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Pickled Green Beans, AKA “Dilly Beans”

Dilly Beans (I left out the optional red pepper flakes.)

Dilly Beans (I left out the optional red pepper flakes.)

I didn’t take a bunch of “process” photos, but I made 2 pint jars of pickled green beans, AKA “Dilly Beans”. I think Dilly Beans sounds kind of silly…although, it is quicker to say than pickled green beans. Anyway, I decided to give this recipe a try, because I got some green beans on sale and they looked pretty good. Plus, I have some dill in my garden that needed trimming back. I didn’t measure my beans, but I’m assuming it was a maybe a pound to a pound and a half?

Dilly Beans

Fresh green beans, trimmed both ends. Enough to firmly pack (2) pint jars.

1/8 c. kosher or pickling salt

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled, lightly crushed

2 fresh dill heads/fronds

1 t. mustard seeds

(optional: pinch of red pepper flakes per jar)

1-1/2 c. white vinegar

3/4 c. water

Directions

Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and mustard seeds in a small, non-reactive sauce pan (like stainless steel). Bring to a boil and reserve, keeping hot. Prepare a water bath canner with enough water to cover jars by an inch or two. Prepare two pint jars, lids, and screw rings. Divide the garlic, dill, and red pepper flakes (if using) between the two jars. Trim the green beans to fit the jars vertically, leaving 1/2 to 1/4 inch space from jar’s rim. Pack the jar tightly, so the green beans won’t float.

Ladle the hot brine over the beans, trying to distribute the mustard seeds evenly. Bring the brine up to 1/4″ below the jar’s rim and covering the beans. Use a skewer or a knife to make sure there are no trapped air bubbles and add more brine, if necessary. Using a paper towel or clean cloth, wipe the threads and rim. Place a prepared lid on each jar and install the screw ring to “finger tight”. Add to boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes. Leave jars in the hot water, off heat for another 5 minutes. Remove to a kitchen towel on a counter top and leave for 24 hours. When cool enough to touch, tighten lids. If lids do not “pop” to indicate seal, store in refrigerator. If properly sealed, remove the rings and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use. (I would wait at least 2 weeks and maybe a month before opening.)

I had a little leftover brine and the bean ends that I trimmed to make the beans fit the jars, so I put them in a plastic container and let them sit on the counter for a few minutes, then I popped them in the fridge. I’ll have them as a snack in a few days.

 

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Chinese Sausage Baked Buns

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I  bought a package of uncooked Chinese style sausage recently at my local supermarket and decided that this would be the way to go with it.

Raw Chinese style sausage

Raw Chinese style sausage

I thought about doing steamed buns, however; I couldn’t locate the steamer baskets for my wok. Baked buns, it is. The recipe I used for the dough was taken from Pinterest. I generally credit things like this, but I completely forgot to make note of the source. But for full disclosure, I did NOT create this dough recipe. If you search Pinterest for Chinese Baked Buns, you may stumble across it. The filling IS my creation. I just boiled the sausage to cook it through before making the filling. So, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

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Filling:

3 Chinese Sausages, cooked and diced small

1 T. Fermented Black Bean Paste

2 T. Ketchup

2 T. Soy Sauce

1 T. Honey

2 T. Vegetable Oil

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Combine all the ingredients, except the sausage, and make a sauce/marinade.  Add the cooked, diced sausage and stir to evenly coat. Place in refrigerator until ready to assemble buns.

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Dough:

10 TBSP whole milk

4 TBSP butter

2 tsp rapid-rise (instant) dry yeast

2 1/2 TBSP lukewarm water

1 large egg

2 1/2 TBSP sugar

12 1/2 oz All-purpose flour (About 2-3/4 cups)

1 large egg, lightly beaten (To brush buns before baking)

Glaze:

2 TBSP honey mixed with 1 TBSP warm water

For the dough, melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, or until warm (about 110°F). (I melted butter in the microwave, added milk and microwaved another 15 seconds and then cooled briefly.)

Put the yeast in small bowl, add the water, and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Whisk in the milk mixture and the egg to blend.

Combine the sugar and flour in a food processor. Pulse two or three times to blend. With the machine running, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. After a sticky mass of very soft dough forms, about 5 seconds, (I added about 2 extra tablespoons of milk for mine to form the ball) continue processing for 45 to 60 seconds to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough that mostly cleans the bowl.IMG_20160210_121839764 The finished dough should stick a bit to your finger when pressed. Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place (for example, the oven with the light on) to rise for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper before beginning to assemble the buns.

