Quick Refrigerator Pickles

This recipe is a flexible way to use up extra vegetables and to extend their shelf life.
Quick pickled vegetables will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Red onions and shallots will be good for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. It’s a perfect way to make sure your produce doesn’t die in the produce drawer, or get wasted when a large garden harvest comes in all at once!

Yields: 32 ounces quick pickles – fills 2 (16 ounce) ball jars

Ingredients:

Brine
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups vinegar of your choice*
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons sugar

Possible Vegetables to Use
Cucumbers
Summer squash (zucchini or yellow squash)
Asparagus
Carrots
Radishes
Beets **
Red onions
Shallots
Ginger
Peppers (hot or mild)

Possible Spices and Flavorings to Add (dried or fresh herbs)
Black peppercorns
Bay leaves
Garlic
Ginger
Dill
Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano
Red Pepper Flakes
Mustard Seeds
Turmeric
Smoked Paprika
Whole, dried chilis
Whole coriander

Directions:

Make the brine: Add brine ingredients to a medium pot and fit with a lid. Bring to a low boil to dissolve the salt and sugar. Stir if needed to dissolve. Turn off the heat and leave covered to keep it hot.

Slice the vegetables while brine comes to a boil:
Cut long vegetables, like asparagus and carrots into pieces that will fit into a jar. Slice carrots either in long, really thin matchsticks, or in thin coin slices, so they pickle well.

You can use a mandolin to thinly slice radishes, cucumbers, red onions, shallots, summer squash, or even raw beets (if you slice beets really thinly they don’t need to be roasted first).
Add flavorings of your choice. You can crush the garlic with the side of a knife, so more of the flavor comes out, throw in a bay leaf and some peppercorns.

My favorite pickled radish seasoning is to add thin slices of ginger and a ½ teaspoon to a teaspoon of turmeric powder.

Asparagus is great with dill and garlic.

Just have fun experimenting with different flavor combinations!

After placing sliced vegetables into ball jars, pour hot brine over them. Leave 1 inch of head space at the top of the jars. Let cool down for 30 minutes or so. Cover tightly with lid and refrigerate. Enjoy in 24 hours!

* If you use balsamic vinegar, it will change the color of the vegetables. If you want to maintain the color, then use a white or apple cider vinegar.

**Beets need to be roasted (or boiled) before pickling.
Roasting instructions: Preheat oven to 400° F. Put ½ inch water in bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. Cut beets in half and place cut side down (no need to peel) in baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes, or until knife easily goes all the way through. Once cool, chop into quarters or eighths. No need to peel them unless you want to.

Summer Berry Pies & Pie Dough Recipe

Summer Berry Pie

A pear, cranberry pie for fall or winter, but shows you what the crust should look like.
A Strawberry, Blueberry Summer Tart with Frangipane
A Blueberry & Cherry Tart with Frangipane

Yields: 1 pie

Serves: 8-12

Ingredients:

1 batch pastry dough (recipe below)

Filling:

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (17 ounces)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (9 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries (5 to 6 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Frangipane

  • ⅓ cup whole, raw almonds or almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract or vanilla

 

Directions:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Place rimmed baking sheet in bottom of oven to catch any possible spills from pie. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Save the rest for a pie topper. Transfer to 9-inch pie dish. Pinch the edges of the crust, forming a ruffle and a high-standing rim extending 1/4 inch above sides of the pie dish. Chill the crust in the refrigerator or freezer while making filling.

For filling:

Combine blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and lemon juice in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Mix cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. Add to berry mixture and toss gently to coat. 

Frangipane: (inspired by Smitten Kitchen recipe)

Use a food processor to grind the almonds. You can also use almond flour if you prefer for this step. Add flour to food processor and combine well. Add sugar, butter and extract if using. Blend until smooth. Pour into a small to medium bowl. Add the egg and stir well to combine. Cover this mixture and chill for 3 hours. The process can be sped up with 20-30 minutes in the freezer, or don’t freeze at all if you’re in a hurry. It will be fine.

Pie Assembly:

Put a few fork holes in the bottom of the crust before baking. Place pie weights or dried beans in the empty crust to keep it from bubbling up too much. The whole surface should be mostly covered with weights or beans. 

Blind bake the bottom pie crust for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove crust from oven and carefully remove the weights or beans when they’ve cooled.

Coat bottom of the pie with frangipane mixture. Place berries on top, mounded a bit in the center of the crust. Roll out remaining pie dough and cover the berry mixture with the pie topper. Neatly pinch the edges to seal the pie. 

Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Return pie to oven and bake until crust is golden brown and berry juices are bubbling thickly, about 40-45 minutes. You may need to cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. 

 

Basic Pastry Dough (Pie Crust)

Yields: a crust for a 9 inch pie pan

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Large pinch sea salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

5 to 6 tablespoons chilled water

 

Directions:

Place the flour and the salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend well. Alternatively, mix in a bowl with a pastry cutter or whisk. 

Cut butter into ½ inch cubes and add to the flour. 

If using a food processor, pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal or the butter pieces are pea-sized. If using a pastry cutter, or your hands, mix the flour and butter together until you have pea-sized butter pieces.

With the food processor running, add the water and pulse briefly, or just until the pastry beings to hold together.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Refrigerate if necessary. 

