Sausage Balls

You know by now how much I love a party.  And you simply can’t love a party without the love of a good nibble.  I’ve had this recipe forever, and I don’t know why I haven’t shared it.   Mom used to make these back in the day, only she always had a mustard dipping sauce.  I’m using a sweet chili dipping sauce, because G doesn’t like mustard.  I know, what a maroon.

Anytime you have a recipe that only calls for 4 ingredients, you are on the right track for the perfect hors d’ oeuvres.  These come together so easily.  I will warn you about the mess though.  I used my hand mixer.  The sausage mixture crawled up the beaters and did not want to leave.  My sous chef, the great and glorious G, cursed me for about 30 minutes while he was trying to clean the holes the beaters go in.  Next time I won’t be such a lazy butt and I’ll get out the Kitchen Aid.

So what makes these sausage balls so tender and moist?  Probably the cream cheese.  I know, who’d a thunk it?  The cheese does not ooze out while baking.   I don’t know why; I certainly thought it would.

1 pound Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage, uncooked

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I usually use Neufchâtel cheese, because it always seems creamier)

1 to 1 1/4 cups Bisquick (I usually use Jiffy Baking Mix, I just prefer it for some reason)

4 ounces grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients until well combined.  Roll into approximately 1 inch balls.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

They can be frozen after forming and then thawed and cooked within the next few months.

*  from the Recipe Box:

Baking them on parchment paper means no sticking and no mess.

If you keep some water handy to splash on your hands during the shaping of the balls, they won’t stick to your hands as badly.

I usually add salt and pepper and a dash of pepper flakes.  I like them a little spicier.

Mom always served them on a platter with dipping sauce and toothpicks.

and remember:  Girls who love bourbon are not weird.  They are a rare gift from God.  Those girls get bigger diamonds.   Big kiss, Lynn

English Oat Crackers

G and I so enjoyed the Rosemary Crackers, we decided we should look for more cracker recipes.  And of course my hero, Ina Garten, came through for us.  These have a texture that is a whole different story.  These are much crisper and that hint of brown sugar, while subtle, is very enjoyable.

I would use these in the same way that I would use the Rosemary Crackers.  I love bread or crackers on a cheese tray.  These are so much sturdier than your average store bought cracker, you can actually spread cheese on them or build a mini sandwich without it crumbling all over the floor.

The best thing about them is the bragging rights.  In both cases, when people say they love the crackers and where did you get them.  You get to look demurely to the side and say, “I made them of course.  Doesn’t everyone?”  Holiday entertaining season is coming; start practicing.

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Fleur de Sel (I use Jacobsen’s because they are from Oregon and so am I)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Place the oats, flour, brown sugar, and kosher salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for 45 to 60 seconds, until the oats are coarsely ground. Add the butter and pulse 15 to 20 times, until the butter is the size of peas.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm water and drizzle it over the crumbs in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened and can be pressed into balls that will hold together.
  4. With a medium (1 3/4-inch) ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop the dough into your hands and roll them into round balls. Evenly space 12 balls on each of the prepared sheet pans. Flour the bottom of a flat-bottomed 3-inch-diameter drinking glass and use it to flatten each cracker to 1/8 inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter. The crackers will not be perfectly round.  Sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From the Recipe Box:

I love these.  I am going to disagree with Ina though.  Oh-oh, a large clap of thunder just sounded overhead.  I think the crackers could be smaller.  I’d aim for 30 to 36 next time and then adjust the cooking time to about 15 minutes.

I love mixing them up in the food processor.  Easy squeezy.

and remember what Jimmy Cliff sang:   You can get it if you really want it.  Big kiss, Lynn

Rosemary Crackers

I was so stupid.  I thought you bought crackers in the cracker aisle, you know:  Ritz, Triscuits, Saltines.  And then, in a night that will live in infamy, I tasted homemade crackers.  Wow!  The ingredients appear mildly contradictory.  Hello,  Parmesan cheese and powdered sugar.  This combination appears no where else in any of my recipes.

These crackers are quite amazing.  They are very similar to their cousin shortbread.  They do have a sweet flavor.  I would not crumble these up and put them in tomato soup.  I would put them on a cheese tray with a soft spreadable cheese.  They would be a great nibble with a glass of rose.

G and I were making these together during the Seahawks halftime.  Yes, they came together that fast.  We were talking about changes we would make.  He wants to try making regular shortbread cookies this way.  It was so easy.  I want to try thyme instead of rosemary.  The options are considerable.  I’ll be trying Ina’s crackers next.

2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

2 cups flour

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup Parmesan cheese

Pinch of salt

2 cubes of butter, cold and cut into ½ inch cubes

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Mix everything in the bowl of a food processor until combined.  Make small balls approximately tablespoon sized.  Place on parchment covered cookie sheet.  Flatten with a glass lightly dipped in flour to keep it from sticking.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.  Let them get lightly golden brown around the edges.  Cool on the parchment for a few minutes and then remove from baking sheet.

