Category Archives: Snacks

A category of recipes for snacks of all kinds

Granola Bars

“Before I had kids, I didn’t even know it was possible to destroy an entire house with a granola bar.” – Twitter Quote

I will be revisiting all of the recipes presented on this site, as well as sharing new ones. The first recipe I’ll be revisiting is my infamous granola bars!

When I first wrote this recipe, I was starting a new journey, looking deeper into the food I ate and attempting to make better decisions on what my family consumed. Looking back on the recipe, what seems to be healthy on the outside may not always be healthy on the inside. I chuckle because I had added extra brown sugar in the recipe that really doesn’t need to be there.

Now don’t get me wrong, the original recipe is still very tasty but I decided to remove the brown sugar and make some other adjustments to reduce the amount of sugar we were consuming in our day to day lives. These bars are quick & easy to make and quite versatile. I make a batch weekly for my boys. The granola bars are better than ever and according to my oldest son, should be famous!

GRANOLA BARS

350 (f) degrees / 25 minutes / yield avg. two dozen bars / Prep Time: 15 mins / Bake Time: 25 mins / Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 4 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup organic chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, melted (*can sub coconut oil)
  • 1 cup organic dried fruit, chopped
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup raw local honey
  • 1/2 cup organic semi sweet chocolate chips (*can sub cacao nibs)
  • 9 x 13 pan
  • sheet of parchment paper

Step 1 – preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees. In a large bowl combine oats, seeds, and chopped dried fruit. Mix well.

Step 2 – fine chop dried fruit of choice. You can really use any kind you like. In my recipe I use 1/2 cup dried chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots. Add to the bowl and mix.

Step 3 – add melted butter and mix to ensure all ingredients are coated.

Step 4 – add peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips. Make sure to mix well so all ingredients are well incorporated.

Step 5 – line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Press your granola mixture into the pan, making sure you have an even spread across the pan.

Step 5.a optional – this is where you can get creative. I don’t add this to the ingredient list above but you have the option to add an extra layer of peanut butter to the top of the granola mixture or chocolate chips. When the granola’s are done baking, you would use a spatula knife and spread the layer of chocolate thin to cool and harden. The layer of peanut butter needs no attention after baking

Step 6 – place in preheated 350(f) degree oven for 25 minutes. When finished, place on wrack to cool. Pro tip – once the tray has cooled, place the tray in the refrigerator for an  hour to make cutting your bars less sticky and more uniform. Once cooled you can cut your bars to desired size. I typically cut the bars 4 inches in length which yields me up to 24 bars. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week… If they last that long 🙂

ENJOY!

PS: this recipe is quite versatile and simple to adjust. Don’t want chocolate chips, keep them out. Ingredients not coming together well enough, add more peanut butter or honey. Too sticky, add more oats. Substitute butter for coconut oil. Add any dried fruit of your desire. Add more nuts, chopped up walnuts or almonds or sunflower seeds. The possibilities are endless… have fun and enjoy!

Homemade Pickled Eggs & Radishes

Homemade Pickled Eggs & Radishes

“One of the smartest things you can do on ‘Chopped’ is to take one of those ingredients and make a pickle out of it, because almost every dish benefits from that…” ~ Ted Allen

I’m in love with almost anything pickled at the moment. Cucumbers, carrots, kohlrabi, radishes, beans, beets, and now more than ever… eggs! I’ve recently found a combination I love in homemade pickled eggs & radishes. I have to admit when I first heard of pickled eggs I think of a dim lit neighborhood joint with peanut shells on the floor and a large dirty jar at the end of the bar containing some unknown white floating balls.

