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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Southern Hash and Rice

Southern Bar-B-Que & Rice and Hash

When I was growing up we had hog head hash. It is made with the head, heart, and the liver... no part of the hog was wasted. Now, I use Boston Butts. (which is a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone)

In pre-revolutionary New England and into the American Revolutionary War, some pork cuts (not those highly valued, or "high on the hog," like loin and ham) were packed into casks or barrels (also known as "butts") for storage and shipment. The way the hog shoulder was cut in the Boston area became known in other regions as "Boston butt".

3lbs pork butt*
1/2lb liver, cooked (optional)
1lb peeled potatoes
1 onion
juice from cooking the pork
and a great BBQ sauce (like "Daddy's Bar-B-Que Sauce")

Bake pork (seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder), covered until it falls apart. (about 3-4 hours at 350 degrees) Save the renderings/broth. In a pot, boil your potatoes and a finely minced onion seasoned with salt. Run meat (fat and all), liver, potato and onion mixture through a meat grinder. (Or grind in food chopper or processor) Place ground mixture back in the broth, add BBQ sauce to consistence of a very thick gravy. Let simmer at a low temp for another hour or two. Serve over white rice.

* Reserve or cook an extra couple of pounds of meat to shred and add sauce for the BBQ plate or for sandwiches.

If you don't have the sauce or don't know how much seasoning, try this recipe for making it in the crockpot... what can be easier? I still prefer to grind the meat and not chop to get a smoother texture, but that's just me!

CrockPot Hash

5 to 6 lbs Boston butt roasts
1lb. liver
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
3 medium onions, peeled and diced

Step 1: In a 5 quart crock pot on high. Rub both roasts with salt and cracked pepper, then place in the crock pot. Add the diced potatoes and onions, and then fill the pot with hot water or stock and cover. Let it cook 6 to 7 hours until the meat falls apart. Keep check on the water level.

Step 2: Remove the meat from the pot and pull apart to let cool. Next remove the bone, fat, and connective tissue, leaving all the juices in the crock pot. Pull the meat apart in small pieces and then give it a light chop. Break up the potatoes and onions in the pot with a potato masher. Return the vegetables and meat to the pot. Add the butter and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Let it cook another hour or until it is the consistency you like.

Step 3: Add your seasonings one at a time and taste as you go. Add a little BBQ sauce for a kick or... Daddy's BBQ Sauce.

Step 4: Serve over your choice
 of white rice pour sauce over the rice and hash.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Candied Orange Peel and Southern Ambrosia

If you received fruit baskets over the holidays and still have some fruit left, this is a great way to use up the citrus. 

Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel can be candied to make a deliciously fresh, zesty treat. This recipe specifies four oranges, but you can substitute two grapefruit or eight small lemons or limes. It is a time consuming project, so make sure that you have an afternoon or so to complete these tasty treats. Or... you could prepare the peels and wrap them in a damp paper towel. Place them in a zip-loc bag, and finish the process the next day. For me, peeling and removing the pith of the oranges was the most time consuming part.

4 oranges
4.25 cups water
2.5 cups sugar, plus more for coating

Use a knife or a citrus peeler to score the peels of four oranges into quarters. Peel the oranges carefully, trying to keep the peels intact as much as possible. Set the peeled oranges aside and reserve for another use, like Ambrosia (recipe follows).

Using a very sharp knife, cut away the bitter white pith from the underside of the peels. The remaining peel should be approximately 1/8” thick. Do not worry if small amounts of white pith remain, but try to remove as much as possible. This will produce a much tastier treat. Slice the peels into long strips approximately ½” thick. Some of the strips may tare as you are trimming the pith away... don't worry any size strips will do!

Combine 4.25 cups of water and 2.5 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and heat, uncovered, until the sugar boils for 5 minutes.

Add the strips of peel and turn the heat down to low (this will depend on your stove... I set mine at 3 which is a medium low setting), until the mixture is at a good simmer. Cook, uncovered and simmering, until the syrup reduces to a quarter of its original volume (the syrup will barely cover the tops of the peels). Try not to stir during this process, or the mixture will crystallize and turn to sugar. The reduction will take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. (depending on the simmering process)

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, drain the peels in a colander. Wipe the peels with your fingers or pull between the tines of a fork to remove any excess syrup. At this point, turn your oven to 200 degrees.

Place about one cup of sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar until they are coated, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Add more sugar if necessary.

Place the sugar-coated peels in the warm oven and allow them to dry out. This should take approximately one hour, but check them every 20 minutes to ensure that they are not burning or cooking in any way. The peels should look dry, not shiny. If they are shiny, dredge them in a little more sugar and continue to dry them. Alternately, they can be left to sit overnight on a drying rack instead of placed in the oven.

Once peels are completely dry store them in a zip-loc bag or air tight container. They should keep for weeks. Candied peels can be enjoyed plain, dipped in melted chocolate or used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.

Southern Ambrosia

"Often nestled among a host of traditional Christmas dishes on the Southern sideboard is a big crystal bowl of ambrosia. This "food of the gods" in its purest form is simplicity itself--fresh oranges layered with flakes of coconut. 

