Pickled Onions Recipe

Pickled-onions-cover.jpg

It would seem that I am hell-bent to make this blog the place to go for recipes that you can’t make for a first or second date. Indeed, all of my recipes seem to be laden with garlic, peppered with onions, or soaked in bourbon.

Okay, so maybe the bourbon-soaked recipes would be okay if you’re looking for a little liquid courage on that first date. I tend to get really nervous on first dates and, when provided with liquid courage, tend to spill the beans on any number of topics which include but are not limited to my reproductive system, my obsession with Alan Rickman, or what happens when you feed me wheat. Yea. If’ you’re at all like first-date-me, maybe you should stick to tea.

If, however, you are comfortably settled into a relationship (i.e. they’ve seen you pee), then you can make pickled onions and eat them like my husband likes to – right out of the jar. The romantic relationship is, of course, not required. Make them for your best friend, your roommate, your landlord, your mom, your urologist, your neighbor. I’m not your boss. Although you could also make them for your boss.

Or, and here’s a novel idea, just make them for yourself. Label those jars as your property and eat them in front of your whole house, loudly refusing to share. Cackling maniacally is mandatory.

Pickled-onions-1.jpgThese are super easy to make, largely because we’re not messing with any of that canning business. These are what my grandma used to call “refrigerator pickles.” I’m sure that, if you have the knowhow or inclination, you could can these. I have neither of those things, however. Besides, I would probably give myself botulism.

And not in the super fun, “make your face an immovable mask” sort of way.

All you need are red onions, sugar, salt, white vinegar, and whole peppercorns. Away we go!

In a large pot, bring 8-12 cups of water to a boil. This really isn’t precise, so don’t worry about it.

While that’s heating up, slice your onion(s). My husband likes them really thinly sliced, but you may want beefier onion pieces. Go to, friends.

Put the onion pieces in a strainer and pour the boiling water over them evenly. This makes the onions less sharp tasting. Don’t ask me how. It just does.

While those are cooling, grab your clean mason jar(s). For this recipe, I sliced two large onions, which filled three 14 oz. mason jars.

Into each jar, pour 3/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and precisely 5 peppercorns (6 if you’re feeling ballsy). Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Once your onions are cool, you can begin to cram them into the jars. I fill them to the part where the jar begins to narrow. There’s a balance between packing the jar just right and overpacking it. You’ll know it when you see it. I think.

If there are onions not covered by the vinegar, add more vinegar to fill the deficit.

Isn’t that a gorgeous sight? Don’t you just want to wear that color all the time? Look again!

Screw the lids on tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating. Prepare to be amazed by the transformation.

Okay. So maybe that’s the color I want to wear all the time. Here’s another, just for the sake of thorough photography:

And again, because I am nothing if not incredibly thorough:

We like to eat them on salads, more than anything. They are also dynamite on tacos (any kind), nachos (any kind), or, if you’re like my husband, right out of the jar.

They should be good in the fridge for a week or so, if they last that long. I like to make a few jars and give them to people. After all, what’s a cheaper gift than onions? Nothing. That’s what.

But you can tell yourself (and it’s true), they’re fancy onions.

Yea. Now go forth and make these, the Elaine Benes’s of pickled things.

Follow on Bloglovin

Enchiladas and Beyond! 1 Recipe = 5 Dinners.

Chicken-enchiladas-2.jpgEnchilada-cover.jpg

I don’t know about you, but I’m a real sucker for a BOGO. For those of you who didn’t grow up shopping sales, that stands for Buy One Get One. Even better is the Buy One Get Two deal, but BOGT just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

This is true of shoes, certainly, but is especially true when it comes to weeknight dinners.

I’m self-employed and don’t have any children so I’m not going to play “Who’s More Tired At The End of the Day?” with you. I’ll probably lose. Even though labradoodle wrangling and writing are exhausting tasks. No. Really.

Even still, I can appreciate the merits of a BOGO dinner.

Hang on to those pants, kittens, because I’m giving you a Buy One Get Five dinner here.

The game plan is simple – make an enormous slowcooker full of enchilada filling (I’ll show you how) and then repurpose it. If Sunday’s are light for you, do it then and then sit back and relax about dinner for the rest of the week. I’ll show you how to do that, too.

homemade-taco-seasoning-1.jpg

Before we do anything, I’m going to let you in on a little secret in my kitchen arsenal: homemade taco seasoning. It’s not just taco seasoning, however, my friends. I use this to make fajitas, tacos, this fabulous series of dinners, dips, and more. Plus, it’s cheaper and less terrifying than store-bought taco seasoning. Pictured is a 16 ounce mason jar, though if I know I’ll be using it a lot, I’ll double or triple the batch. It’s easy! Check the printable out at the bottom of the post, but if you’re impatient, the recipe is:

8 TBSP chili powder

4 TBSP cumin

8 tsp corn starch

8 tsp salt

6 tsp paprika

4 tsp dried cilantro

4 tsp cayenne

2 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP Brown sugar

Now, make like Charles Barkley with that mason jar!

