Garlic-Herb Breadsticks

Since our kids were little, we have reserved Sunday evenings as Family Nights.  We rotate through the family, taking turns choosing our activity for the night.  We have made some worthwhile memories with this tradition, and I am so thankful my husband had the foresight to put it on our calendars.

Last night was my turn to choose an activity.  The weather made my first choice a not-so-great option, so I chose Scrabble, a new breadsticks recipe and an old Ingrid Bergman/Yul Brynner film, “Anastasia”.  See, I wanted to watch an old movie, but not all of my family loves old movies like I do.  Plus, I had never seen “Anastasia”, so I didn’t even know if it was worth watching.  I basically added the breadsticks to soften up my crew with food.  It mostly worked.

These are a quick yeast bread breadstick, so don’t expect the soft yeasty-ness of Olive Garden.  They are yeasty on the inside and kind of crunchy on the outside.  Even though the recipe I used calls to make 12 breadsticks, we made 10 since there are five in our family.  We each shaped two sticks and dressed two sticks according to our preference.

These guys would be tasty with soup or with a good ol’ summer garden supper…or as a snacky bribe on your next Family Night!

1 t. active dry yeast
3/4 c. warm water
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter, softened
Topping Options:  More butter for brushing on top, salt, minced garlic or garlic powder, herbs

Combine yeast and water and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved.

Add flour, olive oil and butter, mixing until dough forms in a ball.

Dump dough onto flour surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil.

Divide dough into 10-12 pieces.  Roll each piece into 12-16″ rope, rolling them in the oil to coat before setting them on baking sheet.  Cover pans with towel and let rise 45-60 minutes.

Preheat over to 400.  Brush melted butter over breadsticks and top according to preference.

Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

 

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Dilly Beans

Dilly Beans are basically a pickled green bean.  I prefer to pickle the young, tender beans from the plants’ first harvest because the beans are nice and straight, making them an easier fit for my pint jars.  (Subsequent harvests tend to have beans that curl more.)  I usually leave the ends on my beans before pickling, which makes a nice little “handle” for pulling them from the jars when they’re ready to eat.

I would think that any dill pickle recipe could be used with green beans, but this is the one I typically use for mine.  When I have access, I will also add half of a seeded jalapeno to my jars.

2 pounds (ish) green beans, washed well
1/4 c. salt
2 1/2 c. vinegar (white or apple cider)
2 1/2 c. water
4-8 cloves peeled garlic
4 heads dill

Combine salt, vinegar and water in large pot; bring to a boil.

Pack beans lengthwise into hot, clean pint jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Add 1-2 cloves garlic and 1 head dill to each jar.

Ladle hot liquid over beans, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust lids and bands.

Process pints for 10 minutes in hot water bath.

Makes 4 pints.

As you can see, I have pickled all manner of veggies when I have them available. I especially enjoyed these pickled carrot sticks!

 

Zucchini Pinwheels

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Zucchini pinwheels may not be pretty, but they sure are yummy!

The yearly avalanche of zucchini is in the near future at our place.  Right now, we’re getting about one every other day, but we will soon be finding six or eight every time we walk by the garden!

So, to battle Zucchini Boredom, I am always on the lookout for new recipes.  Plus, variety is the spice of life…right?

4 zucchini (6-7 inches in length), sliced lengthwise as thinly as possible
salt & pepper to taste
1 bar cream cheese, softened
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
a smattering of your favorite herbs, fresh or dried
oil for brushing on zucchini
toothpicks (if desired)

Brush zucchini with oil, then sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Grill or roast until very soft (but not falling apart).

Put cooked zucchini slices on towel so that moisture is absorbed while zucchini cools completely.

Combine cream cheese, garlic and herbs.  Spread along length of one side of each zucchini slice.  Roll into pinwheel and secure with a toothpick.  Or, if you’d like to skip the toothpicks, just pop them into your mouth as soon as they’re rolled (like my friend, Sarah, and I did last night).

