July 31, 2019

Midsummer Orzo Salad

1 1/4 cup (dry) orzo
2 ears' worth corn kernels
1 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 "baby" cucumbers, sliced into half-moons
3 tablespoons minced dill
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
4 oz baby arugula, coarsely chopped
4 oz crumbled feta
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
freshly ground black pepper


Cook orzo according to package instructions. During the last minute, add the corn kernels. Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, toss the orzo and corn with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I know, another pasta type salad. What can I say? It's summer. It is much quicker to cook than potatoes or rice and is tasty cold. For this salad, I used the best of what's in season now: tomatoes from my mom's garden, fresh herbs, cucumbers and corn and a few Greek ingredients, feta, olives, and orzo. I served with some lemon dill chicken patties. A lovely, easy weeknight summer dinner.

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July 24, 2019

Peppers and Olives Macaroni Salad

1 lb macaroni, cooked to package instructions
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon
1/4-1/3 cup coarsely chopped manzanilla olives with pimento (I used these which are prechopped)
splash of olive juice
1 large cubanelle pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
freshly ground black pepper


In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving.

My thoughts:
Macaroni salad can be a tricky thing. I enjoy a deli-style macaroni salad as much as the next person but macaroni salad can easily go so wrong. I've seen too many that go too sweet (sweet relish and sugar?!), I've seen some that have raisins in them. Raisins. Who would do that to a person?

I don't make macaroni salad often but when I do, I like to go as savory as possible. Last night I was trying to think of a side dish after having rice for lunch and potatoes the night before. We had a ton of macaroni noodles in the house so I thought, why not make a pasta salad. My original idea was pretty different but I had to pivot quickly after realizing I didn't have some of the ingredients I swore I bought last week. Anyway, I decided to go with a more flavor-packed version of the classic deli salad. I loaded it up with olives, pimentos, Cubanelle peppers and nearly as much Dijon as mayonnaise. If you like a creamier salad, add a little more mayo to taste, in this version, the dressing just coats it. Tons of paprika and my fave celery seed round out the flavors.

It really is a flavorful salad. Even people who would normally pass it up (my husband) enjoyed it and is have more for lunch today.

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July 16, 2019

Cherry Orange Jam


3 cups crushed sweet cherries (I used a potato masher to crush the cherries)
1/4 cup candied orange peel (I used this)
3 tablespoons powdered pectin*
2 cups sugar


Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the Ball Jam Maker with the pectin. Spoon the fruit and peel in a relatively even layer over the pectin.  Press the jam button. You will hear a beep at 4 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar 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 water bath canner which I use even for huge canning projects. It is amazing and doesn't heat up your house like boiling water on the stove for hours does.

Yield: about 4 8-oz jars

*I recommend these jars of flex batch pectin.

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:
Once again I came home to a huge box of fresh sweet cherries the Northwest Cherry Growers organization to can. So many cherries! I first thought of making some pickles, ketchups and shrubs but my mom has been asking for some homemade jam. I don't think I made jam at all last year! Jam it was! I think cherries are the star so I kept it simple and added some candied orange peel I had on hand to add a touch of citrus flavor. It seems odd to add candied peel vs. the fruit but oranges are not in season now and the ones you can buy are not so tasty or juicy. Citrus juice tends to lose flavor when baked or cooked for long periods of time (which is why you can add lemon juice to jam to make it safe to can yet not really taste it in the finished product) so using the peel is the best way to add actual fruit flavor. Sure, the peel is candied but you are already making jam with sugar, a little more doesn't make much difference. The result is a fresh-tasting jam full of cherry flavor and just a hint of orange to balance it out.

Note: I know some canners do not like the Ball Jam Maker but I really do. It makes just about 4 jars of jam (perfect for someone like me who mostly does small batch canning), frees my stove up to cook up other things to preserve, and makes the jam in less time than it takes to watch a sitcom. Which you can, because you do not need to watch the jam while making it. Of course, you can safely can this jam the traditional way if you so choose.

Bonus points: use the jam to make this.

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July 01, 2019

Barbecue Spaghetti


1 red onion, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Memphis-style barbecue sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce*
1 tablespoon Memphis style dry rub
15 oz canned diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano
2 cups pulled pork (used pork that made with the dry rub using the method shared in this post)

to serve: 1 lb cooked spaghetti


In a large pan, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, dry rub, canned tomatoes and pulled pork and simmer about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Serve over hot spaghetti.

*Tomato sauce is oddly tricky to find at times. Look for it near canned tomatoes or in the Italian section. It's not tomato puree, or crushed tomatoes and it's not spaghetti sauce. Sometimes I can only find it in a 4- or 8-oz can but if you are local, Weis carries the store brand version in 28-oz cans.
My thoughts:
I freely admit the only reason I made the barbecue sauce, the dry rub and then smoked a whole pork butt for two people was to make barbecue spaghetti. My husband was very skeptical but I held fast (and didn't tell him at first I was just in it for the spaghetti) and he ended up loving it so much, we are making it again on the 4th of July.

Barbecue spaghetti is a little odd at first glance, it's pretty much only found in Memphis and I can't find a ton of info on the origins. If I had to speculate, I think it is some amalgamation of the plain tomato sauced spaghetti you can find at some (barbecue and) fried fish places served as a side and a bunch of leftover pulled pork. Whatever the origins, it's tangy, delicious and uniquely satisfying. Don't knock it until you've tried it!

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