Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pineapple-Cowboy Candy Pepper Jelly

What happens when fresh pineapple meets Cowboy Candy? This! This happens! A wonderful mix of savory, sweet with a kick jelly, perfect with cream cheese on crackers, or served with a baked ham, roasted pork tenderloin, or grilled shrimp.

Cowboy Candy is candied jalapeno peppers. They add a nice element to this jelly, not too hot, but definitely adds a kick.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fig-Cranberry Chutney

Figs, cranberries and chopped pecans all join together in this great sweet and tangy chutney. It is excellent served with baked brie or spooned over cream cheese and crackers, but is also delicious served with smoked turkey, roast pork or lamb.

What is Chutney?
Chutney is a condiment usually associated with Indian cuisine but its sweet, spicy, tangy flavors work well with recipes from many other cultures. It is found in most grocery stores but is quite simple to make at home.

As ingredients and recipes become less regional and more global many people find themselves faced with a dish that calls for an ingredient they’ve never heard of. Chutney is often one of these. This condiment is a type of relish that can be sweet or spicy (or both) although most commercially prepared chutneys found in the United States will be sweet.

The word chutney is derived from an Indian word chatni which means crushed. Originally the ingredients were ground by hand into a thick, flavorful paste with a mortar and pestle. It was made fresh before each meal and therefore did not require vinegar or sugar to preserve it.

During the British Colonial era the soldiers and their families that lived in India learned to appreciate the unique flavors of Indian foods like curries and chutneys. As these soldiers moved from country to country they took their love for chutney with them, introducing it to South Africa, the Caribbean, and their homeland in Great Britain.

Since many of the countries they were sent to didn't have the same fruits, spices, and herbs as those available in India, the chutneys began to take on regional flavors as native people and cultures used the ingredients available to them. Over the years the ingredients and flavors of chutney increased until there were almost as many variations of the relish as there were cooks making it.

How do you use chutney?
Chutney is most commonly used as a condiment and often accompanies curry dishes and various meats. You will also see it used in appetizers, with cheese, in side dishes, and even in desserts.

Chutney pairs well with ham, smoked turkey, and other smoked meats. It also balances the flavors in richly flavored meats like lamb or game meats.

Use it as the starting place for unique appetizers. You may be familiar with baked brie or cream cheese with chutney spooned over it to be served with crackers. You can also use it as a dip for tempura, coconut, or grilled shrimp.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pumpkin Oat Cranberry Muffins

Updated August 2019

Power packed with fresh pumpkin puree, rolled oats and dried cranberries, these muffins are a great "pick me up" breakfast on the go.

They're very quick and easy to make. Leave out the dried cranberries and use raisins instead if you'd prefer. Like toasted nuts? Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts for a nice crunch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Honey Roasted Mixed Nuts

Who knew it could be so easy to make your own honey roasted mixed nuts at home? I recently purchased raw organic cashews and almonds from SC Real Foods and this was the perfect thing to do with them.

These Honey Roasted Mixed Nuts take no time to make. You just have to have a bit of patience and spend some time breaking them apart as they cool, other than than they literally take just minutes to do.

Lamb Meatballs with Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

We recently ordered a whole lamb we had processed from Old McCaskills Farm because we love lamb, and buying meat in bulk (when you can) is so much more affordable. When you purchase the lamb this way, you also get to choose your cuts, specializing it to your particular tastes or needs.

Lamb is a delicious alternative to other meats, such as beef, and the best lamb comes from small local family farms who dedicate themselves to raising the very best lambs they can. All organic, no antibiotics or added growth hormones, raised humanely on pasture, it is the best of the best.

