Friday, September 22, 2017

Melon Basil Sorbet - Weekend Recipe

Summer is not finished with us yet meaning there is still time for a frozen treat.  With cantaloupe still available, fresh and basil just hitting its stride, this is a great time to craft this sorbet.


Musk Melon Basil Sorbet

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
10 basil leaves, divided
2 small muskmelon (cantaloupe), peeled, seeded and diced

In a small saucepan, stir sugar and water over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, add 5 basil leaves, and allow to steep until cool.  Strain or remove the basil leaves.

Puree the melon or cantaloupe in a blender or using an immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the basil-infused sugar water (simple syrup) and reserve the remainder for another use (check out my herbal cocktail recipes for ideas.)

Finely chop the remaining 5 basil leaves and stir into the melon mixture.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Then pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturers directions.

Pack the sorbet into an airtight container  (optimally 24 hours.)  Makes 4 cups.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cosmetic Vinegars

I love to teach and describe how to make vinegars with herbs.  Most of the time these vinegars are for consumption, they can then be used to flavor vegetables, make dressing and marinades or otherwise cook with them.  However, today I want to talk about Cosmetic Vinegars.  These are vinegar used after a facial steam or as a tonic or skin refresher, or even a hair rinse.  The technique is very similar, but the concentrations are different.



You want to use apple-cider vinegar for cosmetic vinegar.  Apples are high in antioxidants, so using anything with apples for cosmetics is highly recommended.  You want to steep these for 3 to 4 weeks.  Don’t scrimp on the steeping time, the intensity you get with a longer time period is essential to the healing benefits. You also want to add thyme and/or sage for germ fighting and rosemary because it contains volatile oils that get the blood flowing under the skin.

Marvelous Mint Cosmetic Vinegar
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 part spearmint or apple mint
1 part sage
1 part thyme
1 part rosemary


Luscious Lavender Cosmetic Vinegar
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 part lavender
1 part rosemary
1 part thyme

Steep the herbs in the vinegar for several weeks (at least 3) in a dark place. Then strain and bottle. 

To use:
Blend ½ cup vinegar with 3 cups water and splash it on your face after washing; warm in the microwave to steaming and place in a bowl and hover over it with a towel behind your head to open and clarify pours before deep cleansing.




Vinegar Hair Rinse
This flower, water and vinegar rinse removes soap residue and adds a sparkling healthy condition to your hair.

2 oz. Rosewater or other flower water
2 oz. Apple cider vinegar
2 oz. Water or an herbal infusion (tea)

Combine rosewater, vinegar and the water/herbal infusion, shake well before using as a hair rinse.

To Use: Massage in well, leave on for a few minutes. Rinse off as usual.

You can make an herbal infusion (tea) by steeping with herbs of  your choice, and allow to cool. Certain herbs when made into a strong infusion can bring out mild and subtle tones and highlights to your hair, depending on condition, color and texture. Some of the herbs that can be used are Chamomile, Sage, Basil, Horsetail, Lavender, Nettle or Rosemary.
Chamomile can be utilized for subtle golden tones
Rose softens and brings highlights
Hibiscus flowers or Alkanet root for slightly reddish tones
Nettle for warm tones
Rosemary, Sage or Walnut leaves bring out brown shades



Friday, September 15, 2017

Butternut Squash Bake - Weekend Recipe

Winter squash is just coming into season and I thought this recipe might be useful for a meal or a festive holiday dinner.  Keep it handy through the fall and winter.


Butternut Squash Bake

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 2 cups)
½ cup mayonnaise (DO NOT use low fat, only regular)
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup crushed saltine crackers (about 8 crackers)
1 Tbls. dried savory
2 Tbls. Parmesan, grated
1 Tbls. Butter, melted

Place squash in saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until very tender.  Drain well and place in a large bowl.  Mash Squash.  In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, onion, egg, sugar, salt and paper.  Add to squash and mix well.  Transfer to greased 1 quart baking dish.  Combine the cracker crumbs, cheese and butter, sprinkle over top.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through and top is golden.  Serves 6.


This recipe was crafted for Walkup Farm in Crystal Lake as a postcard give-away.  I do not know if they were ever distributed to the public.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

6 Unique Ways to Preserve an Herb Harvest

There are many ways to preserve the herbs from your harvest.  Here are a few quick and easy ones to get you started.