*  From the Recipe Box:

We were back in Minnesota for a wedding and we may have been having beverages and it may have been about midnight and my BFF M said, “Have you ever tasted my rosemary crackers?”  Well, of course, we had to make them right then and there.  Amazing!  What a fun time we always have.  Behold the power of food!

and remember:  You can always tell when two people are best friends because they are having more fun than it makes sense for them to be having.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Cream Puffs/Profiteroles

I asked G what he wanted for his birthday cake and he said cream puffs, so I made cream puffs.  I was 20, he was turning 22.  I didn’t know they were supposed to be hard.  I had my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and I was ready to try anything.  I didn’t know how to cook; I just used logic.  I guess that’s the point to this story.  I knew almost nothing about cooking.  Why would I when my mom was a great cook; I didn’t need to learn.  So, what is the point you keep asking?  If you are patient, have a cookbook, know how to read, can follow instructions, you can make anything.

We were living in Hawaii at the time, not a hotbed for French desserts.  I had Grandma Olson’s cookbook with me, what could go wrong?  This is what I’m trying to tell you.  Please give yourself a chance.  Don’t judge yourself too harshly.  We can do this!

Profiteroles are simply cream puffs that have a French cousin.  I love making cream puffs.  The same dough can be used to make a sweet dessert or a savory nibble.  G loves them filled with a good vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a thick hot fudge sauce.  At Christmas, I’ve been know to fill them with peppermint ice cream.  When making an hors d’oeuvres, I usually make them about the size of a golf ball, but for a dessert I lean more towards a baseball.  The size is totally up to you.  If you want 3 on a plate for the ultimate indulgence or a tray of single bites, you got this.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Plan on baking 45 to 50 minutes for large or about 25 to 30 for small.  Makes 8 large puffs or 20 small puffs.

Heat to boiling point in sauce pan…

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

Stir in…

1 cup flour

Stir constantly until mixture leave the pan and forms into a ball (about 1 minute).  Remove from heat.  Cool.

Beat in, 1 at a time…

4 eggs

Beat mixture until smooth and velvety.  Drop from spoon onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake until dry.  Allow to cool slowly.

I’m such a maroon.  I’ve since learned you can use your mixer to beat in the eggs.  I did it by hand and they were still fabulous.

Remember to adjust the cooking time to the size puff you make.

This is the recipe for cream puffs I used all those years ago and I’m still using today.  I keep notes in my cookbooks.  Betty Crocker and I are tight!

and remember:  Sometimes you need to give people high fives just for getting out of bed.  Being a human being can be hard.  Big kiss, Lynn

Deviled Eggs

Let me say it again, I love eggs.  I can’t remember a holiday function or a large family dinner without deviled eggs.  Maybe my family is alone in the egg love, but I don’t think so.  Deviled eggs make a fantastic hors d’ ouerves, an excellent nibble, the perfect bite whether you are Keto-ing or protein-ing or simply eat-ing.  Everyone always gravitates to the deviled eggs.

Let’s take a minute to talk about hard cooking eggs.  I’m old school.  I have an electric egg cooker the Hunka-hunka and I received as a wedding present 50 years ago.  It’s been amazing.  I’m a firm believer in not owning single use appliances, but don’t be touching my egg cooker!  I’ve been reading different ways to cook eggs.  Yesterday I even read about baking them in the oven.  I know, shut up!  Supposedly all you have to do is place them on a rack over a jelly roll pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  I’ve not tried this method, but I will some day.  My egg cooker will cook 8 eggs at a time, resulting in 16 deviled eggs.  This is typically an ample amount.  If not, I use the Ina Garten method.  I put a single layer of eggs in a large kettle, cover with water, set it on the burner on high.  When it comes to a boil, put the lid on, turn off the heat, but leave it on the burner for 15 minutes.  Run them under cold water.  I like letting my eggs totally cool before cracking.

I don’t understand the whole egg cracking problem.  I whack mine on one side, whack it on the other, roll it on the counter top and the top half of the egg shell goes one way and the bottom half the other.  Easy squeezy.  There are probably support groups if you need help.  Keep practicing is all I can suggest.

So let’s make a deviled egg.  Cut the egg in half lengthwise.  Scope out the yolks and place them in a bowl.  Mash them up with a fork.  Add the ingredients to the yolks and mix them up.  I’m not fancy,  I put the yolk mixture back into the egg white with a spoon.  I’m just not clever enough to master a piping bag.

and remember:  What defines us is how well we rise after falling.  Big kiss, Lynn

Soy Eggs via Momofuku

I love eggs.  As much as I love my watermelon and asparagus, if I could only have one food the rest of my life, it would be eggs.  As a result, I’m constantly looking for ways to expand my egg repertoire.  So imagine my excitement when I was reading Christina Tosi’s book Milk Bar Life and spotted this super simple take on an Asian egg from Momofuku Noodle Bar.

