Tag Archives: easy

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

I love pickles. That’s not a secret. As I type this I have four different types of pickles, pickling. This particular recipe is super easy and amazingly delicious. I serve these pickles often at potlucks and BBQ’s and they are always met with rave reviews. Give them a few days to “pickle” before you get into them, it will be worth it I promise! Again, this is a recipe where you can mess with the spices a whisper and only good things will happen. For example, omit celery seed, add a cinnamon stick, or just use pre-made pickling spice.

Fresh garden goodies ready to be pickled!

Fresh garden goodies ready to be pickle

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

  • 6 medium cucumbers
  • 1 large red onion
  • 2 small bell peppers
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • Bay leaves (optional)
Sliced veggies enjoying their salt treatment.

Sliced veggies enjoying their salt treatment.

Thinly slice the cucumbers, onion and peppers. Toss in a large bowl with salt and set aside.

Cooling pickling mixture.

Cooling pickling mixture.

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, mustard and celery seed. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and add 3 cups of ice. Place vegetables in jars, adding a few garlic cloves  and a bay leaf to each one.

In just a scant few days, these will be amazing!

In just a scant few days, these will be amazing!

Once the ice has cooled the pickling mixture, pour over the vegetables. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

See? Super easy! I hope you enjoy these pickles as much as I do!

 

 

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Blackberry Sweet Tea

I might have a slight obsession with sweet tea. It started when I went to Alabama, because here in California, it’s just not a thing. When one has “sweet tea” here, it is just a glass of ice tea with a packet of sugar added to it. Disappointing and grainy. When I had it in Alabama (or anywhere in the South) it was an ice-cold glass of delicious nectar. Every time I get to go to the South or have a layover at the Atlanta airport,  I’ll bring airport sweat tea back in my Swell bottle. I ration it for a few days and think Southern thoughts.

If you can find Milo’s tea in your area, get that. That is my baseline to judge all other sweet tea. If you can’t find it, you are going to have to make it. But it’s ok, I’m here to help! For me, the secret to a good sweet tea is the simple syrup. You must make a syrup or you don’t get the same mouth feel. The syrup makes the tea just a whisper thicker, and if you get the good ice (you know, like the kind from Sonic’s), you end up with a kinda tea slushy which is heavenly, IMHO.

Sweet nectar of the god's.

Sweet nectar of the god’s.

A basic simple syrup recipe is equal parts water and sugar, heated until dissolved. You add that syrup to your ice tea and you’ve got a pretty good start of a decent sweet tea. However, if you wanna church it up a whisper, add some fruit to your syrup. Since its summer here in beautiful Northern California, we have all the fruits right now (literally and figuratively), pretty much all of my sweet tea is a fruit sweet tea. This week I’ve done peach, blackberry and nectarines. We have wild blackberries growing here right now, so that is why I am doing blackberry for this blog.

Blackberry (0r Fruit) Sweet Tea

Fruit Simple Syrup

  • 4 cups fruit
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

Tea

  • 8-10 cups of water
  • tea bags  (I prefer cold brew bags)

In a saucepan, add fruit, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 times. Mash up for fruit with a potato masher and simmer for 10 more minutes. Let cool. Run this mixture through a mesh strainer. Discard the solids.

From berry to sauce in just a few short hours.

From berry to sauce in just a few short hours.

Since I don’t have air-conditioning in my house, and I think sun tea is a bad idea, I use cold brew tea bags. I think it tastes the same, especially if you are adding fruit syrup to the mix. It makes making tea easy. I simply add my water to my container, add my tea bags, and stick it in the refrigerator until cool. Then I add my fruit syrup, mix well, and serve over ice.

My favorite tea receptacle.

My favorite tea receptacle.

If I close my eyes and turn my smoker on when I drink this, it almost feels like I am in the South! Mess around with this recipe – some people (who aren’t used to sweet tea), find this too sweet, some people (who are used to it), find it not sweet enough. You’ll find your happy place pretty easily. Add some mint or fruit when you serve it, to up the ‘wow’ factor. Enjoy!

Taaa daaaa! Easy fruit sweet tea!

Taaa daaaa! Easy fruit sweet tea!

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Tuscan Ravioli Salad

Recently my Mom was laid up for a few weeks. It was hard on her because she is incredibly active here on the ranch. There really wasn’t much I could do to help her with Dr. ordered rest, but I could make her comfort food. There was a lot of tomato soup, grilled cheese, broccoli bacon salad and this little gem of a recipe. There are about a million versions of this floating around the internet, this one happens to be our favorite. I think next time I might switch it up a little and add some sweet purple onion. It’s always a crowd pleaser so think about making it for your next pot luck.

Yum.

Yum.

Tuscan Ravioli Salad

1 lb. cheese ravioli
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. good balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
Dash of red pepper flakes
salt
ground black pepper
1 cup cooked bacon or pancetta, crumbled
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

I like this salad because it has lovely colors. Makes me happy.