What are the health benefits of lamb?  
  • Lamb meat is an excellent source of high quality protein.
  • Lamb meat is an ideal source of iron. An average portion can provide 20 per cent of the recommended daily intake for men and 12 per cent for women. The iron found in lamb meat and other red meat is in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. The inclusion of iron in the diet is vital in the formation of red blood cells.
  • Lamb meat provides 45 per cent of the daily requirement of zinc, essential for growth, healing and a healthy immune system. Like iron, the zinc found in lamb meat is more easily absorbed by the body than zinc found in other sources.
  • Lamb meat is a great source of B vitamins, essential for metabolic reactions in the body. It can provide over 100 per cent of the daily requirement of B12 and is a good source of thiamine.
  • Lamb meat also contains trace elements such as copper, manganese and selenium.
  • As a result of breeding developments, feeding practices, butchery methods and trimming, the fat in lamb meat has been greatly reduced over the past 20 years. For example, Lamb Leg Steaks may contain as little as 5.1 per cent fat.
  • Half the fat in lamb meat is unsaturated, which is good for you. Most of the unsaturated fat is monounsaturated, commonly found in the healthy 'Mediterranean-type diet'
Don't want to buy a lot of lamb, or want to go with one of the least expensive, yet most versatile "cuts" of  lamb, try ground lamb. Use it in place of ground beef or pork  in any of your favorite recipes for a delicious twist. That's what I did the other night when I made these delicious lamb meatballs. Who knew barbecue sauce and pineapple could be so good together?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cinnamon Sugar Candied Pecans

Updated December 2020

We just love pecans in our house, and in fact have several very large, mature pecans trees in our yard, they just don't always produce anywhere near the amount of pecans I will use during baking season.

As a result, each fall a group of us get together and work out a bulk buy deal with a local produce supplier, who can get us shelled pecan halves for a very reasonable cost. I always get several pounds for the freezer and use them throughout the year in a variety of ways.

I love making candied pecans and having them at the holidays. They are perfect for snacking on, or holiday gift giving. While there are many recipes out there, this is my favorite for a cinnamon sugary crunchy pecan treat.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 egg whites
1 tbsp water*
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
5 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a 13 x 18-inch sheet pan (that has sides) with heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour on melted butter and spread out so that pan is evenly coated.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites and water until stiff peaks just start to form. Blend in sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Fold in pecan halves and spread mixture in a single layer onto prepared pan (it's going to look like a sticky, gooey mess - trust me, it'll all work out).

Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, stirring and flipping pecans every 10 minutes (I use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula). Watch nuts very closely during the last 10 minutes of cooking time, removing them from oven sooner if they are getting too dark. Nuts are done when they are mostly dry and golden brown. The pecan and egg white mixture will be very wet and gooey at first. Do your best to flip the pecans and spread them back out into a single layer the first few times that you stir them. After the first couple of times, you'll see them start to come together and look more like the finished product.

Allow pecans to cool on pan until they are completely dry and crunchy, stirring occasionally to break them up. Store in an airtight container for two to three weeks.

Cooks  note
Sugar burns quickly. Be sure to stir every 10 minutes and keep a close eye on them after 30 minutes.

*replace the water with 1 tbsp of bourbon for a little taste boost.


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Friday, December 9, 2016

Pecan Pie Filling {Canning Recipe}

This recipe totally surprised me! No it's not as dense as regular pecan pie because it doesn't have butter, eggs and corn syrup, but I promise the taste is phenomenal!

I found the original recipe on SB Canning, who is a certified Master Preserver. As it states on her page "she wants to help people who are Canning and Preserving food to become more sustainable. It is a very important way for those who garden, have dietary requirements, or just want to save money on food. SB Canning is dedicated to teaching how this can be accomplished but in the safest, straightforward, and most practical way."

This pecan pie filling would be awesome as a pie, baked in mini-tartlets, or warmed and spooned over vanilla ice-cream or plain pound cake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Praline Syrup {Canning Recipe}

I can't even begin to describe how deliciously yummy this is! It's decadently sweet, would be perfect over French vanilla ice cream, or spooned over waffles or buttermilk pancakes.

This is so easy to make. Really it is! And even better to eat and enjoy, but fair warning, a little bit goes a long way.

