Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cookie Monday: Amish Sugar Cookies

Last week I was planning to make some kind of chocolate/peanut butter cookie, but I was lazy and did not have all the ingredients I needed. So I looked for a recipe using what I had available. And voila! These sugar cookies.

Because of the combination of butter & oil, and the addition of powdered sugar, these are just really soft and pillowy. They have a light vanilla flavor. Be careful not to overbake them because they brown very quickly. I'm not sure what makes them "Amish," but I don't really care. They were very good and super-easy to make! And I didn't even have to put on pants.


Amish Sugar Cookies
Taste of Home
Originally published as Amish Sugar Cookies in Country Extra July 1990, p45

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour (4-1/2)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

In large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugars. Beat in eggs until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to creamed mixture.

Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Yield: about 5 dozen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Roasted Okra

I'm growing four okra plants on my deck (turns out they're great container plants!), and there's an abundance of okra growing at the farm right now. Let's take a moment to look at the farm.



I've already pickled it once (and I pickled it again with a different recipe, which I'll post soon). I've made it into grilled cheese. I've battered it and frozen it so I can have fried okra all winter long. And the other day I decided to just simply roast it!

Well, that was a terrible idea. Okra is delicious but so easily becomes slimy. Although I'm sure there are people out there who like slimy okra, I am not one of them. I thought roasting it would dry things out a little bit, but I was wrong. This was pretty gross. Tasted good. I ate all of it despite the horrid texture. Next time I'll try grilling it! Or pickling again! Hah.


Roasted Okra
Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

18 fresh okra pods, sliced 1/3 inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons black pepper, or to taste

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Arrange the okra slices in one layer on a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 3 servings

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Last weekend I made a big batch of cookies for a 4 year old's half-birthday (really just an excuse to have a party). She requested chocolate, and so chocolate is what I delivered. I saved half of the batch at home to take in for Cookie Monday, where they were also well-received.


These are really, really great basic chocolate cookies. Rolling them in sugar makes them feel like bakery cookies. It was pretty awesome. I would definitely make these again. I want to try them as a base for ice cream sandwiches, too. Yum!


Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Handmade Charlotte

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, plus more for rollin
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 half sheet pans with parchment paper. Put ½ cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk the flour, cocoa pow­der, bak­ing soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Using a stand­ing mixer, cream the butter and 2 cups sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 min­utes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the flour mix­ture and mix on low until com­pletely combined.

Shape the cookie dough into 24 balls, and roll each ball in the set-aside sugar. Place cook­ies on the pre­pared sheet pans (8 can fit on each) and bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges have set and the cen­ters are puffed and starting to crackle. Remove from the oven and move the pan to a wire rack, letting the cook­ies cool.

Yield: It said 24 balls, but I made about 5 dozen from this recipe. It's going to depend on how big you want the cookies, really.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vegetarian Eggplant Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a wonderful way to use up vegetables and eggs. A nice quick, easy, delicious, dinner. This is so great. It's seasoned so nicely. Not too spicy. I made extra vegetables and reheated them the next day (eggs do not reheat well). I had it with some naan and a little sprinkle of feta. I loved it and plan to make it again.

From the farm: onion, peppers, eggplant, eggs.
From my garden: jalapeno, parsley.


Vegetarian Eggplant Shakshuka
Typical Domestic Babe

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion cut into 1" strips
1 red or green bell pepper, cut into 2" strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small eggplant (or about 2 1/2 cups), cut into 2 inch strips
1 small jalapeno, diced
1 can whole peeled tomatoes (32 oz)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
salt & fresh ground black pepper
3 eggs (3 to 4)
Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish (about 2 tbsp)
Crusty bread or pita if desired

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and saute until it begins to soften & becomes fragrant. Next, add in eggplant, bell pepper & jalapeno and saute until soft (about 7-10 minutes).

Carefully add the canned tomatoes, and the tomato paste to the pan. Stir to combine, gently breaking open the tomatoes with the back of your spoon.

Stir in paprika, cumin, salt & pepper {to taste} and allow the mixture to simmer down and thicken, about 20 minutes.

