Tag Archives: Recipes

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

Pickles are one of my favorite snack foods ever and I love all kinds of them – dills, bread and butter, okra, beets, peaches, gherkins, banana  peppers, jalapenos, artichokes – the list goes on and on.  Luckily there are so many commercial brands to choose from in the grocery stores and homemade ones available at farmers’ markets, flea markets, roadside stands and specialty stores. The best thing is that you can buy them year round and they still taste great!

I’ve been canning my own pickles on and off since the early 1980s, although I must admit that lately it’s been more off than on. I recently ran across some recipes for easy refrigerator pickles that did not  require processing them in a boiling-water bath, so I took some of the ingredients from each of the recipes and came up with what follows. And I’m glad I did – these are so easy to make, take only a couple of days until they are ready to eat and are addictively delicious!

The key to making great pickles is using the freshest ingredients, including the spices. I went to the farmer’s market to get the cukes, etc., and made these as soon as I got home.

Ingredients (This makes 3 pints, loosely packed)

  • 6 cups fresh cucumbers, sliced thinly (3-4 small to  medium cucumbers)
  • 2 large banana peppers, sliced into rings, seeds removed (fresh from my garden!)
  • 1 red chile pepper, sliced into rings, seeds removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 & 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill weed
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns (I used a medley for this batch)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt


Place cucumbers, banana peppers, chile pepper, garlic and bay leaves in a large bowl, gently mix together.

In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, dill weed, peppercorns, mustard seed and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved.

Pour the liquid into the bowl with the cucumbers and other ingredients and gently stir. Cover the bowl and let it cool for a couple of hours.

Once the pickles are room temperature, I transfer them to sterile pint canning jars. However, you can leave them in the bowl if you like, or store them in any other non-reactive container. The good thing about placing them in jars is that you can put your own label on them (include the date made) and give them away to your friends – that is if you make enough! I did not make enough this batch, but could be bribed to do so :) soon.

These pickles are ready the next day, but keep in mind that the flavors will deepen the longer you leave them – they should last a couple of weeks or so. While I love these straight out of the jar, they also go great with sandwiches, burgers (black bean or otherwise), etc. Chopped, small, they can be served as a homemade pickle relish. Yum!

**Note – I also made some okra pickles the same day since the okra was fresh and abundant at the farmer’s market. It will take a few weeks before these are ready to try. If they are as good as they looked, smelled and tasted (at least the brine) while I was making them, I will be posting about them soon! (OK – these were great and here’s the link: http://kelleychisholm.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/peppery-pickled-okra/)

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Green Garden Salad

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist. The problem is entirely the same in both cases – to know how much oil one must mix with one’s vinegar.” Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Back in the ’70s and late ’80s I used to get a great salad at Leon’s Deli in Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping center. Leon’s was a great little place located next to the Village’s Professional Barber Shop and where Quiznos is now. Leon’s had wonderful Reubens and other deli sandwiches that were out of this world, but my favorite item on the menu was the green garden salad (at least I think that’s what it was called.) I’ve been making this particular rendition of the salad for years and absolutely love it, especially in the summer when the veggies are at their freshest.

Ingredients (2 small or 1 large serving)

  • 6 oz. of 2% low fat cottage cheese
  • ½ cup diced cucumber
  • ½ cup diced tomato
  • 1/3 cup diced radishes
  • ¼ cup finely chopped spring onions (I use both the white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Seasoned salt and ground pepper to taste
  • Sour cream, low fat ( optional garnish)
  • Fresh chives (optional garnish)

Place the cottage cheese in a bowl. Fold in the vegetables. Add the vinegar and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour so that the ingredients to meld together.

Place salad on a plate and add a good spoonful of low fat sour cream and sprinkle with fresh chives (this is one of the herbs that I like to have in my garden as mentioned in my previous “grow your own” post.)

I like to serve this with Keebler’s reduced fat club crackers or captain’s wafers. This is a low fat, tasty salad that is easy to make and also good for you!

Please let me know if you ate at Leon’s – I would love to hear your memories of this great deli.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink, and be merry!

Summertime Sangria

Every now and then in the heat of the summer when cocktail hour rolls around, instead of starting off with a glass of crisp white wine, I like to change things up a bit. One of my favorite ways to do so is with this cool and refreshing summertime sangria. Yes, Virginia, you can add ice cubes to red wine without upsetting the wine gods, if you are careful :) . Actually, you’ll appease them with the addition of fresh fruit, brandy, and orange liqueur. The combo is oooh, sooo good!

For this batch of sangria I included sweet blueberries and strawberries,
which not only are low in fat, carbs and calories, but also high in antioxidants and vitamins. Not only are these berries good for you, they taste wonderful. And the orange slices compliment the Cointreau (or whatever orange liqueur you choose.) What you wind up with is a great mixture of alcohol and fruit – a fantastic taste explosion that’s not too sweet - perfect to drink on a hot summer’s day when the temps are moving into the 90s.


  • 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine ( I used a 2009 Montebuena Rioja
    from Spain, but any hearty red will do)
  • ½ cup brandy (I used Raynal VSOP)
  • ¼  cup Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
  • 1 large seedless orange, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, quartered (or halved if small)
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • Simple sugar (Boil 2 tablespoons sugar in ¼ cup water.
    Cool to room temp.)
  • Sprite or club soda, depending on taste


Prepare the simple sugar by boiling 2 tablespoons sugar in ¼
cup water. Cool to room temperature.