The Empowered Kitchen Tips:

This dough freezes really well. Label, date and seal tightly in a plastic bag. It’s good to double or triple this recipe, so you can always have some on hand for an emergency. 

Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa

 

This is a wonderful warming and unique winter salad that will fill you up and make you feel oh so good for your day. I like to roast a bunch of squash or different kinds of vegetables all in one go, and then have them on hand to throw together salads like this. It might look like a number of steps in the recipe below, but if you do this once a week, then many of these components can be re-used and re-created into new and different meals all week long.

Cook once, and assemble several interesting, delicious and good-for-you meals. That’s what makes life simpler mentally, and is good for your physical health too.

If you roast some of this delicata squash, you can use some to make soup, add to a risotto, serve as a side to chicken or fish, or use in any variety of salads. I’m sure there are so many other ways to use it too! Let me know in the comments what dishes you like to make with it.  I hope you love the recipe below.

This is how to cook more efficiently. Quinoa top left. Lentils top right. Roasted squash half moons on bottom left. The start of a delicata squash soup bottom right. The soup can be made and frozen for future weeks if desired, but you’ve maximized the use of your time and the heat of your oven by roasted the squash all at once and cooking multiple meals in one session.

Feel free to play around with the spices in this dish and change out the rosemary. Moroccan spice blends also go great with the squash and lentil combination. Yum!

Kale & Delicata Squash Salad with Lentils, Toasted Walnuts & Quinoa

Yields: 6 hearty salads

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, you want about 8 cups of torn leaves (Lacinato or curly leaf)

½ – ¾ cups walnuts

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoon safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil

1 small/medium delicata squash

1 cup dried lentils

½ cup raisins (optional)

1 cup dry quinoa 

6-8 ounces feta cheese (optional)

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Toasted delicata squash seeds for garnish

½ cup Honey Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut off the stem of the delicata squash and then slice it down the middle longways. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place squash guts and seeds in a colander to rinse under water so you can separate the seeds. Save the seeds for toasting later. There is no need to peel the delicata, as you can eat the peel. Remove the seeds and separate from the strings. Discard the strings/guts and compost if you have access to compost. * Now slice each of the sides of delicata squash into ½ inch half moons. Place the half moons in a bowl and coat with the safflower, sunflower or grapeseed oil, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. You can add dried or fresh rosemary or thyme if you’d like.

Once coated, place squash half moons on baking sheet and spread them out so they don’t touch too much. This helps them caramelize better. Roast for about 15-25 minutes, or until pieces are golden brown and cooked to your liking. A fork will go easily through the pieces. Check them after 15 minutes, and according to how hot your oven runs. Flip them at 15 minutes so they cook evenly.

While squash is roasting, rinse and dry the squash seeds. Coat with a bit of the sunflower or other oil, salt and pepper to your taste. You can always adjust the flavor of these with spice blends of your choice. Spread seeds evenly on a baking sheet and place in oven for 8 minutes. Check at 5 minutes if your oven runs hot. Flip or toss with a wooden spoon if needed. They’re toasted when lightly golden brown, but watch them because they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and set aside on a plate to stop them from cooking further.

Prepare the quinoa and lentils according to package directions. It’s best to rinse quinoa and to cook it with 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry quinoa. Lentils can be cooked to your liking. I prefer them still with a tiny bit of firmness. 

Prepare vinaigrette:

*See instructions below.

Assemble Salad:

Hold the stem of the kale and use your other hand to pull the leaf from the stem. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. You can save the stems to compost them, or freeze in a sealed bag to make vegetable broth later. 

Place the leaves in a large salad bowl. Coat with olive oil and massage the kale leaves with your hands, crushing the leaves and massaging the oil into the leaves well. This breaks down the cellulose and makes the kale much more palatable. 

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts to the dry pan and toast for 5-8 minutes, or until barely golden brown and fragrant. Turn off the heat and set aside. Add walnuts, raisins, lentils, and quinoa to the kale and toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust dressing. Add black pepper, toasted squash seeds, and feta cheese if desired and enjoy! 

Any extra quinoa and/or lentils can be saved and used for other meals. 

If making salads for 2-3 days of lunches, follow these directions:

Tear the leaves and massage with oil. Then add to your meal prep containers. Add the walnuts and raisins to the salad. Put cooked quinoa and lentils on the side or in a separate compartment from the salad. 

The morning you are going to eat your salad you can combine the quinoa and lentils with the rest of the ingredients.

Take the vinaigrette and optional feta in small containers with you to lunch and dress your salad with a few tablespoons when ready to eat. Enjoy a hearty lunch or dinner!

 

Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Yields: 1 cup vinaigrette

Serves: Covers about 10-12 salads. 

Ingredients:

2 large lemons 

⅔ cup olive oil

½ small shallot (optional)

1 or 2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)

3 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon or brown mustard (optional)

¼ cup parsley leaves

½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

 

Directions:

Mince garlic cloves. Remove the parsley stems and save for stock. Rough chop the parsley. 

Roll lemons under your forearm to release juices before slicing in half. [Tip: Zest them first if you need zest for another recipe. Can keep in a small amount of oil in the fridge for a week or so until use.]

Juice lemons and add to small bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to emulsify. Taste with a lettuce leaf and adjust ingredients to your taste. 

Label and date before refrigeration. 

Empowered Kitchen Tip:

I recommend doubling this recipe so you always have a stock of it in your refrigerator.

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