Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refridgerator Dill Pickles

Making refrigerator pickles is incredibly easy. The key is using cucumbers specifically for pickling (or using cucumbers you grew yourself). Do not use those dark green things typically found at the grocery store. Their skin is thick and has wax on it. This recipe results in crunchy, tart dill pickles. If you like your pickles with a bit of kick, add a serrano pepper that has been cut in half or a teaspoon of hot chile flakes.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Makes 1 quart

2 kirby (pickling) cucumbers
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (or pickling salt)
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat as soon as the solution comes to a boil. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, wash the cucumbers, trim off ends, and cut vertically into spears. I cut the cucumber in half, cut the halves in half, and then cut the quarters in half for a total of 8 spears. Place the cut cucumber spears, garlic clove, dill seed, and dill weed into a clean quart-size Mason jar. Pour the pickling solution over the cucumbers and screw on the lid. Allow to cool on the counter and then refrigerate. For best results, let pickle for 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge before eating.

Sweet Potato Muffins

Sweet Potato Muffins

I have a confession to make…I don’t really like sweet potatoes. I should. They are super nutritious and so good for you. They are high in vitamins and minerals. They have powerful antioxidants that have anti-cancer and anti-aging effects. Sweet potatoes are relatively low on the glycemic index and help keep your blood sugar levels stable. Indigenous tribes in New Guinea subside on a diet almost made up entirely of sweet potatoes. Despite all of this, I still don’t like the taste of them.

This was the first week of the fall season for my CSA. This week’s box from Pinckney’s Produce contained a bunch of sweet potatoes. More sweet potatoes than I have probably consumed in my entire life. Oh great. Well, yesterday, I cooked half of the sweet potatoes in the crockpot until they were tender. Once cooked, I peeled and mashed the sweet potatoes for use in a couple of recipes. This morning I used some of the mashed sweet potatoes to make muffins. They were actually a big hit. My family really liked them. They were mild and tender. My 3 year old must have eaten 6 of them all by himself. I have to admit, I don’t have a problem eating sweet potatoes in muffin form. These muffins are delicious.

Sweet Potato Muffins

Makes 18 regular sized muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato (about 2 medium sweet potatoes)
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray the muffin tins with cooking spray or line with cupcake liners/baking cups.

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Next mix in the mashed sweet potatoes and then the milk.

Gradually blend the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture on low speed until just combined. Divide the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake the muffins in a 375° F oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.

Crockpot Baked Sweet Potatoes

Crockpot Baked Sweet Potatoes

I got a mega ton of sweet potatoes in my CSA box this week. I wanted to cook the sweet potatoes so that I could mash them to use in other recipes. I had great success baking potatoes in the crockpot, so I decided to bake my sweet potatoes that way. I was happy with the results. My sweet potatoes were tender and moist in about 4 1/2  hours and I didn’t even have to turn on the oven. Sweet! This recipe could not be more simple.

Crockpot Baked Sweet Potatoes

Wash sweet potatoes well. You don’t have to dry them, but I trim off any crazy-long root ends. Place the sweet potatoes in the crockpot (as many that fit) and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until tender.

Eat the baked sweet potatoes with butter (you can add brown sugar and cinnamon if you like) or mash for use in other recipes like sweet potato muffins or sweet potato pie.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

I finally made that Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese recipe that has been all over Pinterest and various food blogs. I pinned the recipe months ago, but was reminded of it when I saw a post at Cottage Grove House a couple of weeks ago.

I adapted Bon Appetit’s recipe a bit. For one thing, I omitted the white wine. I’m not going to waste 2 1/2 cups of wine just to boil a cauliflower in it. I also cut back on the salt and fat. The results I got were amazing! I’m seriously in love with preparing cauliflower this way. Boiling the cauliflower first ensures that it is tender. Roasting brings out the sweetness of the cauliflower, but also gives it a caramelized, nutty flavor. The Whipped Goat Cheese was good, but honestly, the cauliflower does not need it.

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I couldn’t help it, I pulled the florets from the whole cauliflower and ate them with my hands. It was an enjoyable experience. : ) I’m so glad I finally prepared this recipe. I will be making this over and over.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese

8 cups water
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed
Whipped Goat Cheese (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 475°.

Bring water, kosher salt, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and sugar to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15-20 minutes.

