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Baked Spring Ratatouille


Baked Spring Ratatouille-2

Why should summer have all the fun?  There are many perfectly wonderful vegetables in spring that can be combined to make a beautiful rendition of ratatouille.  This is one of those dishes where you go to the farmers’ market and you just look around to see what your ingredients will be.  If it’s nearly eighty degrees and those yellow squash are calling your name, you should go for it.  If you are still shivering under a sweater and you are grateful for the first sight of asparagus tips, you should go for those, instead.

It’s still pretty chilly here, so I used a combination of some local spring vegetables and some greenhouse grown summer favorites.  However, the heat treatments in this recipe allow the natural essence of the vegetables to be brought forth. So if they’re not completely at their peak, it’s ok, because you’re maximizing all flavor potential.  The warmth is officially on its way!

It’s one of those dishes that is versatile and can be baked with a layer of provolone when it’s still cold at night just to add a hint of delicious comfort.  If and when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, I recommend you skip the baking process, of course.  But that’s not yet.  This version can be eaten with a whole wheat pasta or even put into a crusty roll for a ratatouille sandwich.  You can also wrap up any remaining the next day for lunch with some crispy romaine and a dash of balsamic vinaigrette.  It’s versatile and happens to be both vegetarian and low carb.  Enjoy!

Baked Spring Ratatouille

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes (of chopping vegetables)
Total Cook Time: 40 minutes (including oven baking and cool time)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups diced spring onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups diced (small, firm) eggplant, skin on
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped asparagus tips
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated provolone
  • 3 tablespoons parmigiana-reggiano, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly spray, with cooking spray, the bottom and sides of an oven safe casserole dish (1-2 quarts in size).
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add oil.  Once oil sizzles and before it smokes, add spring onions.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and a pale golden color, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add eggplant and thyme with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, asparagus, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes.
  5. Stir well to blend, add additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired and then pour into prepared baking dish.
  6.  Bake in preheated oven until cheese bubbles and turns a pale golden brown, about ten to fifteen minutes.   Allow to set for five to ten minutes before serving.  Plate and garnish with parmigiano-reggiano and chopped scallions or basil leaves if desired.


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Spiders, School, Peppadews, and Farmer’s Market Nachos

Farmer's Market Nachos


Before I talk about these awesome nachos, I want to discuss with you something very important involving spiders.  So hold your appetite for one more minute and be patient with me.

Do you have an official spider killer in your house?  I’m not exactly sure how I became the official spider killer since I don’t particularly like killing spiders.  It might have to do with my likeness to cats (but that’s a different story for a different time).   I think that I just fear them more than my husband and he knows this as fact.  You see, either me or the kids usually see the spider and yell (naturally).   It took me about four years to learn that he doesn’t react to things the way I do, usually.  I often act without thinking, which can be both good and bad.  I think about doing something for maybe a millisecond and then I do it; often without any sort of plan.  He however, thinks.

He thinks a lot.

I yell “spider!” and he assesses the spider situation with a glance and then walks away and thinks out a game plan, then thinks about all the repercussions in the event the spider should ever actually be killed.  He’ll then think about the best method for killing the spider to mitigate any wall mess that might occur.    So about five minutes later he walks into the room with several props and stunning agents, perhaps a ladder and some paper towels.

The spider is dead, dude.  It died about thirty seconds after I yelled if not ten.

These spiders aren’t city spiders.   They’re big and gross and they move faster than anything I’ve ever seen before.  It would’ve been gone by the time he even walked into the room had I not killed it and now I won’t bother him all night tossing and turning thinking there are spiders in the bed with me.  You know, because I’m just a bit crazy.  And I hate spiders.  Sure, I had to clean my shoe…and the wall.  But, the spider didn’t get away.

Priorities.   Are you the official spider killer in your house?  I’m curious.