Remove the dough from the bowl and put on a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times, then cut it in half. Cover one-half with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl to prevent drying. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch log, and then cut it into 8 or 16 pieces for medium or small buns, respectively. I find the bigger ones easier to handle and fill.IMG_20160210_132400953 (Halve or quarter the log first to make it easier to cut even-size pieces. The tapered end pieces should be cut a little longer than the rest.) Lightly roll each piece between your hands into a ball and then flatten each one into a 1/4-inch-thick disk. Use a wooden dowel-style rolling pin to roll the pieces into circles, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter for small or 3-1/4 inches in diameter for medium buns. The rim should be thinner than the center; keep a 1-inch-wide belly. The finished circle will rise as it sits. Lay the finished circles out on your work surface, lightly dusting their bottoms with flour if you fear they will stick.IMG_20160210_132704653

To form a bun, hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand. Use a spoon or fork to center about 2 teaspoons of filling for small buns, or about 4 teaspoons of filling for medium ones, on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly.IMG_20160210_133007204 Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling while the other hand pulls up the dough edge and pleats and pinches the rim together to form a closed satchel. (I don’t know about the crimping meticulously thing, but I got mine sealed and ball shaped.)

Pinch and twist the dough closed at the end. Place the bun pleat side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough circles, spacing them 1-1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft- free place (for example, the oven with the light on) for 30 minutes to rise. Meanwhile, work on the other dough half to form more buns.IMG_20160210_133242039

To bake the buns, about 10 minutes before the rising time is over, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. (Let the buns finish rising at room temperature if you’ve had them in the oven.)

Bake one baking sheet at a time, brushing the top and side of each bun with the egg right before baking.IMG_20160210_153039114 Bake small buns for about 14 minutes and medium buns for about 18 minutes, or until a rich golden brown; the cooked buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove them from the oven, set on a rack, and let cool for 5 minutes.

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Brushed with honey glaze

Brush the honey mixture on the buns for a sweet-glaze finish that will also soften the crust. Enjoy warm and out of hand. Refrigerate left- over buns for up to a week and reheat at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until hot. When making the buns in advance, wait to brush on the glaze until after you’ve reheated the buns. These buns may also be frozen for up to a month. Thaw them completely before reheating.

 

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Finally Made Wrangler Jelly!

Ingredients, except for sugar, for the Wrangler Jelly.

Ingredients, except for sugar, for the Wrangler Jelly.

It’s been about three years ago, that I pinned an interesting sounding recipe on Pinterest to my “MMMFoodies Canning Stuff. https://www.pinterest.com/mattmmille/mmm-foodies-canned-stuff/ Even though the recipe called for canned crushed pineapple, I had a fresh one and I was going to try it. Well, I wound up using that pineapple for something else and that recipe sat there, unused…except that it was one of the two most re-pinned recipes from my collection!  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/516928863450185549/

Well, it’s getting down to freezing temperatures overnight, in my area, and I just picked a few small poblanos and a couple of small, green tomatoes ahead of the freeze. Looking at them, the Wrangler Jelly recipe came to mind. I had the canned pineapple and pectin on hand, so I decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe as linked above with the substitution of the poblanos for the jalapenos and the addition of the little green tomatoes. I chopped all of them fairly fine.

Fine chopped poblanos and green tomatoes.

Fine chopped poblanos and green tomatoes.

The recipe says to add all the ingredients, except the pectin, and bring to a boil. Then add the pectin and boil for one minute. In my jelly and jam making experience, I always held back the sugar until the boil was reached,

Bringing the ingredients together.

Bringing the ingredients together. (Including seeds from ONE of the peppers.)

…added the sugar, returned to the boil, added the pectin and brought back to the boil for one minute. I don’t know if it makes a big difference, but that’s what I did.

Four cups of sugar. (Used dry measure... glass liquid measure was just for pouring).

Four cups of sugar. (Used dry measure… glass liquid measure was just for pouring).

Bringing back to a boil with the sugar added.

Bringing to a boil just before the sugar is added.

After canning, I actually got 4 half pint jars and two 4oz jars. I always prepare more jars/lids/rings than what is called for in the recipe, for just such a situation. (The recipe said it would make the 4 half pints.) I tasted a tiny bit that was left in the pot, and the cayenne pepper plus the poblanos made it plenty spicy! I think the green tomato will add a small citrusy component and a touch of added texture…and probably accounts for some of the excess volume.

Yielded 4 half pints and two 4oz jars.

Yielded 4 half pints and two 4oz jars.

My plans for this batch include a cream cheese and Wrangler Jelly appetizer with crackers at Thanksgiving, maybe some glazed pork chops, and possibly a Wrangler Baked Brie. This may not be the best jelly for your morning toast, but I don’t think I will have any problem finding uses for this versatile little jelly! And I may gift a jar or two. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to make it…it was so easy! If you decide to save this recipe, don’t put it off…make it! And enjoy!

