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The DIY Life: Habanero Pickled Eggs

2 Oct

Having backyard chickens means that there are times when we are buried in fresh eggs. Right now, the chickens are still laying pretty regularly, but the time is looming when the days get shorter and cooler and the girls will slow down production. So, while eggs are plentiful, I decided to pickle some. Beet eggs are usually the type that people are most familiar with. Since I’m limited in what I can do in the kitchen since I have no countertops, I decided to do a simple pickled egg and make it spicy. I made some jalapeno pickled eggs last year, but they really lacked the heat I was looking for. We grew habanero peppers in the garden this year, and they’ve done well. So I decided to use those for the heat factor. In 7 days, you’ll have nicely pickled eggs with a heat that varies. These are great to have on hand for a flavorful boost of protein, or to have out as a snack for guests with assorted meats and cheeses.

Habanero Pickled Eggs

Habanero Pickled Eggs

18 hard boiled eggs, peeled

3 cups vinegar

3 cups water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon pickling spice

6 cloves of garlic, mashed and roughly chopped into chunks

4 habanero peppers, tops trimmed off


Add all your ingredients (except the eggs) to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiled, remove from heat, stir and let sit to cool slightly.

Add your eggs to a heat safe glass container – I used a 1/2 gallon mason jar.

Pour the brine over the eggs until the container is almost full. Be sure to get the peppers, garlic and any pickling spices from the brine into the jar so that they can continue to flavor. You will have extra brine, but that is ok.

Add the lid to your jar and let cool for about an hour, then place in the fridge for 7 days to allow the mixture to pickle. Shake the jar each day to get the seasonings, spices and peppers to move around and flavor your eggs evenly.

After 7 days, your eggs are pickled and you can enjoy them!

Lighter Snack & Lunch Idea – Lightly Pickled Shrimp!

4 Mar

Every time a new year arrives, the gyms flood with people trying to set new goals with their brand new good intentions. The produce aisle and whole grain sections at the grocery stores are cleared of all things healthy as people embark on a quest for better eating habits. Then it dies off, at the latest, in early February and most people go back to their bad food choices and lazy ways. I never make healthy eating or fitness a new years resolution because it’s like setting yourself up for failure. Healthy eating, fitness, lifestyle changes – you can’t give them deadlines. You’ve got to be mentally ready for the challenge. YOU have to want to do it. I think I’m mentally ready to start getting back into shape again after too much good food & beer. I’m cutting back on the good beer, but not cutting it out. Cutting things out leads to binging on those things because you feel deprived. I need REAL life changes and choices, not a quick fix to drop some weight right now, just to gain it back when I get back to normal.

So for the first week I started getting a little more creative with my lunch choices. I wanted meals that would keep me full and give me the most bang for my buck calorie and nutrition wise. That’s why I started eating Spinach & Cheese Toasts – and I wanted to add in something that had some more protein than the mushrooms I was eating with it and it to be light, healthy & flavorful. So I decided to do a quick, light pickling of some medium sized shrimp. Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of “pickled” shrimp. These aren’t anything like eating a kosher dill pickle. These are brightly flavored without being too “pickled” tasting. They have zing from the apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. There is a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes and garlic. They are just layered with flavor and I love it! I think these will be a great snack and lunch addition, as well as be a great option to take to a summertime picnic or BBQ as an appetizer to share! And the brine? Don’t let it go to waste. It’s lovely smeared on some crusty, whole grain french bread with a couple of the shrimp on top. I think it would also be great as a pasta salad, brining the shrimp overnight and then tossing the jar of ingredients into some pasta. Or quinoa. Next time I make this, I’m going to add in a couple extra shakes of the pepper flakes for a little more zing!

Feel free to double this recipe if you are making it for a group. I made this small batch because I wanted to only have what I would consume over a few days for lunches.

pickled shrimp

Lightly Pickled Shrimp

1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, raw, tails off

1 tbsp old bay seasoning

1/2 tsp mustard seed

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt

1 whole lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

couple shakes of red pepper flakes

2 pinches parsley flakes

2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced

1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into half moons

Fill a small pot halfway with tap water and add the old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil and add shrimp, cooking until pink – about 2 minutes. Dump your shrimp into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. (you are using the mesh strainer so that you don’t lose much of the old bay seasoning!)