Now, that we’ve discussed these important facts, I’d like to also note that the moment our son got on the bus for second grade yesterday, the temperature dropped ten degrees.    It was awesome.  Fall is in the air.  It’s crisp, it’s cool, and we’re in the last moments before pumpkins and apples start to invade the Earth.  Hold that thought for one more week, though.  I haven’t used zucchini and yellow squash yet.


So, Trey was enjoying his first day at his new big kid school and Mike and Max and I were relaxing on a vacation day and enjoying the weather.  We had some things leftover from the weekend at the farmer’s market and so I asked what they wanted for lunch under the condition that it use up some of the vegetables sitting around.   This time he did not think because he already knew the answer as did I.


farmer's market nachos

Farmer’s market nachos with peppadews to be specific.   What are peppadews besides my newest love and obsession?  They’re from south Africa and they offer some sweetness with a bit of kick.  I picked them up at a stand at the market and I have used them in almost everything that would normally call for sweet bell peppers.  They’re truly that good.

I chopped up some zucchini and yellow squash and one whole onion and a few peppadews.  I cooked them down with a little seasoned tomato sauce and some green salsa for extra kick and I added some black beans for protein and richness.  I had my nacho base.farmers marketnacho base



I preheated the oven and lined my pan with parchment so I wouldn’t have to scrub later on.  I dropped some chips down and spooned this all over them.  Then I added some delicious sharp cheese that I also happened to pick up at the farmer’s market and I placed them in the preheated oven until melted and delicious.  I plated them up and I dropped extra chopped peppadews all over the top along with some parsley and cilantro and a quick drop of sour cream over the top.  They were devoured.  The best part of this is that it’s almost making nachos healthy.  Granted, I’m sure that depends on the ratio of chips and cheese to vegetable/bean topping.  But, still, these are far better tasting and better for you than neon orange cheese dipping sauce for sure along with several other variations on nachos.  I recommend using up any last garden or farmer’s market stock you might have on hand with these and the next time you see peppadews, don’t pass up the opportunity.

Gear up for pumpkins and apples because they’re back with a vengeance coming next week.  For now, enjoy the end of summer.



Farmer’s Market Nachos

  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 peppadew peppers, diced + 3-4 more for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup seasoned tomato sauce or purée
  • green hot salsa, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • tortilla chips (at least four cups)
  • 1-2 cups extra sharp and tangy cheese of your choice
  • added salsa, sour cream, cilantro, chives or scallions, and parsley for garnish (optional)

In a large shallow saucepan over very high heat, add squash, zucchini, onion, peppers and (if using it) garlic.  Toss every few minutes and allow to cook until onions become soft. Note, don’t worry about the vegetables sticking because they will release once the tomato is added.   Add beans, tomato sauce, and a bit of salsa.  Stir and reduce heat to medium, allowing that to cook for a minute or two.  Add salt and pepper to taste and add more salsa if needed.  Once your nacho base is to your liking, remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place parchment inside a broiler pan for easy clean up and drop handfuls of tortilla chips onto parchment.  Spoon nacho base all over chips and top nacho base with shredded sharp cheese of your choice.  Cook in preheated oven for about eight minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and place on six individual plates or one large platter and garnish with additional chopped peppadews, optional salsa, sour cream, cilantro or parsley, scallions or chives if desired.

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Sweet and Mild Pineapple Corn Tomato Salsa

sweet corn pineapple salsa

It’s taco night!  This is widely celebrated with countless requests of specialty sides and toppings.  I usually make three different fillings and two types of salsa along with some side dishes.  It’s the meal that feeds for two days without a single complaint from anyone, which makes it all worth it.  We call this “kid salsa” in our house because of all the sweetness from the pineapple and corn.  That, and by process of elimination it is (pretty much) their salsa.  Mike and I love everything extra spicy and they’re well aware of this, so they dare not go near our green roasted tomatillo salsa for fear of spontaneous combustion of the mouth.   Wimps. Who doesn’t want their mouth to suddenly burst into flames?  I think it might be kinda neat, but I guess they have a point.

