Refrigerator Pickles

Yes, I do own a Paul Frank Pickle Pants wallet. It’s one of my favorite Paul Frank designs ever.

Paul Frank pickle wallet

My coveted Paul Frank wallet.

I loved pickled vegetables. Okra? Yes. Green Beans? Check. Carrots? Peppers? Yes! But mostly, I love pickles in their original cucumber form. My grandma used to can pickles and beets and store them in her cellar. That was an all day process and I didn’t really want to do that right now. I wanted something that could be made quickly and easily. So, I decided to make some refrigerator pickles. I started with plain, dill pickles:

first foray into refrigerator pickles!

My very first jar of pickles, ready to go into the fridge.

They turned out really well. So, I decided to make a couple more jars: dill and then a jar of spicy garlic pickles:

Spicy garlic pickles.

Spicy garlic pickles.

You can make as little or as much as you wish. It’s only me here, so, I make one or two jars at a time. These keep in the fridge for a week. This recipe doesn’t require sterilizing jars and lids, but, please make sure you have super clean jars/lids. I used Ball 16oz mason jars.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles

  • 2-3 Kirby cucumbers, thoroughly washed
  • 1-2 TB salt
  • White distilled vinegar
  • sprig of dill, chopped

Wash the cucumbers and slice into 1/8th inch pieces, pack tightly into the jar until they reach the lip of the jar. Pack those suckers down. Add the dill and salt (you may want to start out with less salt, it’s up to you. You can also add a clove of garlic or teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes if you’re making spicy pickles). Then, pour vinegar over cucumbers, leaving a little room at the top. Screw lid on tightly and shake jar to mix up salt, dill, etc. Put in refrigerator and remember to shake the jar every few hours. You will have pickles in about 4-5 hours, or, leave overnight and enjoy the next day. Really, you can’t go wrong here.

dill & spicy garlic pickles

Sunday pickle making. Yay!

Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

Why buy salsa when you can make your own? Well, at least, that’s what I think. I haven’t really found a good enough (IMO) tomatillo salsa at the store, so, I made my own. Bring this to a BBQ and you’ll make some new friends and keep your old ones.

  • 4-5 medium size tomatillos
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • handful of cilantro
  • dash of salt (optional)

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and thoroughly rinse off the sticky residue. Place tomatillos and jalapeño in medium-sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let them simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or, until the skins wrinkle a bit and they are soft. Drain in a colander and let sit for a few minutes so they cool off a bit. Place tomatillos and pepper in a blender or food processor, along with a dash of salt, lime juice and cilantro. Process until blended.(It won’t take long). A word of caution: be careful and don’t stick your face over the bowl/blender after you’ve removed the lid to smell the salsa because one will be hit with the full on power of the jalapeño scent like a brick wall (my eyes were burning, lesson learned!). Put salsa in container and in the fridge to cool off even more. Once chilled, add the mashed avocado & stir. All done. Now, go grab a beer, or a glass of rosé and some chips and enjoy.

tomatillos and peppers

So pretty!

salsa, pre avocado

Browned Butter Cornbread

browned butter cornbread

Browned butter cornbread, hot out of the oven.

I’m pretty sure that my great-grandmother from Shelbyville, TN never made cornbread with browned butter, or, without bacon grease/fat for that matter. Well, I did adhere to one Southern tradition when I made my version of cornbread: no sugar. I’m not a fan of sweet cornbread, I it like more savory. But, if you like a slightly sweeter bread, by all means, add the tablespoon of sugar. Also, I think the browned butter adds a deeper, nuttier flavor to the cornbread. I think the next time I make this I’ll add some grilled corn off the cob. I only had some sad, old frozen corn, which, after heating up in the microwave tasted like, well, old corn (yuck). I suppose I should clean out my freezer….but, that’s for another day!

*Recipe slightly adapted from Paula Deen

  • 6 TB unsalted butter, browned, plus butter for baking dish
  • 1 C cornmeal
  • 3/4 C AP flour
  • 1 TB sugar (Optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Brown your butter and set aside to cool.

That extra 2 TB of butter you have from the stick you cut earlier? Use that, or most of it to grease your 8×8 baking dish.

Mix all dry ingredients into a large bowl, set aside. Once the browned butter is cooled, add the slightly beaten eggs and buttermilk, stir. Then add wet ingredients to dry and mix well, making sure you get out all the dry parts (you don’t want any pockets of batter with dry bits because nothing is more gross than biting into a baked good and getting a bite with dried bits of flour.) The batter will be slightly lumpy and that’s okay. Bake until top is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. Mine took exactly 20 min. Let it cool and then eat. I’m going to have mine with a bowl of vegetarian chili for dinner.

Spicy Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

vegetarian chili

Yum! Spicy vegetarian chili with three beans

I have several different versions of vegetarian chili and I can’t believe I never posted any of those recipes on this site! Vegetarian chili is a staple during the Fall/Winter for me. I like to switch up the recipe and use whatever I have on hand. Sometimes I use a grain like farro or bulgar, and vegetables like red/orange/yellow peppers, corn and green beans or edamame. It’s starting to get slightly cooler here in Brooklyn…it’s also rainy and grey and I wanted something warm, spicy and comforting for dinner. Plus, now that college football season has begun, I really enjoy “College Football Saturdays” (Go Blue!!) in my house where I’ll have a beer and a bowl of veg chili, so, it’s a win-win. More importantly, the chili freezes well and I can enjoy it later on.

In this version of chili, I use black, white and garbanzo beans. I like using Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes, regular and with green chilies. These tomatoes add an extra kick and level of flavor to the chili that I really like. I also used Penzey’s crushed jalapeños and for a smokier flavor, I use a little bit of smoked Spanish paprika. A little paprika goes a long way, so, you can just add it and the other spices by dashes (and not teaspoons/tablespoons) and adjust accordingly.

Spicy Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 medium-sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced/minced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 can each: black, cannelini, garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 28oz can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can Muir Glen diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 14oz can Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 2tsp cumin
  • 1TB chili powder
  • 1-2tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 1-2tsp dried jalapeños
  • 1-2TB olive oil

In a Dutch Oven or large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil and let it heat up, add onions, carrots and garlic and sauté until soft. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, stir, then add beans and spices. Let chili simmer for 30-45 minutes. Spoon into bowls, add shredded cheese, raw onions or even small cooked pasta (this might be a Wisconsin thing because I used to have really good veg chili at the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee back when I was in grad school, and they topped it with all three. It was delicious). Enjoy!

Raw Asparagus and Chickpea Salad with Lemon

a spring-y salad.

a spring-y salad.

You may say, “Raw asparagus?!?” And, I will reply: “YES!”(with much enthusiasm). This is an easy and light salad to make for lunch, like I did yesterday. I used both a little bit of Bulgarian feta and Pecorino. I enjoyed the play of the two different flavors and textures of cheese. If you can find Bulgarian feta, buy some, pronto. It’s not salty like Greek feta cheese, it’s more mild and creamy/not so crumbly.

  • 1lb. (bunch) of asparagus, rinsed, cut into 1-2″ pieces
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup (or more) of crumbled Bulgarian feta cheese
  • a couple glugs of olive oil
  • zest of lemon, plus juice of half a lemon
  • flaky sea salt and pepper to taste
  • some shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese

Add cut asparagus and chickpeas in a medium-large bowl. I cut the asparagus into tiny, diagonal pieces to make it more visually appealing (I guess, haha). drizzle with olive oil–enough to coat the beans and veg. Add lemon zest and juice and feta pieces. Stir until combined. Add some shaved (I used a vegetable peeler) Pecorino Romano on top. Enjoy!