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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Souper Good Soups!

Ok, I know what you’re thinking how cheesy can one girl get? Well I can get this cheesy folks…

Mmm doesn’t that look good? Try Brown Eyed Baker’s Cheddar and Ale Soup with potato and bacon goodness for those of you who aren’t watching your waistbands! It is nothing short of a cheesy indulgence so eat sparingly but happily!

Anyway, I promised I would post some of my absolute favorite soups (and chili) recipes so I will give you my top three all in order of healthfulness the prior being the most unhealthy.  But do not fret they are in no particular order in terms of taste as all are delicious!

The second soup is actually a chili and is very healthy despite being from Paula Deen. She makes a spectacular white bean chicken chili! I know what you’re thinking Paula Deen AND healthy? Yes! Just sub out the little bit of butter for organic evoo and you have a scrumptious hearty meal…that isn’t a caloric mess!  I did think the color was a bit blah so I put my own little twist on it – I added a homemade salsa fresco to the top when serving ( 1 diced avocado, 1 diced tomato, fresh squeezed lime juice of one lime, salt, & pepper).  The salsa had a wonderful zing to it and it tasted great (albeit spicy FYI).  This is also a great idea for a tailgate or a game night!

The  third and healthiest recipe is Oh She Glows Holiday Soup for the Soul.I made it last weekend and wow is it tasty …and vegan! Don’t be afraid by the sweet flavors of cinnamon, curry, and nutmeg as they are rather subtle. Also, red quinoa is a bit pricey ($6 for a box at Harris Teeter). It is worth it to buy this particular variety because it tastes a bit different and trust me you can make this soup about 5 times before you run out of the quinoa! I didn’t add the saffron as $18 is where I draw the line for vegetable soup, but I can imagine it would be delicious. I made a whole pot and packed it away for a week’s worth of lunches, served it with nice whole wheat crusty bread and it was ever so satisfying!

Now it’s your turn, send me your soups! Let me know why your favorite soup is special to you…bonus points if it’s healthy to boot!