I kid because I was a hot hater too, for the longest time, until  about seven years ago.  While pregnant with Trey I became nearly obsessed with cucumber rolls and excessive amounts of wasabi.   Weird?  Sure, maybe.  But it opened me up to a whole new world of heat that definitely stuck with me for the long haul.  Now I can’t get enough heat but I do appreciate some sweetness for balance of course.  I’m not completely crazy.  Well, I suppose that’s up for debate; but, I do enjoy this fresh and mild salsa in conjunction with the brilliantly spicy tomatillo salsa.  I use both.  It creates a beautifully balanced sweet, hot and tangy salsa that highlights my favorite veggie tacos.  Of course, this salsa is just perfect for some on its own, so I’m happy to make it.


Sweet and Mild Pineapple Corn Tomato Salsa

(“Kid Salsa”)

  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple
  • 3/4 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup prepared beans (red and/or black)
  • 1/2 cup diced mixed sweet bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 lime’s juice
  • 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • parsley for finish
  1. Combine all ingredients except for salt and parsley in a bowl.
  2. Mix together, cover and allow all the juices to marinate together for at least an hour.
  3. Uncover and stir and add salt to taste, finish with sprigs of parsley.
  4. Enjoy!
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Black Bean Burgers

It feels like the world is melting outside and one might as well swim if they dare walk anywhere since the air is thick enough for it, but now my mind is in 1938, New York City and I’m perfectly fine with that.  I take a moment between chapters and watch the sea of green flash across my window to avoid motion sickness while the iPad bounces the words of my current favorite novel upon my lap.  I’m willingly submerging myself into historical fiction while on our way to Mike’s gig; a music festival by my brother’s house out near Pennsylvania.  Armed with ice-cold juice and bug spray I adjust the vent and try to avoid thinking about this particularly vexing heat wave and how the office still hasn’t given us new pool passes for the summer; though I suppose my plan is flailing at best since I’m writing about it now.   My mind wanders further to the end of the day as we turn off the exit and I ask, “What are we thinking for dinner guys?”.
Trey: <groan> nothing…gotta beat this level.
Max: Candy!
I’ll spare some of the more wild answers they offered to make us giggle before deciding on these burgers.  I’m a firm believer that this sort of heat requires simplicity and a lack of thought and effort.  After I finish this last chapter, I will return to the present day and enjoy family and music, snow cones and popcorn then head home where we grill up these burgers I’ve made countless times in countless ways: Dried beans or canned, sweet or hot peppers or perhaps both, carrot or squash, what’s in season, what’s available, what’s most delicious that day.  This recipe always changes at least a little but never disappoints, yielding my one and only “veggie” burger that far surpasses anything from the frozen aisle in both taste and budget.  Thankfully, I already have a batch waiting in the freezer for tonight’s cookout.

Black Bean Burgers

Makes 8 frozen patties ready for the grill

  • 3 cups cooked black beans or 2 16-ounce cans black beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons grated carrot
  • 1 cherry chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (more if desired)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • oil for shaping and grilling
  1. If using canned beans: drain and rinse and then spread out onto a clean dry towel to absorb extra moisture.
  2. In a large bowl: mash cooked beans with a potato masher or fork and fold in the rice or quinoa.
  3. In food processor: add bell pepper, onion, garlic, carrot and chili pepper.  Pulse until finely minced.
  4. In skillet over medium heat: add minced vegetables and cook until tender or about five minutes.
  5. Add vegetable mixture to beans and rice and stir to combine.
  6. Season to taste and then add bread crumbs and eggs. Stir to combine.
  7. Mix in more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too loose for shaping.
  8. Using lightly oiled hands, shape into patties.  Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until solid before placing into air tight container.
  9. When ready to grill, lightly brush with oil of your choice and grill until hot and plumped, or about six minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time.


