Friday, February 27, 2015

Lemon Strawberry Loaf

Lemons and Strawberries are great together. It's almost like the perfect "marriage" of tart, sweet and tangy.

Since I had 2 fresh lemons leftover from my "lemon saga" of making lemon pie filling, lemon no-bake cheesecake parfaits and candied lemon peel, I decided to use one of the remaining lemons for this recipe ... because I hadn't had enough lemon yet ... right! That lemon and a bag of sliced fresh strawberries in my freezer were about to get happy in my mixing bowl.

This Lemon Strawberry Loaf screams SPRING to me and I am so ready for SPRING! Then I can get some more luscious fresh strawberries from my friends at Willard Farms!

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup buttermilk
1 heaping cup sliced strawberries
about 1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 in. loaf pan, or 4 mini-loaf pans.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the lemon zest.

Lower the speed and mix in about ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ of the buttermilk. Repeat and finish with the remaining flour.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the strawberries into the batter. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with your spatula.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour (small pans 40-45 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and whisk in enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let it rest for a few minutes until the glaze hardens.

Cut in slices and serve.

Cook's note - this is a lovely dense loaf. Flavors are enhanced with the addition of the glaze so don't omit. Top with minced candied lemon peel if desired.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Updated August 2020

To me nothing says comfort food like a piping hot bowl of soup. Delicious, slightly spicy and warming, this Chicken Enchilada Soup is comfort food in a bowl.

Easy to make, a little "feisty" with some herbs and spices, and simple ingredients found in most well-stocked kitchens.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 or 4 strips each, then cut into cubes
2 tbls. olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 onion, diced
1 - 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
1 - 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 - 14.5 oz. can niblet corn, drained
2-3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cilantro or oregano
shredded cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top
*optional - diced bell peppers, black beans

Place oil in a large saucepan; add onion and saute' over med-high heat until onion is getting soft. Add cubed chicken and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through.

Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Serve while hot with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Tortilla Chips - make your own with a flour tortilla. Brush some olive oil onto the tortilla, and cut the tortilla in half and each half into half again. Cut each quarter into triangle strips. Place strips on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake in a 325 degree oven 8 minutes or until crispy. Serve tortilla chips with the soup.


© 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, February 23, 2015

Easy Noodle Soup

Do you ever find yourself thinking, I can make that better myself? Happens to me all the time, but sometimes we just like the "convenience" of grabbing something already "packaged" for us because it's easier. 

Well, I'm all about easy, but I'm also all about knowing what's in the food I eat, so I stay away from pre-packaged, processed foods for that very reason.

When I thought about "packaged soups" I also knew they had to be pretty simple to make. Let's face it, there's not much in them except dried noodles and spices, so I set out to find out how easy.

This soup takes minutes to put together and tastes delicious. I think it's one of the easiest recipes I've ever made, and only takes about 5 minutes to cook, then eat and enjoy. 

I didn't add any meat, but you could easily add diced, cooked chicken, pork, beef or shrimp.

2 cups water PLUS 2 tsp. chicken or beef bouillon
- OR - 2 cups chicken or beef bone broth (preferred)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. parsley leaves
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable of your choice (I use frozen) 
1 small bunch Angel Hair spaghetti or other thin pasta

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring water, bouillon or bone broth to a boil. Add vegetables and spices and cook just a few minutes, or until vegetables are getting soft. Add noodles and continue to cook until pasta is al dente'.

Serve immediately.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lemon No Bake Cheesecake Parfaits

It's time to THINK SPRING and make some of these Lemon No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits. Light and delicate, they are the perfect dessert, or treat, anytime you make them. 

I love making them in mason jars, so they are an easy "on the go" treat to take anywhere; to the office, on a picnic, or to a backyard barbecue. What's really great is the lids keep the bugs out!

Cheesecake Filling
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tbls. vanilla
2 tbls. lemon juice
1/2 - 8 oz. container cool whip or 1 cup heavy cream
Lemon Pie Filling
See recipe for Candied Lemon Peel


Set out cream cheese to soften. Once softened, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and combined.

