Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing

A few years ago, my mom went on a kick where she was determined to find our family’s new “classic” stuffing/dressing recipe.  This recipe, my friends, was by far our favorite.

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Ingredients:

  • 5 1/4 cups crumbled cornbread, slightly dried out or toasted
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 granny smith (or other crisp, firm apple), chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Method:

In a large skillet, cook the sausage and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour sausage mixture over cornbread in a large bowl. Mix in chopped apples, dried cranberries, and parsley. Drizzle with butter and chicken stock (you may need to use slightly more or less chicken stock), and mix lightly.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.

This recipe may be used to stuff a turkey, chicken, or pork loin – or can be spooned into a lightly buttered casserole dish and baked until the top is golden and crusty (bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncovering for an additional 15 minutes.).

 

Glorified Brussels Sprouts

This was the main Brussels sprouts recipe I grew up with at holiday dinners.  It’s sure to please kids and adults alike!

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Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 11 oz. mandarin oranges in light syrup, undrained
  • 2 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained

Method:

Drain oranges, reserving liquid; set both aside.

Wash Brussels sprouts, and remove discolored leaves. Cut off stem ends, and
slash bottom of each sprout with a shallow X. Combine Brussels sprouts,
water, salt, and pepper in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat,
and simmer 10 minutes or until tender; drain well.

Combine reserved liquid from oranges, lemon juice, cornstarch, and basil in
a small saucepan, stirring until cornstarch dissolves. Bring mixture to a
boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour orange sauce over Brussels
sprouts. Add reserved oranges and water chestnuts; toss.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Honestly, I don’t know why anyone buys the gross artificial stuff in the supermarkets… This is so much better!

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 3 tbsp sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon, dill, parsley, chives or celery leaves (preferably, a combination of these)
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake like crazy!  Dressing will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

Fruit Dip

This dip – a classic at church potlucks and picnics – couldn’t be easier or more delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 7 oz jar marshmallow fluff

Method:

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Chill, and serve with assorted fruit.  Also makes a nice cake or cookie frosting.

Roast Pork Loin

In the past, I’ve been terrible about cooking pork loins and tenderloins that ended up dry and tough.  The method that yielded these results usually started by quickly searing the meat on the stovetop, and finishing it off in a hot oven.  This is the method advised by Bon Appetit Magazine, Martha Stewart, and countless others who really know what they’re doing, but I just couldn’t get it to work…

This is the method I’ve finally found that has consistently yielded juicy, tender pork loin.  Feel free to mix up the marinade and/or seasonings, but the stovetop sear followed by a low, slow roast in the oven is the key.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 2-3 lb pork loin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Beer Marinade

Method:

Wash and thoroughly dry the pork loin.  Pierce with a fork, and marinate in the beer marinade in the fridge for about 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Heat a heavy cast iron skillet with a little oil in the bottom over fairly high heat (like, an 8 on the dial).  Remove the pork from the marinade and pat to dry.  Rub the pork with a little oil to coat.  Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground mustard, and ground ginger.  Sprinkle the pork with the mixture, rubbing it in a little so it sticks.

Once the oil in the skillet is shimmering, place the pork loin in the skillet, fat side down.  Sear for about a minute or two, or until a nice golden crust forms.  Turn the loin over and place the whole skillet in the preheated oven.  Bake at 250 for 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the pork loin.

Remove the pork loin from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.  Slice and serve!

 

Gorgonzola & Pear Salad

A perfect fall salad!

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Serves 4

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 can pear halves in juice
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic may be used, but will darken the color of the dressing)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 large head butter lettuce, cut into 4 wedges (or other delicate, mild lettuce)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 bartlett pear, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Method:

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, cheese, salt and pepper in a blender.  Out of the can of pears, add 2 pear halves and 4 tbsp of the pear juice.  Blend until smooth.  (Dressing can be made in advance and kept in the fridge.)

Place the lettuce wedges on 4 salad plates.  Arrange the rest of the salad ingredients evenly over the wedges.  Drizzle with the dressing and serve!

Honey Chicken

Another great recipe from my cousin, Leslie!  It’s basically honey mustard chicken, but the addition of curry powder kicks up and rounds out the flavor fabulously.  I use Dijon mustard, but Leslie uses regular yellow and it’s still delicious!  Also, I use chicken thighs, but you can bake any chicken pieces in this sauce – just adjust the bake time accordingly.  Be sure to serve this chicken dish with rice- or anything that you can sop up the delicious sauce with!

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Ingredients:

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Paprika

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place the chicken thighs in a casserole dish just large enough to accommodate all of them without touching.

Mix together the melted butter, honey, mustard, curry powder and salt until smooth.  Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until chicken is done.  Cool slightly and serve!

Cosmopolitan Martini

Remember when cosmos were the height of sophistication and cool?  Carrie Bradshaw and her signature drink may have passed out of the limelight, but cosmos are still a damn delicious cocktail!  It’s my mom’s go-to libation, and she has pretty much perfected the recipe.  Enjoy responsibly!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 parts citron vodka
  • 1/2 part triple sec
  • 2 parts 100% cranberry juice
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.  Shake vigorously until well chilled.  Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lime.

Jalapeño Poppers

Everyone’s got their version of jalapeño poppers, and here’s ours!  It originates with my cousin, Leslie.  She may have been the first in our family to use the pineapple cream cheese in place of regular, but this delicious twist on the classic is catching on quickly!

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Ingredients:

  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Pineapple (or regular) cream cheese
  • Deli-sliced turkey
  • Bacon (raw)

Method:

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Slice the tops off the jalapeños and then slice in half lengthwise.  Scrape out all seeds and membranes.

Spread cream cheese in the jalapeños, so that it doesn’t quite fill the cavities.  Cut the turkey into pieces, roll, and place in the jalapeño halves on top of the cream cheese.

Cut bacon slices in half and wrap 1/2 bacon slice around each jalapeño half.  Secure with a toothpick.

Grill jalapeños over indirect heat until bacon is done, about 30 minutes.  Cool slightly and enjoy!

 

St. Elmo’s Fire Cocktail

I had this cocktail at the 1885 Grill in the St. Elmo neighborhood of Chattanooga, and was immediately smitten!  I love the bright, floral qualities of St. Germain, and they pair perfectly with Bombay gin and strawberries.  It’s a perfect summer drink!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup ripe strawberries, smashed
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire gin
  • Fresh lemon juice

Method:

To make the simple syrup, heat the water over high heat.  When the water has reached a rolling boil, turn off the heat and add the sugar.  Stir vigorously until the sugar melts completely.  Add the strawberries and stir to combine.  Set the simple syrup aside and allow it to cool as it’s infused with the strawberries.  Once the syrup has cooled, strain out the strawberries.

In a cocktail shaker, add crushed ice, St. Germain, Bombay Sapphire, lemon juice to taste, and strawberry simple syrup to taste (I add about 1/2 oz each lemon juice and simple syrup).  Shake vigorously and pour into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a strawberry and serve immediately.