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Corn and Salsa Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

Southwest Spiralized Zucchini Pasta

A spiralizer has been sitting around in my closet for quite some time, gathering dust. Something recently caught my attention and prompted me to buy a couple of zucchinis and dust that puppy off. Being that it is Summer, and the height of fresh veggie season, now is the time to do it!

First thing I did was set up the spiralizer with the smaller of the string settings.

Spiralizer and a few ingredients

I washed and trimmed the ends off of two zucchinis and ran them through the process.

Zucchini “noodles”

The center remains as a long “rod”, about the thickness of a pencil. I cut those into little chunks and set them aside. I added two or three good pinches of salt to the “noodles” and tossed them well. I set those aside, while I assembled my other ingredients: about a half of a cup of corn (fresh, cooked on the cobb, and removed), a half cup of salsa, the zucchini core pieces, a minced garlic glove, and a few grinds of black pepper.

In a 10″ nonstick skillet (or wok, if you prefer), add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. When melted and bubbling, add the veggies, except for the “noodles”.

Corn, zucchini pieces fron core, garlic clove.

Toss to saute for a minute, the add salsa. Make sure it’s all heated through, then add the zucchini noodles.

Almost done!

If there isn’t too much salt, it should be okay to toss straight in. If you think you added too much, rinse and drain before adding to the skillet. Toss the mixture a couple of times, to coat the noodles, cooking for a minute or so. Cover and steam for a minute. Add the black pepper and adjust seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with cheese of your choice, if desired. If I had some fresh cilantro on hand, I would have added a handful of leaves at the last minute.

The Final product…yum!

And let me say, if you’ve never tried the spiralized zucchini noodle thing, you will be pretty amazed. They really do feel like noodles, with just a slight crunch. Both my wife and daughter thought I had mixed regular thin spaghetti noodles in with the zucchini. Of course, this could be sauced an endless number of ways, and with different veggies. Also, with or without meat. I might try an alfredo next….

 

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Soup for One from Home Canned Pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

I have several pint jars of pumpkin sitting in my pantry that I canned after Halloween this year. I decided to pop open a jar and make some soup!

First, I drained the liquid from the pumpkin and transferred it to a small saucepan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

(If you substitute store-bought canned pumpkin, you might need to ADD a little water, as it is “solid pack”, meaning that it has had a bunch of water removed.) Then I added about 1/3 cup of buttermilk and a pinch each of powdered ginger, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground coriander.

Spices and buttermilk added.

Spices and buttermilk added.

I combined those ingredients until smooth, using a hand blender, while I brought the soup up to temperature over medium-high heat. I decided to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of half’n’half and blend that in as well.

Blended, with half'n'half added.

Blended, with half’n’half added.

To have a little more fun, I added croutons to the glass canning jar that the pumpkin had been in, and topped them with about a 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

I poured the soup over the cheese and croutons and stirred. It was stringy with hot cheese and tasted like a soup and grilled cheese sandwich, all blended together!

Soup!

Soup!

Obviously, you could just eat the soup, without the croutons and cheese. You could vary the flavor by changing the flavor of croutons and/or the type of cheese. Also, you could vary the spices added to the soup. Cumin, instead of coriander; mustard powder, rather than garlic; add some chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option. It’s a versatile little soup that you can spice to suit your tastes, plus it’s quick and easy! Enjoy!

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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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Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits…MMM!

I have used the following recipe with great success and it’s very simple. I highly recommend it and give credit where credit is due. Please note the copyright included below and do not copy, forward, or print any of the contents without it!

>>>Recipe: Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 12 min | Yield: About 6 to 12 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cold soft, winter wheat, self-rising Southern flour (like White Lily brand)
  • 1/4 cup very cold butter, shortening or lard
  • 3/4 cup cold real buttermilk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch cast iron skillet with additional shortening or oil and place into the oven for 5 minutes. Put the flour into a bowl and cut the very cold butter into cubes and toss in the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it is crumbly. Add buttermilk and use a fork to mix very lightly. Dough will be very shaggy.

Put a bit of additional flour on the countertop and scoop dough out. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top and gently push together to form a rectangle. Do not overhandle the dough. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold them in toward the middle, turn the dough, gently press down into a rectangle again and repeat. Repeat this folding once more and pat into desired thickness, usually about an inch. This folding creates flaky layers in the biscuits.

Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small juice glass, cut out into rounds, taking care not to twist the cutter and gently gather scraps for the last biscuits. Transfer biscuits to the prepared skillet or baking pan and bake at 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through.

Cook’s Notes: This recipe uses self-rising, Southern soft wheat flour. Do not use regular all purpose flour.

