Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Grilled Beef Ribs

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Oh ya, these are yummmy! Nothing compares to the flavor of grass-fed Angus beef! These ribs were part of a side of beef purchase we made with friends from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville and they are amazing. Just look how much they plumped up!


Did you know?
Short ribs are a cut of beef taken from the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib areas of beef cattle. They consist of a short portion of the rib bone, which is overlain by meat which varies in thickness. There are two major types of cuts: The "flanken," which is cut across the bone and leaves the bone just 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) in length, and the "English," which is cut parallel to the bone and leaves the bone up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length.


English cut short ribs may be served individually, or three or four may served connected to one another (a style known as the "plate"). Short ribs are popular in many international cuisines.  Short ribs generally require long periods of cooking in order to break down the connective tissues in the meat and make the meat tender.


Methods of preparation include braising, stewing, and sous-vide. Short ribs may also be barbecued, a popular method that subjects the beef to high heat in a relatively short period of time.

Beef ribs are inexpensive, and when cooked right are delicious and taste much like prime rib.


RECIPE
Ingredients
1 package grass-fed Angus beef rib rack
Garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic)
Dried, minced onion
Salt
Course-ground black pepper
Fresh rosemary sprigs (fresh is best but you can substitute dried rosemary)

Method
Sprinkle spices liberally over top, or fat side of beef ribs. Top with sprigs of fresh snipped rosemary.

Seal ribs tightly in aluminum foil and grill over low-off-low heat 2 1/2 hours.

Open foil and continue to cook an additional 30 minutes. Ribs are done when bone slips easily away from the meat.

Remove from grill and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.

To serve cut rib rack into individual ribs.


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, April 27, 2015

Cherry Crumb Coffee Cake

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Easy to make, tender moist coffee cake you can make with your choice of pie filling. Blueberry, Peach and even Strawberry Pie Filling would work very well with it.

I used my homemade Cherry Pie Filling and toasted some slivered almonds to add to the topping. Oh boy howdy, it is good.



Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar (if you prefer less sugar use 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 - 16 oz. jar homemade cherry pie filling or flavor of your choice
Optional 1/4 cup finely crushed nuts for the topping (I used slivered almonds I toasted then ground in my nut mill)


Method
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or spray with baking spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish.

Place the flour ,sugar, baking powder, salt and melted butter in a large mixing bowl,stir together with a fork until crumbly.

Take 1/2 cup of the crumbs out of the bowl.  If you’re using nuts in the topping, add 1/4 cup of finely crushed nuts now, set aside.

In a small bowl whisk the slightly beaten eggs and milk together, add milk mixture to the large bowl of crumbs and stir until incorporated.  Batter will be lumpy.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan.  Spread the cherry pie filling over the cake. Sprinkle the reserved crumb topping over the pie filling.

Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Start checking cake at 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack.



Enjoy,
Mary


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spicy Taco Bowls

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Simple, easy Spicy Taco Bowls. Make your own DIY Homemade Taco Seasoning, and add any toppings you like. Quick and easy!

Ingredients
2 tbls, DIY Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 lb. ground beef (I use 100% grass-fed beef)
Tostito chips (Fritos or Doritos)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa
Options: shredded lettuce, sour cream, sliced jalapeno peppers, sliced black olives


Method
Brown ground beef and drain any fat. Sprinkle 2 tbls. DIY Homemade Taco Seasoning over beef and stir in 1/3 cup water. Simmer until water is absorbed.

Assemble taco bowls:
Place crumbled chips on the bottom of a bowl, top with lettuce, taco meat, shredded cheese, salsa and your choice of other options listed above.


Enjoy,
Mary

DIY Homemade Taco Seasoning

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Ditch the packet stuff and make your own Homemade Taco Seasoning! It's so easy!

Ingredients
1 tbls. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried minced onion (or onion powder)
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes)
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano (optional)



Method
Mix together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container until ready to use (I use a small mason jar).

