Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dill Pickle Relish

Because not all relish needs to be sweet. This recipe uses dill seed and garlic to achieve its great taste, closely resembling the kind bought in the grocery store. Perfect on grilled hot dogs, burgers and more.


7 cups chopped pickling cucumbers (about 9 small pickling cucumbers)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 tsp. dill seed
3 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbls. pickling salt

Wash cucumbers well. After washing the cucumbers, slice a thin piece from both the stem and blossom ends and discard.  Cut cucumbers into about 1"-inch pieces and then chop in a food processor (using about 3 to 4 short pulses on “chop”) into small diced pieces.

Chop the onions in the food processor, following the directions above. Combine chopped cucumbers and onion and set aside.

In a large pan, stir together the vinegar, dill seed, minced garlic and pickling salt, until the salt dissolves. Add chopped vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Fill hot relish into clean, hot pint jars leaving ½-inch head-space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space if needed. Make sure liquid covers the top of the food pieces. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.

Process 1/2 pint jars 10 minutes and pints 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remove jars to your kitchen counter-top and let sit undisturbed 12-24 hours. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is fully depressed and does not move.

Store in your pantry up to one year.

Yield: 6 - 8 oz. (half pint) jars or 3 - 16 oz. (pint) 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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Grilled Lamb and Pineapple Kabobs

Moroccan Leg of Lamb Roast, Dole Pineapple and Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly came together to make these fantastic Grilled Lamb and Pineapple Kabobs. Perfect for summertime, I served these over a bed of white rice with a side salad.


Moroccan Leg of Lamb, cut into 2"-inch pieces (*see cook's note)
1 - 8 oz. can Dole pineapple chunks
2 tbls. Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly

Soak wooden kabob skewers 30 minutes in cold water. Remove skewers from the water and thread lamb and pineapple chunks alternately onto wooden skewers.

Heat grill to medium-indirect heat. Place kabobs on grill and cook 5-7 minutes per side. Baste Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly over kabobs during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time.

Remove kabobs from the grill and serve with more Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly if desired.

*Cooks note - I used large leftover sections of lamb previously cooked from the Moroccan Leg of Lamb roast and cut them into 2"-inch pieces. You could use uncooked cubed lamb stew meat and simply mix up the Moroccan marinade to soak the lamb in prior to grilling. Soak at least one hour or as long as overnight.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Grilled Smoky Skirt Steak

Using a recipe from the cookbook "Ally's Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates," What's for Dinner, Ally's Kitchen, we tried her Grilled Smoky Skirt Steak using a skirt steak from West Ridge Farms - Premium Beef. Oh my word, it is delicious.

Let it soak in the marinade
Grill it on direct high heat
Remove it from the grill and let it rest 5 minutes
Carve it against the grain and enjoy!


Grilled Smoky Skirt Steak

1 - 1 1/2-2 lb. skirt steak
cooking spray
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbls. soy sauce
1 tbls. brown sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. garlic granules
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice

Pat the steak dry with paper towels and coat both sides of the steak with cooking spray. In a small bowl combine the oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, garlic, cumin, paprika, ginger and allspice and blend together well. Rub the marinade mixture onto the top and under the side of the skirt steak and fold the steak over in the middle. Put it in a large zip-top bag and refrigerate at least one hour. Overnight is better.

Coat your grill with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Heat grill to 500-550 degrees (direct high). Put the skirt steak (still folded) on the grill and close the lid.  Grill it for 1 1/2 -2 minutes. Open the grill to check and make sure you don't have any seriously roaring flames going on; if so, carefully move the steak out of the flames to another section of the grill and close the lid. Using tongs, flip the folded steak over, close the lid and grill another 1 1/2-2 minutes. Unfold the skirt steak and grill on each side another 45-60 seconds per side with the grill lid open.

The steak will have varying degrees of doneness depending on the thickness and the thickest part should be medium-rare to medium. Remove the steak to a cutting board covered with parchment paper, tent it with foil and let rest at least 5 minutes. Using a very sharp knife, slice the steak across the grain into thin slices to reduce the chewy factor, Ready to serve,


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Farm Outing to Fishing Creek Creamery - Goat Cheese, Gelato and Milk

Fishing Creek Creamery - photo by Liz Krejci

And so we were off again, this time for a fun afternoon farm adventure to Fishing Creek Creamery, a Grade A Goat Dairy and Farmstead Creamery in Chester, South Carolina.