Pour the wine into a large pitcher. I like using a good Spanish wine for my sangria, but any full-bodied red will do.

Add the brandy, orange liqueur and simple sugar, and stir until mixed.

Mix in the fruit and refrigerate for at least an hour (longer is better, up to 3-4 hours or so is great if you plan in advance.)

A note about the fruit – fresh pineapple chunks go great with this, as do granny smith apple slices, grapes and peaches. Have fun making your own combination!

Add ice to the pitcher, stir and pour into iced-filled glasses. Top with Sprite or club soda, briefly stir. Make sure you get plenty of fruit in your glass – it’s meant to be eaten as you savor your sangria!

Bottoms up!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Shrimp Salad Pitas

Years ago, Clawson’s Restaurant and Pub in beautiful Beaufort, N.C., served a delicious shrimp salad in a pita pocket. Beaufort is on North Carolina’s crystal coast, right outside of Atlantic Beach and Morehead City, and has a great collection of wonderful restaurants and bars for such a small area.

For some insane reason, this dish disappeared from Clawson’s  menu quite a while back. However, ever since the first time I had it, I’ve tried to replicate the recipe at home and love my latest low-calorie, low-fat version. I hope you will, too!

Ingredients (this will yield 4-6 servings, depending on the size of your pita bread)

  • 12 oz. bag of frozen, cooked small shrimp, 71-90 count (the smaller salad shrimp works well, too)
  • ¼ of a fresh lemon
  • ½ cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small  (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced small (remove the fleshy membrane and seeds)
  • ½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
  • 2/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons white wine (I used Hess Chardonnay this time)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed (double this amount if you have fresh dill)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • Pita bread
  • Tomato and avocado, diced (optional)


Thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator, rinse, dry and add to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the fresh lemon juice. Add the onion, celery, red bell pepper and cucumber and mix well.

Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, white wine,  mustard, dill weed, salt and pepper.

Add the dressing to the shrimp mixture in small  batches – you don’t want to over-saturate the shrimp. Many times I have just a little bit of dressing left over. Refrigerate the shrimp salad for at least an hour so that the flavors meld together well.

Cut the pita bread in half to make two pockets. Lightly toast. Fill with the shrimp salad.

I usually add some diced tomato and avocado to the pockets at this point (rather than adding these ingredients to the salad itself, as they tend to get soggy.)

I especially love how the shrimp and avocado taste so good together. By the way, if you are watching your carbs and want to ditch the bread, just serve this salad on some lettuce or spring mix.

Pair this with some cut-up fruit and a glass of white wine for a light, refreshing and oooh, sooo good meal!

Bon appétit, and eat, drink and be merry!

Strawberry Fields Salad Recipe


In my recent post, Strawberry Fields Forever, I mentioned this salad and how good it is, especially with  the fresh strawberries. It’s wonderful as a side salad to accompany something light, such as pasta salad, roast chicken, quiche, etc., but is also great by itself for lunch  – add some crusty bread and a glass of iced tea or white wine and you’re ready to go!


  • 3 cups of mixed spring salad greens
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar-coated pecans (recipe follows)
  • 1/3 cup of bleu cheese, crumbled
  • Balsamic vinegrette dressing, to taste (I like  Newman’s Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinagrette Dressing -  this is a great bottled dressing, and all profits go to charity.)
  • fresh ground pepper (to taste)


Toss the salad greens, strawberries, pecans and bleu cheese crumbles. Place in serving bowls, add dressing and freshly ground black peper.

Sugar-Coated Pecans Recipe


These pecans are so easy to make, and are a great garnish for salads or just good to eat by themselves as a snack.


  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups of pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tps ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat egg white until foamy. Add the pecan halves, toss until coated. Add the sugar and cinnamon, toss to coat the pecans.

Arrange the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until browned. Stir occasionally.

Bon appetit, and Eat, drink and be merry!

Cheats – Super Fast and Easy Vegetable-Pasta Soup

Here’s a fast and easy recipe for veggie/pasta soup. It takes no time to assemble and cook, looks cheerful (especially on a cold, dreary night) and tastes great. Perfect for when time is limited but you still want something “homemade.” Low in calories and fat as well! I like to serve this with garlic-cheese bread (recipe follows) or a salad.

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Marinated Portabella Mushroom Sandwich


Portabella mushroom sandwiches ares a great alternative to calorie-laden burgers. Good for you and good to eat! I love the red wine vinegar in the marinade – although balsamic vinegar works well, too.



  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 

2 large portabella mushrooms

2 sandwich buns (onion ones are great)

2 slices of smoked gouda cheese

½ roasted red pepper

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together with a whisk and soak mushroom caps for 10 minutes (do not marinate much longer because the bellas will get soggy.)

While the mushrooms marinate, roast the red pepper over a hot grill until the skin is charred on both sides. Place in a small baggie and seal it for 10 minutes or so – this makes the charred skin easy to flake off, leaving a wonderful roasted pepper underneath.

Grill the mushrooms approximately 3 minutes per side. Add the cheese, grill until it is melted. I like to lightly grill the buns as well. Serve with your choice of toppings. I like sliced avocado, onions, roasted red pepper, and mayo.

I serve this with a tossed salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, etc. with Annie’s Shiitake Sesame dressing.

Hello world!

Welcome to Kel’s Cafe of All Things Food (and drink, of course!) I hope you will visit often to read and comment on my posts that will include recipes, restaurant reviews, wine recommendations and just about anything pertaining to great food and spirits.