Healthy Veggie Nuggets – ILoveCooking

Healthy Veggie Nuggets - ILoveCooking


We have teamed up with Michelle Hunt aka Peachy Palate to create a mini series of quick and easy recipes with simple step by step videos. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here to see the videos as soon as they go live! These healthy veggie nuggets are crispy on the outside, soft and tender in the middle. They are super easy to make, packed with nutritional goodness and a source of complete plant protein.


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Suzie’s Stuffed Bread | Dishin & Dishes

Suzie's Stuffed Bread | Dishin & Dishes


Oh my goodness you guys! This recipe for Suzie’s Stuffed Bread is so yummy! You’re going to love it! Imagine a heavenly, cheesy dip baked inside of a long loaf of french bread that is baked in the oven until the outside of the bread is crispy and the inside is soft and warm.


Are you drooling yet?

You should be! It’s fantastic! My son and his beautiful wife Makayla were home from Virginia for two weeks on Navy leave and I had so much fun with them!

They went to a party one night with some of Conner’s high school friends and their wives/girlfriends and they took this stuffed bread.  After I saw it come out of the oven I had some issues that the kids were taking this wonderful pan of goodness out of the house to somewhere else, so I asked her to make it for us on Christmas for our family party!

I’m calling it Suzie’s Stuffed Bread because it is a recipe her mom Suzie has made for years, and it’s always one of the first things that disappears wherever it’s served.

One day Suzie and I are going to cook together somewhere. I think she must be my soul mate! Makayla has been telling me all about all the wonderful things her mom bakes and if they are anything like this stuffed bread, I can’t imagine how lucky she’s been to have indulged in them for years!

Also, can I just share with you how much we love Makayla as an addition to our family?  She is such a sweet soul and I love to watch how well her and Conner love each other!

Anyway, I got to have this twice because one night before Christmas,  Makayla and I made some homemade fusilli pasta and I talked her into making another recipe of the stuffed bread for us. (And then she made it again on Christmas!)

Then I sat on a stool in front of her and watched and took pictures!

It starts with a loaf of french bread. And don’t be messing around with those thin stick-like french breads! You’re going to need a large loaf to hold all this goodness. Trust me! Just get one of those loafs from the bakery that are around a dollar.

Then you slice it in half length-wise…

And you scoop out the bread from the bottom half of the bread with your fingers to look like a hollowed-out boat. *Note – there is so much filling, of late I’ve been hollowing out both sides of the bread and filling it. Why not have twice the goodness? Also it’s fun to slice one up and leave the other side for dipping for crackers!

If you’re going to do it all on one side, then don’t hollow out the top of the bread. That’s going to be for later!

Next Makayla mixed up 2 packages of cream cheese with 2 jars of dried beef that she chopped up pretty finely, 2 cans of green chiles and 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.  She said it’s easiest to just dig in with your hands and mix it all together! I’ve also used my KitchenAid or hand mixer and they work quickly and great as well!

Incidentally, if you’ve never used dried beef before it comes in a jar like this…

It is salty goodness and adds so much flavor to the spread.

After you get it well-mixed, wash your now, really messy hands and using a large spoon or spatula, spread it evenly into the hollowed-out bottom of the french loaf. It might help to line your baking sheet with tin foil because you know – NO CLEANUP AFTER!

Use your large spoon to level out the filling.

The pop the top of the bread back on and loosely tent foil around the whole thing.

Next you’ll need to put the pan into a preheated 400º oven.

Let this bake for about 45 minutes. As an option, about 10 minutes before it’s done, you can brush the top of the bread with melted butter and pop it back into the oven uncovered.

Did I mention this is a purely indulgent recipe?

Remove your bread from the oven and slice through into about 1 – 1 1/2 inch slices and serve warm with crackers as well. I really loved it with crackers, but then again I loved it with that warm bread with the crispy baked crust as well!

You guys, this is pure indulgence…I mean holy cow! You must take this to your next party…it’s so good!