When you are ready to use use your Homemade Taco Seasoning, use about 2 tablespoons per 1 pound of meat.

Brown your beef and drain off fat. Sprinkle seasoning evenly over meat and add ⅓ cup of water. Simmer until water is adsorbed.

Enjoy,
Mary


Monday, April 20, 2015

Seldom Rest Farm - 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef

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It was a rather dreary April morning when we set out on our adventure to Seldom Rest Farm. First stop, the Kershaw County Farmers Market, where we met up bright and early at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Ground soggy and muddy from rain the previous evening didn't deter us as we made our way around to the various vendors and scored some great deals on pickling cucumbers, bell peppers, asparagus, Vidalia onions and more.


Finished there we headed to the Palmetto Coffee Shoppe and Tea Room for breakfast. This quaint local restaurant serves up some amazing baked goods, makes a variety of quiches, awesome smoothies and specialty coffees. You can even make reservations and enjoy a "tea" complete with all the little finger sandwiches, delicious scones and cakes.


After we finished up breakfast we got in our cars and headed north. As we entered the driveway to the farm, and crossed over a lovely pond located on either side of the road, I called Cathy to let her know we were there, and she directed us toward the barn area where she was waiting.


After greetings and introductions were made all around, we were taken into an open barn area, where chairs were arranged for us to be seated. Cathy then addressed the group and told us all about the farm and how it all began.

Cathy Taylor, Seldom Rest Farm
Located in Kershaw, South Carolina on the property of Margaret Holley, Seldom Rest Farm raises 100% grass-fed Angus beef. Mrs. Holley's daughter, Cathy Taylor and son-in-law Mitch Taylor, are part owners and maintain the pastures, livestock, and all other aspects of the farm.  

Cathy has a certificate from "The Clemson Extension New and Beginning Farmer" program.  She is also a certified Clemson Extension Master Cattleman. Seldom Rest Farm has an average of 75 cows on property at any given time, and practices controlled grazing on approximately 150 acres of pasture land until they reach processing age. 

Cathy purchased our first 4 cows with heifers by their side in November 2008 and a registered Angus bull in January 2009. They now have 40 cows who produce new calves year round. This allows us to have a constant supply of fresh grass-fed beef available. Our mission is to provide clean grass-fed beef to all of our customers.

It is evident when Cathy talks about the farm, she is passionate about what she does and the quality of the product Seldom Rest Farm provides. So much so she visited several USDA processing facilities before finally settled on one for her meat. As she said to the group "it's important to me the cattle are treated in a humane manner, from the beginning of life to the end of life." Using a smaller processor insures this, and insures the product brought to the processor is the product received back to the farm.

As she finished explaining their farming practices, it was off to see the cattle on a "hay ride," which was hay bales in the back of a pick-up truck. Oh, this was great fun for all of us!

Hay Ride



We drove into several pastures where the cattle were all grazing, or lounging about, marveling at the lush green pastures. Because they use a "controlled grazing process" none of the pastures are ever bare. And with over 5 miles of fencing on the farm, it's easy to move them around from pasture to pasture; you just have a few gates to go through.

We finished our tour back at the open barn area where we started and immediately began to check out the freezers full of this wonderful grass-fed beef. Some bought briskets, others bought short ribs and roasts, or steaks and ground beef. 

Buying from a local farm helps support them, allowing them to continue what they do for you and me, and it keeps your money in your community. Once you taste locally grown grass-fed beef, you'll know the difference. It's just flat out delicious!




Did you know? A recent study by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found grass-fed beef to be significantly higher in calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and potassium than corn-fed beef. In addition:
  • Meat from grass-fed cattle is lower in both overall fat and artery-clogging saturated fat.
  • Grass-fed meat is higher in healthy omega-3 fats. Meat from feedlot animals has been found to contain only 15-50 percent as much omega-3s as meat from grass-fed cattle.
  • Meat from grass-fed livestock is four times higher in vitamin E.
  • Grass-fed meat is higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lower cancer risk.
I used the ground beef I purchased to make Cheesy Meatballs. You can't go wrong with these. (click link for printable version). 


