Honey Glazed Carrots

I needed a vegetable side dish to serve up with the chicken casserole I was making and ended up throwing this together on a whim.  We thought it was great!  I’ll definitely want to remember this dish in the summer time when we have an excess of home-grown carrots.

Honey Glazed Carrots

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices

1 Tbsp butter

salt and pepper

dash of garlic powder

dash of ground ginger

2 heaping Tbsp honey

Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet, add the carrot slices.  Stir fry a few minutes over medium heat, then cover with a lid for 10-15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Add the seasonings and honey, and stir to coat.  Serve immediately, and be sure to spoon the glaze over the top.

Jalapeno Hummus

I’ve commented over and over again about how much I love hummus, so I won’t go into it again.  I’ll just leave you with this kicked up version of hummus for the folks who love jalapeno like us.  Enjoy!

Sorry no picture here, but it looks just like my regular hummus only with tiny green flecks in it from the jalapeno.

Jalapeno Hummus

2 jalapeno peppers, ribbed and seeded {You could go with 1-3 depending on your tastes}

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled

1 (14 oz) can of chickpeas, drained

juice of 2 small lemons

1/4 cup tahini

4-6 Tbsp water

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cumin

Combine the jalapenos, garlic, and chickpeas in the bowl of a large food processor.  Pulse into coarse paste.  Add lemon juice, tahini, some water {start with 4 Tbsp}, salt, and cumin.  Process until fully ground.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube.  Scrape sides of bowl again and then process for a few more seconds to ensure that everything is combined.  May need to add more water to reach desired consistency.

Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Garden Update September 2010

This will probably be my last garden update of the year.  I really slacked on posting about the garden this year for some reason, but we had a rather large yield.  I already posted about our cucumbers, peas, and lettuce in a post back in July.

Since then, I have made refrigerator pickles and have frozen the corn from about 2 dozen ears.   We ate about another dozen ears fresh.  What I did to freeze the corn was drop the ears in boiling water for about 6-8 minutes {in at least 2 batches}, drained them, let them cool a bit, then sliced the kernels off the cob and place into freezer safe containers.  Since I portioned the corn into servings for two people in each freezer container, there was room at the top of each each container.  So before adding the lids, I just pressed some plastic wrap onto the surface of the corn to hopefully minimize freezer burn.

We have also harvested tomatoes and fresh green beans, cantaloupe, various peppers, and more cucumbers!  Seriously, we were buried with cucumbers!  I even put a table piled high with cucumber and a “free” sign at the end of the driveway one day, hoping to get rid of some.  No dice.

Roma Tomatoes

Jalapeno Peppers

We still have carrots yet to be harvested as well as our second planting of peas – they’re ready, just haven’t been picked yet.

As far as canning:  In my pantry right now I have about 4 jars of pickles, 6 jars of green beans, and 5 jars of pickled jalapenos.  My mom and sister really talked me down from the ledge about canning so now I’m comfortable with it and I’m grateful to them for it!  They came over to my house and we canned the pickles together, then my mom canned the green beans for me, and I canned the jalapenos myself using this recipe.  Let’s hope nobody gets botulism!  Kidding ……….. kinda ……not really.

Canned Jalapenos

Refrigerator Sweet Pickles

We planted cucumbers in our garden this year with the intent to make pickles first and foremost.  Sure, we love plain cucumbers added to salads and used as dippers for hummus and other dips too, but pickles were the plan.

Then it came time to actually make and can the pickles and I panicked.  Why?  I dunno.  The only two kitchen related fears I have are working with yeast and canning.  I can usually overcome the fear of yeast and am able to go ahead and bake with it.  But someone needs to talk me down from the ledge regarding canning!

So, I consider this recipe a compromise with canning.  Dipping my toe into the water if you will.  We still get pickles out of the deal, but I don’t have to can using a water-bath or pressure cooker.

