Posted in 4th of July, Canning, Classic, Cook out, Grilling, Pantry Staples, Patriotic, pickled, Portable/Picnic, Preserving, Sandwiches, Summer, Vegetarian, Veggies, Vintage

Summer Bounty – Bread & Butter Pickles

You all know I say I am NOT a big fan of summer.  I’m really not.  I don’t like the humidity.  I burn when I look at the sun.  The only time I “like” to sweat is when I’m working out or cleaning my apartment or something.  I’m  not a super big beach/pool person so I could kind of care less.  I know that’s sacrilege for a lot of my friends!

BUT…

The more I think about growing up in rural Ohio (I’ve been getting seriously nostalgic lately) the more I realize there are things about summer that I absolutely love.  So many of my favorite memories as a kid happened during the summer time.  And so many of those memories are wrapped up around our garden, the local farmers, spending time harvesting lots of veggies and spending a lot of time with my Grandma in the kitchen as she cleaned, prepped, and canned green beans, beets, tomatoes, made jam, and made her own homemade pickles.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand pickles.  Well I should say, I don’t like dill pickles.  Growing up I would tolerate my Grandma’s bread and butter pickles but get anything dill anywhere near me and I would run the other way.  As I’ve gotten older and my tastebuds have grown with me I have finally discovered a love of all things pickl-y.  I’m still not a fan of dill but my world has been opened up to so many amazing ways of preservation in the last few years that I’ve been much more adventurous and have found some things I can’t live without.

One of my latest summer staples has become the humble bread and butter pickle for sure.  It’s amazing how easy they are to make and how just this simple little pickle will make a burger, or even a simple turkey sandwich something really special.

I’ve been working to perfect a new smoked turkey recipe that isn’t quite ready for the world yet but I had to go ahead and share this quick and classic pickle recipe that you can enjoy all summer!!

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I need to get my Grandma’s recipe but this one has become my go-to!

Bread & Butter Pickles

2 pounds medium Kirby cucumbers
2 cups small dice sweet onion
¼ cup kosher salt
1 pound ice
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups cider vinegar
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
3 whole cloves
½ jalapeno pepper, sliced paper thin

 

Sterilize three quart canning jars, along with the rings and lids. (I recommend checking out the Ball canning website for tips if you’ve never canned before, http://www.freshpreserving.com/canningmenu.html.

 

Cut the blossom end off the cucumbers and slice the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick slices. To draw out the excess liquid and increase the crunch, layers the cucumber slices with onion, salt, and ice in a glass or stainless steel container. Weight with a plate large enough to cover all the cucumbers and keep them submerged when the ice melts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Drain the cucumbers and onions, put them in a large stainless steel, and add the sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, vinegar, bay leaf, cloves and jalapeno. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Using a digital thermometer to check, make sure that the internal temperature of the cucumbers reaches 180° and stays there for 90 seconds. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

 

Divide the hot cucumbers among the sterilized jars. Ladle the remaining hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and threads clean. Place the lids and rings on the jars and tighten the rings. Cool the jars on a clean dish towel or a rack, not directly on the countertop.

 

Refrigerate for at least 1 week to let the pickles cure before eating (you can skip this step but the wait will be worth it!). Unopened, the pickles will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Once opened, they will keep for up to 3 weeks longer in the refrigerator.

 

Source: Heritage, Sean Brock

 

Posted in Comfort Food, Cooking for Two, Date Night, Dinner, Healthy, Mushrooms, Quick cooking, Vegetarian, Veggies

Meatless Monday – Farro Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

I decided several years ago that I was going to give up meat for a month. I was doing it as a part of a fast with my church that asked us to give something up to refocus. I decided on meat and to focus on regaining control over my health. I’ve always been a lover of vegetables and meat is often an afterthought when I’m just cooking for myself so I thought it would be a breeze. There was only one problem. The first week of our fast included Memorial Day! How on earth did I miss that?! It also happened to be a weekend we were in Ohio celebrating my sister-in-law graduating so we were hosting a cookout! Seriously, I’m not sure how I made it but by the grace of God I did.

During that time I learned a lot of new techniques and recipes and how to adapt them so that my meat loving hubby would enjoy them too. Over the years I’ve tried to make it a habit of making the majority of our meal vegetables while keeping our meat consumption reasonable. I even thrown in the occasional meatless meal that is still packed with protein. With the increased availability of a lot cool grains and exotic veggies that makes things super easy!

One of my favorite things to make, especially when I’m going meatless, is risotto. A lot of people think risotto is difficult to make but really you can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes start-to-finish. The only thing risotto requires is a little patience. It isn’t a meal you can just pop on the stove and walk away from. The repetitve stirring is very therapeutic after a long day though, trust me. 🙂

I have recently discovered a love for farro. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture which make it a great option for meatless meals. It’s a great source of fiber and protein so it will fill you up and you won’t even miss the meat! Throw in meaty mushrooms and you’re all set!
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Farro Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup farro
1/2 cup dry white wine (a big glug)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
Bay leaf
Mixed mushrooms (I get a package that includes cremini, oyster, and shitake)
Thyme
Parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Asiago cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat vegetable stock, water and bay leaf until just below a simmer.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil. Saute shallots and garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add farro and toast about 30 seconds. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Reduce heat to medium and add one ladle of stock. Stir off and on until liquid is absorbed, add another ladle of stock. Keep repeating until farro is tender and creamy. This will take 23-25 minutes. I always set a timer and taste for texture starting at about 20 minutes.

