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+++Enter At Your Own Risk+++ At the gentle nudging (I said gentle y'all) of a few friends, I have started these blogs in order to share my culinary goings-on and daily misadventures through my own brand of humor (ok, sarcasm). I just write about stuff! At 50, I have learned that living has gotten in the way of life - and I am going to blaze my own personal trail to fun (hopefully)! If it is feminine, great. If it is not, so much the better! Hopefully fun that does not land me in jail............

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Cheese Ball

This recipe is part of my "Autumn Menu" for entertaining.

This cheese ball sounds odd, but I tried it as a 'fall harvest' entertaining idea and it was a hit with the people... It looked and tasted really good!

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 apple, cored, peeled (reserve peel), chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon apple juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoon parsley

Set the cream cheese out an hour or so to soften. Cream the softened cream cheese. This means use a fork, beater, or hand mixer to beat the cheese into creamy submission. Combine chopped apple, green onion, salt, pepper, cheddar cheese, and apple juice into the softened cream cheese. Mix well. Chill for a few hours in the refrigerator.

Chop apple peel into fine pieces. Combine with chopped nuts and parsley on wax paper.

Form cream cheese mixture into a large ball and roll in peel/nut/parsley mixture.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to serve.  Place it on a nice plate with a spreader and serve with the crackers of your choice. I am big on Town House Crackers myself!

NOTE: This can be made with low fat or no fat cream cheese for a healthier treat.
I serve this with the Autumn Salad, Brunswick Stew and maybe a Dried Apple Stack Cake.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Brunswick Stew

This is another of my Fall, Harvest Time, favorites to be served with the Autumn Salad, Apple Cheese Ball with Crackers, and maybe that Appalachian favorite - Dried Apple Stack Cake...

Brunswick Stew

There are conflicting claims as to where Brunswick Stew originated. Brunswick Georgia? Brunswick County Virginia?

Hard to say – but one thing is clear to me – this is good stuff!

Brunswick stew was reported to be traditionally cooked in a huge pot over open flames. I do not have that option, so I use a heavy stockpot.

Obviously cutting the recipe down IS an option. This makes a lot of stew – and as far as I can remember – it does freeze and reheat fine. Just be careful not to burn it when reheating. I prefer to reheat on the stove, not in a microwave. I believe adding a little water and reheating just develops the flavor further.

Also, as I normally tell you all that a recipe on here is not rocket science, and to feel free to change things up a bit, or a lot, - I am NOT going to say that about this one. I feel you need to stay mostly true to this receipe.

Options: This stew can be made with just chicken (1.5-2lbs) but the smoked pulled pork really adds to the flavor. Unfortunately, if you do not have your own smoker – it does also add to the cost of the stew as well. I like using smoke pulled pork and smoked pulled chicken. Smok'n!!!!!!!!!!

The ingredients sound StRaNgE to say the least, but it does not matter because they work BeAuTiFuLlY!!!

The sauce:

In a sauce pan, over low heat, melt ¼ cup of butter...

  • 1 ¾ cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
Blend until smooth...

  • ½ Tbs. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • ½ oz. liquid smoke
  • 1 oz. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ oz. Tabasco sauce
  • ½ Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Blend again...

  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
Stir constantly, increase heat to simmer (DO NOT BOIL) for about 10 minutes.

Makes about 3 ½ cups of sauce.

Set aside...


In a 2 gallon (or so) pot, over low heat, melt another ¼ lbs. of butter.

  • 3 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • Two 14 ½ oz. cans of chicken broth
  • 1 lbs. of baked chicken (white and dark)
  • 8 – 10 oz. smoked pulled pork
Cautiously bring to a rolling boil, stirring until potatoes are near done, then add:
  • One each 8 ½ oz. can of early peas*
  • Two each 14 ½ oz. cans stewed tomatoes - (chop tomatoes, add liquid to the stew pot)
  • The earlier "prepared" sauce
  • One each 16 oz. can of baby lima beans*
  • ¼ cup liquid smoke
  • One each 14 oz. can creamed corn (seriously, I do not like creamed corn, but if you substitute with regular corn – it is not nearly as good!)
Slow simmer for 2 hours.

