July 29, 2016

Peach Blueberry Lemon Verbena Jam

4 cups lightly crushed peaches
2/3 cup blueberries, lightly crushed
3 tablespoons instant pectin*
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
3 tablespoons chiffonade lemon verbena**


Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the Ball Jam Maker with the pectin. Spoon the fruit in a relatively even layer over the pectin. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Press the jam button. You will hear a beep at 4 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar and lemon verbena over the fruit mixture while the machine is still running. Cover and wait for the jam cycle to complete. Press the cancel button and unplug the machine.

If not using a Ball Jam Maker, make the jam on the stovetop using the traditional method as seen in this recipe.

Ladle the jam into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. I used my electric canner which takes the same amount of time as processing on the stove but without heating up the house.

Yield: about 5 8-oz jars

*I recommend these jars of flex batch pectin. 3 tablespoons equals 1/2 of a pouch of boxed pectin.

** I used my herb scissors and cut from the leaf directly into the sugar.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
 The lovely people at the Washington State Fruit Commission and the masterminds behind Sweet Preservation offered to send me some stone fruit again this year and I was excited when it arrived it and it had both peaches (my husband's favorite) and nectarines (my favorite). Peaches make me itchy when I handle them but Matt quickly peeled and cubed them for me so I could make this jam with ease. And what ease it was! I used my Ball Jam Maker and the electric canner I bought as a present to myself last summer and it was wonderful. Living in an old house in Baltimore City with no air conditioning and canning is a sweaty miserable experience. Now I was able to make two kinds of jam and process 12 jars without heating up the house at all. Thank goodness for modern technology. I'm all for corning my own beef and making my own mustard or whatever but canning in late July can be a grueling experience the old fashioned way.

This jam combines two of my favorite summer fruits and one of my favorite herbs from our garden. It really is summer in a jar! The lemon verbena adds a bright citrus note that tempers the sweet peach and the blueberry adds not only color but a berry fullness to the jar. It is lovely now but I can't wait to open a jar during the dark days of winter for a little cheer.

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July 27, 2016

Rainbow Summer Spicy Slaw

2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 1/2 cups matchsticked carrots
3/4 cup chopped sugar snap peas
4 scallions, chopped (green parts only)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi (seven flavored Japanese spice mix)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Toss all ingredients in large bowl until evenly combined.

My thoughts:
Ever since I found a good deal on 10 oz of shichimi togarashi on Amazon (Japanese ingredients are tricky to find locally) I've become obsessed with coming up with ways to use it beyond sprinkling it on my noodles. Today we were grilling chicken and I didn't relish the idea of cooking a side inside so I thought a slaw would be perfect. I had some cabbage, snap peas and carrots that needed to be used so they went in and then I thought why not add a kick to it? Into the bowl went the shichimi togarashi. Yum. Spicy, crisp and cool with just a hint of sesame.

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July 25, 2016

Toasted Marshmallow Apple Butter Milkshakes


for the milkshake:
1/2 cup Musselman's apple butter
1 1/3 cup vanilla bean gelato
1 cup milk
8 large marshmallows

to serve:
whipped cream
cinnamon sticks

Skewer marshmallows on a wooden skewer or fondue fork. Toast over an open burner. Place on parchment paper to cool. When cool, slice 4 marshmallows in half, leaving the other four marshmallows whole.

Place the apple butter, gelato, milk and halved marshmallows in a milkshake maker or blender. Blend until thick and creamy. Pour into 2 glasses. Top each with whipped cream and two whole, toasted marshmallows. Sprinkle with cinnamon and insert cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

My thoughts:
I've been a Musselman's apple butter blogger for a while now and it has been fun developing recipes using their apple butter so when they approached me to develop a summery recipe using apple butter I agreed but I admit I was a little stumped! Apple butter seems so autumnal to me that I struggled a bit to think of a way to pull it into summer. Then a heatwave hit and I knew what I had to make! It is total milkshake weather. To make it even more summery, I added the campfire classic toasted marshmallows to the mix and the result was a sweet, toasty, spicy delight!

Note: I used gelato in this for a lighter milkshake but vanilla bean ice cream can be substituted.

