Wednesday, December 30, 2009


pantry challenge During the month of January I’ve pledged to join a challenge to eat as much as possible from my pantry and freezer. You can check out the details here, then make your own goals for saving some cash at the grocery store this month.

So my own pantry is not really bulging with excess, but there are some things that have been there for awhile and once they’re used up, they won’t be replaced. Things like mixes and special baking items that were gifts or one-time purchases for a special recipe.

We have plenty of dry beans and rice. It'll be fun to find different ways to use those. I do have a really good recipe for red beans and rice that I haven’t made in awhile…

For the first couple of weeks, at least, I think we can get by with buying just some fresh produce and dairy. There are four (yes, four!) whole turkeys in the big freezer, along with a pork loin and a bag of chicken breasts. Yesterday I picked up just under 15 pounds of ground sirloin (good sale!) so we’ll have some meatballs and I’ll cook and bag the rest to use in soups, casseroles, and for taco meat.

So tomorrow I’ll go through the freezers and pantry and make a current inventory, then start planning menus. I don’t usually plan meals more than four or five days in advance, but a list of possibilities will make that even easier. I’ll be back with the gameplan in a day or two…

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

I’m doing some early prep for Thanksgiving and today I whipped up the cranberry sauce. This recipe comes from the November ‘09 edition of Bon Appetit magazine. Greg got a subscription through Wyatt’s magazine sales, and now we’re never gonna want to eat plain old food again… Well, we never want to eat “old” food, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, homemade cranberry sauce is about the easiest thing to make when preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Except for having to boil/soften the chiles, this recipe took 10 minutes.

The flavor is sweet/hot and I can’t wait to taste it again after it sits awhile. cranberry sauce 002

  • 2 dried chipotle chiles*
  • 1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cumin
  • *Can be found at specialty foods stores, natural foods stores, and Latin markets.

  • Place chiles in medium saucepan filled with water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chiles are tender, adding more water if needed to keep chiles submerged, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on dryness of chiles. Drain.

  • Combine softened chipotles, cranberries, sugar, and lemon juice in heavy medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cinnamon, and cumin. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly and flavors meld, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Cool.

  • Remove chipotles. Stem and seed.  Mince chiles and return to cranberry sauce (my chiles pretty much fell apart during all the stirring. I fished out the pieces and didn’t bother mincing and putting them back in); stir to distribute. Cover and chill.

  • DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Keep chilled.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Vegetable Soup

‘Twas a cloudy, chilly, blustery day yesterday, a good soup day. I had some cooked chicken in the freezer and a bowl full of fresh veggies to use up. The perfect combination!

cheesy chicken soup

This recipe came to me from my email friend, Robin. It lends well to improvisation and freezes great, just reheat slowly and stir it well.

Here’s the recipe, then I’ve added my notes at the end.

Cheesy Chicken Vegetable Soup

2 C chicken broth

2 C diced chicken

1/2 C sliced carrots

1/2 C sliced celery

1/2 C frozen mixed vegetables

1/2 C chopped onions

1/4 C each, butter and flour

2 C milk

1 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 C diced, cooked chicken

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, cook all prepared vegetables in the chicken broth until tender. DO NOT DRAIN. While vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a smaller pan. Add flour and let bubble for about 30 seconds, then whisk in milk. Let thicken, then stir in cheese until melted. Pour cheese sauce into vegetables and broth. Add chicken and heat through. Season as desired. (Use more veggies and/or cheese if desired.)

My notes: I always double this recipe so we’ll have leftovers. Usually I use a whole bag of frozen Asian veggies in place of all of the vegetables. Last night I had fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots that needed to be used up. I simply cut them into small pieces (probably 3+ cups of vegetables) and simmered them in the broth. I used a combination of butter and olive oil and before making the roux, I sautéed the onions in it. There were also mushrooms to use up, so I quartered those and cooked them with the onions before adding the flour.

I used a little Velveeta that was hiding in the back of the frig in place of part of the cheese. I generally always use more veggies and cheese than the recipe calls for, and I always use skim milk.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turkey Cookies

Ew. That title doesn’t sound too tasty, does it? Well, apparently the kids didn’t think so, either, because when I asked them yesterday if they wanted to make turkey cookies with me, there were no takers.