Once the sauce has thickened, reduce heat to medium low & crack the eggs one at a time directly over your tomato mixture. Make sure to space your eggs out evenly in the pan. Cover with a lid, and allow your eggs to cook in the sauce. Since I like my eggs cooked a little more "over medium", I allow my eggs to cook for around 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, garnish with parsley, and serve with a side of bread or pita.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Homemade Tomato Paste

I'm really behind in posting because I've been making A LOT OF STUFF. I made this homemade tomato paste a couple weeks ago and am just getting around to telling you about it.


So. I've been canning. I even bought a legit canning pot & kit.



While making the Habanero Hot Sauce, I decided to also make some tomato paste out of 5 lbs of roma tomatoes. To do this, I borrowed my friend's tomato press - something I have never used before in my life.


It was a long, tedious process. I halved the recipe because that's how many tomatoes I had to work with. I panicked because when you first put the "pulp" on the pan, it is completely liquid. Just totally liquid. But it cooks down and becomes the tomato paste we all know and love. It genuinely makes me appreciate the tiny 6 ounce cans from the store. So much work goes into it! Needless to say, I burned the shit out of the pan and had to throw it away when I was done. And my kitchen was a mess.


BUT I SUCCEEDED! It didn't make nearly as much as I'd hoped. It half-filled a tiny jelly jar. Whatever. Good enough. I slapped a label on it and stuck in the pantry, along with the hot sauce and all the other stuff I've canned recently.


I wouldn't go through the process of making this again, but I'm glad I did. I learned a lot, I tried something new, and I made good use of an abundance of roma tomatoes.

Homemade Tomato Paste
The Kitchn

10 pounds tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon citric acid

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chop tomatoes into quarters.

Simmer the tomatoes with the olive oil: Combine the chopped tomatoes and olive oil in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the peels begin to detach from the tomato flesh.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill: Push the warm tomatoes through a food mill, sieve or chinois to separate the tomato pulp from the seeds and skins. Stir the sea salt and citric acid into the pulp. Discard or compost the seeds and skins.

Divide the tomato pulp between two large, rimmed baking sheets. You can also use a large roasting pan, but it will take longer to cook down that way.

Bake the tomato pulp until reduced to a paste: Place the baking sheets in the oven. Check the tomatoes every half hour, stirring the paste and switching the position of the baking sheets so that they reduce evenly. Over time, the paste will start to reduce to the point where it doesn't fill the baking sheet any more. At this point, combine the contents of the two pans into and continue to bake.

The paste is done when shiny and brick-colored, and it has reduced by more than half (3 to 4 hours). There shouldn't be any remaining water or moisture separating from the paste at this point. This will take 3 to 4 hours, though exact baking times will depend on the juiciness of your tomatoes.

Divide finished paste into 4-ounce jars, leaving 3/4 inch headspace.

Preserving Option 1 - Process the tomato paste in a hot water bath: Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Preserving Option 2 - Refrigerate or Freeze: If you don't want to process the paste, you can refrigerate or freeze it instead. Scrape finished paste into clean half or quarter pint jars. Top each jar with a layer of olive oil and place in either the refrigerator or the freezer. As long as you keep it well-covered with olive oil and ensure that you only use a very clean spoon to remove it from the jar, it will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks. Frozen, it will keep for up to nine months.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Essential Habanero Hot Sauce

I have a bajillion habaneros growing on my deck, and they're basically impossible to use up because you really only ever need one habanero in a recipe. Being homegrown, they are extra flavorful and spicy. I figured I would use my new canning supplies to make this hot sauce. I made three small jars of it and canned them for personal use and for gifts.

When I pureed the sauce, it would not freaking liquify. It stayed kind of chunky, albeit small chunks, but definitely not like a smooth hot sauce. My friend and I ended up using it like a salsa, dipping chips in it. This was a great idea if you like spicy food. It tasted much better than I expected! This was a great way to use up habaneros if you're looking for ideas.

hot sauce

Make sure you read the instructions for canning on the original post. The ingredients are very specific so you won't get food poisoned, which is obviously important.

hot sauce

Essential Habanero Hot Sauce

1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
10 habanero peppers, seeds and stems removed, chopped

Combine all the ingredients, except for the habaneros, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes or until the carrots are soft.

