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Wheat Berry Salad with Feta

When flipping through  my new cookbook (new to me I picked it up from a garage sale)Family Circle Annual Recipes 2011.   I came across Wheat Berry Salad.  I knew it would be perfect as a lunch salad.  I love feta and it had crunchy bites of apple and celery, which paired perfectly with the sweet and tangy dried cranberries.  All of these ingredients are some of my favorites.

I just needed to buy some wheat berries.  I know my mom has prepared these but I can’t remember if I had or not.  The directions were clear and it turned out great.  Just prepare yourself by soaking the berries the night before.

Wheat Berry Salad with FetaWheat Berry Salad with Feta:

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 1 gala apples, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, cranberries, or golden raisins
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey mustard
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbs olive oil

In a large bowl place wheat berries and cover with water so by at least 2 inches.  Allow to sit at room temperature overnight.

Drain wheat berries and transfer to a  medium sauce pan.  Add 3 1/2  cups water and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.  Add a little more water as needed while cooking.

Drain and cool to room temperature, meanwhile combine apples, dried fruit, celery, green onions, and feta in a large bowl.

Whisk together in a small bowl vinegar, honey mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.  While whisking add in oil in a thin stream.

Add wheat berries and dressing to the apple mixture and toss to coat the salad.


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Garlicky Dill Pickles

My first canning experience all by myself I made a huge batch of dill pickles.  Dill Pickles Recipe – Allrecipes.com gave me all the guidance I needed.  These pickles turned out great.  Crunchy and garlicky, I can eat them one after the other.  If you don’t care for garlic cut the amount in half or leave it out.

Homemade pickles are so much better and cost-effective.  If you have never canned just start with a small batch and have some fun.  The kids get a great kick out of canning and making their own pickles.

Garlicky Dill Pickles:

  • 8 lbs. pickling cucumbers 3-4 inches long
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup pickling salt
  • 16 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 8 sprigs fresh dill
  • 8 heads fresh dill

Wash cucumbers, and place in the sink  with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Soak in ice water for at least 2 hours but no more than 8 hours. Refresh ice as required. Sterilize 8 (1 quart) canning jars and lids in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, and pickling salt. Bring the brine to a rapid boil.

In each jar, place 2 half-cloves of garlic, one head of dill, then enough cucumbers to fill the jar (about 1 pound). Then add 2 more garlic halves, and 1 sprig of dill. Fill jars with hot brine. Seal jars, making sure you have cleaned the jar’s rims of any residue.

Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath. Process quart jars for 15 minutes.

Store pickles for a minimum of 8 weeks before eating. Refrigerate after opening. Pickles will keep for up to 2 years if stored in a cool dry place.

Sweet and Sour Roasted Root Vegetables

I came across this recipe in Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2004 cookbook it sounded great.  I love beets and to make it a meal I added sausage brats similar to lazy day casserole.  I also added some potatoes and onions.  Either way you can serve it as a side dish or as a meal.  I think it would be particularly wonderful with a roast.

My son ate it along with the two helpings I had, my daughter thought it was sour and just ate sausage.  Mr.Picky was preparing his own dinner that night.

I thought these wonderful root vegetable had a bright herb flavor.  In no way did I think they were sweet or sour tasting.  The only thing I would do different is to cut my beets up a bit smaller.  With the leftovers I created a big pot of borscht.

Sweet and Sour Root Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Roasted Root Vegetables:

  • 1 lb. small beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbs cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 6-10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Sweet and Sour Root Vegetables

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a 9 x 13″ baking dish with a bit of cooking spray.

Steam the first three ingredients covered in a pan for about 5 minutes.

Place vegetables in the baking dish.

Combine maple syrup and vinegar in a dish and set aside.

In a dish squeeze juice from lemon, add spent lemon halves to the beet mixture.

To the dish of lemon juice add oil, coriander, and tarragon.

Pour over beet mixture and toss well.  Add thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper.

Sweet and Sour Root Vegetables

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pour syrup mixture over the vegetables and toss to coat, return to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.

Discard lemon halves and serve hot.

*If you are wanting to add sausage like I did just brown brats in a pan during the first 30 minutes of cooking.  No need to cook them through.  Slice each sausage in half and place on top of the vegetables for the last 30 minutes in the oven.

 

Sweet Pickle Relish

I use sweet relish frequently usually in my  tuna salad or on a hot dog which I love no matter how bad they are for you.  Lately I have been substituting bread and butter pickles chopped instead of relish in to my tuna salad, Mr.Picky in particular enjoys it this way.

So this year with the cucumbers from the garden I decided I would make a sweet/bread and butter relish.  I combined my bread and butter pickle recipe with a sweet pickle relish I found.  I just opened up the first jar and it tastes better than I imagined.  Why have I not made relish before?

