Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sweet and Tangy Vidalia Onion Jelly

Yum

Sweet and Tangy Vidalia Onion Jelly is perfect served over cream cheese on crackers, added as a accompaniment to a charcuterie platter with cheeses, meats, olives, and crackers, or basted on grilled chicken or pork.


Recipe
Ingredients
1 3/4 cup dry white wine (can use cooking wine)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp. butter (to prevent foaming)
1 medium to large Vidalia onion, chopped roughly
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
2 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 pkg. Sure-Jell (pectin)
4 -1/2 pint canning jars

Method
In a large stock pot stir together the wine, vinegar, onion, butter, black pepper and Sure-Jell.
Bring mixture to a rolling boil over med-high heat stirring constantly.

Quickly stir in sugars and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil and stir 1 minute; ladle mixture into 1/2 pint canning jars.

Put jars in boiling water bath with a rack on the bottom (any pot will do so long as the water covers the jars completely by 1-2").

Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat slightly and continue to boil 5 minutes. Remove jars from boiling water bath and allow to cool on a kitchen towel. Once jars are sealed (button on top of lid is fully depressed), gently shake jars from time to time to evenly distribute the onions and black pepper as the mixture is jelling.

Cooled jars can then be placed in kitchen cabinet; will keep for 6 or more months. Keep any open jars in the refrigerator.

Serve over cream cheese on crackers, or baste on pork or chicken when baking, grilling or roasting. Delicious!

Yield:  4 - 8 oz jars or 2 pint jars

Enjoy,
Mary

© 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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Caramel Apple French Toast Casserole

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This French Toast Casserole is the BEST I've ever made. Sweet and tart with the Caramel Apple Jam, it's a delicious treat anytime.


My Caramel Apple Jam is my most popular post ever, being viewed and shared over 33,000 times ... it made a great addition to this French Toast Casserole.


Recipe
Ingredients
1 small loaf of any bread, cut into cubes
8 large farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup caramel apple jam
2 tbls butter
cinnamon sugar
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, or grease well. Dot pan with butter. Cut bread into cubes and place in pan over butter.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and pour over bread cubes. Spoon in caramel apple jam and stir well.

Sprinkle top well with cinnamon sugar and bake covered 30 minutes. Remove cover, add toasted pecans and continue to bake 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.




Enjoy,
Mary

© 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.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Strawberry Salad from Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen

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I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I was when I was invited to review this awesome cookbook by my friend, Melissa, of Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen. She was one of the first bloggers to like my page when I began my own blog, and over the past few years has shared many of my recipes with her readers.


As Melissa says "I come from a long line of fabulous Southern cooks, and like most people, my culinary training took place at the side of my Mom and Grandmothers. Over the years, cooking has become a true creative outlet and passion. I truly enjoy the creative process of developing new dishes, and re-inventing Southern favorites. I also enjoy finding ways of making International dishes and flavors accessible to the home cook. I’ve traveled quite a bit, and I lived overseas for several years, so, my International inspiration comes from those avenues and at times you’ll see my Southern Kitchen go global!"


Better yet, she and I are almost neighbors! She is in North Carolina and I am just down the road in South Carolina. We have many things in common, but first and foremost is our love of cooking and sharing with friends and family.

But let's get to this fabulous recipe now!
STRAWBERRY SALAD WITH BACON, BLEU CHEESE & CANDIED PECANS ... oh my goodness! When I received my advance copy of her cookbook, "Melissa’s Southern Cookbook: Tried and True Family Recipes" I just knew this was the recipe I'd be making since I had some just picked sweet farm fresh strawberries from Willard Farms in my refrigerator PLUS I had my mom's vintage wooden salad bowl with the hand-painted strawberries on it to serve the salad in = perfect!



