Monday, October 9, 2017

Holiday Stuffing Balls

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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.



RECIPE
Ingredients
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

Method
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

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, October 3, 2017

Pickled Cranberries

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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

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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.

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, September 17, 2017

"Hot Shot" Apple Jam {Cinnamon Whisky}

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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

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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!


RECIPE
Ingredients
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

Method
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

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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cheesy Enchilada Meatball Bake

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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

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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.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pico de Gallo Salsa

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I really love tomato salsas, but I also enjoy Pico de Gallo and make it fresh with local tomatoes every summer. There is nothing better than fresh, local, vine ripe tomatoes you either grow yourself or purchase at a local farm or farmers market. The taste in so unbelievably good, so I highly recommend making this recipe with local fresh tomatoes.


Pico de Gallo is technically a fresh salsa and not one that's traditionally canned. I really wanted to try and make some I could process and keep for many months on my pantry shelf (not that it will last that long), so I started experimenting.

Paste or Roma tomatoes hold up the best in this recipe, and they are not mushy in the finished product. See this link for more awesome salsa recipes.


RECIPE
Ingredients
10 medium to large paste or Roma tomatoes, diced (preferred since they are a meatier tomato)
1 medium onion, diced
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup **Ball Fiesta Salsa Mix (or any salsa spice mix you like)
3 tbls lime juice
1 tbls (per pint jar) lemon juice
** If you don't have any salsa mix add 1/2 tbls each ground cumin, oregano and dried cilantro leaves (or fresh minced cilantro) or slightly more to taste.
May omit cilantro if desired.


Method
Dice tomatoes, onion and jalapenos and place in a large bowl. Sir in salsa mix (or spices), salt and lime juice, mixing well. Let sit 5 minutes so tomatoes begin to get juicy.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the pico de gallo into pint canning jars. Top with 1 tbls lemon juice concentrate, and evenly distribute the remaining tomato juice from the bowl into each jar leaving 1/2" head-space. Top with lids and rings tightening to just finger tight.

Process jars in water bath or steam canner 15 minutes.

Remove jars and let cool on a kitchen towel on your counter-top 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when button on lid is fully depressed and won't move up and down.

Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars must be refrigerated. Serve Pico de Gallo Salsa with your favorite chips or top on tacos, taco salads and more. It's even awesome stirred into some steamed rice and served with your favorite Mexican dishes.

Cooks note - the liquid may be below the top of the pico de gallo in the jars. Once they are processed, this is fine and will not cause the salsa to go bad. I also like to give mine a quick shake before serving.

Yield: approx.3 pint jars (recipe is easily doubled)

Original recipe adapted from Healthy 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. 


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tomato Paste {Water Bath Canning}

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I've been canning tomato products for years, but I never thought I'd be making my own tomato paste. I guess I was just convinced it had to take a long time to cook down and thicken ... never did I dream it would actually take less time and be much easier than I thought.


When tomato season came around again this year, I found myself buying my favorite Roma tomatoes from Willard Farms, a family farm local to me. If you can't find Roma tomatoes, San Marzano plum tomatoes are also an excellent choice.

"Prized for its use in tomato paste and sauces since its introduction in 1955, Roma Tomatoes produce a large harvest of thick-walled, meaty, bright red, egg-shaped tomatoes about 3 inches long and with few seeds. This tomato is not juicy. This is not a slicing tomato. Instead, the flesh is thick and drier so that it will cook down into a thick sauce. Cooking intensifies flavor, too. If you can tomatoes, make your own spaghetti sauce, or like to chop a tomato into an omelet, this is a great choice. It's not too juicy in the pan compared to slicing tomatoes. The fruit freezes well for later cooking, too."


And so today I set out to make tomato paste. Oh my goodness, the flavor is so rich and intensified, it tastes like a vine ripe tomato just picked. Amazingly delicious ... I may never buy it commercially again!


RECIPE
Ingredients
4 quarts tomato sauce
lemon juice concentrate
salt (optional)

Method
Begin by making Tomato Sauce following my Tomato Sauce Canning Made Easy recipe. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1 quart tomato sauce onto a rimmed baking sheet. You can do 2 baking sheets at one time.

Place baking sheets on 2 racks in your oven and set the timer for 60 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, stir tomato sauce; you will see it's already reducing and thickening. Switch baking sheets around by moving the baking sheet on the bottom rack to the top rack and the top baking sheet to the bottom rack.

Continue baking another 20-30 minutes, checking and stirring often, until tomato sauce is reduced to a tomato paste being careful not to burn it.

Repeat process with remaining 2 quarts of tomato sauce.

Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice to each 4 oz jar or 1 tablespoon to each 8 oz jar, and 1/4-1/2 tsp. salt (if using) to each jar. Spoon tomato paste into jars, smoothing and removing air bubbles, leaving 1/2"-inch head-space.

Process jars 45 minutes in boiling water bath following the guidance from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Remove jars from canner and let cool undisturbed 24 hours on your kitchen counter-top. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is fully depressed and won't move. Store in pantry up to one year. Open jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: approx. 2 - 8 oz jars or 4 - 4 oz jars per quart of tomato sauce (my total yield was 5 - 4 oz jars and 3 - 8 oz jars for 4 quarts of tomato sauce)

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, June 28, 2017

Sweet and Sticky Tomato Jam

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I knew as soon as I saw this recipe on Marisa's page, Food in Jars, I wanted to try it. Oh yes, it is amazing! Sticky, sweet with a little kick, it is the perfect condiment for burgers, brats and more.


Serve it over crostini with a savory cheese, or on a cheese board with a variety of hard cheeses or even over cream cheese on crackers. IT is a delicious condiment you can use in a multitude of ways.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Creamy Chocolate Pudding

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Probably one of the simplest things to make with just a few pantry ingredients is pudding. When you see just how easy, you're going to ask yourself why you ever bought a box mix.


When I was first married we were on a very tight budget where every dollar mattered. There wasn't a lot of money for "extras," so out of necessity, I learned how to make my own puddings and other items; it was less expensive to buy flour, cornstarch and sugar for a multitude of uses, instead of convenience items like boxed pudding mix.


I'm really glad necessity taught me many "how to's" years ago, because I have always enjoyed cooking from scratch. There's just something rewarding about making it all yourself and not relying on box mixes.