Homemade Chicken, Spinach and Feta Sausages

If you are a regular reader of An American Housewife, you know I don't really follow recipes, and I often just make things up.  This is a good example of yet another wild hair idea I had.

I wanted to make my own chicken and spinach sausages.  And I love feta cheese with spinach and chicken so, there was my plan.  I would make my own chicken, spinach and feta cheese sausages!

I made this up as I went along and 'taste tested' it at 2 different points which I recommend you do too.  

To taste test - take some of the mixture when you think are pretty happy with it - and form a small patty.  Cook it in a pan on your stove top and then taste.  Do you think it needs a little more salt?  Garlic?  Add.  Taste test again.  

My Homemade Chicken Spinch and Feta Sausages

4 - 4 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1 - 1 1/2 lb. fatback, cubed (I found this at Walmart - it adds the moisture you need in this recipe)
1 T ground coriander
2-4 t salt (start with 2 and adjust after you taste test.  I like to use 3)
1 T garlic, minced
3/4 c feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 c spinach (I used frozen, chopped style)
1/4 c olive oil
Optional:  dash or two of a lemon, garlic mixture of your choice brand or lemon pepper)
Meat Grinder
Casings of your choice

Follow the directions on your meat grinder.  Grind the chicken, fatback and spinach into a large bowl.  Add the rest of your ingredients to the ground mixture in the bowl.  Mix well.  Taste test by cooking a small patty of your mixture on the stove in a bit of oil.  Adjust the flavorings to your liking and test again.  When you are happy with the cooked taste of your sausage, continue.

Attach the stuffing tool per your grinder's instructions.  Attach the casing onto the stuffing tube per your grinder's instructions and your casing instructions regarding whether your casings need to be rinsed first, etc.  Re-feed the chicken now ground and seasoned, into the machine and form long tubes per your casing instructions being sure to secure the end first so your sausage doesn't come out!  Be sure not to overstuff, you want to leave room to twist and form sausages.

I don't have the little wires to form sausages, so I used the 'twist it' style.  Holding the rope in small sections in my hands like a tiny jump rope, I spin the sausages a couple times away from me to twist the ends. This forms a sausage.  Now I moved my hands down a little more and holding the first twist in my left hand, and squishing the sausage up about an inch on the right, I placed my fingers there and I spun another chunk of the sausage, but this time spinning towards me (the opposite way).

Continue moving your hands down small sections of the sausage rope, alternating spinning the 'jump rope' away from you and towards you, which forms the twists between the sausages. Make sure you are squishing enough room between the sausage links (about an inch) to form the twists.

I let the ropes set while I finished stuffing another casing.  You could store them as is, but I wanted to cut mine apart and seal them in groups of 3 or 4 in individual food saver style bags in the deep freeze.  I snipped them apart, and only had 2 open up on me that I had stuffed a little tight and had to redo.  You could probably par-boil them at this point, let them cool complete and freeze them, or use them right away.  I sealed mine, and put them in the deep freeze.  When I make them, I put them in the refrigerator to thaw and then put them into 2 inches of water in a pan on the stove to pre-cook them - then finish them on the grill or under the broiler.  We don't have to serve anything 'with' these as a condiment - they are so good all by themselves.  We have them plain with a side dish or serve in a bun like a brat or a hotdog.

My very simple, one speed Weston meat grinder.  Nothing fancy!

Grinding the chicken breasts

 I packaged some ground chicken as is - unseasoned - to use in taco's later

The fatback adds moisture to the sausage.  Don't skip this or they will be dry and crumbly!
I found mine at Walmart in the packaged meat department.

 Adding the spinach

The casings I bought online come like this - and you have to rinse them before use

Yeah, they kind of look gross. Ha ha.

Put the stuffing attachment on your machine and have a couple casings ready.
I only used 2 long strips (but I didn't know so I had more ready just in case)

Threading the casing on the attachment.

Ready to tie off the end and begin stuffing

Don't push or pull.  Just let the machine fill gently and guide it.  Don't overstuff.

If there are any air bubbles you can poke through the casing with a clean pin to make them disappear.

Resting while I finish a second casing.