Freeze leaves in water

Quick and easy, you just grab an ice tray fill the square halfway with water and add the herb leaves.  You can leave the leaf whole or chopped them fine.  Pop them into the freezer.  Once the cubes are frozen fill the tray the rest of the way with water and freeze again.  This two-step method makes sure the leaves stay covered by the water and ice so they keep their green color.

Once finally frozen you can pop put the cubes and place them in a zip lock bag for long term storage.  This will give you herbs for casseroles, soups, stews and long cook dishes all winter.  Discard the cubes once the spring harvesting begins.

Make a Bouquet Garni Bundle 

Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs (thyme, bay, parsley, rosemary, savory) used in long cook soups and stews.  It is great in the crock pot where you can hang the bundle from the side and let the flavor infuse the dish, then remove the bundle when cooking is over.  You do not have to worry about leaves in the dish or picking out bay leaf.

You can use a bouquet garni fresh, or you can make fresh bundles and hang them to dry.  Once dry, you can wrap a cello bag around them and give them as a gift along with a soup recipe, or save their wonderful goodness all for yourself.

I have previously posted recipes to use with bouquet garni too!

Dry in a paper bag

Savory, Thyme and rosemary are all great candidates for bag drying.  The leaves have a small size and very little moisture, so you toss the cut stems in a bag, hang it on the wall and let the herbs dry.  Sometimes depending on humidity, I will give the bags a shake every few days. No other special treatment is needed and the herbs will be try enough to be stripped from the stems for storage in about a week.



Honey or Vinegar Infusion


Make an infusion of herbs transferring the flavor into another medium.  You can create a vinegar or honey.  See these posts for detailed instructions.

How Tuesday on making vinegar

Recipes using Herbed Vinegar


Make a compound butter
A compound butter is any plain unsalted butter to which you add herbs. You can create a single herb flavor or blend the herbs tighter to create a variety of flavors.  The general rule is 1/8 to 1/4 cup herbs into 1 stick unsalted butter.

Here is one of my favorite versions:
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped chives or garlic chives
1 tsp tarragon

Blend the herbs into 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter with a fork to get the herbs evenly distributed.  Then roll the soft butter into a sausage in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to eat in a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.  You can use the butter on fresh steamed vegetables, steaks, baked or roasted potatoes, rice, egg noodles are on your morning toast of muffins.

I have more recipes for making compound butter (also called Herb Butter) all over the blog, but here is one of my first. 

Make a salt

There are several ways to make herb salt.  My two favorites are just to layer the whole herb leaf in salt and allow the salt to absorb the flavor from the leaf then later remove the leaf and you have white salt infused with flavor.  Another way is to run the salt and herbs in a coffee grinder.  I start with a larger salt so that I get a fine salt with fine flakes of herbs in it. 


You can also make an herb salt with chopped fresh leaves that you stir into salt, then spread on a baking sheet and allow to dry in the open air for 2 to 3 days to a week depending on humidity.  This is a great way to infuse the salt with a mixture of herbs, like a blend of chives, thyme, parsley and sage.  You use about 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs to ¼ cup of salt (I like kosher.)  Once the herbs and salt have dried, you can place the mixture in a jar where it will keep its herbal taste for at least a year.

We will be posting more ways to make herbed salt and flavored sugar later this fall.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tarragon & Cashew Pesto - Weekend Recipe

Okay it is Pesto season and I love to make pesto, but I find if you always use Basil it always tastes the same.  So I have changed it up with Lemon Basil, or Parsley or even Cilantro, but this recipe I found on  Dunk and Crumble for a pesto made with tarragon and cashews is without doubt the best in unique tastes for pesto.  The underlying flavor of lemon certainly made my taste buds happy!



Cashew Tarragon Pesto
1 large bunch fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup raw cashews
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 3 lemons
a handful of lemon balm or lemon verben stripped from the stems
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon vinegar or chive herbal vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:  
Toast cashews in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown and fragrant.  Allow to cool slightly.

Purée parsley, tarragon, nuts, lemon and lemon juice, lemon herbs and garlic in a food processor. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper, and blend until a coarse paste forms.  Add a few tablespoons of warm water to thin the sauce to desired consistency, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Use as a sandwich spread, atop a bowl of hot pasta, or alongside roasted chicken.
Makes about 3 cups pesto.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Homemade Body Butter - Bath Blend of the Month

Happy Labor Day - 

To celebrate, pamper yourself with this fluffy body butter.  It is one of the simplest to make.  You need a hand mixer and a decorative container to place it in when you complete it.  It makes a great gift and you can scent it with any fragrance you want.



