Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

A week ago my friend and ministry partner Jan Hamil and I hosted the Spring Session of our Tasting Grace Mentoring Ministry. We went Southern all the way with homemade biscuits and delicious sausage gravy.  Tasting Grace is a “mentoring-in-the-kitchen” ministry of encouragement. It is our passion, and we have loved every single moment we’ve spent in the kitchen with the women who attend. All ages come! Women of all ages attend and that is part of the joy!

This past Saturday I was blessed to serve by teaching two sessions on Tasting Grace at the 2017 Georgia Baptist Women’s Spring Event.  I had the absolute best time! My husband Gary came and supported me and ran the book table. He was so much help and we sold 70 Tasting Grace books. I pray each and every attendee caught the JOY of Tasting Grace and will use it as a ministry outreach in her church and community.

I wanted to share the recipes here with anyone who happens to stop by.  As I shared with the girls last week, this is a moderation meal. Not something you eat often, but definitely enjoy on those occasions you prepare this delightful Southern delicacy.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS – Doubles easily!
(This makes about 10-12 medium sized biscuits.)
2 1/2 cups of White Lily self-rising flour
1/2 cup of Crisco shortening
1 cup of buttermilk
1/2 stick of melted butter to brush biscuit tops when done

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet or baking sheet pan w/Crisco.
  3. Mix flour and shortening together until the mixture resembles crumbs. You may use a fork or pastry tool, but I just use my hands and squish the flour and Crisco together.
  4. Next, pour in buttermilk and mix well. (I hold the bowl with my left hand and use my right hand to mix everything together – but you can use a large fork to mix if you prefer.)
  5. Now wash and dry your hands well and then “dust” your hands with more flour.
  6. Pinch off some dough, enough to fit in your palm  (you’ll get the size down as you make more and more biscuits) and roll it by cupping your hands with your palms sufficiently floured. Don’t handle the dough too much – my Grandmother always told me the biscuits would be tough if you overwork the dough. Just a quick knead is all you need! You will get better each time you make biscuits.
  7. Place the biscuits on the pan so they touch each other – this makes them softer. There’s a lesson here in staying close and working together! Amen!
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and serve.

The Fine Art of Biscuit-Making ~ “Roll & Cut Out” Biscuits OR “Pinching & Patting

  • I’m a pincher-patter-placer biscuit maker because that’s how my Granny taught me. I like to roll the dough and cut the biscuits out sometimes, but my go-to method is pinch and pat.
  • Accurately measure ingredients. Flour is measured by the “SPOON & LEVEL” method – spooning into a measuring cup and leveling off with a straight edge (like a butter knife). Sifting is not needed.
  • Shortening should be packed into a measuring cup so there are no air pockets. Then it is “cut” into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives or a fork. The result should be pieces the size of coarse crumbs.
  • Mixing the liquid ingredients into the dry ones can be done effectively with a fork. First, make a well in the center of the flour. Using a fork to gently blend in the milk or buttermilk lessens the chance of over-mixing.
  • Rolling & Cutting: Turn dough onto a lightly floured counter top or use parchment paper. Knead gently only until dough holds together and can be rolled out – about 10 to 12 strokes or less. Please be careful not to not add too much additional flour when kneading and rolling.
  • Roll dough to about 1/2-inch thickness to ensure a biscuit with good height. Cut biscuits with a sharp-edged cutter. Cut straight down without twisting cutter to ensure tall, straight biscuits.
  • Place on a baking sheet 1-inch apart for crusty sides or almost touching for soft sides.

SAUSAGE GRAVY – doubles easily!
(Serves 4-6)
1 lb. Jimmy Dean pork sausage (mild, hot, sage flavored or a mixture)
[I like to mix the mild and sage and double the recipe by using a pound of each)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 cups milk (whole or 2% milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Crumble sausage and brown the sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  3. Sprinkle on half the flour and stir so that the sausage soaks it all up, then add more little by little. Stir it around and cook it for another minute or so.
  4. Pour in the milk, stirring constantly.
  5. Continue to cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens. (This may take a good 5-7 minutes.)
  6. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper and continue cooking until very thick and luscious!
  7. If it gets too thick too soon, just splash in another 1/2 cup of milk or more if needed. Taste and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.