Recipe
Ingredients
Candied Pecans
3 tbls. butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbls. light corn syrup (I used local honey)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup pecan halves
Salad
10 ounces Spring mix baby greens (I used a loose leaf lettuce from our garden)
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 lb bacon cooked and crumbled
2 ounces crumbled Bleu cheese
Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Method
To make the candied pecans, melt butter in a large pan or skillet. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup (or honey) and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook stirring constantly 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium; add the pecan halves and cook for an additional minute or two, or until the pecans are evenly coated.

Remove from heat and spread on parchment paper to cook, then break apart.

To make the salad: layer the greens, strawberry halves, bacon crumbles, bleu cheese and candied pecans and candied pecans in a large salad bowl and chill.

Serve drizzled with the Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.

To make this as an impressive dinner entree salad, top with grilled chicken, steak or shrimp.


Yield: 6 servings

Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 finely minced shallot or 1/4 cup diced onion (I used Vidalia onions)
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp course sea salt
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 cup oil

Combine the vinegar, sugar, shallot or onion, mustard and salt in a blender; puree for  20-30 seconds or until smooth.

Remove the lid, reduce the speed of the blender to low and add the poppy seeds. Slowly drizzle in the oil and continue to blend until the dressing emulsifies and thickens. Chill until serving.



**Enter to WIN a copy of Melissa's Southern Cookbook: Tried and True Family Recipes**




Enjoy,
Mary

© 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, May 15, 2016

French Onion Soup {pressure canning}

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I recently purchased 25 lbs. of sweet Vidalia Onions and one of the recipes I knew I was going to make is this one for French Onion Soup.


We enjoy it many times in the cold weather months, and also love to use it as the au jus for French Dip sandwiches. It also makes a great base for a beef pot roast or hearty beef stew. I like putting some up in my pressure canner so when I want it, I have some ready to grab off the pantry shelf.



Recipe
Ingredients
8 cups sliced 1/4" Vidalia onions
1 tbls. olive oil - for sauting only
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
8 cups beef bone broth (or beef stock)
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tps. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Method
Put oil in large covered Dutch oven or stock pot and saute' just until tender. Add all other ingredients and simmer 5 minutes. The onions will continue to cook in the pressure canner, so you really just want them to soften a bit.

Remove from heat and ladle into prepared jars, being sure you fill about 1/2 way (loosely) with onions and the remainder with the broth leaving 1"-inch headspace. Process pints 60 minutes and quarts 75 minutes at 11 lbs. pressure (check altitude for correct pressure for your area).

Remove canner from heat and allow it to cool down until locking mechanism on canner is disengaged. Remove lid partially to release steam, but keep jars in canner a few more minute to avoid siphoning. Next remove lid completely and remove jars. Place on a kitchen towel on  your counter-top and allow to sit undisturbed 24 hours. Lids are sealed when button in the middle is fully depressed and will not move up or down.

To make French Onion Soup:
Additional Ingredients:
1 baguette
1/2 lbs grated Gruyere, Emmentaler Cheese

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere cheese and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. While they're cooking, heat the soup to boiling, Ladle hot soup in bowls or crocks and float several of the cheese croutons on top.



Enjoy,
Mary

© 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.

Vidalia Onion and Peach Salsa

Yum


Vidalia Onion and Peach Salsa is delicious and so easy to make. I used my homemade canned peaches, petite diced tomatoes and pickled jalapeno peppers, but you can make it using fresh ingredients as well (see here)


Serve Vidalia Onion and Peach Salsa with chips, or as an accompaniment with grilled meats such as chicken or pork.


Recipe
Ingredients
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 - 16 oz jars sliced canned peaches
1 - 16 oz jar petite diced tomatoes
2 tbls. pickled jalapeno peppers
1 tbls. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. canning salt
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbls. red wine vinegar
1 tbls. lemon juice

Method
Drain peaches in a colander, chop slightly and place in a large mixing bowl. Drain petite diced tomatoes and add to the peaches. Add in all other ingredients and mix well combined. At this point you can refrigerate and use fresh if desired. For canning, proceed with directions following.