I like this salad because it has lovely colors. Makes me happy.

 

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain and transfer to large serving bowl.
Meanwhile, mix olive oil, vinegar, honey and season with salt and peppers to taste.
In the large serving bowl add bacon, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan and dressing, toss until well combined.

I had to add a picture of bacon. Had to.

I had to add a picture of bacon. Had to.

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Grandma Halsey’s Holiday Punch 

This doesn’t even count as a recipe. It’s more of a happy memory. When I taste this punch, I am 8 years old again. It’s Christmas, I’m surrounded by my playing cousins. This punch, or a variation, was served at all family gatherings for most of my youth. And I looked forward to it! It wasn’t a proper family gathering until I felt nauseous from happily drinking too much of this.
Now that I’m an adult, I make variations of it for all kinds of events. When I do make it, people always, without fail, ask me about it. Seems like punch is one of those old timey things that we don’t make that often anymore. Which is too bad, punch is awesome! In an effort to make punch great again, I’m sharing my basic recipe.
Now remember, this recipe is just a starting point. It can be altered to fit your tastes, preferences and budget. Basically as long as you use frozen juice concentrate, ginger ale and sherbet, you’re gonna get the desired results and specific mouth feel. But you can experiment with different juices, add fresh fruit!

3 basic ingredients make such a fun thing!

3 basic ingredients make such a fun drink!

Grandma Halsey’s Holiday Punch

  • 2 litter ginger ale
  • 1 frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 gallon sherbert

In a punch bowl or pincher, allow sherbert and juice concentrate to thaw for 20 minutes. Pour in ginger ale.  Gently mix all ingredients. Serve over ice.

Bam. Done. If you use rainbow sherbert you and don’t mix it up, you can call it unicorn punch and kids LOVE that. In you use orange juice, orange sherbert and add vanilla vodka adults LOVE that (think dreamcicle ice cream bar!). I’m fairly certain it is impossible to find a bad combination here. So enjoy, go wild and please serve at your next family gathering and drink one for me!

Unicorn punch!

Unicorn punch!

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White Bean and Collards Soup 

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Remember a few months back when I posted the collards recipe? Well since then I’ve become even more obsessed with Southern Food and have made collards like 10 times as part of my “practicing”. It’s great though! Collards freeze so well, I always have a stash of leftovers in my freezer for soups and easy meals!

This soup is one of my current favorites. It’s hearty, flavorful and and deeply comforting. It’s also one of those soups that I can toss together fairly effortlessly since I tend to usually have all the ingredients in my freezer or pantry. It’s also great for tossing leftover things into. I had some extra parmesan cheese rind and some tortellini that I used the first time I made this and I cannot imagine not using those again!

See that big white thing? It's the rind from some parmesan cheese I used. Never through that away. Freeze it and add to soup bases. Just remember to fish it out before you serve your soup.

See that big white thing? It’s the rind from some parmesan cheese I used. Never throw that away. Freeze it and add to soup bases. Just remember to fish it out before you serve your soup.

It also freezes really well. Since I do live alone I always have a crapton of leftovers. It’s great though because I ALWAYS have a selection of soup frozen in our deep freezer. If you ever got a cold and need some TLC in the form of soup, call your friendly neighborhood rancher and I’ll take care of you.

White Bean and Collards Soup

1 package of white beans
1 onion, chopped
5 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken or beef broth (I usually use chicken and it usually has hunks of chicken in it because that’s how I use up my chicken carcasses)
Leftover collards (including the sweet, sweet pot likker)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf (remember to fish that sucker out before you serve)
1 package tortellini (optional)

This step adds more flavor!

This step adds more flavor!

Soak the beans overnight in water. Rinse and discard any sub-par beans. Saute your onion and carrots in oil until they start to soften. Add garlic and stir. Add beans, leftover collards, broth and spices. Add water to cover all the ingredients if needed. Cover and simmer for one hour. Add tortellini and serve with some good crusty bread.

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Individual No-Bake Ginger Nutella Cheesecake

A couple summers ago, I was obsessed with these. I made them every week, all the neighbors were gifted them, it was slightly ridiculous.  Then I burned out on them, I stopped making them, and honestly, I kinda forgot about them. Until a few days ago, when THE CRAVING came back. I’m posting them here because hopefully I can practice some moderation, not burn myself out on them and remember to make them more often.

Get in my belly!

Get in my belly!

Individual No-Bake Ginger Nutella Cheesecakes

Crust
Gingersnap Cookies (about half of an 10 ounce package)
1.5 tablespoons melted butter

Filling
1 package room temperature cream cheese
1 cup nutella
½ teaspoon running over vanilla extract
1 cup fresh whipped cream (I guess you could use that frozen stuff, but man, really?)

Ginger snaps are better as a crust anyway.

Ginger snaps are better as a crust anyway.