Take your mustard seed, celery seed & the couple shakes of red pepper flakes and pulse them through a food mill or grinder  a couple of times just to break them up a bit and release their flavors. Add your salt, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic, stirring well to combine. Give it a taste and add more salt or vinegar to get the desired tang and flavor you are looking for.

In a mason jar, put a layer of shrimp, then a layer of onions, and keep layering until you run out of shrimp and onions. Pour the marinade mixture over your shrimp and onions, top with a lid, and put in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors melt together.

Before serving, let the jar sit out for at least 30 minutes. This will let the olive oil easily mix back in with the vinegar and lemon juices. Right before eating, give the jar a good shake to get everything mixed back together. Enjoy as an appetizer, alongside a sandwich, add to pasta, quinoa, rice – whatever your heart desires! Consume within a few days.

The DIY Life: Homemade Bruschetta Mix

31 Oct

Round 3 of tomatopalooza resulted in 14 jars of this loveliness called bruschetta. The house smelled amazing. The jars looked gorgeous. I was going to mince and chop the tomatoes so fine that I wouldn’t mind eating it, but decided against that. I rough chopped them and thought hey, if I want to eat it, I can take the immersion blender to it so it’s a little smoother and less chunky for my liking. I love everything tomato but the actual tomatoes – so I don’t like them in chunks either. Salsa for me has to be fairly smooth. I know I know. It’s the texture. That firm mushiness just gives me the heeby jeebies. I can’t help it.

I did this with fresh tomatoes because I had some around. I have tons in the freezer too but think recipes like this are better suited for the fresh kind. I got this recipe straight off of the ball canning and preserving website. I didn’t have dry white wine, so I used a dry red. Instead of the dried oregano, I used dried chives. Instead of plum tomatoes I used Roma’s. Everything else I followed, because in the canning world, you don’t mess with acid ratios. Nope, no way no how. I doubled the recipe because I had so many tomatoes on hand that it didn’t make sense not to. I will certainly be gifting some of this loveliness come the holidays. And we will be enjoying it come the holidays.

For the recipe, click HERE.

For photos, look no further than below this sentence. Gorgeous!

Simple and tasty appetizer – GF Spicy Shrimp Cups

15 Oct

I love shrimp. And sushi. And cucumbers. And Sriracha hot sauce. Combine all those things and you have something FANTASTIC!!! I saw the idea for this appetizer over at Big Red Kitchen, where she puts everything and anything into jars. There are these little “grab a pint” mini meals to take on the go. She posted an option for spicy shrimp rolls. I drooled on the keyboard and wanted to eat the screen. I LOVE spicy shrimp rolls. When we go out for sushi, I get spicy tuna, spicy scallop, spicy lobster – you get the point. So I thought to myself, I’ve got to adapt this into an appetizer option for a larger crowd AND make sure it’s Gluten Free so my SIL can grub on it. Hence the cucumber “cups” – they are the perfect bite size option. They are a way healthier appetizer option since they are not fried and you are getting a veggie from the cukes and a nice bit of protein from the shrimp. I’m not going to lie. I could have eaten the whole tray of these by myself. And there was not one of these little cups left at the end of the night. They were being eaten like potato chips.

I ended up using 2 1/2 of the english cucumbers for my batch, so be sure to buy at least 3. Or buy 2, and then eat any leftover spicy shrimp mixture on a piece of bread. Or a cracker. Or just with a spoon shoving it straight into your pie hole. Whatever works for you!

After my shrimp mixture had sat in the fridge for an hour, there was what appeared to be a lot of liquid, like they had let a little more water out. So I put the mixture into a fine mesh colander and drained off the excess so I didn’t have soupy shrimp cups. This may not be an issue for you, but if it happens, you’ve just been given a solution!

