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gluten free appetizer

sweet-hot refrigerator pickles {pickled green beans recipe}

a few weeks ago, we snuck away on a saturday morning and had a date.  mid-day.  we brunched and talked and held hands and wandered through ikea.  this is an act of love, with all caps, because the man detests wandering aimlessly through a store.  but i’d requested time away to dream a little, because waiting for our next season was wearying me, and he obliged. this pickled green beans recipe was inspired by a little diner called pinky’s, which boasts long lines of cheerfully hungry diners on a saturday morning, because they serve things like pork belly benedict, for goodness’ sake, and a cilantro-jalapeno-bloody mary.  which my love winked and let me order, even though he’s not a fan of hot and spicy drinks, nor do i consider us drinkers-of-a-morning.  but my goodness, it came garnished with house-made pickled green beans, and honestly, i could’ve made a meal of those.


refrigerator pickles pickled green beans recipe a


so i came home and got to work on a version of my own. i’ve never made a go at pickling before (except the quick refrigerator pickles i made in the early days of marriage – why did i stop?!), and next time i want my beans greener and crisper, and my squash softer. perhaps i can’t do this in the same batch?

pickled green beans and squash a


someone got a tummy-ache, because she ate these too many and too fast. it wasn’t me, but it could’ve been because i ate a lot, fast, too.  like mother, like daughter.

pickled yellow squash recipe a


i wanted to avoid sugar if i could, and we used agave in this recipe. it worked perfectly. the combination of the slight sweetness contrasted to pungent salty garlic, with the kick of a hot pepper, made these can’t-stop-till-the-jar’s-finished good.

sweet hot pickled green beans


(serving idea? if you don’t want to eat a whole jar on its own? we made sweet barbecued pulled venison in the crock pot and topped it with these. yum.)


sweet-hot refrigerator pickles {pickled green beans recipe}


  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, stems removed
  • 1 small yellow squash, halved and sliced
  • water


  1. Combine vinegar, salt, agave, serrano pepper, garlic, and dill in a canning jar.
  2. Fill jar with squash and green beans.
  3. Fill remaining space with up to 1/2 cup water.
  4. Seal tightly and refrigerate for 1 day, or up to two weeks.

sweet-hot refrigerator pickles


so i’m a lazy girl going for a “fresh,” raw version, and i am not up for the hot-water-bath kind of pickles.  do you have refrigerator pickle recipes you love?  do share.

dancing divider webb

italian rice balls with asparagus walnut pesto {gluten free amuse bouche}

rice balls with asparagus pesto_b

amuse-bouche, literally translated, means “to please the mouth.”  i have wanted to create an “amuse bouche” ever since i saw it, i think, on an episode of top chef.  i finally have!  on top of that, this one is gluten-free and the pesto included in the recipe is insanely yummy.  i promise.

gluten free rice balls with asparagus pesto_b

sometimes with seven mouths to feed at mealtimes (and when we get together with friends, there are often over twenty!), presentation goes by the wayside in favor of efficiency.  not this time; i wanted to create something that was practically-impractically-pretty.  just like a little surprise from the chef at an amazing restaurant, i wanted this presentation to surprise and delight.

gluten free rice balls with asparagus pesto_a


(i’m craving asparagus almost daily as it’s in season here; my family, not-so-much.  however, they ate this up like it was going out of style.)  making the pesto with the twist of asparagus was a fun surprise!

rice balls with asparagus pesto_e

this recipe was created for mccormick gourmet as part of the go 4 gourmet campaign – you can enter your own recipe by clicking here!

rice balls with asparagus pesto_d


when i saw the “challenge ingredients” of rice, root vegetables, vegetable broth, and garlic, i knew i wanted to try my hand at rice balls.  i also wanted a cool, portion-friendly presentation that would be “safe” for our gluten-free crew of friends and family.

gluten free rice balls with asparagus pesto_c


rice balls with asparagus pesto_c   rice balls with asparagus pesto_f

it’s a bit of work, but well worth it for the treat at the end.  print the recipe and try for yourself!


Italian Fried Rice Balls with Asparagus Walnut Pesto


  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 teaspoons butter
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • For pesto:
  • 1 cup roasted asparagus spears (about 20 stems)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. For rice balls, bring rice, stock, water, and butter to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, covered. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in carrot, onion, parmesan, feta, tomatoes, capers, garlic, thyme, and salt. Add eggs and using clean hands, work thoroughly into mixture.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups oil to 300 degrees in a large dutch oven. When oil is hot, use a medium scoop or your hands to form rice into balls, roughly the size of large strawberries. Place 4-6 at a time in hot oil, turning once as it begins to brown. As each ball browns, use tongs or slotted spoon to remove from oil onto a paper-towel lined plate. If desired, salt lightly while still hot.
  4. For pesto:
  5. In a small food processor, combine asparagus, garlic, basil, sea salt, and walnuts. With processor on low, slowly pour in olive oil just until ingredients are combined.
  6. To serve, place a tablespoon of pesto in individual serving dishes. Top with a rice ball and if desired, fresh basil.


rice balls with asparagus pesto_a

do you have a favorite “fun” food that you love to show off to friends and family?  share your idea or link below!


dancing divider webb

p.s. – although i love to use fresh garlic, i was concerned about it burning in the hot oil.  for this recipe i used mccormick gourmet’s garlic powder as well as their dried thyme.  these added the perfect depth of flavor with the vegetables.

disclaimer acs