Parsley Log

Do you have an excess of parsley growing in your garden? Need a method for saving it? Then read on…

I spent a few hours playing in the dirt today. (That means I gave my garden some lovin’ and my arms a sunburn.) Since I have to start teaching again in two weeks and won’t have as much free time as I do during the summers (big boo hoo!), I had to pull out the spring/summer plants and get the veggie beds ready for fall planting.

I had an excess of parsley in one area and wanted to make room for growing cilantro instead, which we use more often. However, I didn’t have the heart to just throw it all away (but considered it), so I brought it into the house with plans to just toss it in a baggie and freeze it.

Parsley

Abundance of parsley

Then the stars aligned! As I read my email from the gals at kitchn.com (love their site), they had a link to a method for saving loads and loads of parsley in a small package: the parsley log. How oh-so-very convenient for me!

Parsley Log

Yep, all that parsley from the photo above got squeezed into this bag

The method involves pulling all the leaves off the parsley, stuffing them tightly into the bottom of a resealable bag, then tightly rolling  up the bag and securing with rubber bands, and finally popping it into the freezer. When a recipe calls for parsley during the winter season, just pull out the log, cut off a slice, and voila! Brilliant method!! Now I know it won’t provide fresh-from-the-garden parsley, but it sure beats having to pay a few bucks for a small bunch of parsley at the market every time I need some for a soup or stew recipe.

So, my parsley didn’t go to waste and I am a happy camper.

Definitely check out the pictures on Margaret’s A Way to Garden blog for making these parsley logs. My pics are limited (in both quality and process) while hers clearly show all the steps.

Lemon Love: A Roundup of Lemon Recipes

Lemons and I hooked up in my early childhood. Its tart personality sucked me in and I was completely smitten. 

In my youth, my mom used to set up a small kiddie table in the middle of our kitchen, cut lemons into wedges piled high in a bowl, and place them along with a bowl of sugar in the middle of the table. Oh, how I adored dipping my wedges into the sugar, then sucking the combo of lemon juice and sweetness. Pure and absolute delight for my little gal self.

I also loved the game my older brother and I would play. Sitting opposite each other, we would proceed to have a Pucker Face Contest. The game was to see who could suck on the lemon wedge the longest without making one of those squishy, squinty eyed puckered-face looks generated by the sourness of lemons. You know, a face similar to this one:

These memories inundated my mind the other day after a friend of mine gifted me some Meyer lemons from her tree (sweeter than the ultra-tart ones I pick from our backyard tree), and I thought about sharing a post highlighting all the lemon recipes I’ve posted–both of the sweet and of the savory variety. And I have a few recipes coming your way in the next few weeks… Anyhow, click the links below to view the recipes.

What are your favorite recipes that use lemons?

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Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

StrawberryBasilLemonade

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

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Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

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Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet

lemonbars

Lemon Bars

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Lemon Thyme Sorbet

LemonMousse1

Lemon Mousse

BrwnBttrAsparagus

Garlic Lemon Green Beans

Lemonade2

Lip-Smacking Lemonade

CrnbryScns3

Lemon Curd

sugarcookies

Lemon & Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

QuinoaEdamameSalad

Edamame Quinoa Salad

Artchkbrschta

Artichoke Heart Bruschetta

BasilPesto

Pesto

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Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken

RoastedVeggies

Roasted Veggies with Caper Gremolata

And I couldn’t locate the picture for this recipe, but here is the link:

Spicy Lemon Trout

“Caramelized” Onions in the Crockpot

CaramelizedOnions

I recently had the yummilicious experience of an appetizer involving caramelized onions. Although I detest onions and even though I picked every last speck of them off my appetizer, I thought I would make some to recreate the recipe. Besides, I had saved directions for making caramelized onions in the crockpot long ago, knowing I would one day make them for hubby, who loves onions.

I found the instructions I had saved, but I searched online for others just to see what I could find. Lo and behold, I came across one from a site called Shockingly Delicious. Now, I had just come back the night before from an inspiring food blogger’s conference, Camp Blogaway (post coming soon about that), and the blog name sounded like one I had heard at camp. Reading the author’s bio, I realized I had met the blogger, Dorothy Reinhold, at camp. Not only that, but I remembered her as one of the first persons I had encountered, and she so kindly informed me about the local Food Bloggers LA, encouraging me to look it up on Facebook and to join the group. What a coincidence! Needless to say, I looked no further for recipes. Do check out her post, for she includes lots of pictures of the very easy process as well as info about onions and caramelization.

As I said, I lack a fondness for caramelized onions. However, I can envision hubby spooning these atop his broiled venison steaks; adding them to his favorite soups; layering them on his beloved burritos; smattering them atop his favorite pizza, pepperoni and mushroom; mixing some into his green beans; or topping his baked potato with a spoonful of them.