Add vanilla, lemon juice and sour cream and beat until well blended.

Mix in whipped heavy cream or cool whip until fluffy.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool 1-2 hours.

Lemon Pie Filling
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
6 tbls. corn starch
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated rind of 1 lemon
4 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
1 tbls. butter

Mix water, sugar, salt, cornstarch, lemon juice, grated lemon rind and egg yolks in large sauce pan, whisking to combine.

Cook over med-high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Bring to a boil and cook one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in butter, stirring until melted.  Pour into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool on counter-top or refrigerate until ready to use.

In 8 oz. mason jars, add 1 large spoonful of the cheesecake filling. Top cheesecake layer with 1 large spoonful lemon pie filling, then 1 large spoonful cheesecake filling. Add another spoonful lemon pie filling, and lastly 1 large spoonful cheesecake filling.

Sprinkle tops with diced candied lemon peel if desired.

Cover jars with lids and store in your refrigerator.

Cook's note - leftover lemon pie filling will keep for a few weeks in your refrigerator, or use it to make hand pies!


© 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, February 20, 2015

Candied Lemon Peel

Because I like to find uses for  "all of a product" I decided to candy some lemon peel from the lemons I use to make my Lemon Pie Filling.

Once the peels are candied, they can be stored in an air-tight container up to one month. I like to dice them up small and serve over the lemon desserts I make, but you can use them in a variety of ways ...

• Top a lemon meringue pie with candied lemon peels
• Dip in dark chocolate for an amazing treat
• Mix a handful of finely chopped candied peels into batters for muffins, breads, or cakes.
• Sprinkle chopped candied peels over ice cream or yogurt.
• Garnish citrus-based cocktails with candied peels.
• Mix finely chopped candied peels into streusel toppings for muffins and cakes.

Peel of 2 lemons, cut thinly, pulp removed
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

In a medium pot of boiling water, cook peel until tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer to dry slightly, about 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil over high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel and boil until it turns translucent and syrup thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer peel to wire rack, separating the pieces as needed.

Let peel dry 1 hour. Toss with 1/2 cup sugar to coat.

Cook's note - this recipe works well for any citrus peels


Thursday, February 19, 2015

What to do with a Whole Chicken?

One of the easiest and economical things you can do is buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself.

When you buy a chicken at the grocery store, organic or otherwise, or your local farm (preferred), you are paying for the butcher or processor to have those nice breasts or thigh pieces already cut for you. Why pay them when it's so easy to do it yourself?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Banana Oat Muffins

Easy, tasty muffins, delicious to eat and are good for you too! Packed full of goodness, you don't need to feel guilty eating these. Perfect with a cup of hot coffee for breakfast, or pack and wrap for an on-the-go treat. They also freeze well, which is an added bonus.

I used several "better for you" ingredients in these to include organic banana's and organic white wheat flour (you'd  never know it wasn't all-purpose flour). Of course if you want to make them even healthier, you can use applesauce instead of the vegetable oil and organic coconut palm sugar for the white sugar.

1 1/2 cups flour (I use organic white wheat)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
Cinnamon-Sugar to dust over top (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly.

Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups and divide the batter among them. Dust tops with cinnamon-sugar if desired.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Breakfast Potato Boats

This is totally one of those, duh, why didn't I think of this before recipes! I mean really ... just wait, you'll see.

I was thinking about what to make for breakfast, and for some reason, I remembered the many times we've had a leftover baked potato (or maybe just a half of one) I cubed up for home fries to use it up. I've done this many times with leftover baked potatoes, especially on the weekend, so I thought, hmmmmmm ... well what IF I just baked a potato, scored it into cubes and loaded it up with the typical things I make to accompany home fries?

Eureka! So easy! And it's one of those you can make any way you want by using cooked and crumbled bacon or ham pieces instead of the sausage, or any toppings you like ... so simple! Add some fresh fruit to this as a side dish for the perfect breakfast.

