Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

There are just some things I MUST have for Christmas and probably the two most important things for Christmas morning are toasted banana nut bread and sausage balls. My mom always made them both. For the sausage balls she used, as most people did at the time, Bisquick, but since finding this Cook’s Country recipe that is just not necessary. I never used it for anything but this recipe, so to not have to purchase it and make do with things I already have on hand – well, it just makes so much more sense to me.

So here’s to my mom and to Christmas morning. D&D_2573

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs bulk hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs extra sharp cheddar, grated (1 cup)
3/4 cup whole buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

22 December 2017 for Christmas Day brunch/lunch – 375 degrees convection- 20 minutes – turn 1/2 way through – perfection! Need to double next time and freeze half (after baking). They keep well in the freezer for a month or so. Also, grape jelly needs to be involved.

These are also excellent on New Year’s Day morning too. Pretty much excellent anytime, but you get the point.

Pecan Toffee Shortbread – Cook’s Country

I have a thing about shortbread. It really is kind of magical. I think it is the butter that makes it so good – a shortbread is a butter cookie after all. I do love a recipe that you can mix a day or two ahead and then bake it at your leisure. They say “marry in haste and repent in leisure.” Cookies are not that way – leisure can totally fit into the picture and I think cookies that sit in the fridge for a day or so are always better – when you have the time, that is. They can be convenient if you plan a little ahead,  which I always (almost always) do – because that is just me. I made this recipe the first time in 2009 and I thought it was good, but I think I may need to make improvements to this recipe – see my notes below.dd_1763

I am not a fan of a dough you have to roll out. I think that tells you lots about me. I am lazy-ish mostly – even in baking. Sigh.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans – Renroes, of course.
1/2 cup toffee bits
Confectioners’ sugar*

Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, both sugars, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture, chocolate, pecans and toffee. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for an hour or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters, re-rolling as necessary. Place cookies 1 inch apart and bake until edges are golden brown, about 12 – 14 minutes, rotating half way through. Cool 10 minutes on baking sheet. Sift confectioners’ sugar over to serve. 

Notes:
This is a good recipe, but somehow it just has too much stuff in it to be a shortbread. It is a bit of a pain to roll out – mini chips, toffee, pecans (and I did make them small). I tried to make it simple, but I also wonder if I could not make the same cookie and then roll it into a log and slice and bake – yes, the lazy is coming right back. I do not like rolling out dough, sugar cookies being the exception (and there are several examples of that). I do the same thing with cheese crackers – just give me a slice and bake and I am a very happy girl.

*I kind of skipped the confectioners’ sugar for this and went for sanding sugar. Confectioners’ sugar sort of disappears after a bit (read: very short period of time), but I do like sanding sugar, and since I have been making sugar cookies recently, it was what was in my mind and I thought it worked well.

2015 – Two years ago – Sweet Tomato Chutney

Sausage Balls – Cook’s Country

It just would not be Christmas morning without the ubiquitous sausage balls. I love these and eat them from Christmas through January. And then I’m done. I feel like if I made them any other time of year they just would not be special. That may be stupid, but it is how I feel.

My mom made the bisquick version and I did the same for a long time. But honestly, that was the only time I used bisquick and I would end up throwing it out at a certain point between the holidays. Seemed wasteful so when I came upon this Cook’s Country recipe, I knew I had what I needed. This is no more complicated than the bisquick version either. Dead simple.

So once again, one of my favorite Christmas treats, for breakfast, of course. With grape jelly, that goes without saying. Fred always liked mustard with his, but I eat sausage balls like I eat sausage biscuits with grape jelly. I find that I am not the only person to do that and that makes me less like a strange one. I get that mustard works, but I love the sweet with the hot sausage. Then again, I also like maple syrup with hot sausage and that does not make a lot of sense, unless you are me.dd_1705

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 ozs hot breakfast sausage
4 ozs sharp cheddar, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper an cayenne until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal about 12 pulses. Add sausage and cheddar and pulse until combined, about 8 more times. Place mixture in a nice sized bowl and stir in buttermilk until just combined.

Wet your hands and roll dough into 1 1/4 inch ball (about 1 Tbs each). Space evenly on baking sheet and bake until golden brown between 20 – 22 minutes, rotating baking pan halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm. With grape jelly. Yum.

You can make these ahead and bake, cool, and then freeze and just reheat in the oven at 200 degree for 15 or so minutes. Just test one and see if it where you want it to be for reheating.

