Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So You Grew a Garden... Now What? 8

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Salad

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mahi Mahi

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Reese Whoppers

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Monday, July 13, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 7

I can't believe I am already on my seventh "So You Grew a Garden... Now What?" post! If you've been following the series I hope you are finding it to be helpful (and thanks for reading!) If you are just now finding it I hope you get comfy and stay awhile :)! Now onto the actual post!

Today I am sharing another (very very very easy)summer squash recipe because let's face, those babies know how to grow! If you've never grown summer squash before you should try it! It is one of the "easier" vegetables that we've grown. In the past even when we've slacked on caring for our garden and skipped a few days of watering the squash and zucchini just keep on growing. I never seem to run out of either. I only used squash for this recipe today but really it is great for squash, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, you name it (think restaurant vegetable medley). The only reason I used only squash is because I gave several zucchinis away and now I'm waiting for the many many blooms to sprout.

Easy Summer Squash (or zucchini!)

2 1/2 cups of squash or zucchini cut into bite size chunks (This is about 2-3 medium size squash)
3/4-1 cup chicken broth (It could possibly be more depending on the amount of vegetables you use)
2 tbsp lemon garlic butter (see below)
1 tbsp fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large skillet or wok add the squash and just enough chicken broth to come half way up the squash. Bring to a simmer and cook until the broth is just about gone (this took about 15 minutes). Then add the lemon garlic butter and stir until the butter has melted. Finish with the fresh chopped parsley.

Lemon Garlic Butter

2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp garlic powder
juice squeezed from half a lemon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Using a fork, combine all of the ingredients until well blended.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 6

Anyone that has grown a garden with cucumbers will tell you that at one point in the summer they will have SO MANY cucumbers they will start leaving them on neighbors doorsteps in the middle of the night, just to get them out of the house. It's only July and I am tempted! We planted a lot of cucumber plants (I thought we planted 5 or 6 but I counted last time I was out there and it's actually 7) this year and all but 2 of them are thriving. The funny part is the Jesse doesn't even like raw cucumbers. But, he does like pickles! So I knew from the beginning that I would be making my own this year. And man oh man am I glad I did! They are so good, crisp and delicious and they will only get better with time.

The process I used was pretty similar to the process for the banana peppers. I used some pickling cucumbers and some of our other types. I made spears from the pickling cucumbers and one of the English cucumbers (by cutting into half and then cutting the halves into spears) and with the "normal" cucumbers I made chips.

Dill Pickles
(I didn't use one specific recipe, instead I read about 100 different kinds and pulled pieces from each one to come up with what I thought was best)

5-6 Pint size jars with lids and rings
1 medium saucepan
1 large stock pot (Like with the banana peppers I used my pasta pot)

Lots of cucumbers!
5 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp dry ground mustard
1 tbsp whole pepper corns
10-12 cloves of garlic (I put 2 cloves in each jar which is pretty garlicky, if you are not big on garlic only use one)
Dill - I wanted to use fresh but my grocery store was out so I found this freeze dried dill (right by the garlic) it's supposed to be as close to fresh as you can get. I used about 1 tsp per jar and I am very happy with the taste.


Start by sterilizing your jars. (You can read about that in my banana pepper post) While waiting for my jars to come out of the dishwasher I filled 3 big bowls with ice water and a tsp of salt and let the cucumbers soak for at least an hour (hence the shiny cucumbers in the picture). In my research I found that this helps to make the pickles crisp.

In a medium sauce pan bring the water, vinegar, salt, ground mustard, and whole peppercorns to a boil. (In the meantime fill your large stock pot with water and get the water boiling) After bringing it to boil remove from heat and set aside.

While the brine is cooking cut your cucumbers (I made 3 jars of "chips" and 2 jars of spears). Then cut the garlic cloves into slices.

Fill the jars by alternating garlic, dill and cucumbers. Finish with a slice of garlic and some dill. Then pour the brine into each jar leaving 1/2 inch space at the top.

Put the lids on the jars, making sure the seal is good, then put the rings on. Then carefully place each jar in the boiling water and let boil for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes carefully remove the jars from the water and let cool on a rack or towel.

Let the pickles rest for at least 24 hours and then, finally, you can enjoy them! Of course they will get better with time so if you can make yourself wait for 3 or 4 days.....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 5

Every year banana peppers always seem to be our fastest growing and most proliferate pepper plant. We have already picked a ton this year and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to start canning (well technically jarring). Pickled banana peppers from the jar make a perfect sandwich or salad topping. I drool just thinking about biting into a big italian salad with pepperoni, Italian dressing and a banana pepper with some bite. Yum!

The processing of canning these peppers was so much easier than I had expected. It is really just a simple brine poured over banana peppers. Then you put the lid on the jar and boil for 10 minutes. I didn't have any fancy canning tongs to pull the hot jars out of the boiling water so I improvised. I used my large pot with the pasta strainer insert (like this). So when ten minutes was up I just pulled out the strainer and set it on a towel on the counter. When the jar was cool enough I put it in the fridge and just 2 days later I had perfect peppers :)

Pickled Banana Peppers
(I used these 2 sites for inspiration, The Yummy Banana and Clean Eating Club)
Since this was my first time canning I started small and only used enough to fill one jar.

10-12 banana peppers
1 hot pepper
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard seed
1 tsp pepper corns
2 cloves garlic, peeled

The first thing you need to do is sterilize your jar. A hot water dishwashing cycle should work with a hot dry cycle. After removing from the dishwasher be sure to thouroughly dry the jar, lid and ring.

In a saucepan bring the vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns and mustard seed to a boil. Then remove from heat. In a large stock pot bring plain water to a boil.