These spicy pink hued eggs take away most of the fear of the unknown and the taste is fantastic. I use local pastured eggs and local organic radishes. A mix of white and cider vinegar, fresh local organic garlic, red pepper flakes give the radishes a spicy crunch and the eggs are soft and tangy. I’ve come to love this snack so much so that I’ve got to have a jar in the fridge at all times. A good flavor develops after roughly 5 days in the refrigerator but I dare you to wait that long. I’ve received tips to poke the eggs to allow the vinegar & spices to penetrate the insides. I’ve yet try this because I’ve got a thing for smooth looking eggs (= The red from the radishes offer a light pink hue to the egg white, providing a bit of visual fun to your snack and the crunch from the radish is a perfect contrast to the soft egg.

If you like hard boiled eggs and if you like pickles, you’ll love this snack. Homemade pickled eggs & radishes… enjoy!
21213 pickled eggs & radishes

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Pickled Eggs & Radishes
– 1 quart mason jar
– 8 – 12 hard boiled eggs (depending on size) *^
– 2 fresh garlic cloves, peeled & halved *^
– 1 cup apple cider vinegar *
– ½ cup white vinegar
– ½ cup filtered water
– 1 tablespoon kosher salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar *
– ½ teaspoon dried dill
– ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
– ¼ teaspoon celery seed
– ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
– ¼ teaspoon mustard seed

Step 1: In a medium sized pot, bring to a boil 8 to 12 eggs. Soft boil your eggs for 5 minutes then remove from heat and let rest in the hot water for 15 minutes. Next drain the hot water and place ice cubes and cold water over your eggs and let rest for an additional 10 minutes. At this point your eggs should be read to peel. Remember to rinse your eggs after peeling to ensure all egg shell pieces are removed.
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Step 2: Wash, stem and chop the radishes in quarters. Add the radishes and eggs to the Mason jar in rotation allowing for layers of each; eggs & radishes.
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Step 3: Add spices and fresh garlic to the Mason jar.
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Step 4: In a small saucepan heat up the vinegars, water, kosher salt, and sugar till the salt & sugar are dissolved. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Once the liquid is cool, pour the vinegar mixture over the eggs, radishes, and spices in the Mason jar. Ensure the liquid covers all of the ingredients, providing at least ¼ inch headspace at the top of the jar. Seal the jar with a lid and place in the fridge for up to five days before enjoying.
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Homemade Pickled Eggs & Radishes… enjoy!
21413 pickled egg & radish test

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Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter

“Peanut butter is the pâté of childhood.” ~ Florence Fabricant

I’ve always been a fan of the peanut; in its natural state, shelled, crushed, or creamy… the peanut is pretty awesome. The good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwich never tires, my grandmother’s peanut butter cookies are better than any I’ve ever tasted, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – a treat my mom & I use to share when I was little brings back memories. I can remember my grandfather had his own designated jar of roasted & lightly salted peanuts always stored in the cupboard. You’d know he had eaten peanuts because he’d smell like a giant peanut. Consumed alone or cooked into delightful dishes such as Chile Peanut Crusted Chicken with Napa Cabbage and Radish Slaw or Grape Leaves stuffed with Mozzarella, Dry Monterey Jack, Peanuts, and Raisins, or Caribbean style chicken with Brown Sugar Peanut Spice rub – I love peanuts.

I can remember as a little girl, my mom and grandmother purchasing fresh made peanut butter at some of our local health food stores. There was a peanut grinding machine near the ‘specialty foods’ area. You could place an empty container in the machine, press a button, and a few minutes later you’d have fresh – nothing but peanuts – peanut butter. It was pretty neat and how awesome was that – we made our own peanut butter. How I forgot that it was so simple. Those machines seem to have disappeared and a majority of what is left on the store shelves has too much ‘unhealthy’ oils, salts, fats, and other ingredients I wouldn’t ever try to pronounce.

A couple of months back I heard a news report on the radio that the peanut industry was in trouble. The DJs on the radio joked peanut butter was going to equivilant to gold. If you were a kid in school and got a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch… you must be rich! I looked into the subject a little deeper and found that demand couldn’t be met in the last couple of years due to contamination, land space, and costs of goods. Southeast Farm Press

Reading this article and understanding the different obstacles the industry and it’s consumers face, it seems like it is another consumption problem – too easy, too much, too often. Between the unwanted ingredients and the energy used to process, package, and ship the peanut item, I decided to refrain from purchasing peanut butter… until now. I looked into local peanut options and was fortunate to find my favorite local organic farmstand, Pinnacle Organic, grows and sells peanuts during the late fall and winter seasons.

