Monday, October 9, 2017

Holiday Stuffing Balls


Recently I was asking a group of women chefs I am friends with for their best sausage ball recipe. You know, the kind with sausage, baking mix and cheese; that infamous holiday party appetizer it seems everyone makes. Welllllllll ... none of them had one ... GASP ... a few had never even heard of them, say what?

Finally one of them mentioned a "stuffing" ball recipe they made and really liked, so being intrigued now, I asked about it since I'm all about stuffing. Who doesn't like stuffing and, oh my goodness, these little round balls of stuffing are my new fav!

I like to make my own New England Bread and Sausage Stuffing, so I chose to use torn white bread instead of store-bought stuffing mix, but you can certainly use either one. Then there is the addition of the chopped dried cranberries and the shredded cheddar cheese that just puts these little stuffing treats over the top, believe me ... soooooooo good.

They are the PERFECT party appetizer. I've made a couple batches now as a trial run just to see how we'd like them, and my husband is addicted to them, he loves them.

1 1/2 large loaves soft white bread, torn into small pieces
-OR- 1 box stuffing mix (unprepared)
1 stalk celery, finely minced
1 pound mild breakfast sausage (I used mild pork sausage from Sunny Cedars Farm)
1/2 -1 teaspoon ground sage or poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely minced onions
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup or slightly more, chicken bone broth or stock

Brown sausage in large skillet over medium heat. Add seasonings and cook until pink is gone. Add onions and celery to skillet and continue to cook until vegetables are soft and onions are clear; drain grease and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl add cheese, cranberries, torn soft bread or stuffing mix and spoon in sausage mixture. Stir in eggs and chicken broth and make sure entire mixture is completely combined (I use my hands). Add more chicken stock if needed;  mixture should hold together and not be too dry or too sticky.

Use a cookie scoop, or your hands, to scoop out balls of mixture, and shape into balls. Place balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a preheated 375º oven for  approx. 15 minutes, or until tops begin to brown.

Makes 36-48 Sausage and Stuffing Balls, depending on the sizes you create.

Serve with a dipping sauce made with Cherry Port Jam or Cranberry Jam


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pickled Cranberries


Pickled Cranberries, say what? Yes, you heard me right ... pickled cranberries! Oh my goodness, just trust me, these are the next thing you'll want for your holiday table! 

Serve with Brie or other soft cheese on your cheeseboard, with a variety of crackers, nuts and berries. Sweet, tart and tangy, they have a robust flavor that can't be beat. These bad boys would also be awesome with a roast turkey or holiday ham.

Truthfully, I want to know where they've been all my life!

Friday, September 22, 2017

University of South Carolina Sumter Farmers Market


With great anticipation, I was looking forward to this new farmers market starting in my community. Filling a void, very much needed, and with lots of work behind the scenes, the new market opened Friday, September 22 with just a handful of vendors, but a long list of vendors who will be attending in the coming weeks.

Conveniently located between two large parking lots with lots of shade trees on the University of South Carolina Sumter campus, and just off one of the main roads, I pulled right in and parked.

I was meeting a couple of friends there a bit later, so I proceeded to talk to the farmers and purveyors I knew. As I walked around I saw Russell and Lesa of Sunny Cedars Farm, Marie Dorr of Dorr Farms who is also the market manager, Mr. Billie Harrison, aka "the bird man" and Sandra from  With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods LLC, who proudly showed off her new food truck. It was such fun seeing all these familiar faces, and before I knew it, people started coming over.

 Some arrived by cars, others walked over from the University, each one curious as to what the farmers market had to offer. Many were learning about Sunny Cedars Farm and their pasture raised pork products for the first time. Listening to Russell and Lesa describe their pork products was an education in itself; their sausage is leaner because pigs raised on pasture have the freedom to move around and graze, or go in the woods and root around for whatever delicacies they find.

Russell Singleton, Sunny Cedars Farm

The next thing I knew people were looking in coolers, discovering all kinds of goodies they immediately snatched up and took to check out.

Sandra, With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods, LLC
I then wandered over to Sandra to see the new With These Hands Natural Gourmet Foods LLC food truck, and talk about all the exciting things she has has to offer. As she explained "Our farm-to-table model is committed to utilizing the highest quality ingredients while strictly rejecting MSG, artificial colors/sweeteners, preservatives, GMOs and processed/chemically-laced products. Just REAL FOOD!" Everything looked so good to me.