Feel free to add more or less Sriracha to suit your tastes. I felt the heaping tablespoon was sufficient for the crowd I was feeding, but you might think it too spicy. Or not spicy enough!

While my adaptation was to make it an appetizer, this is also great as a lunch option for a couple of days, kind of like a shrimp salad but better. Healthier. I gave it a try as a twist on the lobster roll – whole wheat baguette, some baby spinach and arugula plus the spicy shrimp. It was a fantastic, healthy and filling lunch!


Spicy Shrimp Cups

adapted from Big Red Kitchen

2-3 English cucumbers (long seedless cukes)

1 12oz bag frozen small shrimp – thawed and drained of excess water

3 tablespoons Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo – see note

1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

Black Sesame Seeds for garnish

Take your thawed small shrimp and add them to a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop up the shrimp.

Add chopped shrimp to a bowl along with the mayo and Sriracha. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, peel your cucumbers and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the seeded section, leaving a thin bit on the bottom to create a “cup”.

Add a scoop of the spicy shrimp mixture to each cup and top with sesame seeds for garnish. Keep chilled.

Note: Hellman’s mayonnaise is Gluten Free. If you are not concerned with the recipe being GF, feel free to use whatever you like. If you are following a GF diet and have other alternatives of GF mayo, you may substitute that for the Hellman’s Olive Oil mayo.

Trying new things: Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

1 Oct

I try not to snub my nose at any foods unless I have tried them and KNOW with certainty that I don’t like them, as long as they smell appealing to  me and don’t contain any visible organ, lip or ass meat – hot dogs and bologna DO NOT count. I’ve been hearing about quinoa for at the very least, this past year. I’ve wanted to try it, but until recent months availability has been an issue. I didn’t want to have to special order a food item that could very well turn into a food staple in our house, which I thought this had the possibility of becoming. I picked some up at the local grocery recently and cooked it with just some sautéed onions and had it for dinner topped with eggplant, garlic, and more onions. It was fantastic. Cooked like you would rice, but with a slightly nutty flavor and it actually kept you full instead of hungry an hour later like rice. Hubs even liked it.

Enter in my sister-in-law and her attempt at a gluten-free lifestyle. I wanted to make an appetizer for a get-together she was having that she would actually be able to eat. Add in the fact that I’m on a newly started diet – not dieting where you only eat certain foods, more of a watching calories and trying to make healthier choices kind of thing – so I wanted something appetizer like without it being fried or laden with fats or mayo. I had a big fresh bag of quinoa and had seen recipes floating around where you use the grains to create an appetizer of some sort.

I stumbled upon Cheese and Vegetable Quinoa bites over at The Curvy Carrot. Sold.

With a few adaptations, I made it mine, gluten-free, and made enough to freeze some! Score. Hubs was digging this one too. Eating them kind of like they were potato chips. But with less guilt.

Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

adapted from The Curvy Carrot

Makes 24 discs or “muffins”


2 cups quinoa, cooked to package directions

2 eggs – I used 3 since they were small fresh eggs

1/3 cup store-bought shredded carrot, microwaved to soften 60 seconds

1 ½ cups chopped baby spinach, fresh not frozen

1 shallot chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Colby Jack cheese, freshly shredded

2 tablespoons cornmeal

kosher salt & pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 2 – 12 count muffin pans. Add all ingredients but the cheese to a large bowl until combined. Add cheese and stir to distribute evenly through mixture.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups until 3/4 of the way full, pressing mixture down into pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and set. Remove from muffin pans and serve immediately.

You can reheat these for 10 minutes until warm. For freezing, let cool completely and place in freezer safe container or bags. To serve from frozen, let thaw overnight. Reheat under broiler for 5-10 minutes until tops are crispy and rounds are heated through.

Slovenian Tradition: Hrutka aka Easter Cheese

2 Apr

My great grandparents came to the US on a boat as immigrants with many others seeking a better life in America. With them, they also brought their Slovenian traditions that they passed along to their children. My gram passed the tradition of Hrutka on to me. Essentially, you cook eggs in milk over a double boiler until “curds” are formed. Then you transfer it to cheese cloth to drain off the liquid and form a solid ball.