Finish with thyme leaves, parsley, one tablespoon butter, salt & fresh cracked pepper, and grated Asiago.

For the mushrooms, heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat (I use a cast iron pan so they get nice and brown). Lower heat to medium. Add butter, sprig of thyme, and mushrooms. Leave them alone for a minute so they start getting brown and a little crispy. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook another 30 seconds until balsamic is a little syrupy. Season with salt & pepper. Remove thyme sprig.

Serve risotto topped with mushrooms and lots of shaved asiago.

Serves 2.

Source: Ruth’s Table

This is a perfect “fancy” dish to impress a date. I can’t wait to make this for my hubby on our next date night in!

Posted in Appetizers, Autumn, Comfort Food, Date Night, Fall, Healthy, Holiday, Nuts, One Pot Meals, Party Worthy, Potatoes, Soup, Supper Club, Vegetarian, Winter

Soup’s On!

How many times do you catch yourself saying “we should really get together more often” or “let’s do this again real soon” when you’re hanging out with friends?  How many times do you actually follow through?  We all have good intentions but “life” gets in the way and we go months before making plans.  When we finally do we have such a great time and then make the same promises all over again.

IMG_0895Well, I’m VERY thankful for friends who take the initiative, make a date, invite us all and stick to it.  We should all be more like that!!

Our friend Nick is exactly this kind of person.  We have been talking for month’s about getting together and cooking for each other and hanging out and we’ve just kept putting it off.  Finally, a couple weeks ago Nick just picked a date, invited us over and told us to bring soup.  The monthly Foodie Pow Wow was born.

My contribution to this culinary endeavor was one of my favorite go-to soups.  You really can’t go wrong with rich, silky butternut squash in the winter time.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Granola

    • 1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato
    • 2 teaspoons fresh sage
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half lengthwise, spoon out seeds.  Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Remove peel and mash the pulp.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes or until starting to brown around the edges.  Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the squash, vegetable stock and the next six ingredients (through bay leaves) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove bay leaves.

Place one-third of vegetable mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure twice with remaining squash mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in honey.  Top individual servings with spiced granola.

Spiced Granola

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix oats, walnuts, garam masala, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant, stirring once.  Remove from oven and add honey, cranberries and sage.  Let cool.

Source: Soup adapted from Cooking Light http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-butternut-soup-with-goat-cheese-toasts-10000001932617/, Granola by Ruth’s Table

Our other delicious creations…

Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans & Rice
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
My favorite jams!http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
My favorite jams!  Goes great with cheese!
http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake (recipe for another day!)
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake
(recipe for another day!)

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?” – Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Stay tuned for scenes from our next Foodie Pow Wow…

Posted in Asian flare, Comfort Food, Cooking for one, Date Night, One Pot Meals, Quick cooking, Restuarant Knock-off, Vegetarian

Date Night In

I miss my hubby.  He’s been gone for a week and a half and will be gone for another week.  I won’t lie, that sucks.  😦  We get into a routine with him being gone every weekend but these long stretches can be difficult.  Thankfully he doesn’t have to do them very often.

This is why I live for date nights.  I mean really live for them.  After almost 10 years of marriage to a travelling husband date nights are a pretty big deal!  When my husband is actually home on the weekends or random nights during the week we like to get spiffy and hit the town.  There are lots of new restaurants around that are getting rave reviews (which I’m sure we’ll check out at some point) but we tend to hit up our old favorites because our date nights are few and far between!

One of our go-to places is Suzy Wong’s House of Yum.  If you are in the Nashville area and want a cool place to grab Asian fusion before going to get cocktails (which is what we ALWAYS do on date night) this is the place!

So what do we do during those really looooong stretches of time with no weekends off and very little free time?  We have date nights at home!  I will say I am quite proud of this knock off version of my favorite dish from Suzy’s.  I first time we ever went there our waiter suggested it to me.  I was skeptical at first but now it’s all I ever get.  Lesson: listen to your server.  They know best!

Hope you enjoy!

Coconut Chili Fried Rice

Serves 2

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • Garlic
  • 3 cups cooked, cold white rice
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
  • 1/3 cup toasted coconut (sweet or unsweet, your preference)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Spoonful sambal olek (however much you like)
  • 2 eggs
  • Thin sliced scallions for garnish

In a small mixing bowl, mix together soy sauce, brown sugar and sambal olek, set aside.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir fry onions and garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly.  Add rice and stir fry 2-3 minutes or until the rice starts to get crispy.  Add tomatoes and coconut, stir.  Add soy sauce mixture and stir fry another 2-3 minutes.  Portion into 2 serving dishes.

Heat a little more oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat (I usually just use the pan I fried the rice in, remove it from the stove for a minute to cool it off).  Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook until over easy.  You want the yolk to still be runny.  Place one egg on top of each bowl of rice.

Garnish with sliced scallions and enjoy!