Tag Archives: recipe

Easy Pickled Banana Peppers

14 Aug

So as most of you know, I expanded my vegetable garden this year from one planter to two.  In the past the only kind of peppers I have grown were bell peppers (of which I don’t even like).  I love them when they’re red, yellow or orange, but once they turn green, I’m out. 

This year I planted 4 other varieties, one of which was yellow banana peppers.  My taste buds tend to gravitate toward the spicy, pickled, vinegar, garlic… must be the Italian in me.  Anyway, I put yellow banana peppers on every sandwich I eat.  So it just made sense to try and grow them myself. 

 

 

 

 

They start out oblong and yellow on the plant, and eventually become funny looking fellows.  I had no idea they’d get all curly.  Once I picked them and brought them in the house, I found after several days they started to turn orange and then red.  Pretty cool.

 

 

Now what to do with them?  They didn’t really taste very good in this raw state.  At least it wasn’t the flavor I was looking for.  I went online and found several recipes to help me pickle them.  Quite a few called for celery seed and mustard seed, but of course I don’t have those in my spice cabinet, so I searched until I found a recipe that included only the ingredients I had.  I know I could have just gone and bought the other ingredients, but why not just try this one? 

The recipe called for 2 pounds of peppers.  My goodness, how many plants do they have?  My plant typically yields about 2 peppers at a time.  Because I didn’t have as many peppers, I adjusted all the other ingredients to suit my crop.  Like I always tell you, it’s your kitchen, your rules.

 

Ingredients

 7-8 peppers, varying in color (because they were varying in how long they’d been sitting in my kitchen)

4 cloves of garlic (sliced in half lengthwise)

¾ cup water

¾ cup white vinegar

2 tsp salt

 

Directions

  1. Wash the peppers, cut off the tops and remove the top section of seeds (it’s like a ball)
  2. Slice the peppers into rings of whatever thickness you prefer
  3. Put the rings and garlic pieces into a glass jar that has an airtight seal when closed (Mason jar, etc.) 
  4. In a small saucepan add the water, vinegar and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat
  5. Remove from heat and pour over the top of the rings and garlic
  6. Use a butter knife to move the peppers around to remove air bubbles and get the peppers and garlic submerged in the liquid
  7. Seal the jar and set aside on the counter overnight – the peppers will fade in color a bit
  8. After 24 hours, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks

 

 

After they had been in the refrigerator for a full day I thought I’d give them a try.  And I really loved the way they looked; red, yellow and orange all swimming in the delicious pickling juices.  Everyone getting along.  I wasn’t sure what to expect taste-wise though.  Would the flavor be just like the ones I buy at the store?  Would it be better?  Worse?  They were pretty darn good, I must say.  My daughter’s first thought was they could use more “bite”.  I already know what you’re thinking…  Maybe if I’d used the mustard or celery seeds it would have provided that extra spice.  Don’t misunderstand, my batch is good, they have a nice tangy flavor, they’re just not hot.  Do I need this batch to be hot?  Absolutely not.  Now bring on the sandwiches, I’ve got peppers to eat!

 

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Quick Fake-Out “Stuffed” Eggplant

8 Jul

So tonight I’d tried a new recipe that I saw on Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals.  As usual I made a few tweaks to the recipe to either adjust to ingredients on hand, or to our personal taste buds.  I’m providing the link to the original recipe as well as how I prepared it.

Rachel’s Quick Fake-Out “Stuffed” Eggplant

 

My version

2 large Eggplants

5 Tbl. EVOO

Salt & Pepper

1 lb. ground beef (I used 75/25)

2 Tbl. tomato paste

1 small onion, finely chopped

A medium handful of raisins (I combined both black and yellow)

1 container button mushrooms, diced

Splash of chicken stock

A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped

5 Tbl. butter

1 cup breadcrumbs

½ cup chopped parsley leaves

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 475 degrees

Pour EVOO in baking dish/pan.  Cut one of the eggplants in half lengthwise, make 2 or 3 score marks to welcome oil and dip gently in pan.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Arrange cut side down and roast until tender, approximately 20 minutes depending on size.

Peel the remaining eggplant and dice into ½” pieces.  In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 Tbl. of EVOO.  Stir in the beef, tomato paste, onions, garlic, diced eggplant and raisins.  Add S&P to taste.  Add the chicken stock and cook until the eggplant and onions are soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they become soft.  Stir mixture often to rotate ingredients in pan.  Once done, remove from heat and add the fresh basil.

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden.  Transfer to bowl and cool.

Add half of the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture and stir.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and transfer cut side up to a serving plate.  Top each half with a mound of “stuffing” and sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the top before serving.  Top with fresh cut parsley.

