Asparagus Pickles


These are some of my favorites.  I love Asparagus any way I can get it.  Nice side on a cold summer dinner or lunch.  Great with a chicken salad or shrimp salad.  So easy to make.

3 lbs. of asparagus spears

4 sprigs of fresh tarragon

2 small shallots, halved

2 cups white wine vinegar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. pickling salt

Wash asparagus and cut each spear about 4 1/2 inches long.  Pack into hot jars with the tips down.  Tuck a sprig of tarragon and half a shallot into the center of each jar.

Combine wine vinegar, white vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring  to a boil. Pour the boiling mixture over the spears to within 1/2 inch of the rim.  Wipe off the rims and place lids on the top and then screw on the bands.  Process in a canner for 10 minutes then turn off heat and cover and let sit for 5 minutes more.  Remove to rack and allow to cool.  Makes about 4 pints


Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

pickled jalapenos

These are real popular with people who like hot spicy peppers.  Great for burgers, on the side for a BBQ dish.  I will warn you, they are a little hot.

2 cups cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

8 tablespoons honey

4 tsp. pickling spice

1 tsp. pickling salt

4 cloves garlic, halved

1 lb. jalapeno peppers, sliced

Combine vinegar, water, honey, pickling spice and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to boil over high heat, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

In hot jars, place 1/2  garlic clove in bottom of each jar (This makes about 4 half pint jars). Divide peppers among the jars and then top with another 1/2 garlic clove. Return pickling liquid to a boil and then pour over peppers within 1/2 inch of top of jar.  Place lid on jar and screw on band.  Process for 10 minutes in canner  and then turn off heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes more.  Remove to racks and allow to cool.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

Watermelon rind pickles

While there are a few good watermelons out there, this is a good pickle to make right now.  Many people throw away the rinds, but I think once you try these pickles, you will never throw the rind away again.  This takes some time, but is well worth the time you put into it.  This recipe is cut down so that you only make a couple of jars.  One of my “try it” recipes that I give to friends when I am trying to get them to try something new.

4 cups of peeled watermelon rind, cut into 1 inch cubes

1/4 cup pickling salt

4 cups water

2 cups sugar

1 cup white vinegar

1 lemon, sliced thinly

1 tsp. whole cloves

1 tsp. whole allspice berries

2 cinnamon sticks, about 3 inches each

Place the watermelon in a large bowl.  Dissolve the salt in the water and pour over the rind..  Let stand for about 4 hours and then drain and rinse twice.

Place rind in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat, cover and allow to  boil gently for about 8 minutes (Just until just tender, not mushy).  Drain and place in a large bowl. Combine 1 cup sugar, vinegar, Lemon, cloves, allspice and cinnamon in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour over the rind. Place a plate over the rind to keep it submerged.  Let stand for 24 hours.

Drain liquid from the bowl into a saucepan.  Add 1/2 cup sugar and bring to a boil.  Pour over the rind.  Replace plate to keep rind submerged.  Let stand 24 hours.

Drain liquid into a saucepan and add 1/2 cup sugar and bring to a boil.  Add rind and spice and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and pack into hot jars.  Place one cinnamon stick in each jar and pour liquid over rind in jars, within 1/2 inch of top.  Wipe rims and place lids on top, screw on bands and place in canner.  Process for 10 minutes, then cover and let sit in hot water for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove to rack and allow to cool to room temperature.  Makes 2 pints.

Bread and Butter Pickles with Jalapeno

Bread and butter pickles with Jalapeno

Today is Can it Forward day.  Ball is having webcasts on how to make jams and jellies, basic canning techniques and pickles.  Try to catch it.  Very informative.  You can catch it right now at  Watching the demo on pickles made me think about some of my favorite recipes that I have adapted for Tommy.  One of these is Bread and Butter pickles with Jalapenos.  He loves hot, spicy things, and loves bread and butter pickles, so it just was natural for me to adapt my recipe into one that he would like.  These are still sweet, but with a kick.  If you don’t want them too spicy, then take out the seeds and membrane and that will tone the spice down a bit.  Remember to wear gloves when working with the Jalapenos.

30 small to medium pickling cucumbers (they should be about 4-5 inches long), sliced 1/4 inch thick.

8 large onions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into thin slices

1 med bell pepper (sometimes I use a red one for color), cored, seeded and chopped

10 jalapenos, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup pickling salt

4 cups crushed ice

4 cups white vinegar

4 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoon mustard seed

2 tsp. celery seed

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. black peppercorns

In a very large colander set over a larger bowl, combine the cucumber slices, onions, bell pepper and jalapeno slices.  Sprinkle with the salt and toss well.  Cover the vegetables with a 2 inch layer of crushed ice.  Refrigerate for 4 hours, adding ice as needed.