Adapted from Black Bean Burgers

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Peperonata Potatoes

I had some peperonata rustica (recipe from Keller’s Ad Hoc) and some leftover potatoes sitting in the fridge from last night’s dinner and so I just put them together for a very simple brunch this morning.  I served it with poached eggs and sprinkle of Manchego and it was absolutely one of my most favorite brunch items I’ve ever made, and I’m not normally much of a fan of breakfast items.  This could easily be lunch or dinner with a twist or two.
Peperonata Potatoes
  • 6 yellow bell peppers, deseeded roasted -cooled and peeled
  • 6 red bell peppers, deseeded, roasted -cooled and peeled
  • 8 ounces piquillo peppers (drained peeled and seeded)
  • 1/2 cup soffritto
  • 1 1/3 cups Vegetable (or chicken) Stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon piment d’Espelette (+2 teaspoons for seasoning potatoes)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 5 pounds Gold Waxy Potatoes, baked until tender and cooled to room temperature
  • your favorite oil for sautéing
  • lime juice and extra virgin olive oil


Note:  After rinsing and trimming the potatoes I bake them on a baking sheet in a hot oven until fork tender.   The soffritto can be store-bought or homemade.   I make the peperonata rustica often and keep it in the fridge and/or freezer just to have on hand because  it goes well over almost anything (toast, garlic bread, eggs, potatoes, pasta, chicken, fish, etc).  This recipe happened as a very happy refrigerator coincidence.  I had leftover peperonata rustica and leftover baked potatoes.   Add poached or fried eggs for a delicious and impressive brunch item, perhaps with some grilled vegetables or savory muffins on the side.

Serves: The full recipe makes up to 12 servings.

Directions: Tear the cooled bell peppers into long strips about 3/4 inch wide.  Tear the piquillo peppers into strips the same way.   Combine all peppers, soffritto, stock and Espelette in a medium saucepan over medium heat and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook for thirty minutes.

Slice baked potatoes into 1/2 inch slices and season with kosher salt and two teaspoons espelette pepper.  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add your favorite oil.  Add 1 cup sliced potatoes and 1 cup peperonata rustica.  Toss until the potatoes begin to blister and char, lightly.

Serve over spring greens doused in lime juice and a bit of olive oil with eggs and cheese of your choice, (I’d go with Manchego if asked).


“Peperonata Rustica” from Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller p.208-209.




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Hot Curried Carrot “Getting Better” Soup


This weekend I experienced an atrocious illness plagued upon us.  I don’t know what it was.  Maybe the flu?   Whatever it was, this thing, (we’ll call it “the beast”) managed to infiltrate our home and demolish every one of us, one by one, for several days each, before we were able to return to a mediocre level of normalcy (which is where we are now).

It was my turn to meet the beast’s formidable zenith of wrath as I was left shivering under three blankets, unable to move to change the channel.    I closed my eyes because it was easier than dealing with pain of movement required to avoid watching whatever terrible show the kids had on when they were sick just one day earlier.   I awoke several hours later, in a cold sweat, desperate for gallons of coconut water, but thankfully, generally feeling better (knock on wood).   That was just yesterday.

When I get sick, we mostly order takeout.  It’s true and I admit it.   I never see ‘sick’ coming since I genuinely believe I am naturally pretty awesome and can control and fend off anything that comes my way in this universe.  (Buzzer sound!) WRONG!  I got sick and wasn’t prepared, so we ordered pizza and Chinese…a lot.

‘dems da breaks.

Once I finally came out of the horror of the beast and back to daylight again, the first thing I did was make some soup for lunch.    We are getting better.  Time for some “getting better” soup.  It’s sweet and hot and spicy and has everything that makes me (and probably you) feel better.    It’s certainly doing the trick for me.  I think I might make another few batches to have on hand in the freezer for the rest of the cold and flu season…just in case.