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July 22, 2016

Summer Vegetable Pasta with Andouille

6 (turkey) andouille sausages, cut into coins
8 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
3 Hungarian hot wax peppers*, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
3 small pattypan squash, chopped
2 small bunches collards (~12 stalks, about 4 loose cups chopped), ribs removed and coarsely chopped
10 oz hot, cooked short pasta
freshly ground black pepper


Saute the sausage in a small amount of oil in a large pan until browned on both sides in a large, high-walled skillet. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add the mushrooms, peppers, onion, squash and collards to the pan and saute 1 minute. Cover for 2 minutes or until the collards start to turn bright green. Remove lid and saute until the vegetables are all tender, 10-15 minutes. Toss with hot pasta, serve immediately.

*I think cubanelles would work as a substitution here.
My thoughts:
I love collards. Normally I go the southern route with them and cook them for ages with smoked meat but this time they were so fresh and vibrant looking I went in a different direction. I used them more like I would spinach or chard but being collards, they held their shape better and stood up to a long saute with the other ingredients. I added in some local onions, squash and Hungarian hot wax peppers for extra vegetable goodness and a hint of spice. It was great! Not to heavy, full of flavor and veggies and the turkey andouille provided a lot of hot sausage flavor with very little fat added. Perfect for a summer evening meal.

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July 20, 2016

Zucchini and Feta Stuffed Hamburgers

1 1/3 lb 90% lean ground beef
1 cup finely shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini), squeezed dry
5 oz feta, crumbled
1 tablespoon dill
freshly ground black pepper

rolls for serving


In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, zucchini, pepper, feta and dill until well mixed. Form into 6 equal patties.

Prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Grill the burgers for 5-8 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.

My thoughts:
Zucchini season is in full swing right now and though we don't grow it ourselves, my produce box each week has been full of summer squash. This week instead of making it into a side dish, I folded it into some lean ground beef and made some of the moistest burgers I've grilled. Despite the water being wrung out of the zucchini prior to use, it had the magic effect of keeping the burger tender and from over cooking despite a long(ish) time on the grill. The feta helped too, I'm sure and added a yummy salty-savory note to the burgers. Bonus: I had a cheeseburger without having to toss on cheese at the last minute. So if you love flavorful burgers and want to sneak some extra vegetables into your meal these are the burgers for you!

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July 18, 2016

S'Mores Krispie Treats

4 tablespoons butter
13 oz large marshmallows
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups crisped rice cereal (AKA Rice Krispies)
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 graham crackers, crumbled into big chunks


Coat 13x9x2 inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the cereal, chips, graham crackers (chunks and any crumbs!). Set aside.

Melt butter over low heat in a large, tall pot. Add marshmallows and vanilla and stir until nearly completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in cereal, chips and graham crackers. Use a greased spoon or spatula the cereal into the pan. Use the back of the spoon to press it firmly into the pan in an even layer. Cool, cut into squares and eat.

My thoughts:
It has been forever since I made Rice Krispie treats! I was snacking on some S'mores flavored marshmallows recently and thought how great would this flavor be in a Rice Krispie treat? As it turns out? So good! The chocolate melts and coats a lot of the cereal (yum!) but a few chunks remaining so every bite is full of chocoalte-y goodness. The graham cracker is a more subtle addition, the cereal is alreafy pretty crunchy but since I broke the crackers over the bowl of cereal, the flavor is there adding that authentic S'mores flavor. All of the taste of the campfire classic made into shareable bars.

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July 14, 2016

Salade d'Oeuf

6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon
4-6 cornichons, finely diced
3/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
3 tablespoons finely diced sweet onion


Slice eggs in half and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a food processor or mini chopper. Set aside.

Chop up the whites. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Place the mayonnaise, mustard, and Herbes de Provence in the mini chopper with the yolks. Pulse until smooth. Pour over the chopped eggs. Add the cornichons and onion and stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

My thoughts:
Impressed by my French? I can't say I saw any egg salad in France when we were in Lille last month but I did see quite a bit of it when I was in London, Bath and Windsor. So many British sandwiches with hard-boiled eggs! In France, I ate a lot of  the Welsh, sort of a Frenchified Welsh Rarebit and steak with their famously pungent cheese, mariolles, melted over it for lunch, not egg salad. Anyway! Since it is Bastille Day, I thought I'd share this Frenchified egg salad I had for lunch back here in Baltimore.

