Heart of the Home Recipes

Author and culinary instructor Kendra Bailey Morris appears each month on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program, courtesy of Virginia Grown, a program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.


Morris’ work has been published in Better Homes and Gardens, Food Republic, Virginia Living, Chile Pepper and other publications, and she is a former food columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch. She blogs at fatbackandfoiegras.blogspot.com.


Morris' recipes also are published in Cultivate and Farm Bureau News, Virginia Farm Bureau’s member magazines.


Game Day Cuban-Style Burgers
(Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay)

1 pound ground chuck or sirloin (preferably with 15% fat)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grated onion
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon vegetable oil
½ cup mayonnaise
4 large cloves roasted garlic, smashed with a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh lime juice
4 sesame seed hamburger buns
8 thin slices deli ham
8 slices Swiss cheese
thinly sliced dill pickles

In a medium-size bowl, mix ground beef, Worcestershire, grated onion and cumin. Form the seasoned meat into four patties. Sprinkle both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper.

Preheat a sauté pan to medium-high, and add the oil. Once it begins to shimmer, add patties to the pan and cook until they are cooked medium. Be careful not to overcook the burgers. Set cooked burgers aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, roasted garlic, Dijon mustard and lime juice. Season with a little black pepper. Cover and set aside.

To make the burgers, place a slice of Swiss cheese on the bottom part of the bun, and then spread a little roasted garlic mayo onto the cheese. Next, add the burger, and top the burger with a slice of ham, a couple of pickle slices and another slice of cheese. Spread a little more mayo on the top bun, and wrap the burger in aluminum foil. Cook burgers again in a hot skillet over high heat—pressing them down with a spatula or weighing them down with another heavy skillet. — another 5-8 minutes or until they are golden brown on each side and the cheese has melted. Serve hot.

Note: For easy roasted garlic, preheat oven the 275°, and slice the top off a whole garlic head, leaving the cloves exposed. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic head tightly in aluminum foil. Roast garlic in the oven for 45 minutes, remove it from the oven and let it rest another 15-20 minutes in the foil. Unwrap and use.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Stout Beer Chili
Reprinted with permission from The Southern Slow Cooker: Big-Flavor, Low-Fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classics by Kendra Bailey Morris and Ten Speed Press, 2013.

2 pounds ground buffalo meat
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 bay leaf
12-ounce bottle of dark beer, preferably a Virginia stout
3 ounces tomato paste
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnishes:

shredded Cheddar cheese
minced green onions
chopped cilantro
sour cream
hot sauce
tortilla chips or cornbread

Spray the inside of large slow cooker with cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, crumble the buffalo meat and cook until well-browned. Remove the meat to the slow cooker, and drain half the fat from the saucepan and discard. Sauté the onion and garlic in the remaining fat in the saucepan until translucent.

Pour onion, garlic and pan juices into the slow cooker. Then add all ingredients from the tomato sauce through to the tomato paste. Give it a stir, and add the pinto beans. Cover and cook 8-9 hours on low, skimming off any surface fat from time to time. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, season with salt and pepper

Serve chili topped with optional garnishes.

Note: You can substitute ground beef, cubed beef or pork or cooked, shredded chicken for this dish. If you prefer a thicker-style chili, mix 2 tablespoons of masa harina (fine corn flour) with 2 tablespoons cold water to whisk in during the last 45-minutes to an hour before serving. Then uncover the slow cooker, crank the temperature up to high and cook until thickened.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Blue Cheese

2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
3½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (with ½ tablespoon reserved)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (with ½ tablespoon reserved)
¼ cup cooked and crumbled bacon
2 to 3 ounces mild blue cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large pan, toss the brussels sprouts with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the sprouts in a baking pan in a single layer, and roast for about 25 minutes. Rotate the pan and toss the sprouts several times during the roasting process so they brown evenly.

