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Easy Refrigerator Pickles Recipe

I love fresh cucumbers from the garden, but it never fails that the majority of the crop has to be harvested around the same time. Cucumbers in salad are delicious, but 25 of them?  Instead of wasting them, pickle them! I have an easy recipe for refrigerator pickles. You can make them with just 10 minutes of prep and 6 hours to brine. You don’t even need to turn on the stove!

What are Refrigerator Pickles?

Refrigerator pickles are made without the typical canning process, instead they’re made with raw cucumber slices and brine. The take very little effort and they’re ready to eat within hours. The upside of making fridge pickles – they’re easy to make and incredibly crispy and delicious. The downside, they’re not shelf stable, but will last several weeks in the refrigerator.

Refrigerator Pickles

Ingredients

A dozen fresh picked cucumbers  (I prefer the shorter pickling variety)

1 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or pickling salt*

1 tablespoon of pickling spice blend
(which usually includes black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seed, allspice berries and crushed bay leaves)

2-4 cloves of garlic

1 sprig of fresh dill

If you like them spicy 🌶️ (optional)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more/less to taste

Directions

  1. Add the water, vinegar, salt, one clove of garlic per jar, pickling spice blend and dill into 2 (1-quart) jar — or divide the mixture evenly between four small (1-pint) jars — and stir to combine.
  2. Add the sliced cucumbers to the jar(s).  Then place the lids on the jar(s), and shake to combine.
  3. Refrigerate ideally for at least 2 days before eating, although you can totally dive in before that time.  The pickles will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks.

Too many cherry tomatoes? I have the perfect Roasted Garlic Tomato Recipe just for you.
Great as a side dish or to top your favorite pasta. It’s a great late Summer meal!

Cherry Tomatoes

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Top 10 Butterfly Garden Plants

My garden is a very busy place these days! Butterflies, bumble bees, hummingbirds — all bustling around pollinating their little butts off. I’ve really enjoyed watching all of the activity and wanted to share a little research I did on the Top 10 Butterfly Garden Plants. I plan on expanding my garden next year and want to be informed on what I should be on the lookout for. This is the perfect time of year to pick up some clearance perennials at the garden center, save a little money and help foster a healthy ecosystem.

 

Snapdragons
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)

10. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)

A common perennial used in flower pots and garden borders, this flower is great for butterflies, humming birds and honey bees.

(Nectar & Host) : Cabbage White, Common Buckeye, Grey Hairstreak, Pearl Crescent, Swallowtail

White daisy
Daisy (Leucanthemum)

9. Daisies (Leucanthemum)

This classic summer flower attract butterflies as well as serving as a host plant.

(Nectar & Host) : American Painted Lady, Cabbage White, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady, Queen, Red Admiral, Pearl Crescent, Sachem

8. Goldenrod (Solidago)

Goldenrod, a fall bloomer, attracts native pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden. It’s beautiful golden color adds a needed pop of color to a late Summer/Fall garden.

(Nectar) : American Painted Lady, American Snout, Clouded Sulphur, Common Sulphur, Great Swallowtail, Gorgone Checkerspot, Monarch, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Red Admiral, Red-Banded Hairstreak, Sachem, Viceroy

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

7. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Another long-blooming summer perennial that butterflies love! Fun fact!: The black-eyed susan have an invisible (to humans) pattern on their petals that only butterflies (with ultraviolet vision) can see. How cool is that?

(Nectar) : American Snout, Great Spangled Fritillary, Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Orange Sulphur, Pearl Crescent, Sachem, Silvery Checkerspot, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Spring and Summer Azure, Variegated Fritillary

6. Verbena

Verbena is also drought tolerant, make a great choice for rock gardens or planting in cracks between stones. Verbena are the ideal plant to cascade over retaining walls, containers, baskets, and window boxes. This versatile flower is perfect for any butterfly garden and it’s clusters bloom all season long.

(Nectar) : American Lady, Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Common Buckeye, Clouded Skipper, Clouded Sulphur, Crossline Skipper, Dun Skipper, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Fiery Skipper, Gray Hairstreak, Great Southern White, Great Spangled Fritillary, Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Horace’s Duskywing, Least Skipper, Little Glassywing, Monarch, Ocola Skipper, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Pecks Skipper, Pearl Crescent, Pipevine Swallowtail, Red-Banded Hairstreak, Red Spotted Admiral, Sachem, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Silvery Checkerspot, Swallowtail, Tawny-edged Skipper, Variegated Fritillary, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Zabulon, Zebra Longwing, Zebra Swallowtail

Lantana
Lantana

5. Lantana

Lantana are full of color — bright and cheery.  Their blooms last all season long and they attract both butterflies and humming birds to your garden.

