Okra

It has been a hot, rainy, humid summer here in Ohio.  The garden has loved it, but the one plant that has truly loved this year’s weather is our OKRA!  I grew up loving this vegetable which is widely used in the southern states, my family is very southern.  Waves at my Great Aunt Meg, who REALLY taught me to enjoy southern cooking back in Mentor, Tennessee!

I planted two varieties this year, one the shorter ruby and the other is the heirloom green, which by the way, grows taller than me.  Its a good thing my husband and I both LOVE, and that is an understatement, okra.  Because this year, I have harvested baskets of it and every day it seems that I have a new big basket to harvest every afternoon.  Yes, I am still harvesting well into September!  Okay so I may have planted 100 plants, but well, we love okra.

Now, what do you do with this odd, spiny, plant that when cooked creates what I call “Okra Boogers” or “Okra Snot” depending on who you want to shock and gross out at the time.  My husband refers to the okra peas as “rat eyes” especially in soups and stews.  Can you tell that we just love to have fun!  Oh, here is a warning.  Some people are very allergic to the fuzz that grows on okra, it causes almost a poison ivy affect to their skin.  I’ve never had this problem, but I do know some who do.

Okra is highly nutritious and it is filling as well as easy to grow in warm temperatures, which explains why you find it a lot in the southern states.  It’s very high in fiber as well as containing potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content. Recently, a new benefit of including okra in your diet is being considered. Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.  So in short, what’s not to like.

My husband’s absolute favorite for okra, is pickled okra.

Pickled Okra

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of okra
  • 1/4 clove of garlic for each jar (6)
  • 1 dill flower head for each jar (6)
  • jalapeno pepper diced fine or red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups of apple cider vinager
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard seed
  • 6 half pint canning glass jars with lids and rings

Directions

  1. Clean your okra removing the tips and caps only (I keep some of the cap on).  Leave whole.
  2. Add 1/4 clove garlic in each jar.
  3. Add 1 dill flower in each jar.
  4. Pack your okra tightly in each jar leaving 1/2 inches head space.
  5. In a large pot on your stove.  Combine your Vinegar, water, salt, peppers, mustard seeds.
  6. Stir and bring to a full boil.  Do not stop stirring, your salt will burn.
  7. Ladle liquid into jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space.
  8. Water bath process for 15 minutes half pints 20 minutes for pints.

 

Another way we like them is pan fried as a side dish.

Pan Fried Okra

  1.  Melt about a tablespoon of lard in a frying pan.
  2. In a bowl I whip up 1 egg and set to the side.
  3. I prepare the okra by taking off the tips and caps and slicing into thick rounds.
  4. I put all the okra into the egg batter and stir in some red pepper flakes, or some diced jalapeno.
  5. Next I add enough cornmeal to the egg and okra and stir it in the bowl to cover it all, you don’t want it corn patty thick, but just enough to give a nice coating.
  6. Once the lard is melted, add your mixture into the pan and “separate” the pieces and move around often in the hot lard to cook.
  7. You will want to watch it because it will cook fast and is easily burned.
  8. Serve hot or cold.

All this is fine and well until you realize you are becoming over run with okra, so how do you store it to enjoy later and in the winter when it is no longer in season?  In addition to the pickling, we also store two other ways.  Freezing and dehydrating.

Dehydrating your Okra

I like to dehydrate our okra because it takes up very little space, it gets rid of the “Okra Boogers” and it works fantastic for gumbos, soups and stews.

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  1. Wash your okra and remove the caps and tips.
  2. I flash steam my okra whole.
  3. Slice into rounds or wedges.  I like the wedges because they don’t shrink to itty-bitty pieces.
  4. Place in your dehydrator on low heat/vegetable heat and run until they are crispy and no sign of moisture.  You can also do this in the oven on the lowest temperature, door cracked upon, placing the okra on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Vac-Seal or store in an air-tight/moisture resistance container.

The final way is to freeze the okra.  I try not to do this because I don’t like to fill up the freezer with vegetables that can be stored other ways, but I will freeze some.  You can use this as fried okra, or in soups, stews and gumbos when you need it in the off season.

Freeze Store Okra

Warning you will be dealing with lots of “Okra Boogers” in this process.

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  1. Clean your okra, remove the tips and caps.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a full boil and turn off the water.
  3. Dunk your okra (whole) in the hot water for about 3 minutes.  This is a quick blanch.
  4. Dump the hot water out from around the hot okra and now fill the pot with ice cubes.  This prevents the okra from continuing to cook from the blanching process.
  5. Now take out each okra spear and cut into rounds.
  6. For large and woody spears of okra, discard the green pod and keep the okra peas (the white seeds), these are great in soups.  These are what my loving husband refers to as “Rat Eyes”.
  7. Once your spears are cut into rounds, put them in your vacuum seal bags and seal.  Make sure all air is out of the bag, then freeze.  I usually store in 2 cup quantities which is about a serving.