Spoon the sausage gravy over warm biscuits and serve immediately!

My friend, you will love serving your family this comfort food.  I plan to make this for breakfast when my family is together for our beach vacation this summer. I know my boys will love it and I hope to teach it to my daughters-in-law.  I’ve taught them both how to make biscuits, sausage gravy is next!

Happy May Day to all,

Gran Jan

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The Dressing Blessing ~ Thanksgiving 2016

THANKSGIVING is my favorite holiday and has been for many years now. I love Thanksgiving because it is a simple holiday that focuses on faith and family. We make time to be together around good food and make time to count blessings. This year my parents, Tom & Lois Maloy (who just celebrated SIXTY YEARS of marriage yesterday) shared stories of their courtship and early marriage. It was a good, good day.

Today I am sharing yet another favorite recipe and this one is extra special to me because it’s my dad’s recipe. He taught me how to make cornbread dressing several years ago. I loved spending that Thanksgiving morning in the kitchen with him and wrote down everything he did. Since I was given the dressing blessing, I wanted to share the recipe with you today. It’s simple, Southern, and very traditional. I don’t know to make just a little bit – but I guess you could half everything to make just one pan of dressing. We have 20-22 people at our table, so I make plenty!

Southern Cornbread Dressing (makes 2 9×13 pans)
Ingredients:
A large pan of cornbread (recipe below – you will need 8 cups of crumbled cornbread)
Four pieces of white bread (allow to dry out or lightly toast, tear into small pieces)
Two cups (1 small bag) of Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing
One can of Campbell’s Herbed Cream of Chicken soup
Two medium onions, diced well
One cup of chopped celery (I like to use the small tender pieces)
One stick of butter
Two teaspoons of poultry seasoning (more or less to your taste)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Three eggs
Chicken Broth (can make your own or used store-bought, you need 8 cups)

Instructions:
1. Make cornbread first – I usually do it the day before, and this is a larger than average skillet.cornbreadCornbread Recipe
2 1/4 cups White Lily self-rising cornmeal
3/4 cup of White Lily self-rising flour
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups of buttermilk
1/3 cup of oil
Crisco shortening to grease cast-iron skillet

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease a large cast-iron skillet, and then dust it with cornmeal. Set aside. Now mix oil and egg and add buttermilk, mix well. Add cornmeal and flour and mix together with buttermilk mixture. Pour into the greased skillet. Bake 20-25 minutes until nicely browned.

2. Make your chicken stock early so it can simmer a couple of hours, unless you are using store-bought chicken stock. I fill a stock pot with 3-4 quarts of water. I add 3-4 chicken thighs or if you’re roasting a turkey use the turkey neck, 2 onions quartered, 2-3 stalks of celery with leaves, 1/2 stick of butter, salt/pepper. Simmer.1

3. To begin making the dressing, first combine the crumbled cornbread, dry white bread and the Pepperidge Farm herbed seasoning crumbs together in a large bowl. Set aside.
34. Melt a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the diced onion and celery together until it is soft, transparent – but do not let it brown! Pour the onions/celery over the cornbread mixture.
25. Next, add in the can of Herbed Cream of Chicken Soup and the 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning (add more to taste if you like a stronger flavor).

6. Now strain your chicken stock (broth) so you just have the liquid (not the meat, celery, onions). Pour the hot broth over the whole mixture and stir well. You want the dressing to be the consistency of oatmeal, not too soupy, not too thick. TASTE NOW BEFORE ADDING RAW EGGS!  This is where you can taste the dressing and add salt/pepper or more seasoning if you’d like.  We say Less Is More when it comes to sage/poultry seasoning.
47. Add 3 beaten eggs and mix again.

8. Pour the dressing into 2 buttered/greased 9×13 casserole dishes and bake at 400-425 degrees until browned on top, 30-45 minutes.

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I forgot to take a picture of the “browned/baked” dressing, but I found two pictures that show it among the Thanksgiving spread (and my delightful grandchildren) our family enjoyed. It is in the oval dish on the far right and in the partially consumed dish below!