Okay, so we weren’t making cookies from turkey, rather, we were assembling cookie and candy “parts” to resemble a turkey. I went ahead and whipped one up, and when Wyatt saw it he got very excited, which excited the other two, and we were off and running.

turkey cookie lineup

This is a really simple version of the cookie turkey (hey! that sounds better, doesn’t it?). The most difficult part was being able to squeeze the tube of frosting hard enough to get it to come out.

Grace took photos as Wyatt and I worked on a couple of them, but we didn’t get step-by-step, so I’ll just tell you what we did and the photo of the finished products will probably answer any questions you may have.

The components we used were frosting, Oreo cookies, candy corn, and Whoppers. (The frosting we used was black Wilton decorator frosting in a tube that I got for 75 cents on clearance last summer. The Whoppers were leftovers from Halloween.)

First put a line of frosting down the middle of each candy corn. These are your feathers. Place the corns frosting side down onto one of the Oreo cookies. We were able to get four or five corns on the cookie, depending on placement.

On the second cookie, squeeze a thick, heavy blob of frosting toward one edge. Set the feathered cookie onto the frosting, and hold onto it until you get the head on. In front of the feathers, squeeze another blob of frosting and put the Whopper malted milk ball into that, right up next to the feathered cookie. It all should stick together now.

To finish it off, we bit off the end of the candy corn and used the small part as a beak, attaching it with a dot of frosting.

We left them to “dry” so they’d stick together well enough to survive the drive to their house. That might have been the hardest part, now that I think of it, because Wyatt sure did want to eat his. He asked me every five minutes or so if they were dry yet. 

These would be fun table favors for Thanksgiving, and an easy way for the kids to have a part of preparing for the feast. You can Google for different instructions – there are dozens of ways to put these together.

The best part was working with the kids one on one and having them be so excited about what they made. They didn’t care about the corn feathers being crooked or when we got frosting on the wrong side. We all just enjoyed the process and that’s what they’ll remember. :o)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Freezer Cooking

I should be crawling into bed right now, but I taught my Community Ed class on freezer cooking tonight, and need to unwind a little bit before I try to go to sleep. In order to do that, I was reading some blogs, and came across this Once A Month Cooking Festival at Moms In Need of Mercy. She invites us to post our favorite OAMC (or freezer cooking or cooking ahead) tips to share with everyone. I thought I’d share something I learned tonight from one of the ladies attending my class. We were talking about freezing recipes in single serving sizes and the best way to package those servings. One lady suggested using muffin tins – she uses a liner, fills it with the food, freezes the tin, then pops the frozen liners out, bags and freezes them. Specifically she was talking about sloppy joes, but this would work for many different recipes – casseroles, veggie side dishes, beans/rice/potato dishes.

One more tip I always pass on to my students: to make your own “refried” beans, sort and rinse one pound of pinto beans and put them in the crockpot. Add five cups of hot liquid (I use homemade chicken stock) and cook all day. Once the beans are cooked, I use the hand blender to process them until smooth. After they cool, portion them into quart-sized freezer zipper bags and freeze flat. I add a little salt, salsa and cheese when reheating. This method works well for ham and beans in the crockpot also.

Speaking of freezer cooking, tomorrow I’m going to make my pecan pies for Thanksgiving, and whip up some cookie dough for Christmas goodies. I’ll be back with the details.

Good night!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rustic Apple Tart

Several weeks ago Randy loaded a big box of apples into the back of my car. They were fresh-picked from Leslie’s parent’s tree (Thanks Jim and Dee!). The box sat in my cool garage until last weekend when I finally had Greg bring it in the house, and I started looking for recipes.

This “Rustic Tart” is one that my good friend Google found for me. I didn’t save the web site, but I want to say it was or some such place.

This went together easily and quickly, even though I had to make my dough the “old fashioned” way without a food processor. While baking, I could smell the butter and cinnamon-y apples. Yum.

To further the “rustic-ness” of the tart, I didn’t worry overmuch about fanning my apples in concentric circles. I made a circle, then just filled in the center with a big pile of apples.

