Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lamb Meatballs with Apricot-Habanero Chutney

Just a little bit ago I got the most wonderful gift from my friend, Shabnam, at FlavorN'Spice. Among other things, she sent me an awesome Butternut Squash from her garden, a beautiful silk scarf, some woven placemats and a homemade Apricot-Habanero Chutney she paired with a cheese and cracker tray.

I had also recently purchased some pastured ground lamb from one of my favorite farms, Thames Farm, so my mind was whirling with recipe ideas. Hmmmm, why not pair some lamb meatballs with the chutney? And so this culinary journey began! Wow what an amazing pairing ... tender, slightly spicy meatballs, in a sweet and tangy chutney. Amazing!!



1 lb. ground lamb
1 tbls. dried minced onion
2-3 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. tarragon leaves
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Chutney Sauce
1/2 - 3/4 cup Apricot-Habanero Chutney
1/3 cup raw, local honey

Preheat oven to 350.  Put all ingredients for the meatballs together in a large bowl, and mix with hands to thoroughly combine. Shape into 1-inch meatballs (approx. 16 meatballs) and place in a covered casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake meatballs 20 minutes, covered, or until cooked through. Remove meatballs from oven and drain grease. Return meatballs to casserole dish.

While meatballs are baking, mix apricot-habanero chutney with honey and heat on your stove-top in a small saucepan until bubbly and well combined. Pour sauce over drained meatballs in casserole dish and stir to coat. .

Bake meatballs with sauce another 10 minutes. Remove from oven; serve meatballs over hot, cooked rice.

Yield:  4 servings


Friday, August 22, 2014

Barbecue Beef Brisket

Since it's typically very HOT during the summer in South Carolina, we find ourselves using our grill many, many times to keep the heat out of the kitchen.  Yesterday it was 100 degrees here, so it was definitely a grilling kind of day.  We took the opportunity to grill a Beef Brisket I'd purchased recently from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville, who raises 100% grass-fed Angus beef. The brisket was tender, moist and absolutely delicious as you will see.

1 - 3-4 lb. beef brisket
barbecue sauce of your choice

Remove beef brisket from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, 30 minutes to one hour.

Place brisket fat side up on a large piece of aluminum foil (large enough to completely encase brisket) sprayed with cooking spray.

Liberally apply barbecue sauce over brisket using your hands to massage it into the meat. Seal up aluminum foil by bringing ends together and folding to secure. Be sure brisket is entirely sealed inside the aluminum foil (you may need to add another piece of foil).

Place brisket on grill over low-off-low heat and cook 4-5 hours or until brisket is falling apart tender.

Remove brisket from grill, unwrap on a cutting board, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before carving.

Slice brisket WITH the grain for serving slices, or ACROSS the grain for shredded beef. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peppered Beef & Gravy

The best thing I like about cooking a large piece of beef on the grill, or oven, is what you can do with the leftovers. I took some thin slices of the Grilled Hanger Steak we enjoyed the other night and made this Peppered Beef & Gravy. This would also work well with round steak, or any other inexpensive cut of beef. It was great over rice, but would also work over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. 

2 tsp minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1 tsp minced ginger (I used ground ginger)
1 cup beef stock (I use homemade)
1 1/2 lbs. beef, thinly sliced (any type of inexpensive beef works, such as round steak)
1/3 cup red wine
1 tsp course-ground black pepper (or more to taste)

2 tbls soy sauce
1/3 cup flour

In the morning, marinate beef strips in wine, pepper, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and beef stock; cover and set aside in the refrigerator (6 hours or more). When ready to cook, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Add marinated beef to a 9 x 9-inch casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; sprinkle flour over all and stir to mix well. Cover and bake one (1) hour or until gravy has thickened and beef is tender. Serve over rice, egg noodles or mashed potatoes with the veggie of your choice.

Cooks note - Marinate overnight and cook in a slow cooker for 8 hours the following morning = dinner ready when you get home.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Fresh Summer Pasta

Light summer pasta made easy with fresh tomatoes!  This is a great side dish with Italian Seasoned Grilled Chicken or other grilled meats and only takes minutes to throw together. When you are bored with the usual potato or pasta salads, give this Fresh Summer Pasta a try.

1 large handful fresh pasta (I used some from Rio Bertolini's Fresh Pasta Co.) or any thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1-2 tbls. Olive oil
Course-ground black pepper
1 medium to large fresh tomato, diced
Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a large handful of pasta and cook in boiling water until al dente; drain and add diced tomatoes, drizzle on some extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, oregano and pepper.  Stir to combine, return to burner (you have turned off), cover and let sit until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with shredded Parmesan cheese.


