Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Swedish Meatballs

I have tried many variations of this popular dish over the years, but I finally made them "just right" last night!  Tender, delicate, bursting with flavor meatballs, in a creamy sauce were absolutely delicious, and they're oh so easy to make because they are baked and not fried.

1 lbs. ground beef (I used beef from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville)
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 large egg
2-3 tbls. milk
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1/3 cup flour
1 cup beef broth (I used homemade)
1/2 - 3/4 cup heavy cream (I used cream from Middle Sparrow Ranch)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, add all ingredients for the meatballs and mix well using your hands to really get it well incorporated. Shape into small 1-inch meatballs (you should get approx. 18-20).

Spray a 9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and place the meatballs inside. Cover casserole dish and bake meatballs 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooked through.  Remove casserole dish from oven.

Sprinkle flour over meatballs and stir to incorporate into the grease in the dish. Stir in beef broth until smooth and well combined with the flour. Add cream and stir to combine, spooning sauce over meatballs.

Return covered casserole dish to the oven and cook 10-15 more minutes or until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened.

Serve meatballs immediately over hot cooked egg noddles.

Yield:  4 servings


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Blackberry Buckle

I had the very last of this season's blackberries tucked away in the freezer, so I decided to make this Blackberry Buckle today.  It's a nice little dessert and a great way to use up those berries. Did you know? Buckles are similar to cobblers, but called a buckle because the berries are sprinkled on top and the cake "buckles" under the weight. This recipe has been in my family for many years, with the original recipe coming from my mother's 1950's Betty Crocker Cook Book. It's definitely an "oldie but a goodie."


1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 cups blackberries, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish.

Whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

With a large wooden spoon, mix in the milk and melted butter, stirring until just incorporated.

Spray a 9-inch pie pan or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the batter. Sprinkle the blackberries over the top evenly.

Sprinkle the top with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and place in the oven for 40 minutes.

Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and continue baking 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Cooks note - the ramekins take just as long to bake due to their depth.

Yield: 1 - 9-inch pie pan/baking dish, or 6 - 9-oz. individual ramekins


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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

German Potato Knodel (Dumplings)

I've never made these German Potato Knodel's or Dumplings before. I guess I was a bit intimidated by the whole process, but my fears were quickly put to rest after I searched through several Bavarian cookbooks I have. Knowing I wanted to make them "pure," I finally found a recipe I wanted to try using just potato, flour and egg and not the added bread slices some recipes call for.

The dough is a bit sticky and tricky, but once you have the right amount of flour added, they come together very quickly.

These are awesome served with a German Sauerbraten Roast, with a bit of the sauce or gravy ladled over top. Yummm!

2-3 lbs. potatoes
1 egg, whisked
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
dash garlic powder
dash nutmeg
1/2-3/4 cup flour (or slightly more)
Parsley flakes to dust over top
Water and 1 tsp. salt (for cooking dumplings)

Boil potatoes whole and unpeeled until a fork goes into them easily. Drain and rinse with cold water. Remove skins and process potatoes through a ricer, or cut with a knife and fork until fluffy (do not mash).

Fill a large saucepan with water and 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, sprinkle spices over top of potatoes. Add whisked egg and flour and stir together, blending in all ingredients, until it forms a soft dough. Turn out onto floured board.  Flour hands well and shape into large balls.

Place dumplings, a few at at time, into boiling salted water and cook until the dumplings begin to float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, remove dumplings to a cookie sheet until all dumplings are cooked.

Dust top of Knodels with parsley flakes if desired. Serve hot with sauce or gravy.

Yield: 9-10 large dumplings


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Farm Fresh Potato Soup

I received a delivery from Backyard Produce and in the box were some Yukon Gold Potatoes and a gigantic yellow Onion. Well I knew then and there I was going to make this potato soup and it was so good. My husband didn't even talk while he was eating it other than saying the occasional mmmmm, dang, yummmm!

5-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 onion, diced small
4 tbls. butter
32 oz. chicken stock (I use homemade)
1/3 cup flour
1-2 tsp. garlic powder
1-2 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup heavy cream (I used cream from Middle Sparrow Ranch)
3-4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large saucepan, melt butter and saute' onions until translucent. Sprinkle with flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir well; add chicken stock and whisk well to incorporate.

Add potatoes and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat stirring often.  Reduce heat and cook 25 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Stir in 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup heavy cream, stirring well to blend and allow cheese to melt. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve immediately topping each serving with remaining shredded sharp cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.

Yield:  4-6 servings


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Middle Sparrow Ranch Open House & Tubb's Shrimp & Fish

Welcome sign
It had been about 18 months since we'd first traveled to Middle Sparrow Ranch, and about 3 years since I started following them, and watching their progress on Facebook, so when I received a personal invitation to attend their Open House on October 11, 2014, you can bet it was on my calendar and plans were made to go! I was excited to see how they'd grown, and sample some of the new cheese offerings.