Ladle mixture into prepared half-pint or pint canning jars leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Remove air bubbles, cover jars with lids and seals, and process in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed 24 hours. Store in pantry up to one year.

*Cooks note - using already canned and processed peaches, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers makes this a quick and easy salsa to enjoy fresh or processed for canning. Because the peaches, tomatoes and jalapeno peppers were previously preserved, the amounts of vinegar and lemon juice are sufficient for this recipe and there was no need to heat and cook prior to processing for canning.


Enjoy,
Mary 

© 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, May 10, 2016

Vidalia Onion and Rosemary Confiturra

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This Confiturra (A confiturra is the Spanish or Portuguese word for a “preserve” or “conserve") is delicious on a steak sandwich or with any other grilled or roasted meat. It is both sweet and tangy, with a really good hint of rosemary throughout. It is the perfect accompaniment on toasted baguette pieces topped with a good cheese, or slather it on some grilled burgers or a good bratwurst.  (recipe adapted from Serious Eats)




Did you know? 

  1. The Vidalia Onion is a Georgia-grown yellow granex hybrid known for it's sweet, mild flavor. Vidalias were first grown in Toombs County, Georgia.
  2. Vidalia Onions have developed an international reputation as the "world's sweetest onion." Their mild flavor is due to the unique combination of soils and climate found in the 20-county production area.
  3. Through Federal regulation, the Vidalia Onion growers developed Federal Marketing Order No. 955 in 1989 in an effort to fund research projects and to promote the consumption of Vidalia Onions.
  4. The marketing order program covers onions produced in in the following counties in Southeast Georgia: Appling, Bacon, Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen and Wheeler, as well as portions of Dodge, Jenkins, Laurens, Long, Pierce, Screven and Wayne.
  5. Approximately 225 growers cultivate Vidalia Onions on over 14,000 acres. About 125 handlers are involved in the grading, packing and distribution of Vidalias.
  6. An average of 300 50-pound bags of Vidalias are produced per acre. Approximately 6% of the 275 growers cultivate 100acres or more; 7% produce on 50 to 100 acres; 40% on 10 to 15 acre; and 47 % on 10 or fewer acres. The majority of Vidalia Onion farms are multi-generational, family owned-and-operated businesses.
  7. The industry's annual Vidalia Onion harvest brings some $50 million directly into Georgia's economy. The economic impact from related downstream marketing activities is estimated at $145-150 million.
  8. Vidalia Onions are sold loose by the pound, in 2-, 3- and 5-pound "pre-packs," and in 10-, 25- and 50-pound mesh bags and boxes.
  9. Generally recognized Vidalia Onion sizes are small (1 to 2 1/4 inches), medium (2 to 3 inches), and jumbo (over 3 inches).
  10. About 70% of the Vidalia crop is distributed through grocery stores as a specialty item. The remaining 30% are distributed through roadside stands and mail order businesses.
  11. Vidlalia Onions are harvested from late April through mid-June. Due to the introduction of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage, stored Vidalia Onions are available through December.
  12. In 1990, a resolution was passed by the Georgia legislature declaring the Vidalia Onion as Georgia's Official State Vegetable.


Recipe
Ingredients
3 pounds peeled and trimmed Vidalia onions 
1/2 cup olive oil
1 ounce fresh rosemary, or about 6 long, full branches*
3 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cour
se-ground black pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar

Method
Cut the onions in half and slice them thinly crosswise; you should have about 10 heaping cups of onions.

Heat the oil in a heavy 5 or 6-quart stock pot with a tight-fitting lid and add the onions, turning them over repeatedly in the oil to coat them. Add the rosemary and bay leaves, burying them in the onions. Season the onions with 2 tsps of kosher salt and 1 tsp. of course-ground black pepper, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook the onions for 15 to 20 minutes, until they have softened and released their liquid, and the rosemary has wilted.

