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simple refrigerator pickles

simple. that is the key here.

have a cutting board?

have a knife?

have a pretty jar?

cool. Then let’s GO!

IMG_0561start by washing your jar with hot soapy water and air dry.

On a stove top, add 1 1/2 cups of sugar to 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp Kosher salt. Bring to a boil and whisk until sugar is dissolved.

let cool.

Start slicing your veggies.

place a layer of cucumbers in your jar,  layer a big slice of red onion, a hot pepper sliced ( poke seeds out of center to make ‘rings’)

sprinkle some kosher salt, a few black peppercorns, a few mustard seeds, peeled garlic cloves, and dill sprigs.
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Repeat.

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make as many layers as you’d like.. I went with 3.

Add 2 cups of white vinegar to water/ sugar mixture and pour over veggies.

using the bottom of a wooden spoon push veggie layers into liquid.

I had about 1/2 inch of veggies that would not submerge, but with in a few hours the veggies softened and I was able to submerge all of them. If you have more room than that, add a little more vinegar.

Cover and refrigerate.

that’t it!

these are simple and tasty and are PERFECT to make ahead . I made these for Ali’s graduation party and they were a hit. ( more recipes from the party coming soon! )

and since we moved less that 5 days later, I sent the leftovers home with 2 of my good friends and rumor has it that they are STILL snacking on them!

so you should make these. and impress yourself.

I did 🙂

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want more cucumber recipes?

check out chilled cucumber soup

and cucumber salad

and panzanella salad

and cucumber martinis

hmm… that last one just gave me an excellent  idea 😉

‘night friends 🙂

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summer cucumber salad

summer cucumber salad

 

click link for recipe 🙂

veggie chili

Friends.

I’ve hesitated.

I have a veggie chili recipe that I have pretty much been making for years. And I love it. but  I have a really good friend who is sort of a chili making champion.  She lives in Texas and they take their chili VERY seriously.  IN fact.. I have had the pleasure of tasting her chili… it truly is out of this world… You should  can visit her at River Cat Chili.

She is just back form a very big chili challenge that I’m sure she will be telling us all about soon.. and I have seen some of the pics.. and trust me… you wont want to miss this.

Sharing my measly chili recipe has had me intimidated.  But today… I feel strong.  I am going for it!

So the other day I defrosted chicken and had to decide what to make for dinner. Given the fact that I had more then just 2 to cook for, I needed to get creative.

This is my favorite way to cook. I have always said that if I were ever lucky enough to have a cooking show.. that this would be my ‘spin’

Open the fridge… take inventory… combine with pantry items and come up with 3 possible ideas.. and make one.

Which is exact-a-lacktaly what I did.

so what did I come up with? my veggie chili .. cooking the chicken on the side for those who wanted it. It was perfect.

I started by chopping the veggies and adding all but he garlic to a pan heated with oil

season with salt and pepper ( avoid salting the mushrooms)  and let everyone get a nice little crust.

after about 5 minutes, add the garlic, stir together, turn heat off, add wine to deglaze.

Turn the heat back on… once the wine has evaporated add some veggie stock and jarred tomatoes ( these were second to the last batch from last summer.. *snif*)

Let the chili come to a boil, then reduce and let simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir in beans. ( I used beans that I had made in the crock pot and froze.. just because I go throught them so fast, but feel free to use canned)

For the chicken, I cubed it.. tossed it in spices and sauted in oil over med high heat.  Then added chicken broth to deglaze , covered and let simmer until  chicken had reached 165.

At the last minute, stir in some chopped cilantro or Parsley…  I served it with the chipotle cream sauce and it was perfect. ( I added the cooked chicken on top of those who wanted the chicken.

This is easy, healthy and yummy 😉  I finished the rest of it for lunch today with 1/4 of a chopped avocado and some fresh lime juice. It is a perfect meal for a fall day 🙂

* a note on the ghost pepper salt*

I have recently REALLY gotten into finishing salts. I can thank Ryan for this. I make a few of them myself (Lavender salt, Rosemary salt) but I’m a sucker when come across different flavors.  I am lucky That Ryan goes to school near a fabulous little tea and spice chop.. and every opportunity that I have I visit and he and I try out the different salts.

and sugars

and spices

and teas

We came across this one last weekend.. and although the ghost pepper is UBER hot.. ( bought some powdered ghost pepper this summer…  you only need a spec.. this stuff is strong.) I knew I had to buy it.

I have used this every day. yumm..

it’s awesome. like you!

what am I thankful for today? for you .. my readers…  you make my day.. seriously.. it’s nice having y’all as my bffs 🙂

oxoox[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:4]

banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!