Yes. Shake it until fully combined. Label it. Set it aside. Put it in your chicken salad. I’m not your boss.

Now, for that catch-all filling.

Drain and rinse 2 cans of black beans, 1 can of pinto beans, and 2 cans of corn. All low sodium if you can get them. If not, don’t sweat it.

Chicken-Enchiladas-1

While those are draining, get your slow cooker all set up. This means spraying the crock with nonstick spray. Then, add about 2 pounds of chicken. I used frozen chicken tenderloins because they were on sale. White meat is better, but where you get it is up to you, provided it’s skinless. I use frozen chicken because, generally, it’s cheaper and it’s what truly makes this such a set-it-and-forget-it sort of thing.

Chicken-enchiladas-2.jpgNext, add 5 tablespoons of our taco seasoning.

Chicken-enchiladas-3

Add the corn and beans.

chicken-enchiladas-4

Then add six cups of your favorite salsa. I really like Jack’s Medium (and, no, I’m not paid to say that). We buy it at Costco in the giant tub. The gigante size at Costco costs $4.99, just a little more than a tiny container at the regular grocery. Buying in bulk? Winning.

chicken-enchiladas-5.jpg

Toss gently so that everything is well-incorporated.

chicken-enchiladas-6.jpg

Standard rules of slow-cooking apply: cook on low for 8 ish hours or on high for 4-6. This is a really forgiving sort of recipe, however, so don’t sweat this too much. When it’s done, take the chicken out and chop or shred it. Put the chicken back into the mix.

chicken-enchiladas-7.jpg

Try not to pull a “Me” and eat it right out of the slow cooker with a spoon.

You’ll burn your mouth.

So you’ve got 38 gallons of this beautiful, delicious filling. What next?

I’ll tell you what’s next, kittens. Enchiladas.

Take a baking dish and spray it with cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 350 or so. Take your favorite tortillas, corn or flour, and get them ready. I use corn because of the ol’ gluten allergy but, as I’ve said a billion times, I’m not your boss. If you use corn tortillas, make sure you warm them so they’re soft and pliable. If not, they’ll crack.

Just roll some of the filling inside of a tortilla and place it, seam side down, in the baking dish. Then, cover those bad boys with the cheese of your choice.

chicken-enchiladas-8.jpg

Bake for 20 minutes or so, or until the cheese looks like this:

chicken-enchiladas-9.jpg

Serve them with salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, or whatever else floats your boat. They are delicious and (BONUS!) they reheat really, really well if you have leftovers.

chicken-enchiladas-10.jpg

Unless you’re feeding a football team,  you’ll have leftover filling. What to do? What to do?

You can put it on top of lettuce or lettuce mix with other fixings and make a taco salad.

Taco-Salad-1.jpg

Or, for a protein punch, do the same thing with quinoa. I used to take this version of a burrito bowl for lunch all the time.

Enchilada-Quinoa-Bowl-1.jpg

Those are easy-peasy. The next three recipes are a little more involved but, in the grand scheme, will still make your weeknight dinner prep an absolute breeze. Let’s start with these Tex-Mex Pizzas.

Take a corn tortilla, spread a thin layer of refried beans over top. Sprinkle cheese. Put the second corn tortilla on top. Top this second tortilla with the enchilada filling and, subsequently, cheese.

Mexican-Pizza-1.jpg

Bake them in a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and browns slightly.

Mexican-pizza-2.jpg

Top with your favorite fixings and enjoy. It’s easy to make a bunch of these, as with the enchiladas, and they come together in a snap. If you have an assembly line, it’s even faster. This is a great opportunity to get your kids in the kitchen. No knives or other sharp things involved.

Mexican-pizza-3.jpg

Tex-Mex pizzas are delicious, but my favorite thing to do with this filling is put it over chips – two ways!

If you don’t want to make your own chips, just use your favorite brand of store-bought chips. If you are making your own, spray cut tortillas with cooking spray and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Flip, spray the other side, and cook for another 7-10 minutes or until the chips are crunchy.

Turn your oven from bake to broil. Move the chips into a pile and top with the filling. Sprinkle cheese over the whole mess. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned.

Chilaquiles-1.jpg

If you stop here, you’ve got yourself some kickass nachos. These are great for dinner, a snack, or your next major sporting event.

Chilaquiles-2.jpg

If you don’t want to stop there, however, and are in the mood for something a little more decadent, let’s keep moving.