Peanuts, from planting to harvest have a 120-150 day growing period. They are usually planted after the last frost and require a soil temperature of 65 degrees F for germination. A little over a month after planting, the peanuts will begin to flower, another couple of weeks and the roots will develop and penetrate the soil, and lastly the peanuts will mature over a 10 week period, staggered. The soil must be well-drained; loose and sandy. (iastate.edu)

For some reason I didn’t think of peanuts in a “seasonal” sense but like anything else that grows… it grows in a season. I’ve decided to try to manage peanut butter in our household like we do with anything else for preservation. For example, during the height of tomato season I would buy extra tomatoes and can them. This is so I would have tomatoes throughout the non-tomato season and I would not have to depend on the BPA lined cans of something that is supposed to resemble a tomato from the grocery store. Each week I visit the farm to get my produce I will buy extra peanuts and soak, roast, and grind them at home for our own homemade peanut butter. A jar of fresh homemade peanut butter will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 months and in the freezer in a freezer safe container for up to a year. If you’ve used oil to cream the peanuts, the oil will separate in the freezer. When you are ready to use, you must thaw the homemade peanut butter completely – remix – and store in the refrigerator.

homemade peanut butter

I won’t kid you… the process is not hard but it is time-consuming. Homemade peanut butter is simply ground up peanuts. You can soak them in salt water and you can add a little oil for a smoother texture… but otherwise, it’s just peanuts… easy, right?! My family didn’t think so when I had them shelling peanuts for an entire morning; all to produce 2 pint jars of peanut butter that are now gone and we’re back to shelling again! I realize this process is not for everyone… afterall who has time to sit around shelling peanuts. For us its a matter of using things when they are in season, storing them for when they aren’t, and making sure we know what we’re consuming and were it’s come from… for that, I’ll spend time shelling a few peanuts.

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Peanut Butter
■ 1 pound peanuts, raw *^
■ 1 1/2 cups kosher salt (optional ingredient & note, if you are using table salt, reduce to 1 cup)
■ 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil (optional ingredient)
■ large pot for soaking + plate to keep peanuts submerged
■ tray for drying
■ food processor
■ water for soaking

Step 1: Place your peanuts in a strainer and rinse, removing as much surface dirt as possible. Drain. Place peanuts and kosher salt in the soaking pot, cover with water till the peanuts are submerged. Stir. Cover the peanuts with a plate to make sure they stay submerged for the soaking duration. After 1 hour, remove the plate and stir the peanut salt water mixture. Cover and continue soaking. Do this every hour for at least 3 up to 5 hours. Drain.

homemade peanut butter

Step 2: Single layer the peanuts on a cookie sheet and place in the oven on WARM or the lowest temperature your oven will allow – this will speed up the drying process. If you don’t want to run your oven they can air dry overnight. Once dry, place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, tossing the peanuts throughout the cooking time to make sure they don’t burn.

homemade peanut butter

Step 3: Remove the peanuts from the oven and let cool. Once cool, the peanuts are ready for shelling. Make sure to remove the thin outer skin as well as the shell. The skins will make your peanut butter bitter.

homemade peanut butter

homemade peanut butter

Step 4: Once shelled, they are ready to enjoy… but if you’re wanting peanut butter… place your peanuts in a food processor and process, while drizzling the oil in slowly.

homemade peanut butter

The more oil, the smoother the texture. Process till you’ve found the consistency you like. This can take several minutes depending on how smooth you like your homemade peanut butter. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 4 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year. My kiddo enjoys his homemade peanut butter with homemade jam on homemade bread… best PB&J ever! Enjoy!

homemade peanut butter

Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers

When I hear the word graham cracker the first thoughts that come to mind are smores, cheesecake with a graham crust, or my favorite as a child, grahams topped with honey & served with a warm beverage. Now that I have a kiddo of my own, I think of messy, sticky graham cracker faces as they munch them down with delight. Instead of my typical quote on the subject of homemade graham crackers, I found a sweet poem describing such a scene, with sticky graham cracker kisses.

