Thanksgiving Turkey

This is a picture of last Thanksgiving’s turkey. It isn’t the greatest picture, but unfortunately, earlier this year I accidentally deleted a bunch of recipe pictures from my laptop. It was such a sad day. I cried. Literally.

Years and years ago, before I was really even cooking as good or as much as I do now, my husband’s step-mom taught me how to cook a turkey. She also told me that the secret was Crisco butter flavored shortening. I know, it sounds almost crazy and it isn’t something that you would want to cook with all the time, it certainly isn’t the greatest thing to put in your body…but, we are talking about Thanksgiving here, people. I mean it’s like the biggest day for gluttony all year round. Sometimes you just have to live on the edge a little! Plus, it makes for THE best flavoring on your turkey, I mean, amazing.

I know that the latest greatest way to fix a turkey is to brine it, but I have never tried that, so I don’t know if it is really that much better or not. Honestly, I can’t plan that far enough ahead. I don’t know why, but I can’t ever seem to get my T-Day supplies in order until the last minute every year. I never get to the stores in time to find fresh turkeys, so I always end up with a frozen one and then I am on the countdown every year to hope it thaws out in time. Geesh. I am such an organized, on the ball kinda gal, but for some reason, this whole turkey thing gets me every year.

This is my tried and true recipe for turkey and I have cooked it this way for about 12 years now. I have never had one turn out bad and everyone always seems to love it! The flavors of everything that go on it and in it are just amazing.

This recipe is for 1 (one) 22-26 pound turkey, which is what I usually cook every year. If you make a smaller turkey, you can adjust the recipe accordingly. I do not cook my stuffing inside the turkey, I stuff it with fruits and vegetables. Make sure you remove the package with the gibblets from the back of the turkey!

If you need help with learning how to lift the skin up to put the seasonings under it, or how to properly carve a turkey, there are many videos on the web that you take a look at! Unfortunately, all of the pictures I had of those processes were ones that got deleted!

**This recipe is gluten free.

Thanksgiving Turkey

For the outside of the turkey:

  • 1 package of fresh poultry herbs, chopped fine (usually called a poultry bouquet)
  • 1 stick butter flavored Crisco
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • zest of 1 orange, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) minced garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pampered Chef Southwestern Seasoning (this is optional, but something that my turkey never goes without)

Add all of these ingredients together in a small bowl and mix with a spatula until everything is well combined in the shortening.

With your turkey in the roasting pan, right above where the legs are tied together and right above the cavity, take a small knife and make a slight cut in the skin so that you can stick your hand in and slowly and carefully separate the skin from the meat of the turkey. This is kind of tricky, and on this turkey the skin split on me on one side. Try to go as far back and on each side as you can get. Using about half the mixture take your hands and spread it under the skin of the turkey directly on top of the meat. Take the remaining mixture, and spread it all over the top of the entire turkey on the skin. Then shake on a generous amount of seasoning all over the entire turkey. If you do not have the PC seasoning, you could use salt and pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, or any other seasonings you like and your family prefers.

For the inside of the turkey:

  • the leafy and white inner parts of a package of celery
  • 1 large orange or two tangerines, sliced in rings and seeds removed
  • 1 large lemon, sliced in rings and seeds removed
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, sliced in thin rings
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled

Basically, you are just going to take all of these ingredients and stuff them all into the cavity of the turkey. If they come out a little and lay on the legs, that’s ok.

Pour in about a cup of water into the cavity. At this point, you just want to cover the whole thing with aluminum foil and then cook at the temperature and the time suggested on the packaging for the size of your turkey. Some people cook the turkey uncovered in the beginning of cooking time, until it gets browned, and then place a foil ‘tent’ over the top for the remainder of the time. I usually keep mine covered in the foil at the start and then remove it when there is about 1 1/2 – just under two hours left so that the top gets browned and nice and crispy on the outside. You can baste it with its juices about every 30-45 minutes during cooking time.

The KEY and most important part of this whole process is that, when your turkey is done, take it out of the oven, cover it and let it sit, untouched for about 25-30 minutes. This will ensure that all of the juices have time to properly distribute after cooking and will guarantee a very juicy and moist turkey.

