Tag Archives: Spicy

pickles [and the giveaway winners!]

Sorry that I have been a little absent this week.  With a limited window of time, I took a 5:45 AM flight to Houston, stopped at the tax office to transfer the Civic’s title into my name.  Loaded it up with stuff that I didn’t move up to Chicago 3 years ago (golf clubs, lots of Shiner, book shelf, yearbooks).  And drove it back to Chicago, all 1200 miles stopping in Dallas and St. Louis.  It was a crazy 2 days and I am glad that it is over.  Now I am sitting in the kitchen of Dave’s parents house in Philly, ready to enjoy a relaxing Labor Day weekend.  Needless to say that I have been too busy to tell you about the pickles I made a few weeks ago, or figure out the winners to my Saucy Mama giveaway.

Have you gotten on the canning bandwagon yet?  I have to admit that once I took the plunge and got over my fear of “the boiling water method” and killing my friends with botulism, it has been really fun.  I have stuck to jams, tomato sauce and many varieties of pickles.  Earlier in the summer I experimented with refrigerator pickles (and pickled sugar snaps and carrots) but this time around I decided to actually process the pickles so that I can enjoy them later on in the fall (and to free up some space in the refrigerator).

Now is the time to give canning a shot.  Make some jam or tomato sauce while produce is just filling the markets.  Last winter I made the mistake of reading Animal, Vegetable, Winter and all I could dream about was this next growing season when I could actually preserve things to enjoy when the snow has blanketed the ground.

Spicy Garlic Pickles
Adapted from Garlic Dill Pickles at Food in Jars

Makes approximately 3 pints, depending on how many cukes you buy & how you slice them
2 dozen medium size pickles
2 cups apple cider or white vinegar
2 cups water
3 tablespoons pickling salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled (2 per jar)
1 1/2 teaspoons of pickling spice
1 -2 hot peppers, slice (I used a couple of cherry bombs but use whatever you want)

Wash and slice the cucumbers. I sliced them in half but you could cut into rings or quarters.

In a large saucepot, combine vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a simmer.

Arrange jars on counter and dole out the spices to each. Pack the cucumber firmly into the jars as tight as possible but don’t squish. Pour the brine into the jar, leaving ½ inch headspace.
Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
After 10 mins, remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cool on the countertop. When the jars are cool, check the seals (by pushing/tapping on the lid). You might hear the light little popping noises but don’t rely on this method.

Pickles can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

If you want to skip the boiling water process, just stick them in the fridge when they are cold.

Saucy Mama Winners:
Tricia Z
Wiggs
Paige
Jenny

Congrats! I will be emailing each of you for your address.

refreshed

Well I am finally back. Both physically and mentally. As you probably know, I took a 10 day (very) much-needed post-Bar trip to Texas. I attended one of my favorite sorority sister’s wedding; drove over 1000 miles between DFW, Austin, Houston and various places in between; ate my body weight in salsa, queso, tortilla chips, tacos, BBQ and Blue Bell Ice Cream; continued the 100 year celebration by trying every imaginable incarnation of Shiner; in sum, I basically decompressed from the Stress of the past 3 years and specifically the past 2 months. It was just what I needed. But even as I was enjoying sleeping in to 8:30 AM [yes, 8:30 is now sleeping in for me; I am officially OLD] I was somewhat anxious to get back home to Chicago. I have missed 10 days of the farmer’s markets and I don’t know which fruit slowly slipped out of season or if Nichol’s has started to fill their yellow tubs which every type of little tomato imaginable. Needless to say, I am ready to get back into my summer routine. Thankfully this half will be without the added bonus of 28 pounds of blue BarBri books but rather a large stack of library books (including New Moon, Garlic and Sapphire, The Girl She Used to Be and much more). Continue reading

13 Beans

Over the past few months I have wanted to place an order with Rancho Gordo (and buy his book) for some interesting heirloom beans. I did appreciate the quality of the fresh black beans that I was able to purchase this summer at GreenCity, so I have been wondering if they are worth the premium (and the shipping cost). I think I will decide on a few varieties to try in the next few weeks. Anyone try them out or have an suggestions on which of the many tempting varieties I should try? For now, I was just tempted by a bag of 13 Bean Soup that I found at my trusty Treasure Island. Aren’t all the colors wonderful?

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The beans do take a little planning because they need to be soaked over night but the result is wonderful. Warm, hearty, soothing. Perfect for a cold winter weekend. I didn’t get a good picture of the final product, but believe me, it is worth trying. Mine turned out a little thick, so I would not really call it soup, it was more like a thicker stew or veggie chili.

13 Bean Veggie Chili
Recipe adapted from the Bob’s Red Mill Bag

2 Cups of 13 Bean Soup Mix
1 Ham Hock
1 Medium onion; chopped
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s Fire Roasted diced w/Garlic)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Aleppo Chili Peppers (optional, I thew some in since I have them; crushed red pepper flakes would also work for some spice)
2-3 Cloves of garlic; minced

Wash and soak the 2 cups of beans overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse and bring 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water to boil in a large dutch oven or pot. Add the beans and ham hock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.

