Blackberry-Hoisin Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps

Ok, I’m still on my blackberry kick! And this is yet another easy and delicious recipe you must try! And it’s low-carb! I tried making the copy-cat P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps, but the loose ground meat was so messy in the lettuce wraps… This option is way better! Feel free to substitute the blackberry-hoisin glaze with any glaze of your choosing. Teriyaki glaze, Miso and Honey glaze, Garlic & Ginger glaze… the possibilities are endless! But I personally recommend this delicious and easy blackberry-hoisin glaze! Recipe adapted from THIS recipe on the Just a Taste blog.



  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup panko or breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey (or chicken)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup blackberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • Sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • 1 head Boston lettuce


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper/tin foil sprayed with oil.

Combine the milk, panko, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, scallions, egg, turkey, and S&P in a large bowl.  Toss gently with your hands or a fork until combined, being careful not to over-mix.

Shape the meat mixture into 2-inch balls and set on the prepared sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the blackberry preserves and hoisin sauce in a large, microwave safe bowl.  Stir until combined, and then heat in the microwave until hot (about two minutes). Stir again to make sure everything is combined and smooth.

Toss the meatballs in the blackberry hoisin glaze, and then garnish with sesame seeds. Serve in lettuce wraps.

Serves 4


Key Lime Pie with Blackberry Swirl

It’s the end on blackberry season, and these little gems are over-ripe and over-sweet!  Enjoy them while you still can in this oh-so-summery dessert. Fall will be here before you know it (hang in there!), but in the meantime, there are still delicious summer recipes to make!

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  • 18 whole Graham Crackers
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Butter, Melted
  • Or, you can just buy a regular (not deep dish) store-bought graham cracker crust…


  • 2 Tbsp Lime Zest
  • 1/2 cup Lime Juice
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 can (14 Oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

Blackberry Swirl:

  • 2 cups of blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch


For the blackberry swirl:

Combine blackberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir as sugar mixes with blackberry juice and melts, about 2-3 minutes. In a small bowl combine lime juice and corn starch. Stir in the lime mixture into the blackberries. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for another 2 minutes as the sauce thickens. Cool completely. Can be made ahead and stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the crust:

Crush crackers in a food processor or Ziploc bag. Pour them into a bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter. Press into a regular (not deep dish) pie pan and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

For the filling:

Mix lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add in condensed milk and mix on high until smooth and thick. Pour mixture into crust.

Drop spoonfuls of the blackberry sauce onto the top of the pie, and swirl with a knife until you get the desired effect. Be sure not to over-swirl, or you’ll lose all the pretty patterns!


Place pie in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour—more if possible.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream and more grated lime zest and/or blackberries.

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Crispy Pickled Cucumbers

Everyone loves a crispy pickle! My mom has been pickling cucumbers the last several years, and here’s what she’s learned from her experiments:

  1. Ditch the prefab pickling spice and make your own.
  2. Trim the ends off the cucumbers before you pack them into jars. Depending on how well you’ve washed your cucumbers, there can be an enzyme in the blossom end of a cucumber that can lead to softening.
  3. Try putting some cherry leaves or grape leaves in the jars with your cucumbers; this is a natural way to encourage cripsness because those leaves have tannins in them.
  4. Add alum to encourage a nice texture/crispness. Alum can be found in the spice section of the grocery store.
  5. Don’t over-process the jars!!!!

This advice and recipe was largely gleaned from this article on NPR.



Kosher Dill Pickles

  • 1 quart water
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound pickling cucumbers
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons homemade pickling spice
  • 2 grape or cherry  leaves

Homemade Pickling Spice

  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dill seed
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 10-12 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp alum


In a medium pan, combine water and salt. Bring to a boil and heat until the salt is fully dissolved. Set aside.

Wash/sterilize a wide-mouth quart jar and lid. Place the garlic cloves, 2 tbsp pickling spice, and leaves in the jar.  Wash and trim/cut cucumbers and pack tightly into the jar.  Pour the brine over the pickles so that they are covered.

At this point, you can process the jars so that they seal and will keep at room temperature, OR just screw on the lid and keep in the refrigerator for several months. Either way, wait at least two weeks before eating.

Yield: 1 quart of pickles (this recipe can be easily doubled/multiplied)

Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe is great primarily because you don’t have to cook it at all! Some argue that you don’t even need to churn it – just stick it in the freezer and let it firm up.  This ice cream base yields light, sweet, refreshing ice cream that is easily adaptable and versatile. Adapted from THIS recipe from Southern Living.


Makes 1 quart of ice cream


  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (can sub real vanilla beans/paste)
  • 3 cups half and half (can sub heavy cream)

Whisk all ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher or large bowl until blended. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

Pour milk mixture into freezer container of an ice-cream maker (that holds at least 1 quart), and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Instructions and times will vary.)

