Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dill Pickles

My hubby and I dabbled in canning this summer. It was super stressful at first, but then became something we really enjoyed! 

I have NEVER liked dill pickles, except during pregnancies. However, this recipe is amazing. I would gladly eat these every day, they are that good. 

Dill Pickles
adapted from Our Best Bites
makes two 1 quart mason jars full

2 pounds cucumbers (as fresh as possible), sliced
10 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
2 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
2 tbsp kosher salt
LOTS of fresh dill
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp dill seed

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, reduce to simmer, and add garlic. Cook 5 minutes. Add vinegar and salt, bring back to a boil and stir until salt dissolves, then remove from heat.

Divide dill and seeds between the jars. Pull garlic out of the brine and put 5 cloves in each jar. Pack the jars with the cucumbers, then pour brine over, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 

*Now, you can do one of two things: You can either leave these as refrigerator pickles (they'll keep for three months), OR you can water-bath can them. Simply wipe the tops and rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth, then put on lids and rings to fingertip tightness. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. *If you DO choose to can them, make sure you heat the jars and lids and rims to disinfect prior to packing the pickle mixture in. 

Best Poppy Seed Dressing, Ever

Poppy Seed Dressing
adapted from Our Best Bites

1/3 c white (or white wine) vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 c agave nectar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1/3 cup oil (vegetable if you must, but avocado oil would be healthier)
1 tsp poppy seeds

*I use my immersion blender for this recipe, but a regular blender would work also.

Stir together vinegar, salt, pepper, agave nectar, and mustard. Start blender. With blender running, add green onion, then stream in oil. Turn off blender, and transfer dressing to a jar or carafe. Stir in poppy seeds.

*Delicious on all salads, but especially with the following combination:
sliced strawberries
chopped green onion
peeled and chopped cucumber
toasted, sliced almonds

Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Um, sorry I'm a slacker? 

Ok, I really love summer. Vegetables everywhere! This was a great way to use up those farmer's market veggies that I keep piling onto my tiny kitchen counter.

Roasted Vegetable Wraps
2 Japanese eggplants
1 medium zucchini
1 medium crookneck squash
olive oil
salt and pepper

roasted red peppers (or make your own!)
fresh spinach
cheese (optional, great with or without)
large tortillas (I used spinach from Earth Fare)
Southwest Ranch Dressing (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 400. Prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper - you can also put cooling racks on top of the cookies sheets to raise the vegetables, but it's not necessary. Thinly slice the eggplant, zucchini, and squash lengthwise (use a mandolin if you have one). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and put the veggies on the cookie sheets. Roast for 10 minutes at a time, checking on the tenderness of the veggies each time. Roast until not crunchy at all (mine took about 20 minutes).

Southwest Ranch Dressing
adapted from Budget Bytes
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin 
dash of hot sauce

To assemble:
Spread the dressing on the tortillas, then layer roasted veggies, spinach, peppers, tomatoes. Roll tightly and enjoy! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Delicious and Simple Dessert

So I discovered a dessert on Pinterest and thought it was quite good. If you like cake batter (and who doesn't) then you'll love this.

All you need is:
1 box Funfetti cake mix
2 cups yogurt
1 cup cool whip

Mix it all together, and then use it as a dip with graham crackers or animal crackers! These proportions are approximate..and you can make much smaller batches if you like. It is about a 3-2-1 ratio with 3 parts cake mix, 2 parts yogurt, 1 part cool whip.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How to make your own garland, wreaths, etc.

You will need four items:

1. A pine garland strand, or wreath, that is plain
2. Craft wire
3. "Stems"
4. Wire Cutters, or a good pair of scissors

You take the plain garland strand, and buy a bunch of stems from Michaels. They always have them in the front of the store, it's a bunch of cute little Christmas-y type decorations and you always wonder to yourself what purpose they serve. Usually these little stems are about .50 cents to $1 apiece, really cheap.

Then, you take the stems and attach them to the garland using the craft wire, which is green and matches the garland so it is discreet. Wrap the craft wire around the center of the stem in a hidden place, wrapping it a few times around the center of the garland so it stays in place. Voila!! You have your very own garland, made very cheaply, and to your own personal style and house decorations.

Craft Wire:



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eat Local

In today's society, food frequently just starts at the grocery store. We do not know who grew it, where its from, and sometimes even what is in it. That can be scary when you hear another report in the news about recalled food. To combat the "food unknown", you can turn to local food sources.

If you would like to start eating locally, I have a roundup of resources to get you started. Sometimes all you need to get started is to know what your options are.

Farmer's Market/ Farm Stand
These are a great way to start. Depending on the size, you can go once a week or everyday to pick up tasty fresh produce. You can talk directly to the grower if you have any questions. I especially enjoy this option when I am branching out to try new vegetables. On farmer at out market gave me some great ideas for using chard when I had not tried it before. The USDA website has a list of farmer's markets if you are looking for one in your area.

You Pick
I love this option for fruit but it can also be available for vegetables. These farms have you pick the produce when it is ready. Cheaper for you, easier for them. The Pick Your Own website has a good, though not completely inclusive, list of you pick farms in different states. The website is a blast of color but does have good info.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
Every farm has a little bit of a different CSA program, but the premise is the same. You pay in advance and they give you a basket of food each week for a set number of weeks. This helps the farmer out because they now have startup money for planting time. It helps you because you get fresh produce every week. We have done a CSA this summer and love it! Unfortunately, the availability of a CSA program really varies. You can ask around at your farmer's market or look up CSA information on the Local Harvest website.

Local Harvest
This is one of my favorite eat local websites! You can search for farms, CSA, farmer's markets, restaurants that serve local produce, and local meat. Just a really great resource.

Eat Wild
A site listing farms where you can find local meat, eggs, and dairy. I don't find this site as user friendly but it does have a good list.

Ask Around!
Word of mouth is usually the best advertisement. Some small farms may not make it to these websites so make sure to ask around for any you may have missed. Some people advertise things like you pick or eggs on Craigslist as well.

So now you are ready to get started! See what is in your area. Eating local is a great boost to area farmers and the local economy.