Miss Fig, Middle Sparrow Ranch Mascot

I remember when I first started following Earle and Alice Boller of Middle Sparrow Ranch, being fascinated by what they were going to do on the farm, which is raising Jersey Cows on open pastures not sprayed with insecticides. The cows also receive no antibiotics or added growth hormones, but rather are raised completely on pasture, free to enjoy the bounty the farm offers.

Alice Boller, artisan cheesemaker

Earle and Alice milk the cows, bottle the milk and keep some back to make butter and cheeses. They are licensed, certified, inspected and approved to sell whole, unpasteurized, non-homogenized milk, and as such, Middle Sparrow Ranch is the only dairy and cheese-making farm in South Carolina. Their milk is so rich in butter-fat it is not unusual to see cream on the top 1/4 to 1/3 of a gallon of milk. When's the last time you've seen that when you've bought milk?
Cheese Store

Additionally, many cheese makers purchase their milk from outside sources, but not Middle Sparrow Ranch. The amazing flavors of their artisan cheeses result from the high quality of milk and the grasses their cows graze on through the seasons. As a result, the cheese may vary in color, or have subtle taste differences throughout the year. 

So here we were, anxious to see and taste all the new cheeses, and explore what was new at Middle Sparrow Ranch. 
The early crowd in the cheese store

We arrived shortly after the opening time of 10 a.m. and they were already packed with people! Some were off to see Miss Fig, the farm's mascot, or check out the other animals. Children were having their faces painted, others were off on a farm tour via horse-drawn wagon rides, and still others were in the cheese room sampling cheeses which was our first stop! Cheese, cheese and more cheese! Oh and milk, butter and cream oh my!

My haul of goodies
Just as we walked in, I spied Alice off to the left behind the cheese sampling table, and I waved. She saw me, put her arms up and came over to give me a big hug! We then talked about all her new cheese creations and proceeded to sample them. 

There was a "Swamp Brew" which is a beer infused cheese with a craft beer from Southern Hops Brewing Company.  Then there was "Goldenrod" which is a Gruyere-type cheese, suitable for melting on French onion soup or using in Reuben sandwiches. They also had Cheese Curds, a 14-month Aged Sharp Cheddar, Garden Vegetable Fromage, Havarti and many, many others. So many it was hard to choose because I liked them all, but we chose our cheeses, bought milk and cream, and said our good-byes, telling Alice we'd see her again soon. 

We loaded up the cooler we brought, made sure everything was surrounded by the ice packs in the cooler, and headed out. As we were leaving more and more cars were coming down the road and turning in to park and check it all out for themselves. I know they had a busy, exhausting day, but one that was great for this wonderful farm.

Many thanks to Earle and Alice for hosting such a wonderful event and introducing so many others to the greatness that is Middle Sparrow Ranch! 

Middle Sparrow Ranch is located at 400 Ralph Lane Road in Timmonsville, South Carolina. You can also find the farm on Facebook or call 843-992-1468.

So now we were off to lunch at Tubb's Shrimp and Fish Co. located at 1500 2nd Loop Road in Florence, South Carolina. Only open for business one year, they were already voted the BEST seafood place in Florence and there's no wonder why. Soulful ... Southern ... Seafood. 

As their mission statement says "Tubb’s Shrimp & Fish Co. will create a sense of community amongst its patrons through the delivery of the freshest local fare. We will introduce Florence to the culinary gifts that our local lands and waters offer.  Whether it is prepared in our kitchen or sourced from our fresh market, our customers will be able to take as much pride in our product as we do."

Fried Shrimp, Oysters, Hush Puppies, Waffle Fries
Since we were in no hurry, and were waiting on my son and his family to join us, we took our time reviewing the menu and checking out all the great options. One deal we really liked was the Seafood Platter. You have a choice of 1, 2, 3 or 4 entree selections, plus 2 side dishes which seemed like a great option to us. Entree choices included Shrimp, Scallops, Oysters, Flounder, Crab Cake or Chicken Tenders prepared grilled, broiled, blackened or fried. We chose fried Shrimp and Oysters served with crispy waffle fries, hush puppies and nice crunchy cole slaw.  

Fried Oyster
Now first of all, take a look at the size of this oyster! This is the whole oyster, not oyster pieces some places will serve you. Wowee ... we were amazed and the taste ... oh my goodness so darn good.  Now look at this platter!  It was loaded with food and well worth the $14 it cost us. Yes, you read that right, only $14. 