Suzie’s Stuffed Bread


  • 1 large loaf french bread
  • 2 (12 oz) packages of cream cheese
  • 2 (7 oz) cans green chiles
  • 2 (2½ oz)jars dried beef, chopped finely
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • ⅓ c. melted butter (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400º
  2. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil
  3. Using a serrated knife, slice bread length-wise all the way through. Place bottom of bread on line baking sheet
  4. Using hands pull out most of the bread from the inside of the bottom piece of french bread, forming a hollowed-out boat but still leaving some of the bread around the sides and bottom for stability
  5. Mix together the next 5 ingredients well and spoon evenly into the hollowed out bottom of french loaf smoothing with a spoon evenly-
  6. Place top of french bread over the filling as a cap.
  7. Loosely tent the entire stuffed bread with a large piece of foil, kind of pressing around it with your hands down to the baking sheet
  8. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes
  9. If desired melt butter and brush over top of bread about 35 minutes into the baking.Uncover the bread for the remaining 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and slice with serrated knife into slices
  11. Serve with crackers if desired as well

Alternately, you can opt to hollow out and stuff both sides of the bread because there is a LOT of filling.

Calories: 1685 Fat: 152 g Saturated fat: 98 g Trans fat: 3 g Carbohydrates: 26 g Sugar: 5 g Sodium: 2954 mg Fiber: 5 g Protein: 53 g Cholesterol: 418 mg



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Autumn Butternut Bacon Mini Tarts

Autumn Butternut Bacon Mini Tarts



Brrrr…it’s officially fall over here in Oklahoma which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  This weekend we cleaned up the garden and tilled the valuable compost bin matter into the beds. I had separated garlic cloves to plant but never quite got to it.

Oh for more time in a day!

As I get older, I realize just how much I cannot deviate from our Thanksgiving traditional dishes. I would be strung up if I didn’t have all the usuals, like Sweet Potato Crunch and Green Bean Casserole, but shhhhh…..can I share with you that I am kind of over casseroles and all the cream of soup dishes that I long ago loved?

I much prefer a giant pan of roasted root vegetables over casseroles these days, as does my hips and thights, so I have been letting the kids make their favorites and I’ve branched out over the years to trying some new things.

This appetizer is sure to please anyone who is standing around waiting for the turkey timer to chime. It marries together flavors like the sweetness of butternut squash and maple, the salty smokiness of bacon and chipotle pepper, and the tang of dried cranberries and it all comes along with the satisfying crunch of baked puff pastry.

Prep the separate ingredients days ahead and assemble and bake these just before your Thanksgiving gathering and everyone will be happy and mighty, mighty thankful!

Autumn Butternut Mini Tarts

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  • 1 package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 t. chipotle pepper powder
  • 2/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. grated fontina cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped pistachios
  • Optional: 1/4 c. pomegranate arils

  • Preheat oven to 400º
  • Unroll puff pastry until flat and cut into 2-inch squares and place on parchment lined baking sheets (or Silpat lined)
  • Using a small paring knife, cut a square inside of each puff pastry square about 1/4 inch in from edge. When puff pastry bakes, this will form the center of the tart.
  • Brush egg over each puff pastry square
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes in oven until golden brown.
  • Remove and retrace the cuts on the squares and pop out center of tarts.
  • Cook bacon until crisp and crumble in a bowl (I bake the bacon on a separate lined baking sheet and put in with the tart shells for 20 minutes. It’s perfect!)
  • Cube butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Add olive oil to skillet, sprinkle salt over squash and toss and saute squash over medium-high heat until fork tender, about 20 minutes
  • Add dried cranberries and bacon into squash in pan after squash is fork tender
  • Mix together maple syrup and chipotle powder and add to squash/cranberry/bacon mixture.
  • Stir often, letting squash caramelize in the syrup, about 3 minutes.
  • Grate Fontina into a a bowl
  • Add about 1-2 t. fontina shreds into center of each square
  • Add about 1 T. of butternut/cranberry mixture on top of cheese (which will melt the cheese underneath)
  • Sprinkle with pistachios and pomegranate arils if desired.




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    Cowboy Candy | Dishin & Dishes

    Cowboy Candy | Dishin & Dishes


    Cowboy Candy.

    The name itself evokes questions.

    Is it candy?  What exactly is this stuff that sounds like it’s straight off the frontier.

    I guess….an explanation is in order.

    Cowboy Candy is sliced fresh jalapenos that you simmer in a sweet vinegar syrup and then pour into a mason jar to sit and age like liquid gold.