It is delicious. You can make it sweet or savory, but I lean toward the savory. I eat it on crackers. Or a big slice all by itself  with some hot sauce. Traditionally it is eaten with ham on easter bread. I always make a double batch because we love it, so timewise from start to finish (where the cheesecloth balls are hanging to drain) is about 1 1/2hrs. Making the recipe below, it will take you about an hour.

Hrutka (Easter Cheese)

1 dozen large eggs, whisked to combine yolks with whites

1 quart whole milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Add all the ingredients to a double boiler. I used a large pyrex mixing bowl set over a pot of water. (Be sure to add enough water that you will not run out in the middle of making this.)

The first 20 minutes, let the water come up to a boil and heat the mixture. Using a wisk, scrape the sides of the bowl periodically.

Once the mixture looks like the photo below, line a colander with cheesecloth and ladle the egg mixture in to drain off the liquid. Twist the top of the cheesecloth together and hang to drain excess liquid.

Unwrap the hrutka and slice the bottom off to let it sit flat. Cover with saran wrap and chill overnight.

To serve, slice into pieces to be topped on a piece of ham, or on a cracker. Enjoy!

My take on the Shrimp Toast Appetizer. Verdict? Delish!

9 Mar

Shrimp have been sometimes referred to as the cockroaches of the sea. That said, if cockroaches of the land tasted like shrimp, I would eat the hell out of them. I do not think that is the case though. Google it…it’s not as gross as you think. Lobster is lumped in there too. That’s some expensive cockroach if you ask me.

Now that I have sufficiently grossed you out, onto the shrimp toasts. I have always seen these on the menu at chinese restaurants but have only ordered them on one occasion. They were good, don’t get me wrong. But they left me feeling heavy and unhealthy because they are fried in oil. So I was on a mission to make a slightly healthier version of the shrimp toast. My own version. The end result? DEVOURED. I’m not really sure that hubs allowed anyone else to try too many of them. And I’m not gonna lie – I ate a big helping of them myself. They are addicting.  Next time I make them, I’m making a double batch for sure.


12oz raw peeled, deveined shrimp with the tail off – fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw)

1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped

2 green onions, trimmed

2tbsp shaved or shredded parmesan

a couple shakes of red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 baguette – sliced into rounds

1/2 cup olive oil mixed with 1/2 tsp kosher salt for brushing the bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse your shrimp under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.

Place all of the ingredients up to the baguette into a food processor, and pulse until it looks well combined. You do not want any big chunks of shrimp.

Brush one side of each of your baguette slices with the olive oil and salt mixture. Place olive oil side down on a rimmed baking sheet.

Once this is done, spread some of the shrimp mixture onto each of the pieces of bread.

Place in your preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the shrimp mixture has turned pink. Switch oven to broil and place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, until the tops are bubbling and beginning to brown.

Serve immediately.

Did someone say bacon?!?!?!?

12 Jan

Mmm….bacon. Such an amazing foodstuff. That salty smoky flavor…that crispy crunchy goodness. Yum. And apologies in advance, I was in such a hurry to get the dip out I forgot to take a photo of the heated cheesy bubbling goodness from the oven. Just take my word for it, it’s awesome looking. And tasting.

This dip is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!!!! And so easy to make. And a real crowd pleaser. I made this for NYE last year and this year, and it was devoured. Almost nothing left but the bread! For the bacon I use the precooked type because it only takes a couple of minutes to crisp up and doesn’t have to be drained as much. Feel free to use turkey bacon in place of the regular if you are looking for more calorie cutting.  If bacon isn’t your thing, you could leave it out and still have a really flavorful dip sure to please. You could also bake this without a bread boat and just put it in a baking dish or in a crock pot for an easy appetizer.