This is the only picture I had left of the turkey after I had starting cutting it up, but you can see the bits of herbs baked into the meat.

We have a lot of friends/family from England, and across the pond they have a little thing called Bisto Gravy Granules. The first time I ever had this gravy I fell in love. Hard. It’s absolutely the best gravy ever. I use the aahh! Bisto Favourite in the bright red container. On Thanksgiving, I actually use the drippings from the turkey, instead of adding water, to make the gravy and it is the BEST ever. If you have never tried it, you definitely need to. I am sure you will be as big a fan as our family is. **Bisto is not gluten free

Posted in Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Dips and Spreads, Gluten-Free, Recipes | Leave a comment

Easy Fruit Pie

I have been making this pie for years. I got the recipe from a company cookbook of a place my mom used to work for years ago. The original recipe just calls for peaches, but, if I have other fruit I like to throw it in there. This recipe is very easy to make and doesn’t take a lot of ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your pantry/fridge. This is great if you are having a dinner party or if you need a dessert to take with you to a party. It is also great to make it for yourself and eat it out of the pie pan, right after it comes out of the oven! This one never lasts more than a day around here, everyone loves it.

Easy Fruit Pie

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar (you can reduce the amount of sugar, I rarely use a full cup)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ½ stick butter
  • about 20 oz of fruit, you can use fresh, frozen (thawed), or canned (drained). I always use peaches, then whatever else I happen to have on hand. Blueberries and raspberries are my personal favorite to go with the peaches.
  • frozen pre-made pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange all of the fruit in the unbaked pie shell. Mix together remaining ingredients until mixture is light and fluffy.

I like to use this trusty vintage hand mixer. I got this from my mother-in-law 17 years ago, when my husband and I first moved in our house together. I am guessing it is a late 70’s early 80’s model. It still works like a charm though, so I can’t get rid of it! I am sure that no small appliances you can buy today would ever last as long as these older models.

Once you get this all mixed up, you will spread this mixture over the fruit.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

You can let this cool completely and then serve, or serve warm. It goes great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The top of the pie gets this lovely crunchy crispy topping, but the inside stays all fruity and gooey…it’s like a little piece of heaven.

When you take out a piece to serve, it never really looks that pretty because the whole thing just falls apart, but it won’t matter what it looks like once you taste it!




Posted in Dessert, Ice Cream, Recipes, Sides, Snacks, Vegetarian | 3 Comments

Creamy Crab Dip

It must be capital C for Creamy week here are OMGG. I just realized that this is the third recipe in a row that started with that word. It is probably because I live most of my life stuck in repeat mode. Kind of like a broken record, only when the music isn’t so great. Until you have children, you would never really believe that you could repeat the same exact phrase 1,674,392 times in only one day. Seriously. By 4 o’clock every afternoon my brain is fried. Like mushy peas. This is probably why I cook so much. Being in the kitchen makes me feel like a real person, unless I am doing the dishes for the 9,000th time, and then, of course, I just feel like Cinderella before the fairy godmother comes to the rescue.

I feel like being in the kitchen I can really be myself and be creative. Even though I have to fit in the things that everyone here agrees on to eat, I still get to throw things together and make it a masterpiece of my own. It is very rewarding and makes me feel like I am more than just a wife, mom, teacher, house cleaner, snotty nose wiper and at-your-beck-and-call-girl. In my own mind, when it is working properly, I like to think of myself as the most extraordinary chef in the world.

That is, until that day came a few weeks ago (my facebook followers will remember) where I had made this amazing spaghetti/bolognese sauce. Grass fed beef and organic Italian sausage, 5 herbs picked from my garden, crushed tomatoes, the whole 9 yards. It smelled so amazing and I was STARVING. I had grabbed the skillet, just like I always do, but it was much hotter than normal and as I was swinging it around to the counter, I got burned, lost control of the pan, then watched as it fell to the floor. It was like slow motion and there was nothing I could do about it. It hit my foot, sauce burned me from the knee down and went ALL over my kitchen. I mean everywhere. It was like I decided that I wanted to redecorate my kitchen in organic red sauce. I was in pain and mostly completely devastated that I just ruined the ENTIRE dinner. There was no hope of saving any of it. I just went to the bathroom and sat and cried my eyes out while I rubbed aloe on my leg and foot. It was awful. But, thankfully, the good fairies, aka my mom and husband, came to the rescue and cleaned up the mess. With the shop vac…

And then I ordered pizza.