Back over with Marie at the Dorr Farms booth I discovered her strawberry syrup. Marie asked me if I ever made stuffed French toast, to which I replied yes. Then she said "try stuffing it with sliced strawberries, then topping it with the strawberry syrup, it's a match made in heaven" so guess who promptly bought some? You guessed it, me, and a lovely bottle of that strawberry syrup made it home with me. 
Marie Dorr, Dorr Farms

While the Farmers Market is just starting up, there were quite a few people stopping by to check it out. As a long time supporter of small local family farms and purveyors, I was happy to see people milling about, and I look forward to many more Friday markets until they close for the season on December 22. Plans are already in the making to offer this market next season from April thru December, and I, for one, will be shopping there.

Shop local, support local farms and markets, you'll be glad you did. It's the best thing I ever did for myself and my family. I've met so many great people, and small local family farmers are some of the BEST people you'll ever meet.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Hot Shot" Apple Jam {Cinnamon Whisky}


I love apples and I really love boozy apple jams. There's Bourbon Maple Apple Jam and now this Hot Shot Apple Jam made with Fireball Whisky. Other alcohol's you could pair with this apple jam could be Apfelkorn, sweet apple-flavored liqueur, or Spiced Rum to make a different variation.

It's delicious to eat spread on biscuits or English muffins, or topped on waffles and pancakes. It's even good basted on roast pork or glazed on a ham.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sweet Watermelon Rind Pickles


When your farm friend, Nat Bradford, is bringing back his family's heirloom watermelon right in your backyard you do two things; one is go visit the farm to see and hear for yourself first-hand about it, and the second is you anxiously await the new harvest so you can buy one of these awesome watermelons for yourself.

Nat Bradford, me, and a gorgeous 30 lb Bradford Watermelon
The Bradford Watermelon has been grown in Sumter County, South Carolina for about 170 years and has a fascinating history. Read all about my first trip to the Bradford's farm.

Determined there would be no waste of this gorgeous watermelon, I decided to make Watermelon Rind Pickles. So sweet, yet tangy and soft, with a nice texture, they are not mushy at all, and are so delicious. Serve them on a cheeseboard with some shaved prosciutto or other thinly sliced deli meat, with a variety of cheeses and crackers. Yummmm!

3 quarts (about 6 pounds) watermelon rind, unpared
¾ cup salt
3 quarts water
2 quarts (2 trays) ice cubes
9 cups sugar
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
1 tablespoon (about 48) whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch pieces
1 lemon, thinly sliced, with seeds removed

This is a 2 day process 
Day One:
Trim the pink flesh and outer green skin from thick watermelon rind. Cut into 1 inch squares or fancy shapes as desired. Cover with brine made by mixing the salt with 3 quarts cold water. Add ice cubes. Let stand 3 to 4 hours.

Drain; rinse in cold water. Cover with cold water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes (do not overcook). Drain.

Combine sugar, vinegar, water, and spices (tied in a clean, thin, white cloth). Boil 5 minutes and pour over the watermelon; add lemon slices. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

Day Two:
Heat watermelon in syrup to boiling and cook slowly 1 hour. Pack hot pickles loosely into clean, hot pint jars. To each jar add 1 piece of stick cinnamon from spice bag; discard lemon slices, and cover with boiling syrup, leaving ½ inch head-space.

Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process half-pints or pint jars 10 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner.

Yield: 4-5 pints

Original recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cheesy Enchilada Meatball Bake


Cheese ... Meatballs ... Enchilada Sauce ... all baked in a casserole. It's so easy to make and delicious to eat.

My husband, the non-Mexican or Tex Mex food person, loved this. It's not too spicy, so "everyone" friendly, but you could kick it up by adding more peppers if your family enjoys spicy.

I start with homemade Enchilada Sauce, but store-bought will do. I also use grass-fed ground beef from a local farm. To me it's a superior beef, with very little, if no, fat to drain off, and makes a better meatball.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tomato Bruschetta in a Jar


Our little raised bed kitchen garden has been exploding with some small Roma (plum) tomatoes, and I needed something to do with them besides eating them.

I'd already made Pico de Gallo Salsa, and Petite Diced Tomatoes, but then I ran across this recipe for Tomato Bruschetta ... ohhhhhh that would be awesome to just grab a jar out and use, and so began this next canning project, which really went quickly!

Next time I want some bruschetta, it's going to be a cinch to assemble. It would also be great as an accompaniment on a cheese board with a variety of cheeses and crackers.