During the last few minutes of roasting, add 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar and toss well. Then return the sprouts to the oven for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the sprouts to a large bowl, and toss again with the reserved ½ tablespoon of olive oil and ½ tablespoon balsamic and the bacon and blue cheese. Top with additional blue cheese and another sprinkle of black pepper just before serving.

Baked BBQ Lemon Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops, 1" thick
salt and pepper to taste
one small onion, thinly sliced
four slices of lemon
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
4 fresh sage leaves
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
molasses, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a medium baking dish, and place pork chops side by side in the dish. Top each chop with a lemon slice, then top each with sliced onions, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of ketchup and a sage leaf.

In a small bowl, mix together water, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and chili powder. Pour mixture over the pork chops. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake 45 minutes or until chops are nice and tender. Uncover the dish, and bake the chops another 10 to 15 minutes, periodically basting them with sauce from the dish.

Drizzle chops with molasses, garnish with additional sage leaves and serve.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Tomatoes and Kale

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 small jalapeno or Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala*
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black pepper
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 14.5-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups fresh kale, washed, tough stems removed, and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes

Whole-milk yogurt or Greek-style yogurt
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh pita bread
cooked couscous

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté until just translucent. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute. Add the ginger, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon and black pepper. Sauté 2 more minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir well, and then bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 45 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and kale, and cook for another 15 minutes until the chickpeas are heated through and the kale is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve stew over couscous in bowls, topped with yogurt and cilantro. Serve pita bread on the side.

*Garam masala is an Indian spice mixture found at many specialty stores. If it’s not available where you live, it can be omitted from the recipe.

Mom's Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gravy

Chicken Ingredients

2 cups buttermilk
1 whole fryer chicken, cut into even pieces (about 3-4 pounds) OR comparable amount
of chicken thighs all-purpose flour for coating (about 2 cups)
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup shortening
1 tablespoon bacon grease (optional)
additional salt and pepper to taste


Gravy Ingredients

4 tablespoons pan drippings from frying the chicken
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth OR, (if you want cream gravy) whole milk
salt to taste
lots and lots of black pepper


Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl or plastic bag, and add the chicken pieces, making sure they are coated well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, preferably overnight. In a large paper bag, mix the flour, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and cayenne. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, and place it in the paper bag. Shake the bag well to coat all the chicken pieces evenly.


Melt the butter and shortening—and, if desired, the bacon grease—in a large cast iron skillet. Heat the pan to medium-high, being careful not to burn the butter. When the pan is hot, add the chicken pieces and brown   well on all sides, about 10-12 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place a cover over the chicken, and continue to cook another 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear. Uncover, and continue to cook another 5-10 minutes on medium or until the chicken becomes nice and crispy. Remove chicken to a rack to drain. Season it with additional salt and pepper, if desired.


Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of the leftover pan drippings (Discard the rest, or save for another recipe). Add the flour to the pan, and whisk it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then gradually whisk in the chicken broth or milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes or until gravy has thickened. If the gravy is too thick, feel free to thin it out with some more stock, milk or a little water. Reduce the heat to low, and season the gravy with salt and black pepper.


Slow Cooker Frito Pie with Chili Con Carne

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles (such as Rotel), undrained
2 14-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup minced sweet onion
sliced pickled jalapeños
sour cream
14-ounce bag corn chips, or 8 1- or 2-ounce individual serving-size bags


Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray.

Heat a large skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat, and add the oil. Crumble in the ground beef, and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, sugar, black pepper and cayenne. Cook for 1 more minute. Pour the beef mixture into the slow cooker, and add the tomato sauce, tomatoes and chiles, and kidney beans. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours and up to 9 hours.

To serve, spread the corn chips in a 9"-by-13" casserole dish or divide among eight smaller bowls. Pour in the chili, then top with the cheddar, sweet onion, jalapeños and sour cream, and serve. Alternatively, cut open eight individual serving–size bags of chips, divide the chili and toppings evenly among the bags, and eat straight from the bags with a fork. Serves 8.

