Recipes

Strawberry Balsamic Basil Pops

A mouthful in word and flavor!

This time of year we’re all blessed with the bounty of glorious juicy naturally sweet seasonal fruits exploding from the gardens. Blessed with a basket of fragrant strawberries…plenty enough to make my ‘current’ favorite jam, Strawberry Rosemary. I still had plenty left.

What to do with the rest?

Make a strawberry pie, muffins, my new ‘current’ favorite Strawberry Cake, my grandmother’s strawberry shortcake, more of my new favorite jam (cause I never have enough)…..hmm, what shall I do?

Then I remembered my new pop sickle molds! I googled strawberry pops! I had no idea the number of results that would come up. Apparently strawberry pairs with a lot , even black pepper which I’ll try next time around.

Sooooo many combinations. Adding ice cream or yogurt, sugar, no sugar or sugar substitute, no dairy, straight fruit, water, lemon or lime juice…they’re all good.

A food processor, blender, or hand blender…strawberries (or any fruit really) some liquid (you choose what and amount…regardless they’ll freeze) ice cream or yogurt if you choose and herbs, if you choose.

Blend

Pour in molds

Freeze

Yum

Most of all I want to impress upon you….these are sooooo easy and I think a yummy refreshing treat to have around! The molds are inexpensive. And if you prefer really healthy they are so adaptable…again, everything freezes!

Start with about a pint of Strawberries. Remove stems. Throw in the blender or food processor. Add sugar, 1 Tablespoon to 1/3 Cup depending on your desired sweetness. Add about 2 cups of liquid or dairy or combination of. Blend. If you don’t want texture in your pops, blend alot…if you do want texture…don’t. If your adding herbs I like to wait until everything else is the consistency I want and then add the herb, blend just enough to have tiny bits throughout

If you’d rather specific directions to refer to…My favorite so far is Strawberry Balsamic and Basil…I just added about 1- 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar about 3/4 cup water and 4 Tablespoons fresh lime juice to the strawberries and sugar and threw in freshly torn basil leaves at the end. Each brand of pop sickle molds hold different amounts of liquid so you might have too much liquid. I adjusted my water and lime juice. More then once I’ve had extra liquid. The pops go fast so I cover and save the liquid in the fridge and when one pop disappears I refill and freeze!

Easy Peasy

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Collard Salad

Collard Salad

When I saw this recipe for collard salad the northerner in me was apprehensive. Did I say NORTHERNER? Don’t worry or get confused that this shepherd living and farming in the south is not the person you thought you knew… I am not a true northern but a confused mix of both. Most of my rearing took place in the south. I was after all born in the south. Alas I cannot get too far away from the fact that both my parents were northerners and I spent a lot of my youth in the north. Growing up we ate like northerners most of the time. My mom was a northerner so that’s how we ate. My mom also was adventurous and would be the first to honor any culture so we did eat southern foods from time to time but mostly like a northern transplant might. She DID as so many northern folk do, put sugar in her cornbread, not much but enough to know she could not be a southerner. I have one of her old cookbooks and my story is evidenced by her handwritten “cornbread” recipe on the back cover. Yep, sugar! So in my round about way I’m saying collards are not and never were a common item on any menu in my house. I eat them and enjoy them once a year, New years day.

On one particular Saturday in May at our weekly farmers market I was gifted a bundle of collard greens. Grateful yes. Unsure what I could do; so true. Unable to waste anything =challenged.

Who better to help with this deeply southern food group then Vivian Howard. I luckily own her first cookbook, Deep Run Roots. I journeyed through several of the recipes when I first got the cookbook, everything I tried was good. Her deviled eggs with buttah, blueberry BBQ sauce, and her Party Magnet Cheese ball (as featured in Garden & Gun Mag) all were hits. Anywho, gifted with a bundle of collards I decided to try one of the recipes and ended up choosing the collard salad. What a surprise, what a treat. I usually ALWAYS commit to making a recipe exactly as written the first time but I just did not have pineapple on hand. I did have collards though! The heated dressing wilts and tenderizes and the overnight marinade brings out the wonderful flavors. The greens keep a “green” texture which allows it to be considered a salad I suppose. I honestly say the pineapple was not missed and the idea of it has me a bit confused. Alas, out of my desire to respect all recipes as written I shall try the pineapple next time.

