Category Archives: recipes

The Bread And Butter Of Pickle Recipes

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What better way to spend an afternoon?

It’s spring at the beach. That means gorgeous 75 degree days 50% of the time and rainy 60 degree days (like today) the other 50%.

I told Hubs that I love him and zip ties... but I totally I love him more.

I told Hubs that I love him and zip ties… but not to worry. I totally I love him more.

That also means fresh everything and farmers’ market season!

There’s this little market I’ve been riding my bike to for our grocery shopping. It’s less than two miles away and all neighborhood roads. So imagine me on my bike with my makeshift coffee cup holder (read: a coozie I’ve zip tied to my handlebars), my basket, and my reusable grocery bag pedaling on over and you’ll have a good idea of how I’ve been spending the sunny days. Now, this market, they sell all local. Produce, proteins, dairy, breads, beer… they make their own pickled everything, jams, soups, sauces, spread… and they’re priced somewhere between Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s. It’s incredible. I have real milk in my fridge right now!

I learned how to pickle a few years ago when I was working at this great fine dining spot and immediately fell in love. It was a simple pickled red onion on some salad. I don’t remember all of it except the pickled red onions. They were the important part as far as I was concerned anyway. They were the sweetest, juiciest, bursts of flavor with a balanced tang that set the taste buds singing! You didn’t need anything else in the way of dressing as long as there was even one on your fork. With my allergy to raw onions, anything that helps me enjoy a red onion is a friend of mine, so couple this with a delicious bread and butter pickle and I’m in heaven.

For me this recipe is every bit as much about the onions as it is about the cucumbers (maybe more so). I hope y’all enjoy.

Tools you’ll need:

A large bowl

A plate (and something heavy to put on the plate)

Mine was $13 at Amazon before taxes and shipping

Mine was $13 at Amazon before taxes and shipping

(2) 6 qt pots or one large enough to fit your cucs with liquid and another that will fit your jars

Mason jars and their lids (I used 4 for this batch)

A sheet tray

A 6 piece canning set (this is optional, but I think it makes life substantially easier if you plan to store your pickles long term in sanitized jars)

Ingredients:

15 C sliced pickling cucumbers

3 red onions, thinly sliced

1/4 C coarse salt

4 C crushed ice

2-1/2 C cider vinegar

2-1/2C sugar

3/4 t turmeric

1/2 t celery seed

1 T mustard seed

Instructions:

  1. Cut your cucumbers into your desired sizes and shapes. I did a combination 20150423_132357_Richtone(HDR) of pieces and spears since I was planning to give them as a gift to my neighbor. I figured I’d let him pick (he picked one of each 🙂 ) The recipe calls for 15 C of cucumbers to 3 onions, however I knew I only had 4 jars to spare this time, so I measured how much would fill each.  3 cucumbers and 2 onions gave me 3 jars of spears and 1 jar of pieces with at least 1/4 inch of space at the top.Weighted Plate
  2. Combine cucumbers, onions, salt, and ice in a large bowl; mix well.
  3. Place your weighted plate on top and allow to stand 3 hours. This is a cold brine. It allows you to brine your vegetables without sacrificing crunch. When you use a hot brine it cooks the vegetables a bit and leaves them much softer once the pickling process is complete. When the 3 hours is up, rinse well and drain.
  4. Combine vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, and mustard seed in a large pot. Add your drained cucs and onions.
  5. Place over medium – low heat and bring just shy of boiling. Do not let your mixture boil.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Seal in sterilized jars for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to come to room temperature overnight. If the button on your lid doesn’t click when you push it, you’ve done it right. Remember it’s all fun and games until someone get botulism.

Pickles!

To sterilize your jars:

  1. Wash them and their lids in hot soapy water and dry.
  2. Place in a 225 degree oven for 15 minutes; after 15 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the jars and lids until ready to use.

Let me know how yours come out or what else you pickle!

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

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Southwest Stuffed Peppers

I started to write this post before, but was completely sidetracked by my breakfast. Now that I am refocused, let me tell you about these fabulous stuffed peppers I made for Hubs and myself earlier this week!

I’ve been really trying hard to work through what we have in the pantry and freezer before we go.
There is nothing more annoying than moving a box of canned goods and having to pack a cooler because of all of the food I’ve accumulated in my freezer (because, Lord knows, I am not just throwing things away!). All of that is precious space in either my car or the trailer! Normally I’m proud of my well stocked pantry, but when there are only two of you and you maybe underestimated how long all of those cans, grains, and pastas would last, it can be a real struggle to try and use everything up.

Last week I almost polished off my barley, so this week I thought I’d move along to the quinoa and one of my favorite ways to eat it is mixed up with some chicken, cheese, and veggies in a bell pepper. Team that up with some refried black beans (another can gone), a simple salad with a healthy Cilantro-Lime yogurt dressing, and a lovely bottle of Verdejo and we have a winner!


First up: The peppers20150316_01

1 chicken breast; poached, cooled, pulled

1/2 C quinoa

3/4 C chicken stock

1/4 sweet onion, diced

dry white wine (or whatever white you have handy and open)

1 can corn or 1 C frozen corn20150316_02

1 can RoTel original

2 C shredded cheese, mozzarella and/or mexican blend

3 T cilantro, minced (reserve 2T for the dressing)

1 lime, juiced (reserve 1/2 for the dressing)

kosher salt & ground black pepper

red pepper flake (optional)

Instructions:

1) Cook quinoa

  • Heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and saute the diced onion until translucent.
  • Add quinoa and stir until fully combined and coated by the oil. Stir the quinoa occasionally until you heat a popping sound and smell a nice toasty/nutty aroma. I always toast my quinoa. I think it adds a little bit of extra flavor.
  • Pour in about a 1/4 C of white wine; let reduce by half before adding your chicken stock. Bring your pot up to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer and let it be for about 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is gone. Your quinoa, when done should not be done all the way through because we’re going to put it in the oven after we stuff the peppers. It will over cook if you cook it all the way now. You’ll know it’s not done all the way if the liquid is gone and there is still some bite to the grains like pasta.