Enjoy!

 

Here’s what we did differently…

I didn’t use the parsley but my husband did.  He said it was okay but didn’t really add anything to the dish.  The original recipe suggests you mix it in with the breadcrumbs but we saved it for the end.

Her recipe also called for pine nuts, but I didn’t see any at my market and didn’t want to go to another store in search.

Rachel’s recipe calls for either Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to add to the breadcrumbs as well.  I omitted that.

I had a basket of mushrooms on hand that were getting to the end of their freshness, so I added them ~ nice call!

Also, her recipe calls for raisins… I mixed black and yellow ~ another nice call.

And finally, I had to increase the butter from 3 Tbl. to 5.  I found the breadcrumbs just burned when I tried them the first time.  I threw out that batch and started over. Maybe if I had used the cheese it would have provided the necessary moisture I was lacking.

 

I really enjoyed this dish.  It’s hearty and full of flavor.  It’s also a nice recipe that can easily be adjusted for the vegetarians in my house (or yours).  Since the ground beef itself wasn’t seasoned, I imagine omitting it would still leave a filling flavorful “stuffing”.  Of course, you could also add other vegetables to make it heartier if interested.  Zucchini, squash or even tofu if you like.  Be creative; make it your own, just like I did.

Yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup

25 May

This dish is really easy to make but it tastes so good, you’d think it came out of your local Mexican dive.   I’ve been making it for a while and I tweak it a little each time, experimenting with the spice level, etc.  I think I’ve finally come up with the perfect way to make it for us.  Of course the beauty of most recipes is that you can tweak it to suit your own family’s taste buds.

I’m writing this out in a little different format because I’ve found it just works better for me for this particular dish.

Yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

(A)

½ stick butter

1 large finely diced onion

1 seeded and diced jalapeno

2 diced garlic cloves

½ bag baby carrots, cut into thin coins

 

(B)

½ cup flour

 

(C)

4 cans chicken broth

1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes

1½ tsp ground cumin

1½ tsp red chili powder

1½ tsp salt

1½ tsp lemon pepper

3 Tbl hot pepper sauce

2 (14.5oz) cans hominy

 

(D)

1 lb chicken breast (either uncooked and cut into bite-size pieces, or cooked ahead of time in a crock pot and then fork shredded, that’s my personal preference)

 

Directions:

In a stock pot over medium heat, melt butter and add all ingredients from (A) until onions are translucent.  Add (B) and stir until completely absorbed (you may need to add a little water).  Add all (C) ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.  Then turn heat up to a low boil.  Add (D) and cook for another 15 minutes*.  Keep on low to maintain heat.

*Instruction is the same whether chicken is cubed and raw or cooked and shredded.

Put broken up tortilla chips on top and sprinkle with a little Mexican cheese.   And finally… dig in and enjoy!

 

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad

5 May

It’s fair to say my husband and I order a Seared Ahi Tuna salad appetizer every time we see it on a menu.  Over the years we’ve had some really good ones and some fantastic ones.  Never did I think I’d be able to make one in my own kitchen and then was lucky enough to come across a recipe that with a few simple adjustments to accommodate our tastes, I must admit it couldn’t have been easier.  Or tastier.

2 (6 oz) Ahi tuna steaks

4 tsp five-spice powder, available on spice aisle

2 tsp grill seasoning (such as Montreal Steak seasoning, or substitute salt and coarse pepper)

Cooking spray or vegetable oil (for brushing the grill pan)

10 oz (half a bag) mixed pre-washed baby salad greens

4 radishes, sliced

½ European cucumber, thinly sliced (regular cucumber works also)

1 tsp wasabi paste

2 Tbl rice vinegar

2 Tbl soy sauce (I always use low sodium in my kitchen, but it’s up to you)

6 Tbl olive oil (virgin, extra virgin, your choice)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Coat your steaks with a combination of five-spice powder and grill seasoning or salt and pepper.  Heat a grill pan or griddle over high heat.  Spray grill surface or wipe with a thin layer of oil.  Add tuna steak to the hot cooking surface and sear tuna 2 minutes on each side.  Remove tuna from heat.

Combine greens, radishes and cucumber in a bowl.  In a smaller bowl, whisk wasabi, vinegar and soy sauce.  Whisk in oil to combine dressing.  Drizzle dressing over your salad and toss to coat evenly.  Separate salad onto two plates.  Slice tuna on an angle and arrange on the salads.

This recipe is really easy to do and is simply delicious!  Each time I see tuna steaks on sale at the fish counter, I know what we’re having for dinner.

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