NEEEEXXXXTTT…

I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…

OR

2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

this one’s a keeper

friends, I have a recipe to share with you. I cannot take credit for this recipe ( I rarely do.. with the exception of my roasted vegetable lasagne , which I am convinced will someday make me famous)  I mostly share recipes and tips that I have found along the way.

Tonight’s is no exception.

EXCEPT… I’m being a bit selfish here. Ok I know.. you are shocked. Let me explain.

For Christmas this last year one of my gifts from my mom & step dad was a subscription to Clean Eating magazine. I had heard about it & really wanted to learn more.  I bullied one of my friends into getting it as well, so that we could compare recipes & the front cover & stuff.

whaaat.. I was a nice bully 😉

One of the first recipes that I made was a pork stew/chilish kinda dish. I loved it! Really loved it. When I went to make it the next time , I couldn’t find it anywhere. I searched the magazines( by then I had a few issues) I searched the website. and continued to come up blank. I finally did find it, and made a mental note to bookmark it.

Epic.

Fail.

So The other night when I wanted to make it again.. same process, expect now I had 9 months or CE magazines to go through.

*on a side note… this made me look at my entire stash of cooking mags that I had saved. The one on the TOP of the pile read ’20 best things to try in 2007’*

yes. 2007. I am behind the times.

I recycled all 7 shopping bags of magazines and was rewarded with.. the recipe that I had been looking for. Picadillo Chowder.

Now I am quite naive… I never looked up picadillo and I never looked up chowder. I searched pork in every fashion.

I searched chili.

I searched stew.

It doesn’t matter, because the magazine Gods shined upon and rewarded me for being such a good recycler and then and there I promised to write it on my forehead

share this with you….

I give you Picadillo Chowder .

( picture is missing the black beans. I forgot them)

*1 lb lean ground pork

*1 medium yellow onion

*4 gloves garlic, chopped

*32 ounce low sodium chicken broth

*1 cup Organic black beans , rinsed ( I used the whole can, rinsed)

* 1/4 cup brown rice

* 1 tsp ground cumin ( I like it spicy, so I used a bit more)

* 1 tsp chile powder ( I used chipolte chili powder and more because I like it spicy 😉

* juice of 1 lime

* chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

Place a large stockpot on medium heat. Add pork & onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until pork is opaque and onion is translucent. Stir in garlic, cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove pot from heat; pour mixture into heat proof container and drain fat from meat. Return mixture to pan and add broth. Stir in beans, rice, cumin & chili powder.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in lime juice then continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.

I always put a hot pepper in the middle, then when it’s done, I mash it up for extra heat. What can I say? I like it hot.

The original recipe called for rice browns, which are like little rice pancakes, but the first time I made them I was not impressed, so I haven’t included the recipe. If you are interested, give me a shout out & I will post it for you.

I like to serve it with an extra squeeze of lime juice , fresh cilantro ( parsley for you cilantro haters.. it’s not your fault..it’s hereditary) I forgive you and will always have parsley for you 🙂   I serve it with cornbread & a dollop of greek Yogurt.

and I’m such a poor blogger,that I missed taking a photo of the final dish. I know. my bad.

HOWEVER, I did manage to take a picture the next day when I morphed the leftovers into a wonderful organic corn tortilla soft taco for lunch

is your mouth watering? mine is…..

this recipe has it all in my opinion.

it’s quick

it’s inexpensive

it’s easy

it’s delicious

it’s versitile

it’s what you should make 🙂

and for my vegetarian friends ( you know who you are) you could probably make it vegetarian by using veggie stock & grated Tempeh in place of the pork. I haven’t tried it but may be inclined to do so. Soon.

a special shout out to those of you who ‘like’ me on facebook. Let’s face, it, everyone who like to be ‘liked’ and I am no exception 🙂 If you see a recipe that you like, feel free to share it with friends 🙂

ciao bellas!

oh. yum.

Ok.. who here shops at wholesale cubs? I do sometimes but usually only for certain things. Not everything in bulk is a better deal.

So while I was en route to pick up my Chobani (love this stuff) I was star-struck when I saw this

I do love all things Italian and I ❤ my garden and veggies so I stopped to look at it & guess what?  It is another book that the recipes are grouped by seasons! What a wonderful way to use the foods that are local & fresh 🙂

I went back and forth on whether I could justify buying it, after all , I just bought THIS earlier this week , but in the end, I just couldn’t leave it behind.

After buying the book ( no self-control here) I sat int he parking lot & flipped through it & one recipe stood out as absolutleyhastobemadetonight. But… I needed cream.

But who goes into a wholesale club & just comes out with cream? (ignoring the fact that I just came out with yogurt, lemons & a cookbook) So I did what anyone else would do, I bought a keg of EVOO as well, because it’s also time to make some pesto.

