Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Limoncello Jelly




After a recent family trip to Italy, my daughter asked me to try to replicate some Limoncello Jelly she bought while enjoying her time there. Well, I knew it couldn't be that hard so I agreed, but before I knew it, a few months had gone by, and it was December already. Yikes! I needed to get busy so she could have some for the holidays.

What Is Limoncello?

Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from lemon zest. It’s mainly produced in Southern Italy, particularly in Sorrento, Capri, and along the Amalfi Coast. Traditionally, limoncello is made with Femminello St. Teresa lemons, a vibrant lemon variety native to the Sorrento Peninsula of Italy.

The liqueur is served chilled in small ceramic glasses as an apéritif or digestif (a drink served before or after a meal) to aid in digestion.

Limoncello is made by steeping lemon zest (peels) in highly concentrated ethanol or vodka until oil is released, then mixing the resulting yellow liquid with simple syrup. Its alcohol content varies, especially among homemade varieties, but is usually measured somewhere in the 25-30% range. (source: myrecipes.com)


This sweet, lemony jelly is fantastic as a filling or glaze for baked goods. It can also be used on chicken or fish then baked to form a lovely lemony caramelized coating. 

Serve it alongside your cheese and crackers on a spread or even with mascarpone or goat cheese on a crostini. Eat it with fresh berries with or without whipped cream. It's bright, sunny and so cheerful! It brings amazing flavor to most anything you serve it with.


RECIPE
Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
1 box powdered fruit pectin (I used Sure Jell)
1 3/4 cups limoncello 
3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon butter (optional to reduce foaming)

Method
Place water and lemon juice in 6-quart kettle (or pot). Add Sure Jell and stir well to dissolve.

Heat to boiling, add limoncello and return to a boil. Add sugar all at once and bring back to a full, rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). Add the butter and boil hard for exactly 1 minute.

Remove from heat, skim any foam.

Ladle hot jelly into jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Cover with lids and rings and process in boiling water bath or steam canner 5 minutes. Remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed 24 hours on your countertop. Jars are sealed when button on top of lid is fully depressed and won't flex up or down.

Store in pantry up to 1 year.

Yield: 4 1/2 cups

Enjoy,
Mary

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Hot Pickle Mix Vegetables


These Hot Pickle Mix Vegetables came about at the request of a friends father, who used to purchase them from a well-known pickle company. Unfortunately, that company recently discontinued them, and I was asked to try to recreate them. After a little bit of research, this is what I came up with.


Hot P
ickle Mix Vegetables are mild to medium hot, so if you want more heat, I would recommend adding a few small red chili peppers or perhaps some dried red pepper flakes. Another option would be to swap out the banana peppers with some habanero or ghost peppers if you really want to amp up the heat.


No matter what you do, remember the heat tends to intensify while the finished jars sit in the pantry, so be careful how much heat you add. 

What do you need to make Hot Pickle Mix Vegetables?

  • pickling cucumbers
  • cauliflower florets
  • carrots
  • pearl onions
  • banana peppers
  • red or mad hatter peppers
  • jalapeno peppers
  • garlic
  • white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • sugar
  • horseradish


Serve Hot Pickle Mix Vegetables on a cheeseboard/charcuterie platter, alongside your favorite deli meat sandwich or with a hot Italian beef sandwich.

RECIPE
Ingredients

4 cups (approx. 1 pound) pickling cucumbers, trimmed and sliced into 1/4 -inch slices
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1 cup peeled pearl or pickling onions (cut larger onions in 1/2)
2/3 cup pickling or canning salt
3 cups sliced seeded hot yellow banana peppers (about 6 peppers)
3 diced Mad Hatter peppers or 1 diced red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, or 1 tsp minced garlic
8 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 to 9 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded

Method
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the cucumbers, cauliflower, red peppers, carrots and onions.

In another large glass or stainless steel bowl, dissolve the pickling salt in 7 cups water. Pour it over the vegetables. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

In a colander placed over a sink, drain the vegetables. Rinse with cold running water and drain thoroughly. Add the hot yellow peppers and mix well.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine the garlic, 1 1/2 cups water, vinegar, sugar and horseradish. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 15 minutes, until the liquid is infused with garlic flavor; strain liquid through a mesh strainer over a bowl retaining the liquid but discarding horseradish and garlic.