    Once you’ve tried it over a cracker with some cream cheese or even better – creamy goat cheese, you will be forever addicted…the sweet syrup balances out the heat of the jalapenos and just makes you sigh with joy.

    But don’t stop there…pour it over grilled pork chops or a pork loin. Drizzle them over hot dogs or grilled brats. Whatever you do ….

    Make. Cowboy. Candy.

    Our garden is cranking out peppers like crazy…the jalapenos and seranos are going nuts! The shishitos, our personal favs are the ones getting the most attention. We toss them onto a hot iron skillet with a little olive oil and blister them then sprinkle with a good sea salt and eat them right out of the skillet.

    Here is what we’re currently doing with jalapenos.

    Slice up about a pound of jalapenos.  If they’re garden fresh, red ones are A-ok as well!

    In a medium saucepan, add 3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoons of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed, a teaspoon of granulated garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

    Then add in all those sliced jalapenos.

    Simmer for approximately four minutes.

    Then using a slotted spoon, remove the peppers to a bowl.

    Pour the peppers into a mason jar.

    Then using a ladle, pour the syrup in on top of the peppers until it reaches about 1/2 inch of the rim of the jar.

    And that’s it…you can go ahead from this point and can the Cowboy Candy using the directions on the printable recipe that follows. This stuff never lasts long enough in our house to make it to the shelves for much time though…

    Our family is especially fond of cheese boards…so we put out a dish of this deliciousness with some kind of soft cheese at family cream cheese, honey goat cheese, even brie.

    You will love this stuff…it’s so addictive. I am hoping to make several more jars…it’s that good.

    • Cowboy Candy – Candied Jalapenos

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    • 1 pounds fresh, firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
    • 1 cups cider vinegar
    • 3 cups white granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
    • 1 teaspoons granulated garlic
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    • Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems.
    • Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
    • In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
    • Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
    • *If you have leftover syrup, and it is likely that you will, you may can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It’s wonderful brushed on meat on the grill or added to potato salad or, or, or… In short, don’t toss it out!
    • Place jars in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label.
    • Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Or don’t. I won’t tell!



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    Lemon Ice Box Pie | Dishin & Dishes

    Lemon Ice Box Pie | Dishin & Dishes


    Lemon Ice Box Pie.


    The kids great grandma used to make this all the time and I, a lover of all things lemon still adore it.

    Since it’s May and already reaching mid 90’s around here, nothing is better than an ice cold silky, tart  dessert in the heat.  The lemon and lemon zest in this pie fairly sing on your tastebuds making your saliva glands spring to life while the creamy sweetness of the sweetened condensed milk make you close your eyes in pure bliss.

    If you care to watch us make this on my show, you can click below to watch!

    It’s simple really. Just get a ready-made  homemade graham cracker crust or better yet, make your own.

    If you’re interested in how to make your own graham cracker crust, I have a ridiculously simple recipe here.

    In a mixing bowl, dump in 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk.

    Squeeze 5 or 6 lemons (whichever make 3/4 cup) of lemon juice. Mamoo used frozen lemonade concentrate but for the life of me I couldn’t find that recipe and I always think fresh is best!) I looked up equivalents and it would be one cup of frozen lemonade though, if you want to go that route.

    Note that I am using tongs to squeeze my lemons due to Lance breaking my lemon juicer in this debaucle. Let’s see if I can get him to use this one today and not destroy it on the show.

    Also zest up one of the lemons right over top.

    The zest equals roughly about one tablespoon.

    And zest just adds SUCH a punch of lemon flavor!

    Pour the juice into the sweetened condensed milk.

    And mix it all up with a whisk.

    Mix up 8 egg yolks with your mixer until they turn a softer yellow and get a little fluffy.

    Dump in your condensed milk/lemon mixture.

    And mix it all up again for about a minute.

    Then pour it into your pie crust.

    And bake it for 20 minutes at 350º. Put it in the “icebox” or what southerners used to call their refrigerator in olden days. (Hence the name!)

    Now, I think Mamoo used Cool Whip…but you can make your own homemade whipped cream and it’s so much better!   Just for fun toss in a bit of lemon zest into that too! Need a tutorial? Click here!

    And there you have a gorgeous, yummy and tart Lemon Icebox Pie! Take it to your next church potluck…or just make it at home.