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Cornbread dressing is a staple at Southern tables. We don’t say stuffing, we say dressing. You can also sprinkle a little paprika on top for color, or add some chopped pimentos for color if you’d like. Dressing is not a pretty dish, but it is a delicious dish!

One last thing! I make the dressing the day before Thanksgiving and leave it in the fridge in a big bowl. The next day I put it in my casseroles for baking. I think it helps the flavors all meld together – but actually it also gives me time to do all the other cooking I have to do for Thanksgiving!

Counting my blessings this Thanksgiving Day!

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Whipping Cream Pound Cake

My friend Jan Hamil and I recently held the Fall 2016 Session of “Tasting Grace,” our church’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. We love our Saturdays in the church kitchen so much. I made a whipping cream pound cake and wanted to share the recipe here. My dear friend Lanie Nash gave the recipe to me as her go-to pound cake. Every Southern woman has a go-to pound cake recipe and if you don’t, this one can now be yours! [All pound cakes start with butter, sugar, flour and eggs; variations include buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, whipping cream.] I promise this whipping cream version will not disappoint. I made another one when I got home Saturday because my husband had “FOMO” [Fear of Missing Out] when I brought home that empty cake plate! He also likes my buttermilk pound cake, but says he will need a taste test to pick his favorite. I think he just wants ANOTHER pound cake! He’s not fooling me. We’ve been married 39 years, I know these things…wc-pound-cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream (also known as heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  • Grease and flour tube pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth (I use my stand mixer.)
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Sift the flour and add to creamed mixture alternately with whipping cream.
  • Mix all until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour into prepared pan and place in a cold oven.
  • Turn oven to 300° and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Cool completely before removing from pan.

Trust me about the cold oven…just do it!

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Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Oats Stovetop Cookie

I’ve made two batches of these old-fashioned no-bake cookies the past 2 weeks. These cookies are my husband’s all-time favorite. He reminded me of that just last week when I made them at his request. I remember my mother making these for me and my sisters when we were growing up. They are quick and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I tell my people they are healthy with the raw oats and cocoa in them…and just don’t mention the butter and sugar. Balance anyone?cookie

 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 3 cups oatmeal
1. Go ahead and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large pan on the stovetop, bring the butter, milk, sugar and cocoa to a gentle boil, stirring until smooth.
    [Don’t boil too long – just until mixed well,  30-40 seconds.]
3. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla flavoring. Mix well again.
4. Now fold in the 3 cups of oatmeal. I love this part!
5. Drop by heaping tablespoons on to the parchment paper to cool.
6. Allow them to cool and harden for about 30 minutes.
7. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days (if they last that long)!
Go make some!

 

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Pickled Okra or Okra Pickles!

When you are blessed with friends who have both gardens and sharing hearts, this time of year you get okra, lots of okra. (Or as my Granny said, o-kree.) My friend Rhoda and I attend the same church, her family has been there way longer than we have and we’ve been at Second Baptist going on 29 years. She called me last week and said “you want some okra? I will bring it to you!” Now you know that’s a friend indeed! Because if you’ve never cut okra from a garden…well, it will make your hands and arms so itchy. But you forget all that when you are blessed to eat okra any way you can prepare it – fried, boiled, sautéed, or pickled! I’m sharing from my kitchen again with this post on how to make pickled okra.

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Gran Jan’s Pickled Okra
(double or triple as needed, this recipe makes 4 pint jars)
1 ½ pounds fresh small tender okra pods
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (or to taste, or may omit)
(or use fresh cayenne or jalapeño peppers – 1 per jar)
3 tablespoons canning/pickling salt
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
4 one-pint canning jars and lids, sterilized

1. Prepare jars by washing, sterilizing and simmering bands/lids/jars.
2. Prepare okra by rinsing well under cold running water. Trim just stem ends of okra, leaving the cap intact. Soak okra in cool water for about an hour then drain and pat dry.

