Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Pickles

Every year I make these pickles for a family Christmas party.  They are a variation on a traditional bread and butter pickle.  These are not shelf stable!  I'm not canning them.  They are cooked on the stove and need to be stored in the refrigerator.  They will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Here's what you'll need.  Recipe follows blog post.  Ingredients are: cucumbers, sweet onion, kosher salt, apple cider vinegar, sugar, ground mustard, red pepper flakes and mustard seed.  The original recipe calls for pickling cucumbers but since I make this in winter they are not available where I shop.  I've always used regular cucumbers and it comes out fine.  If you use regular cucumbers you'll need to scrub them extra good.  They are likely coated with wax and if you don't scrub most of the wax off you'll end up with a film on top of your pickles.  It won't affect the taste but it's not terribly nice to look at.

Dump all your ingredients, except for your veggies, into a large pan on the stove.  Stir it up and heat until boiling.  Stir often to help dissolve the sugar.  Most years I have extra liquid left at the end.  It depends on how many cucumbers I use and how big my jars are.  So, don't worry if you don't use it all.

Meanwhile slice up your veggies.  I do this freehand with a knife.  A mandolin would work fine if you want uniform slices.  It doesn't matter too much to me, so I just use a knife.

Ditto for the onion.

Once your liquid is boiling you're ready to go.

Dump in HALF the veggies.  Don't overcrowd your pot.  You don't have to bother bringing the mixture back to a boil.  Just stir them around so they all get submerged at some point.

You'll know when they are done because they go from bright cucumber green to dark pickle green.  You all know what color a pickle is.  This is the start.  Bright green.

Be sure to light a candle when your son comes into the kitchen and tells you that it's "too stinky in here."  This recipe will stink up your house.  So crack a window, light some candles, etc.  The smell lingers.

Keep stirring and moving things around.

This looks about right.

Remove pickles with a slotted spoon and allow to cool slightly in a separate bowl.  At this point add the rest of your raw veggies and cook them.  While they are cooking you can move the first batch to their jars.  I just use tongs and shove them in there.

Pack them in there well but not too tightly.  Once all the pickles are cooked and into jars I let the liquid cool for a bit.  Then I ladle it into the jars slowly, giving it time to settle.  Until the jars are full.  Cover them loosely and allow to cool on the counter for a while.  When they are cool enough to touch you can tighten the lids but I don't put the jars in the fridge until they are much closer to room temp.  DO NOT PUT HOT JARS IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR!!!

Mmmm....the onions are my favorite part.  Enjoy!

Shelly's Christmas Pickles
-2 cups sugar
-2 cups vinegar
-3 Tbsp kosher salt
-2 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
-1 tsp dry yellow mustard
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-12 small pickling cucumbers OR 3-4 large cucumbers
-1-2 sweet onions

In large pot bring all ingredients (except cucumbers and onions) to a boil.  Stir often to help dissolve sugar.  Add about half the veggies and cook over med-high heat until cucumbers turn dark green.  Remove to separate bowl until all veggies are cooked.  Pack into jars.  Allow liquid to cool slightly before pouring over pickles.  Cover loosely until cool to the touch.  Tighten jars and allow to cool to room temperature before storing in refrigerator.  Keeps in fridge for several weeks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Goat Cheese Stuffed Meatballs...a non-recipe

I've been cooking for a long time and as a result I'm mostly an "eyeball it" kind of cook.  I generally do not follow recipes, unless it's something I'm unsure of making or something that needs to turn out the same every time.  And of course if it's a family recipe that's been passed down to me I will follow it closely.  Why mess with perfection?

But as a result of my reckless cooking style I have a very hard time transcribing recipes.  But I did want to share this little gem that I came up with.  Meatballs stuffed with goat cheese.

These are the ingredients I started with.  One pound of ground beef, goat cheese log , parmesan cheese, oregano, garlic salt, parsley flakes, crushed breadsticks and one egg.  Variations on this are endless.  I actually prefer a "meatloaf mix" for the meat portion but didn't have that on hand.  You could also add or subtract pretty much any of the other ingredients.  Sometimes instead of garlic salt I'll use minced garlic.  Or I'll add two eggs if I have more meat.  Normally I would use bread crumbs or cracker crumbs but didn't have any so I crushed up some breadsticks I had.  You could use most any goat cheese flavor.  This one was garlic and herb.

If you're like me, you're in a rush and have to thaw some of your meat in the microwave....

Throw everything in the bowl and mush together with your hands.  Yes it's messy but it's really the best way to incorporate everything.  Use your hands for meatloaf too.  A spoon just doesn't do it.  As for measurements?  Um, this is the hard part.  I don't measure anything here.  I just shake stuff out until it looks good.  If you're an "eyeball it" kind of cook like myself you'll figure it out. If you're a novice in the kitchen my "recipes" won't help you.  Sorry!