Cucumbers Galore

A garden offers so many wonders.  Whether growing a patio tomato or the whole produce department, you know the feeling.... sitting down to eat the bounty from your plot of earth, big or small.  There is nothing like biting into something that you nurtured day after day to it's maturity.  Sharing the gardens riches with friends is another of the garden perks.  Pickles, preserves or baked goods made from what I've grown and nurtured are a true gift of love... to give and receive.  

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One vegetable that I adore growing is the good old cucumber. That good old cucumber gives us pickles, dill or sweet, whole or sliced and relish.  How about soups; gazpacho and chilled cucumber with yogurt, YUM!  How about some raita served with grilled unleavened bread?  I could eat that duo for every meal!  As kids I remember eating marinated cucumber and mayo sandwiches!  Last but not least, how about that ever popular, never a southern summer table without, bowl of sliced cucumbers with a bit of dill, a pinch of sugar and vinegar? 

  Because there are so many things a person can make with cucumbers, size doesn't really matter BUT if pickling is your intent, it can be tricky harvesting cucumbers.  Since the very best pickles are made from cuc's right off the vine you want to be able to pick enough of the same size all at one time.  Unless you have quite a few cucumber plants it's not likely you'll find the quantity needed in one picking.   When a few cucumbers are ready to be picked the others are still coming.  That is why I love this  DILL Pickle recipe from a previous blog post...all you need is enough cucumbers to fill one quart jar at a time. 

Alas, you invariably end up with some cucumbers that sit on the vine too long.  And, as those of you who've grown them before know, there is always that one hidden cuc you discover that has been growing for goodness knows how long.  Yikes!  A great option for those cucumbers is my Cinnamon Pickles from a previous post

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This ongoing struggle with my cucumber harvest has probably been the source of my love of them today.  I do not like to waste anything so no matter the size or shape; I had to create!  I'm loving a pantry full of edibles for my table, gifts of love for family and friends and what better then a homemade gift for a host/hostess.... straight from your kitchen!

Today, I'm talking relish!

This was my first attempt and I can't say enough about the ease and results.  One thing that did jump out at me was the color of the results...why wasn't my relish green?  I now know they add blue dye to relish, EEK...no need, just change your expectation...it is so worth the small effort.

I adapted this recipe from Genius Kitchen

Tangy Pickle Relish

makes 6-7 1/2 pint jars

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 lbs cucumbers , peeled and seeds removed
  • 2 -3 sweet onions
  • 1⁄4 cup pickling salt
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
  • red pepper flakes to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Finely chop cucumbers and onions. I use a food processor and do smaller batches to be sure not too fine.  Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, stir well. Let stand for 1 hour.
  2. Drain mixture in a colander, rinse under cold water and drain again, pressing out any excess moisture.
  3. In a large pot, bring vinegar, sugar, garlic, dill seed, mustard seed, celery seed, and pepper flakes to a boil.
  4. Add cucumber mixture, bring to a boil again, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  5. Remove from heat, add the turmeric and mix well.
  6. Pour into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Seal with lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath in canner for 10 minutes.

 

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Squash Lasagna

My squash bounty continues and I will not cave to the guilt of waste! 

 I'm having a momentary vision of Lucy and Ethel shoving those chocolates in their mouths as fast as the conveyor belt brought them.  That's kind of how I feel with the squash....

 The squash is coming so fast.  I have given squash to all my neighbors til they don't want anymore.  (Husband yells from other room, "don't plant so much next time", DAH).  Come winter when I pull many of these recipe renditions from the freeze I will again dream of planting squash in my garden.

Who doesn't love ooey, gooey, yummy lasagna?  