Use your cuisinart to pulverize the ginger snaps. Mix with butter (you might have to use more or less butter) until you get some cohesiveness with your crust. Add about 2 teaspoons of crust into the jar and use the back of a spoon or the mortar from your pestle to tamp it down firmly.

Tamping the crust, this is important! No one likes a loose crust.

Tamping the crust, this is important! No one likes a loose crust.

Meanwhile place the cream cheese, the Nutella and vanilla extract in your stand mixture and mix until blended. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Place the mixture in your jars and garnish with more whipped cream.

I could eat the creamcheese - nutella mixture with a spoon, as is, with no shame.

I could eat the cream cheese – nutella mixture with a spoon, as is, with no shame.

Serve immediately or put a lid on it, hide it under some vegetables in your refrigerator and eat it when no one else is home and won’t judge you.

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Outside “College” Bench

Like most of us, one of my guilty pleasures is reading the BuzzFeed lists. Of course, my favorites are the ones on food and gardening, like this one.  One item in that post really got my attention:

Photo from http://lenasekine.blogspot.com/2013/08/diy-outdoor-seating.html

Photo from http://lenasekine.blogspot.com/2013/08/diy-outdoor-seating.html

 

This “couch” was perfect for my yarden, and perhaps as a Mother’s or Father’s Day gift? Plus it reminded me of college.

I spend a great amount of time outside in my yarden, and it’s hard to find durable, affordable patio furniture. And since my yarden is a constantly evolving project, I need to be able to move my furniture around, again, this was perfect!

I used the tutorial from The Basement, and it worked great!

 

If you are really nice to the Home Depot workers they will load all this stuff on your cart and in your truck!

If you are really nice to the Home Depot workers they will load all this stuff on your cart and in your truck!

I went down to my local Home Depot and gathered all my materials. You will need:

  • 12 – 8″x8″x16″ cinder blocks
  • 4 – 4x4x10 pieces of lumber
  • Cushions
  • Paint

The lumber and blocks cost $67, the paint was free (I “borrowed” it from my Mom), and the cushions were $30 and it took me mere minutes to set up. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The hardest part was packing all this stuff into my yarden from the truck.

The hardest part was packing all this stuff into my yarden from the truck.

Make sure your ground is level, or this will not work well at all. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

I assembled it in a jiff!

I assembled it in a jiff!

I’m going to stain this wood, just so it lasts longer.

Add some paint and a wine bottle,  mosquito oil, lamp and you are ready to relax!

Add some paint and a wine bottle, mosquito oil lamp and you are ready to relax!

In the other tutorials they used adhesive to glue the blocks together. I did not do that. I felt like it was sturdy enough, and I plan on moving it around. All in all – I spent about $100 and an hour painting and putting it all together. I felt like it was worth the time and money. In fact I might cut the lumber in half and make “love seat” sizes next!

 

 

 

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Beef Tips in Gravy

As a cattle rancher, most people assume my favorite thing is steak and I eat them all the time. Not true. As well all know (or we should), a beef is not made out of pure steak. There are lots and lots of other cuts that make up a beef carcass. In my book, steak can be a whisper overrated. I thoroughly enjoy the lesser known cuts of beef. Plus my Parents get seriously pissed off when I eat all the steaks.

I could eat this almost every day. Especially if the roasted broccoli is involved.

I could eat this almost every day. Especially if the roasted broccoli is involved.

When my clients buy a beef from me, often they will get cuts of beef they’ve never seen before. Since buying meat from me is a full service program, I am here to offer suggestions, ideas and recipes to use their less familiar cuts. This is one of the recipes I like to share.

My Mom and I split this roast, I made Beef Tips, she made stew.

My Mom and I split this roast, I made Beef Tips, she made stew.

This is arguably my favorite meal. It is my ultimate death row food. I’ve started and ended relationships over this meal.  It’s easy, cheap and amazing. This is some powerful, powerful juju, not to be taken lightly. I’m imparting some great power to you here, use it for good.

You will  need...

You will need…

Beef Tips in Gravy

  • 2 pounds cubed beef  (stew meat, bottom round, arm roasts all work – basically you want to use a cut of meat that likes to be cooked low and slow) (venison also work well)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 package dry onion soup
  • Pepper
It looks hideous before you cook it, I know. But doesn't most delicious things?

It looks hideous before you cook it, I know. But doesn’t most delicious things?

Mix together all the ingredients and place in covered casserole dish for 3 hours at 300. This is also a great crockpot meal.

After the baking for 3 hours or crockpoting on high for 4 hours, its ready. Your house will smell savory and meaty and it will bring all the boys to your yard.

Serve this over noodles (my favorite because that is how my Mom does it), rice or mashed potatoes. Make sure you have some warm bread to mop up all the gravy. Then go take a nap.

Seriously, I will cut people for these leftovers.

Check on this recipe from Life on a Kanas Cattle Ranch for Beefy Noodles!

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