1 large Russet potato
1/2 tbls olive oil
1/2 tsp coarse salt
2 eggs, scrambled
Sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 tbls. butter, melted
Shredded cheddar cheese
Tomato salsa (optional)
Salt and pepper, as desired

Preheat oven to 400.  Scrub the outside of the potato, pat dry with paper towels, then rub olive oil all over the skin. Sprinkle with salt and place on a baking sheet and bake until done, about 1 hour (this step can be done ahead of time, or use a leftover baked potato).

Meanwhile, scramble the eggs, cook and crumble the sausage, and set aside.

Once baked, remove from oven, and split potato in half length-wise. Brush potato with melted butter and carefully cut potato into cubes, being careful not to cut through the potato skin.

score the potato into small cubes

Place the potato back on a baking sheet and top with shredded cheddar cheese, then crumbled sausage, scrambled eggs and more shredded cheddar cheese.

add the cheese

add the cooked and crumbled sausage

add the scrambled eggs

add more shredded cheddar cheese

Return to oven and bake 5 minutes or until cheese it melted.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve topped with tomato salsa if desired.

Yield:  1 potato = 2 servings


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Creole Spiced Turkey Soup

Updated October 2020

Leftover turkey and a few other ingredients make this tasty Creole Spiced Turkey Soup. It's spicy good for you deliciousness in a bowl.

Creole-inspired, it's a bowl full of comfort food for those cooler fall or winter days, quick and easy to make with leftover turkey or chicken.

3 cups cubed cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 qt. (4 cups) chicken or turkey bone broth or stock 
1 can (2 cups) petite diced tomatoes
1 cup sliced carrots, green beans or corn (or all 3)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp Creole seasoning * (see below to make your own)
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
pepper, to taste
1/2 cup long-grain rice, cooked

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add celery, onions, and garlic and cook 10 minutes.

Add cubed cooked turkey, stock, tomatoes, veggie of your choice, 
2 tbsp Creole seasoning, and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for about 1 hour.

Add cooked rice to each bowl and ladle soup over top. I do it this way because the rice will continue to absorb the liquid if it's cooked in the soup, so I always prefer to add it separately.

*Creole Seasoning
2-1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme

Mix all spices together and store in a glass jar for up to 3 months.

Yield: 4-6 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.

"Not Your Ordinary" Green Bean Casserole

When I got my organic produce box from Farmbox Direct, it included some organic green beans, and a recipe card for this Green Bean Casserole. Come to find out, all the produce boxes they ship contain a recipe card with 2 recipes printed on it (front and back), which is pretty cool.

Unlike any others I'd ever seen, this casserole doesn't use any condensed soups or french fried onions, but instead uses eggs whisked with olive oil, room temperature milk, Parmesan cheese and cornmeal. Well, it certainly sounded interesting, so I decided to try making it.

I assumed the cornmeal mix would form a "custard" of sorts, which it does is a way; little crusty on the bottom and more custard-like on top, with the delicious taste of Parmesan cheese, making this completely different than any of the other green bean casseroles I've had over the years.

This Green Bean Casserole was really delicious and I'm glad I tried it.


© 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, February 11, 2015

Homemade Confectioner's Sugar

How many times has this happened to you? You are baking a cake, or other sweet treat calling for Confectioner's Sugar, and you discover you have none. UGH!!!

Too many times that's happened to me, so I set out to find out how to make my own ... you will not believe how easy it is.

1 cup sugar
1 tbls. cornstarch

Blend sugar and cornstarch in a blender on high speed until a powder develops. The longer you blend it the better because you want it nice and "powdery."

Just look how great this butter cream frosting came out ... wow!

Store any remaining confectioner's sugar in an airtight container or mason jar.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Magic Custard Cake

It seems everyone is making/baking these magic custard cakes lately. Most recently I saw these over on Hugs and Cookies XOXO's page, so I decided to try to make it.