Kyle Hardee & Chad Patterson

She Crab Soup
Next, after my son and his family arrived, we were delighted to meet Kyle Hardee, one of the co-owners of Tubb's Shrimp and Fish Company, shown here on the left. 

He immediately shook our hands, welcomed us to the restaurant and asked if we had tried the She Crab Soup, a recipe from his family. No we hadn't! Next thing we knew, we had 2 small bowls of the soup delivered to our table and it was absolutely delicious. Some of the best I have ever tasted, smooth, creamy, with just the right amount of crab. 

Pork Belly Waffle Fries

Kyle convinced my son and his family to try the Pork Belly Waffle Fries, which they devoured, then they all ordered a variety of combinations of the Seafood Platter.

The Tartar Sauce, Cocktail Sauce and Comeback Sauce (Remoulade) are all made in-house. We tried all 3 and they were all fantastic. 

The full menu is as varied and diverse as there is seafood.  There are Seafood Buckets, Shrimp or Oyster Po Boy's, Grouper, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches, Grilled Pimento Cheese, Burgers, Club sandwiches, Shrimp and Grits, and so much more.  View their complete menu herelike them on Facebook or call 843-799-5579.

After filling up on all this delicious seafood, it was time to say our good-byes and head home.

What a great day this had been supporting a local farm and a "sourcing from local" restaurant. I am constantly amazed and grateful for the small, local, family farms and restaurants who are doing it right for you and me. The taste and quality is far superior to anything commercially sold, and well worth the time and money spent in their establishments.

Simply put, get out and support local! I think you'll be glad you did!

Until our next adventure ...


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Friday, October 10, 2014

Slow Cooker 15-Bean and Ham Soup

Several factors lead me to try this Slow Cooker 15-Bean and Ham Soup I found over on the Hurst Beans web site:
  1. My friend Lynn at Southern with a Twist gave me a nice meaty ham bone she had in her freezer
  2. I had a bag of Hurst 15-Beans
  3. I wanted to try using my slow cooker to make it
Oh my goodness, I wish I had made it this way before. So ... darn ... good and easy!  Did I mention EASY? Of course I still love making Ham Stock because I "put it up" by pressure canning it and use it in ALOT of other recipes, BUT this is quicker, easier and equally delicious if you just want the soup! 

So, if you want this soup without all the fuss of making ham stock first, make it this way in your slow cooker, and simply freeze the leftovers for use another time (if there are any leftovers).

1 pkg Hurst’s® HamBeens® 15 Bean Soup®
8 cups water
1 large ham bone (with lots of meat on it)
1 lg. onion, cut into pieces
2-3 tsp.minced garlic (I used garlic in a jar)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1-2 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 - 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (not drained)
3 tbls. lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
Optional: Hot sauce

No soaking of beans required!

Sort and rinse beans, check for any unwanted debris and discard.

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Drain beans, and place in slow cooker with 8 cups of water, onion, ham bone, garlic and red pepper or chili powder. (Not diced tomatoes or lemon juice yet!)

Set slow cooker on high and cook for 5 hours (or low for 7-8), or until beans are tender, but not falling apart.

After the beans are tender, remove ham bone and trim meat. Stir in the can of tomatoes, ham flavor packet, lemon juice, and trimmed meat from ham bone. Add hot sauce now if desired.

Cook for additional 30 minutes then keep warm until ready to serve.

Note:  Every time the lid is opened, you should add 30 minutes to the cooking time.


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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Oh  my goodness, these are so good! I got the recipe for the pumpkin pie pudding from my good friend, Ronda, at Kitchen Dreaming ... it is the BEST made from scratch pumpkin pie pudding ever. The only change I made was to use some fresh pumpkin puree I had from a fresh pumpkin.

For the Pudding
6 tbls. sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch 
1 3/4 cups milk
1 large egg 
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie seasoning
1/8 tsp. salt 
For the Cheesecake Filling
1 - 4 oz. cream cheese
2 tbls. confectioner's sugar
1 cup cool whip 

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine milk and egg, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring constantly, bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Mix pumpkin, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a bowl, stirring until well blended. Slowly add pumpkin mixture to milk mixture, whisking constantly. Place pan over low heat, and cook for 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly (do not boil). 

Remove from stove top and spoon pudding into a storage container, cover and chill several hours.

For the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese and confectioner's sugar using a stand mixer until fluffy.  Fold in cool whip and mix until well blended.  Chill several hours.

Using 8 oz. jelly jars, spoon 
some pumpkin pie pudding 
into the bottom of 5 jars and top with some of the cheesecake 
filling. Add more pumpkin pie pudding to the top, evenly distributing all the ingredients. 

Cover jars and store in the refrigerator.

To serve top with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled lightly with pumpkin pie spice.

Yield:  5 - 8 oz. jelly jars


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