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I think this summer I’m officially a fresh, made from scratch pickle convert. While I will never let a pickle be lonely on a plate and will do my best to eat all of the pickles, at home I’ll be making my own from here on out. A couple of weeks ago I posted these easy Bread and Butter Pickles and today I’ve got an even easier recipe for Dill Pickles. While I’ll be on the hunt for a great dill pickle recipe that I will be able to can to have on hand in the winter months, these refrigerator pickles hit the spot and just seem that much fresher. They have a wonderful crisp bite and there is something to be said about opening a jar and looking into the clear liquid and seeing the still beautiful dill. I like pretty food and had never thought of pickles that way before. Even before you take a bite you know that they will be refreshing! I hadn’t heard of refrigerator pickles until some of you asked for a good recipe on Facebook and I am so thankful to those that did. I had a lot of fun sampling out a few recipes and this one was the winner!

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Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Ingredients

  • 1 1/5 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp dill seeds
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 lbs cucumbers, sliced or cut into spears
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

In a large, heat proof measuring cup combine the first seven ingredients, up to the hot water and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow brine to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, mix cucumbers, fresh dill, and garlic. Add cooled brine and toss cucumbers. Place a small plate over cucumbers to keep submerged and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate over night or until cooled, stirring once or twice. Since I like my cucumbers in jars I placed cucumbers, dill etc. into jars and then poured the brine directly into the jars, making sure a fair amount of all ingredients went into each jar.

Pickles will remain fresh for up to one week in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container.

Yields 2 pints

Source: Food & Wine ~ Bobby Flay

 

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I was recently asked to create a recipe using Nature Valley™ Protein Crunchy Oats n’ Honey Granola and my mind started going in a bunch of different directions. I wanted to show that granola doesn’t always have to go in a snack bar, cookie, or atop yogurt. I also wanted to have fun with it. Finally, it hit me. Ice cream! It’s no surprise that we love ice cream. The ice cream maker is always in the freezer ready to go and I try to keep cream in the refrigerator just in case we want to whip up a batch. I had a few different thoughts of what ingredients I wanted to use, but in the end the final concept and first batch created some of the best ice cream I’ve made.

My husband gave me the side-eye when I told him I wanted to add granola to the ice cream. He was afraid that I had lost my mind and that the granola would either be too crunchy or that it would get soggy after a few days. He was the first to admit that the ice cream was delicious, with just the right amount of crunch. There is the perfect hint of vanilla and cinnamon and the honey and chocolate add the right amount of sweetness. Besides the great taste, by adding one full cup of granola, I added 20 grams of protein into the ice cream. So, it’s kind of good for you! Right?

I love creating new and fun dishes like this and I love when they turn out to be winners with my toughest critics. Check out more Nature Valley™ recipes here.

1/2 cup Nature Valley™ Protein Granola provides 10 grams of protein and 22-26 grams of whole grain, at least 48 grams of whole grain recommended daily.

This post was sponsored by Nature Valley™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Nature Valley™ Protein Granola, all opinions are my own.

Honey Granola and Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

Ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light in color and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually, pour in sugar and continue whisking until well blended. Add cream, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir until combined.

Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Add granola in the last minutes before ice cream has finished processing. Pour ice cream into an air-tight container a few scoops at a time. Drizzle about a tablespoon of chocolate sauce in and fold into ice cream. Repeat until ice cream and chocolate sauce is used. Freeze until desired consistency is reached.

Yield 1 quart

Source: The Way to His Heart

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Early on this spring I had deemed this the “Year of the Pickles.” I was going to concentrate on cucumbers in my garden rather than tomatoes. Tomatoes have been giving me a hard time lately with weather conditions and pests and cucumbers are so easy to grow. Plus, everyone in the house eats them so there are never too many. We also eat a lot of pickles in the house. Whether it be adorning a great sandwich or just a quick snack out of the fridge, we love pickles. You’ll often find three jars in my refrigerator, not even counting relish!

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Finally, a use for my fruit punch bowl!

As with most things, I started to think about the cost and the health benefits of canning our own. Frankly, the cost isn’t too bad if you use coupons, but the health benefits are more than enough reason to start making your own if you can. We have enough pickles for the year and only planted three cucumber plants. We also have used plenty of cucumbers as a dinner side or to go with salads. The biggest major benefit is the sodium factor. Canning your own you can really adjust your sodium to your own liking. This recipe from Cooking Light is about half the sodium of store-bought. As always, you are also avoiding the preservatives and the best part, it’s fun to make them!