Pan-Seared Salmon Filets with Blueberry Basil Salsa

1½ cups fresh blueberries, chopped
2 tablespoons minced green onions, both white and green parts
¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
half a small Serrano pepper or jalapeno, seeded and minced or to taste
1 teaspoon lime juice
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
1 pound salmon filet, skin-on, cut into four equal portions
1 tablespoon canola oil


Preheat oven to 400°.

In a medium bowl, mix together blueberries, onions, ginger, jalapeno, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, honey and basil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Preheat a large cast iron pan to medium-high. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan. When it begins to sizzle, place filets into the pan skin-down. Cook fish for 4 to 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy. Then place the pan into the hot oven and continue to cook another 3 to 4 minutes or until the fish is cooked fully and flakes easily with a fork. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven.

To serve, place a piece of fish onto a plate skin-side-up. Spoon some of the salsa over and around the fish, and garnish with additional fresh basil.

Serves 4

Watermelon Salad with Country Ham, Feta and Candied Pecans

1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
¼ pound country ham, cut into thin slices
6 ounces baby spinach, arugula or baby kale
3 cups watermelon, seeded and cut into cubes
½ cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Candied Pecans (Recipe follows)


In a medium bowl, whisk honey, mustard, shallots and balsamic vinegar until blended. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing has fully emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium-high. Add oil to the pan, and then add the country ham pieces. Fry ham until crispy on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the greens with about a tablespoon of the dressing until coated. Divide the greens among four large salad plates. Top each salad with watermelon, feta cheese, country ham pieces, Candied Pecans and fresh mint. Drizzle with some of the dressing, and serve with additional dressing on the side.

Candied Pecans

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of black pepper
¾ cup pecan halves


Preheat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add butter, sugar, cayenne and black pepper. Cook until melted and slightly bubbly. Add the pecans, and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until they are fully coated with the butter mixture. Transfer the pecans to a plate lined with parchment paper, and separate them so they don’t stick together. Store in a covered container until ready to use.

Slow Cooker Shrimp Creole

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
4 small cloves of garlic, minced
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
8-ounce can tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
2 bay leaves
½ cup diced green bell pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and black pepper
steamed long-grain rice, for serving
minced chives or green onions, for garnish
hot sauce, for serving


Coat the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Heat the butter and olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, and sauté for another minute. Transfer the onion, celery and garlic to the slow cooker, and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt, cayenne and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

One hour before serving, add the bell pepper, and continue to cook on low. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the shrimp and cook until they are pink and slightly curled (Be careful not to overcook them). Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves, and spoon mixture over rice. Garnish with fresh chives, and serve with hot sauce on the side.

Vinegar Style Slow-Cooked Pork Barbecue with Cider Slaw

Pork Ingredients

2 large onions, sliced
5-pound pork shoulder roast
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider or apple juice


Barbecue Directions

Coat the inside of a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.

Place the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Make slits in the pork roast, and insert garlic cloves. Rub salt, pepper, brown sugar and red pepper flakes into the meat. Place pork in slow cooker fat-side-up, and pour in vinegar and apple cider. Cover and cook for 10-12 hours or until the meat is fall-apart tender.

Remove meat to a large bowl, and shred it with two forks. Set aside.

Sauce Ingredients

2 cups cooking liquid, reserved from pork
½ cup water
¼ cup cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ cup ketchup
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Sauce Directions

Pour two cups of the pork pan juices into a measuring cup. Let it cool, and skim off any visible fat. Pour the liquid into a saucepan (Discard any leftover juices still in the slow cooker). Add water, cider vinegar, Worcestershire, chili powder, paprika, mustard, ketchup, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and add one cup of the sauce (or more if you like it wet). Give it a stir, and set the slow cooker to warm. Serve any additional sauce on the side.

Serve pork straight from the cooker with a slotted spoon.

Slaw Ingredients

4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste
2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ head green cabbage, finely grated
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of celery seed (optional)


Slaw Directions

In a large bowl, whisk sugar and vinegar together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add mayonnaise, and blend dressing until it is smooth and creamy.