    Katie’s Printable Recipe – Lemon Icebox Pie


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    Key Lime Pie – The Best Easy Recipe Ever

    Key Lime Pie - The Best Easy Recipe Ever


    I would have to say that for years now if you were to ask me for my dessert of choice I would have to say emphatically “KEY LIME PIE!”  I love any dessert with lemon or lime in it but this is my all time favorite!

    So I have to tell you guys, I have totally been chastising myself for not making this before.

    I think I had some image in my head about it being tough to make. In my head it was thought to be a tedious labor of love…perhaps because it was my favorite?

    A few weeks back our oldest son Chris got married and requested having his rehearsal dinner as a casual outdoor event under the stars in our back yard.

    We hung Edison Lights and set out white cloth tablecloths and put daisies in vases.

    There was simple lasagna, Italian salad and garlic bread, and because there would be cake for the wedding the next day, I decided to go completely different for dessert and do a Pie Bar.

    We had four pies – I made Apple Crumb, my mom-in-law made this incredible Mint Chocolate Pie, and because they were the bride and groom to be’s favorites – Key Lime and French Silk (deliciously made my sis-in-law). We set them out on pedestals with a giant bowl of fresh whipped cream.


    The Pie Bar was a huge hit leaving us with but one sad little piece of Apple Crumb Pie for Mr. Wonderful and I to fight over.

    He won by the way.

    Imagine my surprise when I realized JUST how easy this Key Lime Pie is to make…I could have been making it ALL these years!

    Also – the key lime pies you get that are mint green? That’s just wrong and due to green food coloring, so my key lime pie is more true to color. That’s just for your information friends because- why add food coloring to an already beautiful thing?

    I love a good graham cracker crust on a key lime pie, so I made a simple one letting the food processor whir it all up for me. Just add 14 whole honey graham crackers (or 1/1/2 cups) to a food processor and pulse it until you get sandy-looking crumbs.  Add in one melted stick of butter, two tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and salt, and whir it up to mix!

    Press this into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate or tart plate. Here’s a little trick for you – use a one cup (or even a 1/2 cup) measuring cup to press the crumbs in nice and uniformly, and also to press the edges up around the sides.

    Then pop it into a 350º oven and bake it for about 10 minutes.

    While that’s happening, mix up the filling.

    I take the shortcut, because honestly I don’t notice much of a difference and I use this yummy stuff.

    Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key Lime Juice- after all, they have to be famous for a reason right? It’s good stuff.

    Add 1/2 cup of this juice, a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, 4 large or (5 medium) egg yolks and the zest from one large lime (about a tablespoon).  Mix this all up to make the yummy custard type filling.

    And pour it into the baked and slightly cooled crust.

    Put it back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

    Let it cool on a baking rack and then put it in the refrigerator uncovered to chill until you’re ready to serve at least one hour.

    I like to top it with one thin lime slice but you can also put twisted slices around the edges. I’ve found no one actually eats these however, so why waste them?

    You could also top with fresh whipped cream but I’ve learned that putting out a bowl of fresh whipped cream is a better option, because there are actually strange people in the world who don’t care for whipped cream.

    You know who you are and we do not understand you.  Seek therapy. 

    Totally kidding!

    This would be the perfect pie to serve in the heat of summer. It would also be the perfect pie to serve anytime because it’s easy, refreshing and it’s just. That. Good.

    Key Lime Pie – The Best Easy Recipe Ever

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  • 14 whole graham crackers (1 1/2 cups, crushed)
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 T. sugar
  • pinch of salt and cinnamon

  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large or 5 medium egg yolks
  • 1/2 c. key lime juice (fresh or preferably Nellie & Joe’s)
  • 1 T. zest or from one large lime
  • Garnish -fresh whipped cream
  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Crush graham crackers, in food processor and pulse until resembles sand.
  • Pour into bowl and add in melted butter, salt, cinnamon and sugar and mix well.
  • Press into 8 or 9 inch pie or tart pan, pushing up sides.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove crust and let cool.
  • Meanwhile, mix together all filling ingredients with a whisk.
  • Pour into crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Cool and refrigerate until serving, at least one hour in refrigerator.





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    My First French Macaron Tutorial

    My First French Macaron Tutorial


    Over spring break I visited my family in Michigan. High on my list of things to do, along with spending LOTS of quality time with my family, was getting a first-hand tutorial on making French macarons from my cousin Diane.

