No Cook Dill Pickles

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PIckles, pickles, pickles. Our family loves dill pickles. When I have access to fresh pickling cucumbers  and fresh dill, I try to make them .These pickles require no cooking, not even heating vinegar. We decided to experiment with 2 different seasoning mixes. Pickles on left were made with a Knorr packet of seasoning that features vinegar salt and is a German product, with all instructions in German. I Googled the name to get instructions. These pickles got a low rating from my tasters so I am posting only the recipe for those pictured in the right.

No Cook Dill Pickles

8 larger or to 10 smaller firm, fresh pickling cucumbers

3 teaspoons coarse or pickling salt

2 Tablespoons fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1 Tablespoon Penzy’s Pickling Spice blend

1/2 cup white vinegar

Slice your cucumbers very thin — I used 1/8-inch slices here but usually go even thinner on a mandoline. Place them in a 1-liter or equivalent lidded jar. Add 3 teaspoons salt and dill, then pour in white vinegar. Close the jar and give it a few shakes to begin distributing the ingredients.

You’re going to find the liquid level in the jar worrisomely low as it is well below the pickle pile line, but don’t fret. Within an hour or two, the salt will draw the moisture from the cucumbers and wilt them, while the liquid becomes a perfectly balanced pickle brine.

Place jar in the refrigerator near the front, which should remind you to shake it once or twice more over the new few hours. (Or whenever you’re back at the fridge.) Youcan eat them as little as 1 to 2 hours later, but they become ideal at 6 to 8 hours. They’ll keep in the fridge, submerged in their brine, for 3 weeks, though never around here.

Blackberry Scones

BlackberryScones

Blackberries are best when you can pick them yourself (without chiggers) and eat them at their freshest. But I am very happy when I find them in season at good prices and begin to think of all the ways we will use them.  Favorite choices have always been a bowl of fresh berries, gleaming and popping with juice or baked in a crusty cobbler. Berry pies are not far behind, and we even toss them in salads. Until I made these easy drop scones, I had never mixed them into a heavy batter like this.  But this recipe is a keeper. It produced a baking sheet with a dozen big puffy scones, which disappeared very quickly!

Blackberry  Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces

grated zest of one large lemon 

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk, or the amount necessary to make 1 cup after one large egg has been added to measuring cup.

a big handful of berries

extra sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend it with a fork,pastry blender or your fingers (or do it all in the food processor, if you have one), leaving some lumps no bigger than a pea.

Crack the egg into a measuring cup and add milk to make it a cup. Stir it together with a fork and add to the flour mixture; mixing until just barely combined. Add the berries and stir gently a couple more times, then drop the sticky dough in large spoonfuls onto a buttered or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or less if you made small scones, until golden. Reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees if baking on a dark baking sheet.

Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls

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Many years ago, I was given a recipe for these big fluffy cinnamon rolls, with the curious ingredient of mashed potatoes!   If you have leftover mashed potatoes, this is one of the bet ways to use them!  They are light, fluffy, and smell heavenly while rising but even better while baking!
Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls
  • 4½ cups flour (separated 1½ and 3 cups)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mashed potato
  • ⅓ cup butter, cut up
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
 Cinnamon sugar mixture
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (for brushing)CinnamonRolls1CinnamonRolls2
  1. In large mixing bowl of stand mixer, combine 1½ cups of flour with yeast.
  2. Combine milk, potato, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, then heat on medium heat until butter starts to melt.
  3. Remove from heat .
  4. Add slowly to flour mixture and mix with regular mixing paddle on low speed for about one minute.
  5. Add eggs and continue beating 2-3 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  6. Switch to dough hook.
  7. Add the rest of the flour (3 cups) and mix for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Alternately, you can knead by hand.
  8. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Make sure to turn dough in order to completely coat the dough with the grease.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Let rise for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  11. Punch dough.
  12. Turn it out on a lightly floured board and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
  14. Also, prepare pan (13 x 9 x 2 inches) by greasing or spraying with non-stick spray.
  15. Preheat oven to 375 ° F.
  16. Roll out dough until you get an 18 x 12 inch rectangle.
  17. Brush the surface with melted butter and evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  18. Roll into a log, starting with the long side.
  19. Cut the roll into 12 slices.
  20. Place in prepared pan.
  21. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes or until double in size.
  22. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  23. Cool slightly before drizzling with icing (if using).
Glaze
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with a few tablespoons of milk.Whisk until smooth and just glaze the rolls before serving.
I like to zest a little orange peel or lemon peel into this, optional.
Whisk until smooth and just glaze the rolls before serving.
Make it ahead:Once the rolls have been cut and placed in the pan, they can be refrigerated overnight. Remove from fridge and let stand at room temperature (covered) for about 30 minutes before baking (as per instructions).