Grilled Hanger Steak

Probably one of the "lessor" known steaks, but prized for its great flavor, is the Hanger Steak.

 hanger steak is a cut of beef steak prized for its flavor. Derived from the diaphragm of a steer or heifer, it typically weighs about 1.0 to 1.5 lb (450 to 675 g). In the past, it was sometimes known as "butcher's steak" because butchers would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale.

Hanger steak resembles flank steak in texture and flavor. It is a vaguely V-shaped pair of muscles with a long, inedible membrane down the middle. The hanger steak is usually the tenderest cut on an animal and is best marinated and cooked quickly over high heat (grilled or broiled) and served rare or medium rare, to avoid toughness. (source:  wikipedia)
I recently purchased a side of 100% grass-fed Angus beef with another friend, from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville, and this was one of the first steaks we tried from that order. Believe me when I say it didn't disappoint! It was absolutely delicious, moist and tender.

1.5 lbs. hanger steak, trimmed of excess fat and silver-skin
2 tbls. olive oil
2 tbls. whole peppercorns
1 tbls. salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 large sprigs rosemary (leaves and stems), roughly chopped

Place hanger steaks in a shallow baking dish or plate and rub with olive oil. Add peppercorns, garlic cloves, rosemary and 1 tablespoon salt and rub until seasonings are evenly coating surface of steak. Transfer to a plastic zipper-lock bag and seal, squeezing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Remove steak from refrigerator and let come to room temperature 30-60 minutes. Season with more salt, if desired, and grill steak on a sear burner or over high heat 4-5 minutes per side and continue grilling and turning steak frequently until internal temperature is 130 for medium rare. 

Remove from heat, cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Slice against the grain and serve immediately.

Yield:  4 servings

© 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, August 14, 2014

Sweet & Hot Sticky Wings

Chicken wings ... those wonderful, tasty wings we love to devour, either hot or mild, sticky or sweet! We love wings and have enjoyed them many, many times, but after I made Asian Sticky Wings recently, I wanted to try my hand and Sweet and Hot Sticky Wings. Oh boy, were these ever good. 

My husband said "that's a keeper" and believe me, not all of my recipes are keepers! He was licking his fingers and smacking his lips the entire time, saying "mmmmmmmmmm, dang these are good!!"

1 dozen whole chicken wings, thawed 
1/3 cup hot sauce 
1/2 cup local, raw honey 

Preheat oven to 450. Mix hot sauce and honey in a large bowl until well blended. Taste and adjust with more hot sauce or more honey to suit you, but you do want it to have a bit of a bite.

Toss wings in sauce to coat, reserving remaining sauce, and place in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish sprayed well with cooking spray (I used a glass baking dish).

Bake 30 minutes, remove from oven and turn wings to coat well, adding more of the reserved sauce over all.

Return to oven and bake 15 more minutes, or until wings are well caramelized and sauce is thick and sticky over all, stirring wings to insure they are evenly coated.

Serve while hot.


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Easy Cajun Chicken and Rice

This is so easy to make and delicious to eat! It does have a bit of a bite to it, so adjust seasonings to your liking. Super-simple one dish meal, preps in 5 minutes, cooks in 30 minutes = done!

2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 cup long-grain rice
5-6 chicken tenders, cut into cubes
2 stalks celery, diced
1-2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Parsley flakes to sprinkle over top

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add chicken stock, rice, diced celery, cubed chicken tenders, Cajun seasoning, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine; cover and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Sprinkle parsley flakes over top and serve immediately.

Yield:  4 servings


Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville - 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef

On an overcast, cloudy day we were off again on yet another farm outing, exploring what's fresh right outside our back door in South Carolina. This time we were headed to Hartsville to tour Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville, where John Rogers raises 100% grass-fed Angus Beef, a herd that consists of about 400 head on numerous pastures located near his home.

We met in a parking lot where we know the store owner, loaded coolers, shifted people around, and finally we were off, with 3 cars full of people excited for this next outing. Part way into the drive, the rain opened up on us, just pouring down making it difficult at times to see the road, but we could see the sky clearing ahead, and luckily it did clear up some just before we arrived at our destination.