About 30 minutes before serving, add the grated cabbage (This is not an overnight slaw). Mix well to coat, and season it with salt, pepper and celery seed.


Carne Asada Borracho-style with Roasted Tomato Pineapple Salsa

Steak Ingredients

1½ pounds flank steak, trimmed of any excess fat
¼ cup vegetable oil
6 ounces Mexican beer (about half a bottle)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mild chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 small lime, juiced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper
steamed corn or flour tortillas, for serving
minced onions, for serving
minced fresh cilantro, for serving
Roasted Tomato and Pineapple Salsa (See recipe)


Steak Directions

In a large shallow dish such as a casserole dish, mix vegetable oil, beer, garlic, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, brown sugar, cider vinegar and cilantro. Add the steak. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour. Avoid marinating the steak any longer, since the lime juice can “cook” the meat.

Remove the steak from the marinade, and season it with salt and pepper (or steak seasoning). Let the steak rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat a grill. Grill the steak on medium-high until charred on the outside but pink on the inside (about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your meat).

Let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it on the bias, and serve with steamed tortillas, minced onions, fresh cilantro and salsa.

Salsa Ingredients

1 pound Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 fresh whole Serrano chiles or jalapenos
1 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia), chopped
1¼ cups fresh pineapple, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste


Salsa Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, and spray it with cooking spray. Place the tomatoes cut-side-up in the roasting pan, and scatter the whole chiles. Roast the tomatoes and chiles on the center rack in the oven 30-45 minutes or until the chiles are charred and softened.

Place the chiles in a small bowl, and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. Meanwhile, let the tomatoes cool, and then remove the skins. Dice the tomatoes, and place them in a medium bowl. Add the onion, pineapple, lime juice and cilantro. Peel and mince the chiles, and then add them to the mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Chocolate Hazelnut Spread Crepes with Strawberries and Vanilla Whipped Cream

Crepe ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange liqueur
unsalted butter, for cooking crepes
1½ cups chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced


Directions

In a mixer, blend together on high the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla and orange liqueur for about 45 seconds. Remove the batter to a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour. You also can make the batter a day ahead and keep it refrigerated until ready to use.

To a crepe or other nonstick pan, add about a ½ teaspoon of the butter. Heat the pan to medium-high, and swirl the butter to coat the pan well. Whisk the crepe batter if it’s separated, add ¼ to ⅓ cup of the batter to the pan and swirl it so it coats the entire pan bottom. Cook the crepe for about 3 minutes or until set and the bottom is browned. Then loosen the crepe with a spatula, and turn it over in the pan. Cook about another minute or until it’s lightly browned on both sides. Repeat until you’ve used up all the batter. You should have about 8 crepes.

Spread each crepe with some of the hazelnut spread and sprinkle with a few strawberries. Fold the crepe over twice to make a triangular shape, and set it aside. Repeat with the remaining crepes. Top each with vanilla whipped cream, and serve.

Vanilla Whipped Cream Ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste


Directions

Chill a metal bowl in the freezer. Pour in the cream, sugar and vanilla, and beat with a hand-held mixer until you can form soft peaks. Cover and chill until ready to serve.


Penne Pasta with Fresh Peas and Gorgonzola Cheese

Ingredients

1½ cups heavy cream or half-and-half
2 small garlic cloves, minced
5 ounces Gorgonzola cheese or other good-quality blue cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of dried red pepper, if desired
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente and drained
¾ cup fresh shelled peas
additional Gorgonzola for garnish


Directions

In a sauté pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta, over medium heat, bring the cream and garlic to a simmer. Boil gently, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until reduced in volume by about half. Add the Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheeses. Continue to cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Add the cooked pasta and peas to the sauce, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the pasta into bowls and top with additional Gorgonzola.

Serves 4 to 6.


Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Pumpkin Seeds and Creamy Horseradish Dressing

Salad ingredients

3 large whole beets or 4 smaller ones (red or yellow)
9-ounce package of raw baby kale mix
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted (Walnuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds can be substituted.)


