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Mac n Cheddar Cheese

Mac n Cheddar Cheese

Mac n Cheddar Cheese

Baked Mac n Cheddar Cheese is a favorite for lots of us. I never tire of it. This is nothing like the bright orange powdered cheese mac that comes in a box. I used Clothbound Chedder from Grace Hill Farm in Cummington, MA. I found the cheese at Boston Public Market on a weekend trip with Taylor to visit Kristin. You should use your favorite cheddar. Or, use Gouda. If a cheese melts well and you like it, use it. You could add a little Mozzarella to make it stringy. I wouldn’t use all Mozzarella but maybe 25% of the total cheese would be great.mac n cheddar, mac and cheese, homemade, macaroni and cheese

Changing it Up

If you want to change up your mac and cheese you can add two teaspoons of dry mustard, or a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. I like to saute mushrooms and onions and add them to the cheese sauce. Remember those “helper” boxed meals you add a pound of ground burger to? You can fry your burger and add it to mac and cheese. Or, how about some slightly steamed broccoli? Variety is good!

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Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

 Homemade Italian Sausage Recipe

When I look for recipes for sausage I find recipes using sausage, not making sausage. It took me quite some time to come up with our homemade Italian sausage recipe a few years ago. It takes trial and error, and we have to consider the freshness and quality of the herbs and spices we use.

I tucked this recipe away two years ago after we raised a couple of pigs out near the orchard. At that time I asked the butcher to grind our sausage meat for me. It came back in neat five pound packages ready to be seasoned. This year our pig was raised for us and went to a different slaughter house. I asked for our trimmings to be packaged and sent back to grind myself.

homemade italian sausage, recipe, Weston meat grinderThe trimmings had more fat on it than I wanted in our grind so a lot of it was trimmed away. I used the Weston meat grinder we bought when I shot the bear in September for a blend around 80% meat, 20% fat. Once the trimmings are ground it’s time to add seasonings. That’s all there is to it.

We have Italian sausages pan fried with onions and bell peppers during grilling weather. I love Italian sausage in spaghetti sauce, and at Gundy’s suggestion, in meatloaf. This recipe is mild enough that the sausage can also be used at breakfast.

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

The One Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe You Need

This is my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. It might be my favorite cookie overall. Mum most often made peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies. I don’t remember many times when the cookie jar was empty.

Great for Kids

I’m a proponent of kids in the kitchen. This recipe is a great one for kids as well as for last-minute cookies.

It’s easy to remember, easy to make, and easy to eat an entire batch in a few days with a little help. I know people who can keep a batch of cookies in the house for two weeks. They eat one cookie a day. I am not them. Two cookies and a cup of coffee or rich hot chocolate and it’s goodbye cookies. I save a few for us and send the rest to work with Steve.

The ONE recipe is easy to remember. The only ONE peanut butter cookie recipe you really need. Most ingredients are measured in one cup or teaspoon.

PB&J

Peanut Butter & Jam cookwiches! I prefer my PB&J sandwich be made with jam between two peanut butter cookies. Use the soft cookies for this so that you can bite through the cookies without squeezing the jam out. A stiff jelly works well too.

peanut butter cookie recipe, peanut butter jelly sandwich, recipe

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Baked Beans Recipe – Traditional New England Saturday Night Supper

Baked Beans Recipe – Traditional New England Saturday Night Supper

Baked Beans Recipe

Baked beans were not my favorite Saturday night, or any night for that matter, supper. They’re as traditional as lobster bakes on the beach, clam chowder and moose tenderloin but that didn’t mean anything to me. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe, as you should do to make it suit your tastes, and now I love baked beans. Protein and iron rich, filling and satisfying, healthy fat from homegrown pork, and great for leftovers. What’s not to love!

baked beans, new england, recipe

Well…what’s not to love…”homemade” using baked beans from a can. I have nothing against them, some are delicious, but clearly they’re not homemade no matter what you do to them. It’s like melting butter, adding a little salt, pouring it into a bowl, and saying you made butter.

Bean Pot or Slow Cooker

baked beans

You can bake the beans in a traditional bean pot or your slow cooker. If the weather is bitterly cold I use the bean pot and keep the oven on to warm the kitchen. However, it’s easier to keep an eye on the beans using a slow cooker with a glass top so you can make sure they don’t dry out.