2 cups dark corn syrup 
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 heaping cup pecan pieces
1 tsp vanilla

Bring syrup, sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil one minute. Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vanilla.

Pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Wipe rims, adjust two-piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 4 - half-pint jars



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Irish Farmhouse Boiled Fruit Cake

I can't help it, I am not a fan of traditional fruit cake. I can not stand candied citron fruit, try as I have over the years. To me it's just the grossest stuff ever, so of course, fruit cake was not something I ever enjoyed.

That all changed for me one day when I saw my friend, Doreen, post this delicious Irish Farmhouse Boiled Fruit Cake on her page, La Difference! Wait? What? Real dried fruit and not that candied stuff? I was so excited, I knew right then and there I wanted to make it.

A few months had gone by, and I started looking for where I saved this recipe ... quickly found it and set out to make it. So darn delicious and the taste of the real dried fruit just shines through.

If  you are like me and a traditional fruit cake hater, you need to try this recipe ... seriously, it's nothing like that other stuff ... it's wayyyyyy better!


1 cup  water
2 tbls Irish Whiskey (optional)
6 cups mixed dried fruits (I used dried cherries, cranberries, figs and dates)
1 cup soft brown sugar  (use granulated if that's all you have)
2¼ cups plain (all purpose) flour
1½ sticks butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaped tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 large beaten eggs
A handful of chopped nuts to top (I used pecans, but walnuts or sliced almonds would work too)

Add the water, whiskey, butter, sugar and fruit to a large sauce pan and heat slowly to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes; remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven  300 degrees.
Sieve together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spices. Add the flour mix and the eggs to the pan and give it a stir ... just to combine everything together... don't beat it.

Pour this into the prepared baking tin. Smooth over and sprinkle with any nuts if using (I used chopped pecans, but walnuts or sliced almonds would work too).

Place into the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for around 1 1/2 hours but check after 1 1/4 hours. Cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven , leave in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.

Once cooled, I wrapped in plastic wrap and stored inside a zip-top bag. Letting it sit a day or two allows the flavors to develop more deeply. Delish!

*cooks note - I would not use the dried figs again unless I chopped them up some. Instead I would add golden raisins.


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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

Who knew making your own Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup could be so easy? Why has it taken me this long to realize this? So easy, it's crazy easy and so few ingredients you too will wonder why you never made it ... seriously ... you will!

I've always wanted to do this, then my local produce market had fresh organic button (white) mushrooms, and I had center-cut pork chops from a local farm just begging for me to make stuffed pork chops with, so I set out to figure out how to make my own. Of course I poured over every recipe on the Internet and finally settled on one from the Pioneer Woman, which this is slightly adapted from.

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup (6 oz) fresh button mushroom, finely diced
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken or beef bone broth (I used beef bone broth)

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like to use course-ground pepper)

Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add flour and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Quickly whisk in cream and chicken broth until smooth. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed; you want it to be saltier than normal, since it is condensed.

Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a jar or freezer-safe container. Once soup is completely cool, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

To reconstitute, add 1 1/2 cups of liquid, such as chicken or beef bone broth, milk, water, or a combination.

Note: A 10 3/4-ounce can of condensed mushroom soup is about 1 1/4 cups. This recipe makes about 1 1/2-2 cups of condensed soup.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

German Fig-Apple Mustard

My sister-in-law, Tracy, traveled to London this past summer and found this German Fig-Apple Mustard she sampled in a small store there. She sent me a picture of it and we started talking about me making it. She described flavors, sent me a pic of the ingredient label, which my German friend, Ute, and I translated.

Ute and I compared recipes, and some of our own ideas based on the label, and this is the result with figs, fresh apples, organic apple juice, apple balsamic vinegar, grainy mustard, cardamon, allspice and course-ground black pepper. I think I'm pretty darn close and OMG is it ever good.

