Family Recipes  

Using Pantry and Garden Staples

By Case Dighero

Photos by Meredith Mashburn

In my opinion, there’s no better way to show your love for someone than by cooking withor forthem. And during these incredibly difficult times, cooking as a hobby, distraction and as a means for nourishment and affection has never been more important. I’ve assembled several recipes that have kept my family connected and happy over the last few months – each one with its own virtue for involving someone in the family.


The best thing aboutthese recipes is that most of the necessary ingredients can be found in either your pantry or garden. But rest assured that nothing on the list will be hard to find locally in a store or farmers market. So,make time to spend time with your loved ones in the kitchen this month – it may be rough out there, but it’s nice and safe at home! 


The Menu:
Bread and Butter Pickles
Herbed Hummus with Carrots and Radishes
Lemony Fried Chicken with Arugula and Parmesan
Peach Upside-Down Cake 



Bread and Butter Pickles

Prep time: 4 hours

Yield: 2 jars


This has been a family favorite since I was a boy growing up in Missouri. It’s especially satisfying and special when using fresh cucumbers harvested from your garden. What better way to involve the kids than by allowing them to pick their own cucumbers straight from the vine that will then be prepared and served with dinner on the very same day? It’s also a great way to play “mad scientist” with the up-and-coming chemist in your family as you taste and experiment with sweet and salty flavor profiles while making the brine. Regardless, it’s the perfect summer snack, and even folks who generally dislike pickles absolutely love these.         



4 cucumbers, thinly sliced 

1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt

1 cup sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric



Combine sliced cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl. Cover and chill for an hour. Transfer cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain, return cucumbers to the bowl and add sliced onion. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour hot mixture over the cucumber and onions and allow to cool at room temperature for an hour. Cover and refrigerate for three hours. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Herbed Hummus with Carrots and Radishes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6


This is a delicious and colorful snack that’s not only healthy, but also completely fun to prepare and design with the entire family. We like to enlist the older kids to help with combining the chickpeas, spinach and herbs in the food processor – tasting as you go, especially when adding the sweet, syrupy olive oil to the final step in blending. The younger kids, after thoroughly washing their hands, will love the creativity in adding the colorful raw vegetables to the pretty green hummus. Let them have fun, using the hummus as a canvas of sorts, while the carrots, radishes and whatever else you have on hand serves as the edible paint.



1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

One (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Additional olive oil, plus raw carrots, radishes and chopped herbs for serving



Combine tahini, lemon juice and chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor. Mix until well combined, approximately 30 seconds. Next, add spinach, parsley, chives, chopped garlic and salt to the chickpea mixture. Process for about 1 minute, pausing to scrape down the bowl if necessary. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of water or liquid from chickpea can. Taste, season accordingly; continue mixing and slowly add olive oil, creating a light, creamy hummus. Serve as a billowy spread on a platter, decorated with sliced carrots, radishes and onions, sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil. 

Lemony Fried Chicken with Arugula and Parmesan

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 6


This simple, delectable fried chicken recipe is a regular dinner staple in our home. The satisfying dark meat crunch with light, lemony arugula works brilliantly together, and if anyone complains about it being unhealthy, explain it’s really just a dressed-up chicken salad. This recipe is great for teaching teenagers in your home the basic techniques for frying, starting with a flour base, then milk and eggs and, lastly, panko bread crumbs with lemon zest and parsley before hitting the skillet. Be sure to use caution with hot oil, but now might be the perfect time to teach the interested teenager in your family. Finally, feel free to have the younger kids shake the jar of lemon juice and olive oil until a creamy vinaigrette forms – it’s a great way to help them blow off a little steam and settle down before dinner.



1 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 extra-large eggs

2 cups whole milk

2 cups panko bread crumbs

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 stick butter

3/4 cup olive oil (1/4 cup for frying, 1/2 for dressing)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 

8 ounces arugula

1 wedge Parmesan cheese, shaved



Combine the flour with a big pinch of salt and pepper in a wide bowl or pie plate. Beat eggs and milk together in another wide bowl. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs with lemon zest and parsley and set aside. Using a rolling pin or bottle of wine, gently pound the chicken thighs between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap until they are thin, approximately 1/4-inch thick. Dredge chicken thighs completely with flour, then submerge both sides into the egg mixture, and finally, both sides in the bread-crumb mixture. 


Heat butter and 1/4 cup olive oil in a large nonstick pan and cook two or three chicken thighs at a time on medium heat until golden brown, approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side, ensuring that an internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached. Place the arugula in a large bowl. In a large jar, shake together the lemon juice with 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle enough dressing on the arugula to coat, then toss well and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Place a generous amount of arugula on top of each fried chicken thigh. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.



Peach Upside-Down Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 to 35 minutes

Servings: 6 to 8


This is a great new take on an old favorite – especially now that peaches are readily available across the state of Arkansas, not to mention that this is truly one of the easiest cake recipes to make. My daughters love to arrange the sliced peaches into their own special design at the bottom of the cake pan.



1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan

3 large, ripe peaches, peeled

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 eggs



Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake or pie pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and also grease parchment with butter. Pit the peaches and cut into slices, about 1/2-inch thick. Arrange the slices in a pattern on the bottom of the pie pan. Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan or skillet. Cook and stirover medium-high heat until the mixture turns amber, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and pour this caramel evenly over the peaches in the pan.


In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cardamom and set aside. In another medium bowl, beat together the butter and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread the batter evenly over the peaches and caramel. 


Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and cake is set. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Run a knife around the sides of the cake, place a platter on top and invert the cake onto the platter. If any of the peach slices stick to the pan, lift them off carefully and replace them on top of the cake. Serve the cake warm or cooled to room temperature, with fresh whipped cream or homemade ice cream.


Special thanks to Jennifer and Jason Miller for opening their home to CitiScapesfor this recipe photo shoot and to JM Designs in Bentonville for the floral arrangements. 



CitiScapes Magazine is Northwest Arkansas' longest running and most widely circulated monthly city/regional lifestyle magazine. 


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