Warmed up baked beans for breakfast will hold you well to lunch time if you’re busy outdoors. They’re great in chili and refried beans.

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Fish Chowder – From Lake to Bowl

Fish Chowder – From Lake to Bowl

Fish Chowder

A steaming bowl of fish chowder, a thick slice of homemade bread slathered with good butter, and a big spoon. That’s all I need to make a meal that leaves me wanting more even after I’m stuffed to the gills (you see what I did there?). Chowder isn’t just for seafood. You can use fresh water fish, and it’s especially good if you’re using fish you’ve just caught while ice fishing. I stick with white fish and skip any that are oily. If you’d prefer to use ocean fish I suggest haddock, cod or pollock. Good fresh-water choices are cusk, yellow and white perch, and bass.

fish chowder

Mixing it Up

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Rather than tell you how to make fish stock let’s use Hank Shaw’s recipe. He makes great stock and it’s so similar to my recipe there’s no need for me to duplicate it.

You can exchange the butter for salt pork or bacon. Cut it into half-inch cubes and saute to release some of the fat before you add the onions to the pan.

I grew up with chowder made from canned milk instead of heavy cream, and now I sometimes use half ‘n half if I don’t have heavy cream. All three are good but I prefer cream.

Some folks add 1/2 cup of chopped celery when they saute the onions.

Chowder stores well in the refrigerator. Refrigerate leftovers immediately without letting the chowder cool to room temperature because of the dairy and fish.

This looks great served in bread bowls. Traditionally, it’s served with Saltines or Oyster crackers.

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Hot Chocolate Recipes – Dark Chocolate & Red Wine

Hot Chocolate Recipes – Dark Chocolate & Red Wine

Hot Chocolate Recipes

I came across a recipe for hot chocolate and red wine – combined – while looking for a variety in hot chocolate recipes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Together. I had to try it immediately. All you need is milk, a dark chocolate candy bar or chips, and red wine. Add whipping cream to the list if you want whipped cream. If you don’t happen to have dark chocolate in the house you can substitute any hot chocolate you do have. A few curls of chocolate or a sprinkling of spice at the end adds to the decadence.

A note to On The Fire listeners – I’ve added the vanilla to the recipe. That little extra flavor makes a difference.

Another Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
4 cups milk (cow, goat, almond, whatever you like)
1 tsp vanilla

Bring the cocoa, sugar and water to a boil, stirring continually. Carefully mix in the milk, continuing to stir. Continue to heat until the milk is hot but not boiling, remove from heat, and then stir in the vanilla.

I enjoy a glass of wine before dinner if I’m still writing. On the coldest days of winter I’ll switch to Dark Red Hot Chocolate. Take note of the garnishing in the recipe, and if you have suggestions of your own, please leave them in the comments.

With these hot chocolate recipes there’s a nice way to unwind at the end of the day before turning in for a long winter night’s nap. Enjoy!

Breakfast Frittata with Sausage and Cheese

Breakfast Frittata with Sausage and Cheese

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Frittata

Our “kids” are grown so Christmas morning is quiet at our house. This year Steve is working “weekend duty” at work so he’ll be out to morning meeting and make sure everything’s alright. While he’s gone I’ll make our breakfast. We traditionally have a hot breakfast, not too big, that holds us over until we have dinner in the early afternoon. This year I’m making a favorite, sausage and cheese breakfast frittata. I’ll give you a couple of ideas to make this a brunch frittata or even a breakfast-for-supper fritta, too.

breakfast frittata, fritatta, frittata recipeIt’s easy to change up the breakfast frittata. Add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Fresh or granulated garlic changes the flavor slightly. When using fresh mushrooms, saute them first to remove excess moisture. Add leftover vegetables such as asparagus (there’s never leftover asparagus at my house) or broccoli.

For a buffet, remove the breakfast frittata from the oven in time to let it cool for five to ten minutes, then slice. Or, serve it cold. This dish travels well for potlucks because it can be served hot or cold. I’ve learned that when served cold, guests are more likely to add this to their plates if the pieces are small. Instead of cutting the frittata into eight pieces, try 12 or even 16.

 

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly – Appetizers

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly – Appetizers

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly

Hot Pepper Wine Jelly, also know as Christmas Jelly because of it’s beautiful red and green peppers, is my favorite holiday party appetizer. It’s also my favorite Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and curled up on the couch watching a movie during a nor’easter appetizer. The zing from the peppers combined with the sweet sugar and the richness of sour cream is awesome.

hot pepper wine jelly, appetizers, hot peppers, cream cheese, dip, recipe

How Hot?

