Tag Archives: batch cooking

Refrigerator Dill Pickle Slices

refrigerator dill slices

Dave says these are “the best pickles ever.” A gallon jar usually lasts about a week around here. I use tons of garlic and a good-quality blend of pickling spices from Penzeys. (We like the star anise.) The slight red hue on this batch comes from dried chipotle peppers, crumbled into the jar across each layer. The result is crunchy pickle slices with a lot of heat and smoky flavor.

Ingredients:
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup canning salt
1/2 cup (packed) fresh dill
1 medium white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
6-9 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 1/2 to 4 pounds cucumbers, scrubbed and sliced (I used four of the english variety cucumbers, and 1/4 inch slices)
4 tbsp pickling spice (I used Penzeys)
2-3 dried chipotle peppers, crumbled (optional – if you like them spicy!)

Directions:
Sterilize a 1-gallon glass jar and lid by immersing in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water, and set aside.

In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine 6 cups water, cider vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and then simmer mixture while proceeding with recipe.

Place a third of the dill in bottom of jar. Top with a third of the onion and garlic.

Arrange 2-3 layers of cucumber slices over garlic. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of pickling spice and 1/3 of the chipotle peppers, if using.

Continue layering until jar is full, packing jar tightly.

Place jar in sink, and carefully pour in hot vinegar mixture into jar to fill it completely. Gently shake jar to dislodge any air bubbles. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.

If using metal lid, line with a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap before fastening lid to prevent corrosion.

Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Remove jar from basin, and wipe clean with damp sponge.

Refrigerate jar for at least 24 hours before eating. These pickles will keep for up to a year in the refrigerator, but will probably not last that long!

refrigerator dill slices

 

Junior Chef Lance Presents: Spinach Mushroom Quesadillas

spinach mushroom quesadillas

My son Lance is 6 and a half. He loves Cholula, swimming, Legos, and Plants vs. Zombies (arguably the cutest, most addictive game ever, and the inspiration behind the name of this blog). He eats just about everything, except brains. He also likes to cook. Last week, he made himself dinner: pasta, black olives, and Tabasco, with raw oatmeal for a garnish. He ate it, so what can I say?

Ball Small Batch Pectin
If you have 2 cups of fruit, you can make our own jam. And control the sugar. It's so easy!

When asked what he wants for dinner, he’s likely to say, “quesadillas”. I asked, and we invented. We sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, and spinach. He added pepper, and tasted the cooked mushrooms with a toothpick. (Curious George says food always tastes better when it’s served on toothpicks.) He said it needed more salt, and he was right. We heated some tortillas on a griddle and added some Daiya Mozzarella. The garnish was completely his idea. These quesadillas remind me of what used to be my favorite meal at Chili’s. I think their version contained artichoke hearts, which would be a nice addition here as well. I love my little junior chef!

Blueberries are also in season. My mom and dad gave us 10 pounds of berries on their way back from Michigan. It’s a yearly trip for them, and each year I pledge to freeze some… but they’re always eaten fresh, or given to friends and neighbors. Lance and I ate at least a pound over the weekend.

I really need to save some berries so I can veganize my mom’s famous Blueberry Cream Muffins, which have earned her the name “Grandma Who Makes Muffins.” They are arguably the best blueberry muffins on the planet.

We also made freezer jam, which was so easy, you could do it while watching Doctor Who. Cook and mash 2 cups of fresh berries, add a packet of Ball Low or No-Sugar Pectin, some lemon juice and sugar (or no sugar), then ladle into freezer cups. It can also be canned in a water bath if you’re awesome and know how to do that.

blueberry freezer jam

A Batch of Breakfast Burritos, and Mexican Rice

breakfast burritos

I made ten breakfast burritos last weekend, which I froze or refrigerated for future grab-and-go breakfasts. Each burrito contains:

  • a flour tortilla
  • a smear of vegetarian refried beans
  • Mexican Rice (see recipe below)
  • basic scrambled tofu
  • breakfast potatoes
  • a little hot sauce (Cholula is good)
a batch of breakfast burritos in a bag
Why not use the tortilla bag to hold them together in the freezer?

