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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!

 

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Roasted Red Pepper Dip

29 Jul

I am often looking for good and healthy dips. I feel like I might have played out some of my white bean dips – I was looking for something new for Sunday Family Poolday 2 weekends ago. I stumbled onto this keeper. It was so good, I made it this past weekend AGAIN for Family Birthday Extravaganza Part Deux (with frozen ryes included)!!

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It was from a Good Housekeeping magazine. I saw it on a random beauty page (7 years to stay younger). But it was FOUR ingredients. How could I resist? Plus it sounded really good! Annnnnnd all the ingredients are heart-healthy – BONUS!

Boy was I right. I think my sister-in-law and I single-handedly took down this bowl of dip in about 30 minutes or less. It was amazing.

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I doubled the recipe – and I tasted it when adding the vinegar and cumin. I added a smidge more of both – but that was just to my liking. This dip is a GREAT fun appetizer to bring to a get-together because it travels well (doesn’t need refrigeration) and tastes great! AND most importantly, you can make this dip in literally 3 minutes. Time yourself and let me know how long it takes you!

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Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 Tblsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Serve with veggies or pita chips!

Sweet Ham and Swiss Sliders

28 Apr

I have seen this recipe on a COUPLE blogs and cooking sites that I follow. It always sounded intriguing. I noticed I had 3 versions of it bookmarked to try and was just waiting for the perfect time to try it.

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When is a better time to try something like this than for the SUPERBOWL!!!! My brother Marty decided to have a family Superbowl party where everyone brought heavy apps and desserts. This was the perfect thing to bring in order to see if it was a keeper or not.

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Let me just tell you. This thing could NOT be easier to make. You buy ham and cheese, put it on little sliders or dinner rolls, pour the sauce over top, and bake! I mean, come on!!!!

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And look at how amazing the finished product looks – golden and juicy and delicious. My brother even pretends to salivate over a plate of them….while my other brothers and mom look on in the background.

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Sweet Ham and Swiss Sliders

Ingredients

  • 16 White Dinner Style Rolls, cut in half
  • 24 slices Honey Ham
  • 16 slices Swiss Cheese
  • 1/4 C Mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 8 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1/4 C brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet place bottom half of dinner rolls and top with 1 1/2 slices of ham and 1 slice of swiss cheese. Spread about 1 tsp of mayonnaise on each top-half of roll and place on top of ham and cheese. You want the rolls to be snug together, kissing just a bit (hee hee) so the sauce can soak up into all of the nooks and crannies.
  3. In a small bowl combine the mustard, melted butter, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, and brown sugar. Mix until combined and evenly pour over the assembled rolls. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  4. Bake covered with foil for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the tops are browned, and cheese is good and melted.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

21 Apr

When putting together my menu for Mexican Supper Club, I knew I would do a flan for dessert. But I also wanted another sweet treat to pass around.

I referred to the Cooks Illustrated Mexican Edition for some inspiration and found Mexican Wedding Cookies. I’ve never heard of them before, let alone made them. They sounded easy and perfect!

These little cookies were so light and scrumptious. They were a true delight! They are very delicate – so handle with care. And try to resist popping them in your mouth while making them!

One helpful hint – make sure they are completely cooled prior to dusting with confectioner’s sugar.

I see why they call them Wedding Cookies – they are a special treat. They are beyond easy to make! They would be fabulous on your holiday cookie platter as well.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 16 tblsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups confectioners sugar

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle-lower-middle positions and preheat to 325. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

Finely grind half of pecans in food processor to texture of coarse cornmeal, 10-15 seconds, then transfer to medium bowl. Coarsely chop remaining pecans in food processor, about 5 seconds, transfer to same bowl and stir in flour and salt.

In large bowl, beat butter and superfine sugar with hand-held mixer on medium until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly mix in pecan-flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.

Scrape bowl and beaters and continue to beat on low until dough is cohesive, about 7 seconds. At this point, dough can be covered and refrigerated for 3 days.

Working with 1 tblsp dough at a time, roll into balls and lay on baking shets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Bake until pale and good and bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.

Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile repeat with remainder of dough on freshly lined baking sheets.

Roll cookies in confectioners sugar and shake off excess.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

4 Apr

I saw these little beauties in passing on foodgawker.

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I knew I would be making cookie packages to mail to my friends.

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I decided that this would also be the perfect thing to toss into the mix, too!

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This recipe is very easy, with hardly any energy expended, but so much to gain! These are great to put out for appetizers or to accompany dessert with friends.

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CINNAMON and SUGAR PECANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon & sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

*For a cinnamon sugar mixture: use one tablespoon cinnamon to 1/3 cup sugar. Be sure to use good quality cinnamon.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

1. Whisk the egg white in a cup. Pour the egg whites over the nuts, stirring until the nuts are coated with egg white.

2. In a small bowl, stir the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and salt together. Add the cinnamon sugar mixture to the nuts, a little a time, while stirring.

3. Spread the coated nuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes without stirring. Use a spatula to remove the nuts from the hot baking sheet immediately. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in tightly closed container. It took a while for mine to dry – so be prepared to lay them out for a few hours. Store in a cool place.

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.

BLT Bites

3 Mar

If I had seen this recipe on my own, I would have cruised on past because it looks a bit intricate and timely. That assessment is true; however, the taste is FABULOUS.

My friend Mel was having her Halloween party and had asked me to make a couple items. I offered a few ideas of my own and then she requested that I make this one and proceeded to send me the recipe.

When I read that I would have to stuff cherry tomatoes, I thought they were nuts. And it definitely took a little bit of time, but it was SO worth it. The bacon/mayo mixture couldn’t be simpler to make. And yes, I cheated this time by buying pre-made bacon because I was making 4 things in 5 hours and didnt have time to fry a pound of bacon. But it’s good to know that this is a possibility!!

And I figured a way to stuff them a bit easier – use the 1/8 teaspoon of my measuring spoon set. Made it so much better!

The taste is just amazing. And they were one of the FIRST things to disappear at the party! They are tiny and people love to pop them in their mouths…And the bacon-flavor just hits you!

I highly recommend this recipe – although I think it’s best for a small party/get-together so that you don’t kill yourself in assembly. Or you could make this and stuff larger tomatoes as a lunch!

BLT Bites

Ingredients:

  • 16 to 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

Directions:

  • Cut a thin slice off of each tomato top. Scoop out and discard pulp. Invert the tomatoes on a paper towel to drain.
  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon into tomatoes.
  • Refrigerate for several hours.

Yield: 16-20 appetizer servings.

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