easy refrigerator dill pickles.

These are the fastest, easiest dill pickles EVER. E.V.E.R. Are you hearing me? As in, I didn’t have regular vinegar and went out at 9:30pm on a Sunday and still came home and made them-fast and easy. Are you with me? Good.

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I was at a farmer’s market over the weekend, and kept seeing those little wrinkly pickling cucumbers that were calling out to me. “Make dill pickles” they said. “You’ve been craving pickles”. So I picked up a basket before I left deciding that I would make refrigerator pickles. Sanitizing jars and boiling brine and processing in a water bath was just not on my agenda. Ah, laziness.

I love pickles of all kinds: beets, cauliflower, cucumbers, beans, fish… all very good in my book. A few years ago my dad and I got really into canning and spent several Sundays in a row making all kinds of yummy things, and the whole process was demystified for us both. Growing up, late summer was synonymous with my mom standing over the kitchen counter preserving her garden’s bounty. As I child and teenager this seemed odd to me (why can tomatoes when I can just go the store and buy them?). Now I know how amazing it is to taste a farm fresh tomato or peach in the dead of winter.

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Anyway, back to these easy peasy refrigerator pickles. As awesome as shelf stable canning is, it’s a day long endeavor. Enter this simple, alternative method. All you need is vinegar, sea or kosher salt for a simple brine (no heating required!), cucumbers, some fresh dill and boom! Pickles. Sounds too good to be true, but the hardest part is waiting 2 days before you crack open a jar. Waiting a week is best, but patience is not my strong suit. These keep well in the fridge for several weeks, but if you’re anything like me, they’ll be gone shortly after they’re opened. The level of vinegar will worry you, as it did me, but trust me, this works. The salt and vinegar will draw out moisture from the cucumbers, and voila! Just give the jar or jars a shake or two every time you open the fridge door. Magic will happen in that refrigerator. Trust me.

easiest refrigerator dill pickles.
adapted from Serious Eats. 

ingredients
10-12 kirby cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thin
3/4 cup white vinegar
3 teaspoons sea salt
2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, torn or roughly chopped

directions
Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the washed and dried cucumbers into 1/8 inch thick slices.

In a large jar, add all the cucumber slices. Pour in the vinegar, salt and tuck in the dill. If your jar is too small to fit all the cucumbers (as mine was), I suggest mixing the salt/vinegar/dill separately, and then adding appropriate amounts to the jars (half as much to a jar that is approximately half the size, for example).

Place the jars in the refrigerator, and give them a shake every time you remember/open the fridge door/every hour or so. They will be ready in about 8 hours, but try and let them hang out for 48-72 hours. Please? And then? Devour. Now, or three weeks for now.

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the best hummus ever.

That’s a bold statement. The best hummus. Ever. But, let me tell you, the taste of this hummus is INSANE.

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Let me tell you a fairy tale. Once upon a time, I didn’t like hummus. It was a strange time. Then one day, a boyfriend made hummus, his favorite recipe. I was hesitant, but once I dipped fluffy pita into that smooth, creamy, garlicky dip, I was S.O.L.D. It also ruined any future hummus eating experiences. You see, once I was saw the light, I always compared all hummus to that first, homemade recipe. Sure, there was good hummus to be found in restaurants, and maybe, just maybe at the grocery store, but my heart belongs to that recipe. Now, that boyfriend and I are no longer, but you better believe I asked for that recipe! Good thing we remained friendly. Thanks to K., I can share with you.

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I think the secret is the addition of plain yogurt. The original recipe calls for regular, but I’ve used greek with success. The yogurt makes it extra creamy, smooth and adds a richness that is not to be missed. Now this recipe is decidedly garlicky, so make sure you (and whoever you’re eating it with!) are big ol’ garlic fans like I am! At least garlic is insanely healthy, so you can feel even better about eating this already good for you dip!

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I served it with sliced cucumbers here, but you can pair with pita, veggies, a spoon (we’re a judgment free zone here), and prepare for hummus nirvana.

the best hummus.
courtesy of K.

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ingredients
1 and a half cans of chickpeas, drained (21 ounces)
3-4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons tahini
5 ounces plain Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

directions
Rinse the chickpeas and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic cloves and puree 10-20 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice and cumin and puree until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape the bowl to ensure everything is well combined.

While the processor is running, stream in the olive oil. Once mixed in, pour into a serving bowl, cover with foil/plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. This resting/chilling time will allow for the flavors to combine.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer. Keeps for 3-4 days covered tightly in the refrigerator.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

white bean dip with roasted red peppers and rosemary.

I love dips. Hummus, eggplant, spinach artichoke…. all good. They’re easy to prepare and always a hit at parties. Now that football season is in full swing, you don’t even need an excuse for preparing a spread of snacks for you and your friends in the middle of the afternoon!

For your next party, you should try this white bean dip. Growing up, I hated beans. My mom never cooked with them, so the only bean I would go near was of the string variety. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have expanded, and I’ve come to love several kinds of legumes. White beans (also known as cannellini or white kidney) and I are still kind of frenemies, except when it comes to this dip. It’s similar in texture to hummus. The roasted red peppers add a nice kick, and fresh rosemary is necessary in this dish. I normally hate to say that an ingredient is mandatory, but I tried it with both dried and fresh rosemary, and you definitely need that woody fresh flavor from the fresh herb.

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I love this dip because it’s inherently healthy, and you can up the health factor even more by serving it alongside some cut up veggies at your next get together. I like to serve it up with a mix of veggies and homemade pita chips (so simple, just cup up some fresh pita, drizzle with a touch of olive oil and salt and cook for 15 minutes at 350, turning over once halfway through cooking).