We began by meeting for lunch at Salud Mexican Kitchen in historic downtown Camden, South Carolina. This authentic Mexican cuisine restaurant and tequila bar never disappoints and always serves up the BEST I've ever tasted. Several of us had the Burrito Frito,with shredded beef or tender pulled chicken, fried golden crisp and topped with queso sauce, lettuce, sour cream & tomato, while others enjoyed the quesadilla al pastor, with marinated pork. Delicious!

After lunch we headed north for a quick stop to see Amy and shop at Thames Farm. This is a another great South Carolina farm we love to frequent. Here people picked up fresh ham steaks, brats, maple sausage links, center-cut pork chops and more.

At Thames Farm with Amy Thames buying some awesome pork products
After hugs goodbye, we filled our coolers and were finally headed to our destination: Fishing Creek Creamery, located at 3694 Fishing Creek Church Road in Chester, South Carolina.

Fishing Creek Creamery - Saanen Goats
After introductions all around, and while savoring a yummy gelato, owner Dave Cole explained "We started raising dairy goats in 2009 after I discovered I had an allergy to cow milk. We tried soy and almond milk but it just wasn’t as satisfying as traditional cow milk. Eventually we discovered a local farmer who produced raw goat milk and decided to give it a try. We loved it! After many visits with the farmer we decided to try raising dairy goats ourselves and soon acquired a herd of 5 Saanen dairy goats. A few months after their arrival the goats had babies and we had delicious, fresh goat milk. However, it didn’t take long before we had more milk than we could drink, so we learned how to make cheese. What started out as a hobby quickly turned into a passion! We now have a herd of over 50 Saanen, Nubian, and “Snubian” dairy goats, 34 of which we milk twice a day, every day. In early 2014 we opened a brand new state-of-the-art dairy facility. The milk parlor has a fast-exit head-gate system that lets us milk 12 goats at a time and Clean-In-Place (CIP) milk line system to ensure maximum efficiency and sanitation. Fresh milk is stored in a bulk tank and then pumped into a vat pasteurizer where we make cheese in small batches. Because we produce “Grade A” milk (the highest quality of milk under federal regulations), our milk is tested and our facilities are inspected throughout the year by SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)."

Parker "approved" Gelato - Fishing Creek Creamery - photo by Cathy Wood

Fishing Creek Creamery -  photo by Liz Krejci

Why Saanen Goats?  Saanen (pronounced SAH-nen or SAW-nen) goats originated in the Saanen Valley of the canton of Bern in Switzerland, where they were selected for milking ability, hardiness, and color. In 1893 several thousand head of Saanens were taken from the valley and dispersed throughout Europe; they came to the United States in 1904 and became the first breed registered in North America. Saanens are the Holsteins of the goat world. Saanen average 1,975 to 2,000 pounds of 3 percent to 4 percent butterfat milk per year. However, the American Dairy Goat Association's top milk producer for 2007 was Caprikorn Krug's Stargate, a Saanen doe who gave 5,140 pounds of milk!

Fishing Creek Creamery baby goat - photo by Liz Krejci
After learning about the different goat breeds, and why they chose the Saanen's, have a few Nubian and "Snubian" dairy goats, we were off on our tour of the farm, the milking parlor and the cheese area.

Fishing Creek Creamery milking parlor - photo by Liz Krejci
"We pride ourselves on creating high quality products and believe that great cheese can only be made from great milk. Since our goats are the foundation of everything we do, managing their health and well-being is our number one priority. We provide top quality food for maximum nutrition and make our own hay so we know exactly what the goats eat. We welcome you to our farm to see the goats and facility in person. While you’re here, stop by our farm store to try our products. We offer samples of everything we make. By supporting our farm, you are supporting a movement to help grow small farms that are better for the animals, better for the land, better for the people, and better for America (the land of the great)."

And the cheeses are amazing! The Feta, Chevre Frais, and Tomme we sampled were all excellent.

Fishing Creek Creamery - Tomme Cheese
Fishing Creek Creamery - Classic Feta
Fishing Creek Creamery - Chevre Frais Garlic & Chives
Once again I am amazed by the dedication and determination of small family farms here in South Carolina. These farmers care about their livestock and the product they provide. There's a level of pride you can just see as they talk to you about their farm. They are doing it in a way to have the least possible impact on the environment, be more sustainable, and provide a superior product to you and me, their customers and consumers. 

I can tell you by everything I witnessed first-hand at Fishing Creek Creamery, Dave and Melinda Cole are that type of farmer! Their farm is amazing and what they've accomplished in such as short time is nothing short of miraculous. Thank you for sharing it with all of us!

