Holiday Sausage Stuffing Balls

“I’m sorry, your opinion wasn’t in the recipe.”

I approached this recipe with the idea that it was going to be an appetizer along the lines of my “Garlic Cheese Sausage Balls” …. well, I couldn’t have been more wrong! This turned out to be in the categories of: a brunch entree, a heavy appetizer, or even a side dish substituted for dressing. Although I’ve not tried yet, I believe it would be delicious topped with turkey gravy. It is savory but not overly so (as many dressings can be) and has a holiday spin thanks to the chopped pecans and dried cranberries.

This recipe is not for the OCD neat-niks!! It is incredibly messy when you mix it by hand and then (with your hands) when you tightly squeeze the mixture into balls so they’ll stay together.

Prepared  dressing balls about to go into the oven.

Prepared dressing balls about to go into the oven.

1 lb packaged pork sausage (I prefer Mild)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 box Stove Top Stuffing mix (for Chicken)
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or Silpat baking mat, set aside.
In a medium frying pan, brown the sausage. Drain grease from meat and add in the onion powder and cook, stirring often, an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Just out of the oven!

Just out of the oven!

In a large bowl, combine cranberries, pecans, cheese, and Stove Top Stuffing.
Stir in the cooked sausage.
Add in the chicken broth and 2 eggs. Stir well to combine. (You may want to use your hands to make sure everything is really mixed!)
Using your hands, tightly press mixture into a ball about the size of a golf-ball and set on prepared cookie sheet. (Another way to bake the mixture might be by using a mini-muffin pan although I have yet to try that.)
Bake at 375 for about 17 minutes or so, until balls are cooked through and tops are browned. (**Note – you can also prep these in the morning and simply cover on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook the rest of the meal.) This recipe will make 24 balls.
One of the balls split open to show the savory & sweet contents!

One of the balls split open to show the savory & sweet contents!

Serve warm as a heavy appetizer, a Brunch entree, or a side dish substituted for regular dressing.

Chipotle Fig Jam


2 lbs figs, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus a few lemon slices if desired
1-1½ canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped — to taste, depending on your desired spice level


Chop your figs according to how chunky you want your jam, and place in a large non-reactive pot. Cover with sugar and let macerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Add water, lemon juice, and lemon slices if using, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and stir regularly to prevent scorching.

After an hour, if needed, use a potato masher to break up the figs. Stir in the chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce.

Cook another 15-20 minutes, or until the jam has reached a consistency you like.

Ladle into hot jars, and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Yields 4 half pints

Fuzzy Navel Jam


3-1/2 cups peaches, peeled and chopped

1 large orange

2 cups sugar

3 T. Peach Schnapps

3 T. Ball Flex batch low sugar/no sugar pectin


Using a vegetable peeler or a knife cut away just the outer rind of the entire orange without taking too much of the pith (white part). Using a knife cut the rind into slivers and set aside. Using a knife or your hands peel away the pith and segment the orange. Cut off any of the white part inside the orange as that is bitter and will leave an unpleasant taste to your jam. Chop the orange and set aside. Cooking: In a stainless steel pot combine peaches, orange, and rind. Simmer, for 10 to 15 minutes or until peaches are tender. Add sugar and peach schnapps and bring back to a boil.

Add pectin stirring in completely. Bring it back to a boil and do not stir for one minute. This will help activate the pectin. Remove from heat.

Ladle jam into hot, sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Remove air bubbles and refill if necessary. Wipe rims, and add hot lids and rings. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes. You will start timing once the water comes to a full boil.

Makes 5 half pints.

Balsamic Fig Jam

“A messy kitchen is the sign of happiness.”

Figs are beginning to ripen in East Texas and luckily we have friends with fig trees on their properties. I’d never done any canning before so this first time was rather laborious and time-consuming but I’m now looking forward to trying out additional recipes. Without patting myself on the back too much, I must say that this is the best fig jam I have ever tasted … the aroma and tastes of the vanilla and balsamic vinegar really make it unbelievably pleasing.

This recipe was adapted from It makes six half-pint (8-oz) jars.

(PS … Since originally posting this recipe, I’ve been able to repeat it several times and it is undoubtedly the best canning recipe I’ve made.)

Beginning to simmer in the pot

Beginning to simmer in the pot

3 pounds fresh figs
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns, tied into a sachet
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons vanilla
A great breakfast or snack!

A great breakfast or snack!

1. Wash the figs, remove the stems, and coarsely chop them.
2. In a large saucepan, add the figs, sugar, balsamic vinegar, peppercorn sachet, and lemon juice. Bring them to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring to break up large pieces of fig, until the jam reaches 220°F, about 45 minutes to an hour.
3. Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir well. Depending on your preference, you can use an immersion blender to puree the jam.
4. Ladle into sterilized jars, wipe the rims, add lids and rings, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Haylee’s Banana Muffins

“Make all your friends cupcakes; the fatter they get, the thinner you look.”

My eight year old granddaughter and I made these muffins today. It was easy and much more fun than a video game (or, at least I thought so). I cannot describe the banana aroma that filled the kitchen when the muffin pan came out of the oven.

This recipe is found on dozens of websites and has been around for a long time. My inspiration was Banana Muffins II by Abi_Godfrey on

Prep Time: 15 mins. Cook Time: 25 mins. Servings: 12

Fresh out of the oven and smelling great!

Fresh out of the oven and smelling great!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, must be very ripe
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, peel the bananas and discard peel. Using a potato masher, mash the bananas until they have a paste consistency. Now add the sugar, egg, and melted butter into the bowl with the bananas. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans just over halfway in each pan.
3. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes … mini muffins should bake for only 10 to 15 minutes.

Just waiting for some pats of butter....

Just waiting for some pats of butter….

Eggs Benedict Casserole

“They invented brunch so we could have wine with breakfast.”

This is, undoubtedly, the absolute best breakfast casserole I have ever eaten. The easy, make ahead, prep makes it even more desirable. I found it on where it had been submitted in 2005 by a subscriber whose username was BecR. BecR wrote, “This casserole tastes exactly like Eggs Benedict without the last-minute struggle. Just assemble the English muffins, Canadian bacon (or ham) and eggs like a strata and refrigerate it overnight, then all you have to do in the morning [is prepare the hollandaise sauce]. Granted, the eggs are not poached, but the flavor is just as awesome. Serve Eggs Benedict Casserole with fresh strawberries, orange juice and coffee.” Recipe came from a newspaper article.
(Note- we are empty nesters so I cut this recipe in half and it is still enough to feed the two of us for several breakfast meals.)

Just out of the oven. This is the recipe cut in half.

Just out of the oven. This is the recipe cut in half for 5 servings.

6 English muffins
10 -12 ounces Canadian bacon ( 2 packages, or use diced ham)
8 large eggs
2 cups reduced-fat milk ( or whole milk)
1 teaspoon onion powder
cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 -3 cups hollandaise sauce (I prefer Knorr mix with some lemon juice)

1. Cut muffins into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside. Cut Canadian bacon into 1/2-inch squares. Set aside. Whisk the eggs well in a 2-quart bowl. Whisk in milk and onion powder.

2. Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking oil spray. Scatter half the Canadian bacon evenly in bottom of dish. Scatter muffin cubes on top of Canadian bacon. Top with the remaining Canadian bacon, scattering it evenly over the bread. Pour egg mixture over the casserole. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours, to let bread absorb egg mixture.

A single serving topped with Hollandaise Sauce

A single serving topped with Hollandaise Sauce

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove casserole from refrigerator and uncover it. Lightly sprinkle the paprika evenly over the top. Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove dish from the oven, remove foil, return dish to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until the eggs are set and the bacon on top begins to crisp, about 20 minutes more. Remove the casserole from oven and let it stand 5 minutes before serving. While casserole bakes, make several cups of hollandaise; I prefer to use Knorr package mix and add the juice of a half large lemon. To serve, cut casserole into squares and place them on plates. Spoon about 2 tablespoons (or to taste) warm Hollandaise Sauce over each serving just before serving.

4. Makes 10 servings.

Roseville Tomato Pie

“Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art.”

Several years ago we attended a New Year’s Party where everyone brought a dish for the buffet. It was quite a buffet with everything from venison backstrap to smoked alligator sausage. Having loaded my plate, I sat down and began to indulge myself; about the second goody that I took a bite from turned out to be one of the best mouthfuls of anything I’ve had recently. It turned out to be an individual serving of Roseville Tomato Pie. When I mentioned the delicacy to my wife, she reminded me that the owner of the Roseville Bed & Breakfast (Click Here to visit their website) had given her a copy of the recipe several years ago and we’d just never gotten around to preparing it … Duh! Since the recipe has appeared in a local community cookbook and is freely distributed at the B&B, I am assuming it is okay to reprint it here. Since I was first introduced to Roseville Tomato Pie as an appetizer, I have listed it as such, however, after preparing it myself and then doing a little research about how it is served at the B&B, I am convinced that it is primarily a breakfast or a brunch dish because two (or maybe three) of these little pies will easily make up a meal.