Pack the vegetables and 1 to 3 jalapeno pepper halves into hot jars to within a generous one-half inch of the top of the jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into the jar to cover the vegetables, leaving one-half inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe the rim and cover with lids and bands tightening until just fingertip-tight.

Process jars in a boiling water bath or steam canner for 15 minutes. Remove the jars, and allow to sit undisturbed on your countertop 24 hours. Lid is sealed when button on top is fully depressed and won't flex up or down. Store in pantry up to one year; open jars need to be refrigerated.

Yield: 6 pint jars

Cooks note - wait for 4 to 6 weeks before serving to allow the flavors to develop.

Enjoy,
Mary

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Boozy Holiday Cherries

 


Whether you are a novice with a cocktail shaker or an expert in mixology, a really good boozy holiday cherry is your home bar’s best friend. 


So many classic drinks call for a red cherry garnish – Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour, Manhattan, Pina Colada, Mai Tai, and even the non-alcoholic staple, the Shirley Temple. 

Additionally, these boozy holiday cherries are delicious topped on pound cake with whipped cream, used on top of vanilla ice cream, or with pineapple upside down cake instead of maraschino cherries.


Fresh cherries are best, but I have used cherries I bought fresh in the summer and put in my freezer, so go with whatever you have available. Simply thaw the frozen cherries first.

What do you need to make Boozy Holiday Cherries?
  • 6 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted 
  • sugar
  • water
  • lemon juice 
  • cinnamon sticks
  • maple syrup
  • quality whiskey
  • half-pint canning jars

RECIPE
Ingredients
6 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp whiskey per half-pint jar

Method
Pack stemmed and pitted cherries into the half-pint canning jars until jars are about 3/4 full.

Add sugar, water, lemon juice, maple syrup and stick cinnamon to a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a low boil to dissolve sugar. Allow to simmer softly 10 minutes. Remove from heat; remove stick cinnamon and discard.

Top each jar with the hot liquid leaving 3/4-inch headspace. Add 1 tbsp whiskey or slightly more to each jar, until each jar has 1/2-inch headspace.

Cover jars with lids and bands and process in boiling water bath or steam canner 15 minutes. 

Remove jars and allow to sit undisturbed on your countertop 24 hours. Jars are sealed when button on top is fully depressed an won't flex up and down. 

Store sealed jars in a cool dark space, letting the cocktail cherries cure in the sugar-liqueur mixture for at least 3 weeks before using. Once opened, store jars in the fridge and use within 3-4 weeks.


Enjoy,
Mary

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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Orange Basting and Grilling Sauce



This Orange Basting and Grilling Sauce came about because my daughters were coming to visit and we had planned to do a small amount of canning while they were here. What? Doesn't everyone plan to do some canning while they're visiting? Hahahaha maybe not, but this is not at all unusual for us since we all enjoy it and especially enjoy sampling the results ... which were delicious.

Fresh sweet onions and chicken tenderloin basted with Orange Basting and Grilling Sauce.
Photo courtesy of Darren Jones.


If you are looking for something new to try, this homemade grilling sauce is perfect. It uses simple ingredients to create a rich and flavorful sauce that will enhance anything you grill or roast.


It's perfect for pork, ham, chicken, or shrimp and is so delicious everyone will be coming back for more. It's also very easy to make and perfect for holiday gift giving.

What do you need to make Orange Basting and Grilling Sauce?

  • Orange Marmalade
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Brown Mustard
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili Flakes



RECIPE

Ingredients
2 cups orange marmalade
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp spicy brown mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch fresh minced rosemary* (or omit)
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes

Method
Add orange marmalade, pineapple juice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, brown mustard and Worcestershire sauce to a heavy saucepan. Place over medium-high heat.

Whisk in fresh rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil, whisking often; reduce heat and cook until slightly reduced and thickened.

