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Garlic Dill Pickles

31 Aug

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My friend, Matt Smith, posts some great pics and recipes of yummy dishes he makes from time to time. Earlier this summer he posted a pic of a giant vat of pickles that he had just made. And all of a sudden it dawned on me – I desperately want to make pickles.

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He graciously gave me the recipe he used. As soon as I saw it, I knew this was the perfect pickle recipe. IMG_1497

It had all the ingredients I love in a pickle – jalapenos, garlic, dill, and some sugar. Cucumbers are flooding the farmers market at this time of year – everyone is practically giving them away. And I have a ton of jalapenos in my lil garden 🙂

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The hardest part to this recipe? Waiting for the pickles to marinate for a week…..It takes SO much patience. Every time I opened the fridge, those pickles were staring at me – daring me to take a taste. Look at them….mocking me.

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But I resisted. And my hard work paid off. These pickles are incredible. They might not be for everyone – so you might want to tweak the recipe. Tweak away, friends! These pickles are tart and have a definite vinegar flavor. They mellow over time.

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I highly recommend draining all of the spices/seeds/dill/peppercorns out of the liquid when the week is up. That way they don’t continue pickling while you eat them (and you don’t reach into the vat and pull out a strand of dill or random spice).

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Garlic Dill Pickles

Ingredients:

  • 3.5-4 pounds of pickling cucumbers (the lil guys)
  • ¼ cup chopped garlic
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced (seeds and all)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tblsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar (I used a lil less)
  • 5 heaping tblsp pickling spices
  • 2 tblsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tblsp black peppercorns

Directions:  

Make sure you prepare a large container – at least a 3.5 quart container – to hold your pickles.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Pull the pan off the stove and let the mixture cool down while you slice your cukes.

Prepare garlic, jalapenos, and dill. Slice your cucumbers into ½ inch-thick rounds – you can slice thinner if you like as well. Put them in your container along with the dill, garlic, and jalapenos and mix well.

Pour the mixture over your other ingredients and make sure everything is all mixed around and ingredients are distributed. Cool to room temperature and cover.

Here comes the hardest part: put them in the fridge and don’t touch them for a week unless you are going to shake them up a bit.

This recipe makes a TON of pickles and they keep for weeks!

 

Wheatberry Salad

11 Aug

Again, tasked with the “can you bring a side dish?” request early in July, I decided to try a wheatberry dish. I am always on the hunt for delicious, fresh, and HEALTHY side dishes for the summertime when the veggies are so plentiful!

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What is a wheatberry? A wheatberry is almost the whole kernel of wheat and are added to salads or served as a side dish along with corn in some countries.

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They are a great source of protein, fiber, and vitamins. I love putting them in my salad because they give a nice lil crunch.

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This recipe couldn’t be simpler: Cook your wheatberries, chop your veggies, and put together the dressing at the end and pour over top. I also threw in some more veggies than the recipe called for – I couldn’t resist putting in some red and orange pepper to give it some more color and crunch.

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This salad packs a light taste with a lot of crunch and TONS of healthiness!!! Everyone loved it! It was the perfect accompaniment to our summer dinner and would go great with burgers or any type of grilled meat.

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Wheatberry Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups hard wheat berries
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tart dried cherries, chopped
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large pot combine the wheat berries and enough water to come 2 inches over the wheat berries. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until tender. Drain and let cool.

Toast the walnuts in a medium dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Chop all veggies and parsley.

In a large bowl, combine the wheat berries, walnuts, celery, dried cherries, scallions, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Calories 360; Total Fat 17 g; (Sat Fat 2 g, Mono Fat 6 g, Poly Fat 8 g) ; Protein 9 g; Carb 46 g; Fiber 8 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 15 mg. Excellent source of: Fiber, Vitamin K, Manganese. Good source of: Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Copper, Iron)

Red Quinoa and Summer Squash Salad

4 Aug

In the summer, I am almost always tasked with the dreaded “Can you bring the side dish” question when planning Family Sunday dinners. I tend to spaz out – there are so many options and directions to go. And I want to try new things – but I want to ensure it is fresh and healthy.

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I love quinoa….actually, I love MOST healthy grains – farro, quinoa, barley, wheatberry….That reminds me, I have a great wheatberry recipe to post. Stay tuned on that one.

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What is quinoa? Quinoa is not really a grain – it’s more of a seed. It is also a superfood – it has a crazy amount of protein, fiber, and it is gluten-free. And it’s pretty darn delicious and versatile. I have a favorite quinoa recipe that I posted last year that I love to make for quinoa-newbies.

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This recipe is a bit more refined than my favorite punchy southwestern recipe. And the real stars of this recipe are the squash and the parmesan.IMG_1488

The dressing is so delicate and bright. I love lemon-based dressings and marinades so I gravitated towards it.

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The real recipe says to use fresh, raw summer squash. However, I knew we would be grilling meat and I decided immediately that I would also grill the squash a smidge to get it softened and boost the flavor. I am thrilled that I did that – the taste levels soared!

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Other than grilling the squash, this recipe was a cinch to put together! I grated my own fresh parm and shaved some slices as well to put on top. It looked beautiful and tasted even better. I believe my family adored it – this recipe will be making an appearance again before the end of the summer!

