Monday, July 9, 2012

summertime, summertime......

Don't you just LOVE summer? Long, sun drenched days, everything coming in fresh out of the garden (or farmer's market!). Even with the record breaking heat wave we just survived, I find it hard to find much to complain about in the summer. I stopped by one of those farmer's stands today, because my tomatoes are not ripe yet. I was delighted to find beautiful patty pan squash. I never got those in this year, and have been missing that summer staple for us. It's hard to believe how much I hated squash as a child, and veggies in general, but I guess it's all the preparation. So for dinner tonight, we are making stuffed patty pans. This is a vegetarian version, and quite yummy as is, but if you really don't want to go meatless, ground turkey, chicken or beef will substitute for the crumbles. As prepared, these are about 200 calories each (probably less), and very nutritious. So-

Select 6 patty pans, about 4-5" across. Wash, then carefully cut around the inside of the scallops, removing the cap and hollow out- like you are making a jack-o-lantern. Chop the "insides" coarsely, and set aside.
In a large skillet, saute 1/2 each of a small onion and green pepper, chopped, with 2 cloves garlic minced, in a tablespoon of sesame oil (or olive). Add 1 package of Morningstar Farms recipe starter crumbles, the squash "insides" 2 TBS each of minced fresh parsley and basil, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper. Cook until heated through.
Place the squash shells into a jumbo muffin pan. Fill the cavity with the crumbles mixture, top with a little grated cheese if desired. Put the caps on and place in an oven preheated to 375. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

What do you do with too many cukes? Make pickles!

Yesterday was my first ever attempt at making pickles. Since my son Brian is a dill pickle freak, that is what I started with. The recipe could not be simpler- and we will pop the first jar in about 10 days to see how they taste. In the meantime, this is what I did. Please keep in mind that I am not real big on measuring.....

Wash and sterilize 6 quart jars, lids and rings, set aside.
Wash 5-7 lbs cucumbers, and remove the ends(very important step- otherwise, mushy pickles....ewww!). You may leave them otherwise whole, or you may slice or quarter them.
Slice 1 large onion, thinly.
In a large pot, combine 3 3/4 cups each of apple cider vinigar, and water, with 6 TBS canning or kosher salt, bring to a boil.
In the mean time, fill your canning pot half way with water, and bring to a simmer.

In each jar, place 1/2 teaspoon each of mustard seeds and pepper corns, as well as 2 cloves garlic, crushed.
Pack each jar, starting with onion, then cucumbers (if sliced, add onions about every 1/3 of the way up the jar. Fill to the shoulder of the jar, finishing with onion. Add one or two sprigs fresh dill. Carefully ladle the vinigar/brine solution into the jars, filling to about 1 inch below the top. Wipe the rims carefully, place the lids, and screw on the rings. Submerge in the simmering water, adding more hot water if necessary to cover the jars with at least 2 inches of water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, process for 15 minutes. Remove jars to a towel covered surface, and allow to cool completely. When a seal is achieved, you will hear a "pop", but do not disturb the jars, or tighten the rings for 24hours. Wait 10 days to let the pickles "mature" before enjoying.
Summer Salad- quick and easy!
Scrub and peel (if desired) 2 large cucumbers, slice
quarter 3 small tomatoes
slice 1/2 small onion
pit 12-20 kalamata olives
Combine in a bowl, toss with 2-3 tsp kosher salt, and drizzle with balsamic vinigar. Chill.
So my cousin, and others have encouraged me to start blogging.... again. I have not had the best record for keeping a blog going, but will give it a shot. Bear with me- and let's see how this goes. I am always a big fan of eating what is seasonal and freshest. It is mid-summer now, and I have veggies coming out of my garden by the basketful every day. My first two recipes are for enjoying that bounty, both now, and later. In the future, I will try to add recipes every few days. Comments and suggestions/questions are always welcomed and encouraged. Try the recipes out and let me know how they worked for you. Bon Appetite!