These eggs are fabulously versatile.  Use them in salads, put them in your Top Ramen (why yes, this will totally elevate that poor college student staple), eat them with salt and pepper.  The egg white soaks up the sauce flavor and the yolks are a smidgy bit soft.  People bite into them and are mildly surprised at the flavor.

Whisk together the first four ingredients and set aside:

6 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3/4 cup soy sauce

6 large eggs

Maldon or other flaky sea salt (I like Jacobson since it’s harvested in Oregon)

black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully add the eggs.  Cook for exactly 6 minutes and 50 seconds, stirring slowly the the first 1 1/2 minutes.  When the timer goes off, transfer eggs to an ice bath.  Peel the eggs in the ice water.  Transfer the eggs to the soy sauce mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours, making sure they are completely submerged; if necessary top the eggs with a small plate to ensure submersion.  Mine usually end up freckled because I forget to stir them.  If the eggs touch, they don’t absorb the soy mixture on that spot.  (These do not look diseased no matter what the Hunka-hunka says.)

Remove the eggs from the soy mixture (you can save it in the refrigerator and do another batch next week).  The eggs will keep in the fridge for a month.   To serve, cut them in half, sprinkle with the flaky sea salt, a few sliced green onions and sesame seeds.  I actually like the marinade a little sweeter.  Try adding a tablespoon more sugar or a little Hoisin Sauce.  Num.

BTW, take a moment to read Christina Tosi’s 3 books.  She went from bakery helper to David Chang’s partner.  Fascinating story and great recipes.

and remember what Albert Einstein said:  Never give up on what you really want to do.  The person with the big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.  Big kiss, Lynn

Salmon Spread

You may have heard of this old expression:  “Men honor him and fish fear him.”  Back in the old days, the Hunka-hunka was quite the fisherman.  Not only was he good at it, it was something he really enjoyed.  The Zen of being on the water, whether a fast moving stream or the salt water surrounding our island, were the perfect spot for him to recharge and be one with the universe.  Unfortunately diminishing fish stock and increased government regulations have gradually shrunk his fishing time.  So once upon a time we had salmon to feast on all year, now I’m often reduced to buying smoked salmon for our salmon spread.

This is a recipe G and I came up with years ago.  The most important ingredient was homemade smoked salmon.  G’s Little Chief Smoker smoked its little heart out for years.  It was replaced a few times and then he stepped up a notch.  He doesn’t smoke a lot of salmon currently; now he mostly smokes pork shoulder or beef brisket, but he still has very fond fishy memories.

Luckily, we found excellent salmon fillets locally made by Trident.  Costco carries them as well, so you should have no trouble finding an option that will work for you.

We make large quantities so you may want to adjust the amounts you use.

For each 20 ounce salmon fillet

Cream approximately 24 ounces of cream cheese, thinned with milk,  Go a little thinner than you think it should be since it will firm up in the refrigerator.

Add:  Garlic powder, Paprika, Liquid Smoke and Dill to taste.  Feel free to change the spices up, these just happen to be the ones we enjoy.

Shred the salmon into the creamed mixture, watching for bones as you go.

Give it a good mix and then let the flavors marry in the refrigerator for several hours.

Don’t forget the Ritz Crackers.

and remember:  You don’t always need a plan.  Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.  Big kiss, Lynn

Kool-Aid Pickles (Why wouldn’t you?)

I was watching Andrew Zimern’s Bizarre Foods the other day and he was touring the Mississippi Delta.  The Hunka-hunka and I took Route 61 through the Delta a few years ago as well.  I love the Blues and wanted to feel the origins.  We did not stop for Kool-Aid brined dill pickles like Andrew did, but we did see them and it made me go “HUM?”.  I’m married to a non-pickle eater.  I know, where did I go wrong?  He doesn’t like mustard either.  What can I say?

Since I love both flavors, I decided I should do some experimenting even if it was just for me.   Colorful dill pickles/summer time, a match made in heaven.   Kool-Aid dills are called koolickles in the South.  Clever.  I looked at half a dozen recipes before I discovered they are all basically the same.