Dressing ingredients

2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, or to taste
dash of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.

Wrap each beet tightly in foil. Roast the beets on a sheet pan in the oven for about 1½ hours or until they can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove the beets from the oven, but do not unwrap them; set them aside to cool fully.

In a small glass bowl, whisk together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Unwrap the beets, peel away the skins and slice away the tough ends. Cut the beets into small quarters and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the kale with part of the dressing—just enough to coat—and let it rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dressed kale between four to six salad plates. Top each plate with quartered beets, and then sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Drizzle extra dressing over the beets and around the plates, and save any extra dressing for serving on the side. Sprinkle the salad with freshly ground pepper, and serve.


Slow Cooker Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 medium acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound sage breakfast sausage
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 large egg, beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup unsulfured molasses
½ cup apple cider or apple juice


Slice stems off the squash, and scoop out the seeds. Slice off a small piece from the bottom of each squash so it will sit level in your slow cooker. Brush the edges and insides of each squash with olive oil.

In a sauté pan crumble and brown the sausage. Drain the sausage, and place it in a large bowl. Remove half of the drippings from the pan, and then cook the onion and garlic in the remaining fat until softened. Add the onion and garlic to the sausage. Mix in breadcrumbs, walnuts, egg, salt and pepper. Fill the squash with the sausage mixture.

Use cooking spray to coat a piece of heavy-duty foil that’s large enough to cover the whole inside of your slow cooker. Place the squash, cut side up, on the foil and brush the exposed flesh with the molasses. Pour the cider down the sides of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove squash to a cutting board by lifting it up by the foil, and cut in halves or quarters. Serve as a side dish, or as a main dish with a green salad and rolls.

Greek-Style Edamame and White Bean Burgers with Feta and Tzatziki Sauce

Burger ingredients

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, drained, thoroughly rinsed and dried
¼ cup minced onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
¾ cup steel-cut, quick-cooking oats
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 egg whites
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for pan-frying

For serving: whole-grain hamburger buns, sliced tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce

Cook the edamame in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain well. In a food processor, pulse drained edamame and cannellini, onion, garlic, oats, salt, pepper, basil and oregano until blended but not pureed, stopping periodically to scrape down the canister sides. Then add the egg whites, and continue pulsing until well-blended.

Wet your hands with water and form the mixture into individual patties, placing finished patties on a sheet pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil medium-high, and cook burgers until they are well-browned on each side and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. Drain burgers on paper towels.

To serve, lightly grill or toast the hamburger buns. Then layer on each bun: sliced red onions, burger, feta cheese, a dollop of tzatziki sauce and a tomato slice.

Tzatziki ingredients

½ a medium-sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely minced (about a ½ cup)
1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon freshly minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon cumin
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste


Grate the cucumber and drain well, pressing out as much liquid as you can. Then mix it with remaining ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Slow Cooker Apples with Ginger Ale and Maple Syrup

4 large or 6 medium cooking apples such as Braeburn, Rome or Granny Smith
6 teaspoons raisins
6 teaspoons chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons brown sugar, can be adjusted based on desired sweetness and type of apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup ginger ale
2 tablespoons real maple syrup


Core each apple almost through to the bottom. Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray, and place apples cored-side-up inside the cooker.

Stuff each apple with equal parts raisins and walnuts. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Take 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon sugar mixture and sprinkle it over and inside the apples. Pour the ginger ale and maple syrup into the bowl with the remaining cinnamon sugar, and stir well. Then pour ginger ale mixture over the apples. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on low. During the last couple of hours, baste the apples with the remaining liquid a few times. The liquid should be syrupy; if it’s too watery turn the slow cooker up to high, and set the lid ajar to allow some of the moisture to escape.

Serve apples in dessert bowls with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.


