canning · Easy recipe

Homemade Dill Pickles – One Jar At A Time

Andy Griffith fans will know that Aunt Bea gave home-canned Dill Pickles a bad name! There is some fear in going to all the trouble and expense of canning your own pickles, only to have them turn out to be “kerosene cucumbers.”

Thank heaven I found a recipe recently that allows you to make a small batch. These are so simple and best yet – they are delicious!

If you have a small garden patch your cucumber yield is not enough to make a huge batch of pickles. Or if you’re blessed, as I am to have gracious friends who share their fresh produce with you, it’s really nice to have a way to make pickles with just a small amount of cucumbers.

When dear friends brought us some super crispy pickling cukes, I just knew they were perfect for some dill spears and slices! I went searching for a recipe that didn’t require canning and made a small batch.

I loved the flavor of the recipe I found. They’re not too spicy or overpowering. I do believe a huge part of the success of these was using a cucumber that is fresh and crisp.

Here’s the simple process…

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pickling cucumbers, prepared as you wish…sliced, spears or whole
  • 4 sprigs of dill
  • 1/2-1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • Pickle Brine – see below

Instructions

  1. Wash your pickles well and remove the blossom end.
  2. Slice them as desired – slices or spears.
  3. Add mustard seed, garlic and dill sprigs to your jar, then put your prepared cucumbers in.
  4. Add the brine to fill the jar and cover your cucumbers. If I have some parts of the cucumbers that rise above the brine, snip of a piece of the cuke so that all parts of all cucumbers are submerged below the brine.
  5. Put lids on your jars and refrigerate. Because these are not being canned and instead kept in your refrigerator, you don’t need special jars…just make sure the jars and their lids are clean. I boiled my lids and jars for 10 minutes in a large pot.
  6. If you can let the pickles sit for 2-3 weeks they have more time for the flavor to develop. I’ve read that you should consume them before 3-4 months…we won’t have to worry about that!

Pickle Brine

  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 6 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 3 ounces pickling salt
  1. Mix all ingredients and stir until salt is dissolved.
  2. Store in a container in your refrigerator.

The first two jars I made are just about gone, but now I have a jar of pickle brine sitting in my fridge just waiting for cucumbers and herbs to be mixed in! It’s so easy and Aunt Bea would agree that these are so much faster than canning 16 jars!!

That crunch little slice added great flavor to my Turkey Burger slider!

If you’re afraid of making a big batch of pickles, give these a try! You may just be tempted to enter them into the county fair!

Have you tried making your own pickles? What do you eat with a them? Oh, and in case the picture above made you hungry for onion rings, here are my two favorite recipes – a non-healthy but fabulous one, and a healthy one!

Bread · Dinner · Easy recipe

Popovers ~ the Perfect Dinnertime Bread

I don’t know why I never made popovers before; they’re so good and also easy to make!

It was my daughter who said that to me recently, and I’m wondering who else has not made popovers for dinnertime?

They are whipped up in a matter of about 5 minutes. You simply mix and pour the batter into pans. They are then “POPPED” into the oven where they bake and POP UP in the pan in about 40 minutes. The outsides are crispy and the insides are moist and tender. They’re a great accompaniment to so many different kinds of meals!

Popovers

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon shortening or nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 

Directions

Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1 Using 1/2 teaspoon shortening for each cup, grease the bottoms and sides of six 6-ounce custard cups or cups of a popover pan. (Or, lightly coat cups with cooking spray.) Place the custard cups on a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside. Note: I use a regular muffin tin and it works great!
  • Step 2 In a medium bowl use a wire whisk or rotary beater to beat eggs, milk, and oil until combined. Add flour and salt; beat until smooth. Don’t overbeat. Just mix until everything is well combined.
  • Step 3 Fill the prepared cups half full with batter. Bake in a 400 degree F oven about 40 minutes or until very firm.
  • Step 4 Immediately after removing from oven, prick each popover to let steam escape. Turn off the oven. For crisper popovers, return popovers to oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until desired crispness is reached. Remove popovers from cups; serve immediately. Makes 6 popovers.

If I have leftovers, I put them into a 400 degree oven to warm them and crisp them back up again. It only takes about 5 – 7 minutes.

Are you one that has never tried popovers? I hope you’ll remedy that this week!

Appetizer · Easy recipe · Fast meal · Fish

Mock Sushi Appetizer

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It’s crazy how our taste buds “grow up” as we do, isn’t it? I feel like I’ve ventured out a whole lot more in recent years, enjoying more spice than I ever would have tolerated. My husband has definitely branched out in his food choices. He grew up on the basic meat and potatoes diet, and then he married a girl who loves to try new recipes each week! He’s been so accommodating and has willingly tried everything I put on the table.

One area we’ve both grown to appreciate is sushi – him even more so than me. I love the fish – I don’t always love the additions. Knowing his love for sushi, I decided to venture out and try an easy “sushi” kind of appetizer for our Valentine’s dinner. Wow! We both LOVED it!

This recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs – Skinny Taste. She calls this a Spicy California Shrimp Stack. It’s not wrapped in the sushi paper – instead, you pile each ingredient into a measuring cup, pack it in, then flip it over onto the plate. It’s then topped with a drizzle of soy sauce and Sriracha Mayo. If you don’t have Sriracha, don’t worry – I used hot sauce in its place and it was delicious!