Spray a pretty little dish with some non-stick stuff.

No picture of the process because it was a two handed job but basically I took a wad of meat and made a thick patty.  Then I put a dent in that for the cheese.  Added a little more meat on top of the cheese and formed it into a ball.  One trick I did with the goat cheese is that I cut it into cubes and then froze them on a paper plate.  That helped keep them from melting too fast and oozing out of the ball.
Preheat your oven to 350 and bake for a while.  Maybe 35 minutes?  I'm really bad at timing stuff.  I don't ever really burn anything.  It's just from practicing.  I check on things often and try to follow my nose.  For these, I covered them for the first part of cooking and then uncovered them so they would get a little bit crispier on the outside.  They turned out great!  I'll definitely be making them again.  Although the recipe will surely not be the same.  ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All decked out for Christmas!

Well, now that the blog is all decked out for Christmas it's time for a new post!  I did not participate in the final week of the WLW November challenge because it called for holiday decorating and with two cats in the house my holiday decorating does not happen until much much closer to Christmas.  So, I re-decorated my hutch instead.



And a little tour of the goodies on my shelf.  

Click through to

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Um...Happy Halloween?

I thought I had better finally do my Halloween post before December gets here!  Just a simple picture share. Nothing fancy.  I'll be back later with a post about the Fall Challenge.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A do-over and this week's peaceful home challenge

Yesterday I needed a mulligan.  A do-over.  A second chance.  Don't we all have days like that?  My weekend was hectic and ended on a bad note.  Monday morning began in chaos and so I decided I was taking the day off.  I did zero chores.  Zero exercise.  Zero anything that required effort.  And it felt good.  No one was neglected.  The world didn't stop turning.  Life moved on, regardless of the dirty dishes in the sink and the not so healthy no-cook dinner.  And today I woke up refreshed and ready to start again.  Today is my mulligan.  My second chance to start the week right.  It's Tuesday?  So what.  It's the start of a new week because yesterday just doesn't count.  Today I light my candle for peace and I take on the next task in the "Make Your Home a Haven" challenge.  Playing soft music in my home.  After reading this challenge I realized that I don't play music very often in my home, even though I love it.  Usually there are cartoons going or my son making engine sounds/train whistles while playing.  Even in those moments that are quiet it rarely occurs to me to play music, because I enjoy the quiet so much.  But I love to listen to my ipod while cleaning.  It makes the task more fun.  And this week I will purpose to play at least one quiet song during those peaceful moments in the day.

I am participating in the WLW November Challenge

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Women Living Well November Challenge

Courtney at Women Living Well has been one of the people who inspire me to be a better wife and mother and keeper of my home.  She has posed a challenge for the month of November and I am trying to complete that challenge.  Go check it out.  It may help bring peace to your home.  Something I sorely need!

I've already gotten my first challenge underway.  Lighting a candle in your home every day and asking for peace.  Every Monday is a new challenge.  It's not too late to start!

Monday, November 5, 2012

 Just a quick picture post.  Halloween post coming soon.

Just a yummy looking burger I made.  Wish I could say I made the roll too but alas I did not.

Enjoying a quick breakfast on the back patio while the weather is still nice enough to play outside.  That is my favorite coffee mug.  It's purple with polka dots!  I love it!

A new magnet for the refrigerator.

And just so you ladies don't think my sink is always as shiny as the first post....this is my reality most of the time.  That lovely shiny sink is not an every day thing!  Although I did shine it tonight, so hopefully that will start my day off right tomorrow!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October!

One thing you will learn about me is that I love Halloween.  Love it!  October is my favorite month because of my son's birthday and because of Halloween.  So, later on I'll be posting pictures of my decorations and a few of my favorite Halloween recipes.

For now, how about some pictures of last year's pumpkins?

One of our local stores had a pumpkin carving contest last year.  We didn't enter but we enjoyed checking out the ones who did.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Iced Coffee How-To

As promised, an iced coffee post.  Although there isn't much to tell.  Iced coffee is very simple to make.  There are numerous recipes and techniques all over the internet.  Many people favor Pioneer Woman's method.  It's really just coffee and water, any way you do it.  The difference is the ratio of coffee to water.  Depending on how strong you like it.  Some people make an iced coffee concentrate and then add water to it.  I don't bother with that.  I drink it as is, with my usual sweetened creamer.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day in the Life

I thought I would kick off this blog with a Day in the Life post. I always enjoy seeing them on other people's blogs and I thought it would be fun to try one myself.

So, this is why the blog is called Blurry Housekeeping. Because many mornings I am up this early and my eyes barely function at this hour. Mostly because I have a bad habit of staying up too late the night before.