Twice-Fried Plantains Topped with Gingered Tuna Tartar and Guacamole

Ingredients for tartar

1 pound sushi-grade tuna, cut into ¼" cubes
3 tablespoons soy sauce or Japanese shoyu sauce
3 tablespoons minced green onions
3 tablespoons diced sweet onion
1½ tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
dash of garlic chili sauce or Sriracha sauce, optional
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Ingredients for guacamole

2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
juice of half a small lime
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ teaspoon (or to taste) finely minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon minced cilantro, plus extra cilantro for garnish
salt and pepper to taste


In a medium bowl, coarsely mash the avocados, leaving a few chunks here and there. Add the remaining ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with additional fresh lime juice, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ingredients for plantains

3 to 4 large unripe (green) or barely ripe (slightly yellow) plantains, sliced thick
2 cups peanut or canola oil for frying


With a small, sharp knife, cut the ends from each plantain, and cut a lengthwise slit through the skin. Peel away the skin and discard. Cut plantains crosswise into 1½"-thick slices.

In a 12" nonstick skillet, heat ½" of oil over moderate heat. It should be just hot enough to sizzle when a plantain piece is added. Fry plantains in batches, without crowding, until tender and just golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. With tongs, transfer the plantains to paper towels to drain.

Remove skillet from heat and reserve the oil. With the bottom of a heavy saucepan or a wide solid metal spatula, flatten plantains to ¼" thick and about 3" in diameter. Heat the reserved oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the flattened plantains in batches, without crowding, until golden, about 3 minutes. With tongs, transfer the plantains onto paper towels to drain. Season them lightly with salt, if desired. Keep plantains warm in the oven until ready to top with the tuna and guacamole.

To serve, top each plantain with a spoonful of the tuna tartar and then a dollop of guacamole. Repeat until you’ve used up all of your ingredients. Serve immediately on a platter garnished with cilantro and lime slices.


Butternut Squash & Italian Sausage Risotto

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½" cubes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 cup onion, chopped
½ tablespoon fresh sage, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

In a medium-size pot, warm the chicken stock.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and add the cubed squash. Sauté the squash for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Remove the squash to a bowl and set aside.

Add the olive oil and sausage to the sauté pan, and cook sausage until crumbly. Then remove this mixture to a small bowl and set aside, keeping the drippings in the pan.

In the same pan, sauté the onion and sage until onion is translucent. Add the rice, and cook over medium heat until you start to see the grains becoming translucent as well (You might even hear them start to pop). Deglaze the pan with white wine, stirring vigorously.

Ladle in the chicken broth about two cups at a time, stirring all the while to make sure the risotto has enough liquid to cook in. Once the risotto has absorbed the cooking liquid, add more broth, about a cup at a time, still stirring. Repeat that process until rice is almost fully cooked through and has a creamy consistency (You might not need to use all the broth).

Finally, stir in the squash, sausage and cheese. You might need to add more broth to give the risotto a creamy texture. Continue to cook, checking for the doneness of the rice. It should have an al dente texture, not crunchy and not too soft. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto in bowls and sprinkle with additional cheese. Garnish with a bit of sage.


Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic, Honey & Fresh Figs

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1½ pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver skin
2 tablespoons minced shallots
6 to 8 very ripe Brown Turkey figs, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
¼ cup honey
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out


Preheat oven to 375°
.
In a non-stick sauté pan, heat olive oil. Season the pork loin with salt and pepper, then sear the meat on all sides until it’s golden brown. Remove the meat to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray or lined with foil (This will make for easier clean-up). Place the pork loin in the center rack of the oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145°s. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest.

While the pork is cooking, heat the pan with the meat drippings to medium, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the figs, and sauté another couple of minutes or until figs are softened. Remove the figs to a small bowl, and set aside. Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and vanilla extract (or vanilla seeds) to the sauté pan. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened like a glaze, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

Brush the roasted pork loin well with the glaze, and then slice. Place pork on a platter, and nestle the figs in and around the pork pieces. Drizzle with any remaining glaze, and serve.
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