Monday, August 18, 2014

Bread and Butter Pickles

I decided that I wanted to show my girls how to make pickles - but I've never made them before. I did a little research and came up with these - and man o man are they delicious!!

Bread and Butter Pickles
5½ c (about 1½ pounds) thinly sliced pickling cucumbers

1½ T kosher salt

1 c thinly sliced sweet onion

1 c granulated sugar

1 c white vinegar

½ c apple cider vinegar

¼ c light brown sugar

2 tsp Ball mixed pickling spice

Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1½ hours. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl and toss with the cucumbers.

Combine the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and Ball mixed pickling spice in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hamburger Soup

Mr. Man is getting so big. I have encouraged my kids to cook and experiment since they were old enough to dump cans of beans into a crock pot. He has really taken an interest in cooking and for the last year or so has talked about being a chef and having his own restaurant. 

He is in our local Boy Scout program and a friend of mine organized a way for the Scouts to earn their cooking badge in 4 classes this summer - love that I have such amazing friends!! 

One of the things the Scouts made in one of their classes was Hamburger Soup. They sent homework home with him and he had to meal plan for 3 meals a day for 3 days. One of the dinners he wrote down was Hamburger Soup. 

We turned the page after he had completed the menu plans and DOH! Read that he had to make a breakfast, lunch and dinner from the menu plan he just created. SOOOOO… Hamburger soup...

Hamburger Soup
2 1/2 lbs lean ground hamburger
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 c beef broth
4 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
5 whole red potatoes, chunked
3 T tomato paste
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 t dried parsley flakes
1/2 t ground oregano
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Brown hamburger, onion, and garlic. Add the rest. Stir all together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

*My family bumped up the salt and pepper quite a bit. My husband, daughter and I also added a little hot sauce to ours. A great meal to feed a large group - and mild enough for all palettes. That's where the extra seasoning comes in if you're so inclined...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Freeze Extra Zucchini

You may have noticed that I'm posting a lot about summer squash, zucchini, etc. My garden this year is EXPLODING!! My husband & his friends are a little bugged about it taking over our horse shoe pit :)

We have pumpkins, watermelon, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash and another squash that I haven't figured out what type it is. 

In this box we did herbs, peppers and tomatoes. 9 herbs, peppers, jalapeƱo and 6 different types of heirloom tomatoes. So my posts will continue to revolve around these ingredients for a few more months. I'll be sure to pepper in other recipes - but if you have a garden - check here often for different ideas and preparations.

Which brings me to this: what do you do when you have squash coming out of your ears? We really try to eat most of what we grow. The kids really enjoy going out into the garden to get the ingredients, herbs, etc and then also love washing, prep work and cooking. It's a source of pride for all of us! 

This year is the first time that I am going to try to freeze zucchini (or any kind of squash you have) - to be used in Sept/Oct.

Then we give it away to neighbors, friends.

Get your zucchini, squash, pumpkin, whatever and dice them into rustic chunks. I did it in batches for a couple hours one day. I separated the zucchini from the squash, since I have a few different squashes - I separate them from each other too.

When the water comes to a boil, add your cut vegetables to the pot and begin timing. You're going for crunchy al dente. For small wedges like those shown here, test them after a minute. For larger rounds, it will take more like 1-2 minutes.

Scoop the vegetables out of the water and transfer them immediately to the water bath to stop the cooking and then drain. 

Put them in a freeze tight bag - label the front with what it is "Zucchini 8.01"

Then when we get a little fall snap - you know that you've got all that delicious stuff just waiting to comfort you!!

Summer Squash Gratin

I asked for recipes for squash and zucchini from friends on fb and this is one response I got. It's from HERE She calls it "Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde" Having lived in New Mexico for the last 6 years, I have been SCHOOLED in the ways and of the importance of Salsa Verde. Salsa Verde - this is not - not even close. 

I've made a few changes and liked what I came up with! 

Summer Squash Gratin
2 pounds summer squash (or zucchini - whatever you have!)
1 1/2 c panko
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 c thinly sliced shallots
1 c grated gruyere cheese (I always add more cheese)
1/4 c dressing (below)
Salt & pepper

1 T thyme leaves
1 t oregano leaves
1/4 c coarsely chopped mint leaves
1 c coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 small cloves garlic
1 salt-packed anchovy, rinsed and bones removed (or 2 t anchovy paste)
1 T capers, drained
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Heat your oven to 400°F. 

Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl. In a small skillet or saucepan, melt butter and keep cooking it over medium heat until it browns and smells nutty. Carefully pour (in a small drizzle at first) over breadcrumbs and be sure to scrape out any brown bits from the pot. Toss crumbs to evenly coat.

Make the dressing by blending the herbs in a food processor or blender with garlic, anchovy and capers until it forms a paste, scraping down as needed. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil in a drizzle. Season with salt and black pepper. Add lemon juice to taste.

Add shallots, gruyere, half the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup dressing and some freshly ground black pepper to the bowl with the summer squash and toss. Transfer to a 9×9-inch baking dish. Scatter remaining breadcrumbs over the top and bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the squash is tender and the crumbs are crisp.

Garlic Herbed Butter

Flavored butter!! Yum! I eat this on toast, on salmon, with ciabatta and I just read that one of my culinary idols, Tom Colicchio, uses herbed butter on his turkey!! Give it a whirl!

Garlic Herbed Butter
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh chives
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 c butter, softened

Combine ingredients in food processor and pulse. Place onto a piece of wax paper and form into a log. Wrap in wax paper and twist ends. Refrigerate.

Green Goddess Mayonnaise

I saw a recipe for a Green Goddess Sandwich on Pinterest here. I plan to make a sandwich very similar to that one this week - but tonight - I already planned to have hamburgers - so I decided to make Green Goddess hamburgers!!

They were so delicious. I used our family's favorite beef patty, cheddar, havarti, avocado and tomato - so good!

Green Goddess Mayonnaise
1 c mayonnaise
1/3 c chopped chives
1/3 c chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients with your immersion blender. Chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


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