Cajun Onion Rings

You could always deep fry these, but I promise they turn out really well in the oven! Feel free to leave out the Cajun seasoning, or add any other seasoning you like.

onion rings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (can sub regular milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet onions, sliced 1/4-to-1/2-inch thick

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper onto 2 baking sheets and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, Cajun seasoning, and 2 teaspoons salt (omit salt if your Cajun seasoning already has salt added). In another bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Add half of the flour mixture to the buttermilk and beat until smooth and thickened.  Add the panko to a separate bowl.

Lightly dredge the onion rings in the flour mixture and then drop into the buttermilk.  Drain the excess batter and then dredge in the panko.

Arrange on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. You can place smaller rings inside bigger rings if necessary, just make sure there is space between them. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and the remaining salt. Then place in the oven. Cook until golden brown, 14 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip over each onion ring to ensure even crisping and browning.

Crisp Gingersnaps

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Yield: about 40 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl, for finishing

Method:

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl; stir well to mix. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together on medium speed the butter, fresh ginger, and sugar for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue beating until smooth.

Lower speed and beat in half the dry ingredients, then the molasses. Stop the mixer and scrape down bowl and beater. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients. Remove bowl from mixer and use a large rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough.

Cover, and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Set racks in middle racks of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Scoop out 1-inch diameter pieces of dough. Roll into balls between the palms of your the hands, then roll in the sugar. Place the balls of dough on greased cookie sheets leaving about 3 inches all around each, to allow for spreading. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes (less for slightly chewy cookies, more for super crispy cookies). Cool cookies on racks. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or waxed paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

 

Fresh Fig Chutney

Ahh, the fig tree… bold, fragrant foliage, delicious, sweet fruit… this gorgeous tree is ubiquitous in the lower and coastal south. Even in suburban Atlanta, I can still find fresh figs growing on trees in my neighborhood. At the end of summer, you may (if you’re lucky) find yourself wondering what to do with all the ripe figs you (or you neighbor, in my case) have been blessed with. There are a multitude of sweet recipes to make with your figs, but I often crave something a little more savory. Fig chutney to the rescue! This recipe keeps for a long while in the fridge, and even longer if you can/process it properly. Be sure to share with your friends and neighbors (especially if it’s their figs you stole – *ahem* – liberated)!

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Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe found here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lb light brown sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger (dried, from the spice isle)
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 lbs fresh figs, washed, stems removed, and sliced

Method:

Combine all ingredients (except figs!) in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is thickened and reduced by 2/3, forming a thick syrup. Add the figs and cook gently until the figs are very soft and beginning to fall apart and most of the liquid they’ve given off has evaporated, about 30 minutes.  If needed, add pectin or a green apple peel to thicken (although this shouldn’t be necessary if you’ve reduced the chutney enough).

Cool to room temperature, and place in a glass jar. Place in fridge, or process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Excellent served with Brie cheese (baked in pastry OR grilled in a panini), served with pork, or as an accompaniment on a cheese board.

Makes about 2 1/2 pints

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Summer Succotash

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Ingredients:

  • 3 uncooked bacon slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears)
  • 2 cups frozen lima beans, thawed
  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt & Pepper

Method:

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Cook bacon, turning frequently, until crisp. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Cool and crumble.

Drain most of the bacon fat from the pan (leave just enough to cook the onion in).  Add onion and garlic cloves to the skillet.  Cook over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add the corn, lima beans, and tomatoes. Sautee until corn is just cooked – about 5 minutes.  Add the butter, vinegar, chives, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook a few more minutes, and serve immediately, topped with crumbled bacon.

 

Blackberry-Hoisin Meatballs in Lettuce Cups

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.

baked-chicken-meatball-lettuce-wraps-recipe

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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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Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 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…

Filling:

  • 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

Method:

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.

jars_of_dill_pickles

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

ice-cream

Makes 1 quart of ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 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)
Method:

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.

Variations:

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.

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Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  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.

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Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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.