I've never met that person and quite frankly I'd think something must be wrong with them.  Chances are, if there is that person,  it might be because of the pasta in the traditional rendition.  Many folks these days are staying away from pasta.

How about lasagna, sans the pasta?  

It can't be done you say? 

How about replacing the noodles with

SQUASH

.  

WHAT?

I saw many renditions of this on the internet. Why not give it a try?

I am here to tell you it is yummy.

I am not going to share a complete lasagna recipe with you.  I'm only going to share the basic premise...

slice the squash about 1/4" thick and cook it until it's pliable.  Most of the recipes called for boiling it.  I LOVE everything roasted.  I think it brings out so much more developed flavors.  So, I tossed it with olive oil and sea salt.  Placed it on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven and roasted it until it was soft but still holding shape.  

Now your ready to create your dish.  

Layer it in place of the pasta just as you would your favorite lasagna recipe, just the same!  

I always finish my lasagna with a layer of Parmesan to create the crust.

You can make this very vegi or add your favorite meat sauce.

I promise, it will NOT disappoint....

Squash Squares

The garden over flowith with squash...

As is familiar to most of you gardeners out there, it starts coming and it comes fast.  We eat it, we gift it, we preserve it, we.....hmmm, what else can I do?

Luckily I have a  recipe from a friend I've stashed away.   I knowI liked it, otherwise I wouldn't have requested the recipe.  

I'm trying to "healthy" up most everything in my life these days so I wanted to trade out the Bisquick for something else.  Don't get me wrong, I have a box of the grand ole gal in my pantry but, these days, if I can I do switch it out for the very stuff it was meant to replace in the beginning...flour, baking powder, salt and shortening.  I wanted to health it up even more and replace some of the white (although I do use only whole grain white flour) for some whole wheat.  So, I did.

 yecch....

I do believe there are certain recipes that are meant to be just as they are.    

Health, it can be argued, is just as dependent on the feeling of happiness as it is the nutrients we consume!

So, revert to the original recipe I did and it is a yummy way to cook the bounty of yellow squash 

3 Cups Squash/zucchini , coarsely grated

1 Cup Bisquick

1/2 Cup onion, chopped fine

1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon marjoram, oregano, or combo of Italian Seasonings

dash of pepper

1/2 Cup of oil

4 eggs, beaten (hopefully farm fresh)

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I think this is an important ingredient)

1 clove garlic, chopped, minced or grated

Mix eggs, oil and seasonings.  Add all the rest of the ingredients.  Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9x13 pan for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cut 1" squares for appetizers or 4" squares for sides.

Oh no, more squash is coming!

More squash recipes too!

Enjoy!

Lamb Ribs


I can almost hear those lips smacking...

Who can resist finger lickin, napkin grabbin, fall off the bone, sticky ole ribs?


 All the talk of fabulous food bites for the upcoming Super Bowl got me motivated.

How about something that might, just might, draw the attention away from the big screen for a bit?  



potato skins, chips & dip, wings...how about something different? 


Today I'm sharing a recipe for the yummiest, easiest, most impressive little morsels...EVER

LAMB RIBS!

Think you don't like lamb?  Think again.  I have gained lamb lovers over this recipe time and time again.  I'm convinced anyway, folks that think they don't like lamb have either had a bad preparation or an older sheep.  If you consider yourself a foodie you need to give these a try.  If you want to impress your guests, this will do it, I assure you.


Finding lamb ribs will not be an easy task. I would suggest you find a lamb vendor at a farmers market, they'll have them!  Not only will they have them but lamb ribs are a very economical cut...double bonus!  As is often the case buying direct from farmers, you'll have access to cuts of meat you'd never find in your box stores.  

So enough discussion...Here's the recipe!