And served them with Simple Pasta Sauce!  They were delicious. (click link for printable version).


It was a great day with good friends, and another wonderful adventure exploring  small, local family South Carolina farm doing it right for you and me.

I am happy to be on this journey to explore what's fresh right outside my door and look forward to many more farm trips. I encourage you to get out and explore your small, local family farms. I'm sure you'll be glad you did.

Notes for visiting a local farm:
  • Plan ahead
  • Only visit during posted "open" hours
  • If bringing a group, call and make an appointment
  • Follow all instructions given (remember this is a working farm)
  • For their safety, keep all children under parental control

For sources on how to find local farms in your area, check out Eat Local Grown, Eat Wild, or Farmer's Pal

Until next time ...

Enjoy,
Mary

Blueberry Dump Cake

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I love dump cakes because you literally just dump all the ingredients into a baking dish. How easy is that?

I make my own "cake mix" because it's so simple to do, and I don't buy cake mix from the store because I want to control the ingredients. And it's simple ... so simple ... using everyday pantry ingredients.



Ingredients
2 jars homemade blueberry pie filling
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, cut into 8 slices

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with baking spray. Dump 2 jars of blueberry pie filling in baking dish and spread to cover bottom.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Dump over top of blueberry pie filling, spreading carefully to cover.

Dot top with 2 sticks of butter, cut into 16 slices, distributing evenly all over the top.

Bake 45 minutes or until bubbly and top is browned.



Variations:
Cherry Pie Filling
Apple Pie Filling

Cooks note - recipe is easily divided to make 9 x 9-inch pan.

Enjoy,
Mary


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cheesy Potato and Broccoli Casserole

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Great twist on an old favorite! Use the freshest broccoli you can find for this recipe. The cooked and crumbled bacon adds flavor and is a delicious addition to this dish. I don't peel the red potatoes, but feel free to peel them if that's what you prefer. This is a delicious side dish with all grilled meats or a baked ham.

Ingredients
1/2 stick butter (4 tbls)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
2 tsp course-ground black pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small head fresh broccoli, cut into florets
5-6 red potatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 tsp paprika, sweet mild
1-2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


Method
Slice onions into rings.  Rinse potatoes; drain then thinly slice. 

In a small pot, heat butter on medium heat until melted. Add flour. Whisk until smooth. Gradually add milk, cream, salt, black pepper and 1 cup cheddar cheese. 

Bring to a boil over med-high heat; stir constantly for 2 minutes or until thick. 

Place lid on pot to keep warm (this can be made ahead of time and let sit until ready to use).

In a 2 qt. glass baking dish, layer potatoes, onion rings and broccoli florets alternately starting ending with potatoes. Pour sauce over all. Sprinkle on crumbled bacon, and sprinkle 1 cup cheddar cheese over top.  

Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until browned and bubbly.

Sprinkle more shredded cheddar cheese on top just before serving if desired.

Enjoy,
Mary



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chili Cheese Hamburger Helper

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This is a super-simple way to make "Hamburger Helper" at home, and YOU control the ingredients ... PLUS it tastes so good! The very first time I saw this recipe over on Chickens in the Road, I knew I wanted to make it and I am so glad I did. Quick, easy, one-skillet dish, ready in 30 minutes or less.

Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup hot water
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tbls. corn starch
1 tbls. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Method
Brown ground beef in a large skillet; drain. Add hot water, milk, pasta and corn starch, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, and paprika.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

In the last few minutes of cook time, stir in the cheese; cover the pot again for the final few minutes of cook time.

When the pasta is tender and the cheese is melted, turn off heat and uncover. Let mixture stand, uncovered, about five minutes. It will continue to thicken as it stands.