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Now you know what you can bring to a get-together when you get stuck with the dreaded side dish 🙂

Red Quinoa and Summer Squash Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red (or other) quinoa, rinsed in a sieve and drained
  • 2 tsp kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1-1.5 lb assorted summer squash
  • 4 Tblsp finely grated Parmesan, plus ¼ cup shaved with a peeler
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tblsp Sherry vinegar
  • 8-10 Tblsp olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn

 Directions:

Bring quinoa and 8 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, but not mushy – 12-15 minutes. Drain. Return quinoa to hot saucepan. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and let cool.

Cut squash into 1/8” thick slices – some lengthwise and some crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl, season with 2 tsp salt, and toss to coat. Let sit until slightly wilted – about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Pat dry and set aside. (Here is where I differed – I cut them lengthwise, basted with olive oil/salt/pepper, and grilled them for just a couple minutes).

Whisk grated parmesan, zest, juice, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Combine squash, quinoa, parsley, walnuts, and basil in a large bowl. Pour dressing over, toss to coat. Garnish with shaved parmesan.

Bobby Flay Cornbread Stuffing

2 May

My brother Marty has been DYING to get a spot on my blog. He has been wondering why I haven’t included any of his fabulous dishes here…..And I told him that I don’t really have any of his recipes that he makes in order for me to make them myself for the blog.

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But then I realized that I was wrong. He introduced our family to something delicious about 5-6 years ago on Thanksgiving. He showed up with the stuffing.

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He made 2 kinds: Jamie Oliver Fruit Stuffing (I don’t know what it was, but it was nutty and fruity and delicious) and a Bobby Flay Cornbread stuffing. I dont have pictures of the Jamie Oliver stuffing, but it’s not necessary because this cornbread and chorizo stuffing is the only one we need to focus on 🙂

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This Bobby Flay stuffing was off the hook. We hadn’t had anything like it before. Our mom makes our grandmother’s stuffing – which is AWESOME, but very very simple. So to have another option of stuffing – and one that was so flavorful – was something else!!

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This cornbread is so easy to make. We make it at least 2-3 times a year. Robb keeps this recipe in his recipe-box and when we have it, he always makes it. The key ingredient is a spicy chorizo that adds a lil pizzazz to the recipe!

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You can either make your own cornbread (beyond easy and what I like to do) or buy storebought cornbread and just let it air out and dry overnight.

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It mixes together so easily. And bakes to a nice golden brown. You can also bake it ahead of time and simply re-heat!

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We have now adopted this stuffing as an official dish at Thanksgiving (accompanied by our grandmother’s stuffing, too, of course). Even when Marty was away 2 years ago on Thanksgiving, Robb stepped in and made his stuffing for our dinner with the rest of the family.

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Even if it’s not thanksgiving time, I suggest roasting a chicken (or turkey) and making this excellent stuffing to go along with it.

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Bobby Flay’s Cornbread Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound chorizo sausage, diced
  • 2 large Spanish onions, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large loaf staled cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
  • 2-4 cups homemade turkey or chicken stock or low sodium canned chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Directions:
1) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until golden brown, remove the chorizo to a plate lined with paper towels.

2) Add the onions, celery and carrot to the pan with the fat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft then stir in the chorizo.

3) Place the cornbread in a large bowl. Add the onion mixture and two cups of the stock. The mixture should be quite wet; if it appears too dry, begin adding the remaining stock, a half cup at a time. Stir in the sage and thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4) Scrape the mixture into a buttered 10-inch baking dish and bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven until set and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

Flour Tortillas

9 Mar

I am sure the last thing you think about making from scratch when doing mexican is flour tortillas……well I am here to let you know how EASY it really is.

When cooking for my Mexican Supper Club night, I planned to do Beef Enchiladas. I bought flour tortillas from the store as a back-up just in case I didnt have time to make my own.

But I always had a feeling that I was going to make my own no matter what. It turned out that I had some extra time and I just went for it!

It was BEYOND easy to put together. They took a little longer in the frying pan than I thought they would. But all in all, they turned out AMAZING.

The key when you are sauteeing them in the frying pan is to make sure you have a damp towel on top of saran wrap on top of the plate of cooked tortillas so they stay a bit pliable when you go to use them.

Making your own tortillas is SO much better for you than using store-bought. They taste fresher and dont contain any chemicals or additives. They have a better texture, too, and are great to use in almost any recipe!

And I am so bummed that I didnt take any pics of the finished tortillas. I’ll have to update in the future when I make them again. But here is a pic of my yummy beef enchiladas!

Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ¾ cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 6 tblsp Crisco, cut into 6 pieces
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tblsp water, heated up to 110 degrees
  • ½ tsp vegetable oil

Directions:

Combine flour and salt in bowl – stir. Rub shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until combined.

Turn dough out onto counter and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Roll 2.5 tblsp dough into 1.5 inch balls. Transfer balls to plate and refrigerate until firm, wrapped in plastic.

Working on lightly floured counter, roll out balls to 8-inch rounds. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until just smoking. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Lay 1 round in skillet and cook until surface begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate and cover with dish towel. (NOTE: It took my tortillas about 3-4 minutes per side to cook)

At this point – go on and use them for whatever dish you plan to make.

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