Quite typical of me I barely ever follow directions, so this was my take on the recipe

Tomato Gratin

4 round tomatoes, halved , scooped and seeded ( I sliced a bit off the bottom so that the stood flat in the baking dish)~ scooped centers chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream ( maybe just a bit more for soaking the bread)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 plum tomatoes, finely diced

olive oil

a few slices on day old bread ( I used a rustic Rosemary bread that I bought at the Farmers’ market last week)

Chives, chopped, sea salt & pepper.

Preheat oven to 350

After halving the tomatoes, drain them on a paper towel while preparing filling.

Pour cream, chopped tomatoes &  chopped garlic to a small pan & heat over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Sauce should turn pink & tomatoes should begin to break down. Season with salt & pepper and allow sauce to cool.

While tomatoes are cooking/cooling, tear bread into small pieces, add remaining garlic & cover with cream, pressing down so that all the bread is covered.

Let soak for about 5 minutes.

In a bowl, mix cream mixture, bread crumbs,and chopped tomato centers. Test for salt & pepper.

Place tomatoes in olive oil lined baking dish and divide filling between tomatoes.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or so, until the the filling form a light crust.

sprinkle with chopped chives & serve.

over. the. top.  so darn yummy!!!!!!

You need to make these. so they have heavy cream..

so what.

Just do it… all the cool kids are 🙂

 

do it!

do it!

do it! 

(then invite me over, because I would like to eat this again)

on another note.. the barefoot garden survived the Earthquake yesterday

ok.. maybe one little causuality….

ciao bellas!

 

 

 

 

oh no she didn’t!

Oh YES she did!

 

So here’s a shocker.. I don’t really like potatoes. I mean I don’t dislike them or anything, but they can be kind of boring.. not  at all exciting as say.. maybe

Cheese?

If I’m going to eat calories, I want them to be for something that I love, not just like.

SO when I was catching up on some blog reading & I saw a picture of Angela making home made potato chips.. I sais to myself, “self.. you should try that” so I did.

I started by washing the potatoes, then slicing them about 1/4 inch thick. I tossed them with some Evoo, salt & pepper & placed them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet

(makes for real easy clean-up 😉

 

I roasted them at 375 for about 20 minutes, carefully turning them 1/2 way through.

I served them alongside a garlic mayo that I made by just stirring some crushed garlic into a small bowl of mayo.. 

friends, this was an easy recipe and inexpensive and so darn good.  Even for this potato non-lover.

Here’s where I got a little crazy.  I made way too many chips, so we had leftovers. I put them in a small paper lunch bag ( the paper helped absorb the excess oil).

 

So Sunday afternoon, I was trying to decide what to do with them (I hate to throw food away) and it hit me..

Potato Chip NACHOS!!   seriously..it just made so much sense

so I placed the chips on the cookie sheet & placed them in a 375 oven for about 5 minutes to warm them, then topped with cheddar cheese, onions,& jalepeno

 

I placed them under the broiler for a few minutes..

served with  FF Greek yogurt & cilantro.

 

OMG!

I finally think I have a potato recipe that I love 😉

smooches!

grilled pork chops with mango -jalapeño sauce

I’ve found that some of the best recipes that I’ve made have been largely unplanned. Scott & I had bought these beautiful pork chops  but just couldn’t come up with an idea for them.

blindly heading toward my fridge without a clue as to what I was doing, I spotted the Greek yogurt.

Then I opened the freezer so see a lonely bag of Trader Joe’s frozen mango chucnks

Hmmm… I was onto something.

I grabbed my trusty blender &  added the yogurt, mango, 1/2 of a jalepeno pepper, chopped , 1/4 cup brown sugar, some salt & pepper a little bit of good ol’ H2O.. said a quick prayer to the cooking fairies & whirred my little heart out.

yumminess was happening..

I added a little bit more water to get a smoother consistency & tasted it.

perfect!

I set aside some of this yummy sauce ( and kept tasting it.. you know just to make sure that the flavors didn’t change int he 10 minutes since I had made it..)

and marinated the pork in the rest of it.

of course being VERY careful to not cross-contaminate with any of the raw pork..

I covered both of these babies & stuck them in the fridge and let the pork marinade all day long.

Dinnatime!!! I fired up my grill & grilled both chops….

OOPS.. hot spot… darn it 😦

pork chop #2…  now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ ’bout!!

dear pork police…

*no pork was wasted in this burning misadventure, the crust of that one side of burnt pork was cut off & the pork underneath was wonderful*

I grilled it to an internal temp of 145.. then pull of the grill & LET REST!!.. this is very important!

I made a salad with some Arugula from Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm.. I added some slivered onion, goat cheese & slivered almonds. Tossed with a little bit of the marinade that I set aside..

next to the sliced pork & a bit more magic sauce on top..

I think I love mango 🙂

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