Tag Archives: vegetables

Vegetarian Quesadilla

I like to serve my family vegetarian meals a time or two a week.

1- Because they are cheaper

and

2- With the garden coming in, I need to use up some of these veggies!

 

Vegetarian Quesadilla- SouthernGalsCook.com

Here is what you will need:

Vegetarian Quesadilla- SouthernGalsCook.com

8- 8 inch tortillas

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp your favorite cooking oil (I used bacon grease, but you can use e.v. olive oil or butter)

1 cup shredded cheese (I used what I had which was mozzarella and colby jack)

1 medium sweet onion- diced

1 medium summer squash- diced  **Surprise!** (Don’t worry! My kids and hubby didn’t notice! They just kept saying “Mmmmm! This is good!”)

1 medium green pepper- seeded and diced (I used half of the large bell)

15 oz canned black beans- rinsed and drained

1 tsp garlic powder or 1 tbsp fresh garlic- minced

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Vegetarian Quesadilla- SouthernGalsCook.com

1. In a skillet over medium high heat, begin to saute your onion in bacon grease.

Once your onions began to look translucent…

Vegetarian Quesadilla- SouthernGalsCook.com

2. …add bell peppers. Saute for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. You will notice that the peppers will start taking on a “tender” appearance.

VQsquash

3. Add your squash. Stir and continue to saute your veggies. Season lightly with salt and pepper. I find that these veggies taste better when seasoned while cooking.

VQbeans

4. When your veggies are tender and your onion is almost transparent, add your beans, garlic, cumin, and onion powder. You will also add a little more salt and pepper, as well as a couple of tbsp of water or broth (chicken or veggie). The beans are very starchy and the liquid helps to loosen your mixture a little. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you like.

5. Stir and let simmer on a low heat while you begin to prepare your griddle for quesadilla magic.

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6. Over medium high heat, melt a 1/2 tbsp of butter (I found a half tbsp was enough for 2 quesadillas). put down your tortilla to coat with butter on one side. Add 1/2 cup of your bean mixture to one half of your tortilla. Cover with 2 tbsp of cheese. Fold. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes or until your tortilla is golden brown. Carefully flip and brown the other side.

Serve with your favorite dressings. We had sour cream and garden tomatoes. SO GOOD! You could add cilantro to the bean mixture— if you like that sort of thing. *gag* You could also add mushrooms, corn, zucchini, jalapenos… This is a great way to use some of your garden veggies.

Yum

Even though my kids are good eaters, they are funny about squash. They LOVED these and wanted seconds. This meal is frugal, healthy, quick (less than 20 minutes), and yummy.

CheesyQ

Queso for days!

I hope you give this a try and I hope that you love it as much as my little family did.

Let us know if you tried it and how you changed it up for your family.

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned

 

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

I have a confession to make.

I. Am. A procrastinator… There! I said it.

It’s a sad truth and one that I am always trying to overcome.

But I have to say that sometimes it’s not my procrastination that gets in the way of my “want to’s” or “need to’s”– sometimes it’s just life! And nothing makes me more sick than having to throw away tomatoes that went bad before I had the chance to do anything with them. It takes time to can them and there are times when it will be more than a week before I have enough time to can a bushel or two of tomatoes. What is a girl to do?!

Needless to say, when I found out that you could FREEZE whole tomatoes to can later, I was elated! I have done this many times and each time I’ve canned them, the tomatoes taste as fresh as they did the day I picked them.

All you have to do is to wash them and let them dry completely. When they are dry, seal a single layer of tomatoes in a gallon-sized freezer bag.

I did notice that a lot of the tomatoes split when they froze, but as long as you get to them before they are freezer burned, you’re in good shape.

This weekend, in anticipation of the garden coming in and needing to freeze more veggies, I decided to free up some freezer space by canning the last of my tomatoes.

Here is how I take my tomatoes from the freezer to canned. In this case I made our favorite salsa {this recipe can also be frozen or eaten the next day}:

I used-

10 cups pureed/hand crushed tomatoes {most people use Roma, but these were beefsteak tomatoes}

1 pouch Mrs. Wages Medium heat Salsa mix

1/2 cup Bragg’s Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider

2 tbsp Granulated Garlic Powder

Tomatoes: From Freezer to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

 

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

1. Take out your precious rubies and inspect them. Make sure they aren’t freezer burned.

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

2. The coolest part– when you run the frozen tomato under hot water, THE SKIN SPLITS AND PEELS RIGHT OFF!! It’s so much fun to do AND it saves a lot of time!