    Diane has made them in every size, shape and color for almost every party she hostesses. I knew she would help me bypass all the first time baker mistakes and give me insider tips!

    And oh, am I ever GRATEFUL she did.

    There is a reason people “ooh and ahhh” when they find out someone has made these little bites of bliss, and I now know why…. because I’ve experienced it.

    It’s not just their crispy-sweet shells that dissolve ever so slowly on your tongue after you bite into them. It’s not just the luscious creamy flavor of whatever they may be filled with.

    It’s probably because to get those two outcomes, you have to make just about the fussiest recipe I’ve ever made.

    From the weighing and triple sifting of almond flour and superfine sugar…

    To the perfect whipping of egg whites that incidentally had to be laid out to come to room temperature….

    To the piping onto a parchment paper-covered template to get the same size for each macaron…

    To this crazy technique to get air bubbles out of the shells….

    This scared me half to DEATH when Diane first started doing this! It was LOUD!  But then, you know, you get bold with it and have fun!

    We were pleased with the shells, although Diane being an expert, likes them just perfect and those little peaks at the top annoyed me!

    As if that wasn’t enough, we made two fillings – salted caramel and vanilla Swiss meringue (which took almost as long as the shells!).

    If you are considering making French Macarons, my advice to you would be that if you are an adventurous, patient foodie who loves a challenge, then by all means, bake away!

    If you can find a sweet patient teacher who’s experienced at making them, you have struck gold of the sweetest kind.

    I am so grateful to my cousin for investing a day in teaching me because I believe it made all the difference in my confidence level to do this alone on my own later.


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    Valentine’s Day Chocolate Recipe Ideas

    Valentine's Day Chocolate Recipe Ideas



    Valentine’s Day is coming!  What do you on Valentine’s Day? Do you go out and fight the restaurant craze or stay home and cook a romantic meal for you and your hunny?  We typically stay home and for those of you who do, here are some recipe ideas with chocolate dessert inspiration for your dinner with your sweetie.

    First up, Chocolate Brownie Hearts and Strawberries.  They’re cute, they’re yummy and you can serve them with a side of chocolate hot fudge and life will pretty much bet wonderful as you know it.

    chocolate brownie hearts.jpg


    Espresso Truffles are easier than they look, melt in your mouth fabulous!



    Peanut Butter Pie with a chocolate cookie crust and a layer of chocolate fudge at the bottom.

    peanut butter pie

    S’Mores Fondue.  Need I say more?


    Just the name Molten Lava Cupcakes makes my Valentine romantic heart sing with joy!

    Molten Lava Cupcakes

    Take your pick! Any of these deliciously chocolate recipes should satisfy your Valentine’s Day chocolate craving and sweetheart!


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    Pickled Jalapenos | Dishin & Dishes

    freezing peppers


    This weekend, our first freeze sneaked slyly in, right on time in mid-November, causing us to assert “Operation Garden Rescue” immediately. We spent an hour or so Friday evening snapping off the last lingering okra pods, one lone eggplant, a zucchini, a smattering of green tomatoes and loads and loads of peppers.

    Sunday I sat and sliced them all – red and green bells, poblanos, jalapenos, serranos, cubanelles and habaneros. I say sat because it took me well over an hour, but it was well worth it for a winter full of organic garden peppers. Mr. Wonderful helped for a while but doggone, there were so many!


    We left some whole to make salsa, and put them all on sheet pans and popped them in the freezer to flash-freeze. That way, we can easily pull out how many we need out of freezer bags all winter long to add to stir-fries, Thai dishes and soups, omelets, fried potatoes and lots of other things!

    I chopped up at least four cups of jalapenos and serranos so I decided to make the Wonderful guy some of his favorites….Pickled Jalapenos.


    This is so easy – it really only takes the chopping, a little mixing, and canning, if you’re going to go ahead with that step.  Let me show you how I did it.

    Measure out 3 1/2 cups of chopped jalapenos.


    Then in a medium-large saucepan, add one cup white vinegar, one cup of water, 4 sliced garlic cloves and a tablespoon of peppercorns. Also add in 4 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of kosher or pickling salt. Do not use regular table salt.


    Bring this all to a simmer then add in your chopped peppers.


