Bread and Butter Pickles

With the end of summer I always get the urge to make pickles, so here’s the recipe I made today. We’re having company for dinner tomorrow night, so I didn’t feel bad about making a big batch! Just remember there is some waiting involved, so you can’t make these at the last minute.

Ingredients:

– 5 1/2 c thinly sliced pickling cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds)
– 1 1/2 T kosher salt
– 1 c thinly sliced onion
– 1 c white sugar
– 1/4 c packed brown sugar
– 1 c white vinegar
– 1/2 c cider vinegar
– 1 1/2 t mustard seeds
– 1/2 t celery seeds
– 1/8 t tumeric

Directions:

Combine sliced cucumbers and salt in a bowl, cover and chill 1-2 hours. Drain and rinse cucumbers under cold water, making sure to get the salt off. Drain again and return cucumbers to the bowl. Add the sliced onion and stir together.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Pour hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours before eating.

These will keep in the refrigerator up to two weeks–just keep them in an airtight container.

Makes about 1 quart of pickles.

Concord Grape Pie

I love grape season…can’t wait to try this recipe!!

jess.kidding.around.

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In fall in Western New York, you can smell the grapes in the air if you drive past the vineyards with your windows down. Growing up there is probably why making grape pie is one of my annual late-summer traditions, like canning peaches and making apple crisp. My grandpa made it almost every year and I think of him every time. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized how few people have ever heard of this deliciousness.

Basically it looks like blueberry pie and tastes tart, like a cross between sour cherry pie and grape jelly. So good.

Here’s the recipe and then I’ll go step by step:

Concord Grape Pie

9″ double crust pie crust

2 pounds concord grapes (about 4 or 5 cups)

1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

A pinch of salt

Pick the grapes off the…

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Sloppy Joes

Today we had a big storm, with lots of thunder and lightning and an inch of rain. It was a good evening for Sloppy Joes, so that’s what we had! I found a recipe in a cookbook, but then the more I looked at it the more ideas I had…so this recipe is actually my own creation. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients:

-1 T olive oil
-1/2 c onion, diced
-1/2 c sweet pepper, diced
-1 stalk celery, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 c tomato product*
1/4 c water
1/4 c ketchup
1 T worcestershire sauce

6 rolls, split (I used the rolls from my pizza dough recipe)
12 thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese

*tomato product: you can use tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, leftover chili, salsa, or whatever you have and is convenient. One of the great things about Sloppy Joes is how flexible they are. This evening I had a quart jar of homemade salsa I wanted to use up, so I put in 1 1/2 c of that. It made for a wonderful flavor base and I would definitely do it again! Just keep in mind that the texture of your finished product will change depending on what you put in.

Directions:

Sauté onion, celery, and pepper in oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When they are cooked to desired softness (remember they will cook a little more in the final stage), pour into a bowl and set aside. Brown ground beef in skillet with a little water, breaking into small pieces. Add vegetables back in, along with the tomato, water, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until it reaches desired consistency. Since I used salsa and the mixture wasn’t very watery, I cooked it over low heat to blend flavors, but didn’t leave it on very long as it didn’t need to cook down.

Toast the buns cut side up. I served them with a little butter on the bun, sloppy joe, then a slice of cheese on top. I also made french fries with potatoes from our garden, and we had peach pie and homemade ice cream for dessert. What an evening!

Pizza Dough

I love making pizza dough because there are so many things I can do with it: pizza, of course…but also stromboli, hotdog and hamburger buns, pigs-in-a-blanket, and pizza balls. I made a double batch a few days ago for pigs in a blanket, and today I’m using the rest to make pizza balls. Last week I made mozzarella cheese, so I’m fully expecting them to be extra delicious! But the base of it all is the dough, so here you go:

Ingredients:

-1 pkg (2 1/2 t) active dry yeast
-1 t sugar
-1 c warm water
-2 1/2 c flour
-2 T olive oil
-1 t salt

Directions:

In a large bowl (I put everything straight into my kitchenaid mixer bowl), dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand for about 10 minutes in a warm place. Add oil and salt, mix well, then add flour. I add a cup, beat it, add another cup, beat it, then add the final half cup and knead for about 5 minutes. The final dough should be very slightly sticky to touch, but hold its shape. Oil the bowl and cover with a warm, damp paper towel. Let it rise until double, about one hour. (I like to turn the oven on to 350°F for about 1 minute, then turn it off and put the dough in. That gets the environment warm, and the closed door holds the heat in and keeps drafts out. Just make sure not to leave the oven on too long; if it is too hot it will kill the yeast and the dough won’t rise.)