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3. Place the spices (dill, celery seed, garlic, sugar, pepper flakes) in a bowl and mix well. Divide evenly among the jars.3
3. Put okra in the sterilized canning jars, placing some of the pods up and some down, packing tightly.4
4. Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a good rolling boil.
5. Ladle the hot vinegar into the jars of okra and spices, filling to within ¼” of the top.
6. Make sure there are no air bubbles in jars, wipe rims clean, and cover jars with lids and screw bands firmly in place. Turn jar gently back and forth in your hand a time or two to mix the spices.
7. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool on a dish towel on your kitchen counter. Jars should seal as they cool. I love to hear the pops!

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Allow pickles to mature at least 2 weeks before consuming, if you can’t wait…go ahead and eat some!

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Gran Jan’s Tomato Pie

Yes, TOMATO PIE! This savory pie recipe is one my husband requests often. He loves it! In fact I made two just yesterday afternoon. With all the wonderful fresh tomatoes available this time of year, it is a summer staple for us. Add a nice green salad, or even a vegetable side and you have a great meal. Tom Pie

INGREDIENTS
1 9” pie shell, I buy the Pillsbury ones that come 2 to a package in the refrigerated section of the grocery store , and I use my own pie plates.
• 1 sweet onion (Vidalia if available), chopped & cooked in microwave for 2-3 minutes with a splash of olive or canola oil
• 3-4 medium size ripe tomatoes, diced and drained to remove juice (I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes)
• 2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar & mozzarella mix, could use pepper jack)
• 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
• ¾ cup mayonnaise
• 3 to 4 dashes hot sauce (optional, but actually I use about 7 good dashes)
• salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place room temperature pie shell in pie plate, and then place in oven to allow to lightly brown for 7-10 minutes.

2. Remove pie shell from oven and set aside. 
3. Place the microwaved chopped onions first in the bottom of pie shell.
4. Next spread tomatoes over the onions, salt/pepper to taste, then top the tomato layer with crumbled bacon
5. Mix cheese, mayo, & hot sauce together
6. Spread cheese/mayo mixture over tomatoes and bacon
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until browned, and be sure to let pie cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/slicing

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Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!

Cookie

Like many Southern women, I love to cook with cast iron and have a nice collection in my kitchen. I have two cherished skillets that were given to me 30 years ago by an elderly woman at our church back in Athens, Georgia. They are very old and very special to me…seasoned to perfection. I love old cast iron and that just confirms I’m Southern to my bones.

Most of the time I use my cast iron pans and skillets for cornbread and biscuits. This deep-dish cookie recipe is sweet and good and I just had to share. When my boys were growing up, we rarely had birthday cakes for them. Instead we always ordered giant chocolate chip cookies from the Cookie Store at our local mall. The boys just preferred those cookies and we did too. They were delicious!  The Cookie Store closed and I’ve tried without success to duplicate the recipe…until now!  I hope y’all enjoy this Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie as much as we did when I made it last week! [I used my stand mixer.]

No, grandson Abe had not just eaten Gran Jan’s chocolate chip skillet cookie, but the sweet chocolate smile on his face made me so happy. I will make one for him the next time he comes to visit!FullSizeRender

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • vanilla ice cream, to serve (optional but not optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and sift/whisk together, set aside.
  2. Place the softened butter and both white and brown sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until they’re light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla extract. Now mix again until the egg is fully incorporated into the butter. [Using an egg that is the same temperature as the other ingredients really speeds this process along, which is why so many baking recipes call for “room temperature eggs.”]
  4. When the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla are mixed together, you’ll have a lovely fluffy, mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients you set aside earlier, and turn the mixer to low speed. Mix it just until the flour disappears into the batter. Stop the mixer as soon as you get to this point so the cookie won’t be tough.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and stir them in by hand. Give the sides and bottom of the bowl a good scrape to get all that delicious dough!
  7. I rubbed a very thin layer of butter into my cast iron skillet, then scraped the cookie dough into the pan and smoothed it out to an even layer.
  8. Bake the skillet cookie at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until it is golden, and the edges have nicely browned. I always look to see if it has started to pull away from the sides like in my picture. It is better to undercook a wee bit than overcook!
  9. Let the skillet cookie cool until it’s warm to the touch, not hot. Use a knife to cut it into wedges or squares like I did with this square skillet.
  10. Serve with ice cream!

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