The final step of brushing with melted preserves is optional, and I didn’t do that.

rustic apple tart

Doesn’t this look delicious? The crust is flaky and crispy, the apples tender and not overly sweet. It was wonderful served warm, but also good the next morning when I ate it cold for breakfast.

Rustic Apple Tart
  1.. 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  2.. Pinch of salt
  3.. 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch
pieces, plus 2 tablespoons melted
  4.. 1/3 cup ice water
  5.. 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  6.. 4 large Golden Delicious apples-peeled, cored and cut into
1/4-inch-thick slices
  7.. 2 tablespoons melted and strained apricot preserves
  1.. In a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups of the flour with the salt. Add
the cold butter and process just until the butter is the size of peas, about
5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and process just until
moistened, about 5 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work
surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough
into a disk. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a
16- to 17-inch round about 1/4 inch thick.
  2.. Line a large unrimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the
dough around the rolling pin and unroll it onto the prepared baking sheet.
  3.. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the remaining
1 tablespoon of flour and sprinkle over the dough. Arrange the apple slices
on top in overlapping concentric circles to within 3 inches of the edge.
Fold the dough over the apples in a free-form fashion. Brush the apples with
the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of
sugar. Refrigerate the unbaked tart until slightly chilled, about 10
  4.. Preheat the oven to 400°. Bake the tart in the center of the oven for
1 hour, or until the apples are tender and golden and the crust is deep
golden and cooked through. Brush the apples with the melted preserves. Slide
the parchment onto a wire rack and let the tart cool slightly before
Make Ahead
  The baked tart can be stored overnight at room temperature. Reheat in a
325° oven before serving.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I'm Just Peachy!

I'm still putting away garden produce, roasting tomatoes and flash-freezing peppers, but then along came the Colorado peaches. A "lug" of the nicest peaches I think I've ever purchased. (They came from the local Lion's Club as part of their fund-raising efforts.) At first I didn't think there were very many in the box, nice as they were, then I started peeling them...

Blanching makes for easy peeling, but I only had time that morning to do part of the pile. Some of them were used for jam, some were frozen, and some were put in this:

Peach and Pecan Upside-Down Cake

Bon Appétit August 2009 by Cindy Mushet

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

For peach and pecan topping:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

40 (about) pecan halves (about 3 ounces)

2 medium peaches (about 7 ounces each), peeled, halved, pitted, each half cut into 6 wedges

For cake: 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup pecans

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole milk

Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

Special equipment: 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (I used a deep dish pie plate.)

Peach and Pecan Topping:

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar; whisk until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.

Pour mixture into 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; spread evenly over bottom of pan (layer will be thin).

Arrange pecan halves, side by side with round sides down, in circle around outer edge of pan bottom. Arrange peach wedges, slightly overlapping, inside circle of pecans, covering pan bottom. Set aside while making cake batter. Cake:

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F.

Combine first 6 ingredients in processor. Blend until nuts are finely ground. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until butter is pale in color, about 4 minutes. Whisk eggs and vanilla in small bowl until well blended. Add egg mixture to butter mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.

Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop pecans and peaches in pan; spread evenly and gently with offset spatula or rubber spatula.

Bake cake until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Transfer cake to rack; cool in pan 25 to 30 minutes (do not cool longer or peach layer may stick to pan).

Run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place serving platter atop cake pan. Using oven mitts, firmly hold cake pan and platter together and invert cake onto platter. Let cake rest 1 minute, then very slowly lift off pan. If necessary, rearrange any peach wedges or pecans that may have become dislodged.

Let cool to room temperature. Cut cake into wedges. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

You can tell by my photo that I did not follow the directions for placing the pecans and peaches - my pecans were the end of a bag, and many were in pieces, so I just sprinkled them all over. My peaches were large, so I had more than 12 slices and I just nestled in as many as possible, then popped the remaining couple in my mouth for sweet, juicy snack. :o)

I'll be sure to post the other recipes these peaches were used in, but until then, I'd love to hear about how you enjoy consuming these lovelies. Leave a comment and/or a link to your favorite peach recipe!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Preserving the Heat