I’ve noticed a common scene at parks, play gyms, and other kiddo gathering spots… ever flowing snacks. The kids are grazers. They run, play, snack, run, play, snack, and so forth. Many of the snacks I see frequenting these places are processed, pre-packaged gummy fruits, chips, crackers, cookies, dried fruits, yogurt covered goodies, and most of all graham crackers. I know my son will want what he sees from other children.  I’ve got to do my best to provide him comparable snacks that I can feel good about him eating.  I look to the ingredients on the back of the box. I say to myself… I CAN MAKE THESE… I can make homemade graham crackers! I’m off to the interwebs to find a version I can work with, that he’ll like, and I can feel good about giving to my family.

After much searching, the ingredients from various recipes looked to be the same; flour, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. I could make this work! The best version I’ve found so far is from smitten kitchen. I’ve used her guidance through measurements and technique but I’ve made minor adjustments to the ingredients.

After a few tests with all butter, all tallow, all buttermilk, all cream, honey vs. agave vs. molasses this version is the winner. Like most recipes, it’s up for interpretation. The thicker the roll on the dough, the more cookie like your graham will be. You also have the option of having shape fun with this dough, using any type of cookie cutter shape.

No more are the days of store-bought grahams… only homemade graham crackers from here. I can’t wait to enjoy smores on these bad boys… but until then, we’ll enjoy them as a quick snack on the go!

* = organic
^ = local

Homemade Graham Crackers
350 (f) degrees for 8 minutes / 24+ grahams

2 cups graham flour * (can be replaced with all-purpose or whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour *
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chia or flax seeds * (optional)
6 tablespoons butter, chilled *
3/4 cup brown sugar *
1/3 cup raw local honey ^ (you can also use molasses or maple syrup)
5 tablespoons cream *^
2 tablespoons vanilla *
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar * (optional for topping)

homemade graham crackers

homemade graham crackers

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 350 (f) degrees. In a food processor or stand mixer combine flour, salt, baking soda, sugar, flax/chia seed (optional), cinnamon, and butter. Process until you have a fine crumble. While the food processor or mixer is still running, add in vanilla, honey, and cream. Do not over process. Stop the machine as soon as the dough comes together.

Step 2: Form a ball, place in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
homemade graham crackers

Step 3: Take your dough out of the refrigerator and rest for 5 minutes before rolling. Prepare a lightly floured surface and rolling-pin. Roll dough out on floured surface, 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick.
homemade graham crackers

Step 4: Dab your cookie cutter device into flour and then cut out your graham shapes, transferring each shape to an ungreased cookie sheet. Keep each cookie at least an inch apart on the cookie sheet. The thicker you roll the dough the chewier your cookie will be. You can take this time to decorate your cookie with some fork pricks for the ‘traditional’ graham look. Place in a pre-heated 350 (f) degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes (the longer cooking time will result in a crisper cookie).
homemade graham crackers

NOTE: You will have leftover dough as you cut out the crackers.  Don’t waste!  You can gather all of the scraps, reform a ball, and roll & cut some more.  In the end, if you use all of your scraps, you will have used about 99% of the dough… no waste and lots of delicious graham crackers!

homemade graham crackers

Step 5: When cooking time has expired, remove grahams from the oven and let rest for a minute before removing them from the cookie tray. Optional, you can sprinkle a light amount of sugar (organic) on the top before removing for the cooling rack. After a minute transfer your grahams to a cooling rack. Enjoy your homemade graham crackers!
homemade graham crackers

homemade graham crackers

Chewy Granola Bars – Oats Nuts & Dried Fruit

Chewy Granola Bars – Oats Nuts & Dried Fruit

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ La Rochefoucauld

Like any busy family, I look for quick healthy nutrient dense snacks that we can grab on the go. Right now, as hard as we work to slow things down, life is fast-moving and there are times you just need that quick easy snack. Unfortunately those quick easy snacks I see in the grocery stores are laden with unpronounceable, synthetic, bad for the environment, and bad for you & me ingredients. Trying to make a conscious effort to better what my family eats, how my family eats, and where our ingredients come from I look to the back of boxes such as chewy granola bars and other snack like treats and say… “I can make that…!”