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

3. After you have gotten the skin off of the tomatoes, you have to let them thaw. You don’t have to let them thaw completely, but do let them thaw mostly. I set them out at 11:00 a.m. and they were ready to process at about 7:00 p.m.

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

4. Once your tomatoes have mostly thawed, drain the water off of them, remove the stems and any unsightly spots. Now you are ready to puree and crush! Some of you may prefer diced. That’s fine. We like ours to be a little chunkier than what they serve in Mexican restaurants so a combo of pureed and hand crushed is perfect.

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

5. In a large stock pot and over medium high heat, pour in your tomatoes…

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

… and stir in 1/2 cup of 5% Acidity vinegar {I chose Bragg’s ACV but the recipe on the Mrs. Wages package calls for distilled white} and 1 pouch of Mrs. Wages Medium heat Salsa Mix and granulated garlic powder. Bring to a boil and then back the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and then you are ready to can! Be sure to add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to each jar if you are canning. As mentioned above, you could also freeze this or put in an airtight container, refrigerate, and serve the next day.

Tomatoes: From Frozen to Canned- SouthernGalsCook.com

I got 2 quarts and almost a full pint from this batch. I didn’t have quite 10 cups of tomatoes– more like 9, but that’s okay. It still tastes great! You can add in some jalapeno if you want to.

A couple of side notes–

1- Since your tomatoes lose a lot of liquid in the thawing process, it makes for a thicker salsa. We love it!

2- mrswages_2267_10043009

We are not endorsed by Mrs. Wages, but I love the product. It’s all natural AND it doesn’t have cilantro in it. I do not like cilantro. You could add it if you wanted to. The ingredients are: DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES (ONION, GREEN BELL PEPPER, JALAPENO, CHILI PEPPERS, GARLIC), SALT, SPICES. It tastes so, so, so, good. We add a pint to our chili instead of diced tomatoes!

3. acv

We are not endorsed by Bragg’s, but again, this is a product that I love and believe in. Not only is it awesome in recipes, but the health benefits are incredible!

If you have any questions about this recipe, leave it in the comments section below or email us at SouthernGalsCook@yahoo.com

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Why We Cook From Scratch {Most of the Time}

Genesis 3

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

We believe in Intelligent Design. We believe that our Heavenly Father created the world and everything in it in six literal days.

In those 6 days, God created everything that Man would need to survive: food, medicine, shelter, water, and He created them in a way that we would receive optimal benefits.

Why We Cook From Scratch {Most of the Time}- SouthernGalsCook.com

After the 1950s, we have seen an unnatural alteration in our food culture. Consumers wanted food to be easier, faster, cheaper, and more of it– so, the food industry ramped up their scientific approach for production to keep up with the demand.

Food has been broken down, dehydrated and ground up, fillers added to make it go farther, not-your-grandmas-preservatives were added to make it last longer, colors were added to make it prettier, pesticides are sprayed on it so corporations would have bigger harvests so they would make more money…more, more, more, MORE… Should I even start on what’s happened with our meat and dairy?! …UGH!

Now look at us. We are a generation of disease ridden, obese, malnourished people. {Myself included– but I’m working on that}

Coincidence? I think not.

Over the last few years, my idea of food has evolved. I see the need for Back-to-Basics-Living and am slowly working my household over to that. Not ‘hardcore’ back-to-basics. I’m not a purist’s purist, but I do try to limit the amount of processed foods that come into my home.

Why We Cook From Scratch {Most of the Time}- SouthernGalsCook.com

The Wheetshire Garden 2013

The first steps that I have taken are to cook from scratch and grow some of my family’s food {check out my 2014 garden here}.

Cooking from scratch it isn’t really a huge change, it just requires more meal prep and planning.

Now, before you start thinking that I am one of these haughty, granola crunching {mmm..granola}, tree hugging {not that there’s anything wrong with that}, out-of-touch-with-the-real-world people, I want you to know that I DO live in the real world and I know that sometimes the budget doesn’t allow for gray sea salt, gluten-free this, free range that, organic everything… and blah, blah, blah. I don’t get them all time. I can’t. That’s why I say ‘when possible’. Cut yourself {and me} some slack. We do the best we can, when we can. Most of the time, the best I can do is buy whole foods and staple items for “from scratch” cooking. I can’t always get organic, either. It’s Oh. Kay. I don’t always have time to make my own cream ‘o soup, so I get it from the store.