'People who add grapefruit, pineapple, grapes, and bananas, and Lord knows what else to ambrosia simply don't understand ambrosia,' proclaims Martha Pearl Villas in My Mother's Southern Desserts written by her son, James. Her recipe has just four ingredients: oranges, coconut, sugar, and orange juice." ~ Southern Living Magazine

Reserve all the juice and segments of the oranges you used for the candied peels. Toss them in a bowl with a handful of marshmallows, a sprinkle of coconut and dot with a few cherries. If the salad is to dry for your taste, add a little orange juice to the mixture and toss.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chicken Fried Steaks... With A Twist

In this recipe I give you two options to finish this dish off... If you want a break from the heavy gravy, I give you the option of an au jus sauce. This gives a gravy texture to the coating, without the added milk and fat. For all you purists, I include the gravy recipes. You make the choice!

4 cubed Venison Steaks or Beef Steaks

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup whole milk, divided
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup beef broth, divided
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place the flour into a shallow dish. Place 1/2 cup of the milk and eggs into a separate dish and beat with a fork. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour, followed by the milk mixture and finally in the flour again. Repeat with the other pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Pour 1/4 cup of beef broth into a baking dish, add the steaks and place into the oven. Leave them there for 15-20 minutes or if making the gravy, until the gravy is done.

This step is optional... In the pictures, I used the au ju sauce from the steaks.

Add the remaining vegetable oil, or at least 1 tablespoon, to the skillet. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour left over from the dredging. Add the rest of the broth and whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add the milk and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cheese Straws

These are always a big hit at parties in the Deep South. The cayenne pepper gives them the perfect kick!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor, add the butter, cheese, flour, salt and cayenne and process until a smooth dough is formed. Scoop it into a cookie press, fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the dough in 2-inch strips onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. If I am making a lot for a catered even, I pipe out long running lines and cut them to the size I want. (Alternatively, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes and roll on a lightly floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut into smaller rectangles, about 2 by 3-inches, with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to racks to cool.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Swedish Butter Cookies

We didn't have anymore pecans, but the hubby wanted to make them anyway... He says that he'll get some pecans later. When he thaws them out at Christmas, he says that he'll brush them with butter and roll them in chopped pecans. I say leave them alone and make another batch when you get the pecans! LOL

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 tbsp half & half cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 finely chopped pecans
maraschino cherries, halved

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla and cream. Combine flour and baking powder and gradually add to the butter mixture. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans. Roll about a tablespoon of the dough into a ball. Repeat with remaining dough.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white. dip the top of the balls in the egg and then dip in the remaining pecans. Place them about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a hole in the top of each cookie. Place a cherry in each hole, cut side down. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

 The hubby working on his cookies...
See he really does love to do this stuff! LOL

24 maraschino cherries, patted dry
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and juice. Gradually add flour and salt to butter mixture. Mixture will be thick and may be crumbly. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the frig for about an hour.

Insert a chocolate chip into each cherry. Flatten about a tablespoon of dough and wrap it around a cherry. Repeat with the remaining dough and cherries. Place about an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Melt the remaining chocolate chips in the microwave. Dip tops of cookies in chocolate or spoon enough chocolate to cover the mound containing the cherry of each cookie. Place on wax paper and allow to set. Store in an air tight container.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Caramels

I found a few recipes for homemade caramels, but the problem was I didn't have the ingredients for any of them. So, if you know me, you know that didn't stop me! LOL  I compromised and combined what I did have into one consolidated recipe. Notice that there is NO butter or vanilla! The hubby said that the result is just as good if not better than Werther's Caramels! Woo Hoo!

1 cup Heavy Cream 

1/2 cup Half & Half
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Other tools and supplies... Candy thermometer, parchment paper and waxed paper.

In a heavy saucepan, combine cream, half & half, sugars and salt. Over medium to medium high heat bring mixture to a boil while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (Make sure the pot is double the size you think you need, because this mixture foams up and will make a huge mess if the pot is not big enough!)

Once the caramel
 comes to a boil, attach candy thermometer and stop stirring.

While the caramel is boiling, prepare your dish. Butter an 8x'8 baking dish, line with parchment, and then butter the parchment. Make sure you leave some parchment showing on two ends of the dish. This will give you 'handles' to lift the caramel out when it is set.

Continue boiling, without stirring until the temperature reaches 245 degrees, the firm ball stage. Don't turn your back or walk away at this point. The caramel can foam over and burn on the stove, or it could boil over on you and cause serious burns. This caramel doesn't wash off. It sticks and burns, so use caution during this stage, and you'll be fine! (Keep kids away from the stove/kitchen while getting the candy up to temperature!)

Remove from heat and pour into your prepared pan. Let the caramel rest in a safe place out of reach (so little fingers won't be tempted... like the hubby here!) for about least 8 hours or overnight before cutting. It should be completely cool and set. It will be a little tacky.