I hope you have enjoyed this post about all things Okra!  Feel free to share your recipes and questions.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

 

Cherry Chipotle Pepper Chicken

One of my favorite fruit choices is Black Cherries.  The ultimate sweet treat in the early summer months.  I love them raw, in desserts, over yogurt and cottage cheese, in jams and with chicken.  Wait! What?  Yes, you read that correctly, fruit goes extremely well with meat and cherries really take on a whole new flavor mixed with the smokiness of the chipotle pepper (a smoked jalapeno pepper) and chicken.

I’ve taken this dish to many pot-lucks and served as meals for friends and it always gets rave reviews.  I hope you like it!

Cherry Chipotle Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts or mixed chicken meat.
  • One pound of ripe black cherries, pitted and sliced.
  • 1 cup of French salad dressing (yup you read that right)
  • 4 fresh cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 packet of dried French onion soup mix (however, I choose to make my own using a bouillon cube of the type of meat I’m using, boiled with a small onion)
  • In true Rice Household fashion 1/2 teaspoon of dried Chipotle Pepper Flakes

Directions:

  1. Dice your chicken into large chunks.
  2. Spray your crock pot with a no stick spray, or grease with your choice of grease.  I use a casserole style crock pot for this recipe.
  3. Scatter your chicken in the crock-pot.
  4. Add in your garlic and your french onion soup mix.
  5. Add in your french salad dressing and stir ingredients together.
  6. Add in your chipotle pepper flakes and stir in.
  7. Now add in your cherries.  If you are using canned (I can mine when they are in season), do not use the juice, only the fruit.  Save the juice to enjoy later.
  8. Mix the cherries through the mix.
  9. Place the lid on your crock-pot.  Turn on low or medium depending on the way your crock-pot heats (mine runs hot).
  10. Cook for 5 – 6 hours in the crock pot or until the meat is completely done.
  11. Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Old-Fashioned Chicken Giblets

One of my absolutely favorite down home, stick to your ribs dinners is Giblets & Gravy.  To the city people that translates to chicken gizzards, hearts and livers in gravy.

I was over joyed to find out my husband loves this dinner too.  We normally serve it over rice but it goes well over mashed potatoes or biscuits or grits or hominy or pretty much anything too.

I make mine a little different from my mom, but it’s so good with an extra kick.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of mixed giblets with livers
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • Flour
  • A dash of oil in your pan
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • A pinch of salt
  • A dash of ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces of roasted green chilies

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in your pan and melt the butter.
  2. Keep at a little higher then medium heat.
  3. Put your flour in a bowl and coat each giblet and liver with a light dusting of flour.
  4. Place the floured giblets in your pan.
  5. When they are about half done add the chilies, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
  6. Fold everything together in your pan.
  7. Cover and let it finish cooking until there is no red in the livers or giblets.
  8. The butter and flour makes its own gravy.
  9. Serve over your choice of rice, potatoes, toast, biscuits, whatever you like.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Crock-Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Chillies 

I have had several requests for the Rice Household Spicy Mac & Cheese. This is such a simple recipe is and it’s great for potlucks, family gatherings or a quick meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients 

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni 
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 8 ounces cream cheese 
  • 1 can Campbell cheddar cheese soup
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter 
  • 4 hand roasted pablano peppers skinned & diced (or a 4 ounce can of diced hatch chillies found in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store)
  • Toppings 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese mixed with 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper & 1/4 tsp smoked paprika 

Directions

  1. Spray your Crock-Pot with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place all ingredients except toppings in Crock-Pot 
  3. Stir together 
  4. Cook on high for 2 hrs stirring often. 
  5. When noodles are tender turn to warm.
  6. Sprinkle topping and serve. 

Enjoy!

Until next time. 

Mrs Kay Rice 

Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

These are a great little appetizer to spice up any party!  Some call them poppers, stuffed peppers, bacon wrapped jalapenos.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • At least 2 dozen nice sized jalapeno peppers
  • Latex gloves
  • Cream Cheese (a block for each 2 dozen)
  • Thick cut smoked bacon
  • cookie sheets
  • foil

Directions:

  1. Prepare your items by opening your cream cheese brick and set to the side
  2. And open your bacon and cut in half down the middle and then each of the halves in half long ways so you have a 4 (four) sections of strips of bacon.
  3. Get your cutting board and knife out.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Place foil on your cookie sheets (no need to grease or spray here).
  6. Set aside a can or something to pour hot grease into.
  7. THIS IS IMPORTANT!  PUT ON YOUR LATEX GLOVES!  You are welcome for that note.
  8. Cut your jalapeno peppers long ways half and remove the seeds and veins.
  9. KEEP YOUR GLOVES ON THROUGH ALL OF THIS!
  10. With your gloved finger scope a little ball of cream cheese and put the ball of cream cheese in the pepper half and smooth it out.  Do all of your peppers like this.
  11. Now, take each pepper and wrap your bacon strip around each pepper, one of the quarter strips should fit perfect.  Big peppers might take two.
  12. You can now remove your gloves.
  13. Place all of these on the foil covered cookie sheet and place the cookie sheet(s) in the preheated oven.
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  15. Set your timer for 25 minutes.
  16. You may want to put your oven vent on to avoid any smoke alarms.
  17. when the timer goes of, CAREFULLY, remove the cookie sheets one at a time.
  18. Using tongs, remove the peppers onto a temporary plate.
  19. Drain off the grease into your grease can, carefully.
  20. Remove the foil and replace with fresh foil (cleaning off any grease that may have gotten on the sheet from the previous foil).
  21. Place your peppers back on the new foil on the sheets and put back into the oven.
  22. Set your timer for 18-20 minutes.
  23. When the timer goes off your bacon should be completely done and the house will smell absolutely wonderful!
  24. Place your peppers into your container that you will be using carefully, and let them cool.
  25. Peppers can be served hot or cold.  Personally, I like them cold.

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You can add all kinds of variations to the insides, add some crab meat to the cream cheese or green onion or all kinds of things, you are only limited by your own imagination.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Meal Prep Class 101: Crock-Pot Lasagna

On November 17, 2016 at 7PM we will have our next Freezer meal Prep Class at Quest Community Church.  The following is Recipe #1 which we will be working with.  Whether you can physically join us or join us in spirit, I hope you enjoy this recipe.

The instructions are written exactly as well will be doing them in class.

Enjoy!

SLOW COOKER FREEZER MEAL LASAGNA

NOVEMBER 17, 2016 MEAL PREPPING FREEZER MEAL CLASS Recipe #1

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ lbs. (precook weight) ground beef (OR ground turkey or chicken or venison), browned and drained
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken into pieces (uncooked regular noodles not the oven baked noodles) you can also use approx. a cup of the “mini lasagna noodles, or pinwheels or any noodle you like”.
  • 1 (24 ounce) can/jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • ½ cup fresh mushrooms diced (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh onion, diced
  • ½ cup fresh green pepper diced (optional)
  • ¼ cup black olives sliced (optional)
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 cup of small curd cottage cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp ground parsley
  • ½ tsp ground oregano
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (prefer to not put this in as the flavor cooks out)
  • 1 Gallon freezer bag
  • 2 quart freezer bags
  • PERM MARKER FOR MARKING
  • Cooler and freezer packs to transport your goods to and from class.

PRE-CLASS PREP

  1. PLEASE, cook your ground beef the night (or nights) before class, drain off all grease and cool and place in a small bag and place in the fridge.
  2. On 1 quart bag write “cheese mixture”
  3. On 1 quart bag write “noodles”
  4. On the Gallon Freezer bag write “CROCK POT LASAGNA, the date [November 17, 2016].

CLASS INSTRUCTIONS

  1. DICE YOUR VEGGIES! If you have not already done so.
  2. First we will create our cheese mixture bag.
    1. Add in your cup of cottage cheese
    2. Add in your mozzarella cheese.
    3. “Squish” in bag and seal and set aside.
  3. Now your noodle bag.
    1. If you have not already broken your lasagna noodles do so here.
    2. If you are using a smaller shaped noodle (lots of fun here) you don’t need to break them.
    3. Add to your noodle bag. Seal and set aside.
  4. Now for your gallon freezer bag.
    1. Add in your browned meat.
    2. Add in your veggies.
    3. Add in all of your seasonings.
    4. “SQUISH” your bag to mix everything together.
    5. Add in your pasta sauce. Now it gets messy!
  5. VERY, VERY GENTLY, Add in the sealed noodle and cheese bags inside on top of the Ingredients of the gallon bag!
  6. Very Gently, PUSH out the air in the gallon bag and seal with the other two bags INSIDE the gallon bag.
  7. I like to double bag my gallon bags for a leakage safety net.
  8. Place in your freezer until you want it.

THE DAY BEFORE COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Take out of the freezer and place standing upright (in a bowl).

THE DAY OF COOKING

  1. Prepare your Large Crockpot (I use our 6 quart oval crockpot) by spraying with some “pam” type spray or use a crock-pot liner for your crockpot size. You will thank yourself later for this!
  2. Carefully remove the two separate bags from the larger bag and set aside.
  3. Dump your ingredients in from your larger bag into the crockpot.
  4. Now dump in your noodles.
  5. Stir the noodles throughout the mixture.
  6. Finally dump the cheese on the top and “spread it out a little”.
  7. Turn your crockpot on LOW and cook for 8 (eight) hours.
  8. Serve and Enjoy!

Until Next time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice