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.


Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Buttery Garlic Green Beans

“Real men wear aprons.”

Green beans are one of the few green vegetables that I will eat so I try almost every green bean recipe that looks interesting. This one has turned into one of my favorites. The original recipe came from a blog named LookWhatsCooking and was published by Allrecipes.com. Naturally, I’ve altered things a bit and added a secret ingredient that really adds flavor. Adobo is a powdered Mexican flavoring and it can be found in most grocery stores (at least in the south).

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped in half
3 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, crushed or paste
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp Adobo powder
salt to taste

Buttery Garlic Green Beans

Buttery Garlic Green Beans

Directions:
Place green beans into a large skillet and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans start to soften, about 5 minutes. Drain water. Add butter to green beans; cook and stir until butter is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
Cook and stir the Adobo and garlic with green beans until garlic is tender and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with lemon pepper and salt.

Blistered Green Beans

“A clean kitchen is a sign of a wasted life.”

I first saw this recipe on Ree Drummond’s, The Pioneer Woman, television show. Obviously, her recipe inspired this, and I only made a few very subtle changes. Instead of 2 T of butter, I used one tablespoon and then one tablespoon of bacon grease. I also changed the cooking times just a bit. All in all though, Ree Drummond deserves all the praise and I hope you’ll watch her show on the Food Network.
Servings: 2 … Total Time: 10 minutes … Prep: 5 mins … Cook: 5 mins.

Blistered and ready to come out of the skillet.

Blistered and ready to come out of the skillet.


Ingredients:

1 T butter
1 T bacon grease (or substitute butter)
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 T soy sauce, low sodium

Directions:

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter/bacon grease and when melted, add the beans. Let the beans sit and blister for about 2 minutes. Toss the beans coating them and allow them to blister some about 90 seconds more. Add the soy sauce, toss to coat the beans and cook about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and serve.

Our Black-Eyed Peas

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

This really isn’t OUR recipe but since my wife discovered it and I ‘fine-tuned’ it, we are calling it Our recipe! Actually, my wife heard about this recipe on a TV gardening show and the host made it clear that he knew the ingredients but not how much of each. I experimented with the measurements on two batches and finally came up with this recipe which we really enjoy served over fresh, hot cornbread.

Our Black-eyed Peas

Our Black-eyed Peas

The secret, or success, of this recipe is to use a smoked turkey wing instead of the traditional salted pork or bacon. This recipe should be easy to modify to serve two people or twenty.

Ingredients:

    24 oz. Black-eyed Peas, frozen or fresh
    32+ oz. Chicken Broth, enough to cover the peas
    1 Turkey Wing, smoked
    1 tsp Adobo (Mexican powdered seasoning)
    1 tsp Garlic powder
    1 tsp Onion powder
    1 tsp Canola Oil
    ¼ tsp Red Pepper flakes, crushed

    Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings and oil with a cup of the Chicken Broth. Mix well and set aside.
2. Place the Turkey Wing in a pot or large pan and cover it with the peas.
3. Pour in the seasoning mixture and enough Chicken Broth to cover the peas by about a half inch.
4. Cook on a low heat for 2 to 3 hours carefully stirring occasionally to ensure that the peas don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. Using a slotted spoon and tongs, remove the bones, skin, and other waste from the Turkey Wing and discard. Leave the turkey meat and shred it into chunks with two forks.
6. Serve as a side dish or even as an entrée over cornbread or even rice.
7. Serves four to six.

Roasted Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms & Asparagus

“Keep calm and pass the balsamic.”

Originally this recipe (from laaloosh.com) was for Green Beans and Mushrooms but I’m so picky that I just felt like the green beans were always over-cooked and mushy. Sooo, I substituted fresh Asparagus spears and the result was the ideal side for steak or seafood (or, almost anything else). By the way, you can also substitute fresh whole Okra pods for the asparagus.

This is a healthy, light, side dish … the biggest calorie contributor is the EVOO.

Servings 4 … Prep Time 10 … Cook Time 20

Ingredients:

8 oz., fresh, Asparagus spears
16 oz Mushrooms, fresh, sliced
2 T Olive Oil
2 ½ T Balsamic Vinegar
6 cloves Garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450F. Wash mushrooms and let drain. Cut the asparagus spears into 2 ½-3” pieces and discard the lowest portion of each spear.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic.

Place the mushrooms and asparagus pieces in the bowl and carefully roll them around coating them with the liquid mixture. Arrange on a large cookie sheet covered with non-stick foil spreading them out well. Roast 15-20 minutes, starting to check for doneness after 15 minutes. Cook until the mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown. Most of the liquid on the pan from mushrooms will have evaporated.

Remove from oven, season to taste with just a hint of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. If desired, sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan. Serve hot.

Crock-Pot Ranch Mushrooms

“Annoying the cook will result in smaller portions.”

I grew up living a rather limited cuisine-wise life which was mostly my fault for being so picky (because my mom was a very good cook). Anyway, I never ate a mushroom until I was approaching the age of AARP eligibility!  Now, I eat mushroom dishes almost every chance I get and I especially love this simple recipe. I wish I could credit the recipe’s creator but that would be almost impossible because it appears on literally dozens of cooking websites and blogs.

Raw, washed Mushrooms in the Crock-Pot

Raw, washed Mushrooms in the Crock-Pot

Ingredients:

½ cup Butter, melted (one stick)

16 oz Mushrooms, whole, white or brown, small to medium

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing or dip dry mix (1 oz)

Instructions:

First some discussion … (a) Fresh mushrooms usually have to be cleaned and it isn’t an easy task. I fill the sink with several inches of cool water and pour the entire box of mushrooms into it and stir them around with my hand for several minutes. Then, I take a small soft-bristle paint brush and use it to brush off the specks of dirt from each mushroom while holding it under running water from the faucet. Once clean, I place the mushrooms in the crock-pot. (b) it is your call, but it is not necessary to trim off the mushroom stems. (c) Depending on your preference, you may want to slice the mushrooms before cooking them … I like to do this if we plan to eat them served over steaks. (d) Hidden Valley Ranch makes dressing mix and they make dip mix … either will work fine with this recipe. (e) This is supposed to be a recipe for four servings but considering that the mushrooms reduce down during the long cooking time, the four servings end up being a bit skimpy … for this reason, I usually double the recipe or, at least, add to it by half. Okay, let’s get to cooking ….

Cooked, just out of the Crock-Pot

Cooked, just out of the Crock-Pot

  1. Using non-stick spray, lightly spray the inside of the crock-pot bowl and place the cleaned mushrooms in the bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl combine the melted butter and dry mix and whisk until well blended.
  3. Pour the butter mixture over the mushrooms in the crock-pot.
  4. Set the crock-pot to LOW and cook for 4 hours (5 won’t hurt). Although it is unnecessary, I often start occasionally stirring the mushrooms after about 3 hrs but this is only an excuse to eat a few!
  5. What are you waiting for … it’s ready … go eat!

    On the plate, ready to eat!

    On the plate, ready to eat!

 

Corn Souffle

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”

My sister, Nancy, made this dish for a family holiday gathering back many, many years ago. I really liked it and she gave me the recipe; other than grilled hamburgers & hotdogs, it became the first real dish I ever made! Now, I can’t count the number of times I’ve made this dish for church potlucks and evening dinners.

Ingredients:
1 15 1/2-ounce can Whole Kernel Corn (drained)
1 15 1/2-ounce can Creamed Corn
1 8-ounce container sour cream
1 large eggs
3/4 stick Butter (melted)
1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

Directions:
In a large bowl mix the first five ingredients together … then, add
the cornbread mix and stir until well blended. Bake at 375-degrees
uncovered in greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish for 35 to 45 minutes or
until center is solid and edges are brown. Don’t open oven for first
20 minutes or souffle will fall! After about 30 minutes sprinkle the
cheese over the surface of the souffle.

(Note- Photos will be posted asap.)

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”

First on the plate ... first off the plate!

First on the plate … first off the plate!

Even children who hate veggies will eat these like candy … because they taste like candy!

I’ve been making this dish for several years and I serve it year round although many folks think it is only a Thanksgiving or Christmas side. I picked up the recipe first on an online cooking discussion board and now it is plastered all over the Internet. When you prepare it, it is vital that you blanch the beans after they are trimmed and before you assemble them into bundles.

Trimming the beans.

Trimming the beans.


Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, ends trimmed, BLANCHED
1 lb bacon
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment.

Blanching the beans is vital!

Blanching the beans is vital!


In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon in batches until the slices are just beginning to brown along the edges but are still very underdone and pliable, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool, then cut each slice in half crosswise.

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, soy, salt and garlic.

Going into the oven.

Going into the oven.


Divide the green beans into equal portions, depending on the size of the beans, there should be about 8 to 12 beans in each. Gather each portion into a neat bunch and wrap a half slice of bacon around the center to hold the beans together; secure with a toothpick. Place the bundles on the prepared baking sheet and spoon HALF the liquid over the bundles. Halfway through the cooking, spoon the other half of the liquid over the bundles and return the pan to the oven.
Coming out of the oven.

Coming out of the oven.


Roast until the bacon is cooked through and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the green bean bundles to a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Seasoned Roasted Potatoes

“Food tastes better when you eat it with your family.”

This is an extremely simple recipe with a not-so-simple results. I think I first found it on a package of Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix and they named it Original Ranch Roasted Potatoes. Well, I’ve not changed their recipe much except to alternate seasonings. In addition to the Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix, I have had great results by using Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix and several of the McCormick mix packages.

Seasoned Roasted Potatoes

Seasoned Roasted Potatoes

But, my all time favorite is Good Seasons Garlic & Herb Salad Dressing & Recipe Mix. I encourage you to try them all and then try some from your grocery store’s shelves.

Servings: 6\n
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:
2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
¼ cup canola oil
1 packet (abt 1 oz.) Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix

Instructions:
Place cut potatoes in a gallon-size zip-lock plastic bag and add oil; seal bag. Toss to coat. Add seasoning mix and toss again until coated. Bake in lightly greased baking pan at 450-degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are brown and crisp.

(Notes- When I can find them, I like to use the Baby Gold potatoes … they’re so small that you only have to cut them in half. Also, there’ll be less clean-up if you line the baking pan with non-stick foil.)

Catfish Parmesan and Seasoned Roasted Potatoes

Catfish Parmesan and Seasoned Roasted Potatoes

Carrot Souffle

“Life is what you bake of it.”

Recipe inspired by a dish prepared by my sister, Jennifer Taylor Dimmitt, at a Christmas dinner. This soufflé is so soft and sweet that you might want to serve it as a dessert instead of a side dish.

Ingredients:
2 lbs carrots, baby, peeled and washed (use shredded if available)
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour, all-purpose
3 each eggs, well beaten with mixer
1/2 cup butter, room temp soft
confectioner’s sugar

Carrot Souffle

Carrot Souffle


Directions:
Boil the carrots until soft. Drain well and transfer to the food processor. While the carrots are still warm, add the next three ingredients and mix until smooth. Note – 1 T of Dry Sherry can be substituted for the vanilla. Next, add the flour, eggs (already whipped), butter, and mix well. Pour mixture into a greased, 2-qt baking dish or pan. Bake at 350-degrees for about an hour or until top is light golden brown. After cooling a little, dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar before serving.