Friday, October 31, 2014

Spicy Oyster Crackers

I've always made the Hidden Valley Ranch oyster crackers, and I do love those, but tonight I wanted to play with something a bit different.

This recipe is full of spices, and it does pack a punch, but wow, the taste is awesome. These would be perfect for a party or tailgating, or simply as a snack anytime. (original recipe from Guy Fieri).

1/4 cup canola oil
4 tbls. unsalted butter, melted
1 tbls. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curse-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. parsley leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1 (16-ounce) package oyster crackers

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine spices together with oil and melted butter. Toss in oyster crackers and mix to coat.

Place crackers on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spreading crackers out into a single layer.

Bake for 25 minutes, moving crackers around gently with a spatula halfway through.

Remove crackers with a spatula. Let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, store in an airtight container such as a mason jar.

Keeps several weeks in an airtight container.


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Spicy Brown Mustard

For whatever reason, I've been on kick to make homemade mustard.  I really like the "spicy brown" mustard you can buy in the store, so when I saw this recipe on Serious Eats, I just knew I had to make some.

Like most homemade mustard, after you've made it, you need to let it sit for awhile on your pantry shelf for the flavors to mellow and blend. Sometimes this is only a few days, other times it's a month or more. 

1 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup brown mustard seeds
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Water, as needed (I used 2-3 tbls.)

Place mustard seeds and vinegar in a small bowl or container, cover, and let soak at room temperature for 1 day.

Transfer mustard seeds and liquid to jar of a blender. Add in salt, turmeric, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Puree until smooth, adding 2 tablespoons of water at a time to thin consistency as needed.

Store in an airtight container and let rest in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days before use.

If canning, process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Store mustard you've processed in boiling water bath on your pantry shelf. Shelf life is one year.

Yield: 2 - 8 oz. jars


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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grilled Rump Roast

One of the best decisions we ever made was to go in on a side of 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville.  We split the side of beef with our friends, Caroline and Shan Dugas, each of us receiving approximately 116 lbs. of beef. That's a whole lot of beef, and easily took up 2 entire shelves in my large freezer, the meat bin, and then some ... I didn't think I'd EVER find room for it all.

While some of it is in ground beef, quite a lot of it was in roasts, briskets, steaks, beef ribs, soup bones, beef liver and more, and we've enjoyed every single bite of all of it.

The taste is far superior to any store-bought meat you will ever have. There is less fat, a bit more marbling, and the meat is so juicy, tender and delicious, even the sometimes tougher cuts.

1 - 3 lb. rump roast (I used a rump roast from Hill Creek Farms - Hartsville)
Salt and pepper, to coat roast
Olive oil, to rub on roast

Turn grill to direct high. Rub roast with oil all over and liberally salt and pepper both sides.  Sear roast 10 minutes per side.

Reduce heat to medium-off-medium and roast an additional 25 minutes or until beef registers 135-140 with an internal meat thermometer, checking beef after 15 minutes, and every 5 minutes afterward.

Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest 15 minutes. Slice thinly and serve while hot.

Serve with homemade Onion Rings, recipe from my friend, Patti, at Comfy Cuisine.  See here for recipe.


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Grilled Chicken Breast with Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly Glaze

Oh my word! Some of the best chicken I've ever tasted. The pasture raised whole bone-in chicken breast from Thames Farm, paired with my Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly was simply fantastic.

Grilled to perfection, crispy skin, moist, juicy, and tender meat, with the sweet and tangy bite of the jelly. Oh yes, this is one we'll do over and over again ... it ... was ... that ... good!

1 - 2 lb. whole chicken breast (I used a pasture raised bone-in chicken breast from Thames Farm)
1/2 cup Pineapple-Jalapeno Jelly (slightly heated)
Salt and Pepper

Salt and pepper whole chicken breast, rubbing in with fingers to stick to the breast.

Heat grill to medium-high indirect heat and grill breast side down 20 minutes.  Turn chicken breast side down and continue to grill an additional 20 minutes.

Turn chicken breast side up and liberally baste/brush on pineapple-jalapeno jelly. Continue to grill 15 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Remove from grill to a carving board and slice as desired.

Serve immediately with additional pineapple-jalapeno jelly, steamed rice and vegetable of your choice.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oktoberfest Beer Mustard

Once I saw this recipe from Ball Fresh Preserving I just knew I had to make it! We love a good, spicy, grainy mustard, reminiscent of our time spent in Berlin, Germany when my husband and our family was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force.

This mustard reminds us so much of bratwurst, knockwurst, or hard salami, cheeses and rye breads served in many Gasthaus's (guest houses with rooms for rent, a bar and restaurant/breakfast room) throughout Germany.

It was not unusual to go down to breakfast and see a platter of sliced deli meats, cheeses, soft-boiled eggs, grainy mustard and German brotchen (hard rolls) ready to eat.

1-1/2 cups beer (I used Sam Adams beer)
1 cup brown mustard seeds
1 cup water
1/2 cup malt vinegar (I used cider vinegar which is a substitute for malt vinegar)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar (I used slightly more)
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 tbls. onion powder

COMBINE beer and brown mustard seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand at room temperature until seeds have absorbed most of the moisture, about 2 hours.

PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.

PLACE mustard seeds and remaining liquid in a food processor or blender. Process until chopped and slightly grainy.

TRANSFER mixture to a large saucepan. Whisk in water, vinegar, brown sugar, dry mustard and onion powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes (this took about 20 minutes for me). 