It's a bit different than a standard mustard as any of the recipes we found that seemed close to the original, all called for a gelling agent, which to me translated to Sure-Jell (powdered pectin used in canning jams).  After a bit of trial and error, this is my result for this amazing mustard. It's sweet, yet tangy, and has the wonderful taste of figs and apples mixed with the sweet spices and mustard.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Butter Pecan Cheesecake

Updated October 2019

When I first saw this recipe on Bake or Break's page, I knew I wanted to make it. 

We had just shelled some fresh pecans from our trees, and I had all the other ingredients, so this was soon to become one of our Thanksgiving desserts. I am so glad I made it, and did I mention it's no bake except for the crust? YES!! 

WOW is the best word to describe this cheesecake. Smooth, creamy, delicious, full of crunchy pecans, amazing! It was a big hit and disappeared quickly.

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the pecans:

2 cups pecan halves and pieces
2 tbls unsalted butter
3 tbls granulated sugar
pinch of salt

For the filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and mix with a pastry blender, a fork, or your fingers until thoroughly combined. The mixture will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched.

Press the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or 9-inch springform pan.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

To make the pecans:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans, sugar, and salt. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the pecans are toasted and the sugar sticks to them (about 7 or 8 minutes). Set aside to cool.

If desired, set aside some of the pecans for garnish. (I used about 24 pecan halves for the garnish you see in the above photos.) Once cooled, roughly chop the remaining pecans.

To make the filling:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth.

In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whip the cream until soft peaks form.

Fold about a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Spread the filling evenly in the cooled crust. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving (overnight is even better).

Cooks notes - 

*A note about the crust: Shortbread crusts can be temperamental. Just be sure your butter is cold and you’ve measured the ingredients accurately. Avoid dark pans, and don't over bake.

Also seen on Meal Plan Monday

Also seen on Meal Plan Monday Thanksgiving Edition

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.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Spicy Slow Cooker Rump Roast

I love a good beef roast for Sunday dinner, but I don't always want a Prime Rib Roast or any of the more pricey cuts of beef. A rump roast is a good choice because it is economical and a great cut of beef for the slow cooker.

I always buy our beef from a small local farm, where the animals are grass-fed and humanely raised. I typically buy beef in bulk, such as purchasing a side of beef with friends because it's more economical. See my post about the Benefits of Buying a Whole Side of Beef.

What is a rump roast? A rump roast (called silverside in the UK) is a cut of beef from the bottom round, the rear leg of the cow. It's a tougher cut of meat than steak, and it usually tastes best when roasted slowly until tender. Rump roast makes a wonderful Sunday dinner meal, especially paired with comfort foods like mashed potatoes, rice or roasted potatoes and carrots. It's also the perfect type of meat to cook in a crock pot or slow cooker.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Filet Mignon

Beef Tenderloin is the creme de' la creme of beef and in my opinion, the BEST beef tenderloin comes from grass-fed beef, and is melt in your mouth delicious. Tender, juicy, and the perfect choice for a special dinner or celebration.

Grass-fed beef, simply put, is better for you. Since the late 1990's, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements.

Instead, they are keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. These new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or other drugs.

A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.

The beef tenderloin filet I used here is from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville. I've had the pleasure to purchase their beef, in bulk, a couple of times, and I've never been disappointed. Buying in bulk saves you money in the long run. Yes, there is an upfront cost, but the overall savings is well worth it. See my post on the Benefits to Buying a Whole Side of Beef.

Beef Tenderloin Filets

2 tbls. course-ground black pepper
1/2 tbls. course sea salt or Himalayan salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. oregano leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tbls. fresh chopped rosemary
3 fresh cloves garlic, minced (or use minced garlic in a jar)
Mix all together and allow to sit several hours to marry the flavors. 

Allow tenderloin filets to come to room temperature, approx. 30 minutes. Apply rub liberally to the tops of each filet.

Place tenderloin filets on the grill and cook 6 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Filets will be medium-rare** Remove from heat, cover with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Remember the meat continues to cook internally while resting so the temperature will rise some.