The challenge is over the past few months my toddler has gone from eating everything he could get his hands on to a very limited selection of… not much. We’re in the visual stages now… if it looks funny, it’s not going in his mouth. My other challenge is I have an electrician husband. He performs strenuous physical labor daily and the ability to sit down and have a solid meal on the job site is not an easy option. The healthy, nutrient dense snacks I choose for my boys must look appealing, be easy to eat on the go, and of course… TASTE GOOD!

Chewy granola bars are typically a great snack to throw in your backpack, purse, or other carryall on the go. So the first snack I attempted to recreate was the chewy granola bar. In my first test, I used whole wheat flour and stone ground oats. The bars turned out cake like vs. a chewy bar consistency. My toddler gobbled the first test batch up but the bars were a crumbly mess and slightly dry. The second test I used only whole grain oats. Apparently test #2 for the chewy granola bars was a success because my husband woke me up from a deep sleep on the couch to give me a high-five and tell me “those are damn good!”

And the little man seems to agree too…
chewy granola bars

My version of the chewy granola bars are a combination of several recipes I researched on the interwebs. They all held a common theme; dried fruits, nuts, oats, and honey. It is such a versatile recipe. You can use any dried fruit. In this recipe I use cranberries, apples, & plums but you could use anything. Raisins, mangos, cherries, apricots, any dried fruit you could think of. And the same with the nut… almond, walnut, cashew, peanut… any variety. You can grind the ingredients as I did, or leave them chunkier for a bit more texture to the chewy granola bar. It’s up to you. I’m excited because the family loves the bars, they are quick and easy to make, they taste great, and they are good for you. Winner winner!

Chewy Granola Bars – Oats Nuts & Dried Fruit
350 F degrees / 25-30 mins / yield: 2 dozen bars cut 2 in x .5 in
* = organic
*^ = organic/local

■ 2 1/4 cups whole grain rolled oats (quick oats)
■ 2 tablespoons raw wheat germ * (Bob’s RedMill)
■ 2 tablespoons whole ground flaxseed meal * (Bob’s RedMill)
■ 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
■ 1 teaspoon cinnamon
■ 1 cup dried fruit (1/3 c prunes, 1/3 cup apples, 1/3 cup cranberries) *^ chopped
■ 1 cup whole almonds ^ chopped
■ 1/3 cup brown sugar * packed
■ 1/3 cup honey ^
■ 1/4 cup peanut butter *^ (room temperature – I make my own nut butters so the peanut butter used in this recipe is homemade)
■ 4 – 5 tablespoons butter *^ (room temperature)
■ 1 cookie sheet + 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or butter for coating the pan (or a sheet of parchment paper… your choice)

chewy granola bars

Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (f) and prep a cookie sheet with a light coating of olive oil, butter, or a piece of parchment paper. Set aside.
chewy granola bars

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients (oats, flaxseed, wheat germ, cinnamon, kosher salt) and the brown sugar; set aside.
chewy granola bars

Step 3: In a food processor, combine all dried fruit and chop till you have medium size pieces. At this point add in your almonds and chop the entire mixture till you have a small crumble. {Note: you can hand chop all ingredients, giving more texture to your bars. You can leave some bits larger than others but not too large to make sure your bars will combine with the wet ingredients. End Note}
chewy granola bars

Step 4: Combine the nut fruit mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients, making sure all ingredients are well incorporated with each other.
chewy granola bars