You can make your Homemade Hamburger Helper in advance by pre-measuring the pasta. Place in a sandwich-size baggie. Snack-size baggies are perfect for the sauce mix. The measured pasta can be used in a number of Hamburger Helper varieties. Just label the sauce mix so you’ll know what you’re picking up then grab whichever bag of pasta you need. For the cheese, you can pre-measure your shredded cheese, or just measure it as you need it.

Try these variations:

Chili Mac: Using 1 pound ground beef, 2 1/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar or jack cheese, shredded, near the end.
Lasagna: Using 1 pound ground beef, 2 1/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups either lasagna broken into small pieces or small egg noodles, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded, near the end, then sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese during the 5-minute standing period.
Cheesy Beef Taco: Using 1 pound ground beef, 2 1/4 cups hot water and 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup rice, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, near the end, then top with another 1/2 cup cheddar plus 1 cup of Frito's during the 5-minute standing period.
Beef Stroganoff: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk (if you have sour cream, replace 1/2 cup of the milk with sour cream), and 1 1/2 cups small egg noodles, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper with an add-in of 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms.
Potato Stroganoff: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk (if you have sour cream, replace 1/2 cup of the milk with sour cream), and 1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced or diced potatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper with an add-in of 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms.
Salisbury: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups small egg noodles, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
Cheeseburger Macaroni: Using 1 pound ground beef, 1 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, near the end. (You can toss a 1/2 cup cheddar on top at the end, too, if you want. We’re going for cheesy here!)
Cheesy Italian Shells: Using 1 pound ground beef, 3/4 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups small pasta shells, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar, shredded, near the end.
Cheesy Jambalaya: Using 1 pound ground beef, 3/4 cup hot water and 2 cups milk, 1 cup rice, and 1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes, prepare a sauce packet including 1 tablespoon corn starch, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, near the end.

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.

Pulled Pork Mac n' Cheese

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Can you believe this fabulous recipe is included in a romance series? Well it is and what could be better than romance and recipes? When I was asked to participate in this #Recipe Book Blog Tour I jumped at the chance and I couldn't be happier.

Terra Kelly is a fellow foodie, friend, a great blogger over at Cafe' Terra and now an author, where she combines both talents into one deliciously steamy romance novel, featuring some of her sensational recipes!

Need You, The Winters Family Series Book 2 is a "Heartwarming story of love and new beginnings!" After Alyssa and her daughter experience a horrible tragedy, she realizes a change of scenery is needed to help move on from the past. She ends up in Idaho, opens a cafe, and continues to live life in the past for the next two years. Until Alex arrives in Boise. Alex is the youngest Winters brother, a chef in Los Angeles. When he loses his job, he decides it’s time to leave the big city behind. He finds a job opening in Boise, Idaho for an Executive Chef position. He lost his job and girlfriend in the same day, now it’s time to just focus on work, or so he thought.  With so much sadness, can Alex show Alyssa it’s okay to love again? Will Alyssa realize she needs Alex to help her let go of the past?

Recipes included in this book:
Alyssa’s Favorite Pizza: Wood Smoked Pork Shoulder, Arugula and Mushroom Pizza
Kitchen Sink Beef Brisket Chili
Aunt Anna’s Special Apple Pumpkin Strudel
Lexie’s Favorite Strawberry Cheese Danish
Lexie’s Special Mac ‘n Cheese Pizza with Beef Brisket and Vegetables
Pulled Pork Mac ‘n Cheese

So now, let's see what all the fuss is about with this fabulous recipe! I made a few minor adaptations, but I promise you will love this "down home, feel good, comfort food with family or friends" recipe. While I make pulled pork all the time, I had never once considered combining it in mac 'n cheese ... mmm mmmmmm good!


