steps, is a lot like driving across that bridge.

And, thinking my way through the recipe, I also thought about the fact that I have been really overwhelmed by weight loss and healthier living lately. Really, for months I have been a yo-yo, back and forth with my eating and my activity.

I am overwhelmed by how much there is to do, by how much I need to learn about everything, by trying to imagine a version of myself. I get lost in the difficulty of the finish and have tripped over some of the necessary steps. It like I have just frozen up.

It is funny how much being overweight creates an entire lifestyle. Overweight is a state of mind, it is a quick answer of “No” to tank-tops, swimming in public, 5ks, and mountain climbing. It is sitting back to enjoy the show instead of being the show. Thinking my way back through this year I see how often I didn’t even realize that I said “I can’t” without thinking about if I wanted to, if I could, etc. Being overweight is a perpetual state of standing still.

More than a year in, starting the process of changing my eating and living really hit me last night in my kitchen because I realized I am scared (like horror zombie movie scared) of letting go, allowing myself to do things, of failing and even of trying to be someone I believed was off limits to people like me. I did so well for a year. And, then, as I was getting closer than I ever have before and really changing how I lived my life I froze. I did what I always do, I did nothing. Isn’t this something I have always wanted? Then, why won’t I let myself have it?

Mind blowing, right there between chopped broccoli and browning butter.

So, yesterday while baking my Nanna’s broccoli cornbread, I the fat kid had a realization about life. Ironic, but true. And now, after all this realization I am left with a whole lot of cornbread and “what are you gonna do about it now?” question. First thing is first, I am gonna give away the left over cornbread.

My Grandma’s Broccoli Cornbread, Serves 12

4 Weight Watcher Points per slice

1 package jiffy cornbread mix

10 oz Frozen Chopped Broccoli

4 egg, beaten

2 cup(s) low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

3 Tbsp butter

fresh parsley, chopped

Onion, diced, optional

Now, when I bought the ingredients the other day they were literally out of all frozen chopped broccoli. So, I sort half-way chopped mine but they should still be frozen, so be better than I am and buy it chopped. Also, 4 points for bread is a bit steep but regular cornbread is 3 pts a slice and this has some yummy good stuff like broccoli and cheese. It is worth it some days, that is all I am saying.

Alright, preheat to 395.

Go ahead and place your butter slices in a cast iron skillet (the original calls for a stick, aren’t you glad I modify?). If you don’t have a cast iron skillet then you can do the same thing in a 9 in round cake pan.

Then, once the oven is heated, place the buttered pan on the middle oven rack (my Nanny says bake all things dead center. Period.)

While that pan is getting hot and the butter getting all melty, go ahead and make your cornbread batter.

Start with a large mixing bowl. Add,

the jiffy mix.

Again, my Nanny says Jiffy by name in the recipe. I just do what she says, but seriously I calculated the points based on that so if you switch brands check the points value. Then, add in the parsley.

Stir so the parsley makes its way through the mix. Next,

remember yours should be chopped. Do as I say, or my Nanny says, not as I do.

After you have added the broccoli, add your cheddar cheese.

Still no stirring yet. So, go beat your eggs and then you can add them in:

Ok, now stir.

Get in there and make it all gooey.

Alright, next. Remove the heated-up buttery pan from the oven.

The butter should be melted and yummy

So, just pour the cornbread mix

Spread it evenly in the pan. Remember to be careful, it is hot.

Then, return to the oven. Let it bake for about 25-30 minutes. It should be done in the center and golden brown.

Right now, at this moment, my Nanny would be proud.

Cut this pretty thang into 12 slices.

Then, serve yourself a piece from the middle, if that is how you roll.

And, Viola!

Who could ask for more from a bread that this cheesy goodness?

Bringing you good eats at the price of a therapy session,




  1. You have a cool grandma! The recipe sounds delicious. And God!, the cornbread looks so stunning. I can’t wait to try it.

    • My grandma is awesome and so is her cornbread. Let me know if you try it. Then, I will tell her people all over are making her recipe and she is almost world famous!

  2. Nanny sounds like an amazing woman! My grandma always has Jiffy corn muffin mix in the house and corn muffins on the counter. I’d try this recipe if only I had a cast iron skillet…now I’ve got another reason to get one!

    • You can make it in a cake pan, but I promise it is so much better in a cast iron skillet. 🙂

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