Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Are You Thankful For?

Can you believe it's already time to celebrate Thanksgiving again? Where has this year gone? As always, we stay busy, busy, busy. When I stop and give thanks for all the things I have been blessed with, I'm amazed at  how long the list is. It seems like everyone wants more and more when they're younger. As I've aged, I want to deal with less and less. Keep it simple and life is so much better!

I really look forward to spending time with the kids and grand kids on Thursday. With everyone going a million directions; it's rare for us to all find a time that works for everyone to gather. This year we have decided on a good ol' traditional menu...nothing fancy. Andy will be smoking a couple of turkey breasts this year. After the one we fixed at our Labor Day get together disappeared so quickly; we thought we'd veer a little from normal. I'm sure I'll throw in a few extra goodies, but here's the plan as of today.

Grisham Family 2014 Thanksgiving Menu
Smoked Turkey Breast
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Carrots
Cranberry Sauce
Yeast Rolls

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Andy's Homemade Breakfast Sausage

We are still in the testing phase of making our own homemade breakfast sausage. The taste has always been good, it's perfecting the texture and fat/meat ratio that we are still working on. Our first go-around, the grinding blade was too big and the meat was coarser and a little tough. We still have a little tweaking to go, but overall, we are pretty pleased with this batch. Our conclusion is we need to mix in a little more fat the next time. The sausage patties are so lean you almost have to add a little extra oil when cooking. We are using a Chard #12 500 watt Heavy Duty Meat Grinder and it does an excellent job.We tried our hand at stuffing Italian sausage links. I'm not ready to go into all of that as we did good; but have to experiment some more.
Andy deboned five Boston Butts.
He then cut the chunks of pork into smaller, chunks that would fit in the meat grinder chute easily.

Grind, grind, grind.
We ended up with a total of 52 lbs. of sausage. We mixed up 31 lbs. of Fiesta, 9 lbs. of Old Plantation and another 11 lbs. of Italian sausage (using The Spice House's Italian Sausage Seasoning). 
There are two sausage seasoning flavors we both like. The first being Fiesta's Extra Fancy Pan Sausage Seasoning.We mixed two tablespoons per pound of pork and it's perfect.
Legg's Old Plantation has a different flavor, but it's equally as good. A little of this goes a long way. All it takes is two teaspoons per pound.
In 1 lb. portions, add half the required seasonings and mix well.
Mix in the second half of the spices. Blend well.
For casseroles and meatballs, we weighed and formed 1 lb rolls and vacuumed sealed them. Andy also patted out hundreds of sausage patties. Line a freezer safe container with waxed paper, layer the patties and let freeze overnight. The next day they will be ready to vacuum seal.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fancy Pants Chicken

I have scoured my "Foods I've Got To Cook" Pinterest board and my MTSIF Facebook page to find the original link to the Fancy Pants Chicken recipe I fixed recently. It is no where to be found and I would love to give credit where it's due. Andy and I really liked this. None of our local stores carried the recommended Lipton Recipe Secrets Savory Herb and Garlic soup, so I had to substitute with one of the Onion varieties. This was served up with some rice as a side dish. My recommendation is if you want more broth to go along with your rice (and I usually do), add a little extra chicken broth. Here is my version of Fancy Pants Chicken.
  • Two packages of chicken tenders
  • Pack of Prosciutto (I found a deli pack with the perfect amount to cover the chicken)
  • Small bag of fresh spinach
  • One package of fresh sliced mushrooms (Can't have too many!)
  • 1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secret’s Savory Herb and Garlic
  • 1/2 cup White Wine (I used my brother-in-law's homemade Pineapple Orange)
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 8oz bag shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray
 Cover bottom of casserole dish with chicken tenders. Salt and pepper the chicken.
 Layer with Proscuitto.
 Add layer of spinach.
 Layer mushrooms and lightly salt and pepper.
Combine olive oil, wine and soup envelope. Whisk well and pour over mushrooms. (Add a little extra chicken broth here if you want a little more liquid)
 Cover with aluminum foil lightly and bake for 35 minutes.
Top with Mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly.

Pinto Bean Casserole

This is a perfect after-work on a cold night dish. Now that we've had a few cold snaps, I'm looking forward to breaking out some casserole recipes. Thanks to my co-worker Tammie Clark for sharing this easy and delicious Pinto Bean Casserole. You know how some things taste even better the next day? Well, this one falls into that category. Andy told me he ranked this one in his top ten of favorites. The original recipe called for double what I fixed. That would be fine if you are feeding a big family or an army. What I'm sharing will feed two people with huge appetites for two days and then some. I had to guess at the corn bread topping. Despite a few cracks, it tasted fine. I will try two eggs the next time. The mixture of the cheese and topping almost reminded me of eating Mexican corn bread, taste-wise.

1 lb. sausage (spicier the better) or 1 lb. hamburger meat
1 chopped medium onion
2 cans of Luck's pinto beans
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Corn bread topping
2 cups corn meal
1-2 eggs
1 cup of milk (or more)--Add enough to so the batter is thin enough to spread but not watery.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown together sausage and onion until cooked through. Drain any grease off. In a 9x13 casserole dish, mix the meat and onion mixture with the beans and tomatoes.
 Layer the shredded cheese on top.
Carefully spread out the corn bread topping mixture.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until the corn bread is firmly baked. With the juices in the casserole and the cheese, you don't want doughy corn bread. This turned out great.