Ingredients
Mac n' Cheese:
1 lb (16 oz box) pipette noodles, cooked (I used Elbow macaroni)
8 Tbsp salted butter
8 Tbsp flour
6 cups heavy cream
4 cups (40 oz) cheese: 16 oz container ricotta cheese, 2 cups shredded Vermont cheddar, 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (I used Sargento's 4-Cheese Mexican Blend, and Shredded Sharp Cheddar)
½ tsp ground nutmeg
6 scallions, sliced (use white and green portion)
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
hot sauce to taste

Pork Shoulder Marinade (recipe by Steven Raichlen):
12 cloves garlic, chopped finely
4 tsp coarse salt
1½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tsp hot sauce
6 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 scallions, white and green portion finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
9 lb pork shoulder (I used a Boston Butt)


Method
For Marinade: Prepare marinade the night before you will prepare the pork shoulder. Let pork shoulder rest in marinade for about 12 hours, turn the pork a few times to ensure all the sides of the shoulder are touching the marinade.

In large marinade bag: Add garlic, salt, lime juice, white wine, red wine vinegar, hot sauce, parsley, scallions, and rosemary, mix together and then add the pork shoulder. Let marinate for 12 hours.

To cook pork shoulder: In roasting box or oven, let cook for 4-6 hours, or until it is 165 degrees F. Let rest for ½ hour. Shred meat with fork. (I poured one cup of the marinade over the pork, placed it in a large roasting pan, covered the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and baked it in the oven at 200 degrees for 12 hours). 

For mac n' cheese: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In dutch oven or large stock pot, on stove top heat pan on medium heat, melt butter, then slowly add flour and whisk the butter and flour together to make a roux, stir continually for about 3 minutes.

Then slowly add in cream, whisking cream and roux together. Next add nutmeg, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and leaves layer on spoon.

Stir in ricotta cheese, cheddar and pepper jack cheese, scallions, parsley, season with salt and pepper, then add hot sauce to taste.

Fold in pulled pork, cooked pasta and pour in 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

Bake mac n' cheese for 20 minutes or until starting to bubble. Turn oven to broil. Top mac n' cheese with shredded cheese and place under broil for about five minutes, or until browned.

Serves: 10

Get your copy of Need You on Amazon


Isabel Sloane grew up in suburban Philadelphia, and recently relocated to the North Carolina coast, renting a little cottage by the beach and working as a reporter. Her history with men, nothing to write home about. Drew Winters is a firefighter, who has spent his entire life in Wilmington, NC. After several failed relationships, he’s sworn off women altogether. When Isabel meets Drew, something’s going to give.  Can Drew convince Isabel he is not like the other men she has dated? Can Isabel prove to Drew that she’s not self-absorbed like all his past relationships. Will they be able to get beyond their chemistry for each other, and finally use the “L” word.

Recipes included in this book:
Connie’s Bourbon Lemonade Cocktail
Melt in Your Mouth Sweet Rolls
Cherry Limeade {Please Forgive Me} Cheesecake
Roasted Vegetable Chicken Salad
Roasted Vegetable Swirl Egg Bread

Get your copy of Catch Me on Amazon


Enjoy,
Mary

Monday, April 13, 2015

Quick and Easy Mini-Pizzas

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These little Mini-Pizzas use English muffins, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings for a quick and easy lunch or after-school snack. Put it together and cook it in just 10 minutes!

Ingredients
English Muffins, split (1 English muffin makes 2 mini-pizzas)
Olive oil
shredded cheese (your choice)
various toppings such as sliced pepperoni, black olives or mushrooms

Method
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Brush olive oil on both sides of split English muffins. Place muffins on a cookie sheet or baking pan.

Top each muffin slice with shredded cheese (I used a Mexican cheese blend), then with the remainder of toppings you like.

Place baking  pan in oven and cook approx. 10 minutes or until muffins are toasted and cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy,
Mary

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

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Fresh pickling cucumbers and just a few other ingredients make these Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles.

The most important part of the recipe is the pickling cucumbers. They’re short, small, and firm, but they make deliciously crisp pickles. Don’t be tempted to substitute another kind of cucumber or you’ll end up with soggy pickles.

When I purchased these pickling cucumbers at the Kershaw County Farmer's Market, I knew I wanted to get them pickled while they were still at their peak of freshness.