After a few very strong summer storms, only one jalapeno pepper plant remains in our little backyard garden. Fortunately it's a prolific one and I picked 15 fairly large peppers the other morning.
We have a couple of ways to preserve these for use later in the year, but the best way is to freeze them. After being frozen, they're good for cooking in soups and casseroles.
Here's how I flash froze my harvest that day:
First I washed all the peppers, then dried each with a paper towel. I dried them so that when I freeze them, the pieces won't have ice on them.
Cut off the stem end and slice down the middle of the pepper.
Use a spoon and scoop out the ribs and seeds. This removes most of the heat - I like the heat, but Greg's not a fan.
Now there is just the pepper shell. I sliced these length-wise into thin strips, then cut the strips into small pieces.
Doing that left me with a nice tray of diced jalapenos. Place a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet before spreading the pepper pieces into a single layer.
Now place the tray in the freezer for a few hours. When the pieces are frozen, you can put them in a Ziplock bag and store in the freezer for later use.
I would so love to show you a photo of my freezer bag full of goodness, but when I got the tray out of the freezer in the garage and was walking into the house, I dropped it and all my pretty frozen pepper pieces landed in the doorway - some inside the house on the floor, some on the porch. I didn't even say a bad word - I was speechless...
Like I said earlier, it's fortunate this is a prolific plant. I will be able to put some peppers in the freezer in another few days, and will definitely be more careful walking around with the tray.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mexican Caviar

Yes, another tomato recipe - 'tis the season! :o)
I actually made this several weeks ago when my sister and her family were visiting, so I had to use store-bought tomatoes. It was still tasty, but I think with fresh-from-the-garden fruits, the flavor would be amazing!

Mexican Caviar
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
5 green onions, chopped
3 TBS olive oil
3 1/2 TBS tarragon vinegar
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (2.25 oz) can chopped black olives
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt
In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Caprese Salad

One the of the simplest, tastiest ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes and basil is the classic Caprese salad. Jess and I had this with our supper the other night, using the first ripe tomato and some fresh basil from the garden.
I like to chiffonade my basil and sprinkle over the top of the sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Add a little salt and pepper, then a quick drizzle of olive oil.
This was a fresh and flavorful side dish that we served with grilled chicken.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tomato Time!

It's time for tomatoes from our garden. They're several weeks late this year, but we haven't had an abundance of hot weather all summer, and that's what they need. Anyway, late ripeners they may be, but they're finally red and finally ready for feasting!
I've posted a couple of tomato recipes in the past couple of years, including Roasted Tomato Soup and cheese topped tomato slices. We'll make these again, but I'm also trying some new things. Tonight was this cheese and tomato tart from Our Best Bites. It was easy to whip up with a purchased pie crust that was in the frig needing to be used.
Cheese and Tomato Tart
1 recipe for pie crust (or just use a pre-made pie crust if you're short on time)3/4 c. light sour cream (I had to use part sour cream, part plain yogurt)
1/3 c. light mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
1 Tbsp. coarse grain or Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 small onion, minced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

2-3 Tbsp. butter (I used 2 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS butter)

8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

3-4 fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare pie crust and place in the bottom of a 9" pie plate. Set aside (preferably in the fridge).

Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until tender and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir in cheese. Set aside. (This is where I added the onions/garlic mixture. The recipe didn't say when to add them in.)

Slice tomatoes about 1/4" thick and layer in the bottom of the pie plate.
Top with cheese/sour cream mixture.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the top is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to stand at least 30 minutes in order to set. Cut into 12 wedges and serve! This can be served by itself as an appetizer or with a spinach or Romaine salad with a light vinaigrette for brunch. Or a snack pretty much any time you want...

You can see that this was pretty wet, and not really set up when I cut it to serve for supper. Before putting it away in the frig, I did pour off some of the wetness, and hopefully it'll be firmer tomorrow.

It is very rich, so a small piece is a good idea. If I make this again, I'll add some fresh herbs to the cheese mixture.