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It’s really easy if you’ve canned before and if you haven’t you’ll get the knack quickly. It’s so much fun growing them, harvesting, slicing, and canning them.The two week wait was a little brutal since we were eager to taste them, but they were well worth the wait. My husband wasn’t too keen on pickling one evening after work, because I make him do the actual canning because I am a wimp and an accident waiting to happen, but when he took a bite he was glad we went through the process. Just opening the jar my mouth started watering.

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Bread & Butter Pickles

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly vertically sliced yellow onion
  • 5 lbs pickling cucumbers (thin skinned), cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 4 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric

Combine water and salt in a large container and stir. Add onion and cucumber and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. Drain brine and rinse with cold water.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the cucumber mixture and bring to almost a boil. Using a slotted spoon, remove the hot cucumber mixture and divide into 6 (1-pint) hot, sterilized jars. Divide the hot vinegar mixture among the jars, filling to 1/2 inch from the top.

Remove air bubbles and wipe jar rims. Cover with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars from water bath. Cool completely, checking for a proper seal.

For best flavor, allow 2 weeks before eating. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Nutritional Information

Serves 24 ~ serving size about 1/3 cup

Per serving: 42 Calories, 0.1 g, 1 g Protein, 11 g Carbohydrate, 1 g Fiber, 0 mg Cholesterol, 0 mg Iron, 194 mg Sodium, 17 mg Calcium

Source: Cooking Light August 2014, adapted from The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm

 

Happy Birthday to Me & The Bouqs Review

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Another birthday has passed by and a new year lies ahead of me. I’m not sure if it’s age and wisdom or the fact that I am a mom of two children now and I’ve learned to “Let it Go,” but this year my birthday was about relaxation. True relaxation. No grand plans of relaxing or fun plans for me or the family that involve car rides, over-packed diaper bags, or lines. I even decided to take a step back and grant my daughter’s wish of making my cake. That’s right, I took a backseat and let my husband and daughter make my cake!

Because you guys are awesome, you asked how I was going to spend my birthday and more importantly what I’d be eating. While I created the menu of my wishes, I played no part in preparing anything and it.was.GREAT! In the morning my daughter woke me up with cards and pictures and beautiful paper flowers that she and my mother had made last month and she was able to keep secret until now. Then, I was served breakfast in bed! We went to church to say good by to our reverend who was retiring and hit the candy shop afterwards. I enjoyed lazy afternoon on the hammock and then we hit the marina for some lobsters, steamers, fresh corn on the cob and a delicious frozen pudding cake! There were no pictures taken, I set that rule up right away. No food pictures! I do promise that I will be re-creating that cake and posting it the next opportunity I have because it was easy, fun to make, and delicious!

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To make my birthday even more beautiful, The Bouqs.com sent me a gorgeous bouq of roses that my husband and daughter picked out. The bouq I received was the brightly colored and gorgeous Confetti. When The Bouqs first reached out to me I headed towards their website and did a little research. What were some of the things I liked? Well, what you see is what you get. There are no hidden fees. The price of the bouq includes the price of shipping. What I loved was that their flowers are sustainable, eco-friendly, and grown right on the side of a volcano! There is no wheeling or dealing here, the ordering process was very simple and the flowers I received were gorgeous. The bouqs they offer aren’t the run of the mill kind either. The arrangements are exactly what you want, but can never find unless you go directly to a florist. The flowers arrive just after being selected for your bouquet and get more beautiful as the days go on. These pictures were taken on day 5 and they continue to open up and look gorgeous. The Bouq team even gave me some tips after I tweeted my initial picture upon receiving them! I will admit that one stem was slightly bent upon receiving, but besides cutting them down a little shorter to match, there is no telling. Even that stem has bloomed and looks gorgeous!

So, if you want to send someone you love or care about flowers, go directly to The Bouqs.com and check them out. I don’t think there is a chance you could be disappointed and for every two friends you refer you’ll even get a free bouq and sign up for their emails and you’ll receive some deals. Honestly though, I was very surprised to see the prices after viewing the offered bouqs. I’m familiar with ordering flowers back in my hospitality days and these prices are very, very good!

So, to wrap my lengthy non-recipe post up (because I hope you are still reading!) I had the perfect day filled with my wonderful family, delicious food, and beautiful flowers (both the paper and real variety!) I feel rested and renewed and hopefully that will show in posts to follow ;)


The Bouqs - Premium Farm Direct Flowers

The Bouqs.com provided me with a free bouq, but as always the opinions expressed here are solely my own.