If you love caramelized onions, this is the very easy route to go. Just bear with the tears during the chopping of the raw veggie, but once you dry your eyes, all you have to do is mix in a bit of olive oil, plug in the crockpot, and go about your day’s business. Or, go to sleep and let the magic happen overnight. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about gobbling these up all at once; instead, just pack into airtight containers or ziploc bags, then store in the freezer for later use. Talk about ease and usefulness!

Now, go buy a few pounds of onions and try it out. And let me know how else you use caramelized onions so I can open my cooking eyes to some new ideas.

P.S. I just took time to read the comments on Dorothy’s post, and one reader explains that this process doesn’t really caramelize onions in the true sense; rather, it just slowly browns them because most crockpots don’t reach the 110 degrees F temperature needed to caramelize foods. Interesting. Nonetheless, the final product produces a very sweet and soft onion (yes, I did venture a taste but just a tiny one).

Caramelized” Onions in the Crockpot

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds (about 6) yellow onions (however, I have a 6 1/2 quart crockpot and I could have easily fit more into it)
  • 2-3 tbsp. olive oil (or butter)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare crockpot by rubbing or spraying sides and bottom with a bit of oil.
  2. Cut off roots and top ends, then peel onions (and save skins/tops/bottoms for making broth). Cut them in half from roots to tops (“pole to pole”). Place halves cut side down, followed by thinly slice the halves pole to pole.Place sliced onions into crockpot.
  3. Pour 2-3 tbsp. olive oil (or melted butter) over onions, then toss to coat.
  4. Plug in crockpot and set to low for 10-12 hours, until onions have cooked to a lovely deep brown color.
  5. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: about 3 cups

Note: I had a lot of juice collecting several hours into the cooking, so I drained the juice to allow the onions more opportunity to brown during the slow cooking. If you want them browner and truly caramelized, consider sauteeing them in a saucepan for a bit after they are finished cooking in the crockpot.

SOURCES: Shockingly Delicious and The Slow-Roasted Italian and Simply Recipes for the saute method

Orange-Glazed Chicken

OrangeGlazedChicken

Despite all the chicken recipes I have posted, hubby and I actually eat a lot more red meat and fish than the blog showcases. You see, my hubby is a fisherman and hunter at heart, a person born in the wrong era. He should have been a pioneer frontiersman.

He also usually cooks the meat and fish, liberally sprinkling on a variety of spices–whatever he is in the mood for. I, on the other hand, am a recipe follower. And I’m the one who experiments with the chicken recipes. Although we have freezers full of the game and ocean fish he brings home, we buy chicken just for the sake of having variety in our meals.

We had some drumsticks hanging around the freezer a few weeks back, and this Orange-Glazed Chicken recipe crossed my path around the same time I decided they needed to be cooked. Wow! This marinade packs a flavorful punch. It’s sweet from the orange juice and brown sugar; savory from the garlic and green onion; packs on more subtle spicy flavor with the ginger, anise, and cinnamon; and the addition of soy sauce and rice vinegar creates an Asian flair. Oh, and the final glaze of honey provides one more layer of sweetness.

I can’t get enough of these sweet things. They are so darn delicious that you just keep going back for more! I knew I would be making them again soon–both because I craved them and because I wanted to take photos for the blog (didn’t get around to that the first time).

Although I made these using only drumsticks, the marinade would work with all chicken cuts as well as with an entire roast chicken.

OrangeGlazedChicken2

Orange-Glazed Chicken

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INGREDIENTS

  • 10-12 chicken drumsticks (or one chicken, whole or cut up)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • orange slices for garnish

Marinade Sauce

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated ginger (TIP: I keep 1-inch pieces of peeled ginger in a resealable bag in the freezer for recipes calling for grated ginger)
  • 1 tsp. ground anise
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • zest of one medium-sized orange
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 medium oranges)
  • 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer all marinade ingredients except the sesame oil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing marinade to thicken, then remove from heat.
  2. Stir in sesame oil and allow marinade to cool completely.
  3. Set aside (refrigerate) 1/4 – 1/2 cup marinade for basting during roasting, then pour remaining marinade into a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken pieces and coat well. Seal bag, place in refrigerator, and allow meat to marinate anywhere from 2-24 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking pan with foil (otherwise you will have quite the mess to scrape up during cleaning time), and evenly spread chicken pieces onto pan. Sprinkle with ground black pepper, the place pan into preheated oven.
  5. Roast chicken for 45-50 minutes, turning and basting 2-3 times with the marinade you set aside. During the final basting, brush with honey (TIP: if  honey is too thick to brush onto chicken, microwave it for 15-30 seconds).

SOURCE: Season with Spice

Farewell 2012 and Welcome 2013!

WISHING YOU ALL A FUN & PLEASANT EVENING

AS WE CLOSE 2012

The Most Viewed Posts of 2012

OreoCheesecakeBites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites…like mini cheesecakes to pop into your mouth

StuffedPeppers2

Stuffed Bell Peppers…very close to how my mom made them…also one of my 2012 favorites

CinnamonBread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread…light and airy and worth the time

ChaiIceCream

Chai Ice Cream…my favorite tea turned into a creamy frozen delight

My Favorite Recipes from 2012 Posts

kalebrusssproutsalad

sorry…not one of my better pictures!

Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad…made repeatedly this entire year!!

ShrimpEnchiladas

Shrimp Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce…insanely scrumptious!!!

BraidedSugarCookies

Braided Sugar Cookies…you’ll keep going back for more

BeetBerrySmoothie

Beet Berry Smoothie…surprisingly refreshing and yummy

CinnamonIceCream

Cinnamon Ice Cream…refreshingly winterish

Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower

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Ready for a break from all the dessert recipes? Ready for some healthier fare? I have a solution: this Chicken Thighs and Cauliflower recipe a friend shared with me. So glad she did. It’s one of those one-skillet easy-to-make and totally yummy dishes.

It never crossed my mind to pair lime and chicken. Or lime and cauliflower. Who would have thought they complement each other so well? Thankfully, recipes open my culinary world. Allow your culinary world to expand: try this recipe. It will knock your socks off.

And look for more cauliflower recipes coming soon. Our garden is exploding with cauliflower right now. I’m particularly excited about that for several reasons. First, my previous attempts at growing cauliflower failed because apparently it’s a cold-weather plant. Aha! Like I said, cauliflower explosion this time around.

Cauliflower

Second, little green worms almost destroyed my entire fall crop. It took me awhile to figure out what was chompin’ on my plants. Every day, they were full of more and more holes until a couple plants had nearly no leaves left. When I discovered the green buggers, I painstakingly picked them off (gross, yes) and sprayed the plants with a solution recommended by a local nursery. They all sprung back to vibrant life…yay!

And finally, the darn squirrels (thanks to nut-feeding next-door neighbors) tend to destroy my seedlings as they look for homes for the nuts. I keep trying to tell them my garden beds are NOT a suitable home for their nuts, but they aren’t listening. It’s an ongoing battle…sigh… They annihilated most of my broccoli plants but for some reason didn’t touch a single cauliflower stalk. Go figure.

Cauliflower2

As you can see, the cauliflower faced some obstacles, but together we endured the battles and found victory. Now, off to find some more cauliflower dishes that will make me victorious in the kitchen…

Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 8)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into florets
  • 2 small dried red chilies or 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Season the chicken with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.
  4. Working in batches, cook the chicken skin-side down until crisp and golden, 6-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate; reserve the skillet.
  5. Pour off all but 2 tbsp. of the skillet drippings. Add the cauliflower, chilies, and 1/4 tsp. each of kosher salt and black pepper; toss to coat.
  6. Nestle the chicken, skin side up, amongst the cauliflower. Transfer skillet to oven; roast until the cauliflower is tender and the chicken is cooked through, 20-22 minutes.
  7. Add the lime juice and cilantro to the skillet; toss to combine. Serve with lime wedges.

SOURCE: Real Simple (via my friend Beckie–thanks!)

For today, I hang up my apron strings…

image found on google.com

For today, I hang up my apron strings. I’ve had it.

Everything I touch is a disaster. It’s the opposite of The Midas Touch. Everything I touch burns, cracks, tastes bland, falls apart…

I am on the last day of a three-day weekend, and I had planned to make all my Thanksgiving desserts ahead of time instead of scrambling the night before the holiday–my usual method. But alas, the kitchen gods have different plans for me. This was their weekend to mess with me, to make me the butt of their pranks.

No matter how much I slave in the kitchen and try and retry, nothing seems to be working. Last night, I made two pumpkin pies. One didn’t cook thoroughly and ended up in the trash. The other had burned edges, not worthy of taking to the Thanksgiving gathering. So much for all the butter and eggs and pumpkin puree that went into both the homemade pie crust and the pumpkin custard on those.

The stuffed peppers I made for dinner last night just tasted bland compared to their usual stellar flavor.

And I tried all day to post a blog with a pasta recipe but to no avail due to internet issues. Sigh…

This morning, after a restful night of sleep, I thought I’d start again. This time I aimed to make a fresh blackberry pie since Sprouts had big fat juicy blackberries on super sale. I mixed up yet another batch of pie dough, this time experimenting by adding some lemon zest to the dough. It rolled out fine, fit into the pan just fine, and I even crimped the edges just fine. It parbaked and was looking splendid…until I lifted the foil that had the pie weights: up came a nice big hunk of pie dough from the center of the pie. ARGHHHHHH!!! Imagine the expletives bursting forth. By the way, the zest tasted so fresh and bright in the dough–would have been delightful for the berry pie.

Okay, I officially give up on homemade pie dough–for today. Off to the market–thankfully only two blocks away–to cave in to store-bought pie dough. I got home and the more upscale brand I had purchased was full of cracks in the first package. Then in the second. ARGHHHHHH!!!! I marched those two blocks again, returned the cracked pie doughs, and bought another brand.

They await in the freezer for the day the kitchen gods return to my life and work with me rather than against me.

Now, maybe I’ll just curl up with a book and leave the kitchen in peace…