Gently remove the cauliflower from the pot using 2 slotted spoons (or tongs and a spatula) and drain well. Transfer the cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven, rotating sheet halfway through, until brown all over, 30-40 minutes. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired. Serve with Whipped Goat Cheese.

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Whipped Goat Cheese

4 ounces goat cheese
3 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces feta cheese
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, to taste

Blend the goat cheese, cream cheese, feta, milk, and olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt. Transfer whipped goat cheese to a serving bowl. Can be made ahead of time.

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Find the original recipe from Bon Appetit here.

Fennel, Celery, and Apple Slaw

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This is a nice, refreshing slaw perfect for the late days of summer.

I had a bulb of fennel in the fridge that I needed to use. I had to buy fennel for the fronds to use in the Crab Toast with Lemon Aioli recipe I prepared for The Bitten Word’s Cover to Cover Challenge last week. I’m not a big fan of anise/licorice flavor so fennel is not a vegetable I buy often. When I do happen to buy fennel for a recipe that calls for it, I’m often surprised that it’s flavor is not as strong as I anticipated. I really did enjoy this slaw, so I must try to overcome my reluctance to buy fennel in the future.

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Fennel, Celery, and Apple Slaw

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 bulb fennel with fronds
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 firm apple (Fuji, Granny Smith, Gala, etc…), cored and julienned
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and sugar in a small Mason jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake to combine. Alternatively, you can whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Cut the stems and root end off of the fennel bulb. Remove the fronds from the stems and roughly chop them, if needed. Add the fronds to a large bowl. Cut the fennel bulb in half and cut out the core. Thinly slice the fennel bulb and place in the bowl with the fronds.

Add the sliced celery and julienned apple to the bowl. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss to coat. Season the slaw with salt and pepper and toss again.


Flourless Chocolate Torte

Flourless Chocolate Torte

This brownie-like torte will satisfy your chocolate craving. It is fudgy and delicious. You can dress it up with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, and/or a chocolate glaze. My kids loved this torte. My 13 year old ate a small chunk out of the middle of it (see bottom photo) before it even cooled. My 3 year old got into it before I could sprinkle it with powdered sugar to make it look pretty for a picture. Sigh. Oh well, it was still quite good without any embelishment.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

3 tablespoons butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs, seperated
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper or foil, replace the sides and clamp it. The extra parchement paper or foil will be hanging out between the bottom and sides of the pan. Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Gently melt the butter and chopped unsweetened chocolate in a small pan over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Alternatively, melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave at half power in 30 second intervals, stirring each time. Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly.

Beat together the 6 egg  yolks and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate mixture; beat until well combined, about 1 minute.

Wash the beater attachments. In another bowl, beat the egg whites, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, until stiff peaks form. This will take 5 to 6 minutes.

Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter. Once incorporated, fold in another 1/3 of the egg whites. Repeat with the remaining 1/3 of egg whites. Pour batter, using a spatula to scrape the sides, into the prepared springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees until the torte is set, about 40 minutes. Let the torte cool completely before removing the sides.

Invert the torte onto a plate. Remove the bottom of the springform pan and the parchment paper or foil. Invert torte onto the serving plate and remove the top plate. You may sprinkle the top of the torte with powdered sugar or drizzle with a chocolate glaze.

Flourless Chocolate Torte 2

Vegetarian Chili

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A few months ago, packages of Boca Burgers were Buy One Get One Free at Publix. By pairing the sale price with coupons, I was able to get a couple of packages for 89¢ apiece. I was thrilled with the deal. I figured they would be great for lunches and quick dinners. Well, a few months have gone by and no one has touched them. “Mmmm….a Boca Burger sounds good” is just not a thought that has ever occurred to me. I needed to use them and decided to make chili with one of the packages. I was really happy with the way this vegetarian chili turned out. It was good. Way better than a burger would have been. This chili can be totally vegan depending on the type of Boca Burgers you use.

Vegetarian Chili

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), chopped
2 chiles (serranos or jalapenos), seeded and minced (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 10 oz. package of Boca Burgers (4 patties), chopped (or use a package of Boca Ground Crumbles)
1 15.5 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and chiles. Cook until the vegetables start to get soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the ground cumin, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne. Add the zucchini, chopped Boca Burgers, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, and water. Stir well and allow to just come to a boil. Season with the salt and turn the heat down to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chili is thickened.