I snipped them apart and packaged them into 3 and 4 sausages per bag to freeze

We ate 4 right away and sealed the rest to store in the freezer

Marked and ready to store

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Peanut Blossoms

I think this year so far (December 19th) I'm up to about 16 different recipes made so far.  I save some of the items for the last minute as they don't freeze well.  The problem with my large amount of baking is that by the time Christmas comes and I'm ready to make up goodie trays for my husbands employees, gifts for friends, neighbors and our own celebrations...  sometimes a 'favorite' cookie has been raided by my family and I'm scrambling to make up another batch or two!

Peanut Blossoms are one of those items I know I'll be making at least 3 batches of.  They are a huge favorite of most people.  I normally do a triple batch and hope at least 20 of them make it to Christmas.  Ha.

Peanut Blossoms

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c peanut butter
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1 3/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 c sugar to roll
1 pkg. Hershey's Kisses or Chocolate Stars if you can find them

Beat sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in bowl til light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in the 1/4 cup sugar. Place on ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 until lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss or star in center of each cookie. Remove to cooling racks.

*Traditionally these were made with chocolate stars.  Personally, I haven't been able to find Chocolate Stars locally since we relocated to the deep South about 4 years ago.  Perhaps they are easier to find in some regions or states than others?  You can order them online - or just use Hershey's Kisses - which are pretty much available anywhere.

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Stenciled Sugar Cookies - stenciling Christmas cookies both with spray food color and frosting

This year seems to be the year everyone is taking notice and trying their hands at 'stencil' cookies - whether it's with food color air pumps and sprays or with frosting.  And, I am no different - I thought about it last year but 'eh' life was too busy.  

Since I didn't know if I would like doing cookies this way I did not want to invest in an 'air pump' sprayer but figured I'd give the Wilton Spray Mist Colors a try, as well as frosting.   You can find intricate directions and instructions alllll over the internet but basically you just put a layer of royal icing on a cookie, let it dry complete and then place a stencil over the cookie and either spray or mist a food color "ink" over or use a flat spatula and scrape a thin layer of a thick icing over.

In the end, I found I absolutely was NOT happy with the spray cans of color.  The color was not bright - and took numerous light coats to get a nice 'bright' red but by then the moisture content of a few layers was too much for the icing and I noticed small bubbles appear.

The spray mist also tended to mist "under" the stencil no matter taunt against the top of the cookie I felt I had it.  Only about 1 in 5 was good enough that I was 'happy' with it.  Not good odds.  Plus, the spray cans made a lot of "over" spray and wasted so much color!  I just wasn't impressed.

The frosting cookies however... not bad.  Some stencils worked better than others.  If it had too much open space, or tiny little intricate cuts, it could be persnickety, but the average image or word stencil worked fairly well.

If I choose to do these against next year, I will be doing the frosting/icing stencil - but not the Wilton spray mists.

FIRST:  flood fill your cookies with icing that hardens (like a basic royal icing) and let dry 24 hours to completely harden.

Any size shape or cookie will do.

The food color mist sprays... not impressed.
The silver wasn't too bad but the red was a light pink unless I did 4-5 light layers.  By that time the moisture of the spray sometimes caused tiny bubbles in the icing or more often than not, the fine mist drifted under the stencils.  I broke 2 cookies trying to press the stencil firmly in place to avoid the drifting color mist.

Fed up with the sprays, I grabbed some excess frosting from another cookie and tried my hand at using a small spatula to spread across a stencil and lift up.  MUCH BETTER.

I had some leftover red icing from other cookies so I added some powdered sugar to make it stiff and used it to finish the cookies.

Stenciled the word "hope" onto this one.

Believe was my favorite word - but the "B" on the stencil was too hard to work with as it was skinnier than the other letters.

Wish worked pretty well.

One of my stencils had a random snowflake design.  It worked out fairly well!

I found cheap stencils at Walmart and found a couple more (not cheap) at Michaels.  

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Incredibly easy and delicious faux fruitcake - no bake fruitcake that's "marshmallow and graham" great!

Busy Busy Busy!!!  I'm baking when I can around everything going on in life... and slowly ticking off the check list of about 23 different recipes this year.  This is one of those "must make" traditions in our house!  As a matter of fact, the child-of-mine that loves these best of all is now married and will be starting all of her own holiday baking traditions.  More reason than ever to put this one back up on An American Housewife again.