 

Blue Cheese Dressing

Years ago, when Dave and I were in college, we occasionally took advantage of some of our long weekends to head over to see his aunt, Mary, who lives in a log home in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  There is always lots of beautiful sunlight streaming in through the windows, and her front porch offers a perfect place to chat while inhaling the pungent fragrance of the dozens of evergreens that fill the property.  Although I don’t have the opportunity as often as I’d like, Aunt Mary’s house is one of my favorite places to visit.  It’s a little piece of heaven with its beauty and tranquility.  Even more amazing than the mountain setting is Aunt Mary herself.

From the moment I met this tiny, independent woman, I knew she loved me.  Her acceptance of me was made immediately apparent by the warmth in her eyes and the smile on her face.  She was genuine and comfortable, and I count her among the great benefits of marrying my husband.

Along with Aunt Mary being an all-around delightful person, she is a gracious hostess.  Her homemade crescent rolls and hot cross buns were such a treat for Dave and me.  She was the first person I ever knew to serve fresh, minced garlic in her tossed salads–which was quite a surprise to me the first time I tried it!  Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I agreed to also try her homemade blue cheese dressing during our first visit.  I was pretty sure that I did not like blue cheese dressing, but she seemed so sincere in her offer that I didn’t have the heart to refuse.  Let’s just say that I was an immediate convert.  I have been enjoying blue cheese ever since.

I was recently gifted with a 5-lb. bag of blue cheese crumbles.  My first thought was, “Yum!  I’m going to treat myself to some of Aunt Mary’s blue cheese dressing!”.  I’ve made it three times since then, because I keep sharing it with other people who find they like it as much as Dave and I do.  Just in case you want to give it a try, I’m passing Aunt Mary’s recipe along to you.  It’s not as amazing as she is, but I think you’ll like it just the same.

1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1-2 cloves minced garlic
2 T. finely-diced green onion (or regular onion)
1 T. wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. sugar
I also often add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce.

Mix well, cover and chill.

Use it as a vegetable dip, a salad dressing, a topping for your burgers or whatever else suits your fancy. This recipe is very forgiving, so don’t worry about getting all of the measurements exact.

Ham & Cheese Sliders

This recipe captured my kids’ attention at a potluck.  The loved them!  I made a few changes, like eliminating the brown sugar and substituting swiss cheese, and I now include them in my Power Cooking classes as well as in some of our family’s special occasions.  They’re a fun recipe to have on-hand for munching when company comes or even on family movie nights.

If well-wrapped, the freeze quite nicely–especially if used within a month or so.

¾ c. melted butter
1 ½ T. Dijon mustard
1 ½ T. Worcestershire sauce
1T. poppy seeds
1 T. dried, minced onion
12 slider buns OR mini Hawaaian-type rolls
1 lb. thinly-sliced ham
2-3 c. grated Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13” baking dish.
In small bowl, combine butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds and dried onion.

Separate tops from bottoms of buns, placing the bottoms in prepared baking dish. Top evenly with ham and cheese. Place bun tops over ham and cheese. Pour sauce evenly over rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Chicken Enchilada Dip

This easy appetizer is great with or without the chicken.  It can also be paired with a salad and eaten as a meal.  It’s a great make-ahead, because it refrigerates and freezes well.

 

2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
2 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. shredded cheese
1 t. minced garlic
1 ½ T. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. oregano
cayenne pepper to taste
1 can black beans, drained (Feel free to leave these out if you don’t want them.)
4 green onions, chopped
10-oz. can chopped green chilies

Mix cheeses together; add seasonings & mix well.

Cover & refrigerate overnight.

Heat in slow cooker, in microwave, in oven or on stovetop until ingredients are warm and gooey.

Serve with tortilla chips or sturdy vegetable dippers.

Artichoke Dip

There are so many variations of this dip.  This one is quite tasty and freezes beautifully.

12 oz. jar marinated artichokes, drained & chopped
½ c. mayo
1 ½ c. grated Parmesan
1 ½ c. grated mozzarella
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 t. onion powder
2-4 cloves minced garlic
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper

Combine all ingredients; spread in greased 9×13” baking dish.

Bake at 350 40-45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

Serve with crackers or veggies.