Jessi's review: "It's different."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hot Date

The morning was beautiful - cool and low humidity, a perfect day to heat up the kitchen. Greg and I spent last Sunday canning vegetables. Some from Leslie, some from the farmer's market, and some from our own backyard garden. Yes, this was our "Hot Date".
I started the day with this: Blanche the corn for a few minutes in boiling water, then pop it into a sink of ice water to stop the cooking. While the first batch cooled in the water, the second batch was cooking. It didn't take long to get them all cooked and cooled. After that, out came the electric knife:
Yes, after I finished, Greg checked to make sure I still had all ten digits. I tend to have a little difficulty with sharp things in the kitchen...
The corn was bagged and frozen. Twenty-three ears of corn yielded six quart-sized bags with between 3 and four cups of corn in each.
This will probably be used in cornbread and casserole recipes. Greg works in corn every day, so we don't eat much of it at home, with the exception of sweet corn season. Yum!
Always label and date your freezer bags - obviously this is corn, so I saved some ink and just put the date on these.
Next up were the green beans. Oh, the green beans! It's amazing how huge a quantity a WalMart bag will hold. (Thanks Leslie!)
These were cleaned, trimmed of both ends, and snapped into pieces between 1 and 2" long.
I purchased a brand new pressure canner to do the beans - yeah, this year the garden isn't really saving much money... :o)
Neither Greg nor I have ever used a pressure canner, so Greg studied the user guide while I cleaned the beans. The first batch was a little tense, but with the successful sealing of all the jars, we relaxed a little bit.
The second batch went much smoother. We ended up with several pints and several quarts of beans. Just a spoonful of salt in each jar for flavor.

So while the last batch of beans cooked, we started on the pickles. Oh, the pickles! I had a small bag of cukes from Leslie, then Greg headed out to the garden and brought in a pile of our own. We used the same recipe I posted before, and there are now enough dill pickles to last the winter, I think. We'll be moving on to some different flavors next time.
Even though we both just melt, and we each have our opinions, I do enjoy having Greg help out with this canning process. There will be at least a few more hot dates in our kitchen in the next few weeks. :o)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chipping Away at the Garden

Leslie has been very generous with her garden bounty and it's been fun to play with recipes and new ways to enjoy favorite veggies. I think the red potatoes she grew have been particularly tasty.
As I made my menu plan for last week, I decided to add homemade potato chips for something a little different. Greg took on this task as I put together the beef and sage sliders for that meal.

He got out the Pampered Chef mandoline and cut the potato slices uber-thin, then fried them at 375 degrees F for a few minutes. After removing from the oil, he sprinkled some finely ground sea salt, and they were delicious!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mini Beef and Sage Sliders with Gorgonzola

Once again I headed to the garden and snipped some fresh herbs for supper. This time it was sage. The plant has a lovely earthy sweet scent. Sometimes I reach down and stir the leaves as I walk by, just to enjoy it.
So besides using it for Thanksgiving stuffing, what else is sage good for? This soup recipe is one of my favorites, and now these burgers can be added to the herb recipe collection:
Mini Beef and Sage Sliders with Gorgonzola
Rachael Ray
From Every Day with Rachael Ray
October 2006
12 mini dinner rolls, split
1 garlic clove, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil for liberal drizzling
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
3/4 pound Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (I just bought a small container of blue cheese crumbles)
1. Preheat broiler to high. Place the rolls on a broiler pan and toast until golden. Rub with the garlic and drizzle with EVOO.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the beef with the Worcestershire sauce, sage, shallot and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 equal pieces and form 3 sliders from each piece, 12 mini sliders total.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with a drizzle of EVOO. Cook the sliders for 3 minutes on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the other side for medium.
4. Top each bun bottom with some spinach, a slider and a few cheese crumbles. Place under the broiler to melt the cheese a bit, about 30 seconds, then set the bun tops in place.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Making Pickles

When we were planning the raised beds and this year's veggie garden, Greg made a point of asking for cucumbers to make pickles. I made sure we were both on the same page with that - if he wanted pickles, he'd be making them. Last night was his first canning lesson as we worked together and made our first batch of dill pickles. The cucumbers and dill came from our garden. Greg used the Pampered Chef mandoline to make some wavy hamburger slices, and I cut some short spears. These are half-pint jars, because I don't like huge jars in the frig, and I think they'll work great for getting eaten before the contents gets old. I will pick up some larger jars, though, so we can have some longer spears. We won't be able to taste them for a few weeks, as they need time to develop their flavor. I'll definitely post a review when we're able to sample them!