Ladle sauce into prepared half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Top with bands and lids and process in a boiling water bath or steam canner 10 minutes.

If not canning, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

*Note - Rosemary is a very strong herb, especially when used fresh. A small pinch of minced rosemary is all this needs. It can easily be omitted, but I like the flavor the small amount of rosemary imparts.

Yield: 6 four-ounce jars or 3 eight-ounce jars. Recipe can be easily doubled.

Original recipe adapted from outgrilling.com

Enjoy,
Mary

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole ... it's that classic quintessential holiday side dish we've all grown up with. 

I totally love this dish, but surprisingly I almost always only make it for the holidays. Maybe that's what keeps it so special to me? All I do know is it's not the holidays to me without this dish.

I love using fresh green beans with this dish because I think they provide more texture and flavor, but you can certainly use canned or frozen if you prefer. A homemade cream of mushroom soup and sauteed sliced button or cremini mushrooms elevates and enhances this simple Green Bean Casserole.

What do you need to make green bean casserole?

  • 4 cups blanched fresh cut green beans
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • soy sauce
  • black pepper
  • homemade cream of mushroom soup
  • button or cremini mushrooms (optional)
  • French fried onions

RECIPE
Ingredients
1 1/4 cups Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
4 cups cut green beans, blanched (I prefer fresh, but you can use canned or frozen)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp soy sauce
Dash or two of black pepper
1 1/3 cup French fried onions
1 tbsp butter
*1 1/2 cups button or cremini mushrooms, divided (optional)

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. 

Prepare Homemade Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup according to the recipe.

Blanch fresh green beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, drain. Sautee the remaining 3/4 cups mushrooms sliced in a small pan with 1 tbsp of butter until browned. Stir 1 1/4 cups soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans, 2/3 cup onions and mushrooms (if using) in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture, and sprinkle with the remaining onions.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Enjoy,
Mary

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Monday, October 12, 2020

Pickled Vegetables {Giardiniera}


What is Giardiniera? 
It is
 pickled vegetables, and there are two types:

  • Italian giardiniera refers to vegetables pickled in vinegar and originated as a method for preserving the bounty of a big harvest.
  • Chicago-style giardiniera is a medley of chopped vegetables, most commonly, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, celery, and chile peppers joined together and preserved in a two-step process: First, they're pickled vinegar and then they're marinated in olive oil. Chicago-style giardiniera, which likely has origins with the wave of late 19th century Chicago, is most often eaten as a condiment (like on the classic Chicago sandwich, the Italian beef), whereas Italian-style is most commonly served straight-up as part of an antipasto platter. (source: Bonappetit)

How do you use Giardiniera? Giardiniera is a versatile condiment that can be used on a variety of different foods such as

  • bratwurst
  • bruschetta
  • burgers
  • pasta salad
  • eggs (omelets)
  • hot dogs
  • tuna salad
  • sandwiches such as hearty subs/gyros
  • Bloody Mary's
  • Antipasto platters
  • Charcuterie boards

My version is more like the Italian style using just a pickling brine to preserve it since I wanted to be able to process it for shelf stability (and you can't process it with the olive oil). When you go to open a jar, you can certainly drain the brine and add some olive oil if desired, and then keep it refrigerated. 


RECIPE
Ingredients
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 bag pearl onions, peeled and larger ones cut in 1/2
2-3 cups fresh green beans, cut into pieces
2-3 jalapeno peppers, cut into slices
2 mad hatter peppers or other sweet pepper, cut into small slices
3 cups distilled vinegar
3 cups water
3 tbsp pickling salt

Add to each jar:
1/2 tsp dill seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp minced garlic

Method
Add spices to each of 8 pint jars. Prepare and cut up all veggies placing 2-3 slices of jalapeno peppers and mad hatter or other sweet peppers in the jars first. Next begin to layer in all the other veggies leaving 1/2-inch headspace; do not over pack the jars.

Place the vinegar, water and pickling salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt. Carefully pour brine over veggies in each jar leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Top jars with lids and bands and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath or steam canner. Once done, remove jars and place on a kitchen towel on your countertop and allow the jars to sit 24 hours undisturbed. Jars are sealed when the button in the middle of the lid is fully depressed and won't flex up or down.