Step 5: Using your favorite mixing utensil (I’ll use my hands) add in, one ingredient at a time, the room temperature butter, peanut butter, and honey. By the end you’ll have a sticky mixture that can easily be pressed together.
chewy granola bars

Step 6: Press the mixture on the prepped cookie sheet. After the mixture has been pressed into the cookie sheet, the layer should be roughly 1/2 of an inch thick and a square 10in x 10in. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree (f) oven for 25-30 minutes. The longer the bake the crisp the texture.
chewy granola bars

Step 7: After the baking time, remove the chewy granola bars from the oven and let cool on the counter for a few minutes before removing the sheet from the pan. Place on a cutting board and with a pizza cutter or sharp knife cut the bars into your desired size. The batch I made turned out 2 dozen, 1/2 in x 2 in bars.
chewy granola bars

Storage: Keep in an air tight container in a cool dry place for up to 2 weeks, but freshest within the first week of baking… if they last that long! ENJOY!
chewy granola bars

Original post written on August 6th, 2012 by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet at site: http://thesustainablesweetandsavorygourmet.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/chewy-oat-nut-and-fruit-bars/

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles – Refrigerator or Canned

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles

My household loves pickles; spicy garlic dill pickles!

I’ve always had a love for the bite that vinegar provides… green olives, salt & vinegar chips, pepperonchinis, and of course pickles. As a kid I would devour the tray of green olives my grandmother placed out with the antipasti platter. Lunchtime at another grandma’s and I’d include a few bread & butter pickles on my sandwich. As I got older my vinegar tastes ventured, trying various types of pickled cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, and carrots. Anything with an extra kick of acid usually did the trick for me (and still does!).

We use to buy the typical pre-made relish and refrigerated pickles from the cooler isle at the grocery store. Since my family has been making sustainable lifestyle adjustments, we’re steering away from pre-made processed items. Unpronounceable ingredients, crazy levels of highly processed sodium, blue #2 and red #6… or something of that nature. The point was that we had farm fresh local ingredients in our very backyard. With those items, a few herbs, spices, and some acid… we’ve got a pickled party! All for a fraction of the cost but more importantly you know where every ingredient came from and you can probably pronounce them too. The cost goes down even more if you’re able to grow and dry your own herbs and spices and make your own vinegar. I am not there yet, so until then, I’ll depend on quality herbs, spices, and vinegar from the market.

Spicy garlic dill pickles (cucumbers) was the first vegetable I attempted to pickle. What is pickling you ask? I’ll let the experts (or so they say) tell you… The following recipe can be used in both a water bath canned application, or my favorite… refrigerator pickles (I’ll have instructions for both applications below). There is nothing like that cold, vinegar crunch of a fresh spicy garlic dill refrigerator pickle. Waiting a few days for the vinegar and spices to penetrate those crunchy green spears is the hardest part of the entire process. I usually have a half-dozen quart jars in my fridge at any given time during the height of the season; because I’m a fanatic over the fresh variety! Since the season is not year round, we can the rest. I use the canned spicy garlic dill pickles with other pickle varieties to make a homemade relish. They go perfect on sandwiches and in my favorite homemade potato salad. I’m looking forward to more pickling and preservation adventures this year as the growing season is in full bloom! Here is my take on spicy garlic dill pickles. A spicy, garlicy, dill spear of delight… enjoy!

PS – this is a combination of recipes I’ve viewed over the past couple years. Check them out and see which ones you like best… or switch them up like I did… you can’t go wrong; and please feel free to share if you’ve got a favorite recipe you’d like to see me try! The Savory Spoonful, David Lebovitz, Serious Eats
spicy garlic dill pickles

* = organic
^ = local

Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles (Canned or Refrigerator)
The water, vinegar, salt, and sugar amounts combined are to fill 2 quart jars. The spice measurments are per jar.
■ 3-5 pickling cucumbers per jar *^ (Cut to preference)
■ 1 1/4 cups water
■ 1 cup vinegar
■ 1 tablespoon sugar *
■ 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Per jar add…
■ 1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
■ 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
■ 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
■ 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
■ 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
■ 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
■ 1 Bay leaf
■ 1/4 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
■ 2 crushed fresh garlic cloves *^
■ 1 1/2 teaspoons dill (you can replace the dried with a couple of sprigs of fresh dill if you have access to it)

Step 1: prepare your jars and lids according to your manufacture’s recommendations. You can sterilize the jars in the dishwasher or a good HOT soapy water wash and diluted water/vinegar rinse does the trick too.

