Culinary Cardinals: Nick Leyva’s Jalapeño Cornbread

img_4101Monday was a stressful day of television – the presidential debate, the Marlins first game after the passing of Jose Fernandez, and a Cardinals game, with their wild card status remaining uncertain. So, I decided comfort food was needed. I made some chili in my crock pot (using this recipe), and I tried out Nick Leyva’s wife Chele’s recipe for Jalapeño Cornbread.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/4 cups white cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 Tbs salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 can (8 oz) cream-style corn
3-4 jalapeño chiles, chopped
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 large onion grated

Stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In separate bowl, beat eggs lightly; stir in milk and oil. Add liquid mixture to cornmeal mixture. Stir in corn, jalapeños, cheese, and onion. Pour batter into 9″ x 11″ pan. Bake 25 minutes (or until it tests done) at 425 degrees.

“Rather than chop the jalapeños (Messy!), put them in a blender with a little of the jalapeño juice. No big pieces this way. Also rather than greasing the pan with margarine, pour a thin layer of oil in the pan. Makes the bottom crispy!”

img_4097The recipe was easy to make. I probably should have followed her advice to pulverize the jalapeños, but instead I diced them and left some sizable chunks. I also made the mistake of touching my nose after chopping the peppers, and my nose felt like it was on fire for a couple hours!  Maybe Donald Trump did the same thing and that would explain his sniffling?

I thought this cornbread just tasted OK. It would really need butter to make it more palatable.  I like my cornbread a bit sweeter. If I made this recipe again, I’d probably add more sugar.  My boyfriend Dave and a friend who watched the debate with us both enjoyed the cornbread, and Dave ate all the leftover cornbread over the course of the week. He said it was best used as a base in the leftover chili.


Nick Leyva was a Cardinals minor leaguer before being tapped by Whitey Herzog to join the coaching staff, where he worked from 1984-1988. Notably, he was the first base coach for the NL champion team in 1985 and the third base coach for the NL champion team in 1987. He went on to manage the Phillies in 1989. At age 35, he became the youngest manager in MLB in 22 years, since Dave Bristol led the Reds in 1966. After two unspectacular seasons with the Phillies, he was fired just 13 games into the 1991 season, when the team opened up with a 4-9 record. He moved around and continued to coach and now is the first base coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It’s cute that Nick and Chele named their son Casey. I googled around but couldn’t find any updates on Chele or Casey. I guess Casey didn’t grow up to be a ball player despite his name and lineage. Chele also has a recipe for Corn Chowder in Cooking with the Cardinals. I guess corn is her thing.

Here’s a pic of Nick restraining Joaquin Andujar. I’m looking forward to getting to Joaquin’s fiery recipes!


KANSAS CITY, MI – OCTOBER 1985: Joaquin Andujar of the St. Louis Cardinals is restrained by coach Nick Leyva after his meltdown in game 7 against the Kansas City Royals during the World Series at Royals Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri in October of 1985. (Photo by Focus on Sports via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joaquin Andujar;Nick Leyva


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