Alice Springs Chicken

 AliceSpringsChickenIf you have visited an Outback Restaurant, you probably have seen Alice Springs Chicken on their menu.  On our occasional visits to Outback, we usually order beef, so I have never eaten this dish there, but there are dozens of copycat recipes online. This is my version, voted “please make this again soon” by my family.  I use a downloaded image because this was one of those meals served immediately. It looked and smelled so good, we only took time to say Thank you God for our family and food and listen for 2-year-old Nora’s hearty “Maymen!” before enjoying.
Alice Springs Chicken
4-5 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
6 slices bacon
1/3 cup honey
2 cups sliced  Baby Bella mushrooms
2 cups shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

 Sprinkle chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper. Cook bacon until crisp, remove and set aside. Do not discard grease. Brown chicken in the bacon grease for 3 to 5 minutes per side. Place chicken in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish or pan.

In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, mayonnaise and dried onion flakes.

Spread Honey Mustard over each piece of chicken, then layer with mushrooms, crumbled bacon, and shredded cheese.

Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is done.

 

Pepperoni Breakfast Casserole

Pepperoni Breakfast Casserole

I developed a habit the first few weeks of my marriage that has served me well for over 52 years now.  I like to do a quick survey and make a mental list of what is available or needs to be used in the pantry and refrigerator.  Then if I am going to make a meal that has not been planned and prepared for, I can browse a cookbook or Pinterest category and pair the “what we already have” with a recipe that looks worth trying. Only rarely does that produce anything but a thumbs up from my family.  That was certainly the case with this breakfast casserole. Back to my favorite Breakfast in Bed Cookbook compiled by Carol Frieberg for this recipe from Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza in Healdsburg!   I am sure it is lovely, but I love our own B&B right here in Richmond, Texas.  For my version, I used sourdough bread cubes and shredded Swiss cheese and increased the amount of pepperoni..

Pepperoni Breakfast Casserole

2 cups sour dough bread cubes

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

5 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt.

1/2 cup chopped pepperoni

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place bread cubes in greased 10-inch square baking dish. Cover with cheese. In a bowl combine eggs,milk, and seasoning; pour over bread and cheese. Top with pepperoni. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

Saturday Pancakes

Pancakes3Saturday after a week of unpacking and resettling seemed like a good time to celebrate with a hearty breakfast. While Joe lined a baking sheet with foil and a rack to bake a pound of peppered bacon,  I pulled out ingredients for pancakes.  I enjoy Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman blog and television series so I try her recipes often and thought I would try her recipe for Perfect Pancakes!

Now that there are 5 of us regularly around the table again (and soon to be 6!), it is necessary to cook quite a stack of pancakes, so Pioneer Woman’s method fit the bill. I did not vary from her offering except for using regular unbleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. I could have made a substitute cake flour by substituting part of the flour I used with corn starch, but silly me, I did not look that up until after we had eaten the pancakes and declared them delicious!  I thought they were a tad dense, so I checked and sure enough, that was the reason.  The main difference in the 2 flours is the protein content (which becomes gluten). The protein content of cake flour is about 8%, while the protein content of flour is about 10-11%.   Next time I will either have cake flour on hand or try this simple substitution:  For each cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 Tablespoons and add back in 2 Tablespoons of corn starch!

When we were clearing the table, my son declared these pancakes the best he had ever eaten!  Thank you, Ree Drummond! And next time I will do it right!

Perfect Pancakes

  • 3 cups Plus 2 Tablespoons Cake Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • Butter for the table
  • Maple  Syrup

Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl.

Mix together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl.Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring very gently until just combined.

Melt butter and add it to the batter, stirring gently to combine. Stir in more milk if needed for thinning. Batter will not be smooth. Do not overmix.

Pancakes1
Ladle about 1/4 cup for each pancake onto a greased or sprayed griddle over medium-low  to low heat until golden brown. The pancakes will brown too quickly if the heat is too high. When they dry slightly around the edges and begin to bubble, turn and cook a few seconds more on the other side.  Serve with a pat of butter and maple syrup.
Pancakes2
My parents owned a small cafe when I was growing up and Daddy made the best pancakes. I think he would have liked these.