Update: I may have to try this again and add the sugar at the same time as the other ingredients…or something. The jelly didn’t really set and I have more like a candied relish product; sort of like that pineapple topping used on ice cream sundaes. It will still work for some of my intended recipes, but I would still like to figure it out!

Hmmm...still tasty, but didn't gel. (With a whole box of pectin!)

Hmmm…still tasty, but didn’t gel. (With a whole box of pectin!)

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Boursin Cheese Rangoon Packets…I know, right!?

 

Ingredients. Simple.

Ingredients. Simple.

My wife loves Boursin cheese and she loves the rangoon, like you get at Chinese restaurants. Unfortunately for her, she has allergies to shrimp, shellfish and sesame, so that pretty much forces her to steer clear of Chinese restaurants for the last 25 years or more. So, in response, I have learned to make a few Chinese style dishes “my way” and most turn out pretty well…stir fry, fried rice, kung pao with peanuts, etc. And then there’s the rangoon. I ain’t kiddin’ man…this stuff is crack-a-licious.

Set-up. Easy.

Set-up. Easy.

All you need is a stack of won ton wrappers and some Boursin cheese, water, oil and a little time.

Here’s what you do:

Lay a won ton wrapper on a flat surface. Take a small amount of the cheese…maybe a teaspoon…and put it in the center of the wrapper.

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Went a finger and use it to moisten two adjacent side of the wrapper.

Fold the two dry sides over to meet the moistened sides, making a triangle. Press as much air out as possible and then press the edges to seal, leaving the cheese in a little mound, inside the wrapper.

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Dab a touch of water on the lower,  right corner of the triangle, fold the lower, left corner across the cheese, from left to right. Fold the moistened corner in the opposite direction and press carefully to make it stick.

You should have what looks like an open envelope.

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Moisten the flap and fold it over to “close the envelope”, tucking it slightly under the other folds. Now you have a nice little package that will fry quickly and evenly.

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Once you get the hang of it, you can pick up the pace a bit. I put together a tray of 20 in about 20 or 25 minutes. If not frying immediately, cover with a wrung out, damp paper towel and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook. I imagine these can be made ahead and frozen as well. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine they could go directly from the freezer to the frying pan.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

Twenty rangoon ready, with just enough cheese left to make a sample to try.

To cook: Bring a frying pan with about an inch of oil up to about 350F. Fry the rangoon in batches. Do not crowd the pan. Watch them carefully, because the cooking goes very quickly. Don’t let the oil overheat. The cooking time isn’t an exact science, but about a minute on either side…watch for them to turn golden brown on one side, turn over and repeat.

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(By the way, a deep fat fryer would be a great option for cooking these, but I’m doing a small quantity and it didn’t seem worth the trouble.  I also didn’t want to have to deal with all that oil.)

Side #2

Side #2

Frying the rangoon.

Frying the rangoon.

 

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt,  if you like,  when they are removed from the oil.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Drain. And I like a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

Serve with duck sauce or plum sauce…or Chinese hot mustard…or, as I like to do, mix a little mustard into the duck sauce. Allow the rangoon to cool for a couple minutes before serving. The cheese filling will be very hot!

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned  and delicious) on the outside.

Gooey and hot on the inside, GBD (golden- browned and delicious) on the outside.

I cooked a sample for testing purposes. Being the cook has a *few* benefits. My wife will get a nice surprise at dinner tomorrow! Give these a try and enjoy!

 

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Canning Peach Salsa for a taste of the Summer…Anytime!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

Peach Salsa, canned. Pretty. Tastes even better!

As the Summer begins to  wane and the Summer fruits and veggies become harder to find, I figure it’s time to make a few jars of my peach salsa for the pantry. Actually, one jar will be sacrificed to competition at the North Carolina State Fair, next month. I haven’t canned this year as much as I did last year, but I will be entering the salsa, crab apple jelly and wild muscadine grape jelly and hope to come home with a ribbon! Enjoy!

Peach Salsa

Ingredients for Home Canned Peach Salsa:

6 cups chopped peaches, about 3 pounds
3 large fresh tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups red or sweet onions, chopped
2 to 4 medium jalapeño peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1 large sweet red peppers, finely chopped and seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions for making Home Canned Peach Salsa:

Step 1: Sterilize 8, 1/2 pint jars, I do this in my dishwasher.
Step 2: Blanch peaches, cool in cold water, peel, pit and chop.
Step 3: Blanch tomatoes and cool with cold water, peel, remove seeds and cut into chunks.
Step 4: In a large stainless cooking pot, combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, sweet red pepper, cilantro, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper.
Step 5: Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stir frequently. If the mixture is too soupy, boil for a few minutes longer so that some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.
Step 6: Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier taste.
Step 7: Ladle salsa into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of top leaving head space.
Step 8: Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between the glass and salsa.
Step 9: Wipe jar rim to clean off any spilled salsa.
Step 10: Place lid and band and screw until tight.
Step 11: Place jars in a hot bath in a canner and process for 15 minutes.
Step 12: Remove jars and place on a towel; allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours.
Step 13: Jars are sealed when the lids pop and are curved down. Remove screw bands. Store in a cool, dark place.