That took that whole feeling like the most extraordinary chef in the world thing down about 20 notches. Sigh…

I was really craving this dip a couple of months ago, so I just grabbed a few things I thought would be good together and mixed them all up. This is what I came up with. You could also add in some Worcestershire sauce if you wanted to to kick up the flavor. Lee and Perrins is gluten free. This dip is very simple to make and requires very little effort.

** This recipe is Gluten Free. I used Louisiana hot sauce because it is GF, as is the Old Bay seasoning.

Creamy Crab Dip

  • 8 ounces crab meat, chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces cheddar jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced thin
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper, paprika, Old Bay seasoning
  • couple dashes of hot sauce, Louisiana

Mix everything together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Put into an oven safe dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, celery or bread.

Posted in Appetizers, Cheese, Dips and Spreads, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Seafood, Sides, Snacks, Toppings | 2 Comments

Creamy Lemon Basil Salad Dressing

Back in July my husband took me to dinner for my birthday. He surprised me and took me to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. He had a table in the back room reserved just for us! It was pretty awesome. I don’t really know what was better though, the food or the time alone to converse with no interruptions. Rarely do we ever get to go on date night, that was the last time we went, actually. We only have date night maybe once every 5 months or so, if that. But, that is one reason why we built the Back Yard Bar out on our back deck earlier this year. It’s like being able to go out to a bar and throw some darts, but we don’t have to pay a babysitter and spend a ridiculous amount of money at the same time. Plus, the food and the drinks are always better out there!

I am planning to post some pictures of the BYB soon, along with a whole new section of the blog that will showcase bar food. It seems that everything that I make for dinner, my husband is able to transform into some amazing bar food. He takes what I make, puts his own twist on it, then brings it out for us and our friends to try. There have been so many amazing concoctions come out of my kitchen after midnight on the weekends! These nachos he whipped up from some leftover Pulled Pork. To the chips he added, pulled pork, cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese, sliced jalapenos, pickled peppers, and a tiny drizzle of barbeque sauce.

Anyway….back to this easy salad dressing. We ordered the Ruth’s Chop Salad for our appetizer and it was the lightest, most refreshing salad. I could not stop eating it. I asked the waiter what the dressing was because I wanted to try and recreate it at home. They build the salad in a tall metal cylinder so that when it comes to your table is is completely round and tall and just looks beautiful.

I just checked the website and these are the ingredients in their salad: julienne iceberg lettuce, spinach and radicchio, topped with julienne red onion, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, blue cheese, dressing and crispy onions.

Since it was summer, and I had tons of basil in the garden, I just went out and picked off a handful. I grabbed a few ingredients out of the fridge and this is what I came up with. It tastes very similar to the restaurants version. It is such a great dressing.

In these pictures I just used an organic salad mix, 50/50 with baby spinach, red onions and hard boiled eggs. I plan to make it again soon with all of the ingredients listed in the Ruth’s Chris recipe.

** This recipe is Gluten Free

Lemon Basil Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • juice of one large lemon
  • handful of basil, julienne and then chop (you can use as much or as little as you like)
  • dash of salt

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk until  well blended. Serve over salad.

For a light Saturday lunch, I made this salad with these Fried Shrimp. Delicious!

Posted in Dinner, Dips and Spreads, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Salad, Sauces, Sides, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Creamy Lemon Caper Chicken

There are only a few things I make with chicken where I keep the whole chicken breast intact. For whatever reason, none of us really like eating a full chicken breast. We would prefer to just have it chopped up or shredded in whatever we are eating. This is one of those dishes that you can easily use a full breast on top of the pasta and drizzle the sauce over, or you can chop it up like this and mix it in with the pasta when you serve it. I like it all chopped up and mixed in, that way all the bits of chicken are covered in all this delicious sauce.

This is similar to a chicken piccata, but typically, with that dish you would bread your chicken before cooking. You could make this dish using the same recipe and substitute the chicken for some veal or pork if you wanted to. You can also switch out the egg noodles for another kind of pasta if you like, I just think they blend very well with the dish.

