In a pickle: The over-productive garden

In April we decided to start a little garden to take advantage of freshly grown herbs and veggies. We have just began to see the fruits of our labor (pun intended) and I’ve had a lot of fun adding them to new recipes. I know I get bored eating the same thing more than two days in a row so I’ve searched for some great uses for what we have in our garden.

Cucumbers  have been growing like wild-fire. My boyfriend is not a fan of these veggies so it’s up to me to eat them all…and boy was there a lot of them!  My first thought was salad…but honestly it got old quick. I always have loved dill pickles. Only one problem, canning seems like a lot of work. Well turns out you can make these little puppies and store them in a jar for about 3 months with no special canning procedures required. I took several recipes and put them together and came up with these deliciously garlic dills:

1) Start 8-10 cucumbers. Cut the tips of both sides of the cucumber and discard ( for whatever reason it keeps them crunchy). Slice length wise.

2)In a pain pour two cups of white vinegar ( white wine vinegar worked ok too), 2 cups filtered water, 2 tbsp salt, a dash of sugar(optional) and boil until salt dissolves.

3) put pickles in a big  jar ( or 3-4 small jars)  add 1 tbsp of whole peppercorns, 1 tbsp of whole coriander, 1 bay leaf, a dash of red pepper flakes,  1 small chopped onion, 4-6 chopped cloves of garlic..you can never have too much, and 2tbsp of dried dill (or 4 fresh).

4) pour vinegar solution over pickles. Make sure the lid is on tight and slowly tilt the jar and make sure the solution is covering the entire pickle and spices distributed (though some will float to the top). Store in the fridge – wait about 3 days before you eat one.

If the water is a bit cloudy you can use pickling salt instead, but it’s entirely fine to use normal salt.

Here are links to the two recipes I combined…Epicurious Fast Favorite Garlic Dill Pickles and All Recipes Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

When I cook I rarely follow a recipe to a tee and sort of put my own personal spin on it. Do you have any garden veggie recipes you love? Have you combined recipes to make something even more spectacular?

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A smoothie snack to fuel the fire:

 I recently began a new workout regiment called TurboFire and have absolutely loved it thus far- two weeks in! It is both challenging and entertaining which are two important factors in my opinion as I find myself easily bored with working out (something ex-rock climbers have issues with I imagine) . While I am pretty good about working out a couple days a week, this program requires me to kick, punch, and shake my booty six days a week!

All of that working out tends to leave me famished and so I am beginning to  learn  how to fuel my body properly. I love snacking and eating-out , two things that have made “dieting” difficult for me. I generally allow myself a few bites of some of my favorites (raspberry zingers and bagels were two tempting foods available at work today)  because if I don’t I would find myself gobbling down entire boxes of cookies out of desperation (not a pretty sight)! Beachbody, the makers of Turbofire, recommend a product called Shakeology. In the past I have found pre-made shakes and powders to be kind of gross, not to mention expensive, so before I am ready to commit to that I have been experimenting with my own delicious smoothies.

I found a fabulous blog about smoothies which are an awesome healthy and very tasty snack!  My Healthy Eating Secrets has some tasty looking treats which are vegan and very fruit-centric. They recommend adding ingredients like dried coconut and cacao powder for added touches which I fully intend to do! I also am planning on adding some veggies to future fruit smoothies in order to add even more nutrients.

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorites that I’ve whipped up myself this past week (all make 1 to 2 servings). You can amp up the protein on these drinks (and not interfere with any of the flavor)  by adding 1/3 cup of egg-whites (the ones in the carton are safe to use) to your drink, making it a great post work-out treat:

Mandarin Peachberry:
In the blender we go:
1) one container of low fat Chobani Peach Greek Yogurt
2) 4 Ice cubes
3) 1/3 small can of mandarin oranges
4) 1 cup of frozen strawberries ( I buy fresh, cut up and freeze)

Summertime Watermelon Key Lime Cooler:
In the blender we go:
1) one container of Chobani Key Lime Greek Yogurt
2) 1/3 cup of frozen strawberries
3) 1 cup seedless watermelon
4) 1 tsp of  fresh mint

Chocolate Funky Monkey:
In the blender we go:
1) 1 banana
2) 1/2 cup organic low-fat milk ( leave out and replace with more ice if you want it thicker)
3) 3 ice cubes
4) 1 tsp of smooth peanut butter (natural/organic is best)
5) 1tsp of chocolate syrup ( I am going to try to sub in cocoa powder next time and increase the banana for sweetness)
6) top with sprinkling of cinnamon

Let me know if you’ve tried one of these and how you liked it. Also, if you have a great smoothie recipe please do share!