Also while I have your attention via food, I’d like to give a big thanks to those that have prominantly featured my site over the last couple months.  If you have any time, check out babble and dailybuzz food.  While I was busy freaking out about Christmas, going out on New Year’s, then getting sick, and everything else between those moments, their features kept Kate from Scratch on its feet.  Thank you to all of my supporters!



Getting Better Soup

Hot Curried Carrot Soup with Roasted Garlic, Ginger and Coconut

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (less for a less spicy/more mild soup)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 pound carrots (trimmed, peeled, sliced)
  • 4 cups vegetarian vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • For Garnish: greek yogurt or sour cream and Thai basil or cilantro


In a large sauce pot or dutch oven (3.5 – 4 quart) over moderately high heat, add coconut oil, coriander, ground cumin, cayenne, mustard and carrots.   Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook, tossing occasionally for twenty five to thirty minutes, or until onions and carrots are lightly caramelized on the bottom of the pot.

Remove cover and add stock, ginger, garlic and bay leaf.  Simmer on low until carrots are fork tender.   Remove bay leaf, and blend, using an immersion blender.  A regular blender will work, as well.

Once blended, add coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and place greek yogurt or sour cream into a pastry bag with fine tip or ziploc bag with the tip snipped off.  Swirl a spiral figure around the top and drag a toothpick or sharp knife point from the center of the spiral out towards the edges to create a spider web pattern.  Gently place herbs in center of bowl atop the spiral.

Note: Bring to room temperature and keep in refrigerator in air tight container for up to four days or in freezer, up to two months.

Getting Better Soup

Recipe Type: Lunch, soup, light, vegetarian, spicy
Cuisine: Thai, Asian
Author: Kate Moran
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
Hot Curried Carrot Soup with Roasted Garlic, Ginger and Coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, trimmed, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (less for a less spicy/more mild soup)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 pound carrots (trimmed, peeled, sliced)
  • 4 cups vegetarian vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • For Garnish: greek yogurt or sour cream and Thai basil or cilantro
  1. In a large sauce pot or dutch oven (3.5 – 4 quart) over moderately high heat, add coconut oil, coriander, ground cumin, cayenne, mustard and carrots.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook, tossing occasionally for twenty-five to thirty minutes, or until onions and carrots are lightly caramelized on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Remove cover and add stock, ginger, garlic and bay leaf.
  4. Simmer on low until carrots are fork tender.
  5. Remove bay leaf, and blend, using an immersion blender. Note: A regular blender will work, as well.
  6. Once blended, add coconut milk and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Ladle into bowls and place greek yogurt or sour cream into a pastry bag with fine tip or ziploc bag with the tip snipped off.
  8. Swirl a spiral figure around the top and drag a toothpick or sharp knife point from the center of the spiral out towards the edges to create a spider web pattern. Gently place herbs in center of bowl atop the spiral.





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Pasta al Pomodoro


It’s so easy, but has such a pretty and seemingly fancy name, which I admit, I enjoy.  Easy and fancy?  Yep, I’ll take it.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s very flavorful and very simple.   It’s perfect for us today on this overcast, gray, cold, Tuesday afternoon.  Trey is home from school today and we’re sniffling on the couch together, Max included.  So we needed something easy that we could taste, regardless of stuffy noses.   This was the dish for such an occasion.  I added some extra red pepper flakes to mine too, just to really kick up the heat level.  Vampires be warned.  Garlic lovers rejoice.  Vegetarians and pasta lovers celebrate.  It’s Pasta al Pomodoro and it is fantastic.

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes, puréed in a food processor
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large fresh basil sprigs
  • 12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino

Place twelve inch skillet over low-medium heat.  Add oil.  When oil is heated, add minced onion.  Stir until onions are soft, about 12 minutes, then add garlic.  Allow onions and garlic to cook for three minutes, while stirring.  Add crushed red pepper flakes and cook for one minute more.  Increase heat to medium and add puréed tomatoes.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and stir occasionally while sauce cooks and the flavors come together.  When sauce thickens slightly, remove pan from heat and stir in basil sprigs.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Season with salt; add spaghetti or bucatini and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.