The process took about an hour. All components except the refried beans were prepared from scratch. A lot of the time was not hands-on, such as when the rice was simmering. I could have used two separate skillets for potatoes and scrambled tofu and cooked them simultaneously, but I wanted to keep dirty pans to a minimum. I cooked the breakfast potatoes in the skillet, followed by the scrambled tofu.

The breakfast potatoes are simply diced potatoes sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.

These burritos are very filling. I prefer to let them thaw a little in the refrigerator overnight (or longer) before microwaving. I heat them on medium power to avoid hot ends and a cold middle.

I tossed one in my bag this morning and it was an excellent post-run breakfast.

Mexican Rice

This recipe makes more than double what you need for ten breakfast burritos, but reheats well. Use any type of rice you prefer, including long-grain or basmati. I used a medium-grain rice because that’s what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups medium-grain rice
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
  • 2 tsp vegetable stock concentrate (Better Than Bouillon is what I use, or substitute 2 cups of broth)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
In a deep saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add rice and stir to coat. Toast rice for a few minutes while preparing liquid mixture, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a 4-cup measuring container, combine tomato sauce, spices, and vegetable stock concentrate or broth. Add enough water to make a total of 4 cups of liquid.

Stir liquid into rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. (Be sure to follow cooking time guidelines for the rice you’re using.)

Uncover rice and remove from heat. Stir to separate grains and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: When reheating rice, it helps to sprinkle a little water on it before microwaving, in a covered dish. It keeps the rice moist.

Seitan Chorizo

I can barely live without having these in my refrigerator at all times. They are seriously tasty. The texture and flavor is just right. I think they might even fool a meat-eating chorizo lover if you tucked them into a breakfast burrito with some black beans and rice.

I’ve varied the recipe from mild to extra spicy. I like to use smoked paprika, and add a little extra. One thing is always the same: I have to put it away promptly or I’ll end up eating it all, right out of the pan. It sounds like I’m not the only person with this problem. I recommend doubling your batch.

Seitan Chorizo Crumbles
http://havecakewilltravel.com/2008/12/22/seitan-chorizo-crumbles/

Thank you, Celine Steen at “have cake, will travel“. You rock.

Chipotle Black Beans

Put some beans in a large bowl (or big pan) of water before you go to bed. Cook them up for breakfast or dinner (takes about an hour) the next day.

CAUTION: The chipotle-scented steam will make your house smell fantastic, but DO NOT inhale it from directly over the pot! I speak from experience.

1 lb dried black beans
1 dried chipotle pepper, broken into chunks
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Soak, drain, and rinse beans as directed on package. Add beans, chipotle, garlic, cumin, and bay leaf to cooking water in a large pot. Cook beans as directed, about 1 hour. Add salt after cooking.

Remove pepper chunks after cooking, or smash and blend into the beans for extra spice. These are even better the next day.

Crock Pot Channa Masala

PCRM’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart begins tomorrow. I’m going to give it a try. I don’t feel like I’m “giving up” all the things I can’t have (or more accurately, that I choose not to have). I see it as an opportunity – for better health, to reduce my footprint on the world, and to discover new tastes. Many of the dishes I already love are vegan. Like this one, a family-favorite Indian dish. It’s easy to prepare in a slow cooker, and the chickpeas turn out perfectly.

If your slow cooker has a removable stoneware crock like mine does, you can even assemble it the night before and store the crock in the fridge, then pull it out in the morning and plug it in. Dinner will be waiting for you, and your house will smell amazing.

Crock Pot Channa Masala

1 29 oz (large) can chickpeas, undrained
1 28 oz (large) can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
5-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 tbsp garam masala
few dashes cayenne (or more to taste)

Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours, with the lid off for the last hour so it can thicken. Serve with hot cooked basmati rice or naan, and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.