In a large, heavy Dutch oven, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, ginger, and peppercorns.  Over med high heat bring the mixture to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes.  Add the vegetables and return to a boil.  Ladle the vegetables and liquid into hot 1 pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch space between the top of the mixture and the rim of the jar.  Wipe the rims and cover with the lid, then screw on the band.  Process for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Turn off heat and cover and let sit for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove jars to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature.  Tighten bands after cool and store in a cool, dark place.  This makes about 8 pints.

Pumpkin Butter


I had a hard day today and needed a little stress relief.  Cooking for me is just that, a way to release stress.  Kneading a big ball of bread dough, cooking a big pot of soup or jam is one of the ways I escape the stress of the day and in the end, I have something I have created.  This brings me satisfaction and a reward for my efforts.  One of my favorite stress relievers is to make jam or fruit butters.  Apple is one of my favorites and next in line is pumpkin butter.  Apple butter and pumpkin butter brings to mind, Fall, one of my most favorite times of the year.  I love the smells of my kitchen when I have a large pot of apple or pumpkin butter cooking.  Since I usually cook great big batches, so that I have lots of jars to give to my family and friends, I had to reduce this recipe so that it made a more normal amount for those of you who do not cook jams, jellies or fruit butters for mass amounts of people.  Here is a reduced recipe that will make just a few jars.  I think you will like this.  It is great on hot biscuits or toast.

3 cups of baked and pureed pumpkin

1 cup of maple syrup

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup strained lemon juice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/8 tsp. cloves

Place lids of 4 half pint jars in a pan of water and bring to a boil.  Let sit in hot water until ready to use.  Bring a stockpot half way filled with water to a boil and carefully place 4 half pint jars in the boiling water.  Let sit in the water till ready to use.

In a kettle with a heavy bottom (I use an enameled cast iron kettle) combine all of the ingredients.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to boil.  Cook stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  It will be dark and glossy looking and will smell wonderful.

Remove the jars from the stock pot and drain.  Remove the pan of pumpkin butter from the heat and spoon into hot half pint jars to within 1/2 inch of the top.   Top with a lid and screw on the band.  Place jars in the canning rack and lower into the stockpot.  Bring water back to a boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and cover stockpot.  Let sit for another 5 minutes.  Remove jars to a rack and allow to cool.  Once cool tighten bands as need, label and store.

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

As I have said before I love chocolate and I love cheesecake.  Putting both of these together makes one of my most favorite cheesecakes.  This cheesecake has a few steps, but it is well worth the effort once you taste this cheesecake.

1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and finely chopped

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

3 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

3 tablespoons Frangelico or another hazelnut flavored liqueur

1 cup  semi sweet chocolate chips


2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Frangelico or other hazel nut flavored liqueur

Combine first four ingredients and stir well.  Firmly press crumb mixture onto bottom and partially up sides of a buttered 9 inch springform pan.  Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add 1 cup sugar, gradually. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in liqueur and the chocolate chips.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Let cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack.  Chill for at least 8 hours.

Make glaze – Place chocolate chips into top of a double boiler.  Bring water to a boil then reduce heat and simmer and cook until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and liqueur.  Spread glaze over top of cheesecake.  Carefully remove sides of pan and move to serving plate.  Serves about 12.

Ginger Orange Beef

Ginger Orange Beef

We love Chinese food at our house.  We have a lot of favorite recipes that I have developed after eating a dish at a restaurant and then coming home to try to replicate it.  Sometimes it is easy to copy, like this recipe, but sometimes it takes numerous tries before I come up that the recipe that is just right.  So here is one of the easiest recipes.

1 pound of top round steak

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange rind

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. vegetable oil, divided

1/4 pound fresh snow pea pods

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced into long strips

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

While partially frozen, trim fat from steak and slice diagonally across the grain into thin strips.  Place in a medium bowl.  Combine soy sauce, orange rind, ginger, cornstarch and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Stir well.  Pour soy sauce mixture over steak.  Toss gently to combine.

Brown steak in 1 tsp. of oil in a wok or large skillet.  Remove steak from wok, reserving drippings in pan.  Set steak aside and keep warm.  Heat remaining tsp. of oil in pan and add snow peas, carrot, pepper and water chestnuts.  Cook for 3 minutes until vegetables are crisp tender.  Return steak to wok and cook until thoroughly heated.  Serve with rice.  Makes about 4 servings.