Makes about 1.5 gallons.
*You can either use the liquid in the canned beans or not. Using it gives the option to cook down/reduce the stew if wanted. This is a fairly thick stew.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Autumn Salad

OK, so I do like salads ok, but this one is simply the bomb in my book. You can find the salad dressing as a low fat alternative - which is cool since I love this dressing and I normally hate lowfat anything! I also think this salad is great to serve with at a Fall gathering accompanying Brunswick Stew and an Apple Cheese Ball with Crackers. If you aren't afraid to Apple-It-Up, have a Dried Apple Stack Cake (with molasses or without) for dessert! Click links above for recipes.

Toss together your Autumn Salad using any combination of the below ingredients. And remember, this is YOUR salad, so make it how YOU like it!
  • Baby Spinach or Romaine (play with it)
  • Cheese options
  • Fruit options
  • Additions – Raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries (I prefer cranberries as others seem too sweet to me)
  • Onions – Red preferred, but white or yellow work – or even spring/green onions
  • Nuts – Walnut or pecan (I don’t like nuts, so I do not rush out to buy them...)
  • Optional – Cucumbers, squash, zucchini, carrots
  • Dressing – Any raspberry walnut vinaigrette – seriously. Nothing else tastes as good with this salad. I prefer Ken's Steakhouse version.  I will try to make my own at some point.
    And remember this ~ if you toss the salad in a large salad bowl with the drssing, you will probably use LESS dressing than if you just poured it on in your dawg-bowl of salad. That equals fewer calories!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pickled Green Tomato Time

It is that time of the year, when gardens are dying down. At some point in the coming season, you will read or hear that a frost, or killer frost, is coming. If you planted indeterminent tomato plants, and have kept them fertilized, you quite possiblyl will have a nice crop of green tomatoes gowing and will want to harvest them before the frost hits. If your garden suffered the amount of rain mine did - you might not have tomatoes worth anything this year.

My GrandMa Garrett would gather the green tomatoes from her before frost and pickle them as a way to salvage the produce and still enjoy it at a later date. Why should we not follow suit?  FYI, some stores carry green tomatoes (in case you did not grow any and want some to fry or pickle)

The below recipe is more of a "Bread and Butter" flavor. That is sweet, not the bitter of dill pickles. There are tons of recipes out there for pickling anything that cannot outrun you (as my mother says). This is just one that I tried and thought it turned out pretty good.

For five pints of pickled green tomatoes you need:
  • 4 pounds completely green tomatoes
    • Do not use any that are showing even the slightest hint of ripening
  • 6 quarts water
  • 1 cup pickling lime*
    • This is used to treat the tomatoes to keep them crips instead of sogg
  • 1 1/2 pounds onion
  • 5 cups cider vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup pickling or other non-iodized salt
  • 3 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 3 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a very large non-reactive **mixing bowl (do not use aluminum), mix the pickling lime and the water. The lime has a tendency to not dissolve completely and collect on the bottom of the bowl. Not to worry. It will still do the job.

Cut the tomatoes into moderately thin wedges and place in the lime-water mix. Stir gently to coat all of the tomatoes with lime solution. Cover and let the tomatoes soak 24 hours, stirring occasionally to mix up the lime.

Make sure you have clean jars, lids, and etc. prior to starting this part.

Following the 24 hour soaking period, use a colander to ***rinse the tomatoes thoroughly in cold water three or four times to remove all the lime. Some of the tomato seeds with rinse out and collect in the sink. Again, do not be concerned.

Peel the onions and cut them into thin strips, a bit thinner than the tomatoes.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, peppercorns, allspice, turmeric, cinnamon and cloves in a processing pan or large heavy pot. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, uncovered for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and onions, bring to a boil again and continue cooking over moderate heat, pushing the vegetables down under the surface occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to look translucent, about 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them.