    Simmer one more minute then remove from the heat, let cool about 15 minutes, then pour into quart size canning jar, leaving 1/2 inch head space (if water bath canning).

    If canning – make sure jar is sterilized for canning, and jar mouth is wiped clean and dry. Seal with 2 part canning lid and place in boiling water that covers the jar in canning pot. Boil ten minutes then remove with canning tongs to cool onto clean towel. Lid should pop when done properly. Once opened, store in refrigerator up to 2 months.

    We’ll eat these on burgers, tacos and a variety of dishes over the next month or so. And the longer they sit, the better but I guarantee you these won’t last two months for their expiration date. They are so much better than those jars you’ll buy in the grocery store.

    Here’s to a spicy next few months!

    Pickled Jalapenos

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  • 3 1/2 c. sliced jalapenos (anywehre from 15-20 jalapenos)
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 1 c. water
  • 4 cloves sliced garlic
  • 4 T. sugar
  • 2 T. pickling or kosher salt
  • 1 T. peppercorns
  • Slice peppers
  • In medium-large saucepan heat all other ingredients to a simmer
  • Add jalapenos and stir about one minute or until all sugar and salt is dissolved
  • Pour into quart jar container leaving 1/2 inch head space at top

  • If canning – make sure jar is sterilized for canning, and jar mouth is wiped clean and dry.
  • Seal with 2 part canning lid and place in boiling water that covers the jar in canning pot.
  • Boil ten minutes then remove with canning tongs to cool onto clean towel. Lid should pop when done properly.
  • Once opened, store in refrigerator up to 2 months.



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    Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls | Dishin & Dishes




    “Have you watched the movie Babette’s Feast?

    It’s a Danish film, by Gabriel Axel, full of annoying subtitles, washed out scenery, bland boring people that culminates into one of the most delectably prepared feasts I’ve ever seen, including the most expensive dish -“Cailles en Sarcophage” or Quail in puff pastry – deboned quail, seared, stuffed with foie gras and HUGE truffle slices, and a magnificent sauce of figs and truffle spooned over top. Watching these Puritan-type old spinsters warm and open up over delightfully thought-out and prepared cuisine is one of the reasons I love to cook.

    Ordinary food becomes gastronomy, acquaintances become friends, relationships improve over each intimate and delicious bite.

    It’s what makes you think about what would please that night for dinner, or that weekend for brunch with loved ones, new acquaintances or just the two of you on a romantic evening. Which led me to this dish, which is sadly not as eleborate or expensively delicious as Cailles en Sarcophage, but would satisfy anyone on the hottest of summer nights, or set out the fixings and rolled out as a group would be a fun project to bring even the somber-most hearts together.

    I love fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, especially in the dog days of summer when the green seems to have disappeared among browning foliage and grass and the pavement is so hot you can’t walk barefoot on it without hopping back and forth between each foot. The cool is finally coming here but it’s hardly seemed like fall at all with our temps being in the 80’s 90’s!

    You can fill these with any variety of vegetables, meats or tofu and you can use a choice of fresh herbs, but I sort of love the combination of Thai basil and mint in the more traditional way of things.

    I did decide to go a little off-kilter however by using fresh and crunchy zucchini noodles in my version this week instead of the usual rice noodles. After all it’s summer (sort of), and fresh produce still abounds so I walked out to my garden and picked veggies and fresh herbs and got to rolling up some refreshing spring rolls for dinner one night when the Wonderful guy was at his men’s bible study….and it was a chick food kind of a night.

    fresh basil mint and chives

    Start off doing some prep work.  You can use either cook medium-sized shrimp – (you can use 1-2 shrimp depending on what size of wraps you’re using) or buy the pre-cooked shrimp, which is what I opted to do. Keep in mind that you’re only counting 1/2 of a shrimp as one shrimp however….(see next step).

    Cut the shrimp in half as shown in the following photo.


    They will be nice little flat halves of shrimp. You don’t have to cut your shrimp, but it just makes the roll a little less stuffed I think to halve them.  You will ned 2-3 of these halves per fresh spring roll, so count out how many you wish to make. I made 8 tonight so I really only needed 4-6 shrimp.

    Next cut some chives into 4 inch pieces, at least 8 or more if you love chives.