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My stacks aren’t quite as pretty as hers, but my measuring cups aren’t straight sides – they’re sloped, so my are more like “domes” than stacks! It didn’t change the taste, and that’s all that matters!! Here’s the simple recipe and instructions I found on her site:

Spicy California Shrimp Stack – From Skinny Taste

  • 1 1/3 cups cooked brown rice – I usually always make extra and keep it in the freezer. So handy!
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • 1 cup diced cucumber, about 1 small
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado, about 1 medium
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons mayonnaise – I used light mayo
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce – I used hot sauce

Directions:

  • Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and oil.  When rice is done, add rice vinegar and stir.  Evenly spread rice on a sheet pan to cool.
  • Cut shrimp into 1-inch cubes. In a small bowl, combine cucumber and chives. In another small bowl, combine mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.
  • Using a 1 cup dry measuring cup, layer ¼ cup cucumber, then 2 tablespoon of avocado, then ¼ of the shrimp, and 1/3 cup rice.
  •  Carefully turn the cup upside down to turn the stack out onto a plate, lightly tapping the bottom of the cup if necessary.  Sprinkle with Furikake and drizzle with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and sriracha mayonnaise.
  •  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

This was a great appetizer, but would be a wonderful lunch, too! I’m still dreaming about the way it tasted with that spicy mayo on top. Mmmm. I can’t wait to make it again!

Are you a sushi eater? If you like shrimp cocktail, I think you’ll love this recipe!

What food do you eat today that you wouldn’t have eaten in years past?

Comfort Food · Dinner · Easy recipe · soup

Empty the Freezer Soup

Savory soups that simmer on the stove create two things –

  1. An aroma that’s irresistible
  2. A meal that satisfies both appetites and hearts

Last week I had the blessing of spending time with my parents and helping out during a time of hardship. Fixing meals each day was one responsibility I took on with great delight. A sampling of my menu included things like, Pinto Beans like Cracker Barrel’s, traditional Rump Roast dinner with all the trimmings, Baked Potatoes topped with broccoli cheese sauce – all recipe I’ve made many times.

But then my mom requested I make her recipe for Vegetable Beef Soup. She had this recipe in her head and verbally shared it with me one morning. I realized it would pull together very quickly, and would also use up some of the little bits of this and that in the freezer. Always a good thing, right?

During the fall and winter we eat lots of homemade soups. Some of my favorites are Senate Bean Soup, and Cream of Wild Rice Soup but both of these recipes are a little labor-intensive and take some time to prepare (but so worth it!). I love having a delicious soup recipe that’s a snap to pull together, and my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup definitely fits the bill! You can use whatever vegetables you like/have on hand. This soup is a great way to use up those little bit of leftovers hiding in the fridge or stored in your freezer!

Here’s her simple recipe…

Vegetable Beef Soup

1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup lima beans
1 potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 can Bush’s northern beans
1/3 cup barley
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp Greek seasoning
A couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, brown ground beef and onion. Drain any fat. Add the chicken broth and then all the vegetables, spices,seasonings and barley. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes.

I like to serve a soup like this with a crusty bread and a side salad.

Yum! This is a perfect winter meal that will:

  • Wisely use up leftover veggies in your freezer
  • Warm bodies
  • Win the hearts of those that sit at your table!

Open up your freezer, grab those veggies and throw them in a pot for this delicious soup this week!

Refresh your menu with a savory soup!

Easy recipe · Lunch

Three Easy & Delicious School Lunch Ideas

Whether your children are at home for lunch or you’re packing their meal for them to take with them, I have a few great suggestions to make their noon meal something to look forward to!

It’s easy to just pack a PB&J sandwich, but how about bumping up your lunch game with one of these instead…

English Muffin Pizzas

English Muffin Pizzas – These couldn’t be easier!

English muffins, split
Pizza Sauce
Toppings of choice
Mozzarella Cheese

Toast the English muffin then spoon Pizza sauce on each half. Top with toppings and cheese. Place on a baking sheet and then place it into the oven under the broiler. Heat until cheese is melted.

Cold pizza is good, so you can pack these in a lunch for your children to take with them!

Tortilla Wraps

Tortilla wraps are a great alternative to a regular sandwich. Pile it with fresh things you love – tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, banana peppers, cooked chicken, cheese, sour cream and salsa! Roll it up and secure it with a toothpick, or wrap it into a piece of waxed paper or syran wrap.

Corn Dog Muffins

This is a simple take on the old Corn Dog! So easy and just as delicious as that dog you got at the fair!

Corn Dog Muffins

Jiffy Corn bread mix
Milk
Egg
Hot Dogs of choice

Mix up the Corn bread mix and place in greased muffin tins or tins lined with cupcake liners. Slice hot dogs and add slices to each muffin. Bake as directed. Serve with your favorite condiment!

These taste great at room temperature, making them the perfect addition to a lunch on the go!

What is your “go-to” when packing lunches? What creative additions do you add?

Refresh that noon meal!