(Nectar) : Cabbage White, Fiery Skipper, Great Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak, Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Little Glassywing, Monarch, Red Admiral, Sachem, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Skipper, Spicebush Swallowtail, Swallowtail, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Zebra Longwing

Salvia
Salvia

4. Salvia

Salvias come in a wide range of colors, are drought tolerant and their bloom life is exceptionally long. They not only attract butterflies but hummingbirds as well!

(Nectar) : American Lady, Cabbage White, Clouded Skipper, Cloudless Sulphur, Dun Skipper, Fiery Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak, Gulf Fritillary, Monarch, Orange Sulphur, Orange-barred Sulphur, Peck’s Skipper, Sachem, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Spicebush Swallowtail, Zebra Longwing, Zabulon

3. Aster

Asters are a late summer and fall blooming perennial and not only attract butterflies for the nectar but also as a host plant. They are a daisy-like perennial  with star-shaped flower head and come in a wide range of varieties, colors and sizes.

(Nectar & Host) : American Lady, American Snout, Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Buckeye Butterfly, Cabbage White, Clouded Skipper, Clouded Sulphur, Common Buckeye, Common Checkered-Skipper, Common Sulphur, Eastern Tailed-Blue, Fiery Skipper, Gray Hairstreak, Horace’s Duskywing, Lorquin Admiral, Monarch, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Peck’s Skipper, Question Mark, Red Admiral, Red-Banded Hairstreak, Sachem, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Sleepy Orange, Swallowtail, Variegated Fritillary, Viceroy, West Coast Lady

Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)

2. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)

This widely versatile perennial can be planted almost everywhere in the US and attracts a ton of butterflies. Purple coneflowers, also known as Echinacea, are attractive and hearty flowers that not only draw butterflies to your garden but songbirds too!

(Nectar) : American Lady, Banded Hairstreak, Black Swallowtail, Clouded Sulphur, Common Checkered Skipper, Common Wood-nymph, Eastern Tailed Blue, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Fiery Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak, Great Spangled Fritillary, Gulf Fritillary, Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Horace’s Duskywing, Little Glassywing, Monarch, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Peck’s Skipper, Red Admiral, Red-Banded Hairstreak, Red-Spotted Admiral, Sachem, Silvery Checkerspot, Silver-Spotted Skipper, Spicebush Swallowtail, Swallowtail, Tawny-edge Skipper, Variegated Fritillary, Viceroy, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Zabulon

Butterfly bush
Butterfly Bush

1. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

The name says it all, Butterfly Bush is hands down the best plant for attracting butterflies to your yard. Each plant can support hundreds of butterflies feeding on it at one time. Beautiful, fast-growing, deciduous shrub with masses of blossoms that bloom from summer to autumn.

(Nectar) : American Lady, Anise Swallowtail, Banded Hairstreak, Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Cloudless Sulphur, Crossline Skipper, Eastern Comma, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Fiery Skipper, Giant Swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary, Gulf Fritillary, Horace’s Duskywing, Little Glassywing, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, Ocola Skipper, Orange Sulphur, Painted Lady, Pipevine Swallowtail, Polydamus Swallowtail, Queen, Question Mark, Red Admiral, Red-Banded Hairstreak, Red-Spotted Purple, Peck’s Skipper, Sachem, Silver Spotted Skipper, Southern Broken-Dash, Spicebush Swallowtail, Spring and Summer Azure, Variegated Fritillary, Viceroy, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Zabulon, Zebra Longwing, Zebra Swallowtail

 

Do you have a green thumb or know someone who does?

I put together a guide of  “Must-Haves” for Plant Lovers  to keep that thumb extra green!

Watering Can

 

 

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Refreshing Pineapple Mango Sorbet

Is this Summer flying right by, or is it just me? I’m trying to squeeze every last moment and morsel out of my favorite season and just before I have to utter the words “Kids, it’s time to go back to school”!  One of my favorite new recipes has all the wonderful punchy flavors of Summer, Pineapple Mango Sorbet! The flavors are bright, the color is cheery and texture is simply divine. This sweet treat has become an instant favorite at my house and with only 4 ingredients, super simple to make.

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Unlike most summer treats, sorbet is dairy-free, which makes this lactose intolerant girl grin from ear to ear! This super easy recipe is a great alternative to ice cream and can be simply altered with different fruit to please anyone’s picky palate.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups packed cubed fresh pineapple

2 cups packed cubed mango

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or 4 drops of lime essential oil & 2 tablespoons of water)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add pineapple, mango, sugar, and lime juice to a blender and blend on high until creamy and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour mixture into a shallow plastic air tight container and chill in the freezer for 4-6 hours, or until firm.
  3. Let the sorbet soften slightly before scooping. Serve and enjoy!