Step 2: prepare your cucumbers. Wash and slice the cucumbers. Take off the ends because there may still be a stem or flower leftover from picking. You can half, quarter, or slice your cucumbers. Some can even be left whole, all depending on your consumption likes.
spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 3: measure spices and add to the jar(s). Crush garlic and add to the jar(s).
spicy garlic dill pickles

spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 4: add to jar(s) your sliced cucumbers. Fill in as many as you can but make sure that the cucumber does not go above the 1 inch head of the jar. This is to ensure that your cucumber is covered with liquid. Squeeze them in…it’s ok!
spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 5: in a sauce pan add in water, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Heat on high, stirring until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Taste the mixture…too salty…add a little more sugar…too sweet…add a little more salt…not enough vinegar…add more…too much vinegar…add water. It’s easy to adjust according to your taste.

Step 6a FOR REFRIGERATOR PICKLES: After the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off heat and let rest till cool. Once cooled, add the liquid to the jar(s) till the spaces surrounding the cucumbers are filled, leaving 1 inch head space between the liquid and the lid. Place the jar(s) in the refrigerator and let sit for a minimum 12 hours but I recommend after 5 days for the flavors to blend; each day giving the jar(s) a light shake distributing the spices. It’s really hard to wait for these crisp tangy pickles…but if you can withstand the wait, you’ll be in for a great treat. Pop open that jar and enjoy. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month or longer.
spicy garlic dill pickles

Step 6b FOR CANNED PICKLES: After the salt and sugar are dissolved, turn off heat, and slowly pour the liquid into the jar(s) till the spaces surrounding the cucumbers are filled, leaving 1 inch head space between the liquid and the lid. Seal the jars with the manufacturer lid and band, tight but not too tight because you want to allow air to escape in the sealing process. Add the sealed jars to a boiling hot water bath and bring to a full hard boil for 15 minutes for quart jars, 10 minutes for pint jars. Make sure the level of the boiling water is roughly 1 inch above the lid of the jar. After the processing time, remove the jars from the water bath and place on cool dry surface away from obstructions – ensuring 24 hours of quiet rest time for the jars to properly seal. Store in a cool, dark, dry place for up to a year…or enjoy immediately… just note, these pickles will not be as crunchy as the refrigerator pickles because of the heat exposure during the canning process.
spicy garlic dill pickles

Chop and add to your favorite potato or pasta salads, make homemade relish adding in sweet pickles, enjoy on sandwiches, or as a snack all by itself… enjoy!!

Homemade Applesauce – No Sugar Needed

Homemade Applesauce

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

There is a medium-sized apple tree in my grandmother’s backyard. As far back as I can remember when the leaves began to turn, the apples would fall and she would make homemade applesauce and other apple goodies to eat. The apples were small with a bright green skin and tart in flavor. The tree itself brings back many memories. Each year, when the tree was ready for pruning her sister & husband would drive down to my grandmother’s house for a day of visiting, eating, and yard work. They arrived with goodies from their backyard; zucchini, end of season tomatoes, lemons, eggs from their chickens, and fresh-baked cookies. The ladies would visit while Tito would prune the apple tree. I also remember when my grandmother would have to “shoo shoo” the squirrels away as they ripped apples from the tree, taking only small bites and leaving the rest to rot into the ground. This made grandma furious; she’d curse the squirrels every time her batch of homemade applesauce was smaller than the previous year.