Remove the lid and add the vinegars, wine, honey, and sugar, stirring well. Maintain the heat at a steady simmer and continue to cook the onions for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the mixture often with a wooden spoon.

When the liquid has reduced by about half, pick out and remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Taste the confiturra and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

As the liquid continues to reduce, you must be careful to keep stirring to prevent the confiturra from scorching. Continue cooking the mixture until it is soft, sticky, and moves from the bottom of the pan as you stir Be careful not to let it caramelize.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then spoon it carefully into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Seal the jars and process in a water bath 10 minutes, or keep the confiturra refrigerated for up to two months.

* Note: The rosemary will shed its leaves into the confiturra. If you prefer not to have the wilted leaves in your finished confiturra, tie the rosemary in cheesecloth to make a sachet.


Enjoy,
Mary

© 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.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Lobster Salad

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Celebrating Mother's Day and my birthday with my daughters in Ocean City, Maryland was a blast and included steamed lobsters for one of our dinners. I grew up in New England, so lobster is one of my favorite foods, and one I enjoy as a special treat every once in awhile.


These lobsters were HUGE and oh so good! Since I just couldn't eat all of it, I kept the claws, put them in a zip top bag and brought them home in my cooler. I just knew a good lobster salad was in my future and I was looking forward to it.


Lobster Salad is a very simple dish, using minimal ingredients to allow the flavor of the lobster to dominate. It is the perfect salad to enjoy during the hot summer months.


Recipe
Ingredients
Lobster meat from the claws or tail
1 stalk celery, diced
dash of salt, pepper and parsley flakes
Mayonnaise
Romaine lettuce leaves

Method
Remove cooked lobster meat from claws or tail, chop roughly and place in a medium bowl. Add diced celery, salt, pepper and parsley flakes and stir. Mix in mayonnaise, a spoonful at a time, or until mixture comes together to desired consistency.

Chill in refrigerator. When ready to serve, spoon lobster salad on top of romaine lettuce leaves.



Enjoy,
Mary

© 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.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Freezing Fresh Strawberries

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The best way to keep strawberries is to flash freeze them whole after stemming them. You can do this with any berry such as raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Buy the freshest strawberries you can from either a local farm or farmers market. The fresher the better!



Packed with vitamins, fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as 
polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. They are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium. Just one serving -- about eight strawberries -- provides more vitamin C than an orangeThis member of the rose family isn’t really a fruit or a berry but the enlarged receptacle of the flower. Choose medium-sized berries that are firm, plump, and deep red; once picked, they don’t ripen further. First cultivated in ancient Rome, strawberries are now the most popular berry fruit in the world. In provincial France, they were regarded as an aphrodisiac. These red gems may be good for your heart in more ways than one. (Web Md)

Fun Facts!  
  • Over 53 percent of seven to nine year old's picked strawberries as their favorite fruit.
  • Eight strawberries will provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C for kids.
  • Native forms of strawberries adapt to various climates and are indigenous to every major continent except Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The fruit size of the very early strawberries was very small.
  • Seventy per cent of a strawberry's roots are located in the top three inches of soil.
  • Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
  • One cup of strawberries is only 55 calories.
  • There is a museum in Belgium just for strawberries.
  • Strawberries are a member of the rose family.
  • The flavor of a strawberry is influenced by weather, the variety and stage of ripeness when harvested.
  • On average, there are 200 seeds in a strawberry.
  • Ninety-four per cent of United States households consume strawberries.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the annual per capita consumption of fresh and frozen strawberries is 4.85 pounds.
  • Strawberries are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.


Wash them well if not organic and spread out on baking sheet
Tip - Use this vinegar wash if desired.



Freeze several hours or until firm, store in zip-top bags


When ready to use, thaw partially, then slice and allow to completely thaw


Ready to use on strawberry shortcake or other recipes

Strawberry Cream Delight

Whipped Strawberry Dessert

Enjoy,
Mary

© 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.