 

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RECIPE TIPS:

  • Use ripe mango and pineapple for the best flavor.
  • Keep sorbet in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
  • Don’t like Mango or Pineapple? This recipe can be easily altered. Try other seasonal fruits like: strawberries, bananas, peaches, and raspberries.
  • Lime or lemon juice adds a little extra punch to sorbet. If you don’t have a fresh lemon or lime on hand, essential oils can work just as well. Add 2-4 drops of your favorite citrus essential oil.
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How to Make Authentic Polish Kolaczki

To say that I’m a Polish-American to the core, would be an understatement. Growing up as a first-generation American, my parents and grandparents instilled in me a great love of family, an immense pride in our Polish heritage and a passion for it’s deeply-rooted food (or at least to indulge in it!).

My great-grandmother and grandmother were always in the kitchen making meals from scratch, filling the house with delectable smells of soups, stews and baked goods. One of my favorite childhood memories was selecting my favorite cookies off an assorted cookie platter. Grandma always had food on-hand for that unexpected guest and you never dare leave without having at least a bite to eat.

So I say it’s fitting to share with you one of my favorite Polish cookie recipes, just like my Grandma use to make. Simple in taste and in effort, the Kolaczki is especially good along a side of black tea or coffee. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, Na Zdrowie!

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Recipe Ingredients

8 ounces (1 block) of cream cheese (at room temperature)

12 ounces (3 sticks) of butter (room temperature)

3 cups flour (all-purpose)

28 ounces apricot filling (or prune, raspberry, etc.)

A dusting of confectioners’ sugar for garnish

How to make Kolaczki

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until light and fluffy. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick on a silicone mat or a surface that has been dusted with equal parts confectioners’ and granulated sugars (not flour), because the granulated sugar will act as ball bearings and help keep the dough from sticking.
  3. Cut into 2-inch squares. Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fruit or cheese filling on center of each square. Overlap opposite corners of dough to the center over filling, pressing dough together lightly. Alternatively, brush a tiny bit of beaten egg white on one point and press the opposite point on it.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes (longer if baking frozen) or when corners start to brown. Cool completely and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Note: Kolaczki tend to get soggy after several days if not stored properly. Store them in an air-tight container without the confectioners’ sugar. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Tips on freezing

  • If you find yourself with leftover fillings, they can be frozen in a zip-top bag or​ another container with little loss in flavor or consistency. Just defrost them when you’re ready to use them. Pour off any accumulated moisture on the surface.
  • As for the kołaczki themselves, fill them and freeze on a parchment-lined sheet pan. When completely frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container separated by sheets of parchment paper. Bake them from frozen. Don’t freeze baked kołaczki. When defrosted, they will be soggy and unpalatable.
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Double Fudge Brownies

Brownie recipes are much like chocolate chip cookie recipes, everyone seems to have their own favorite recipe and thinks theirs is the best. I get it. There are so many variations and are a standard dessert go-to for many. I personally like my brownies chewy and dense. (Oh, and super chocolaty *duh*) After doing some “brownie research” for this post,  I concocted a Brownie recipe that is chocolaty, chewy and even had a secret ingredient to elevate the chocolate flavor —INSTANT COFFEE! I made a batch of these brownies this weekend. My boys were licking their plates to get every last crumb and morsel. A true sign of a recipe gone right!

P.S. The coffee is totally optional, but must say it does give it a great boost!

Prep time: 15 mins   Cook time: 30-40 mins
Total time: 55 mins  Servings: 16 brownies

Ingredients

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp instant coffee diluted with 1 tsp of hot water (or 1 tsp of coffee extract)

3 eggs

1 yolk

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 9 x 9 inch square pan. Set aside when done.

  2. Place the butter in a heat-proof bowl and microwave until butter is completely melted.

  3. Add the brown sugar, white sugar and salt while the butter is still warm. Mix to combine the butter and sugars together until you have a smooth consistancy.

  4. Add the vanilla, shot of  instant coffee (or coffee extract) , eggs and egg yolk to the butter and sugar mixture. Whisk in the eggs until they have been incorporated into the butter sugar mix. With a hand mixer, approx.  2 minutes until the mixture is well combined and is light in color.

  5. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together.

  6. Add the dry mixture of flour and cocoa powder into the wet ingredients and mix it in until just combined. Add about ⅔ of the semi-sweet chocolate chips halfway through the mixing in of the flour. The goal is to make sure the batter is not over-mixed when the flour is being incorporated. Important: Do not over mix!

  7. Spoon the batter into the 9 x 9 pan. Spreading the batter evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the semi-sweet chocolate chips on top.

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  8. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. If you like your brownies fudge-like, stick closer to 30 minutes. If you like you brownies a little more well done, 40 minutes.

  9. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Brownies that are chilled are easier to cut.

  10. Cut the brownies into squares with warm knife and serve.

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Fenway Serving Tip
: Drizzle with chocolate syrup, a dollop of whipped cream and lightly sprinkle with cocoa powered for an impressive presentation.