**Test for doneness with a meat thermometer following the list below:

Rare 120 to 125 degrees
Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees
Medium 140 to 145 degrees


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Friday, November 11, 2016

Lemon Curd

I have wanted to make lemon curd for a long time, and for some reason, just never got around to it. That's really terrible because I love all things lemon! Lemon Meringue Pie, No Bake Cheesecake Parfaits, Fried Lemon Pies, and more.

What is Fruit Curd? Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with citrus fruit, such as lemon, lime, orange or tangerine. Other flavor variations include passion fruit, mango, and berries such as raspberries, cranberries or blackberries. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.

In late 19th and early 20th century England, home-made lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam, and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts. Homemade lemon curd was usually made in relatively small amounts as it did not keep as well as jam. In more modern times, larger quantities became possible because of the use of refrigeration. Commercially manufactured curds often contain additional preservatives and thickening agents.

Contemporary commercially made curds remain a popular spread for bread, scones, toast, waffles, crumpets, pancakes, cheesecake  or muffins. They can also be used as a flavoring for desserts or yogurt. Lemon-meringue pie, made with lemon curd and topped with meringue, has been a popular dessert in Britain and the United States since the nineteenth century. Lemon curd can also have whipped cream folded into it for such uses as filling cream puffs.

Curds differ from pie fillings or custards in that they contain a higher proportion of juice and zest, which gives them a more intense flavor. Also, curds containing butter have a smoother and creamier texture than both pie fillings and custards, which contain little or no butter and use cornstarch or flour for thickening. Additionally, unlike custards, curds are not usually eaten on their own. (Source: Wikipedia)

2 1/2 cups superfine sugar*
1/2 cup lemon zest (freshly zested)
1 cup bottled lemon juice**
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into approximately 3/4-inch pieces
7 large egg yolks (I use farm fresh eggs from a local farm)
4 large whole eggs

Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl, stir to mix, and set aside about 30 minutes. Pre-measure the lemon juice and prepare the chilled butter pieces.

Heat water in the bottom pan of the double boiler until it boils gently. The water should not boil vigorously or touch the bottom of the top double boiler pan or bowl in which the curd is to be cooked. Steam produced will be sufficient for the cooking process to occur.

In the top of the double boiler, on the counter top or table, whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar and zest, blending until well mixed and smooth. Blend in the lemon juice and then add the butter pieces to the mixture.

Just started on top of the double boiler

Place the top of the double boiler over boiling water in the bottom pan. Stir gently but continuously with a silicone spatula or cooking spoon, to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a temperature of 170 degrees. Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature (this process takes approx. 30 minutes or slightly longer).

After 30 minutes and temperature reached 170 degrees

Remove the double boiler pan from the stove and place on a protected surface, such as a dish cloth or towel on the counter top. Continue to stir gently until the curd thickens (about 5 minutes). Strain curd through a mesh strainer into a glass or stainless steel bowl; discard collected zest.

Fill hot strained curd into the clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids. Process half-pint jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Thickened and strained, all ready to be put in the canning jars

Yield: 4 half-pint (8 oz) jars


* If superfine sugar is not available, run granulated sugar through a grinder or food processor for 1 minute, let settle, and use in place of superfine sugar. Do not use powdered sugar.

** Bottled lemon juice is used to standardize acidity. Fresh lemon juice can vary in acidity and is not recommended.

*** If a double boiler is not available, a substitute can be made with a large bowl or saucepan that can fit partway down into a saucepan of a smaller diameter. If the bottom pan has a larger diameter, the top bowl or pan should have a handle(s) that can rest on the rim of the lower pan.


For Lime Curd, use the same recipe but substitute 1 cup bottled lime juice and 1/4 cup fresh lime zest for the lemon juice and zest.

**Other citrus or fruit curds are not recommended for canning at this time**

Original recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.



© 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.