Next time you have a dip craving, try this one out! It’s a great alternative to hummus, and it’ll convince any bean hater in your life!

white bean dip with roasted red peppers and rosemary.
inspired by smitten kitchen.

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ingredients

1 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s)
2 14 oz. cans of white (cannellini) beans, drained
3 garlic cloves
1.5 tablespoons fresh rosemary
juice of one small lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

directions

Add garlic to the blender and pulse a few times. Add drained beans, roasted red peppers and puree until combined. Open and add rosemary, lemon juice, red pepper, salt and black pepper and puree for additional 1-2 minutes until smooth. Chill and serve with vegetables and pita chips.

skinny strawberry milkshake.

Confession time. I do not have a sweet tooth. Cakes, cookies, candies, chocolates are all good and tasty, but I can usually pass them up without hesitation. Instead, I have a major “salt tooth” (is that a thing?). Well, if it is, I definitely have it.

I am human, however, and do crave sweets from time to time. Normally some ripe fruit is more than enough to satisfy, but this week I had a rare craving for a creamy, icy treat. I rarely if ever have ice cream in my house, and I wanted to be able to indulge in a treat without feeling guilty or eating something chuck full of unhealthy artificial ingredients. Enter this ultra easy, skinny strawberry milkshake!

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Isn’t it so pretty? Take a frozen banana, fresh, ripe strawberries and some milk (I used unsweetened, plain coconut milk), top with ice, and give your blender a whirl. Ta da! In less than five minutes, you have a clean, healthy milkshake that is gluten free, lactose free, vegan and totally, totally delicious.

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A frozen banana is essential for this treat. It helps with that thick, creamy texture that is necessary for a milkshake. I would discourage using a room temperature banana and compensating with more ice because the result will be too icy and will dilute the fruit flavors. If you want to make it sweeter, use vanilla flavored non-dairy milk, or add in a drop of pure vanilla extract (or agave!).

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I hope you enjoy this skinny, healthy version of a milkshake the next time your sweet tooth needs attention! Try to enjoy it poolside. Oh, and if you wanted to throw a splash (or two) of rum or vodka in there, I won’t judge. 🙂

skinny strawberry milkshake.
slightly adapted from sally’s baking addiction.

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ingredients

1 small banana, frozen (ripe is best)
10-12 fresh, ripe strawberries
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup ice
2 mint leaves (optional) (can also use to garnish)

directions

Add ingredients to blender in order. Blend on high until thick and smooth. Pour into serving glass, garnish with a berry or some fresh mint and enjoy!

Makes 2 small milkshakes or 1 generously sized milkshake.

baked oatmeal bars.

OH. YUM. I normally don’t swoon over such a simple recipe, but man, these granola bars are something special. I happen to be in the soft and chewy granola bar camp, and these definitely deliver! I hesitate to call them granola bars, as they almost seem to be more of a cake/bar hybrid, but regardless, they are portable, clean and totally delicious! I found the inspiration for this recipe over on oh she glows, and although she refers to these as “basic”, I’d counter they are anything but! It is imperative that you have a ripe banana for this recipe, but feel free to add in your favorite nuts, seeds, or even chocolate chips! These are perfect for a breakfast on the go, a mid-morning snack, or a healthy treat after dinner!

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I easily made this recipe gluten free and dairy free by using certified gluten free oats (these are from Trader Joe’s), coconut milk (feel free to use your favorite nut milk) and raw cacao powder. If you’re vegan, you can use agave or maple syrup instead of honey. The original recipe also calls for ground flax, which would be divine. I just didn’t have any. Next time!

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I forgot the banana in the above photo, so here he is! I normally despise bananas once they get ANY brown flecks on them, but admittedly they are perfection for baked goods recipes such as this.

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This is what they looked like after baking. The smell. Oh my gosh the smell was divine! You’ll also notice that I cooked the bars in about 2 yards of parchment paper in an 8 inch cake pan. I can’t for the life of me find my 8×8 inch baking dish (time to shop, yay!) so I cooked them in the cake pan with no problems.

I hope you guys love these — serve up with some fresh fruit, yogurt, or with your favorite jam or preserves! Great treat just in time for Mother’s Day, too!

baked oatmeal bars.
inspired by and adapted from oh she glows. 

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ingredients

2.5 cups rolled oats, divided
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or other nut or non dairy milk)
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave if vegan)
3 tbsp. nut or seed butter (I used Trader Joe’s crunchy peanut butter with chia and flax)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 ripe banana, large dice
1 tbsp. vanilla or other sweetener (I was out of vanilla so I used coconut palm sugar)
1/2 tbsp. raw cacao powder (optional)

directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish or 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to hang over the sides of the pan. Lightly spray with cooking spray or grease lightly with melted coconut oil. Set aside.

In a food processor or blender, process one cup of oats into a fine powder (oat flour). In a large bowl, mix together oat flour, rolled oats, chia seeds, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt, coconut and raw cacao powder (if using). Mix together to combine. **Note: If you are using sugar instead of vanilla, add that in at this step.

In a smaller bowl, mix together coconut milk, honey, nut butter, banana and vanilla (if using). Whisk together until peanut butter breaks down and combines with other ingredients. Should still have small chunks of banana present. Add wet to dry and mix together until combined. If you are adding chocolate chips, nuts or fruit, add them now.

Pour mixture into lined baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. Test by lightly pressing the middle of the oatmeal bars; if they give lightly and spring right back, they are ready.

Let cool in the pan for at least ten minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to let cool completely (if you can!). They will firm up as they cool. Yields 9 large bars (crazily shaped ones if you use a round pan). Enjoy!