While the brine is coming to a boil, slice the peppers into rings. Cut on of the garlic cloves into fourths and layer the peppers and garlic in a jar. Put the second garlic glove on top of the peppers.

Pour the bring over the peppers, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top of the jar. Place the lid on top of the jar making sure that seal is tight, then screw on the ring. Place the jar in the large stock pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the hot jar from the boiling water. After cooling for a few minutes check to make sure the jar sealed (If it is not sealed the middle of the lid will pop up and down). If it didn't seal just be sure to always keep it refrigerated. If it did seal you can keep in the pantry until the seal is broken, but I put mine right in the fridge.

After letting the peppers sit for 2 days they are ready to eat! They can be served on top of sandwiches, in salads, in calzones, you name it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 4

Yesterday I picked the first head of broccoli from the garden. Not just for the year, but ever! I was so excited when I saw the first tiny florets popping up in the middle of the plant a few weeks ago that I have been dreaming about what I would make with it. My original thought was broccoli cheddar soup. But it's not really soup season and the first head probably would not have been enough to make soup. So I did some more research and I came across something that seemed like a a great unique side dish. Spicy roasted broccoli and peppers. It was the perfect (and different)pair for the enchiladas I made for dinner last night (recipe will be posted tomorrow!).

Spicy Roasted Broccoli and Peppers
(Adapted from Allrecipes)

2 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Spread out on a baking sheet or stone. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 3

Today I am going to feature 2 vegetables. Yellow squash and zucchini. I love zucchini and in the past it has been one of our best successes in the garden. This year is starting out no different. I have already picked 5 or 6 really beautiful zucchinis. The yellow squash is also growing really fast and I've picked several of them as well. If you would like to learn a little more about these vegetables I found this website to be very informative.

I found this recipe on the Food Network website and I am so glad that I tried it. Even my dad who claimed to not like "that kind of stuff" (stuff = vegetables) loved it. The zucchini and squash really soaked up all of the flavor from the garlic, onion and thyme and the egg and cream just helped to smooth it all out. If you have a garden full of zucchini/squash and you want to try something a little different, definitely give this a try. I served this casserole with *Orange Roughy (using this recipe, but please read my note below!*) and plain risotto but it could be paired with just about anything!

Zucchini and Summer Squash Casserole
(Source: Emeril Lagasse via Foodnetwork.com)
I cut the original recipe in half and it easily fed 5 people with left overs. Below I am listing the half recipe as I made it.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pounds summer squash (about 3 medium), sliced into thin rounds
1 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 large egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup crushed butter crackers (I only had saltines so I crushed them up in a bowl and added 1 tbsp of melted butter)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional (It says optional but I say, Why would you not add cheese? ;))

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a casserole baking dish with nonstick spray or grease with 1/2 tbsp of butter.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, salt, and black pepper and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and zucchini and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in the thyme and remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the prepared baking dish, reserving the cooking liquid.

Combine the eggs and cream in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk the reserved cooking liquid into the egg mixture. When all the cooking liquid is incorporated, pour the mixture over the vegetables in the baking dish. Using a spoon, gently shift the vegetables around so the egg mixture is evenly distributed. Bake until the mixture sets, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle first with the crackers and then with the Parmesan, if using, and return to the oven. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

*After buying this fish, I learned that Orange Roughy is highly susceptible to overfishing because they are very slow to mature and many stocks have already crashed. Next time I will buy a more sustainable fish.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 2

Tonight's edition of "So You Grew a Garden... Now What" is dedicated to the impatient gardener. It's so hard to plan your garden and then plant your garden and then....wait. The beauty of Fried Green Tomatoes is that you don't have to wait until your pretty little tomato plant turns red. :)

Like many people the first time I heard of Fried Green Tomatoes was during the movie by the same name. I have always been interested in trying to make my own but I was worried that I wouldn't like them. Finally this year I decided I would try them and make it a part of the series. I was very pleasantly surprised with the flavor of these. The inside is slightly tart and the outside is crispy and delicious. I will absolutely make these again!

Fried Green Tomatoes
(Source: Simply Recipes)

3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.

2 Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat (Be very careful to not get the oil too hot!). Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side or until brown. As you cook the rest of the tomatoes, add olive oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So You Grew a Garden...Now What? 1

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So You Grew a Garden...Now What? Introduction

I am very excited to announce that I am starting a Summer Time Series of posts! The series is called "So you grew a garden...now what?" For the past 4 years Jesse and I have grown vegetables in our backyard with varying degrees of success. The common trend is that each year by the time we roll around to August we've run out of steam, both in caring for the garden and finding new ways to use the vegetables which suddenly seem to be coming out of our ears. This year we set out to have the largest and most successful garden yet and this includes finding new and exciting ways to use our harvest. I thought it would be fun to share this experience with my readers. I have at least 10 posts planned including ideas for storing the different vegetables and great new recipes that will each highlight different vegetables from the garden. Part 1 will be posted later tonight!

I'll start with a brief description of our garden. In years past we have had small plots behind our garage and we always seemed to overcrowd our plants. This year we made sure to leave plenty of space for everything to grow and we tilled a very large plot in our side yard. The plot is about 19' x 29'. So it's quite large. Here is what we planted:
  • Tomatoes - 14
  • Peppers - banana, jalapeno, pimento, bell, red chili
  • Cucumbers - 5 or 6
  • Broccoli - 6
  • Summer Squash - 2
  • Zucchini - 1
  • Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Melon - 1 each
  • Corn - ~3 or 4 small close together rows
  • Sunflowers - didn't survive the deer :(
  • Pumpkins and gourds (can't wait for fall!!)
  • Small planters of basil and flat leaf parsley

Now that you have the background I hope you are looking forward to the first official post of the series which will be posted later tonight!