John was ready and waiting outside just as we pulled up. Introductions were made all around and then I found out we would be driving into the pastures! He could take 4 in his truck but someone else would have to follow in their car with the remaining 4 ... oh boy! He looked at the cars, patted mine and said "this one'll work," and so I found myself driving my SUV in
cow pastures. It reminded me of another time driving my VW Bug in cow pastures, but that was many years ago when I was a teenager, and I like to think I've matured some since then ... well maybe not ... but we did not do donuts in the pasture, so I guess I have matured some after all.

Gripping the steering wheel and following along, we were led into lush green pastures, finding the cattle in groups under trees or wandering around grazing. John would tell the ladies in his truck different things about the cattle, then come back to our car to tell us the same things. 

"All of our Angus and Angus-Charolais Beef comes from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals. There are no added hormones and the meat is antibiotic free. The meat is processed at a USDA inspected packing plant where it is dry aged, cut to order, vacuum packed and flash frozen.

Growing grass fed beef takes more time, but it is the natural way to raise cattle. Our animals spend their entire lives on pasture, eating lush SC green grass. This results in meat with more flavor, more nutrition, and a more humane life for the cattle."

Did you know?  A mama cow is pregnant for 9 months and 1 week and the average weight of the calf is 80-100 lbs.? Wow, big baby! And, pregnancy tests are a blood test done in the tail? Ear tags identify the cattle by age and sex (yellow is female and blue is male), and it takes approximately 18 months - 2 years to grow the calf to full size. On this farm, the mother cows have their calves in the pasture, and soon afterward are showing off their baby to the rest of the herd.

There are also many health benefits to grass-fed beef:

- Lower in fat and calories
- Extra Omega-3s
- Higher in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene
- Rich source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which may strengthen immune function

So what is Angus Beef? Black Angus cattle are a breed of naturally hornless beef cattle; they were originally imported from Scotland in the late 1800s. The coloration of Scottish Angus cattle is exclusively black. Although a recessive gene sometimes produces an animal which is reddish in color, only the black animals may be certified Black Angus. At first not recognized by American farmers as a desirable breed, they quickly began to discern the quality of the animals. Black Angus cattle were soon sought after, and purebred herds began to appear.
Today, Black Angus are the most popular breed of beef cattle in the United States, and purebred herds are widely raised throughout the country. Black Angus are adaptable, hardy, and easy to raise; they mature to market-readiness in about two years.

Black Angus beef is greatly esteemed for the quality of the meat, particularly its even marbling. Restaurants and markets throughout the country recognize the superiority of Black Angus beef, and it is highly prized by consumers for its flavor and fine marbled texture. In 1978, in response to its rising popularity, the American Angus Association set up a certification process to ensure that consumers were getting the quality they had come to expect. The process has been further refined, and the USDA has a stringent set of criteria that must be met in order for beef to be certified Black Angus. The Certified Black Angus seal assures consumers that they are getting the finest quality beef available.
The natural and preferred food for beef cattle is grass. Grain is hard for cattle to digest, and grain-fed cattle produce an inferior quality of beef. Black Angus cattle which are naturally raised and fed an exclusive diet of grasses produce a beef that is lower in calories, higher in cancer-fighting agents, and heart-healthy. Naturally raised, grass-fed, Certified Black Angus beef is regarded as the best beef product on the market. (source: American Angus Association).
After seeing the different cattle in three of six pastures, it was time to head back to the farm and pick up our beef. Located in a freezer locker, we loaded up our coolers, thanked John for his time and headed out, yet again driving in the pouring rain.

Our next stop was lunch at the Midnight Rooster Coffee Shop!  

What an awesome little place located right in downtown Hartsville on East Carolina Avenue. Saturdays they offer a Brunch menu, which includes both breakfast and lunch items and a Bloody Mary bar!

It's a fun, eclectic place, full of whimsical art pieces and so much more. We ate at a large table they had reserved for us, in the covered courtyard with brick walls, arches and more. 

I had one of the "specials of the day," a  delicious Quiche made with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese, served with a seasonal fruit cup, crostini, and the best garlic-dill pickle strips I've ever tasted. 

Others had the "Hot Mamma" which is roast beef, white cheddar, pepperoncini tapenade and sun-dried tomato mayo toasted on foccacia bread which comes as either a half or whole with a side of chips and pickles. 

While there we met owner, Suzanne Galloway, and had a lovely talk with her about the restaurant and service we received, which was outstanding.

Our third and final stop for the day was Gardener's General Store, which is everything you think an old-time general store is. 