Lunch today - Pickled Asparagus, Fishing Creek Creamery Classic Feta, Black Olives and Hard Salami


Friday, May 15, 2015

Ally's Kitchen - A Passport for Adventurous Palates Cookbook + Moroccan Lamb Recipe

Not many cookbooks take you on an adventure around the world, but this one sure does. It is literally a "taste of the world" with so many countries and cultures represented ... or as she calls it "a passport for adventurous palates."

With each chapter you'll feel like you had traveled around the world yourself, as page after page opens up a new culinary adventure, from the chapter on making your own spice blends, to exotic dishes from Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and more.

The pictures in the cookbook are stunning and the recipes easy to follow. What more could you want? It is simply the best, where the stage is set for you to turn "every day dining" into a total dining experience.

“When you discover the true virtues of dining ~ creating a mood, styling the food, pushing your culinary boundaries, spending leisurely time at the table, savoring each bite, and engaging with others ~ it brings a magical ‘dining quality of life’ into your life,” Alice Phillips writes in the introduction to her cookbook, "Ally’s Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates."

After reading the cookbook cover to cover, I chose to travel to Africa to prepare this wonderful Moroccan Leg of Lamb using pastured lamb I purchased from Thames Farm ... ooooo laaaa laaaaaaaa it is amazing!

Get the best leg of lamb you can
Let it soak up that marinade
Just look at the crust it's getting
Let rest 15 minutes before slicing! Yes, it was yummy!
6-8 lb. boneless leg of lamb (I used a 5 lb. bone-in leg of lamb)
1 tbls. lemon pepper
1 tbls. ground cumin
1 tbls. dried mint
1 tbls. dried oregano
1 tbls. dried basil
1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
1 tsp. sea salt
2/3 cup olive oil
4 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbls. prepared mustard (regular or stone-ground)
1 tbls. minced garlic
1/4 cup pepper jelly
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Put the lamb in a large pan. With a sharp knife, score the top in a crisscross pattern 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep.

In a small bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients, whisking together well. Pour the sauce all over the lamb, working it into the scoring. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, then let it come to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the lamb (uncovered) in the oven and bake about 20 minutes per pound until it reaches your desired finished temperature.

Test it with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part: rare at 120-125, medium rare at 130-135, medium at 140-145, medium well at 150-155, or well done at 160+ F.

When the lamb has reached the desired internal temperature, remove it from the oven and let rest 15 minutes before slicing. Always slice across the grain.

For more about this one-of-a-kind cookbook, check out the following links:

Ally's Kitchen website

Cookbook Trailer (video)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the cookbook for this review. All opinions are my own.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

BISCUITS - Sweet and Savory Recipes for the All-American Kitchen

Recently I was asked if I'd like to review this cookbook from my good foodie friend, Jackie, of Syrup and Biscuits. Well, let me tell you, I was thrilled to be asked, and I'll also admit right now "this Northern gal living in the South" has never made great biscuits. Oh I've made biscuits over the years, many times resulting in "hockey pucks" you could sling across the floor (just ask my family), but I had a really hard time making soft, flaky and delicious biscuits.

I've tried many, many recipes, and after 30+ years of not giving up, I could finally make a pretty decent biscuit, or at least one that was edible. I knew about using self-rising flour, super cold butter and buttermilk ... I didn't know about folding the dough over to create layers of flakiness ... until this cookbook. And, let's face it, if she could show me how to make light, fluffy, flaky, delicious biscuits, then I knew anyone would be able to master the art of biscuit making following her "tried and true" method.

The very beginning of the cookbook has a few pages of photos with detailed step-by-step directions to get you started making these layered, flaky biscuits. I followed it and they turned out great. Eureka! I got it! I finally had biscuit success ... my family thanks you Jackie!

Pat out the dough, then fold it over to create the layers

Pat the dough out to 1" thick and cut with biscuit cutter (see all those layers)

Yummy  layers of deliciousness

Buttermilk Biscuits (pg. 29)
2 cups soft winter wheat self-rising flour (make your own  self-rising flour by adding 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt to all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3/4-1 cup buttermilk 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and butter. Using your hands gently mix and crumble the butter with your fingers and thumb into the flour until it resembles course meal. With a wooden spoon, mix in the buttermilk; the dough will be wet and sticky.

Lay out a dish cloth on your counter-top and scoop out the biscuit dough. Dust top of dough with more flour and gently knead until the dough holds together, adding a bit more flour if necessary. 

Roll or pat dough out until 1/4" thick. Now fold the dough over from the right third of the dough toward the center, repeat with the left overlapping in the middle, then fold over the top and bottom. You should end up with a nice little envelope of layered goodness (see above photo).