Remove and discard basil from sauce. Place skillet over high heat. Stir in reserved pasta water to loosen sauce. Bring sauce to a boil.  Add pasta and toss with sauce until sauce coats pasta.  When pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes, remove pan from heat.  Add butter and cheese. Toss until cheese melts. Transfer to warm bowls and serve with more cheese, if desired.


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Beer & Lime Battered Onion Rings

So, what I’ve noticed lately is that people love easy stuff.  They do, it’s true.  Who can blame them?  I love easy stuff too.  Simple is always better than complicated, especially when most of the United States is under an extreme heat wave.  It’s going to be about 120 degrees in the sun here on the east coast today and mind you, this is not a “dry heat”.  This is the oppressive, disgusting humid, ridiculous kind of heat that no human being could ever possibly enjoy unless completely drenched in freezing cold water, which also doesn’t sound very fun to me.  So, today…I will let the kids go outside in the shade for about an hour tops while I slather them with sunscreen nearly obsessively and then we will enjoy ourselves in the air conditioning doing fun things to keep our minds off of it.


I just got an air conditioner in the kitchen.  Thanks to Mike, my husband for that.   He knows I get very grouchy when it’s too hot to cook and my hair gets frizzy and gross – again not fun.  So, to say thank you to him for the air conditioner and so many other wonderful things he does for us, I made these beer and lime battered onion rings topped with black pepper.  They’re easy and they’re fried and they’re delicious.  Just be sure to stay hydrated.  They’re best eaten after the sun goes down and everything cools off a bit.

Have these with a beer, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water before and after!


Beer & Lime Battered Onion Rings

  • 1 very large sweet summer onion of your choice (or two medium onions of your choice)
  • 1 1/3 cup flour + additional 2 cups  (in baking dish) for coating
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper + a light dusting more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried cilantro (optional)
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 egg (beaten)

You will need a pot that is large & tall (if you want to reduce splatter without a splatter guard) with 3 inches of canola oil in the bottom and one gallon sized zipper bag or storage container.

  1. Remove root ends and outer skin from onions and slice into rings.  Remove inner rings and set aside/store in air tight container for use in another recipe.
  2. Next, add flour, salt, pepper, beer and lime juice to a ziploc bag (or air tight container with lid).  Mix it up and then taste the batter (season to your taste if necessary) then add the beaten egg and mix shake, squish mix it up again.
  3. Drop the additional 2 cups of flour in a baking dish.
  4. PREHEAT: Place pot with oil over medium high heat.
  5. Drop the sliced onions into the batter bag.  Shake it up!
  6. Next, fish them out of the batter with a fork and drop them into the baking dish with the flour. Set each one aside and bring next to preheated oil.
  7. Using long tongs pick up one onion ring and dip into preheated oil.  If it doesn’t bubble like crazy…wait a few minutes until oil is hot enough.
  8. When oil is hot enough, drop prepared onions into the hot oil in batches of about 4-5 rings.  Remove the rings when golden brown and place on plate with paper towels.  Continue to do this with the other rings until complete.
  9. Drizzle fried onion rings with fresh lime juice and dust with black pepper.

Enjoy with a beer and friends and family.

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Burger Pickles

No barbecue should be without pickles, it’s sort of an unwritten law of backyard barbecue entertaining.  Homemade pickles add intrigue and maybe even an element of (dare I say…) gourmet sophistication to your simple backyard barbecue. Not only are homemade pickles (pickled cucumbers, to be specific) delicious, they’re also an excellent point of interest.  Pickling is an easy (really really easy, I promise) technique to learn, and a fabulous conversation starter. Rather than having your nosey neighbor and super old Great Aunt Fanny talk about exceptionally boring stuff, they’ll be saying, “You made your own pickles? Oh how fancy! …” and so on and so forth. Plus, it only takes about fifteen minutes of actual “work”, though I wouldn’t really call it work. The hardest part, I’d say, is trying not to cry while cutting the onions. I’m genuinely terrible at that.