2) Mix together all of the ingredients for the filling except what was set aside for the dressing. Once seasoned as desired, place in refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

-> Makes enough filling for 6 peppers. I never need this much, but I don’t like decreasing the quantity, so I use the filling for other things for the rest of the week!

3) Prep the peppers (this can be done while the quinoa is cooking)

  • Cut the tops off of your peppers. I like to save the tops and serve them with20150316_03 the stuffed peppers, but that’s optional. It’s also good to load the top of your peppers up with cheese, broil them, and serve them just like that too!
  • Slide your knife inside your pepper to cut loose the ribs from the flesh of the pepper all the way around. Grab the ball of seeds and pull everything out. It should come out in one nice big piece for the most part. The ribs are that soft white part and rip out very easily, so don’t worry about making it perfect. You can always reach in after and pull anything else out you don’t want or brush out any escaped seeds.

4) Overfill your peppers and place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.20150316_185921_Richtone(HDR)-1

Next: The Dressing

This is pretty simple. All you’ll need are 1/2 C plain low fat greek yogurt, your reserved amounts of lime juice and minced cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste

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1) Mix all the ingredients together. The lime juice should thin the yogurt out to a little bit thicker than your out of the bottle creamy dressing. If you want a thinner dressing, add a touch of buttermilk.

Finally: The Refried Black Beans

Again, I like to keep these as simple as possible. If I have time to make them from dried beans the flavor is untouchable. However we’re shooting for easy and from the pantry, so we’ll start with a can of black beans. Other than the beans you only need about a 1/4 of an onion diced and maybe a 1/4 C of chicken or vegetable stock.

1) Saute the onions until translucent. If they start to brown around the edges that’s ok. The color is not important. As long as they aren’t burnt, you’re only adding more flavor.

2) Add your black beans without draining and stir until warm and soft. Add your stock a little at a time while your beans are cooking until your beans are a little looser than you want. As your beans cook they will thicken.

3) I like my beans with some texture, so to mash them I use the back of my spoon or my rubber spatula. This way it’s not perfect and you still get some chunks of bean. The less perfect here, the better! Just the way I like it!

That’s it! Simple, but BIG flavors. Let me know if y’all try it and if you find any fun modifications that work for you!

Hint: The leftover filling makes great homemade taquitos or works well atop some fresh greens for a nice light lunch.

Enjoy!

Hello Spring… Goodbye Convenience Items?

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Hello Spring… Goodbye Convenience Items?

Banana Pancakes and coffee!

A WAY better combo than the combo of snow and rain outside… *sigh* 11 more days until beach life…

Am I late to the party in knowing that I can make myself a cup of coffee with my tea ball infuser? I am so pleased by this discovery, I think I’m going to get rid of my Keurig.

I’ve been holding strong and minimizing and packing to be ready for our upcoming move, y’all. I’m so proud of myself. No waiting to the last minute this time! That also means that we’re getting to the point where we’re starting to live without certain things or will start looking for them in boxes pretty soon… first example: our Keurig. I emptied it out so it can be packed and then realized I really wanted needed a cup of coffee to get going today. As I stared at the box of coffee asking myself if tea would cut it, a thought struck me. Why can’t I just put my coffee grounds in my infuser? Essentially coffee is made by passing hot water through coffee grounds, so what’s the difference between this and a french press or cold press? I know you’re supposed to use about 1 T of grounds per 8 fl oz of water, but my tea ball won’t hold that much. Resolution: I filled one side with grounds, heated up my tea pot, poured it over, and let it steep for maybe 3 minutes, and Viola! Coffee! It’s delicious and exactly what I needed.

As for you, Keurig… Where we’re living right now has such hard water, I’m having to clean my Keurig practically once a month to keep it running properly which effectively makes it MORE effort than anything else I could be doing that would give me a superior cup… not to mention the waste. To think I could have been doing this for the last year instead of spending countless hours running vinegar solutions and water through to clean the lines, figuring out how to take it apart to get rid of the bugs that took up residence inside (yes, that really happened and it was just as gross as it sounds), buying K-Cups then the reusable K-Cup… No more!

I think that’s it. Goodbye Keurig it was nice knowing you, Hello new infuser I am going to buy specifically for coffee.

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Update on those Banana Pancakes I made at the beginning of February and next convenience item on the chopping block… Eggos, our relationship is over. I made the whole batch of banana pancake batter that my recipe produces, but since it’s just me and Hubs we didn’t come close to finishing them all. I cooked them up, put them in individual ZipLock baggies, and stuck them in the freezer.

That was over a month ago, this morning I heated them up in my toaster oven (while my coffee brewed), slathered some crunchy peanut butter on them, poured some warm maple syrup over the top, and it worked!! They are delicious and so much healthier than those “waffles” I’ve been eating. I’m keeping these in the freezer from now on.

Talk about healthy minimizing, y’all. I feel fantastic. Healthy changes for a new beginning.

This started off as a post about the stuffed peppers I made the other day, but I couldn’t stop writing about how pleased I am that I’m decluttering my diet, my day, and my home.

Don’t worry. Those stuffed peppers are still coming. 20150316_193526_Richtone(HDR)-1