For best results allow the Giardiniera to sit for 2-3 weeks before opening to give the flavors a chance to develop.

Store in pantry up to one year. Refrigerate any open jars.

Yield: 8 pint jars

Enjoy,
Mary

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Butter


This is one of those recipes that tastes amazing and is oh so simple to make. Simply place the apples and cranberries in a slow cooker with the apple juice or cider and let your slow cooker do the work.


Cranberry Apple Butter is delicious smeared on toast, bagels, English muffins or biscuits, topped on waffles for a treat, or served with a hard cheese like cheddar or Gouda on crackers. It's a delightful blend of sweet, tart and tangy.

RECIPE
Ingredients
5.5 lbs apples
1-16 oz bag cranberries
1 cup apple juice or apple cider 
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup maple syrup
2 tsp Vanilla extract

Method
Core and cut apples into pieces (no need to peel). Put apples, cranberries and juice or cider in a crock pot and cook on high about 5 hours.

Puree mixture in a blender or use an immersion blender. You can also process through a food mill if desired.

Add 1 cup maple syrup, 1 tbsp cinnamon and 2 tsp vanilla extract and cook on high another 2-3 hours (place a wooden spoon across the end of the slow cooker to prop up the lid so the cranberry apple butter will reduce and thicken) or until cranberry apple butter mixture is thick. 

Ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/2-inch head-space and process half-pints or pints 15 minutes.

Yield: 8 - half-pint jars

recipe adapted from Citronlimette

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Monday, September 7, 2020

Dried Minced Onion


Every year I find myself with at least one large bag of Vidalia or sweet white onions. They are awesome to cook with, and I love adding them to salsa's, salads, caramelizing them or sauteing them.


Mincing and drying them is a great way to preserve them to last a long time, well past the growing and harvest season.

These dried minced onions can be added to so much over the winter to give a variety of foods a much needed flavor boost.


What will you need to make Dried Minced Onions?

  • 4-5 large Vidalia or other sweet onions
  • Food processor (or cutting board and sharp knife)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • rimmed baking sheet
  • mesh strainer
  • cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel

How to use Dried Minced Onions?

  • Use dried minced onions in any recipe that calls for fresh. Use in a soup or a stew; throw the dried onion into the pot when you add the liquid. It’ll re-hydrate perfectly as it simmers. Same with casseroles and curries.
  • Dried minced onion works well in any kind of salad. Add it to the dressing for leafy greens, beans or grains. Or toss it into chicken, tuna or potato salad when you add the mayonnaise or a creamy dressing. 
  • The flavor of dried onions is more intense than fresh, so less is needed. One tablespoon of dried, minced onion equals one small fresh onion, minced.

RECIPE
Ingredients
4-5 large Vidalia or other sweet onion (or more depending on how much you want to process)
1 tsp. salt (use any kind you like, table salt, Himalayan, course, kosher)

Method
Preheat oven to 170-200 degrees F. Peel onions, cut them into smaller pieces and process in your food processor using the chopping blade and the pulse setting, or petite dice using a cutting board and sharp knife. You want the onions minced finely but not pulverized. 

Remove minced onions and place in a clean dish towel or piece of cheesecloth and do your best to squeeze the liquid out. Alternately, you can place a coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth in a mesh strainer over a bowl and push the minced onions with a large spoon to get the liquid to drain off. This does not need to be perfect, just do the best you can to remove as much liquid as possible.

Move onions to a large rimmed baking sheet, spreading out evenly. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place baking sheet in oven and stir every 30 minutes or until onions are thoroughly dry. They will turn slightly brown during the drying process but should not be too dark.

When onions are done, remove baking sheet from the oven and allow the onions to cool completely. 

Store dried minced onions in a glass mason jar with a tight fighting lid. Dried minced onions should last up to one year in your pantry provided the jar stays tightly closed after each use.

Enjoy,
Mary 

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Corn Relish


Corn Relish is a very versatile condiment to have on hand. It's awesome with tacos, added to a dip, or paired with grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork. 