If you love egg custard, you will love this Magic Custard Cake. The idea has intrigued me for a long time. Putting it together is actually fairly easy, and I know you'll just love the results.

4 eggs at room temperature (whites separated)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, lukewarm
powdered sugar for dusting cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with parchment.

Separate eggs and add the egg whites to a mixer and beat egg whites stiff. Place egg whites in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light. Add butter and vanilla.  Beat for two mins. Add the flour and mix it in until fully incorporated.

Slowly start adding the milk and beat until everything is well mixed together.

Add the egg whites, a third at a time and gently fold them in using a spatula, repeat until all egg whites are folded in.

Pour batter into baking dish and bake for approx 60 minutes or until the top is lightly golden.

Cool and dust heavily with powdered sugar.

Chocolate version - add 1/2 cup cocoa powder when you add the flour.
Lemon version - add 1 tbls. lemon juice when you add the butter and vanilla.


© 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, February 9, 2015

Cheesy Baked Ziti

This is one dish that's so easy to make. I love to make this using my Simple Pasta Sauce.  Typically it makes enough to serve spaghetti one night and this Cheesy Baked Ziti another night later in the week.

This is an easy, simple dish; just add some cheese and you're ready to bake it.

2 cups Ziti noodles, cooked al dente
2 cups simple pasta sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cooked Ziti noodles with simple pasta sauce.

Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Layer 1/2 of of the Ziti noodle/pasta sauce mix on the bottom. Top with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat  layers one more time with remaining ingredients. Top with 1 cup Mexican cheese blend or Italian cheese blend.

Bake 30 minutes covered. Remove cover and continue to bake 15 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

Yield:  4 servings

Cook's note - this dish freezes well; or wrap it and freeze it before baking then you'll have it already done for an easy dinner some other night. Better still, double the recipe and make 2; one for now, one to freeze.


Citrus Glazing Sauce

My husband is always creating "grilling" recipes. He makes the best homemade barbecue sauce, and now has created this wonderful Citrus Glazing Sauce using an organic orange and grapefruit we received in an organic produce box from Farmbox Direct.

Use it to baste on grilled chicken and pork, or heat it up and serve it on the side for a great little "kick" that's sweet and tangy.

1 orange
1 red grapefruit
1 tsp. orange zest (from the rind of the orange)
1 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
4 tbls. ketchup
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. anise seed
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/3 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/4 cup raw, local honey

Peel fruit, remove seeds (if needed) and blend in a food processor or blender.

Combine citrus puree and all other ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until sauce is bubbly, stirring from time to time to keep from sticking.

Continue cooking until sauce reduces some and thickens.

Store in a pint mason jar in your refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 cup sauce


Crispy Dill Pickles

Pickles are just great, aren't they? They go well with just about anything, but I think they are really good with a grilled burger or a homemade deli sandwich.

For the best crispy pickles, I use Ball Pickle Crisp Granules. This helps keep the pickles crisp when canning, and it's very easy to add to almost any pickle recipe.

What is pickle crisp?  It's calcium chloride. For those of us who like to make our own pickles, relish or anything that has that long, frustrating, pre-soaking process involving pickling lime, there is a simple solution.  Pickling crisp!!

For those of you who do not know what the pickling lime process is and are interested in making/canning your own pickles, pickling lime is a product you buy and is required in most recipes that require pickling and helps improve the firmness by adding calcium that reinforces the pectin in the vegetable being pickled.

For example, using cucumbers, you would mix the pickling lime in water according to the package directions and let it soak for a full day (if not longer) rinsing at min of 3 times.  You will have to soak and rinse repeatedly until the water is clear.  Lime is alkaline so you have to make sure to get rid of all of it in the rinses process or it will reduce the acidity that you will use to pickle your vegetable with.  When you have alkalinity it reduces the Ph as well which neutralizes the acidity and can lead to botulism.  For this very reason, it is not recommended to use pickling lime any longer.  It can be a pain in the rear anyway, especially in today’s society where we are always so busy and don’t have time to rinse the vegetables a bunch of times.