Lamb Ribs


ingredients: lamb ribs, spice rub, BBQ sauce


Spice Rub lamb lends itself to so many flavor profiles, Asian with soy and ginger, Mediterranean with coriander and oregano, Mexican with cumin and chili...and always garlic!  If your not feeling very creative Old Bay seasoning works great

your favorite BBQ sauce  I like a honey/molasses/mustard based sauces but I usually create something that marries well with my rub.  I'd recommend one of your ingredients be honey, molasses, syrup or even a jam you have sitting on the shelf.  Again, if your not feeling too inspired, a store bought sauce will do.   It is honestly hard to go wrong.

Remove as much fat as you can from the ribs.
Rub the ribs with dry rub and refrigerate over nite or at least 8 hours


First, we'll cook the meat.  Remove ribs and place on a foil lined baking pan.  Cover and bake at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours.  Sometimes I place them on a rack and place about 1/4 inch any fruit juice (i.e cherry, cranberry, apple, blueberry, grape) in the bottom of the pan and follow the same cooking.  







Next remove the cover and cook for another 1-1.5 hours.
At this point you could place the ribs on a grill but my oven method works great

Next, baste with your sauce every 10-15 minutes  for the next hour.  

Remove from oven.

Do you see the GOOEY?

Voila!

Too easy? 


Printable Recipe


Cinnamon Pickles



Have I said it before?  I love pickles!  This recipe is adapted from a Caswell County, NC neighbor.  I am sure it would rightfully be referred to as, "old timey".

As so often was the case, an old recipe came out of need for preservation or desire not to be wasteful.  This recipe is just that.  You know those cucumbers that stay on the vine just a bit too long?  Either hidden under all the growth, or, more likely with me...I didn't pick it in time.  The seeds are way too developed for your regular pickle recipes...well, here is the answer to your "i don't want to be wasteful" woes.  


I first had these pickles a few years back and fell in love with them immediately.  They're very different. They're crisp and spicy like fall, not from heat but from cinnamon.


The only issue I had with the original recipe was the bright red color which came from red food coloring and red cinnamon heart candy.  If you don't know, you should read up on red food coloring.  An unnecessary additive I choose to stay away from so I didn't use the candy or the food coloring.  The recipe also uses alum (yes, derived from aluminum) and I found some controversial information about it too.  Alum has always been used in pickling to get the crispness. Although controversial, I used it anyway, this time.  It is a tiny amount and I didn't want to alter the character of the pickles...Next time I will try eliminating the alum and see what happens.


The recipe is time consuming but quite easy.  Know that the next few mornings (yes you read that right) you will have a few basic steps.  The important thing to note is starting this today means you won't be actually canning until the 3rd day.  I do love canning but I also know I have to block off the time and kitchen space and I'll bet if you've read this far into this blog you know exactly what I'm saying!


Ingredients:
2 gallons cucumber rings from too big cucs (peel, seed, slice in rings or as I've done half rings)
water
2 C pickling lime
3 C white vinegar
1 teaspoon alum
10 C Sugar
8 sticks cinnamon
1 C cinnamon hearts (if desired)
1 bottle of red food color (if desired)




Soak the cucumber rings, lime, and 8.5 quarts of water for 24 hours. Drain and wash well.  Cover with ice water and soak for 2 hours.  Pour off ice water.













Cover rings with 1 C vinegar, alum, and red food coloring if using and enough water to cover.  Simmer for 2 hours.


Drain and throw away the water.  Heat 2 C vinegar, 2 C water, sugar and cinnamon sticks and candy if using.  Pour the liquid over the rings. For the next 2 mornings, drain the liquid into a pot, bring to a boil and pour back over the cucumber rings.  Keep a lid over the rings to hold heat as long as possible.  On the 3rd day, reheat the liquid and rings together and bring to a boil.

Once you've reached your boil your ready to can these babies!  Put the rings in your hot sterilized jars, cover with liquid to 1/4 " head space.  Put on your sterilized lids and water bath for 20 minutes.  In 8-10 weeks your ready for the unveiling! I didn't miss the red color at all.  When they were first cooking they had a marvelous celery green color I wished had lasted.  The color is much more appetizing to me then the red ever was.  Hope you ENJOY!