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain for a smoother sauce.

Pour in sterilized jars and process in a water bath as described above.

Yield: 2 cups

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I got a quart of okra 2 weeks in a row from the farm, and my own okra plant is producing quite a bit, so I am getting creative with okra now. I pickled it a few weeks ago, I've been roasting it and pan searing it with other vegetables, and then I found a grilled cheese recipe.

Basically what you do is make some pan-fried okra and then put that in a grilled cheese sandwich. Super easy and straightforward. It tasted exactly how you'd expect. I enjoyed it. I did add a little bit of cajun seasoning to the breading on the okra, which was a nice choice. This was a fun way to use up some okra.


Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Eats Well With Others

6 tbsp canola oil
2 lb okra, trimmed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
8 oz provolone or mozzarella
8 slices bread (8 to 10)

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the okra and stir to coat with the oil. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the okra is bright green, stirring frequently.

Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the okra and add in the remaining oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the okra is tender and coated in the crispy cornmeal. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Heat oven to 400F.

Sprinkle the cheese on 4 of the bread slices. Top with the okra, another layer of cheese, and a slice of bread. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is crispy.

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cookie Monday: Brown Butter Espresso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I didn't make any cookies last week because work has been so stressful that I knew I wasn't going to have time to pass out cookies. To make up for it this week, I went with a delicious browned-butter chocolate chip cookie with a sprinkle of espresso powder and sea salt. They were very easy to make. I went easy on the sea salt because not everyone is a fan of that, but no one complained. I liked these a lot and would definitely make them again.


Brown Butter Espresso Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Mountain Mama Cooks

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 cup)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more for sprinkling
4 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to foam and turn brown on the bottom of the saucepan. Stir the butter to prevent burning and remove from heat and soon as the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Let cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, espresso powder and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, mix the cooled butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low-speed just until combined. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

At this point you can refrigerate the dough for an hour or so as it makes the cookies spread less but honestly, you don't have to. I've done it both ways with great success!

Drop dough by the heaping tablespoon onto a lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with a bit of seat salt if desired.

Bake the cookies 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 3-5 minutes. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies freeze beautifully or can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days.

Yield: 3 dozen, but I made them smaller and got about 4-5 dozen

Monday, August 10, 2015

Refrigerator Pickled Hot Peppers

I didn't think my backyard garden would be successful, so I kind of went crazy when I planted things and I never really thought about what would happen if everything actually flourished. Which it has. And the lesson I've learned is this: It is possible to have too many peppers and too many tomatoes.

I spend a lot of time canning, freezing, and preserving food. A lot. Like, several days a week after work. It'll be worth it eventually, but right now I am tired.

Anyway, I have a TON of peppers growing. Here's one day's harvest:

I strung up some cayenne peppers to dry (of course more are growing), I've pickled the jalapenos and am working on a few other uses, and you'll see a ton of habanero recipes pretty soon because I've been using them up as well. But I had a bunch of gypsy frying peppers, and then I got even more from the farm, so I decided to pickle them. This recipe didn't involve canning, which was good because I. AM. SO. TIRED. (Canning recipes to come in the next few days.)

I LOVE pickled hot peppers. I like to put them on sandwiches and burgers and more sandwiches. I'm pretty excited to see how these turn out. They have a few more weeks til they're ready. I'll let you know how they turn out.


So pretty!

Refrigerator Pickled Hot Peppers
The Creekside Cook

2 quarts water
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 to 3 pounds hot peppers
3 cloves garlic

Wash 3 quart jars and the lids - set aside.

Measure the water, vinegar and salt into a 3 quart sauce pan, and stir until salt is dissolved. Bring to a simmer.

Wash and dry the peppers, and cut however you like - smaller slices means more will fit into the jars, but they look nice just cut in half the long way.

Peel the garlic cloves.

Divide the peppers and garlic evenly between the jars, pressing down to fill in spaces.

Carefully pour in the brine, making sure that the peppers are completely covered.