This recipe is another family favorite, and if I do not make it often enough, I get requests for it. There is something about the way all of these flavors blend together that just makes it perfect. Of course, since it has heavy cream and wine in it, it has to be good!

** For the gluten free version, just substitute a gluten free pasta and make sure your wine is GF. You can also use this easy to find GF cooking wine.

Creamy Lemon Caper Chicken

  • 1 pound of chicken breasts
  • paprika, salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 12-14 ounces of egg noodles

For the sauce:

  • splash of white wine, about a 1/4 of a cup if your measuring (I use Moscato)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 stick of real butter
  • 2 heaping tablespoons capers with juice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream (I adjust this according to how many noodles I use)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: sauteed mushrooms

Prepare your egg noodles according to package directions. When they are finished, drain them and set aside.

Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, then sprinkle them generously with salt, pepper and paprika.Heat up a pan with oil in it over medium heat. Depending on how thick the chicken breast is, you will want to cook them about 3-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. When chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan and cover it with foil.

You can see all the lovely bits on the bottom of the pan here with such a nice color from the paprika. When you remove the chicken from this pan, turn up the heat to medium high, and add a splash of white wine into the pan to loosen up the caramelized juices at the bottom of the pan. Give it about a minute or so for the wine to cook down just a touch.

Add the butter, and after it melts, add the shallots and capers, along with salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes I shake in a little more paprika, just to liven up the color. Cook until the shallots are translucent, about a minute or so.  Add the cream and lemon juice and cook for another 2-3 minutes to allow the cream to thicken up, whisking/stirring constantly.

While you are waiting for the sauce, you can cut up your chicken into bite size pieces. Once the sauce is finished, remove it from heat and toss in the noodles, chicken and fresh parsley. Stir until everything is well blended together. Serve with your favorite vegetable and bread.

Sauteed mushrooms are a great extra topping for this dish.

Posted in Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Pasta Dishes, Recipes, Sauces | 1 Comment

Chicken Noodle Soup

My kids were sick with a cold all last week and passed it right along to my husband and I. We have been battling it the whole weekend and have felt terrible. We decided last night that I needed to make some chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight. Something about this kind of soup really does make your body feel better. That, and eating a ton of this pickled garlic, they really do a body good.

Some recipes I make I would never change a thing. Others, I think can use a few tweaks here and there to make them better and improve on the quality or the flavor of the dish. I have been making chicken noodle soup for a long, long time. I always make it the same way, every time. I use only boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cook them in a pan, in a little butter and olive oil. Then I shred them and add them back into the soup when the noodles are almost done. I also use wide egg noodles every time. I have always gotten a lot of great comments on my soup and everyone here seems to love it. However, this time I decided I was going to try using a whole chicken and also try some of the homemade, frozen egg noodles/dumplings you can buy in the store, instead of the bag of dried pasta I normally use.

My mom had to run some errands today, and since I felt like death warmed over, she stopped in at the grocery for me. She found these in the frozen section for me to use. At first, I wasn’t sure how these were going to work, but they turned out to give a really great dimension and flavor to the soup that we loved.

I got to looking at the package and in the top left corner, it said, “Yes to dumplings, no to drugs!” I cracked up.

I then proceed to make the very best pot of chicken noodle soup I have ever made. This package of dumplings are really just like very flat egg noodles, but they are very large. I cut them in half just so they wouldn’t be so long, but were still very wide.

I think the next time I would also cut them in half down the center. They said that they needed to cook 30-35 minutes, but I found 25 minutes was perfect.

If you cannot find these dumplings, or something similar in the freezer section of your grocery, you can absolutely use the regular wide egg noodles in the dry pasta section. You will add them in at the same time as these in the recipe, but cook them for the time suggested on the package.

**For the gluten free version, just substitute a GF egg noodle or dumpling.

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 1 whole chicken, cut up (I purchased one pre-cut)
  • 12 teaspoons of Chicken Better Than Bouillon
  • 15 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups carrots, sliced
  • 4 cups celery, sliced
  • 4 cups sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 packages frozen dumpling noodles (about 16-18 ounces)

In a large stock/soup pot, over medium heat, add your cut up chicken and cover with about 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and boil for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and place chicken in a large bowl to cool.