A word of warning:  Due to the turmeric, this liquid may stain everything it touches including your fingernails, light colored countertops, plastic spoons and bowls, etc.  Use the necessary precautions that you see fit such as working on a cutting board to protect your countertop, wearing disposable plastic gloves {I didn’t, but I haven’t had a manicure in over 3 years.}, and using metal spoons and glass bowls.

Also, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you should not be surprised that I couldn’t find an ingredient at my local grocery stores, so I had to substitute pickling spice for the whole mustard seed.

Refrigerator Pickles

Source:  family recipe

Yield:  one large jar of pickles

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp mustard seed {I subbed a pickling spice mixture containing mustard seeds}

1/4 tsp celery seed

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 small onions, thinly sliced

3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled cucumbers {about 2 medium cucumbers}

Directions:

Place the sliced cucumbers and onions in a large glass microwave-safe bowl.

In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Add the vinegar to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Then pour over the cucumbers and pickles.

Microwave uncovered on high power for 5 minutes.  Stir well and microwave for 5 more minutes.

Pour or spoon all of the onions, cucumbers, and liquid into a clean jar using a wide mouth canning funnel, add lid, and refrigerate.

I don’t know if its necessary, but I give the jars an occasional gentle shake over the first 3-4 hours that they’re in the fridge.

Garden Update July 2010

I haven’t really mentioned our garden too much this year.  But it is going strong.  🙂

So far we’ve had lettuce {now done}, peas {done}, red and white onions, and cucumbers. The sweet corn and green beans won’t be too far off and we have one tiny bell pepper starting to grow.

Peas

Lettuce

Cucumbers

We’re also growing carrots, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and jalapenos.  But, those won’t be ready for awhile yet.

We tried to grow strawberries, but that was a big ol’ fail.  And I never got around to planting my herb seeds – parsley and basil.  Maybe I’ll pick up some plants to transplant this week?

As always, a big thank you goes out to Tim for doing most of the work!  He tills, plants, weeds, and I harvest.

Garden Plan 2010

Well, its that time of year again!  Time to plan and plant the garden.  We started last weekend by planting strawberries, 3 rows of white onions, 3 rows of red onions, 3 rows of peas, a couple rows of carrots, and a row of lettuce.

Soon, we will plant sweet corn, green beans, melons, sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs.  Maybe cucumbers and squash too.

For reference, or in case you weren’t reading this boring blog last year…here’s the link to last year’s garden post {click here}.  And here is a follow up post {click here}.

Pesto

Finally!  I found one lonely package of basil at the store.   I guess I have never tried to buy basil at the store before {especially in the winter} because I grow my own in the summer.  It is one of the few herbs I can successfully grow in my garden!

Anywho, I was finally able to make a batch of pesto that I have been craving for a few weeks!  I love to use pesto to just simply coat some pasta for a vegetarian meal as I am showing here {gnocchi}.  You can add grilled chicken breasts to the pasta if you chose, but it is definitely wonderful without.  Pizza sauce is another great use for pesto.  And also, the pasta with pesto is great hot or cold.  Enjoy!

Pesto

1 slightly packed cup of basil leaves

2 peeled garlic cloves

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 – 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and a lot of black pepper

1/3 cup EVOO

Process the garlic, nuts, and basil in a food processor to make a paste.  Add the cheese and s&p and process some more.  Then stream in the EVOO while the processor is on.  Taste and adjust as needed with more s&p if needed.

If using as a pasta sauce, reserve some of the pasta’s cooking water to add as needed when mixing the pasta with the pesto.  It just makes for a smoother and evenly coated pasta dish.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

I have mentioned my homemade tomato sauce numerous times {here, here, and here}, so I thought its time to finally post the recipe. You can use this recipe just as it is, or just use the method and go ahead and adapt to your taste.  For example, add a diced carrot and/or celery stick and omit the onion and peppers…whatever you like is fine!  I happen to prefer it chunky and peppery, but you may not, so add more wine, broth or water to thin it out and omit the red pepper flakes, etc.

This makes a lot, but it freezes nicely.  And, I know you may be thinking that it is easier to open a jar of sauce from the grocery store, but those generally contain more sugar than necessary.  A homemade batch of sauce only contains exactly what you like and want and you can control the quality of ingredients.  If you freeze smaller portions of this, it is just as easy to use as reaching for a store bought jar.