I have a bit of an addiction. If I see chilaquiles on a menu, so help me, I will order them. Sometimes they’re amazing. Sometimes they’re just kind of meh. It’s the amazing ones that keep me coming back, though.

I realized that those nachos make the perfect base for chilaquiles – the amazing kind. All you have to do is put a poached or fried egg on top. Thusly:

Chilaquiles-3.jpg

I like my chilaquiles with a lot of hot sauce and some sour cream. The sky is the limit, however!

Chilaquiles-4.jpg

You can use this filling as a dip as well. Either pour it in a baking dish and top it with cheese or make a layered cold dip with it. It’s so unbelievably versatile. In addition, it freezes well. If you’re not ready to use those leftovers, freeze them and defrost them in the fridge overnight when you are ready to eat them.

I’ve gotten untold mileage out of this recipe and I hope you will too! Here are the printable for the taco seasoning:

Homemade Taco Seasoning
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Homemade taco seasoning is cheaper and healthier than store-bought. This recipe gives you the flexibility to use the seasoning in everything from dip to tacos to fajitas and beyond!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 TBSP chili powder
  • 4 TBSP cumin
  • 8 tsp corn starch
  • 8 tsp salt
  • 6 tsp paprika
  • 4 tsp dried cilantro
  • 4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 TBSP garlic
  • 1 TBSP Brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in an airtight container and shake well.

How would you use this filling? I’d love to know!

Mint Julep Recipes, Just in Time For Derby

Mint-Julep-Recipe-1.jpg

Like most Kentucky girls, I have opinions about bourbon. Strong, numerous opinions.

Out of the many, however, one stands out as being most important. There is a difference between drinking bourbon and sipping bourbon. Your sipping bourbons live on the tippy-top shelf of the bar/cabinet/world. You have two options when it comes to sippin’ bourbon – neat or on the rocks. Don’t argue with me.

Drinking bourbon, on the other hand, gives you some more flexibility. This is not to say that drinking bourbon isn’t good quality (it is), but that, rather, you won’t be defiling a delicious gift from God if you choose to make a cocktail with it. There is, of course, also something we call “swill,” but we won’t even be acknowledging that here.

Allow me to elaborate. Old Forrester or Maker’s Mark are good, solid, delicious drinking bourbons. A 20 year old Pappy Van Winkle is a good, solid, delicious sipping bourbon. This is an important distinction this time of year. Why?

Because you don’t make a julep with 20 year old Pappy. You just don’t.

If you ever see someone do that or order a (shudder) mixed drink of any kind with a 20 year old Pappy or 17 year old Eagle Rare, I want you to do me a favor and slap them. Hard. And maybe scream “Snap out of it!”

And while you’re at it, channel Olympia Dukakis:

Because, letsbehonest, if you’re pouring sugar water into a fine bourbon like that, your life is, most certainly, going down the toilet.

Where it will join your taste.

I kid. I kid.

About the last part. Not the slapping or the sacrilege bit. So help me, don’t try it.

This post isn’t about my rage, however. This post is in celebration of Kentucky Christmas, i.e. the Kentucky Derby. It is, therefore, about Mint Juleps.

Because I love you, I did a bit of day-drinking yesterday to test these recipes for you. Sipping recipe after recipe after recipe until I got them just right. If that doesn’t show how much I care, well, I don’t know what will. I started the tests as a fresh-faced, optimistic thing and, in the end, looked like this:

Rigby7.jpg

Oh, well. C’est la vie, right?

Before we touch the hooch, however, we need to do some prep. Namely, we need to make our mint simple syrup.

Mint-Simple-Syrup-Recipe-2

You’ll need to do this the night before your soiree or, at the very least, the night before you plan to do the julep drinking. Do NOT – I repeat, DO NOT – buy the pre-made julep mixes. They’re okay, I guess, but so not the same. If making your own simple syrup was difficult, I wouldn’t require it of you. But it’s not, so I am. Do it. You’ll thank me.

Just take equal parts water and sugar and put them in a saucepan. I made a lot, so 2 cups of each.

Simple-Syrup-Recipe-1

Put the pot on the stove and heat until the sugar is melted/dissolved and the liquid looks clear. We’re not making caramel or candy here, so you don’t need to cook the sugar. Once it’s completely dissolved, pull it off the stove and let it cool. This is simple syrup.

Simple-Syrup-4.jpg

You can use this to sweeten literally everything. For those of you worried about the glycemic index in any capacity, I also made a simple syrup with coconut sugar. While it’s completely dark in color and has an almost molasses-y sort of flavor, it was delicious and works well too. We’re not done yet, though.

Once the syrup is cool, transfer it to an airtight container and add a bunch of fresh mint leaves. Make sure you take the stems off.