    Other ingredients I used to fill my wraps were shredded carrots, using a potato peeler (but you could also just buy the matchsticks for a time saver) slivered red peppers, slivered snap peas, cucumbers and radishes and thin spears of asparagus. You’ll want to tear some lettuce leaves into about 4 inch long by 2-3 inch wide pieces (I used green leaf lettuce) and also some leaves of mint, cilantro sprigs and leaves and either Thai basil or regular basil. Thai is the best if you can find it.

    Fresh spring roll ingredients

    It’s important to prep everything ahead of time because it will make rolling these spring rolls a snap.

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention, traditional Vietnamese spring rolls use rice noodles as a filler but I wanted to capitalize on summer, and fresh zucchini noodles, sometimes called “zoodles”, so I hauled out my spiralizer and began to make them on the plate with the smallest holes.

    spiralized zucchini

    Now for the wrapper – you can find these in Asian markets or order here. I use this brand:

    fresh spring roll wrappers

    These are crispy rice paper rounds that you will dip in water to soften and use. They are a bit tricky and awkward at first, but you’ll get it after a few.

    rice paper wrappers

    Fill up a round shallow sauce pan (one that’s bigger than the rice papers) with water.

    Dip one right in and hold down with your fingers for about the count of 10 seconds.


    Lay it out gently without letting the sides stick to each other. It’s kind of like a challenging game of cling wrap war….

    I seriously detest using cling wrap.


    Now typically you lay in your lettuce first. This makes a nice “nest” of sorts for all your small ingredients. Do your layering of ingredients down to the end of the rice paper wrap closest to you.


    You can lay one or two of these down and then begin to top with the rest of your ingredients. I started with a blob of the zucchini noodles and then stacked the rest.

    how to roll fresh spring rolls

    Don’t layer on the shrimp yet.

    We’re going to start to roll by holding the rice paper wrap closest to you. Gently pull it up and over your toppings taking care to your move your fingers to the back of the toppings to hold on to them and tuck them in as you roll.

    rolling fresh spring rolls

    Tuck the end of the wrapper under the vegetables.


    Take the two ends and tuck them onto the roll. You can also do this at the end and because the wrapper is so gluey-like it will stick just fine!


    Now you should have the back edge left still unrolled. Lay down your shrimp. This just makes it prettier when rolled up.


    Next,  continue rolling all the way up!


    If you want to be fancy-schmancy, you can add in a long chive stem down with the shrimp and leave the end open for it to stick out.


    Then go ahead and roll the next seven of your fresh spring rolls! You can cut them in half to make a pretty presentation and serve them with my famous Thai peanut sauce for dipping (Find that recipe here!). It’s delicious!


    Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

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  • 8 rice paper spring roll wraps (I use Three Ladies Brand)
  • 8 3 inch pieces of leaf lettuce trimmed to fit rice paper
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized on thin holes
  • 8-12 cooked medium-sized shrimp sliced in half long ways
  • 8 chives trimmed 4-5 inches long
  • 1 medium sized carrot, julienned or peeled
  • sugar snap peas sliced long ways thinly
  • 1/4 red pepper sliced long ways thinly
  • 3 large radishes, julienned
  • 8 thin asparagus stalks, ends trimmed to 3-4 inches
  • 1 small cucumber thinly sliced into julienne pieces
  • 16 whole Thai basil or basil leaves
  • 16 whole mint leaves
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro
  • *Thai Peanut Sauce for dipping
  • Make zucchini noodles and prep shrimp, and other vegetables as stated in Ingredients above.
  • Dip each rice paper wrap in shallow pan or bowl filled with water and hold it approximately 10 seconds to soften.
  • Lay out on cutting board stretching to remove most wrinkles
  • Lay down lettuce leaf on one end leaving an inch or so border of rice paper wrap around the edges
  • Layer all other vegetables as closely as possible in center of leaf lettuce EXCEPT shrimp and herbs
  • Lay mint on top of all
  • lay basil on top of mint
  • Pull the rice paper rice gently over top of all using your middle two fingers to hold vegetable and tuck the rice paper over top of all and roll leaving about 2-3 inches from end.
  • Lay shrimp evenly on remaining unroll end and continue rolling
  • Tuck ends over the bottom of the roll and press firmly to stick.
  • Serve with Thai peanut dipping sauce.





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