Homemade, of course, also allows for customization of flavors, quality of ingredients and adds a unique freshness that you really just can’t get from a jar. These pickles are savory and salty but also sweet and spicy. What more could you ask from a food? Pickles are an epic journey of flavor in just one tiny little (did I mention low calorie, fat free, gluten free, vegan?) bite! They’ll leave an inspiring impact with highly unique, tangy flavor and crisp lightness and freshness. The balance of acid and spice and sweet is truly, in my opinion, incomparable perfection. The best and most impressive part is that it’s packed into such a teeny tiny, iddy-biddy, little sliver of cucumber! Can you think of any other food like it? It’s fantastic!

No wonder pickling is one of the oldest ways to prepare and preserve food. It’s genius in its efficiency, meaning that the technique and preparation are so simple yet yield maximum amounts of multi-dimensional flavor. It’s one of the smartest techniques that I can think of.

These particular pickles take your ordinary hamburger or hot dog or veggie burger or tofu-dog (etc.) to an astronomical dimension of awesome (ok, maybe I’m glorifying a bit here, but it’s hard not to…they’re really good!). Add some sharp cheddar cheese and a fried onion ring to a toasted bun with some homemade green tomato ketchup and forget about it because you (and I) are now in food heaven. I don’t even need the burger by that point, since the burger is just a vehicle for awesomeness. See? This is what happens when you’re a vegetarian. Suddenly the little things like condiments and garnishes become the center focus of the dish. The burger? I’m sure you can figure that part out for yourself.

If you like your pickles a little sweeter like bread and butter pickles, add another quarter cup of sugar (half a cup total). If you like your pickles a little more spicy, add a couple more Serrano chiles to the mix. The chiles are whole, so they add only a little heat; they’re not shockingly spicy by any means just deliciously perfect and warm to balance out the natural cool-crispness of the cucumber. The kids won’t even notice the spice, in my opinion. I added some fresh dill to the original recipe and reduced the sugar by half, just because I love salty-sour-tangy dill pickles with just a hint of sweetness and zest as an all-American staple to a fourth of July barbecue. I fully encourage you to adapt this recipe to your liking.

Hope you all have a wonderful, safe and happy Fourth of July!

p.s. THE GIVEAWAY WINNER IS ERIN @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts! Please e-mail me your continental US mailing address at KatefromScratch@gmail.com in order to expedite shipping (less time tracking you down ;)).  Congratulations Erin and thank you to all who participated. There will be more opportunities to win other giveaways in the near future. Please be on the lookout for that.  Thank you!

Burger Pickles

Adapted from “Burger Pickles” recipe by Susan Feniger

  • 3 tbsp. canola or other neutral flavored oil
  • 3-4 Serrano chiles, whole (one ounce)
  • 7 garlic cloves, whole (one ounce)
  • 1 1/2 white onions, julienned (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin seed
  • 2 pounds Persian or baby (or other choice) cucumber sliced in rounds of desired thickness
  • 1 tbsp. chopped, fresh dill

1. Place deep sauté pan over medium high heat. Add oil, chiles, onion and garlic to flash fry. When skin blisters on the chiles and the onions and garlic start to get a bit of color on them, remove from heat and drain the oil from the mix.

2. Place fried ingredients in medium saucepot over medium high heat. Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and cumin seed. Bring to boil.

3. Pour pickling liquid over cucumbers in a clean glass container and top with fresh dill. Cover and bring to room temperature, then refrigerate. Pickles will be ready in approximately 3-5 hours, depending on the thickness of cucumber slices.

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