Mint-Simple-syrup-Recipe-1

Put the lid on and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This will infuse the syrup with amazing minty flavor. I usually let it stay in for closer to 24 hours. After all, this part isn’t exactly labor intensive. After that, just strain the mint leaves out and store the syrup in an airtight container until you’re ready to make juleps.

Fun fact: This also makes amazing mint lemonade. Squeeze a lemon into a glass, add some mint simple syrup, add ice, and fill the glass to the top with water. Stir and enjoy. 

Are you ready to make some juleps? I’ve got options for you. Options are always good. Options are especially good when you’re having a party. Which you should be. Not everyone likes a straight-up julep. Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. I’ll hold your hand and we’ll get through this together. Are you ready?

Mint-julep-recipe-2.jpg

Traditionally, mint juleps are served in julep cups. These are silver and super spendy. I am not in possession of any julep cups. Besides, it’s hard to photograph through them – solid, metal surface and all. So we’re serving in a variety of hodge-podge glassware from my kitchen. I’m a purist in all ways other than servingware, I assure you. And if anyone wants to mail me some julep cups, let me know. I’m not above receiving gifts.

Some people use crushed ice. Some people don’t. I’m a big fan of the giant ice cube. Take your glass or cup and fill with your preferred sort of ice. Now, we can have fun. The mix is:

3 oz. good, Kentucky bourbon

1 oz mint simple syrup

sprig of mint

It really is as simple as that. It’s boozy, I’m warning you, but it’s Derby. Derby requires boozy. If you like it sweeter, add more syrup. If you like it less, well, add less. I’m not here to tell you how to drink.

Oh. Right.

This is the base of the rest of the fun we’ll be having today. If you want all the booze, but are looking for something a little lighter, you’ll love this next one. I call it a Mint Julep Spritzer.

Mint-Julep-Spritzer-Recipe

Fill a taller glass with ice. Add your 3 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of syrup, and mint leaves. Then, fill it to the top with soda water. I’d say put a straw in it, but that could get dangerous. This is one smooth beverage, my friends, and it drinks quickly.

For something a little more exotic for your Derby party, try my Blackberry Mint Julep.

Blackberry-Mint-Julep-Recipe-1

Take five or six washed blackberries and muddle them in the bottom of a glass. In laymen’s terms, jut squish them around. Put your ice cubes on top and then pour your standard julep over top. As a refresher, that’s:

3 oz. good, Kentucky bourbon

1 oz mint simple syrup

sprig of mint

5-7 blackberries

If blackberries aren’t your thing, you could try my Lemon Mint Julep.

Lemon-Mint-Julep-Recipe

Put your ice in a glass. Squeeze half a lemon into it. Then proceed as usual.

3 oz. good, Kentucky bourbon

1 oz mint simple syrup

sprig of mint

In case you haven’t caught it by now, juleps are a crazy easy drink to make and modify.

If you’re not into the bourbon part of the julep, definitely follow my earlier suggestion and make a mint lemonade. It’s sweet, refreshing, and sure to please even your pickiest teetotaling guests. 🙂

We’re not done, folks. Before Derby Day, we have The Kentucky Oaks. Oaks is basically the same shindig, but with a lot more pink. At the track (and licensed vendors), you can purchase a drink called The Lily. It’s a Grey Goose thing. Depending on which stand at the track serves you, they range from being really sweet to really, really, ridiculously sweet.

I’ve come up with my own variation. It’s based on the same basic principles, but with a twist. Since I can’t call it The Lily (and it’s not really a Lily anyway), I call it The Lola.

The-Lola-2.jpg.jpg

2 oz your favorite vodka

2 oz good quality or homemade sweet and sour mix

3 oz cranberry juice

splash of Triple Sec

orange twist

blackberries

Pour all liquid ingredients and orange peel into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a glass. At the Oaks, these are served in commemorative glasses, but you could use a stemless wine glass or a martini glass just as easily. Drop the orange twist from the shaker into the drink along with a blackberry or two.

You should know that the sweetness of this drink depends largely on the juice you use. If you use 100% cranberry, this drink will be more tart. To sweeten it, add a little powdered sugar to the shaker. Or, you could use a cranberry juice cocktail, which would make it much sweeter on its own. The 100% cranberry juice is what gives it that really gorgeous color, however, and I like it. Just add the powdered sugar or some simple syrup or, if you’re “watching it,” stevia.

Mint-Julep-Recipe.jpg

I hope you’ll try one (or all) of these. I know that the Kentucky Derby is hardly a big deal at all to anyone but horse folks and Kentuckians, but I hope that, at the very least, you’ll try one of these drinks on for size. They’re incredibly refreshing and not just suitable for the first Saturday in May. In fact, I make Lolas for my mom all year long.

Does anyone have a favorite Derby tradition? I’d love to hear it!

‘Til next time, y’all! xoxo