Local Organic Apples Pinnacle Organic

Since we’ve lived in this community, we have been buying organic apples. We purchase the apples from a local organic produce farmstand in San Juan Bautista, Pinnacle Organics. We believe buying local keeps the money you spent in the community, we know exactly where our food came from, and we’re cutting out the middleman often reducing the cost. I started buying boxes of apples weekly and inquired on my grandmother’s tried & trued homemade applesauce recipe; apples, apple juice, cinnamon, and maybe just maybe a little brown sugar. After a few tries I came up with my version, same but different.

I was joining my grandmother and her sister, who was visiting from Mexico, for an early afternoon lunch. When my grandmother has visitors she pulls out several varieties of food, snacks, and goodies she’s made. Typically her homemade applesauce would have been donned the table, but this year her tree’s production was extremely small. I was aware of grandma’s homemade applesauce challenge, so I brought a couple of jars of my own freshly made homemade applesauce to share with the ladies. “Hmmm, this is better than yours Dolly…” Tita never holds back… needless to say I felt a little bad for my grandma. Her homemade applesauce has been the star for years. Despite feeling bad I know I’ve learned from the best, my grandma, and that’s why my homemade applesauce is so freakin’ good!

Getting ready to peel, core, and slice apples

This year, I’ve already had the opportunity to go through several boxes of apples and the season has only begun. There are so many apple cooking options such as baked apples, chutney, pies, tarts, and salads to name a few. The family seems to be fans of the homemade applesauce, so each year can it like crazy so we have enough for the year. It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve made. The time-consuming task lies only within the peeling, coring, and chopping. One Thanksgiving holiday my mother-in-law came over early to help in the food preparation and saw I was tediously peeling a sink full of apples, hands hurting while slumped over the kitchen counter. Christmas time arrived and she gifted me the best gift ever… an apple peeler, corer, chopper. The device looks medieval but it’s simple, easy to clean and does the job within minute’s verses hours.

My version has no added sugar; only apples, 100% juice from apples (I purchase the juice directly from the farmstand), and a mix of spices. After a long simmer the sauce remains chunky and is ready to enjoy! I’ve had people compare the applesauce to an apple pie filling… it’s that yummy.

Apple peeling, coring, and slicing in process.

Homemade Applesauce
5 Quart Sauté Pan
22 – 26 apples, depending on size (Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn, and Jonagold varieties)
16 – 24oz apple juice, enough juice to cover ½ of the apples in the pan (Pinnacle Organic juice is 100% organic apple juice, no sugar added)
¼ – ½ Teaspoon of each ground spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice

Peel, core, and chop apples. Place the sliced apples in your cooking vessel; I use a 5 quart sauté pan because it’s a wide pan with high sides. This allows for the apples to spread out and cook evenly. Sprinkle over your apples the spice mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
Local organic apples, apple juice, and spice

Pour enough apple juice over the mixture till the liquid covers the apples half way. Toss the apple slices to make sure the spices are mixed. Cook on medium high till the liquid comes to a boil, stirring often. Once it’s reached a boil, lower the temperature to medium or medium low heat for roughly two hours, stirring occassionally.
Simmer

The cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of your apples. I prefer my apple sauce slightly chunky – you can cook it longer for a smoother texture or even use an emulsion mixture to puree. Most the liquid will be reduced or gone by the time your apple sauce is complete.
Homemade Applesauce

The quantities for this recipe allow for 8 – 12 pint jars to be filled, again depending on the size of the apples.

The best thing about this recipe is that the amounts can vary greatly; it all depends on your taste preferences. You can make this recipe with as little as five apples; just follow the basic instructions ensuring the amount of apples you use is covered half way with juice. The spice amounts can vary according to your taste.

Your applesauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, canned will last all year, and in the freezer for roughly six months.
Homemade Applesauce cannded

Original post written on November 2nd, 2011 by The Sustainable Sweet & Savory Gourmet at site: http://thesustainablesweetandsavorygourmet.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/apple-apple-applesauce/