Baked Bacon & Cheese Dip

  • 1 unsliced loaf of french or italian bread
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 8oz block light cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1/2 large vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 7 strips of bacon, chopped, cooked and drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice out the center of your loaf of italian bread, making a bread bowl “boat”. Hollow out the bread loaf to make room for the dip. Reserve the extra bread for dipping.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring to combine. Fill in the bread boat and spread out over the edges of the loaf. Place bread loaf in a baking dish and wrap in foil to keep the bread from drying out.

Bake for 40 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until  the top is brown and bubbling.  Serve with additional bread chunks, chips, crackers or celery. Or all of those things.

mmm....bacon. and cheese. drool.

Need a quick and easy appetizer? Try this – Chicken Dip/Spread

28 Dec

This is one of those recipes that developed under just the right circumstances – an impromptu gathering of friends, limited time to whip up a snack, and having to use what was on hand as there was not a chance of me getting to the store for any additional ingredients. So I scanned my cabinets, fridge and basement food storage and this appetizer was born. It’s simple, it’s quick, and I generally have all of the ingredients on hand to make it without notice. It’s a major hit and I get requests to bring it to parties often. It’s great on pretzel crackers, chunks of bread, celery – you name it. It’s pretty universal. You can make it the day before an event, but it’s still great the same day. If you want it to be more of a dip than a spread, just add in more sour cream until it reaches the consistency you are looking for. Add in some red pepper flakes for some spice if that’s how you roll. Swap out the garlic salt for onion salt. Use chicken that you have on hand if the thought of canned meats makes you cringe. Easy!

Chicken Dip/Spread

1 13oz can chicken, drained

1 8oz block light cream cheese, left out for about 1/2hr to soften

1/2 cup light sour cream

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 cup dried chives

Place all ingredients in a bowl and using a hand mixer, Blend until combined. Eat immediately or let chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Apple Festival weekend = apples for Apple Oven Cake!

3 Oct

No matter what weekend the local Apple Festival is, it rains. It’s cold. It rains. The ground becomes a soupy mud mess that would be perfect for a spa day but no so much for a day of walking around looking at crafts and eating apple flavored food stuffs. Nevertheless, I was going to go and honor the yearly tradition of going to the apple festival with the boy. The one that began when we started dating in 1998. Rain and mud would not keep me away!!!

Diesel with his $3 apple festival toy. Who knew tied up fleece could be so pleasing??

So we donned our rain boots, grabbed the umbrella, and made our way to the Apple Festival. I needed apples for applesauce and apple pie filling, and this was where they were to be had for the best prices possible. The apple harvest was a good one this year. I purchased Jonathan apples, and they were HUGE this year!

I wanted to enjoy one of them before they made their trek to applesauce and pie filling, so I decided to make an apple oven

an apple that's as big as some people's heads...wonder how many servings this counts for...


cake. This cake is fabulous. It’s like a giant gooey sweet apple filled pancake. I love it. It’s a quick dessert to whip up for dinner and would also do well as a light breakfast with some scrambled eggs and a good cup of coffee. You need an oven safe pan for this recipe, but worst case if you do not have one, cook the apples in your pan, transfer them to a warm baking dish (like a pie dish that has been warmed in the oven for 15 minutes). Use whatever type of apples you like, but try to stick with something that is on the sweeter side.

It was a fantastic dessert to have after a hearty bowl of soup, washed down with some warm apple cider kicked up a notch with a cinnamon stick and some bourbon.

Happy Fall!

Apple Oven Cake

Adapted from Sunset Magazine, October 2009


  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 sweet apple, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar


  • 1. Preheat oven to 425°. Melt butter in a 12-in. ovenproof frying pan over high heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, swirling to combine. Add apple and cook until just starting to soften, about 3-5 minutes depending on the type of apple you use.
  • 2. In a medium bowl using an immersion blender, whirl together eggs, salt, flour, and milk. Pour egg mixture into pan and bake until puffed and brown, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and powdered sugar. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Note: if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a food processor or blender. You just want the eggs, flour, milk and salt to mix nice and smooth without any lumps.