Food & Drink

Stir Crazy: Sign up now for pasture-raised meat, eggs

Pecan pie gets toffee and chocolate pieces added to make it even better.
Pecan pie gets toffee and chocolate pieces added to make it even better.

Taking home pasture-raised local meat and eggs just got a lot easier.

Josh and Alicia Davis, owners of Green Finned Hippy Farm in Pocahontas, are taking sign-ups now for their winter meat and egg pickup in O’Fallon.

All of their animals are raised on pasture and are fed an amazing high-quality diet to ensure the best-tasting and healthiest choice of meat and eggs around. No medications or hormones. No confinement in small cages. I’ve eaten their bone-in pork chops and eggs and it’s amazing how much better the flavor and taste are.

Green Finned Hippy Farm will make four deliveries this winter, once a month from December to March, to be picked up at Sweet Katie Bee’s in downtown O’Fallon.

They need at least three sign-ups in advance to do the winter deliveries. It’s a bit of a drive from Pocahontas and this is a two-person farm.

What you get at each delivery are 7 to 8 pounds of pasture-raised pork and chicken, 2 dozen pasture-raised eggs, some recipes and a few extra items, says Josh. The total cost is $265, tax included, for the four pickups. Do the numbers and you’ll see what a great deal this is. Anyone checked the price of chicken at the stores lately?

If you are interested or want to know more, give them a call at 618-798-1131 or leave a message at their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/gfhfarms. Delivery dates are Dec. 15, Jan. 12, Feb. 16 and March 15, all from 5-5:30 p.m. at Sweet Katie Bee’s, 212 E. State St., O’Fallon.

Need background on the farm? See my story from June at http://www.bnd.com/living/magazine/article25656991.html.

Holiday meals

Gathering recipes now for Christmas brunch or a family dinner? Try the amazingly delicious Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs recipe from www.thekitchn.com. It is a quick breakfast side dish or appetizer, bite-sized and creamy inside and crispy on the outside.

I’m also throwing in a pie recipe we made for Thanksgiving that is amazing any time of year. Pecan is my favorite, but Toffee Chocolate Pecan Pie is great, without the nuts overwhelmed by the other flavors. The recipe if from www.crazyforcrust.com and is easy to prepare.

Contact me at sboyle@bnd.com, 618-239-2664 or follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

Cheesy Mashed Potato Puffs

You can use mini or regular muffin pans, but the baking time should be increased by about 10 minutes with the bigger size.

2 cups mashed potatoes

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheese such as Parmesan or Gruyere, divided

1/4 cup minced chives

1/4 cup diced cooked bacon or ham, optional

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sour cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease the cups of a mini-muffin tin.

Whisk together the mashed potatoes, the eggs, 3/4 cup of cheese, the chives and ham. Season, if necessary, with salt and pepper. The seasoning will depend on how seasoned your mashed potatoes were to begin with.

Mound a spoonful of the mixture in each muffin cup. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese.

Bake 20 minutes, or until the potato cups are set, browned on top, and hot through. Let cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then use a spoon or knife to gently release them from the pan. Serve immediately with dollops of sour cream, if desired. Makes 12 to 24 puffs, depending the size of the pan used.

Make-ahead notes: You can bake these and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat and re-crisp: Arrange the puffs on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (depending on size).

More flavor ideas

Loaded Baked Potato: Cheddar cheese, cooked bacon, chopped green onions, served with sour cream and chives

Curried Potato Puffs: 1 teaspoon curry powder (or to taste), chopped red onion, chopped jalapeño pepper, served with yogurt and cucumber.

Goat Cheese & Spinach: Fine chopped spinach, minced garlic, crumbled goat cheese.

Italian-Inspired: Finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped basil, finely chopped shallots, served with a smear of tomato sauce.

Toffee Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 pie crust, from a package of two or from scratch

3 large eggs

1 cup dark corn syrup (Karo)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or milk chocolate)

1/2 cup toffee bits

1 3/4 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place your pie crust in your pie plate (recipe is written for a 9-inch pie plate) and crimp edges as desired. Chill until filling is ready and oven is preheated.

Whisk eggs, corn syrup, sugar, salt and melted butter together.

Remove pie shell from refrigerator. Sprinkle the chocolate and toffee chips on the bottom. Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the chocolate and toffee. Pour filling over the top. Let it sit for a minute so the pecans can rise to the top.

Place pie on a cookie sheet.* Tear off strips of foil about 1 1/2- to 2-inches wide. Carefully mold them to your crust edge. (Or, use a crust guard you can buy at most kitchen stores.) This is to keep it from getting too brown.

Place pie in oven and bake 10 minutes. Leaving it in the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake 25 minutes more, then remove the foil strips or guard. Continue baking another 10-15 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and filling is brown around the edges. It will still wiggle slightly in the center. (The total baking time is about 45-50 minutes.) Cool completely before cutting.

*Editor’s note: We noticed the center didn’t set up as much as it should have, possibly because it was on the cookie sheet and the bottom was a bit of a barrier from the heat of the oven. Next time, I think we’ll just lay down some foil under the pie to catch any drips. (There were none, though.)

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