Why We Cook From Scratch {Most of the Time}- SouthernGalsCook.com

Wheetshire Tomatoes 2013

Did I mention that I am also a working mom? Yeah. I have a work schedule and a $50 to $60 a week grocery budget. How’s that for “in touch”? ;) Cooking from scratch is possible in a working mom’s schedule– we just have to plan a little better.

For funzies, let’s look and compare sandwich bread– Factory made vs. Homemade.

Homemade bread has: flour, yeast, honey, water, extra virgin olive oil and salt. That’s a total of 6 ingredients.  

Why We Cook From Scratch {Most of the Time}- SouthernGalsCook.com

Homemade Sandwich Bread


Sunbeam Bread Ingredients:

Enriched Bleached Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Water, Wheat Gluten, Cellulose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast. Contains 2% Or Less of Each of The Following: Whole WheatFlour, Salt, Wheat Bran, Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One Or More of The Following: Mono- & Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono- & Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Corn Starch, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Caramel Color, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour. Contains Wheat and Soy.

**Um, dough conditioners? Caramel color? What the what?!

 

Now, let’s get real. Right now, there is a half eaten loaf of store-bought bread in my pantry. There is also a mostly eaten loaf of homemade sourdough bread on my counter.

I have homegrown organic vegetables in my freezer, as well as non-organic, non-free range chicken.

I have a box of raisin bran next to a jar of homemade granola.

You see where I am going with this? This is a gradual, do-the-best-you-can-with-what-you’ve-got process.

If we want to live a more natural, wholesome lifestyle, let’s take it one step at a time. Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Some improvement is better than none. I’ve heard this called “imperfect progress” and I feel good about it.

 

Roots- A Brief History Lesson on Southern Cuisine

I’m kind of a nerd. I start thinking about things and wonder how they started, where they came from, who made it, why, why is it called what it is– and then I study. Not because I have a project due or a deadline, but because I’m a curious person that likes to learn.

A couple of years ago someone asked me what my favorite kind of food was. I jokingly responded, “The kind you eat.” The thing is, I’m not a picky eater by any stretch of the imagination. I’m very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. After I giggled at my smart aleck remark, I answered seriously with, “home-style southern food”. If you put a five-star restaurant plate with something exotic and beautiful next to a plate with collard greens ‘n ham hocks, fried fat back, corn bread, and black-eyed peas, then told me to pick a plate–I’d go for the latter.

Sweet Tea- SouthernGalsCook.com

Click for recipe

I got to wondering about why Southern cooking is different from other places in the country and where our southern food traditions come from. So, being the nerd I am, I got to reading up on a little Southern Cuisine history.

As I figured, influences stemmed from the multicultural population, crops, livestock, wild game, and necessity. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. Is it not?

The influential multicultural groups included African, English, Scottish, Irish, and Native American, just to name a few.  Not only did their style of cooking form our roots of southern cuisine, but also the ingredients that they brought with them from their native homes largely affected the culinary style we know today. The BIGGEST influences of Southern food, in my opinion, were the Africans. I’ll get more into this in a minute.

Because the growing season weather is hot and humid, and because most of the dirt in the south is clay, some crops thrived in the south while others had to be imported from surrounding regions.

Southern Cornbread

Click for the recipe

Now, the part that I found to be the most interesting was the huge influences that the slaves had on the foods that I love so much. One of the things that I read told how the slave owners would give the slaves the parts of the butchered pigs that they found inedible, such as pig ears, pig’s feet, ham hocks, etc. The Africans would use those piggie parts to season their cooking. That is why, still to this day, we cook down a mess of greens with a pork product. They also breaded some vegetables and fish in cornmeal, such as squash, okra, and catfish, then deep-fried them in pork grease. {Yum!} They introduced okra, black-eyed peas, and many other things to the Southern table.