No Bake Fruitcake Bars

1 lb. butter
1 lb. mini marshmallows
3/4 c evaporated milk
1 lb. pecans
1/2 lb. walnuts
1/2 lb. whole green candied cherries
1/2 lb. whole red candied cherries
1 lb. raisins
1 lb. graham cracker crumbs

Melt the butter, marshmallows and evaporated milk in a pan on the stove over low to medium heat.  In a very large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.  Add the melted marshmallow mixture.  Stir and mix well.  Press into a greased or foil lined 9X13" pan.  Press flat and freeze or refrigerate overnight.  Slice into 3 sections and slice each loaf into sections.

 Brilliantly colored... just waiting to be mixed in with the graham cracker mix!

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Cream Horn Recipe - So easy when you opt to use Puff Pastry - 30 minutes, start to finish!

Re-posting another personal favorite for the holidays: Homemade Cream Horns and SO EASY when you opt for store bought puff pastry!  (YES for years I made my own homemade puff pastry - which is quite time consuming and a bit temperamental. Just use store bought - it's much easier! Ha ha.)

I was going for QUICK and easy - not 'pretty' this time. But had I used a pretty star tip these could be guest-worthy!

I've posted about cream horns (also can be called by some 'lady locks' or 'clothespin cookies') in the past but I thought I'd update and let everyone know how unbelievably easy and FAST they are to make using a puff pastry.

Note;  You WILL need a 'form' to make these.  Our Great Grandmothers used round clothespins, but I prefer a cream horn mold as it makes them tapered from  larger to smaller which not only makes them pretty but makes them simple to fill.

Quick and Easy Cream Horns

1 package Puff Pastry (2 to a package, makes about 32 total if you use both sheets)
1 recipe cream filling*
Sugar (or Xylitol sugar substitute) for sprinkling

Thaw the puff pastry according to directions.  I used just 1 of the two sheets and it makes about 15-16 cream horns so the whole package would make about 32.  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the puff pastry out on parchment paper (or lightly flour your counter).  Slice the pastry about every half-inch to make about 15 strips or if you want to make them larger, about 8 1-inch slices.  

Wrap one long strip of pastry around your mold.  Leave the large round end open without it overlapping to make removal easier later. You can brush with melted butter - I spray the tops with butter flavored Pam in a hurry, and then sprinkle with large crystals of sugar (or sugar free sweetener substitute).  

Bake on a lightly greased or non-stick baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  While they are baking, mix up your favorite butter cream or other filling.  Removal from oven, remove from pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely.  Use a pastry bag with a large tip to squeeze filling into each horn.  These are wonderful if you can let them set up or even refrigerate them to chill the filling but they are delicious eaten immediately too!  

Fill with whatever whipping cream or buttercream filling you prefer!  For a summer event or when temperatures are an issue - this is a good, stable buttercream type filling.

Filling (half this recipe for the recipe above)

1 c Crisco
1 c butter
4 c powdered sugar
4 t vanilla
3/4 c marshmallow creme

Cream the Crisco and butter. Add the sugar gradually and then the creme and vanilla. Beat well until it's smooth like whipped cream. Fill cooled or chilled cream horn forms. Does not need to be refrigerated for storage.

Makes homemade cream puffs effortless

Wrapping around a form

Sprinkled with Xylitol or Sugar and ready to bake

Mix up your filling

Baked golden brown

Leave the end open so you can slide it right off the form


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One of my personal favorite Christmas Cookies - Rosette's! A Crisp, light, flakey pastry

Re-posting for the Christmas baking season

Here is one of our family tradition's that goes back to my own childhood of visiting my Grandmother's house on Christmas Eve.  Even as a child I didn't like things that were 'too sweet' and this one is not, save for the sugar sprinkled on top.  The Scandinavian pastry is crisp and light and not sweet.  They are a Swedish tradition in our home and I hope one day to share the tradition with my own grandchildren as well.  You do need a Rosette/Timbale Set to make these.