Transfer the remaining broth to another bowl and set aside.

Place your stock/soup pot back on the stove, over medium heat, add in the butter, garlic and ground pepper. I normally add salt to everything, but in this case, I thought the broth added enough saltiness. Don’t add any in until towards the end, after you have tasted it.

When the butter has melted and the garlic just begins to darken, add in all of the veggies to the pot.

I cooked these for about 4.5 minutes, stirring them up every minute so that they all cooked down evenly.

To the broth you set aside, your going to add in your Better Than Bouillon, and whisk until completely blended together. Then add in another 5 cups of water so that you have a total of about 15 cups of water/broth. Add all of this liquid to the pot with the veggies and bring to a boil.

While your waiting on your broth to boil, remove all of the meat from the chicken (discard skin and bones) and shred it up with two forks.

Once the broth is at a full rolling boil, add in your dumplings (or dried egg noodles) and stir gently until they are all combined in the broth, cover the pan. If you are using the frozen dumplings, let them boil for about 15 minutes, stirring gently every five minutes so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. At 15 minutes, add the chicken back into the pan, cover again and let them cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring about halfway through.

Serve with crackers or some warm, crusty bread.



Posted in Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Lunch, Pasta Dishes, Recipes, Soup | Leave a comment

Swedish Meatballs with Cream Sauce

I don’t know what it is about this dish, but it is absolutely delicious. I have made several different types of homemade meatballs in the past, but these with the cream sauce are by far my favorite. These are like a little piece of heaven.

When I first started making these meatballs I would always buy the prepackaged Swedish meatball sauce mix from IKEA, because it was easy and it was good. Then, one night I had all the meatballs made and ready to cook and realized that I was out of the sauce packets. First I freaked out and completely panicked, then I pulled myself together and realized that if I just put my mind to it, I could make up my own sauce. I make a sauce similar to what I wanted that I serve over my macadamia encrusted chicken, so I just started with that. I have to say, there is just something about this sauce, with the touch of soy sauce added to a beef stock and heavy cream, it is just amazing.

I know I have mentioned this before, but over the last two years we have almost completely given up going out to eat. First of all, it can put a real strain on your budget, and you can’t ever really be sure what you are getting when you don’t cook it yourself. When we went out to eat a lot, we usually went to the same places and ordered the same things off the menu at each place. Every so often, as I get a craving for one of those items, I just try to figure out how I can recreate it and make it at home.

If you have any suggestions for meals you have eaten out that you would like to make yourself at home, let me know and we can try to figure it out. Or, if you have something that you love and have already figured out how to make at home, I would love to hear about it.

This recipe will make between 36-40 meatballs using a medium size scooper. If you don’t need that many you can easily half the recipe or just make them all and then freeze what you don’t eat right away. Or, the third option is to use the leftovers to create some new masterpieces, like my husband did. These options are at the end of the recipes.

**This recipe can be gluten free if you use a gluten free soy sauce and flour. Since Panko is not gluten free, you can substitute by using Rice Chex cereal. Just put as much of the cereal as you need in a Ziploc baggie, the smash it with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer. Voila! Gluten free Panko substitute.

Swedish Meatballs with Cream Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • ½ – ¾ cup panko bread crumbs (or substitute)
  • 1 medium potato
  • heavy cream
  • 4-5 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Scrub a medium size potato, peel it and slice it up. Put it in a small saucepan and just cover it with water. Boil it over medium heat until it is soft enough to mash. Drain off the water, put it in a bowl and mash it up, if you need to, you can add a touch of heavy cream to it to get it the right consistency of mashed potato. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl add in all of your ingredients, then combine the mixture well with your hands, until it is completely mixed up and good consistency for meatballs.  Using a medium size scooper scoop out mixture and roll into balls with your hands. Set aside

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt butter and oil. When pan is hot and butter is bubbling, add all the meatballs to the pan. You will cook them 5 minutes on one side and then flip them all over and cook them 5 minutes on the other side.

Turn the heat down to medium and put a lid on your pan. This will allow them to steam cook for the remaining time. Cook them, covered, for an additional 8 minutes, or until they are cooked through.  Cooking them this way gives you a nice crispy outer coating, with a nice moist center.

Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1.5 teaspoons beef Better Than Bouillon, mixed with 1 cup water (you can substitute with 1 cup of beef stock, but the BTB is much better)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons white or gluten free flour
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine cream, beef stock and soy sauce into a pourable mixing cup. In a medium size saucepan, over medium heat, add your butter, salt and pepper. Once butter is melted, add in your flour. Mix this up well with a whisk, until you have created a roux.

Slowly pour in the liquid mixture, whisking continuously until the liquid is combined and you have a smooth creamy consistency.

I serve these meatballs with egg noodles. Just cook the noodles according to package directions, then add the meatballs and the sauce over them.

Since we always have leftover meatballs, we are always coming up with creative ways to use them up. These are two of our favorite ways.

The first is making them into mini-sandwiches. You take slices of a French bread loaf, butter them, put them in the toaster oven and toast them. To one slice of bread, add a couple of meatballs and some sauce, then top with the other piece of bread.

These are seriously good. Really.

This morning we had the leftovers for breakfast. We toasted some bread and topped them with meatballs and sauce and served that with a side of egg over-medium. YUM!

Posted in Beef, Dinner, Dips and Spreads, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Pork, Potatoes, Recipes, Sauces | 6 Comments

Pickled Garlic

This is one of those things that your either going to love or hate. It’s pickled garlic.

The first time I ever had this was 5 years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I craved weird things like these pickles, and pickled garlic. I bought this one certain brand at the Cracker Barrel and they were delicious. I got the whole family hooked on them, which was a great thing, considering the health benefits of eating garlic.

We ate so many of these that I had to buy three jars at a time. They were about $5.00 per jar for a small jar, which is just crazy expensive.

After awhile, we would not find them at Cracker Barrel anymore, in fact, we couldn’t find them anywhere. My friend, Vicki, found some online and bought them, but when we tasted them, they were just terrible. She figured out that the reason why we loved the other brand so much was because of the dill they contained. It seems that none of the other brands we could find had dill.

Earlier this year I tried my hand at making pickled peppers, and it was a total success. In fact, if you haven’t tried them yet, you need to make them. We put them on everything from pulled pork sandwiches to chili. They are amazing and you can make them with any kind of hot/sweet peppers you prefer. A couple of weeks ago I decided that if I could pull off the peppers, I could at least try to pull off the garlic.

I purchased 6 big bulbs, about a pound and a half, of garlic at the grocery and some fresh dill. As I was leaving the produce aisle I noticed a big jar of fresh, peeled garlic cloves. I thought to myself, “Self, you should probably just buy those and save yourself the hassle of peeling all those by hand.” When I got home, I wished I would have listened to myself. It took me forever to peel all of it.

This recipe is based off of the recipe I used for the pickled peppers. It is very easy to make and once you get the garlic peeled, it goes really quick! It cost me less than $3.00 to make this entire jar.

**Gluten Free and Vegetarian

Pickled Garlic

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups white vinegar

Separate and peel all the cloves of garlic, like so:

Lay out your fresh dill and chop up about 2 tablespoons.

In a medium size saucepan, add in your vinegar, water, salt, sugar and dill.

Bring this to a boil over medium heat. Once you have a rolling boil, add in all the garlic.

Set a timer and let this boil, uncovered, for exactly 4 minutes. This is enough time to soften it up slightly, but leave it crunchy.

Remove from heat and pour into a glass jar. I usually let it sit on the counter for about an hour and then keep it stored in the refrigerator.

Posted in Appetizers, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Sides, Snacks, Vegetables, Vegetarian | 8 Comments

Chicken, Roast Pear, Pecan and Blue Cheese Mixed Greens Salad

I was in the grocery this weekend and saw that pears were back in season. As soon as I saw them, I remembered this salad that I had made months ago. Ooh, la, la, it’s amazing.

I love salads, in fact, I have posted some on here that I really love, such as this Southwest Chop Salad, Spinach, Blue Cheese and Pecan and this Fruit and Poppy Seed version that is perfect for summer. When I thought about this one with the roasted pears over the weekend, I couldn’t believe that I had never posted it on here.