The first time I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to try it with some fresh sweet corn from a local farm, and the Mad Hatter peppers we had growing in our raised bed garden.


Mad Hatter peppers are a species from South America commonly used in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine.The taste has a refreshing, citrusy floral flavor that remains sweet, only occasionally expressing mild heat near the seeds. I like them so much better than bell peppers, and they don't give me heartburn like other peppers do.

What do you need to make corn relish?

  • 4 cups fresh sweet corn
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp canning salt
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (approx. 2 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion (1 small)
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
For best results, use the freshest sweet corn you can find. We used corn we picked up at a local farm just as it had been harvested. 

If you don't have access to fresh on the cob corn, you can use frozen corn kernels. Simply thaw and proceed with the recipe. Do not use canned corn as it has already been canned once and it will result in a less than desirable product.



RECIPE
Ingredients
4 cups fresh sweet corn
2 cups white vinegar
2/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp canning salt
2 cups diced peppers (red or green bell peppers or Mad Hatter peppers)
3/4 cup diced celery (approx. 2 stalks)
1/2 cup finely diced onion (1 small)
1 tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp ground turmeric

Method
Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add corn, peppers, celery, onion, mustard, celery seeds and turmeric. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Ladle hot relish into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and cover with lids and bands. Place jars in boiling water bath or steam canner. 

Process jars for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat; remove lid and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Button on top of lid should be fully depressed and not move up or down when pressed.

Yield: 6 - half-pint jars

Original recipe adapted from Ball Fresh Preserving

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Pineapple Jalapeno Relish


Pineapple Jalapeno Relish is so different from other relishes, and a true tropical delight. With sweet ripe pineapple, tangy apple cider vinegar, and the heat of jalapeno peppers, this relish is packed with flavor. 


Pineapple Jalapeno Relish is awesome with:
  • grilled brats, burgers or hot dogs
  • grilled or roasted pork
  • grilled or roasted chicken
  • grilled or roasted shrimp
  • baked ham
  • or toss some in potato salad, pasta salad, chicken or tuna salad
 It brings such a nice topical taste to just about anything.


RECIPE
Ingredients
2 - 20 oz cans crushed pineapple with juice
1 medium red onion, diced (about one and one half cups)
4-6 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground coriander seed

Method
Pulse red onion and jalapeno peppers in the bowl of a food processor a few times just to fine chop, being careful not to puree.

Add processed red onion and jalapeno peppers to a non-reactive pot set over medium heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring often, until liquid has reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.

Ladle hot relish into a hot jar leaving a 1/2-inch head-space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. 

Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Jars are sealed when button to top of lid is fully depressed and won't flex up and down.

Original recipe from Fresh Preserving

Yield: 4 pint or 8 half-pint jars

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Easy Steak Fajitas


To me there is almost nothing simpler than these Easy Steak Fajitas. You use an inexpensive cut of beef such as skirt, hangar or flank steak, make a quick marinade, add some sliced onions, peppers and seasonings and voila'! That's really all there is to it.


My excuse to make these Easy Steak Fajitas were some Mad Hatter peppers we were growing in our raised bed garden. The plant was given to me to try by our friends at
B's Greenhouses, and i couldn't wait. This sweet pepper is a species from South America commonly used in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine.The taste has a refreshing, citrusy floral flavor that remains sweet, only occasionally expressing mild heat near the seeds. Aren't they cute?

What do you need to make these Easy Steak Fajitas?

  • Cast iron or other large skillet
  • Homemade Fajita Seasoning Blend
  • Skirt, Hangar or Flank Steak
  • 1 sweet onion
  • Fresh cilantro or dried Oregano Leaves
  • Sweet peppers (I used Mad Hatter but Bell peppers work)
  • 2 limes or lime juice concentrate
  • Flour tortillas


RECIPE
Ingredients

Homemade Fajita Seasoning Blend:
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Steak Fajitas:
1 clove garlic minced
1 of the full amount of the recipe Fajita seasoning above
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves chopped, plus more for serving or 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves (for those who have an aversion to cilantro)
1 1/2 pounds hanger, skirt or flank steak halved crosswise
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion halved and sliced vertically
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Mad Hatter peppers (or red and yellow bell peppers), cut into thin strips
2 wedges of lime, or 1 tablespoon lime juice
Warm flour tortillas

Method
For the Homemade Fajita Seasoning Blend
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

For the Steak Fajitas
In a shallow bowl, combine the garlic, fajita seasoning, 1/4 cup olive oil, and cilantro or oregano. Toss the steak to coat in the marinade, cover, refrigerate, and marinate for 30 minutes or longer.

Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast-iron or other large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and onion in the skillet. Season with the salt, stir, and cook until the edges of the onion are deeply golden yet still a bit firm, about 10 minutes.

Add the peppers and cook for 5 to 8 minutes more, depending on how done you prefer them. Transfer the onion and peppers to a small dish.

Working in two batches, sear the steak on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 8 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

Return the strips and any juices from the cutting board to the skillet, squeeze in the juice from the lime wedges or lime concentrate, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove from the heat and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Serve on warm tortillas. We love to top these with a Mexican cheese sauce such as white Queso sauce, and pickled red onions.

Original recipe adapted from Foodiecrush

Enjoy,
Mary

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Zesty Corn Salsa

When fresh corn is in season, Zesty Corn Salsa is just the thing to munch on with crispy tortilla chips. We love it and serve it many times during the summer. it's a great alternative to tomato salsas and goes well as a side dish with grilled fish, chicken or pork.

I like to use fresh corn on the cob I buy from a local farm or farmers market, because that corn is usually the freshest of fresh, with crispy, juicy kernels. Of course you can use any fresh corn you can find, or you can also use frozen corn kernels if that's what's available.

The addition of diced tomatoes, black olives and chopped jalapeno peppers gives it just the right balance of sweet with a little heat. 

RECIPE
Ingredients
2 - 3 ears fresh corn on the cob, or 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
10 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
10 black olives, sliced or diced
1 small red onion, diced
1-2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (or less depending on taste)
1-2 tbsp lime juice (from concentrate or freshly squeezed)
2 tbsp Ball's Fresh Preserving Fiesta Salsa Mix -or- 1/2 tbsp each ground cumin, dried oregano leaves, and dried cilantro leaves* (or fresh minced cilantro) or slightly more to taste. Can also add a small amount of cayenne pepper or dried red pepper flakes if desired.
*you can leave the cilantro out if desired

Method
Husk fresh corn, remove silk and using a sharp knife cut the kernels off the cob. You will need 2-3 ears of fresh corn kernels to equal 2 cups or frozen corn kernels, thawed.

Place corn kernels in a large bowl. Slice or dice the next 4 ingredients and add to the bowl with the corn. Stir in the salsa mix or the spices and stir to combine well.

Spoon Zesty Corn Salsa into a storage container with a lid, and chill in the refrigerator several hours to allow the flavors to develop. Serve cold or at room temperature with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to grilled fish, chicken or pork.

Keeps well stored in the refrigerator up to one week.

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Spicy Pickled Okra


No matter what you've always thought about okra being slimy, pickled okra is not. Spicy Pickled Okra using the freshest okra you can find is crisp and tender and does not get mushy.


I'm very fortunate the Bradford Heirloom Okra is grown local to me. The pods are larger than most okra varieties, and always harvested and sold while super-fresh, either the day it's harvested or the very next day.

A few years ago a small group of us visited Nat Bradford on their farm and learned all about the families heirloom products, which includes the okra, but also the Bradford Watermelon, African Runner Peanuts, Hanson Lettuce, Bradford Collards and more. For more about the farm, please visit Bradford Watermelon Company


Growing up in New England okra never touched my lips until we lived in the south, and my first experience with it was less than favorable. Okra to me was slimy and the only way I could eat it was fried.

Visiting the Bradford's quickly changed my mind when I tasted their okra raw in the field. It was so tender and crispy. Did you know okra is related to the orchid family? Isn't the flower beautiful?