                (Before and after)

Ingredients

  • 1 jar (32 ounces) whole dill pickles, undrained
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unsweetened Kool-Aid mix, flavor of your choice (Cherry turned out to be my favorite)

Directions

  • Drain pickles, reserving juice. In a small bowl, combine the reserved juice, sugar and Kool-Aid, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  • Slice pickles; return to jar. Pour juice mixture over pickles. Discard any remaining juice.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 week before serving. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Most online recipes suggest starting with a gallon jar of pickles.  I used a half gallon, because I didn’t need that many koolickles in the house. Simply drain the brine into a clean jar, add in a packet of cherry Kool-Aid and 2/3 cup of sugar.  Shake the jar until the sugar dissolves.  I used sliced dills for maximum surface exposure and I thought they would look good on a hamburger patty; I wanted as much surface as possible to receive the cherry Kool-Aid.  Return the sliced pickles to the pickle jar or a wide mouth Mason jar, and place it in the fridge for at least one week and up to a couple of months.

and remember what Muddy Waters sang about the Hoochie Coochie Man:

The gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born
I got a boy child’s comin’
He’s gonna be a son of a gun

Big kiss, Lynn

Electric Mud was my first blues album and damn but I loved it.

Artichoke Dip

My favorite Gkid, you know the one, recently told me he loves artichoke dip.  Who knew!  I was a smidgey bit surprised because he can be a little finicky.  However, since turning into the world’s most enthusiastic sous-chef, his taste buds have really expanded.

I actually dug this recipe out of Besta’s recipe box.  Mom was a major party giver and she loved serving the perfect nibble.  Artichoke dip totally fit the bill for her way back when.  Out would come the sterling tray and the china bowl and it would look very uptown.  Yesterday, gluten-free sister was here visiting and this seemed like the perfect time to perfect the dip for the Gkid.  Even people on a low carb diet could enjoy this.  While I’m not going to change out all my recipes for g-f sister, recipes like this are easy since all I have to do is make sure there are the appropriate crackers or bread.

I love the idea of 3 ingredients.  Have you noticed lately on all the cooking shows how snooty they’ve gotten about ingredients?  I do not grind my own pepper, I do not grate my own cheese if a good quality option is available.  I’m lucky if I can open my own jar.  I will not apologize for my shortcuts because I’m simply not cool enough to tell the difference.  End of rant!

I would like to see a resumption of the cocktail party though.  I love to schmooze with a beverage in my hand.  There’s something so nice about putting on your good clothes and having a la-di-da cocktail.  Let’s all do that and soon!

 

8 ounces drained and chopped artichoke hearts

1 cup mayonnaise

1 ½ cups Parmesan, grated

Combine and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve w/ toasted bread or crackers.

 

 

and remember what Papa said:  Show me the way to go home.  I’m tired and I want to go to bed.  I had a little drink about an hour ago and it went straight to my head.  Everywhere I roam, over land or sea or foam, you can always hear me singing this song, show me the way to go home.  Big kiss, Lynn

Baked Cheese ala O. O. O.

 

When your grandfather’s name is Olaf Oliver Olson, you know the Norwegian genes run strong in your system.  We were talking about the old guy this weekend.  In his later years, he was always the one in the Fedora and a Pendleton shirt jacket.   He prided himself on being a sharp dressed man.  You almost have to be an old fart yourself to remember him since I was 6 when he died.  I have nothing but positive memories, although I do blame him for my love of coffee, sugar and cheese.  I told you about my introduction to baked cheese, but surprisingly not everyone believes me and no one else seems to have heard of it.  Unfortunately, I’m almost the oldest in my generation, so I can say just about anything and who’s going to call me a liar.  Ah, the power!

(Papa, with a cousin and my brother Paul at Creston Park in Portland Oregon)

So, let’s talk about baked cheese.  I’ve been doing a little research.  Let’s see a show of hands of everyone who has baked brie.  Yeah, that would be everyone.  And, why wouldn’t you?  This is my basic Baked Brie recipe:

  1. 1/4 wheel of brie or one of Costco’s small wheels/naked or wrapped in crescent dough
  2.  3 to 4 tablespoons of honey

In a 350 degree oven, place the brie on a baking dish.  Drizzle the brie with honey.  Bake the brie for 5 to 7 minutes, until it’s very soft but not melted and/or the crescent dough has browned.  I like to serve it with crostini and fig crackers or straight onto my fingers.  A little fig jam is nummy as well.

Now, compare that to my papa’s.  He would take a thick slab of Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese and place it on a plate.  He would liberally sprinkle it with sugar and then he would put it under the broiler until it was soft and gooey.  So, how is that different than the brie?  It’s not quite as la-di-da; it’s definitely not French; it’s less refined, much more country and rustic, but really it’s the exact same principal.  I scrap the gooey parts off first, rather like a Raclette.  So, to all the naysayers out there, Papa rules!  Give it a try and bring a little Norwegian into your life.

and remember:  I’ve been making a list of all the things they don’t teach you in school.  They don’t teach you how to love somebody.  They don’t teach you how to be famous.  They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor.  They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer.  They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind.  They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying.  They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.  Big kiss, Lynn