This salad is very filling, but not heavy. It is a great medley of flavors that truly blend perfectly together. It takes a little bit of work making the pears and the pecan crunch, but it is so worth it. In fact, you could actually cook up the chicken, pears and pecans ahead of time and then just put the salad together when you are ready to serve it.

**This recipe is Gluten Free as long as you use GF oatmeal

Chicken, Roast Pear, Pecan and Blue Cheese Mixed Greens Salad

  • 4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I use a raw organic orange blossom honey)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, core and slice your pears.

Place the pears in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish and then drizzle with the oil and honey. Use a spatula to mix the pears up until they are all well coated. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until pears have started to brown. I usually turn them once about half way through.

Once the pears have cooled, chop them all up and set them aside.

For the candied pecans:

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oats

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine butter and brown sugar. When the butter and sugar have melted together, add in the pecans and oats. Mix well so that everything is coated, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly until pecans have caramelized. Make sure you watch this the whole time your cooking it, so that the mixture doesn’t burn. Set aside to cool.

For the salad:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • mixed greens with spinach
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • balsamic vinaigrette

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of almond oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add in the chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and chop into bite size pieces.

Now you are just going to assemble the salad. Put in your lettuce in the bowl first and then add the blue cheese. I love this blue cheese I buy at Whole Foods, it is so creamy and good.

Then just layer your chicken, pears and pecans on top and drizzle on a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette.

Posted in Chicken Dishes, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Salad | 1 Comment

Summer’s Three Bean Chili

Yesterday, I made my first pot of this chili this fall season. It turned out so delicious. I thought that I already had this recipe on here, so I didn’t take pictures of the process like I normally do, then today I realized that I had never added it to the blog.

Years ago I got this recipe from one of my longtime and dearest friends Summer B. She made this all the time and always raved about how delicious it was. She told me it was so easy that I really needed to try it. She was right, it is very easy to put together and doesn’t take very long for the prep or the cook time. The results are always consistent and the taste is delicious.

I have to give a little shout out to my dear friend and congratulate her on her recent wedding. She is one of the blessed ones that stumbled upon love when she least expected it and it changed her life for the better. Congratulations Summer and Robert, I love you guys and I am so happy for you both!

I have found that depending on what region your from in the US, your toppings for chili will be different. Here in the south, most people I have met top theirs with sour cream and shredded cheddar or jack cheese. I like mine that way and I also like it plain with crackers,  but you can also take it a step further on the flavor ladder and use some sliced green onions and jalapenos.

**This recipe is Gluten free – just be sure to check the chili beans you use.

Summer’s Three Bean Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef (a 90/10 blend is good, it has just enough fat for flavor but no need to drain it once it’s cooked)
  • 2 cans red beans, drained
  • 2 cans light or dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cans chili beans, do not drain (I use one large can of Bush’s mild chili beans because they are gluten free)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, don’t drain (I use petite diced)
  • 1 whole medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, chili powder
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (as always, I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat up a large stock/soup pot over medium heat and add in olive oil, salt, pepper and chili powder. Then add in your minced garlic and stir it around for about a minute. Next, add in your chopped onion and green pepper and top with a little more salt, pepper and chili powder. Just season it up according to your taste. Let the veggies cook down for about 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally so they all get a turn in the heat.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown up the 2 pounds of ground beef. I generously season the beef with salt, pepper and chili powder as I brown it. Drain it if you need to, once cooked. Set skillet aside.

To the stock pot, add the chili beans, red beans and kidney beans and diced tomatoes, then give it a good stir to mix in all the veggies. Then add in your ground beef and stir again, to ensure everything is well blended.

Depending on how thick you like your chili will depend on how much chicken broth you will use. I ended up using about a cup and a half this time. You can start with one cup and then stir it again to see what you think, then add more if necessary. This is where you want to take a taste and see if you need to add more chili powder or salt and pepper. I usually season the veggies and meat enough that I do not need to add in any extra once it is all mixed together.

Once everything comes back up to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about an hour. Remember to stir it occasionally so that the ingredients in the bottom don’t get burned.

Enjoy it with crackers, or top with whatever tickles your fancy!

Posted in Beef, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes | 5 Comments