Nana’s Barley Burger Stew

BarleyBurgerSoup

I took a break from my blogs last week since we were still finding our way between boxes. Even though we are not unpacked and settled, I am enjoying a return to being in the kitchen for reasons other than unpacking dishes!  Our area is presently experiencing a history making flood with rain still coming down, so I thought of this hearty stew my mother used to make.  I still have the recipe written in her firm, flowing handwriting on a sheet of lined notepaper although I no longer need to pull it out to go by.  It was a fine meal to have on a cool rainy early June evening. And there are plenty of leftovers for a weekend lunch.

Nana’s Barley Burger Stew

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 8 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cups water added as needed as stew cooks and thickens
  • 1 cup medium pearl barley
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, optional

In a large pot over medium heat, cook beef until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add onion, carrots, and celery, stirring as vegetables wilt.  Stir in the tomato juice, barley, chili powder, salt and pepper. Add about 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes or until barley is tender, adding water if mixture becomes too thick. Serve in bowls along with crusty French bread.

Microwave Baked Potato Soup

BakedPotatoSoupMy kitchen cupboards and pantry are almost bare, making me feel like Mother Hubbard. But eating take out food and in restaurants can get old as well as pricey.  Plus, today it is raining buckets. Again.  We are staying in so I opened the refrigerator to stand and browse like  our teenagers have done in the past, hungry, and surveying possibilities. I found eggs, bread, juice, a half jar of elderberry jelly, and leftover baked potatoes. Last night we stopped and picked up loaded baked potatoes for a late dinner, only to find after we sat down to eat that we were more tired than hungry.  The remains sat in a ZipLoc bag on the refrigerator shelf, looking very unappetizing.

Changing roles from Mrs. Hubbard to a Chopped contestant, I opened the contents of my basket and made potato soup in the microwave (all pans packed, only a few serving dishes remain). I  took the peeling off the cold potatoes, warmed them in the microwave to soften, and mashed them.  Then I added a sprinkle of sea salt plus milk to the right consistency, and reheated in the microwave, turning out a large bowl of delicious soup loaded with bits of bacon and green onion.  We ate in coffee mugs and recharged enough to head back to packing  for movers to come on Monday.  Simple, and tasty enough to remember for the next leftovers, or to bake extras the next time I serve baked potatoes as a side. If you have no loaded bakers as leftovers, use the following recipe.

Microwave Baked Potato Soup

2 large baked potatoes, cooled

1 1/2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/3 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup chopped green onion

Peel potatoes, coarsely chop into microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, to soften potatoes.  Mash with fork or potato masher.  Add milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.  Microwave for another 2 minutes or until hot for serving.  Ladle into mugs or bowls, and sprinkle with cheese, bacon, and green onion.

 

 

Sweet Cherry Cake

Strangely, a week after I published this post, I find that it has disappeared!  All except the title have vanished. Since we are in the middle of moving with little time for sleuthing, I need to delay my search for the photo and recipe content of the post.  In the meantime, I will do this week’s post.  This never happened to me before.  Any comments appreciated!

Mustard Seed Magic

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Mustard seeds have become a staple in my pantry. Yellow, Brown, Black, Spicy – the seeds can be used in many ways.  I like to throw in a tablespoon or two with the olive oil when I heat the iron skillet to wilt some fresh greens.  When the seeds begin to pop, I add the greens, toss, and serve with vinegar.  The result:  a peppery flavor that is addictive!  I have coated fish and chicken with whole seeds before baking, creating a spicy crust. Of course, there are many variations of mustard as a condiment.

You can experiment with different vinegars or other liquids; adding spices (I like curry!) or adding honey or other sweeteners like molasses, sugar, or maple syrup.

Here is one delicious alternative to the ubiquitous yellow jar we usually find on the table for burgers, brats, or hot dogs. Spice up your grilling this summer!

Spicy Brown Mustard

1 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup brown mustard seeds

2 teaspoons sea  salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric.

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Water, as needed

Place mustard seeds and vinegar in a small bowl or container, cover, and let soak at room temperature for 1 day. Transfer mustard seeds and liquid to jar of a blender. Add salt, turmeric, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Puree until smooth, adding 2 tablespoons of water at time to thin consistency as needed. Transfer to airtight container and store in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days before use.