To cut, lift the caramel using the 'handles' of parchment you left showing. Turn it out on a cutting board that your have lightly sprayed with oil. Peel the parchment away and cut as desired. I wrapped mine individually in strips of wax paper. This recipe made 100 wrapped candies of various sizes. Next time, I'm going to cover some in milk chocolate! :-)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mama's Icebox Fruitcake

Ice Box Fruit Cake

My Mama made this every Christmas! I can remember sneaking in the frig and cutting a sliver off. It is so rich all you need is a thin slice... so this 'cake' goes a long way!

1 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafers, crushed
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (4 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
2 cup chopped pecans
In a medium bowl, stir together the pecans, cherries, condensed milk and vanilla wafers. Dough will be very thick, you will need to use your hands.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and place dough inside. Refrigerate overnight or until the cake is set and all the milk is absorbed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coconut Macaroons drizzled with Chocolate

1 (14 oz) bag flaked coconut
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites, whisked
1/2 tsp vanilla
Melted Chocolate, for dipping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl whisk vanilla and egg whites. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour and coconut. Stir in egg whites.  Drop by spoonfuls about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes until light brown. Dip in chocolate. Cool and store in an airtight container or freeze for a later celebration.

 Plain Coconut Macaroons

Boxed for Christmas and waiting in the freezer! :-)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

This candy is easy as pie. Well, not really, because baking pies is not all that easy for me. ANYWAY... this candy is very easy and the possibilities are endless on the ingredients!

1 cup, 6 oz White Chocolate Chips
1 cup, 6 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 crushed Peppermint candies

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate. Heat chocolate in short periods, (10-20 seconds depending on your microwave) stir in between heating. Repeat with the white chocolate. Stir in about 4 teaspoons of the candies in each bowl. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Alternating the chocolate and white chocolate, pour pools of each onto the baking sheet. With a butter knife, swirl the chocolate and white chocolate together to create a marble effect. Sprinkle with remaining candies. Chill until firm and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the frig or freeze well ahead of time.


Candy Cane Cookies

These cookies are so cute and really very easy to make. They take a little bit of practice to get the striping pretty, but the key is to have a cold firm dough and don't over work it. It's so worth the work. We found them fun to make!

1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough, softened and divided
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon red food coloring

In a large bowl, beat cookie dough, flour and peppermint extract until smooth. Divide the dough in half and mix the food coloring into one half. Cover doughs and refrigerate for about an hour or until the dough is firm.

Shape about 1 teaspoon of each dough into six inch ropes. Lay the ropes side by side. Press together slightly and twist. Place on a cookie sheet and shape into a cane. Space the dough about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden and set. Cool for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool.

Thin Mint Fudge

Tis the season for cookies and candies! I love this season! The hubby loves to bake cookies and make candies! Easy for me! LOL

1 1/2 tsp butter, room temp
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, 12 oz
1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla or white chocolate chips
3 tsp peppermint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring

Line an 8X8 square pan with foil. Butter the foil and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and 1 cup sweetened condensed milk over low heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Take off heat and add vanilla. Spread half the mixture in the 8X8 pan. Refrigerate until cooled and firm. Set the remaining chocolate aside.

In another heavy saucepan, melt the vanilla and the remaining sweetened condensed milk over low heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. It will be very thick. Take off heat and add peppermint extract and food coloring. Spread evenly over the chocolate layer and refrigerate until cooled and firm. (about 10 minutes)

Reheat the chocolate mixture over low heat until spreadable. Spread on top of the mint mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until completely cooled and firm. Lift the fudge out using the foil. Turn out onto a cutting board and gently peel off the foil. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze to save for a party later.

Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies

I'm starting off the cookie and candy season today! I love this season... the hubby loves to bake cookies and make candy! Makes it easy for me! LOL

1 cup butter, room temp

1/2 block cream cheese, 4 oz, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Strawberry Jam

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add in vanilla and egg yolk. Mix in flour. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, or until the dough is easy to work.

Scoop dough with a small cookie scoop or shape into 1 inch balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Use the end of a wooden spoon, dip the handle in water and press into the center of the cookie, about 1/2 inch deep. Fill well with strawberry jam. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until set and a little browned on the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. You can freeze them ahead of time and take them out before your big celebration... easy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chicken Parmesan... a little healthier version

This is my "healthy" version of Chicken Parmesan. I baked the chicken instead of breading and frying.

4 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless
2 T Butter, melted 
32 oz Spaghetti Sauce, make your own or use your favorite store brand
½ t Basil, dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Toss the chicken breasts in butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from oven and Layer in casserole dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on top of chicken then add sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over noodles with tossed salad and garlic bread.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pilgrim Hats

I should have made this post before Thanksgiving, but I didn't make them until yesterday. They were so cute that I had to share them. Bookmark or Pin them so you can make them next year... Or for fun, use green and red to make them Christmas Pilgrim Hats! LOL

For each cookie you need...

1 fudge striped shortbread cookie, turned upside down
Icing, your choice (I used cream cheese icing.)
Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Orange gummy candy, cut in tiny squares for the buckle

Place the cookie up-side down. My sister-in-law, Pam, found out it was easier to put a big dollop of icing on top of the reese's cup and turn it over onto the cookie. (She figured that out on the last one... she said!!! Not me! LOL) Then attach the candy for the buckle... Voila! :-)