Add chopped onion, tomatoes, spices and garlic. Simmer for 30 mins. (Be careful towards the end because it will thicken and I did burn a little of the bottom of mine).

Serve in a bowl with a hunk of crusty bread. Would also be good over white rice.

Spaghetti Squash

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Like I mentioned yesterday, I went a little crazy at the market but I did pick up two, beautiful spaghetti squashes. Until this fall, I had never even considered cooking with squash and now I have an easy recipe that I am already craving to make again. Thanks Kristin at The Kitchen Sink for opening my eyes to another great ingredient!

It is really easy to make. Preheat to 400. First you take a spaghetti squash and cut it in half. Use a sharp knife and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Then scrap out all the seeds and gunk, quickly rinse, then paper towel dry. Rub some olive oil onto the cut sides and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Roast on a foil lined pan for 50 min, until the squash has started to soften. Now comes the fun part. Scrap the flesh with a fork and you should get these little angel hair like tendrils that you toss with some sauteed garlic and shallots with a few shakes of crushed red pepper. Finish it off with some freshly grated parm. It is truly yummy and I can’t wait to cook up the second squash that I bought at the market this week. I even saw spaghetti squash at Dominicks today, so you really have no excuse but to try it.

Why hello there.

Why hello there.

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From The Kitchen Sink
Spicy, Garlicky Spaghetti Squash

Serves 2 (as a main dish) or 4 (as a side dish)

1 medium sized spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Brush the cut sides of of the squash with one tablespoon of the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on the prepared baking sheet, cut sides up. Roast for 50 minutes, or until the flesh has begun to brown and has softened. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the shallots have softened, several minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash and transfer the strands to the skillet. Toss the spaghetti squash to coat it with the garlicky sauce. Top with grated cheese and parsley.

Thai Chicken Curry


When Dave and I first started dating, it was quickly apparent that we enjoyed staying in and cooking a nice meal, rather than going out.  We are boring and practical like that. I had a few go to recipes but I quickly realized that is was time to try out new recipes.  Since I was spending all my time at his apt for various reasons (close to school, my crazy roommate, the closure of the Montrose Brown Line stop, etc), I relied on various cookbooks that he had on his shelf, resulting from various graduation presents. This recipe is from Dave Lieberman’s “Young and Hungry” This isn’t a bad cookbook. Lots of pretty pictures, but I’ll be honest, this is the only thing that I have made out of the book, but it is def. yummy. I have made this half a dozen times since that first time in his tiny PT Studio kitchen. It is even better the next day, packed in gladware for lunch. I promise.


Thai Chicken Curry

2 cups white rice (we buy Jasmine by the HUGE 10Lb bag)
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts (around 2) cut into pieces
Crushed red pepper flakes
Vegetable Oil
1 small onion, diced
I red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon curry power
1 tablespoon sugar
Thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (get the full fat stuff…seriously)
Handful of snow peas
Handful of basil (I only throw them in if I already have them, no need to buy if you are lacking)
Juice of 1 lime (also something you can omit if you like)
Zest of 1 lime (optional…I like the rice plain)
Salt and Black Pepper-duh.

Cook the rice (get a rice cooker-it rocks).

Toss the chicken strips in a bowl with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of oil. Heat a skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until they start to brown (about 5 mins, push them around so they don’t stick). Once there is no pink, scoop the chicken onto a plate. Lower the pan heat to medium-high and add a bit more oil. Slide in the onions and cook, stirring until they turn translucent (4-5 min). Add the red bell pepper and garlic (mmm garlic) and cook another 2 mins. Add the curry powder (hold your breath), sugar and ginger and cook 1 more min. Add the broth and coconut milk and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often until the sauce reduces by 1/4 (whatever that really means), 7-8 min. Slide the chicken back in and add the snow peas. Cook for a min or two, add the basil and lime juice and season with the S&P to taste.
Stir the zest into the lime (if ya want). Then serve the rice and curry in a bowl so that you can mix them together. Yum.

Make this as fast as you can

If you haven’t stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman please go when you have a day to kill. Ree has created a wonderful website full of great knowledge and entertainment. One of the best things that I have found on this website is a recipe for Mac and Cheese.

goodness in a bowl

goodness in a bowl

It is spicy. It is colorful. It is really bad for you. It is AWESOME. I made it when I was in PA for Dave’s little sister’s college graduation and it was one of the hits of the party. Just make sure that you scrape the jalapeno seeds and membranes out with a spoon and not your hands and that you wash your hands well before they get anywhere close to your eyes, mouth, etc. I made the mistake of using my hands to scrape down the jalapenos, washed them (with soap!) then went to the cheese tray (I was cooking during the party-its how I roll) and popped a piece of parm in my mouth. Suddenly my entire face felt like it was literally in flames. After 30 mins with a gallon of milk and a towel (yes-its a funny mental imagine), my face finally felt better. My hands were swollen for the next day. I don’t know what was wrong with me because I handle spice really well but you have been warned. USE A SPOON.

Those little buggars were HOT.

Those little buggers were HOT.

So much color!

So much color!