To Freeze: Prepare as above, except set down parchment on or butter a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once you’ve cut out the biscuits lay them out on the pan, freeze until they are set and then transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, reduce oven temp to 375 degrees F, and bake until browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more or less, checking at 22.

Herbed Biscuit Variation: Add up to 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. Good choices include sage, chives, parsley, dill, thyme, or a combination. Reduce to about 2 teaspoons max if using dried herbs. Make biscuits a smaller tea size for a potluck, church supper or a party and fill with Chutney Chicken Salad.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com<<<          http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2008/10/perfect-buttermilk-biscuits.html#axzz3hsC3wqoy

Mmmm...cheesy deliciousness!

Mmmm…cheesy deliciousness!

Now, my variation is to add a scant half teaspoon of garlic powder and a half cup of fine shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the flour and mix well, AFTER cutting in the butter and BEFORE adding the buttermilk. (You could add some parsley or chives, but my kids would refuse them if they had green specks, so I didn’t.)

In the oven.

In the oven.

And I brush the biscuits with melted garlic butter when they come out of the oven.

Done! Garlic buttered!

Done! Garlic buttered!

Great to go with dinner! Enjoy!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

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Caribbean Crock Pot Pork with Mango

Crock Pot ready to go!

Crock Pot ready to go!

Inspired by my sister, who is married to a native of Trinidad, I came up with this Crock Pot dish.  The main ingredients  are Country Style Ribs, Badia brand Sazon Tropical seasoning, Matouk’s West Indian Hot Sauce, Chief Green Seasoning and a mango. The seasoning and sauces can be found in some grocery stores in the Latino section or at Mexican or Caribbean specialty stores.

I started by adding some of the Green Seasoning and West Indian Hot Sauce to the bottom of the Crock pot and set the pot on “low” to begin heating. The hot sauce is potent…use sparing! And adjust to your preference.

Sauces in the bottom of the Crock Pot.

Sauces in the bottom of the Crock Pot.

The Sazon seasoning is sprinkled liberally on all sides of the meat. The tumeric in the seasoning will color your hands, if you touch it…you could use tongs or wear food handling gloves, if you like.

Seasoning the meat.

Seasoning the meat.

Brown the meat on all sides in a preheated frying pan with a little hot vegetable oil. Remove the meat and deglaze the pan with water or a little apple cider.

Browning the meat.

Browning the meat.

Begin layering the meat into the Crock Pot and add fresh mango pieces, more hot sauce and green seasoning. It doesn’t require a lot…maybe a teaspoon of hot sauce and a couple of tablespoons of the green seasoning (I just did it freehand).

Layering in the Crock Pot.

Layering in the Crock Pot.

Put the top on the Crock Pot and cook on low setting for about 6-ish hours, until very tender. (see top photo). About halfway through, I moved the meat around to ensure even cooking. When done, take out the meat and strain the juices.

Separating the fat/liquid/sediment.

Separating the fat/liquid/sediment.

Straining the juices.

Straining the juices.

I actually refrigerated mine overnight and let the fat harden, the juices gelatinize, and the sediment drop to the bottom. The next day, I removed and discarded the fat. I took out the gelatinized juices and discarded the sediment. I put the meat into an oven-safe dish, distributed the jellied juices over the top, and covered with a disk of parchment paper (optional) and sealed with foil. I reheated the meat in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes.

When the meat came out of the oven, I separated it from the juices again, broke it up to serve and moistened with the juices, as desired.

Out of the oven.

Out of the oven.

And plated:

Serving suggestions.

Serving suggestions.

Left: with simple rice and corn; Right: with quinoa and a lentil, tofu, tomato curry. This dish is really very adaptable and easy. I have also made it with the meat marinated in sour oranges juice and the hot sauce and green sauce,  and no mango. You could serve right from the crock pot, but I would still remove the meat, strain the juices and skim the fat. Enjoy!

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Easy Vegetarian Pazole in the Crock Pot

Easy Vegetarian Pazole

Easy Vegetarian Pazole…I went back and removed the big pieces of chili and chopped them. Next time, I’ll break-up into small pieces first!