Ingredients
1-1/4 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
3 tbls. salt
2 tbls. sugar
2 cups cold water
1-3/4 to 2 pounds pickling cucumbers (about 6), cut into halves or spears
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tbls. dried dill weed


Method
Combine the vinegar, salt and sugar in a small non-reactive saucepan (such as stainless steel) over high heat. Whisk until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Transfer the liquid into a bowl and whisk in the cold water. Refrigerate brine until ready to use.

Stuff the cucumbers into clean 1 quart jars. Add the garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, dill, and chilled brine into jars, dividing evenly. Be sure the brine covers the cucumbers; add a little water if necessary.

Cover and refrigerate about 24 - 48 hours, then serve. Cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Cooks note - wait 48 hours for best flavor!

Enjoy,
Mary

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Supporting Local at the Kershaw County Farmers Market

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One of my favorite things to do is support my local farms and markets. Fortunately for me, I have a group of "like minded" friends who travel with me to explore local farms and markets just outside our back door. The Kershaw County Farmers Market is one of our favorites, and is centrally located in Camden, South Carolina, easily reached whether you are coming from Columbia, Lugoff, Elgin or Sumter, and all of the surrounding communities.


One of the things we all really like about this particular market is the variety and availability of local produce, dairy and meat products, along with organic seedlings, herbal blends, Himalayan salt, prepared cheese dips, and pies or meals to go. It makes it one we look forward to every season.

With the Kershaw County Farmers Market, the season is typically the first Saturday in April through the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Believe me, we all look forward to opening day each year, and our excitement mounts as the day draws near. Yes, we are THAT group of friends who loves the taste of locally grown fresh produce and products.

I've been supporting this market for several years now, and one HUGE benefit of supporting local on a regular basis is you get to meet all the farmers behind the products. You know, you want to go to a place where everybody knows your name, and this is that place for me!

It usually starts with "hi Kathy" from Old McCaskills Farm to "hey Craig" of Camden City Market and Bell Honey Company, to "hi Robin" from Wil-Moore Farms. And so it continues as we make our way around the market from vendor to vendor. Another plus ... guess who they're going to message or email when they have a special or reduced price? Yep, that's right, it's all about the relationship you build, and the more you go and support local farms, the more you build that relationship. I love it and have benefited more times than I can count because of it.


This year the market relocated to the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site at 222 Broad Street, just 1.4 miles off I-20, then north on Hwy 521. The spot couldn't be better with a large grassy area for the vendors to set up and plenty of parking for customers. It is so convenient and easy to get to.


10 Reasons to Support Farmers Markets: (via Kershaw County Farmers Market)
From savoring produce at the peak of freshness to meeting the people who grow your food, there are countless reasons to support farmers markets. Here are just a few!


  • Taste Real Flavors: The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you-no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets-fresh from the farm. 
  • Enjoy the Season: The food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savor sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year. 
  • Support Family Farmers: Family farmers need your support, now that large agribusiness dominates food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today's globalized economy.
  • Protect the Environment: Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.
  • Nourish Yourself: Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have negative effects on human health. In contrast, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties. 
  • Discover the Spice of Life Variety: At the farmers market you find an amazing array of produce that you don't see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, mushrooms, and much, much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to savor the biodiversity of our planet. 
  • Promote Humane Treatment of Animals: At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture. 
  • Know Where Your Food Comes From: A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced. 
  • Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas: Few grocery store cashiers or produce stock persons will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers, and artisans at the farmers market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling.  
  • Connect with Your Community: Wouldn't you rather stroll amid outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the farmers market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers market is a community hub-a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our wonderful city.







I encourage you to get out and support local farms and farmers markets in your area. Build a relationship with those farmers and the people behind the scenes.  BEST OF ALL, enjoy fresh, local in-season products. I think you'll be happy you did!

Be sure to check here for What's in Season in South Carolina.

Enjoy,
Mary