This recipe came from We did not do the hot water bath, but if you read the feedback, you find that the original recipe did not include those directions. Also, the original recipe was for 64 servings - I used the recalculation function on the web site and pared that down to 12 servings. For the eight half-pint jars we put up, we had to make two batches of brine, then ended up with about half of the second batch leftover. I'll readjust the servings depending on the quantity of cucumbers each time we make this recipe.

Dill Pickles
Servings: 12
"This recipe for Kosher style dills was given to me 25 years ago by a farmers wife who grew cucumbers and it has never let me down. The two things I have found critical to crisp dill pickles are soaking the cukes in ice water for at least 2 hours and ensuring the brine is at a full boil when poured over the dills."
1-1/2 pounds 3 to 4 inch long pickling cucumbers
3/4 cup white vinegar
2-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1-1/2 sprigs fresh dill weed
1-1/2 heads fresh dill weed
You have scaled this recipe's ingredients to yield a new amount (12). The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield (64).
1. Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required.
Sterilize 8 (1 quart ) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.
3. In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, and 1 sprig of dill. Fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar's rims of any residue.
4. Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes.
5. Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Using up the Herbs

The few herbs that are planted in the garden and in the pots on the porch, are thriving in the summer heat. Yesterday I picked quite a lot of basil, and this morning I grabbed some thyme and rosemary. Then I went web-surfing for herb bread recipes.
This is the first of the three recipes I saved to try. I made it in the bread machine, and did have to add several spoonsful of flour during the second kneading cycle.
It got rave reviews from Jessica and an enthusiastic nod from Greg. :o)
I'm thinking it will make for a delicious sandwich for my lunch tomorrow.
Herb Bread
1 cup warm water
1 beaten egg
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried rosemary, or use 2 tablespoons fresh, crumbled
(I used all fresh herbs - rosemary, thyme, and basil)
1 tsp each dried oregano and basil (or 1 tbsp each fresh)
3 c flour
2 tsp bread machine yeast
Place in machine according to machine instructions (or if you make bread by hand, you already know what to do). A few minutes into kneading, check that the dough is the consistency that you want, add any flour or extra water that you need (I usually find I need a little bit of flour).
Bake on large loaf, light crust. This herb combination smells heavenly, and goes great with chicken or pasta or on picnics. You can use any combination of herbs you like, and adjust it to complement the meal you are serving if you like.
Another favorite combination for us is dill and onion bread. Just omit the herbs in the recipe above and add 1/4 c finely chopped onion and 1 tbsp dried dill leaf (or three tbsp fresh).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mini Man Burgers

Sliders have become a popular appetizer on restaurant menus, so I recently searched for a recipe to make them at home. I came up with a couple versions of beef sliders, and have made this one twice for supper. Last night we had them with baked beans and corn on the cob - a perfect summer meal. I doubled the recipe so we'd have leftovers for the freezer. I'll pop each onto a bun (without mayo) and put two in each sandwich Ziplock, then all of the sandwich bags into a freezer bag. These will microwave easily for Greg's lunch.

Mini Man Burgers

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2003


1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound ground chuck

8 (3-inch) buns or rolls, split in half

2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees F. (I used our cast iron grill pan)

Combine the onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Line a jellyroll or sheet pan with parchment paper, and place the ground chuck in the middle of the pan. Cover the meat with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Roll meat with a rolling pin until it covers the surface of the pan; it should be very thin.

Remove the plastic wrap, and sprinkle the meat with the seasoning mixture. Fold the meat in half, from side to side, using the parchment paper.

Use a pizza wheel to cut the meat into 8 even squares.

Wrap the buns in foil and place in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the burgers on the griddle and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Remove the buns from the oven. Spread a small amount of mayonnaise on each bun and top with the burger and any other condiments, as desired.

Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reaping the Garden Bounty

A few days ago Leslie gave me some red potatoes and some fresh green beans from her huge garden. I decided to make potato salad for supper yesterday, but was out of dill pickles for the recipe my mom taught me to make, so I searched for a recipe that used what I had in the cupboards and frig. I found one that used the green beans as well and we all really liked it. (Sorry, no photo - we ate it before I remembered to snap one.)
The recipe came from - I just googled "potato salad recipe". My comments are in red.

Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad
4 cups sliced potatoes
2 cups fresh trimmed green beans, cut in 1/2-inch lengths
4 to 6 slices bacon [I was out of bacon, so just skipped this - it was still delicious]
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup vinegar (wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar are good) [I used red wine vinegar]
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
dash garlic powder
Preparation: Peel potatoes, halve then slice in 1/4-inch thickness. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover and boil for 5 minutes; add green beans and more water to cover, if necessary. Boil for about 10 more minutes.
Fry bacon and drain; set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon of drippings.
In a small bowl, whisk olive oil and bacon drippings slowly into the vinegar; add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour over vegetables.
Crumble bacon over and toss gently.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve warm or room temperature. [I made this a couple of hours before we had supper, and just covered the bowl and let it sit on the counter until we ate.]
Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fish and Chips

We've been buying the packages of cod loins from Sam's Club for a few months now. They're a nice size for making this Fish and Chips recipe from Emeril. Well, we make the fish, our "chips" are usually from the freezer.
I didn't get many photos - he's a tough subject. :o)

This time Greg made onion rings to go with the fish. He sliced a sweet onion, dipped the rings in the batter, and fried them up before he did the fish.
Here's the batter recipe:
6 to 8 cups peanut oil, for frying (we used canola oil)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces amber beer (he usually uses Sam Adams)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1 cup rice flour (he uses regular all-purpose)
2 pounds haddock or other firm, white flesh fish cut into 4-ounce strips

Lemon slices or pepper vinegar (we like malt vinegar)
Heat oil in large pot or in an electric deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, beer, eggs and half of the salt, pepper, and Essence. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Dredge the fish in the rice flour. Working in small batches, submerge the fish in the batter and carefully place into the hot oil. Fry the fish until golden brown on the first side, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook until golden on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove the fish from the fryer and transfer to a wire rack positioned over paper towels or newspaper so that the fish can drain. Season, to taste, with some of the remaining salt, pepper, and Essence. Repeat the process for the remaining of the fish.
Serve the fish and chips with slices of lemon or pepper vinegar.
I also make our tartar sauce using real mayonnaise, a little finely diced onion, and sweet pickle relish. Mix to taste, and refrigerate to blend flavors.
We had some leftovers this time, and I had them for lunch several days later. When warming fried food, you need to use the oven so they will crisp up again. Several minutes in the toaster oven made for a very delicious lunch!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flavor-full Burger

While having our lunch on a Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, Greg turned on the TV to Food Network. Giada was making some chicken burgers, which I thought sounded delicious, but she mentioned that this recipe could be made using any kind of meat. Well, Greg's blood is red, so when I decided to make these for supper that night, there was no question that we'd be using ground beef. (I will make these again for lunch when Jessi's here, and I'll use turkey.)
Since it's gardening season here, there is fresh rosemary growing in my backyard (you KNOW I love having an herb garden in the backyard!), so I was able to just step outside and clip a couple of stalks for this recipe. I was out of fresh garlic, but had a jar of roasted garlic in the frig that I subbed in. Oh, and only use real mayonnaise, please. No fat-free or salad dressing - it has too much sugar and tastes very different. Real mayo is made with soy oil which is good for you.
Chicken Burgers with Garlic-Rosemary Mayonnaise
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings
Mayonnaise - 1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 sandwich rolls or burger buns
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup arugula, divided (I used fresh spinach)
For the mayonnaise: In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, garlic, and rosemary; set aside.
For the burgers:
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill or place a grill pan over medium-high heat.
In a large bowl, add the ground chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 of the mayonnaise mixture.
Using clean hands, gently combine the ingredients and form the chicken mixture into 4 patties.
Place the burgers on the grill and cook for about 7 minutes on each side. Transfer to paper towels and let rest for a few minutes.
Brush the cut side of each roll with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of the mayonnaise mixture. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes until slightly golden.
To assemble the burgers:
Spread a dollop of the remaining mayonnaise mixture on the tops and bottoms of the toasted buns. Place the chicken burgers on the bottom halves of the buns. Top each with 1/4 cup of arugula and finish with the top half of the bun.
Okay, these were SO GOOD they left me craving more. I'm anxious to try them again, using the turkey.