LADLE hot mustard into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head-space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Yield: I got 3 - 8 oz. and 1 - 4 oz. jar

Notes:  Flavors mellow and get milder as it sits, so let this sit a month or 2 before eating.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hand Pies

I just love making these little hand pies, not only because they are easy, but also very tasty! The size is just perfect for a light dessert, or snacking on any time.  Use whatever pie filling you like and make them your own.

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbls. ice cold water
Apple Pie Filling
Caramel Apple Jam
Blueberry Pie Filling
Cherry Pie Filling
Strawberry Pie Filling
Any pie filling will do, but making your own is so much tastier.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For the Crust:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt together. Add shortening and cut in with fork or pasty blender until it resembles course crumbs. Add ice-cold water and stir until well combined, being careful not to over-work dough.

Place the dough on a lightly flour a board and using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll it out in to a large circle. You want the pie crust to be thin.

Using a 5-inch round cutter, cut out circles, re-rolling dough once to get 8 total circles.

For the Filling:
Put 1 tbls. of pie filling a little off-center in each round. Using a small pasty brush, spread a little bit of water all around the edges of the pie crust. Fold top over to meet bottom, so you have a half-circle shape.

Using the tines of a fork, dusted in flour, crimp the edges together well all the way around where the top and bottom of the dough meet.

Cut slits in the top with a sharp knife, and place on a large baking sheet. Repeat with each circle.

Bake 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and continue baking 5 more minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven, remove hand pies from baking sheet and let cool on a cooling rack. Dust tops of hand pies with sugar if desired.

Yield:  8 Hand Pies


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Homemade Kaiser Rolls

Because it is nearly impossible to buy a good Kaiser Roll, aka hard roll, here in the south, and my husband saw a great recipe for one posted on a Fairfield, Connecticut page (his home town), he saved it and emailed it to me with the question "well, what do you think?"  

Hmmmm they looked good, pretty easy to do with just a bit of planning, so I figured I'd give it a go. I've since made these several times and they are now my "go to" when we want a nice Kaiser Roll for Deli Sandwiches, French Dips, Burgers and more. The perfect hard roll! (Adapted from

10 ounces all-purpose or bread flour (1 heaping cup)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. instant yeast (I use SAF Red Instant Yeast, or any active-dry yeast)
3/4 cup room temperature water

Kaiser Dough:
The above batch of Starter or as it's properly known, Pâte Fermentée
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbls. Sorghum syrup
2 tsp. yeast
2 large eggs
3 tbls. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
Poppy Seeds or sesame seeds for topping (optional)
Cornmeal for dusting

Making the Kaiser dough

Bring the cold starter up to room temperature. To make this a bit easier (and to make the mixing easier) just chop it up into a bunch of smaller pieces in a large bowl. You can use kitchen sheers, a dough cutter, or even a serrated knife for this. Let this sit out at room temperature for about an hour to warm up.

Next, add all your dry ingredients for the dough (flour, salt, yeast) to a large bowl. Mix your wet ingredients separately (sorghum syrup, eggs, oil, water). Then add your chopped up starter to your dry ingredients along with your wet ingredients.

Using a stand mixer, mix it on low speed with the paddle until it starts to come together.  If dough is too wet just kept adding flour until the dough forms a ball which was about another 1/2 cup.

Mix on medium with the dough hook (6-8 minutes) until dough has formed a ball and is no longer sticky, turn out onto floured board a knead a few times until dough is smooth; shape into a ball.

Once your dough is ready, oil a large bowl and roll the dough ball in the oil to coat. Then cover it and let it ferment at room temperature until it doubles in size which should take about 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Shaping the rolls
To make really even rolls, it’s almost essential to have a kitchen scale so you can weigh each roll before shaping it. You can of course eyeball it, but your rolls are probably going to be a bit uneven.

I went with a 3.5 ounce roll, and don't go larger than 4 ounces.

Once you have your dough weighed, shaping them isn't too hard. They aren’t going to be all perfect, so don't stress that part too much. This is how I shaped mine.

I rolled my dough out into a long strand about 18 inches long. Try to keep it as even as possible. It should roll really evenly. Just use your hands.
Photo from

Then take the left end and put it over the right end forming a loop (top left). Next, loop the right end through the center (top right). Do the same thing with the left end but in the reverse direction (bottom left). Then roll both ends through another time and they should basically meet in the center, filling the hole (bottom right).

Once you finish one, add it upside down to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprinkled with some cornmeal.

Second Rising
Once you get them all shaped, let them rise for 30 minutes, then flip them so the top of the roll is up and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

Topping the rolls
Before baking the rolls, it’s important to spritz them all with water. This gives them that crunchy texture after they get done baking. Sprinkle on some delicious toppings now if desired (sesame or poppy seeds).

Baking the Rolls
To bake these right, preheat the oven to 425. When you put the rolls in the oven, spritz the sides of the oven with water also to create some steam in the oven. Bake them for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and bake them for another 20-25 minutes, depending on how large you make them.

They should be golden brown and sound kind of hollow if you thump them.

As with most baked things, these need to cool for a while before you eat them. Cool them for at least 30 minutes. It gives the crust a chance to form and also lets the center of the rolls set up a bit. It’s really important to cool these on a rack if at all possible.

If you are not using them immediately, wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap, and place in a zip-top bag to freeze. When you want one, simply remove it from the freezer and thaw. Kaiser Rolls freeze very well and will keep several months stored this way.

Yield:  18 Kaiser Rolls


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