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



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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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Monday, October 31, 2016

Satsuma Mandarin Orange Pepper Jelly

At the very end of October or early November, these pretty little Satsuma Mandarin Oranges ripen and are begging to be picked, so a group of us headed over to McKenzie Farms Nursery to visit Stan McKenzie and buy some of his glorious citrus fruit freshly picked from his grove.

Satsuma Mandarin Oranges McKenzie Farms Nursery

A few  years back we had paid our first visit to Stan's nursery and marveled at all the wonderful fruit he had available. He showed us everything from Asian Pears and Dragon Limes, to Guava and Persimmons, but it was the much sought after Satsuma Mandarin Orange we were really after.

Satsuma Mandarin Oranges - McKenzie Farms Nursery

What is the Satsuma Mandarin Orange? It is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus species, Its fruit is "one of the sweetest citrus varieties, with a meltingly tender texture" and usually seedless, about the size of other mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata). One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands, which is lightly attached around the fruit, enabling it to be peeled very easily in comparison to other citrus fruits. The satsuma also has particularly delicate flesh, which cannot withstand the effects of careless handling. The uniquely loose skin of the satsuma, however, means that any such bruising and damage to the fruit may not be immediately apparent upon the typical cursory visual inspection associated with assessing the quality of other fruits. In this regard, the satsuma might be categorized as a hit-and-miss citrus fruit; the loose skin particular to the fruit precluding the definitive measurement of its quality by sight and feel alone. (source: Wikipedia)

Our visit this time did not disappoint, and we quickly loaded  up on these delightful little oranges, along with some fresh lemons and pecans from his trees and a few produce items also grown right on their land.
When I got home with my goodies I contemplated making a jam with my Satsuma Mandarin Oranges, but I didn't want a marmalade, so I thought, hmmmm, what about a pepper jelly with just a touch of heat? One that would be great with grilled shrimp, chicken or pork, but equally delicious on a cheeseboard with crackers and cream cheese? And so this recipe was "born." It is sweet and tart with a touch of heat ... just as I wanted.

1 - 3 lb bag Satsuma Mandarin Oranges
1 small lemon, sliced thin
1 cayenne pepper, sliced thin
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thin
1 package (1.75 ounce) Sure-Jell (powdered pectin)
5 cups sugar

Peel oranges and process sections in small batches in a food processor. Pour into a mesh strainer placed over a large bowl to collect the juice. Use a spoon to spread pulp back and forth in mesh strainer to get out as much juice as possible. You should have about 3 1/2 cups orange juice.

In a large stock pot, add strained orange juice, thinly sliced lemon, peppers and Sure-Jell (powdered pectin). Bring to a boil over high heat stirring often. Add sugar all at once and return to a rolling boil (one that doesn't stop when you stir it), and boil hard one (1) minute.

Ladle jelly into prepared canning jars, using a spoon to evenly distribute the peppers and lemon slices into each jar, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Cover with lids and bands and process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and let sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top. Jars are sealed when button on the top of the lid is fully depressed and won't move up and down. Once jars are sealed, and while the jelly is cooling and thickening, slightly shake jars to evenly distribute lemon slices and peppers throughout.

Store jars on pantry shelf up to one year. Opened jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: 6 half-pint jars



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