You can adjust the heat level with your choice of hot pepper. Heat is rated with the Scoville Heat Scale. I personally wouldn’t go higher than Jalepeno because I’m a heat wimp. If you’re using this recipe for a party appetizer I suggest putting a small sign in front of the serving bowl so everyone knows it has some degree of heat. I haven’t made this jelly without hot peppers. If you have I’d love to know how it tastes.

  • 0¬† Bell peppers
  • 1,000 to 2,000 Poblano and Ancho
  • 2,000 to 5,000 Jalepeno
  • 100,000 – 350,000¬† Habenero

I make this jelly in late summer and hot water bath can it. To make and serve as an appetizer in the next couple of weeks you don’t need to can it. I still ladle it into pint canning jars and cover it with a canning lid and ring. The lid will seal but the jars should be stored in the refrigerator.

Serving Suggestions for Hot Pepper Wine Jelly

This recipe makes two pints. I use one pint for an eight ounce block of cream cheese. Place the cream cheese on a wide plate and scoop the jelly over it. Ritz type crackers are my favorite flavor of cracker to serve with this jelly but they break easily under the pressure of a knife spreading cream cheese, so be aware of that. A firmer cracker helps keep this convenient as an appetizer in a crowd.

I keep a few dip spreaders on hand to switch out in case jelly gets on them.

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Squash Soup – Turning Leftovers to a Main Course

Squash Soup – Turning Leftovers to a Main Course

Squash Soup

Squash soup is another favorite way to use Thanksgiving leftovers. Did you see the recipe for Potato Pancakes? Squash soup and a potato pancake with a little sour cream on both would be really good right now!

For vegetarian and vegan recipe, skip this step. To add a little heat and hardiness to this soup I like to slice a quarter-pound of Linguica or Chorizo sausage into 1/4″ thick pieces. Saute the sausage in a small pan to release some of the oil. Remove the sausage and set aside. Pour 1/2 cup hot chicken stock into the pan, turn off the heat, and let it sit. Chop a few pieces of sausage into crumbles to use as a garnish.

To one quart of leftover winter squash (Butternut is my favorite; any dry squash works well) I add one to two cups of vegetable or chicken stock. Heat the squash and stock to simmering, and then add the sausage. Using an immersion blender, blend the squash and sausage until the sausage is in small pieces. By hand, stir in a teaspoon or two of cinnamon or nutmeg. I find allspice to be too strong for squash soup but if you decide to try it, start with a quarter teaspoon and add. You can’t take it out once it’s blended so taste the squash soup as you add.

I like to serve squash soup with a slice of warm homemade bread with a little butter. Dip your bread into the soup. Go ahead… Eat with your fingers a little! A dollop of sour cream or a little shredded cheese with the sausage crumbles on top is also nice. Pumpkin seeds and croutons add a little crunch. What else could we do? I love hearing suggestions.

Leftovers are convenient. When used as the main ingredient in an entirely separate dish they’re no longer leftovers but a main course. Enjoy!

Potato Pancakes Recipe – Thanksgiving Leftovers

Potato Pancakes Recipe – Thanksgiving Leftovers

Potato Pancakes

I’ve adjusted the ingredient measurements for these Thanksgiving leftovers recipes. They’re a little more solid than the recipes I gave in this week’s On The Fire on air – but there’s still a lot of wiggle room. The moisture content in your mashed potatoes will determine whether or not you need to use an extra egg or add all-purpose flour in your potato pancakes mix.

You’ll find another Thanksgiving leftovers recipe in Squash Soup.

Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. We spend hours roasting, washing, peeling, slicing, stirring, mashing, smashing and serving the meal. Thirty minutes after we say Grace everyone’s pants are unbuttoned and dinner’s over. After Dad and his hunting buddies and their sons, nephews and grandsons left for hunting dinner Mum, Melissa (my sister), Aunt Betty and I got the leftovers from the fridge and ate again. I stood in front of the stove frying potato pancakes for half an hour. Waddle we did when we were done and it was worth every single bite and calorie.

I like to serve potato pancakes with a dollop of sour cream and maybe some fresh chives. Topping them with shredded cheese as they come out of the pan is always a winner. Or top them with a fried egg and Hollandaise sauce.