Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

This recipe takes me back to my Grandma Margie’s house where I spent many summers as a little girl….mostly getting in trouble with my sisters (and occasionally my cousin Doug too) or traipsing through the woods with my Grandpa Paulie while he shared his love and knowledge of indians, birds, and trees with us…..he was a living, breathing, walking nature encyclopedia. Margie & Paulie (note: we weren’t allowed to call them Grandma & Grandpa. I know, crazy,huh? Perhaps it’s because my sisters and I were such heathens that they didn’t want to claim us? lol) lived in a big, old white farmhouse located southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio and had quite a bit of land. They had a HUGE garden and grew everything from onions, cabbage, carrots, beets (ew), cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelons, green beans….you name it, they pretty much grew it.

I can vividly remember waking up in the early morning to the smell of Margie frying sausage for homemade sausage gravy and biscuits.  Mmmm. The bedroom that my sister Jennie and I slept in was located directly above the kitchen and had this little secret staircase that ran from our room to the kitchen. We never used that staircase though…because it was darn creepy, but nevertheless, it allowed the kitchen smells to work their way up to our room. 

I think my love of breakfast stems from those summers spent at Margie & Paulie’s house…mostly because we always ate dinner mid-afternoon and we were never allowed to have any snacks after that…so I pretty much went to bed starving every night and woke up still starving….hence, I couldn’t wait to eat breakfast. I love breakfast. So much so, that I have made it a Christmas Eve tradition in our house to serve “breakfast for dinner”…a breakfast feast like none other that my girls always look forward to every year. I make sausage, bacon, pancakes, hashbrown potatoes, and of course…..sausage gravy and biscuits. I know for a long time I was afraid to make sausage gravy because it seemed so hard, but it’s really very easy.

RECIPE: Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz) package Bob Evan’s Original Sausage (or your sausage of choice)

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups milk

1/8 tsp garlic powder

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 can (7.5 oz) buttermilk biscuits, prepared

Directions:

1. Place sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan.

2. Stir in the butter until melted. Add flour, and stir until smooth. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until light brown (this is called making a “roux”).

3. Gradually whisk in milk. When the mixture becomes smooth, thickened, and begins to bubble, stir in the cooked sausage. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper (I like lots of salt and pepper). Reduce heat, and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. If gravy becomes too thick, stir in a little more milk.

4. Serve over split buttermilk biscuits.

Note: you can refrigerate the extra gravy and biscuits. They reheat well in the microwave!

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Southern Style Pulled Pork

I can only guess that my love affair with southern cooking began in Marietta, Georgia….my birthplace. That’s the only reasonable explanation that I can come up with. I mean seriously, can it get any better than fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans cooked in bacon grease? Oh, and don’t forget the sweet tea…and the biscuits…and the banana pudding…

You lickin’ your lips yet? Well, I have the perfect southern style pulled pork recipe for you.  It’s pretty much to die for….if I must say so myself.  My friend Cindy told me it was better than any restaurant pulled pork she has ever had. Uh huh, that’s right.  Oh, and the aroma that will permeate your house?! One word: amazing!!! You will be smackin’ your lips no doubt. If you have dogs, they will be running around the house like cats on cat nip

I’ll be honest here, the recipe starts with a homemade barbecue sauce to roast the pork in. However, after cooking and shredding the pork, I cheat. Yep, that’s right, I cheat and add some bottled barbecue sauce…in my opinion, Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue goes the best with this recipe.  Here you go:

Recipe: Southern Style Pulled Pork

Serve 6-8

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons mustard powder

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt

3 lbs boneless pork shoulder

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

2 cups tomato juice

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon molasses

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Small bottle of barbecue sauce (my favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Barbecue)

8 hamburger Buns

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together the mustard powder,oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and salt.
  3. Rub over meat; set aside.
  4. In a small roasting pan, heat oil over medium heat.
  5. Add onion and garlic; cook until onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add tomato juice, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar and worcestershire.
  7. Increase heat to high; cook 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
  8. Add pork to sauce and cover.
  9. Place in oven and cook for 3 hours.
  10. Uncover and continue cooking, basting from time to time, until meat is fall apart tender,about 1-1/2  hours more.
  11. Remove from oven and shred pork (I typically use two forks to do this).
  12. Add bottled barbecue sauce to shredded pork until desired sauciness.
  13. Serve on buns. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Mmmmm.

Top with cole slaw and add a side of baked beans for the perfect southern-style feast!

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Ah, whoopie pies! Remember those? I mean what kid doesn’t think a cream-filled chocolate cake is good?  I saw a show on the Food Network last year regarding a business called Wicked Whoopies in Maine that makes the most amazing whoopies in the most amazing varieties. Hence, my inspiration for finding this pumpkin whoopie pie recipe:

Recipe: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes approx. 36 whoopies

Note: I have included two different filling versions below (a traditional whoopie filling and a cream cheese filling, you choose which one you like best):

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

1 cup pure pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

TRADITIONAL WHOOPIE FILLING:

1 cup solid vegetable shortening

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups marshmallow fluff (or you may substitude marshmallow creme)

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

CREAM CHEESE FILLING:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or line four baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in larger mixing bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla extract, beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Drop by heaping measuring teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets.  (Note: should make a total of 72 cakes). Bake for 10-13 minutes or until springly to touch. Allow to cool completely.

3. Traditional filling:  in medium bowl, beat shortening, and marshmallow fluff. Add in vanilla extract until well blended. Cream Cheese Filling: in medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Spread a heaping teaspoon of filling onto flat side of one cake, top with flat side of second cake to make a sandwich. Repeat. Store in covered container in refrigerator.

  Hello sunshine!

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If you don’t feel like making whoopie pies, you can order from Wicked Whoopies and they will ship ’em to you! You have got to check out their jumbo wicked whoopies…holy cow…and they have red velvet whoopies…oh, heaven forbid. Here is their website: www.wickedwhoopies.com.

For those of you who would like a little history on the origins of whoopie pies, here’s a great article: https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/WhoopiePieHistory.htm.

Good ‘Ole Irish Beef Stew

Oh, have I got a great Fall recipe for you! This is soooooo delicious.  It is based on a Bon Appetit recipe but I have replaced some of the beef broth with red wine and Guinness. I mean hello, it is Irish Beef Stew people. Don’t worry….I do not like drinking Guinness at all, but it adds such a yummy richness to this recipe. You have got to try it.

Recipe: Irish Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced (or 3 teaspoons minced garlic)
  • 6 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • I cup of Guinness beer
  • 1 cup of fine red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Directions:

    1. Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and pepper the beef pieces and lightly toss in flour. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, celery seed, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

    2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.

    3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

    Goes great with crusty bread!

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