Roots- A Brief History Lesson on Southern Cuisine

Greens- A Southern Staple

Barbecue is a Southern tradition that can be traced to our Native American ancestors. Barbecue varies in every region and every region “has the best and only way to eat bbq!” HAHA! I’m not kidding! People get crazy competitive {and snobby!} with it! Everything from the wood used to smoke it, the sauce to baste it, the rub to massage it, and the way to cut it is up for debate! Don’t even get me started on the different sauces!

Our love of pies and cobblers go back to our European ancestors that showed us amazing things that can be done with flour, butter, sugar, eggs, fruit, and imported vanilla and cocoa.

Peach Cobbler- SouthernGalsCook.com

Click for the recipe

I enjoy knowing my Southern heritage. I like knowing why we do the things we do. I love being Southern. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you. And, as the southern comedienne, Minnie Pearl, would say “I’m just so proud to be here”.

Garden Planning 101

Proverbs 31:16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. Garden Planning 101- SouthernGalsCook.com

This weekend, South Central Kentucky was beautiful! With the threat of a late frost behind us {hopefully}, we took advantage of the 75 degree weather and planted our garden.

I LOVE to garden and am always eager to teach others what I have learned in my short time as a gardener.

Over the last few years I have made it a goal to learn and apply something new each season. This garden season, I wanted to learn as much as I could about companion planting. I want my family’s food to be chemical free so I want to do everything I can to prevent pests and diseases as naturally as possible. With the knowledge that I acquired over the winter, I set about planning out my garden.

Here are a few tips!

1- Decide what you would like to grow. After reviewing last year’s gardening notes, my husband and I decided that we definitely wanted to grow more this year. Not only did we want to grow more corn than last year, but we also wanted to grow other veggies that we didn’t before. I also knew that I wanted to companion plant by incorporating pest-deterring flowers, as well as careful plant placement. If you are new to gardening, start by choosing a few things that you and your family like to eat and go from there.

2- Consider your garden space. Once you know what you want to grow and how much space you have to work with, you can start to put a plan together. Remember that plants have different real estate needs. Some plants need to be trellised while some don’t. Squash plants need about a 2-3 ft circumference, while a bush bean plant may only need a foot of space to thrive. You can find out that information on the back of a seed packet. But y’all, even if you have 50 acres, if this is your first garden, start small. Take time and learn as you go. Gardens are hard work. If you invest too much time and money into something you don’t know a lot about, you could easily become discouraged and give up. Even a small garden can produce a lot of food!

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My Family’s Garden Spot

3- Educate yourself on what plants work well together. I scoured the internet  for hours learning as much as I could about what garden plants are beneficial to each other. I found many companion planting graphs and charts on Pinterest, but some of them were missing things I wanted to grow, like okra and radishes. So I ended up doing a search online that looked like this– “okra+companion+planting”. I used the information that I got to map out my garden.

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I’m kind of a geek and loved making this map.

Some of you that are more experienced, may see some ways that I could have done this better, and if you do please let me know! I am a sponge when it comes to learning about this stuff. I did take a lot of time carefully deciding the best way to utilize the space and grouping “companions” together. Bonus: I’ve always heard that to detract rabbits, you needed something shiny and moving in the garden. Some people string up pie tins around the perimeter of their garden. I decided to make row markers with wooden stakes and shiny duct tape. I’ll let you know if it works. We have A LOT of rabbits.

GardenPlanning7SGC 4- Get to work! A dear, sweet friend {cough cough Dana’s hubby cough cough} broke up our garden for us with his big tractor. Since we didn’t plant for a couple of weeks, we had to go back over it with our new-to-us tiller. My little lady was sick with strep throat and had to stay in the air conditioning while my husband, son, and I got to work.  Bo, our Bagel {beagle-basset mix}, supervised close by. Since my hubby is recovering from a medical ordeal that I don’t care to get into, he only did what his energy would allow. My son is eight– need I say more? Otherwise, this would have been a major family involved effort. I pray that as the weeks pass by, everyone will be recovered and can help with the upkeep, harvest, and preservation of the garden.

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Hoeing crooked-but-mostly-straightish rows

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My two favorite guys planting corn.

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PJ carefully placing corn seeds a hand-width apart.

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Bo is making sure I stay on task and that the rabbits stay away.

I know this was brief, but it really isn’t that complicated. It just takes some homework and planning. We welcome any questions you all may have about gardening. We don’t know everything, but together we know a lot! HAHA! Happy Planting!

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