Always looking for something vegetarian that is still satisfying. This one fits the bill! Traditionally made with pork, pazole is a Mexican stew made with hominy. Hominy can be purchased canned or dried. I find the canned to be easy and good. Plus, the liquid in the can adds both liquid and flavor to the stew. Pazole is a corn product that has been dried and treated in an alkali solution using lye or lime (not the citrus). Grits are nothing more than ground hominy. It can usually be found in white or yellow. The canned version is a bit chewy and looks large and puffy, compared to a regular corn kernel. Combined with some other common ingredients, it makes a great stew. It is also versatile! Some people might like to add chopped green chilies, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, regular corn, etc. In the summer, you could add some of that abundant squash and/or zucchini and use fresh tomatoes. I find my version here to be on the spicy side, but not killer. You can serve as is, or you could serve with some rice or macaroni. If you want to garnish it, I would recommend sour cream/crema, fresh cilantro and some crispy tortilla strips. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 can Black Beans, not drained (or 1 pint, home canned)

1 large can Diced Tomatoes, not drained (fire roasted  is okay, or 1 quart home canned)

1 large can Mexican Style Hominy, not drained

2 large dried Guajillo Chilies

2  or 3 dried Pasillo Chilies

1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon Ground Oregano

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions

Preheat a large crock pot on high temperature. Add all the canned ingredients and the oregano and cumin. Cover and let start warming. Break up the dried chilies and remove the seeds and stems. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chilies for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the power of your microwave. DSC04285

Cool enough to handle…do NOT breath the fumes as you remove the chilies from the microwave! When cool, break into very small pieces and add to the crock pot and stir to combine. (I missed that to bebin with and had to go back and fish the big pieces out and chop them.) Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or overnight on low. Refrigerate any unused stew. It will be even better the next day! Serve hot. Enjoy!

Ready to serve...but I'm refrigerating and serving tomorrow. It'll be even better!

Ready to serve…but I’m refrigerating and serving tomorrow. It’ll be even better!

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Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza

Trader Joe's Punjab Choley Pizza

Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza

An unabashed appeal to Trader Joe’s to try my recipe and publish it on their website. Maybe get a plug for my blog…maybe a sponsor? I don’t mind hawking a few Trader Joe’s recipes…I regularly visit my local Trader Joe’s and enjoy their products. This recipe uses their very convenient pre-made pizza dough, a spicy Indian chick pea dish that comes in a shelf-stable package (and is really good over rice!), and their Authentic Greek Feta packaged in a little plastic tub of brine that lasts well in the refrigerator. This recipe is versatile and easy. Add more or less cheese, to your taste. Add garnishes to your liking…if I had some on hand when I made this, I would have used some finely diced cucumber and some cilantro leaves after the sour cream drizzle. A very light dusting of cumin would be nice. In the summer, some roasted or grilled veggies. Maybe add a sprinkle of corn kernels before baking…hey, it’s pizza…do whatever you like! So far, it’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t have to be. Add some diced ham or tandoori chicken, maybe? Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza      created by Matt Miller

Ingredients:

1 Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough

1 pkg. Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley

2 to 3 ounces Trader Joe’s Authentic Greek Feta, crumbled (to taste)

2 to 3 ounces Trader Joe’s Shredded Mozzarella (to taste)

3 T. Trader Joe’s Sour Cream

1 t. Trader Joe’s Half’n’Half or Heavy Cream

All –Purpose Flour, for dusting

Olive Oil or Non-Stick Spray

Directions:

Coat a mixing bowl with olive oil or spray with non-stick spray. Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat in oil/spray. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Dough and Punjab Choley

Dough and Punjab Choley

Preheat oven to 475F and place pizza stone in the center of the oven, if you have one, and prepare pizza on a flour dusted pizza peel  or cutting board. Otherwise, prepare the pizza and use a flour dusted pizza pan or pizza screen. First, squeeze bubbles out of dough and roll out in a circular shape to about 14”. Use a fork to poke holes in the dough all over. This is called “docking” and reduces large bubbles forming in the oven. Empty the contents of the Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley onto the center of the dough. Spread the Punjab Choley evenly across the pizza.

Assembled and just put in the oven.

Assembled and just put in the oven.

Distribute the mozzarella and feta cheeses evenly across the pizza as well. I recommend not covering with mozzarella as heavily as you would an Italian pizza.

Transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone or place the pizza pan in the oven. Bake until bottom is golden brown and the cheeses are bubbly and lightly browned.

Cooked and cut.

Cooked and cut.

While the pizza is baking, mix the sour cream and half’n’half or cream together to make a thick sauce. I like to put the mixture into a zip lock bag, seal and squeeze into one corner.  IMAG2454When the pizza comes out of the oven, cut into pieces and serve hot. Just before service, cut a tiny corner off of the zip lock bag and squeeze a drizzle of the sauce onto each piece. Enjoy!

Drizzled with sour cream and served.

Drizzled with sour cream and served.

Optional: You can garnish with finely diced cucumber and/or cilantro leaves, if you like.

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