Pat dough out to 1"-inch thick and cut out as many biscuits as you can. Gather up the scraps, stack them and gently push together and finish cutting the biscuits (I ended up with 9 biscuits). 

Brush tops with melted butter and bake 15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

The "biscuit" fun doesn't stop with this cookbook! It continues with Hamburger Pot Pie, Chicken and Dumplings, Muscadine Jelly, Supreme Pizza Pull-Apart Bread, Strawberries and Cream Biscuits, Homemade Tomato Soup, Spinach Parmesan Scones, Compound Butters, Cheese Wafers and so much more!

To order your copy of this great cookbook: 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the cookbook to review. All opinions are my own.


© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spice Infused Grilled Pork Chops

First of all, I have to say this is not the "other white meat." This is pastured pork from a small family farm in South Carolina, Sunny Cedars Farm, and it's amazing. You'll notice the rosy red color of the meat, and the flavor it imparts is wonderful. Do yourself a favor and buy pork just once at a local farm who raises their pigs on pasture, without antibiotics and added growth hormones ... I believe you will not be disappointed.

My husband came up with the spice blend himself and grilled this meal to perfection. I am so lucky!

Look at that rosy red meat

So delicious

Perfect grilled dinner


Two 1"-inch thick pork chops
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. dried basil

Bring pork chops to room temperature. Mix all spices together and liberally rub on to both sides of the pork chops.

Cook pork chops on your grill over medium direct heat 7 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 145 degrees, or until it is cooked to your preference.

Safe Cooking Temperatures

Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with your choice of sides.

Find a local farm:
Eat Local Grown
Eat Wild
Farmers Pal
Local Harvest


Friday, May 8, 2015

Ham Egg and Cheese Muffin Cups

Easy to make, eat on-the-go muffin cups, perfect for weekday breakfasts.

Place cubed ham into each muffin cup.

Whisk together eggs and milk and pour evenly over ham. Top with Cheese and bake.


1 cup cooked ham, cubed
5 large farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray with cooking spray 8-section muffin pan. Place cubed ham evenly into each muffin cup.

Whisk eggs, milk, seasoned salt and black pepper until well blended. Pour mixture over ham in each muffin cup.

Top each with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until eggs are set.


French Toast Muffin Cups

So easy children can do this! Cook them up in minutes, eat and enjoy. They also freeze well for breakfasts on the go.

Cube up the bread, place evenly in each muffin cup and dust tops with cinnamon-sugar

Whisk together eggs and milk and pour evenly over each muffin. Top with more cinnamon-sugar.


10 slices of bread, cubed
5 large farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spraying with cooking spray an 8-section muffin pan. Evenly distribute the cubed bread in all muffin cups. Dust with cinnamon sugar.

Whisk together eggs and milk and pour evenly over each. Top each with more cinnamon-sugar.

Bake 25 minutes or until eggs are set. Remove and serve with maple syrup.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sweet Vidalia Onion Relish

This is a great sweet relish to serve on top of burgers, hot dogs, brats and more. It only takes a short time to make and "put up" so you can use it all season long.

5 pounds Vidalia onions, chopped (about 10 large Vidalia onions)
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 tbls. salt
2 tbls. celery seeds

Peel and chop onions in a food processor. Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally 20 minutes.

Spoon relish into hot jars, leaving a 1/2-inch head-space. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims and top with lids.

Process jars in a boiling water bath 10 minutes. Let stand at least 1 week before serving, Refrigerate after opening.

Store unopened jars on pantry shelf up to one year.

Yield: approx 5 pints or 10 - 8 oz jelly jars

Vidalias have a mild onion flavor that is distinctly different from

They can subtly season any recipe, and yet they’re delicious all by themselves, either raw or baked.

To prepare, we suggest a variety of flavorful options:

Chopped: Vidalias are perfect chopped in salads where more pungent onions can be overpowering.

Sliced: Add thick slices atop sandwiches or hamburgers for a sweet zing.

Sauteed: Vidalias are the perfect accoutrement to steak, pork, and other meats.

Baked: Baked Vidalias are an easy side dish that turns out similar to French onion soup. Peel a large Vidalia, then cut off the top and bottom to make the onion sit flat. Core the middle and add a pat of butter inside. Microwave for around five minutes on high or wrap securely in foil and bake at 350º for 45 minutes or until tender.

Chilled: Either of these methods will enhance the sweet flavor of Vidalias when eating them raw: Place a whole, raw, unpeeled Vidalia in the refrigerator and chill for approximately one hour before serving. Peel and cut into slices. Place in a bowl of ice water for approximately 30 minutes. Drain on paper towels.


© 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.