That leads us to pickling crisp!  It replaces pickling lime, which home picklers have long used to firm cucumbers into pickles .

Calcium chloride aka pickle crisp is easier to use: you add 1/8 teaspoon along with the fruit or vegetable pieces and the pickling liquid to a pint jar, or 1/4 teaspoon to a quart jar and voila!  Your done!  No long soaking and rinsing process to deal with, thank goodness.

I really like crisp dill pickles, and this recipe produces exactly that, crisp pickle spears just like those you can buy in the grocery store, only better because you control what's in them.

Pickles take minutes to make, and only process only 10-15 minutes in a boiling water bath. It's one of the best ways to preserve those summer cucumbers so you have them to enjoy whenever you want some.

1-2 large organic cucumbers or 10 small pickling cucumbers, blossom end removed and sliced into spears
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. pickle crisp
1 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tbls. pickling and canning salt

Bring vinegar, water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, cut cucumbers into spears. Place all other ingredients in a quart canning jar (or divide between 2 pint canning jars).  Add cucumber spears, packing jars fairly tightly.

Carefully pour hot liquid mixture over the cucumber spears in jar, leaving 1/2" head-space.

Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes for pints and 15 minutes for quarts.

Remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed on your kitchen counter-top 24 hours.

Sealed jars can be stored in a pantry up to one year. Pickles are BEST if you wait about 4 weeks until you open a jar so the flavors can develop.

Yield:  1 quart or 2 pints

Cook's note - recipe is easily doubled.


© 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, February 8, 2015

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filets

Just about nothing beats a good Beef Tenderloin Filet on the grill. They're great for a special dinner, such as Valentine's Day, a Birthday or Anniversary, and so easy to do. 

These filets came from Solo Verdi Meats and are 100 % grass-fed beef. It is my opinion grass-fed beef has a far superior taste to that of conventional beef, and  I always shop at my local farms for the best beef I can get.

Did you know?

Filet mignon steak is a cut of beef from the tenderloin. The tenderloin runs down the back of a beef cow.

A beef tenderloin is large, usually weighing around 4 lbs to 6 lbs, and has two parts. The true filet mignon comes from the small circular strip that is attached to the entire tenderloin. In American butcher shops, a filet mignon steak is cut into about two-inch steaks from the entire tenderloin. But if you see filet mignon medallions on a menu, they are typically cut from the extra tender small round strip. It's this small round strip that the French word "filet mignon" is actually referring to.

Beef tenderloin is the name of the large cut of beef before it is sliced into steak. Once it is cut into steaks, those steaks are known by the French name,"filet mignon." 

2 Beef Tenderloin Filets
salt and course-ground pepper

Liberally sprinkle both sides of the beef tenderloin filets with salt and course-ground pepper.

Sear filets, 1 minute per side, then grill on direct medium-high heat just a few minutes per side until cooked as desired. I like mine medium or medium-rare so these were cooked to an internal temperature of 135.

Remove filets from grill and let sit 5 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Serve with your choice of side dishes.

Meat and Poultry Temperature Guide


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Strawberry Dijon Sauce

I recently received a small produce box from Farmbox Direct, a virtual online Organic Farmer's Market delivering amazing products right to your door.

"I started Farmbox Direct with a vision of how food SHOULD be: fresh, local (when mother nature permits), and free from pesticides! Having grown up in a family of farmers and living on a farm, I spent summers working at my uncle’s compost in the Midwest, learning how to live off the land, and the benefits of local and organic food! You could say the foundation of Farmbox Direct is in my blood!

After I became a mother I really began to pay very close attention to exactly what was in the food not only I was eating, but also what I was feeding my daughter. I was a busy NYC working mom, I didn't always have time to make a weekly trip to my local farmers market to pick up the freshest local, and organic items for my kitchen, I began to realize the true need for this service!