If you are making this for kids, pregnant women, or are just avoiding alcohol for whatever reason, go ahead and substitute any kind of broth for the wine (even though the alcohol cooks out, you can’t be too careful).

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 bell pepper {any color}, diced

1 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup red wine

one 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

one 28 oz can diced tomatoes, slightly drained if you like thick sauce

one 14.5 oz can tomato sauce

3 or 4 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a deep soup pot or dutch oven, saute bell pepper, onion and garlic in oil over medium heat for a few minutes or until slightly soft and starting to brown.  Add wine and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon.

Then add all of the tomatoes and stir well.  Bring to a simmer and taste.  Then add seasonings, and taste.  Continue to simmer at least another 20 minutes {1 hour is better}, taste again and adjust seasoning.  It will get thicker the longer it simmers.

At this point it is ready to serve over pasta if you like it chunky.  If not, you could use an immersion blender to puree it if you like a smoother sauce.

Or, cool it down and freeze in smaller containers.

Pictured above – I added meat to the sauce.  To do this, add ground sausage {sweet or hot} or hamburger to the pot with the onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Be sure to thoroughly brown the beef.  Drain, and then continue adding the tomatoes, etc…

Keep in mind that if you add meat, you won’t be able to blend it to a thinner consistency.

Taco Salad

Can one of my 3 readers let me know if you can see the picture? I can’t see it from home, but see it at work ?! Thank you!

Even though summer has drawn to a close, I still wanted to post this taco salad recipe since we made it so often this year.   It is certainly one of our favorite summertime meals.  It is super easy to throw together with fresh vegetables from the garden or farmer’s market.

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Taco Salad

leafy green lettuce, torn or chopped

shredded cheese {we like pepper jack}

seasoned taco meat {beef, turkey or chicken}

onion, chopped

peppers, chopped {bell or jalapeno}

salsa

crushed taco or tortilla chips

fresh dressing {or ranch}

sour cream

cilantro

additional topping options:  chopped red onion, black beans, quacamole

Directions:

Cook meat with chopped onion and peppers.  Drain.  Season as you like for tacos.

Create a bed of lettuce in a bowl or on a plate.  Top lettuce with cheese, then meat.  Then layer on a handfull of crushed chips.  Drizzle with salsa and french or ranch dressing.

Top off with sour cream and cilantro leaves {or other toppings of your choice}.

Enjoy!

Green Beans with Bacon

This has been the side dish that Tim has requested the most this summer.  Whenever I ask if he has any requests for food that I make, he always eyeballs the pile of fresh green beans that we have, smiles and says “green beans with bacon”.  Then his eyes roll back in his head as he dreams of their delicious taste. Coming in as his second most requested dish are bacon wrapped jalapenos.  It must be that he loves green vegetables.

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Yeah right.  Did you buy that?  It’s the bacon, of course!  Bacon makes everything better. 🙂

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Green Beans with Bacon {serves 4}

Ingredients:

about 5 cups of fresh green beans, washed and snapped

4 or 5 pieces of bacon

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

cracked black pepper

4 heaping tablespoons soy sauce {other liquid/combos works too – I’ve used beer, wine, broth, and red wine vinegar, but soy sauce is our favorite}

Directions:

In a large skillet {I prefer cast iron}, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.  Pour off the bacon grease leaving just 1 teaspoon or less remaining.  Add the chopped onion to the skillet that is over medium high heat and saute for a moment to get lightly brown.  Then add the green beans and garlic.  Stir until the beans turn bright green.  Then, turn the heat to medium low and add the soy sauce.  Cover the pan with a loose fitting lid.  Let them steam for about 10 minutes, checking and stirring frequently.  They are done when the liquid is reduced/evaporated, the onions are caramelized, and beans are tender.  Season with cracked black pepper.  Chop or crumble the bacon and stir into the beans.  Serve and enjoy!

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