When the dough is about doubled, take it out and punch it down. From there, use your imagination!

Makes 1 large round pizza, 12 pigs in a blanket, an 8×8 pan of pizza balls, a dozen rolls, or 1 stromboli.

***I frequently double this recipe and put half the dough in the refrigerator for use a few days later on another meal. It also can be frozen for longer storage–just thaw completely at room temperature before using.

Strawberry-Watermelon Slushies

This recipe is best during strawberry season, with fresh berries, but is also fine using thawed berries. I have even been known to use a couple tablespoons of strawberry jam in a pinch. Plan ahead a bit and keep frozen watermelon cubes in the freezer, so you can make this anytime! When we get a watermelon I cut some of it into cubes, take the seeds out, and spread it on a cookie tray in the freezer. After it’s frozen I put it in a bag or container and keep it in the freezer until I need frozen watermelon. By doing this instead of using ice cubes and fresh watermelon, your slushy doesn’t get watered down!

Ingredients:

2 c fresh strawberries
1/3 c lemon juice
1/3 c sugar
1-2 c frozen, cubed watermelon

Directions:

Blend the first three ingredients until smooth. Add watermelon a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. For extra flair, I like to serve it in a tall cup with a twist of whipped cream on top–what a wonderful classic taste of summertime!

Peach Pie

So…whatever you were planning to do after getting off the computer, you should reorganize your schedule, get some peaches, and make this pie. Not only did I think it was one of the better pies I’ve ever had, my husband compared it to apple (his actual favorite) and said that it was the best peach pie he had ever had. My father-in-law and sister-in-law also agreed with that statement…so I’m not just making things up! Seriously, do yourself a favor and make this pie. It’s not even hard!!

Pastry for double-crust 9-inch pie

5 c fresh sliced peaches
1 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 t cinnamon
2 T butter
2 T sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Stir together peaches, flour, 1 c sugar, and cinnamon. (If you let them sit while you are preparing and rolling out the pie crust, it makes the flavors bend deliciously.) Pour filling into the pie pan, slice the butter thin and place on top of peaches, and cover with the top crust. Cut whatever pattern you want in the top, and sprinkle the crust with 2 T sugar.

Bake 35-45 minutes (or longer, if needed), until pie is browned and juice bubbles show. If it starts getting too brown on the edges before it is completely cooked, you can cover it with foil. This is not a pie you want to underbake. Caution: this pie will almost certainly boil over–do yourself a favor and put a cookie sheet underneath it so you don’t have to clean the oven! 

Eat it warm with a scoop of ice cream…mmm. Wonder how long I can live on just peach pie… 0819151850

Banana Bread with Streusel Topping

I had a bunch of bananas that really needed to be used, so looked around for a recipe for banana bread. With a few changes, this one was a hit!

For the bread:

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4  t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
1 1/2 c mashed banana
2 eggs
1/3 c sugar
1 T melted butter

For the topping:

1/2 c flour
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1-2 T soft butter
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 bread pans well (bread will stick if they are not properly greased).

Mix together first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Mix next 4 ingredients in a larger bowl, and slowly beat in flour mixture until well mixed. (I used my kitchenaid for the larger bowl, and it worked very well.)

Pour the bread dough evenly into the two pans.

For the topping: combine all ingredients, adding butter as needed to make a crumbly topping. Divide and sprinkle over the two loaves.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (I had one that was done right at 30 minutes, and another that needed more time. If it is getting brown but is still not cooked through, you can cover it with foil.)

Cool for a few minutes before removing from pans and cooling completely on wire racks.

We ate this for breakfast, heated up and with butter on it. It was delicious! My husband also took some in to work, as we only needed one loaf, and it went over well there, too.

Wonder where I can find some more bananas??