What was in the box!

I decided to step down from the corporate world, and go back to my roots! I personally hand pick every Farm, Artisan, and Vendor we deal with! If it’s not USDA Certified Organic, we do not carry it! We strive to bring you local USDA Certified Organic when Mother Nature permits! My goal is to bring you an Organic Farmers Market in it’s purity to your door!

Our promise is to bring you ONLY USDA Certified Organic Produce, and Local USDA Certified Organic items when Mother Nature permits! All farms we work with use ZERO pesticides on the produce they grow! Our Artisanal items come direct from the Artisan! Our eggs are cage free, free range, and come directly from that Farm. We believe in farm to table, the way food should be! Ashley Tyrner, Farmbox Direct CEO.

Things I personally like about Farmbox Direct:

  • No weekly commitment
  • You can customize up to 5 substitutions each week
  • No registration or membership fees
  • All packing used is recycled and biodegradable
  • All produce is certified organic (All are 100% certified organic and follow the strict USDA standards. Organic is a unique label that can only be placed on a product that has been certified, unlike other labels you might see at your local supermarket).

At this time delivery is not available to all states, however, it is the goal of Farmbox Direct to expand their delivery area in the very near future.

My box arrived early on a Friday morning and everything inside the box was perfectly wrapped and still cold due to an ice pack on the bottom. The smaller fruits or veggies were protected by being packed in a smaller box. Some of the veggies were inside green veggie bags (I'm keeping those to use to store the veggies in the refrigerator).

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tbls. strawberry jam (make your own)
1 tbls. Dijon mustard
1 tbls. balsamic vinegar
Heat strawberry jam in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Mix in remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat. Drizzle over top of roasted Brussels sprouts.

Preheat oven to 400. Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves.

Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 25-35 minutes or until they are crisped on the outside and tender on the inside.

Stir around from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly.

Sprinkle with more kosher salt, if desired, and serve immediately with sauce drizzled over top.


Disclaimer: The produce used in this post was provided by Farmbox Direct. All opinions are my own.

Rice-A- Roni Homemade

Not too long ago I saw this great recipe for Homestyle Rice-A-Roni from my friend, Patty, at Cooking on a Budget.

She browned the broken spaghetti in a fry pan, and cooked the entire dish in the pan. I wanted to try her recipe, but use my rice steamer instead. The results were delicious and this recipe is a definite keeper!

1 cup white rice
1/3 cup cut spaghetti (I use angel hair pasta broken into small pieces)
2 cups chicken broth (I use chicken or turkey bone broth)
4 tbls. butter, divided
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes - crushed
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. course-ground black pepper

Spray your rice steamer with cooking spay.  Place all ingredients, except 1 tbls. butter, inside rice steamer and set according to manufacturer's directions.

Once rice is done, remove lid and add reserved 1 tbls, butter, fluffing rice with fork. Let sit 10-15 minutes using the "keep warm" setting.

Serve while hot.

Cook's note - if you don't have a rice steamer, cook it in a large fry pan following the directions linked here 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Roasted Golden Beets with Balsamic Glaze

When I shopped recently at the Winter Farmer's Market at Coastal Coffee Roasters, I purchased some awesome Golden Beets and a Pheasant from Wishbone Heritage Farms. These beets are completely organic and have great "greens" I also used for steamed beet greens and beet greens salad.

What was even better? These were so good even my "not so adventurous husband" loved them and told me ... "these are a keeper."

1 1/2 lb. golden beets, with greens attached
2 Tbls. olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbls. firmly packed brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim off the beet greens and reserve for another use.

Wash the beets well but do not peel, and place in a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil and water. Pour the mixture over the beets and toss to coat them completely.

Bake in a covered baking dish until the beets are tender when pierced with a skewer, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover and let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil until reduced by one-third, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Peel the beets by slipping off the skins, then cut them crosswise into thin slices. Place in a warmed serving bowl and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Season with salt and pepper, toss to coat and serve immediately.



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