Ladle the hot pickles into clean, hot, pint-sized canning jars leaving 1/4 inch of head/air-space and divide the spices among each of the jars. Use a dowel or the thin handle of a wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles that may be lingering about the the pickles. Seal the canning jars with the typical two-piece lids according to the manufacturer's instructions and process for 10 minutes water bath. You can use a pasta pot with a built in strainer or purchase a canning pot / pressure canner. 

Allow the jars to cool, then label them (with either fancy labels or write with a "Sharpie" on the lid. Let the pickles set for about a month before breaking bad on them as this allows the flavors to permeate the pickles. 

*I get PICKLING lime from the grocery store here. I am sure you can get online as well.
**I use a bucket with a lid to let the tomatoes soak in the pickling lime. You might be able to score a cheap food-grade bucket with a lid from grocery stores (especially mom/pop types) that bake and ice cakes. I pay a $1 a bucket/lid combo in my home town and I know they are food grade!
***Rinse the tomatoes really well after soaking them in lime. I still had some lime settle in my finished product/jars and I did not like that idea much.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comfort Foodz: Sausage Mac

I have no idea what the real name is for this dish.  It is a result of one of those "my mom made this for us when we were kids, but I never get it anymore because no one makes it" conversations that lead to me making something with basic information. I always end up modifying recipes because I am so damn smart, I just know what will make them better.
That's me...              

I could google this and see if I can find it, but again, I am just too damn smart and I am sure I have it right.


That's me.

So, what is this sausage mac? Well, once I got done, it was this:
  • Breakfast sausage - HOT/spicy or medium or mild
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 1 bell pepper - diced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced (or petite diced) tomoto - undrained
  • 2+/- cups uncooked macaroni
Follow directions on the pasta box for this. Or get fancy and google it. 
Put on the water for cooking the pasta.
I like to add a teaspoon or so of salt to the water - but that is just my choice.  You do NOT have to do this.
I follow directions for firm pasta.  I do not like it too squishy.
Once pasta is done, drain it really well. I use a collander for this - and I shake it around to get as much water out as possible.  I let it sit if I do it early in the recipe.  It does not matter if the pasta gets cold before adding it to the sausage/tomato concoction.
I sugget you use a timer for cooking pasta.  Just say'n.

Crumble up and cook the sausage of your choice.
When the sausage is nearly done, drain off the grease.
Stir in diced onion and pepper and let it cook a bit with the sausage - maybe 10 minutes.
Stir every couple of minutes.
once you are happy with the meat/onion/pepper, stir in the canned diced tomatoes - including the liquid. Heat to nearly boiling.
Stir in the tomato sauce and the well drained macaroni. Heat on medium until hot, not boiling.

You are done.  Easy comfort foodz.

  • I like my sausage crumbled and cooked really well.
  • While sausage is cooking:
    • occasionally stir it around the pan and break it up more.
    • wash the pepper, remove pith and seeds, dice.
    • peel skin from onion and dice.
  • pour sausage grease onto a papertowel or two wadded up in a bowl
  • after grease cools a bit, toss the papertowel in the trash and wipe the grease residue from bowl before washing it.
  • i suggest adding macaroni a little at a time until you are happy with the pasta to meat/sauce ratio.
This is NOT rocket science.  Add things, subtract things.  I like a little black pepper when I use mild sausage. I have added smoke flavoring, hot sauce, salt....  whatever I feel like at the time.  You can also serve up with mozzarella on top if you would like.

This is easy, not expensive, tasty...  You got a few food groups in there as well.

You can keep most of the ingredients on hand all the time for this recipe. I buy super cheap, already frozen sauage from UGO and keep it in the freezer.  UGO is the United Grocery Outlet local to me. You probably have your own cost contious grocery stores in your area. The only thing you cannot easily keep in your stockpile all of the time is the bell pepper.  I do not always use the bell pepper and I like it fine without it.
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