Here you can buy local milk and cheeses, along with pet food, farm supplies, heirloom seeds, pure local honey, old-fashioned soaps, candy and more! This is where some of the group stocked up on raw milk and cheeses from Middle Sparrow Ranch, some bought local honey and still others got some protein bars and other goodies.  

Thankfully the rain had let up, but our "naviguessor," the name we give to anyone reading the map, got us goofed up again, so after missing our turn, going the wrong way, and turning around, we were finally on the right road, heading home laughing the whole way at our directional mistake.

Once home, some of us, myself included, had to off-load all the beef we bought ... luckily I had cleared off two shelves in my large freezer because it took up every bit of that space and then some!  Lots and lots of grass-fed beef, but that's a good thing and we will be enjoying it for months to come! 

I am thankful we have an abundance of local farms doing it "right" for you and me right here in South Carolina.  It's tireless hard work, but without our support, they wouldn't be able to continue to do what is their passion, producing a great product for you and me. Does it cost more? Maybe. Is it worth it. Yes! The way to really save money on grass-fed beef is to buy it in larger amounts, such as a side or 1/4 side of beef. While that does mean more initial outlay, and the prices do vary, it includes all cuts of beef from tenderloins to ground beef and everything in-between for a fraction of the cost if you were to buy an individual steak or roast. Don't have the freezer space yourself for that much beef? Consider what we did and going in on it together with other friends or family members, dividing it up between all participants. The BEST thing you can do for yourself and your family is just EAT REAL FOOD!  Buy it from your local farm, get to know your farmer, and support your local Farmer's market. I think you'll be happy you did.



© 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, August 8, 2014

Asian Sticky Wings

Asian Sticky Wings, aka, the easiest wings you'll ever make ... I promise! I really do enjoy wings and we've had them breaded and fried, cooked in hot sauce, thrown on the grill and a ton of different ways, but these were DIFFERENT because they were SO EASY, moist and tender! I love easy, don't you?

20 chicken wings, frozen (no need to thaw)
4 tbsp. Soy Sauce
1/3 cup raw honey 
Chopped green onion
Rice, cooked (if desired)

Preheat oven to 450.

In a small bowl mix Soy Sauce and honey until well blended. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.

Toss chicken wings in sauce to coat and place in baking pan; reserve remaining sauce.

Cook wings for 30 minutes. Open oven and remove baking dish. Drain any excess liquid if necessary, stir wings to coat well, and drizzle on some more of the sauce.

Return baking dish to oven and continue to cook another 10 minutes or until wings are cooked through, basting with remaining sauce a couple of more times. You want them glazed well and sticky.

Sprinkle with chopped, green onion (optional).

As promised ... EASY!

Note - have a crowd to feed? Recipe is easily doubled or tripled!

Also seen on Meal Plan Monday

Also seen on Weekend Potluck

© 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, August 6, 2014

Petite Diced Tomatoes for Canning

What's the best tomato variety for canning: Roma Tomatoes - 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.

Did you know?  One medium tomato (approximately 123 grams) provides 22 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate (including 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of sugar) and 1 gram of protein. Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein. 

Alpha-lipoic acid helps the body to convert glucose into energy. Some evidence suggests that alpha-lipoic acid can aid in blood glucose control, improve vasodilation and protect against retinopathy in diabetic patients and may even help preserve brain and nerve tissue.
Lycopene is the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich red color. Tomatoes account for 80 percent of lycopene consumption.

Choline is an important nutrient found in tomatoes that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation. (Source: Medical News Today).

15-16 large Roma Tomatoes
12 tbsp. lemon juice, divided
3 tsp. salt (optional)


Core Roma tomatoes, blanch, plunge into ice water and peel. Dice a few into petite-sized pieces to equal 2-3 cups, and softly boil them in a large sauce pan on your stove top, using a potato masher to mash them as the become soft.  

While maintaining a gentle boil, and stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, dice additional tomatoes and add to the saucepan as you work. Continue until all tomatoes are added, then boil gently for 5 minutes.

Add 2 tbls. lemon juice per jar, and pack cooked tomatoes into jars leaving a 1/2-inch head-space. Remove air bubbles and top each jar with 1/2 tsp. salt if desired.

Cover jars with lids and seals and process pints 35 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner. Remove jars and allow to cool on a kitchen towel on your counter-top for 24 undisturbed. Store in pantry up to 1 year.

Yield:  6 pint (16 oz.) jars


© 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.