Screw on the lids, and leave at room temperature for 2 or 3 days and then store in the refrigerator. They can be eaten fairly quickly, but are best after sitting a least a month. They will keep for several months in the fridge.

Yield: 3 quarts

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Pickled Okra

Okra is in abundance both in my garden and at the farm. I LOVE pickled okra. A lot. So the first thing I did was make this pickled okra recipe. I also took a quart of okra, blanched it, breaded it, and flash-froze it so I can make fried okra in the future.

For the pickled okra, I used dill and peppers from my garden. I also used my canning equipment to properly can it and seal it. And now the okra is safely resting on the shelf. I don't know if it will be delicious. I'll have to follow up at a later time when I open it up. I will keep you posted. But oh! It's so lovely.


Pickled Okra
Martha Stewart Living

2 pounds tender okra
1 quart white vinegar
6 tablespoons salt
16 small cloves garlic
8 small fresh hot red peppers
1 bunch fresh dill (about 24 sprigs)
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds

Rinse okra, and cut away any bruises or bad spots. Trim stem ends of okra, but do not remove caps entirely.

Wash eight 1-pint canning jars, lids, and screw bands with hot soapy water, and rinse well. Place a wire rack on the bottom of a large pot. Place jars upright on a wire rack in a large pot, fill pot with hot water until jars are submerged, and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, but leave jars in water. Sterilize lids and screw bands according to manufacturer's instructions.

Meanwhile, bring vinegar, 3 cups water, and salt to a boil in a large pot.

Using stainless-steel tongs, remove jars from water, and set on a layer of clean towels. Evenly divide garlic, peppers, dill sprigs, and mustard seeds among sterilized jars. Pack jars tightly with okra, alternating direction of caps. Leave 3/4 inch of space beneath the rim of the jar. Pour hot liquid over okra, covering okra by 1/4 inch, leaving 1/2 inch of space beneath the rim. Slide a clean plastic chopstick or wooden skewer along the inside of each jar to release any air bubbles. Wipe mouth of jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place hot lid on jar; screw on band firmly without forcing.

Place a wire rack in the bottom of a large pot, and fill pot with hot water. Using a jar lifter, place the jars on the rack. Add enough hot water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water bath with jar lifter; let stand on clean dish towels for 24 hours. Check cool jars for the slight indentation in the lids that indicates a vacuum seal. Jars that do not seal properly or that leak during processing should be stored in the refrigerator and pickles consumed within a week. Allow sealed pickles to mellow in a cool, dry place for 6 to 8 weeks before serving. Store opened jars in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 pints
(I significantly reduced this in order to make just one pint.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Pickled Jalapenos

The amount of vegetables from my garden and from the farm is just absurd at this point so I've started learning alternate methods. My freezer is getting full, so I'm starting to can and pickle. Beware of a LOT of canning posts coming up. I initially used an old pot to boil the jars, but I ruined the pot. So then I bought a cheap canning kit (pot, funnel, jar lifter, basket, assorted tools) off of Amazon. HOORAY!

So these peppers actually don't even need to be canned because they aren't supposed to be shelf-stable. They're just for the refrigerator. The jalapenos I'm growing are so hot, which is amazing and wonderful, but pickling them has helped to temper the heat a little bit. I've been adding these to burritos, sandwiches, and egg scrambles. Yum! And so easy!

I'm VERY AWARE I used way too big of a jar and added too much liquid. I honestly thought I had more jalapenos at the time. 15 just wasn't enough to fill up the jar. Now I have even more, but I'm going to try something different for those. And if I get more, since my plant just keeps producing, maybe I'll pickle more of them and then can them for the pantry. According to the comments on the original blog post, they do can well in a water bath.


Pickled Jalapenos
Domestic Fits

15 large jalapenos
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup vinegar
3 tbs white sugar
2 tbs kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Slice the jalapenos into 1/4 inch rings. Remove all or none of the seeds, depending on desired heat level (the more seeds left in the peppers, the higher the heat level).

In a pot over medium high heat, add the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature before adding the jalapenos. Place peppers and pickling liquid in an airtight container, such as a canning jar, refrigerate for 4 days and up to three weeks.