Remove container with ice cream from ice-cream maker, and place in freezer 15 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container; freeze until firm, at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


Turtle Ice Cream: Prepare Vanilla Ice Cream as directed. Stir 1/4 cup caramel sauce into prepared ice cream. Remove container with ice cream from ice-cream maker, and place in freezer. Freeze 15 minutes. Microwave 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels and 1 teaspoon shortening in a microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Place 3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle pecans with melted chocolate. Freeze 5 minutes. Break into bite-size pieces. Stir chocolate-and-pecan pieces into ice cream. Place in an airtight container; freeze until firm. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Peach Ice Cream: Omit vanilla, and reduce cream by 3/4 cup. Process 4 peeled, sliced medium-size fresh ripe peaches or 1 (15.25-ounce) can peaches in light syrup, drained, with 2 tablespoons sugar; 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice; and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir into milk mixture with 3/4 cup peach nectar. Proceed as directed. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Strawberry Ice Cream: Omit vanilla, and reduce cream by 1/2 cup. Process 1 (16-ounce) container fresh strawberries or 1 (16-ounce) package thawed frozen strawberries, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir into milk mixture. Proceed as directed. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Coconut Ice Cream: Omit vanilla and sugar, and reduce whole milk to 1/2 cup. Whisk 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into milk mixture. Proceed as directed. Serve ice cream with toasted coconut, shaved chocolate, or chopped macadamia nuts. Makes 1 quart.

Java Heath Bar Ice Cream: Prepare recipe as directed, adding 1 tbsp instant espresso powder and 2 tbsp sugar in step 1. Stir in 1 cup heath bar pieces (or chopped heath bars) before transferring to freezer.

Bourbon Pork Chops with Grilled Peaches

My mom and I recently made this recipe, found in the Taste of The South magazine (and here).  It was sooooo delicious! It’s a perfect way to use those farm fresh peaches while you can still get them. If it’s too hot to grill outside, go ahead and do everything in a skillet.



  • 4 (2-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 5 fresh peaches, pitted and quartered
  • 3 shallots, quartered
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Place pork chops, bourbon, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and mustard in a resealable plastic bag. Seal bag; refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  2. Spray grill rack with nonstick nonflammable cooking spray. Preheat grill to high heat (400° to 450°). Preheat a 12-inch cast- iron skillet on grill 15 minutes. Remove pork from marinade; reserve marinade.
  3. Grill peaches, directly on grill rack, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Set aside.
  4. Place pork chops in skillet; grill, covered, 4 minutes per side. Remove pork from skillet; keep warm. Add shallot to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Add reserved marinade and broth to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, approximately
  5. 5 minutes. Stir in peaches, butter, and lemon juice; cook 1 minute more. Carefully remove skillet from grill. Stir in basil. Serve peach mixture over pork chops.

Pickled Okra

I cannot stand slimy okra.  Fried or pickled (or roasted until charred), however, and it’s my favorite! I don’t process my pickles, but they do keep in the fridge for several months.



  • 2 pounds young, small to medium okra pods
  • 4 small dried chiles, split in 1/2 (can sub dried red pepper flakes)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 12 sprigs fresh dill
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water


Wash the okra and trim the stem to 1/2-inch. Place 1 chile, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 3 sprigs of dill, 1 clove of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns in the bottom of each of 4 sterilized pint canning jars. Divide the okra evenly among the 4 jars, standing them up vertically, alternating stems up and down.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the salt, vinegar and water to a boil. Once boiling, pour this mixture over the okra in the jars. Seal the lids. Place in the fridge and wait two weeks before eating.

Lamb Kofta

Don’t be scared by the strange name! Or the lamb (you can totally substitute ground beef or pork)! This a very easy and delicious alternative to burgers (which I’m sure we all appreciate at this point in the summer) and keeps very well for leftovers.

Makes 4 to 6 pita sandwiches



  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or beef
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 1 large clove)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Tzatziki  (click for recipe)
  • Pita bread


Combine all ingredients (except tzatziki and pita bread) in a bowl and thoroughly combine. Shape ground meat mixture into flattened meatballs, about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add the patties and cook about 5 minutes on each side. Alternately, you can cook the patties on a grill (delicious!).

Heat the pita bread in the oven or on the grill.  Add a couple patties and some tzatziki to the pita.  Serve with tabbouleh or couscous.

Stewed Eggplant and Tomatoes

This dish is an excellent way to use the bounty of the season.  It’s fantastic as a side all on its own, but when I made it I added shrimp at the very end and served it atop grits. YUM!



  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1.5 lbs. eggplant, peeled and diced
  • One 28 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice or puree (can use 2-3 cups fresh diced tomatoes)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt & Pepper


In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, season with a little salt and cook, stirring frequently until the onion turns golden and softens, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic next and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Next add the eggplant. Season again with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring often until eggplant starts to brown/soften. Add the tomatoes last and bring to a low simmer. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken and the flavors have melded, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add chopped fresh basil at the very end. Keep warm until ready to serve.


Who doesn’t love a good waffle recipe?  This one is pretty basic, but it really does make crispy, fluffy, delicious waffles.  BTW, I extensively researched the best waffle makers out there, and this one (which we received as a wedding gift) really does seem to be awesome.

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  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat waffle iron. Beat eggs in large bowl with hand beater until fluffy. Beat in milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and then flour, just until smooth.
  2. Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve hot.


Yield: about 8 waffles

Note: You can keep the batter covered in the fridge for up to a week. Just be sure to whisk well before using again.

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Creamy Dilled Cucumber Salad 500


  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • Salt & Pepper


Wash and peel the cucumbers (I like to leave stripes of skin on – so pretty!).  Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Slice cucumber and set aside.

Combine mayo, yogurt, vinegar, dill, and S&P in a bowl.  Add cucumbers and onion. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve cold.