24 December 2014

24 December 2016 – for Christmas Day brunch/lunch

Magnum Pepper Mill

This is my Thing of the Month (which month, honestly, I have lost track. I may just have to stop naming these posts that way) – the Magnum Pepper Mill from Unicorn Mills.
This is another product that was recommended by Cook’s Country and it does not disappoint. It is simple and easy to work with, and at only $45 it is a great value for something you use multiple times every day. And I do use it multiple times a day.
The grinder is fast, and though a large size – the grinder is 9 inches tall – it is not too big for my rather small hands.D&D_1525

The large storage capacity for my Tellicherry Peppercorns is easy to refill – way easier than the one I was using, that is for certain.
Another thing I love about this pepper grinder is that it is made in the USA – on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts and the company has been in business since 1986.
Looking at the site makes me really want a travel-sized grinder to carry with me. Yep, I am that dork. But it really does not bother me. Much.

I am thinking of getting a salt mill but that opens an entirely different train of thought – salt – and my slight obsession with salt. Lord, if I went on with all the salts I have – once again, a dork.

 

Wednesday Cooking School

So tonight The Boy and I made carrot cake. It is one of his favorites.  I have made carrot cake for D&D_1233him many, many, many, years  – big birthday cake for him. When I said The Boy and I made a carrot cake, I really mean just him. I am kind of the director in this movie. Suggesting, demonstrating, etc. To me, you learn by doing, so I let him do the doing.

So I get home from work and he’s here already – good start. As I go up to change (I’m a mess when cooking, so I have to change my clothes), I say to him, start peeling the carrots. Simple enough, right?  A few minutes later he’s still peeling that first carrot … There was almost no carrot left. I said, what are you doing? Do you not know how to peel a carrot?  Apparently not. So I explained how to peel a carrot. And then explained for the cake we would be grating the carrots for the cake. Poor guy, he just didn’t know.

Lesson: don’t assume things in Wednesday Cooking School.

I am not a fan of making cake after work, but this wasn’t too horrible. Only about 2 1/2 hours, but excellent time spent hanging out with The Boy. Yes, that’s the best part.  Indeed.

I’m kind of excited that his next choice is Eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise. I started this stupid idea on New Year’s Day of 2009. What the hell – make a very complicated thing for New Year’s Day – does anyone do that? Apparently I do. And we did it weekend after weekend that year. But since The Boy is coming over after work, it will be for dinner, and in my small brain, that is a good thing.

T-fal 12-inch nonstick, oven safe, saute pan (name long enough?)

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t-fal saute pan – 12″ – yeah!

T-fal E93808 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan / Saute Pan Dishwasher-Safe Cookware (thing), 12-Inch, Black – longest name ever – just saying.

  • Prometal Pro nonstick interior is exceptionally durable and scratch resistant, safe for use with metal utensil – will never do that – thanks to Get it Right spatulas.
  • The unique T-fal Thermo-spot heat indicator shows when T-fal pan is perfectly preheated for cooking.
  • Riveted Silicone Handles for comfort grip. Isn’t that just so cute? Not really sure what it means. I’m blonde. No, really.
  • Dishwasher safe; Oven safe to 350 degrees F.
  • Safe for all cooking methods including induction – cool!*

On Amazon, this is usually about $40, which isn’t bad for a saute pan, especially one with praise of American’s Test Kitchen. In fact, if you watch that show, or its companion, Cook’s Country, you’ll see this pan used a lot.
I had it on my wishlist on Amazon and the MotH went to purchase some water filters for the refrigerator, and receive a notice that the price had dropped – to $26 – really? Super cool! So he asked and said yes (yep, this happened 13 years ago too) – no brainer there (either time). He bought it for me. And I love it. I’ve been hand washing it – that’s how much I love it. Crazy, right?

*stole all the bullet points from Amazon. But snarky comments are my own – surprised? I hope not.

Baked Chicken with Parmesan-Garlic Crust

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Baked Chicken with Parmesan-Garlic Crust – Cook’s Country

Baked Chicken with Parmesan-Garlic Crust

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs – two slices pulsed in the food processor until small crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp of table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts – cut in half and pounded to about 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Combine breadcrumbs, chees, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Dry chicken with paper towels and arrange in baking dish leaving room between each piece. Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Top each piece of chicken with the mayonnaise mixture. Then top with breadcrumb mixture, pressing to make sure they adhere.
Bake until crumbs are golden and thermometer in thickest part of chicken is 160 degrees about 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges

My modifications on a Cook’s Country recipe.
25 March 2009
28 April 2009
16 February 2010
12 April 2010
28 August 2012 – Hurricane Issac
3 June 2015 – great left over the next day. Think they would make a good sandwich too, esp. when pounded thin.