You can use any fresh okra you have in this recipe, but always make sure it's fresh and buy it from your local farm or farmers market. Pickling it fresh is what keeps the okra from getting slimy and mushy. If you don't want to pickle the pods whole, they are also delicious cut into okra chips.


Pickled Okra is wonderful on a cheeseboard, as an addition to a relish tray, a snack anytime, or try breading them and frying for a crispy, spicy treat.

RECIPE
Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds okra pods 
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 jalapeno pepper sliced into rings (optional) 
4 pint mason jars

Method
Wash the okra pods and trim away the stem ends (for chips cut 1/4-inch thick slices). Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Place the dill seed, garlic, red chili flake, mustard seeds, and peppercorns in each of the four jars. Add 2 slices jalapeno peppers to each jar.

Pack the okra tightly into the jars over the spices, alternating them stem side up and down to fit more snugly if necessary.  

Pour the brine over the okra, leaving 1/2-inch head-space. Gently tap the jars on the counter to loosen any trapped air bubbles. Run a plastic knife around the inside of the jars to get rid of any stubborn air bubbles, if necessary.

Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath or steam canner for 10 minutes.

Once processed, remove jars from the canner and allow to sit on a kitchen towel on your counter-top undisturbed for 24 hours. Jars are sealed when the button on top of the lid is fully depressed and won't flex up and down.

Store sealed jars in your pantry up to one year. Spicy Okra Pickles are best if allowed to sit for 2 weeks before opening a jar to allow the flavors to develop. Open jars must be refrigerated.

Yield: 4 pints jars

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 



Saturday, July 18, 2020

Jalapeno Pickle Relish


A short time ago my son mentioned this Jalapeno Relish they'd been buying, and how much they really liked it. He sent me a photo of the front and back of the jar so I could see it and, more or less, see the ingredients (they never tell you everything).


A later conversation with my daughter, who had also talked to her brother about the relish, resulted in us deciding this relish was basically like any pickle relish, only with jalapeno peppers instead of cucumbers. Luckily I just happened to have a sweet pickle relish recipe we all enjoyed, and so began the experiment with this Jalapeno Pickle Relish. 

What do you need to make Jalapeno Pickle Relish?
  • 20 medium Jalapeno peppers
  • 1 medium white onion
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Celery seed
  • Mustard seed
  • Salt
  • Turmeric
  • Non-reactive bowl (stainless steel or glass)
  • Measuring cup
  • Mesh strainer
  • Water bath or steam canner
  • Half-pint canning jars
This Jalapeno Pickle Relish is the perfect blend of sweet and heat; not too hot with just the right touch of sweetness. 

How to use it?
  • Top it on burgers, brats or hot dogs
  • Mix it up with some stewed tomatoes for a savory side dish
  • Add it to a pot roast for an extra punch of flavor
  • Mix it in egg salad, potato salad or chicken salad
  • Mix it in mayo for a twist on tartar sauce



RECIPE
Ingredients
20 medium jalapeno peppers
1 medium onion
Brine: 
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp turmeric

Method
Cut stem end from jalapeno peppers and pulse until finely minced in your food processor. Repeat with the medium onion, pulsing until finely minced. Add both to a non-reactive bowl such as a stainless steel or glass bowl.

Mix the brine in a small saucepan or 2 cup measuring cup and heat or microwave until sugar is dissolved.

Pour brine over pepper and onion mixture, cover with plastic wrap and let sit 1-2 hours.

Pour mixture with brine into a mesh strainer placed over a bowl to catch the brine. Spoon relish into half-pint canning jars leaving 1/2-inch head-space and top with brine. Run a knife around the inside of each jar to remove air bubbles and add more brine if necessary. 

Top jars with lids and rings and process in water bath or steam canner 10 minutes. Remove jars, and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours on your counter-top. Jars are sealed when button on lid is fully depressed and won't flex up and down.

Store sealed jars in your pantry up to one year, open jars need to be refrigerated.

Cook's note - recipe is easily doubled

Yield: approx. 2 half-pint jars

Enjoy,
Mary

© Cooking with Mary and Friends. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cooking with Mary and Friends with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.