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Lobster Spaghetti

Lobster Spaghetti

Lobster Spaghetti

For Valentine’s Day recently, Whole Foods had a promotion to give a free lobster tail with certain steak purchases. Well, since my wife is allergic to all types of shellfish, the lobster tail was NOT part of the Valentine’s Day Dinner. So I had a REALLY nice lunch, a couple of days later!

Start by boiling spaghetti according to package directions. In a small skillet, bring enough water to a simmer to halfway cover the lobster tail. You can use a skewer or a chopstick and run it lengthwise through the lobster tail. This is an optional step, but it keeps the tail from curling and aids in even cooking. Simmer the tail for 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the size of the tail, until just barely cooked through. Remove and allow to cool enough to handle. Continue to boil the water (which is now a nice lobster flavored stock) Reduce the water by half.

Lobster for lunch...well it seems to be relatively inexpensive and abundant right now!

Lobster for lunch…well it seems to be relatively inexpensive and abundant right now!

In a large saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Remove the skewer or chopstick from the tail, if using. With a large chef’s knife, split the tail lengthwise and remove the meat. Cut the tail meat into bite sized pieces. Add the lobster to the saute pan and saute briefly. Add 1 finely sliced or pressed garlic clove and continue to saute for another minute. Using the reserved lobster stock, add enough to make a light sauce. As an option, you could also add a 1/4 c. half’n’half or cream, if you like. Simmer to reduce a bit. Season with a little salt and pepper and toss in about 8 ounces of cooked spaghetti noodles (more or less, depending on your appetite). Toss to coat with the sauce and serve with some good Parmesan cheese…if you really want to tick off an Italian. They supposedly do not eat cheese with seafood…whatever. I loved it. You could serve this as a side dish or appetizer at dinner and divide into two smaller portions.

Note: you could use this same method with shrimp or other shellfish. Enjoy!

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Pickled Hard Boiled Eggs…No, Wait! Where are You Going!?

Pickled Eggs. Oh, C'mon. Don't be afraid!

Pickled Eggs. Oh, C’mon. Don’t be afraid!

I started doing this awhile back, mainly because I was told that my father in-law liked pickled eggs.  The thing is, I realized that they are actually pretty good! I’m kind of picky though…I don’t just munch into one. I slice them in half and put a little salt and fresh pepper on them. Amazingly, months after you pickle them, the yolks are still like they are from a freshly boiled egg. The texture of the whites gets denser and takes on the pickle flavor, but not a very strong one.

I like having pickled eggs on hand for making a quick tuna or chicken salad, too! Easy. Throw in some mayo, finely chopped celery and/or pickles (sweet or dill), a squirt of mustard, capers, onions, whatever you like…boom!

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

Some possible tuna (or chicken) salad ingredients

Some possible tuna (or chicken) salad ingredients

Now, I have gotten into canning over the last couple of years and I have some of my own pickles that run low and I refill those jars…I can even combine jars, if I need more brine in one. I have used pickled beet brine as well. It adds a distinct color and earthy sweetness. If you add a little beet brine to regular dill brine, you’ll get a lighter color and sweetness. If you aren’t canning, though, don’t worry. You can use commercial pickle juices, just as well.

This egg came from a batch with a small amount of beet brine. Look at how fresh the yolk looks!

This egg came from a batch with a small amount of beet brine. Look at how fresh the yolk looks!

This is a great way to salvage eggs that are approaching or just past their freshness dates. (Boiling works better with older eggs, rather than fresh!) Cover with cold water, add a tablespoon white vinegar and a teaspoon baking soda and bring to a slow boil. Remove from heat, cover and set a timer for 13 minutes. When time is up, drain and transfer to an ice bath to halt the cooking. Peel under some warm running water and drop peeled eggs into the pickling brine. Refrigerate practically indefinitely.

By the way, remember my blog awhile back about buying eggs already boiled and peeled, for deviled eggs, at the grocery store? Don’t want to boil and peel eggs, but want to try pickling some eggs? Did I say “Boom!” already?

No, really! They're good!

No, really! They’re good!

So, I may be picky about how I eat my pickled eggs, but don’t let me stop you if you want to just bite into a whole one…enjoy!!!

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