Monday, August 22, 2011

Freezer Pickles

This is the season for an abundance of cucumbers in my garden. We have been eating these with tomatoes so many meals, and I was looking for an easy pickle recipe that could use a lot of them at once without getting out the canner and heating up the kitchen. Unfortunately, the extreme heat during July adversely affected my pickle cucumbers, causing the plants to die out before I was able to get more than a few off the plant. I had tried a couple long cucumber varieties, but was disappointed to find that they would grow much larger around on one end, having a larger seed section. Anyways, since I have so many of these larger cucumbers, I decided to try using them in the pickle recipe.

My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me, and I did not see how they would have flavor and be crunchy. However, they turned out very well- crunchy with a nice slightly tangy/sweet flavor, resembling the bread and butter pickles. The onions look like they would still be raw but they have a crunch with the flavor of the pickle juice- nothing like a raw onion. In addition, I did not add in the green peppers but added some mustard seed to the mixture. After storing these in the refrigerator and stirring them everyday for 4 days, you can put them into freezer containers, or I have just kept some in the fridge and they are still great indefinitely. I also used a crinkle cutter blade and even removed some of the seeds on some of the larger cucumbers and simply cut them into some chunks.


7 cups sliced cucumbers
1 cup onions, sliced (may use sweet or cooking onions)
1 cup green peppers, sliced (optional)
      Place the following ingredients in a large 4-5 quart bowl with a lid: 
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp mustard seed (may use less, optional)
       Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil about a minute or until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring well. Cool it down somewhat. (The recipe says cool completely, but I poured it over while still warm.) Pour syrup over the cucumber mixture and stir around. (The cucumbers will be higher than the liquid.)  Put in the refrigerator.
     Once a day, remove from the refrigerator and stir cucumbers, bringing the cucumber slices on top to the bottom. You will note that the cucumbers will add to the liquid and eventually the liquid will cover the cucumber mixture. On the fourth or fifth day, you may put them in freezer containers and then freeze. When ready to eat them, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw before serving.

The challenge with this recipe will be having enough pickles left at the end of the 4 or 5 days to actually freeze- if you can resist nibbling along the way!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad has been in my family for a long time. I am not really sure where it originally came from, but it may have been from a church cookbook my mom has that includes many Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. This salad has a dressing that is typical of the Amish/Mennonite salads with a creamy and mildly sweet/sour flavor. I have seen and tasted many variations of this salad and many are equally tasty. This picture shows it with only the ingredients listed on the recipe I have. However, I have seen it made with sunflower seeds or other types of dried fruit.

Many people, especially children, do not enjoy the flavor of raw broccoli. This salad is a great way to get some people to eat vitamin-rich broccoli with the added benefit of some protein from the peanuts. My children like this better than plain raw broccoli, and it is a nice dish for potluck dinners.

Ingredients:                                                        Serves: approx. 8
  • 1 very large or about 3 small heads of broccoli, rinsed and chopped, removing the thick and hard stem first. (I use the smaller stem parts that do not have such thick-skinned and chop them small.)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
Mix above ingredients together.

To make dressing, mix the following together:
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar or zylitol or other granulated sweetener
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar (I have used either white wine or apple cider vinegar with good results)
Combine the dressing with the other ingredients and then allow to marinate in the refrigerator for several hours. This salad lasts well for some time.

** Another great variation is to use red onions, dried sweetened cranberries and chopped cauliflower and leave out the nuts and raisins.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mexican Bean Salad

I do not know how authentic Mexican this dish is, but it combines some of the flavors of mexican food, including chili powder, cumin, lime and lemon juice, as well as cilantro. I was introduced to this dish by my sister-in-law earlier this summer and instantly fell in love with it. It is great for those hot picnics when you do not want to worry about salads spoiling. Plus, it is great made up a couple days ahead, if needed.

This recipe originally was taken from submitted by Karen Castle on I added some yellow pepper, a little extra lemon juice, as well as extra cilantro, chili powder and cumin. This is not a "hot" or very spicy salad- although you could add extra green pepper sauce/hot sauce and adjust the spices as desired. It really is a nice mix of flavors that will appeal to most people who enjoy a little flavor.

Serves about 8


  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1. In a large bowl, combine beans, bell peppers, frozen corn, and red onion. 
2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice, sugar, salt, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and black pepper. Season to taste with hot sauce and chili powder.
    3. Pour olive oil dressing over vegetables; mix well. Chill thoroughly, and serve cold.

    Optional- A previous time I made this recipe, I added cooked ditalini pasta, which soaked up some of the dressing and added great texture and flavor, as well as made the salad go a little further.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Zucchini Pancakes or Fritters

These zucchini fritters are a quick and easy meal and a great way to use up some extra zucchini. We planted just a couple zucchini plants and are hardly able to use it all. Some of the ones that grew larger before I could pick them, I took the seeds out and grated them up. Of course, I love zucchini made into sweet bread/cakes, but sometimes, it is nice to try something different. This is really a simple dinner that my husband grew up eating in the summer when everyone was busy working on the farm. This is mostly zucchini with just enough pancake mix and water to make a batter to hold it together. If you are using the larger zucchinis that have more moisture, you will not need to add much, if any water. My other addition this time, was some grated onion into the batter, as well as some dill. What a nice flavor, especially with a little sour cream!

Feel free to use any type of pancake mix. I just had some Fiber One that I wanted to use up. Later, I plan to start making my own bulk pancake mix.


(This is not an exact recipe- it depends on how much zucchini you have and how much batter you want to make. So mix some up and see if you need to add more of an ingredient.)

2 medium sized zucchini, washed, deseeded and grated
pancake mix
1-2 eggs
1-2 tsp dried dill
1-2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, grated
water, if necessary to make the batter the right consistency.
sour cream, if desired for topping

In a large bowl, mix the grated zucchini, eggs, seasonings and onion. Stir well and gradually mix in enough pancake batter to achieve the proper thickness (enough to hold the zucchini together but not too thick). You may add a little water if necessary. Pour onto a griddle or frying pan that has been coated with a little butter or oil. Cook over medium heat as you would pancakes, flipping when the top begins to bubble.

Serve with tops of pancakes buttered and a little sour cream on top.

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