Into the oven

Into the oven


1 can cheap biscuits
1 tomato
Italian seasoning
1/2 cup each of Monterey Jack and Colby cheese, shredded and mixed
Salad Supreme (this is a McCormick salad seasoning)
1 cup real mayonnaise
Parmesan cheese

Out of the oven

Out of the oven

For individual servings, in a large baking pan, flatten each biscuit and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, then top each biscuit with a 1/4 inch thick tomato slice. Sprinkle with Salad Supreme. Mix cheese and mayonnaise and spread 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture on each biscuit. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then lightly sprinkle with Salad Supreme. Bake at 375-degrees F until the crust is done; about 15-17 minutes.

(Cook’s Note- Use the exact ingredients above. Cheap biscuits are those generic ones that cost around 25-cents a can that you might be embarrassed to be seen with in the checkout line. However, that’s what you’ve got to use because you don’t want something that will rise too much, instead, you want each biscuit to be pretty flat!)

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Smoked Salmon Mousse

“Good food is all the sweeter when shared with good friends.”

Back in about 2010 we vacationed in Napa Valley with our friends, Marianne & Dana Havron. We stayed at the Villagio Inn and Spa in Yountville and we were amazed at the unbelievable breakfast/brunch buffets they offered us daily. One dish in particular, the Smoked Salmon Mousse, kept me returning to the buffet bar. By the time we departed, I’d somehow convinced the Executive Chef to share the recipe with me….

1 pound of smoked salmon sliced
1 pound of cream cheese
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 tablespoon of fresh dill chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1. Using a small mixer, mix the cream cheese until it gets creamy.
2. Chop all the smoked salmon, discarding any brownish pieces.
3. Process the smoked salmon in the food processor until it binds together. Add 1/2 of the cream cheese to the the salmon mixture while it is getting process in the food processor. So it can be smooth and creamy.
4. Transfer the salmon mixture back to the mixer and combine it with the rest of the cream cheese.
5. Add the Dijon mustard, sour cream and dill. Mix it just enough to get all ingredients bonded. Do not over mix.

I like to serve this after chilling it in a copper food mold (in the shape of a fish).

(NOTE- Photos will be posted asap.)

Garlic Shrimp and Grits

“True grits, more grits, fish, grits, and collards. Life is good where grits are swallard.” Roy Blount, Jr.

Northeast Texas is a long way from the Low Country but grits has long been a Texas mainstay and our Gulf Coast shrimp are some of the best in the world so hopefully I won’t offend anyone from South Carolina by labeling this as a Texas recipe. My family enjoys this dish as either the main entree or side at the dinner table and then again at breakfast if there are any leftovers.

Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Garlic Shrimp and Grits

2 1/2 lbs medium shrimp
3 cups of water
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of quick-cooking grits (not instant)
3 cups of shredded cheese (smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, etc.)
3 cloves of minced garlic

Using a cajun seasoning packet, cook shrimp; then peel and set aside. Bring 3 cups water, cream, butter, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in grits. Cook, whisking constantly, 7 to 8 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Stir in the shrimp, cheese, and garlic, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. (Cooked crawfish meat can be substituted for the shrimp).

Crescent Sausage Logs

“If you want breakfast in bed … sleep in the kitchen.”

My brother-in-law, Mark, introduced us to this dish during a weekend at our lake house and it proved to be the perfect start for the day. The following Christmas, Mark gave me the cookbook where he’d found the recipe … it is Good Friends Great Tastes by Debbie Meyer. I modified the original recipe just a smidgen and it now looks like this ….

Crescent Sausage Logs

Crescent Sausage Logs

1 pound pork sausage (spicy to your taste)
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces crescent rolls, large
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 each egg white, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Bite into breakfast!

Bite into breakfast!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brown sausage and drain. While sausage is warm, add cream cheese and stir until cheese is melted and mixture is creamy. Add paprika (use smoked paprika if available). Allow mixture to cool enough to be able to handle it. Separate crescent rolls into two or three rectangles. Using a roller, press dough between sheets of wax paper to make the rectangle larger. Form log of sausage mixture lengthwise down the center of each rectangle. Fold over the long sides of pastry to cover sausage log. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, seam side down. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake 20 minutes until crust is golden. While warm, slice into 1 1/2 inch slices. I typically prepare these the night before (so I don’t have to get up any earlier the next morning) and wrap each log in wax paper and seal them all in a ziplock bag.