2 eggs
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 c milk
1 c flour

Break eggs into a bowl, add sugar, salt, vanilla, milk and flour. Beat briefly just until smooth. Do not overbeat! Too much beating makes your rosettes blistered and tough.

Have hot oil, lard or shortening in a pan on the stove heating. Leave the rosette iron in the hot oil for several minutes while you make the batter. Dip the hot iron into the batter being careful not to let the batter come up over the edge of the iron. Dip just about 4/5th of the way up the iron. Immediately place the iron/batter into the hot oil. Hold the iron in place and cook the rosette until it's golden brown and crisp. The temperature of the oil is perfect when it takes about 25-30 seconds for the rosette to cook. Too fast and it burns, too cool and it will be soggy and greasy. Use a fork to shake the rosette off the iron and onto a paper towel lined rack. When they are cool sprinkle with powdered sugar. These can be frozen. This recipe will make about 40.

If they do not come off the iron they were not fried long enough or you let the batter come up over the edge of the iron.
If they are blistered and thick, you have beaten the eggs too much.
If the rosettes drop off in the hot oil the iron is not deep enough in the oil.
If they are not crisp they have been fried too fast or the oil was not hot enough.

Heat the iron in the oil while you mix the batter
You must have a rosette set to make these.
Don't dip the batter up over the edge of the iron so they will slide off after frying.

Drain on paper towels
Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a delicious treat!

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Unexpected - Back Soon I Hope (updated)

I'm going to be slow posting for a bit.

Life has thrown a few curve balls this week.

Thursday, my Mother had what should have been a minor surgery. 

Friday I was unfortunately in a store as it was robbed - that shook me up a bit for the rest of the day.

This morning, Sunday, my Mother was up and fine early this morning to have breakfast but after her morning dose of medications, she never woke up.  Currently is unresponsive - eyes are open but not responsive.  Brain scans and blood work being done now.

Sitting next to the phone with nervous energy... (I'm 1000 miles away) - and I guess needing to keep my fingers busy so I'm typing here... and obviously, food and recipes are the least of my thoughts.

Updated:  Possibly mini stroke. More tests. She is talking now - and responsive so there is that.
Updated:  We still believe it was a reaction to the pain medication but they are running brain scans, MR's, and test after test.
Updated:  My Mother is doing well and was released from the hospital.  The admitted that due to "miscommunication" among staff, she was overly sedated with pain medications. She has no memory of the situation other than saying "Well, that was an easy and peaceful way to die"  as she simply went to sleep - but her eyes never closed. She is home now. 


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Guacamole Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped In Bacon

I've been meaning to get this one onto my personal recipe blog so I don't forget it - but life has just been incredibly hectic and busy.  However, my blog is my 'recipe file' and I'm afraid this dish will be forgotten (out of sight, out of mind) if I don't post it here to remind myself to make again... soon.

My last post was about a bacon, guacamole and chicken 'dip' and you can see now where I got that idea... from leftovers!  Yep, this is what I made up for dinner one night - which led to my yummy appetizer idea. 

There isn't really a recipe other than if you make your guacamole from scratch (I do).

My Homemade Guacamole

2-3 avocados (2 large, use 3 if they are on the smaller side)
1/2 onion, quartered
1/4 c diced chilies
1 heaping teaspoon minced jalapeno's
1 T cilantro or parsley (half that if you use dried)
1 T lime juice
1 large clove minced garlic (or use about 1  teaspoon pre-minced jarred style)
1/4 t salt
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
*options;  a little chili powder or cumin if you wish!)

Slice and remove the seed from the avocados.  Scoop the flesh into a food processor bowl.  Add the onion, chilies, jalapeno, cilantro, lime and garlic and salt.  While on pulse a few times, just a few seconds each time.  Don't over process, but be sure the onion is all incorporated.  Stir in half the tomatoes, put into a serving dish, top with the remaining diced tomatoes.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Pound as many boneless, skinless chicken breasts as you wish.
Spread a layer of guacamole on each
Roll up and secure with a strip of bacon - or use two and wrap them like a gift
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken is done
If you need your bacon more golden brown and crisp, place under the broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes
If you make extra bundles, you can chop them up and add extra guacamole to make an appetizer to serve with tortilla chips.

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