Sweet Relish

Sweet Pickle Relish:

  •  4-5 seeded cucumbers, chopped finely
  • 2 cups onions,chopped finely
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs celery seed
  • 1 Tbs mustard seed
  • 1/2 Tbs turmeric

I got 6 (1/2 pint) jars out of this recipe, give or take some.

Chop all vegetables as finely as you would like them.  Sprinkle with salt and cover with cold water.  Allow to sit for about 2 hours.  Rinse and drain well.

sweet relish

In a pan combine brine ingredients.  Bring to a boil and add vegetables.

Boil for 10 minutes.Sweet Relish

Using a slotted spoon place relish into clean jars, add some brine if you wish.

Process jars if you would like or store in refrigerator.  Process pints for 10 minutes in water bath.

Never Fail Pie Crust

Pie crust, the great debate of bakers and fear of many including me.  I can make pie crust, just rolling it out to look perfect is the problem.  After trying many recipes this one seems to take the cake or shall I say pie.  This simple recipe which may seem strange but is an old one and good one.  It is tender and flaky and very forgiving.

This recipe yields a double crust for two large 10 inch pies, or I have even gotten 3 crusts from it when doing 9 x 13″ pie bars.  If you don’t need a double crust it is ok, tightly wrap up the unused portion and keep it in the freezer.  Now you have pie crust to use without the work.

This is how wonderful your crust can turn out.

This is how wonderful your crust can turn out.

Never Fail Pie Crust:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbs vinegar
  • 4 Tbs cold as ice, water

Never Fail Pie Crust

 

Mix together flour and salt.  With a pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour mixture until it is the size of small peas.

Add water, vinegar, and beaten egg.  Mix dough until just combined and comes together as a dough.

Split dough in two and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, I shape my dough into about 6″ pancake rounds so it will easily roll into a circle after chilling.  Refrigerate the portion(s) you wish you use for about 20 minutes before rolling out to desired thickness.

Never Fail Pie Crust

Freeze any unused portions for 2-3 months in the freezer, and thaw in the fridge before use.

Lazy Day Casserole

Lazy Day CasseroleThanks to my misreading of this recipe title it has forever been renamed in my mind.  Via pinterest I found the recipe for Lazy Sunday Casserole from Kayotic Kitchen.  My sister made it before I could and told me it turned out amazing.  I bumped it up on my dinner list and away we went.  I knew it was going to make a large quantity, after adding a few extra potatoes.  I ended up with a 10 x 15″ glass baking dish full of goodness.

I made a quick phone call to my grandma and asked if they wanted us to bring dinner to them.  We ended up feeding five adults and two small children, just about licking the dish clean.  My grandpa whose appetite is usually small, went back for thirds.  No one besides me had eaten fennel bulb before but the only complaints came from Mr.Picky, shocking I know.

I did adapt the recipe slightly,  I used Yukon gold potatoes and did not peel my potatoes.  Also I think I would add a parsnip or two, sliced to the size of my carrots.

Lazy Day Casserole:

  • 4 raw sausages, I used italian brats
  • About 1 pound of new or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 pound carrot, peel and medallion or use baby carrots
  • 1-2 parsnips, peel and medallion
  • 1/2-1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fennel bulb, stems removed and cut into wedges
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Cut potatoes, fennel, and onions into wedges.  Pepper into thin strips, carrots and parsnips into medallions.  Place in a roasting pan.

Combine oil, herbs, broth, and garlic.  Pour over vegetables and toss around a bit to coat.

Season with fresh ground pepper and salt, cover with foil tightly.

Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

While vegetables are baking, brown sausages on all side but do not cook through.  Slice each sausage in half and set aside.

Remove foil from vegetables and place sausages over the vegetables, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

Return to oven uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Serve nice and hot!

Four Bean Salad

It feels like every summer night for dinner at Grandma’s house this salad was on the table.  I know Grandma loves it and so do I.  Mr.Picky will eat it, but I am pretty sure he doesn’t count beans as vegetables.  The kids will eat it, sometimes leaving behind this or that.

In fact a few weeks ago I was in the grocery store and watched someone buy this salad premade.  This was a crazy idea, not only is it not cost-effective but it can’t and doesn’t taste as good.  You can adjust the amount of sugar for a more tangy salad, but I suggest you make it according to the recipe at least the first time.

Four Bean SaladFour Bean Salad:

  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can wax beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • ½ cup chopped sweet onion
  • chopped green pepper
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup oil (canola or grape seed)
  • ½ tsp pepper

Drain and rinse all the beans, combine with the onion and pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk together the sugar and vinegar first, this will allow the sugar to dissolve fully.  Add in oil and pepper and whisk until well combined.  Pour over bean salad and stir to combine.

If possible make this salad the night before, with a minimum of 4 hours to chill.  The longer it sits the better the flavor.

 

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