What makes this egg salad French is the use of some of my favorite French imports: cornichons, Dijon mustard, and Herbs de Provence. I used my Rodelle Herbes de Provence (alas, my trip was far from Provence so I didn't bring any back with me) which is a coarse blend of thyme, fennel, basil, savory, and lavender. This added a ton of herbalious flavor which really elevated this from an ordinary egg salad to one I'd serve to guests. The cornichons added the pickle-y flavor I love so much and a bit of crunch.

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July 12, 2016

Yakitori-Inspired Spicy Asparagus and Bacon

5 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 lb thin asparagus, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 teaspoon ichimi togarashi (coarsely ground dried Japanese chili)*

Fry the bacon pieces until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the asparagus and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bacon. Sprinkle with ichimi togarashi. Serve immediately.

*Shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder) is a good alternative.

My thoughts:
One of my favorite yakitori dishes is bacon-wrapped asparagus served on a skewer. It is so simple but so good, especially when they go the extra step of sprinkling it with spices. I was going to make that but the asparagus I had was so skinny, it was unskewerable. So I took the idea and made this sauteed version instead. Just as good but a little easier, making it a great choice for a weeknight side dish. The  ichimi togarashi adds some heat but not overwhelmingly so letting the asparagus really shine.

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July 06, 2016

Roasted Eggplant, Fava Bean and Feta Salad

1 medium eggplant, cubed
2 small sweet onions*, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh, shelled fava beans
1 cup mixed olive-cured spicy olives**, sliced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup cubed feta
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss the eggplant and onion with some olive oil, (light) salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, boil the fava beans for 2 minutes in a small pot. Drain. Cool. Place in a medium bowl. Add garlic, olives, feta and the cooled onion and eggplant. Toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 2 hours to meld the flavors.

*I used sweet candy onions
**I buy mine by the pound at my local Italian store but they should be available at any olive bar. They have loads of red pepper flakes so they are pretty spicy!

My thoughts:
I'd never encountered fresh fava beans until just recently when they made an appearance in my weekly produce box. I was surprised at how thick and almost velvety the pods were. Who knew? The yield wasn't huge (possible because I waited a while to shell them) but it was enough to make this vaguely Greek, Mediterranean-eque salad. When you are making it, it looks like you are going to have 10x the eggplant as everything else but remember, it cooks down quite a bit and the final fava to eggplant ratio is quite good. I also used some spicy olives I had leftover from my pan-European snackies dinner that turned out to be an inspired choice, they flavored the whole dish with virtually no effort on my part. I like spicy olives but they can be a bit much on their own, however, they are perfect in salads like this what help keep them from overpowering everything. And the feta? Well, who doesn't like cheese? I cut mine up from a big brick but feel free to use pre-cubed. I think the salad is the absolute best the first day but it is still pretty good 2-3 days later if you have leftovers. Just make sure to refrigerate them in a nonreactive container.

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July 03, 2016

Garden Herb Grilled Chicken Thighs

4 1/2 lbs chicken thighs (8-10 thighs)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dry mustard (powder)
1 small handful variegated sage (lightly torn)
1 small handful lemon verbena (lightly torn)
1 small handful thyme (lightly torn)
freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a marinating container or resealable plastic bag. Add all ingredients to the container and stir or squeeze to evenly distribute. Allow to marinate, refrigerated, for 8 hrs to up to 24. Prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the grill. Grill, turning once, until fully cooked, about 8 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
Earlier in the year, we went to a tiny curbside herb sale benefiting one of our local charter schools. We hadn't grown herbs in years but we had some pots my mom gave us and thought it was worth a shot. To our surprise, they are doing really well! In an effort to thin them out a bit, I made this flavorful, herb-packed grilled chicken. Super easy to make (you don't even have to chop the herbs!) and quick to grill it is perfect for not only a cookout but a weekday meal. We grilled some corn at the same time and had a full meal in about 20 minutes! Just keep an eye on it, the skin browns quickly even if the meat is still juicy inside, if a pretty skin is important to you.

The mustard powder seems like an odd addition but I had made some marinated boneless, skinless thighs I marinated with ground mustard and dill a while back and it really worked well! The flavor really seeps into the meat without being too spicy or screaming "mustard!", it adds a depth that is difficult to get with just the fresh herbs. The olive oil helps the chicken keep from sticking to the grill so don't be tempted to leave it out. I also used prosecco vinegar but regular white wine vinegar is fine and more readily available.

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