6 oz Coconut Oil
2 oz Cocoa Butter
2 oz Essential Oil (your choice)
Mixer

Directions:
Clean your container in warm soapy water and allow to dry.

While your container is drying melt both your coconut oil and cocoa butter. You can melt them over a double boiler, or in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring in between each burst.

Once the oil and butter have melted, place them in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. Do not place in freezer. Once the oils and butter are opaque, using a stand or hand mixer, beat on high for 4-5 minutes.

The mixture should become thick and creamy. If after 5 minutes of beating it doesn’t become thick, refrigerate for 5 more minutes and beat again.

Once the oils become creamy, refrigerate for 5 more minutes. After 5 minutes, add in your essential oil and beat until well incorporated.

Once stiff peaks form, spoon into your clean container and seal. Will last up to 6 months in an airtight container.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Creamy Parmesan Dressing - Weekend Recipe

This special recipe is fast, but worth making from fresh Parmesan and lemon basil.  It is perfect on a lettuce or greens salad, but is exceptionally good on tomatoes.  And it is thick enough to use as a dip.


Creamy Parmesan Dressing
1 cup mayo
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ lemon, juiced
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbls fresh chopped lemon basil (or regular basil)
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire
3 tsp pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt to taste


Blend all ingredients together is a shaker and shake well, allow to meld at room temp for 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

End of Season Grilling Butter - How To-sday

With  Labor Day fast approaching I thought it was the perfect time to share a quick, easy, made with fresh herbs, butter recipe you can use on burgers or steaks to give them some extra flavor right off the grill.

I chopped the herbs fine, grated the lemon with a micro-plane and minced the garlic by hand.  (I hate cleaning the garlic mincer.)


Using a fork I blended the herbs into the butter.  I prefer a fork to a spoon when blending butter, as it mixes well, breaks up the butter and is easy to handle.


Then I rolled the butter into a small short log and placed int he refrigerator for about 30 minutes while the grill heated and the steaks cooked.


We seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil.  We grilled them on a closed grill 6 to 8 minutes (more if desired.)  Cut a slice of herb butter and place in the center of each steak.


Easy and wonderfully flavorful.  The citrus brightens the flavor, but some like a more savory taste you you can try it without the lemon.

End of Season Grilling Butter 

½ cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted
1 Tbls parsley, chopped
1 Tbls chives chopped
1 Tbls tarragon, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp lemon zest

Blend herbs into room temperature butter with a fork.  Roll butter in wax paper or plastic wrap, chill one hour. Serve on streaks, chops or burgers.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Tomato Strip Salad - Weekend Recipe

This is a great topping over lettuce leaves to make a dinner salad.  You can add a protein to make it a meal.

Tomato Strip Salad
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
¼ cup fresh or frozen peas, parboiled
2 Tbls fresh green chili strips
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp minced fresh cilantro
Lettuce leaves


In a bowl, toss tomato, peas, chili strips, lemon juice and cilantro.  Cover and chill.  Serve on a bed of lettuce.  Makes 1 serving

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rose Geranium Cookies

The most popular recipe in the cooking demo program this week was cookies made with rose geranium leaves and sugar flavored with rose geranium. We will show how to make herbal sugar very soon with holiday gift ideas.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (or rose geranium sugar)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp rose water
2 tsp rose geranium leaves, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 doz. small rose geranium leaves

Cream and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg,milk, and rose water.  Soft together dry ingredients ad add them together with the chopped leaves to the creamed mixture, stirring until well mixed.  The dough will be not be dry but also not liquid. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto lightly greased cookies sheets. Because of the liquid nature leave good 2 inches between cookies.  Press a single Rose geranium leaf deep into each cookie.  Bake in 350 degrees and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve with a gentle companion tea with light lemon or floral flavors.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Meatless Monday - Corn Stuffed Tomatoes

Today is the day of the ellipse.  I wanted to go down south to watch it, but I scheduled a lecture for tonight so I cannot go 5 hours south of here and get back before the program. Since I was doing a program on cooking I went out to find some special recipes to make it worth forgoing the trip.


The theme is using the bounty of your garden.  I found this great recipe that is mostly all vegetables.  It is too lengthy to do during the program, but I just loved it and wanted to share it.  It is tasty and can be a side dish, or served in pairs, a main dish.

Corn Stuffed Tomatoes
6 large tomatoes
½ tsp salt, optional
½ cup plain or Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 cups corn cut fresh from the cob or frozen corn, thawed
2 Tbls celery, chopped
2 Tbls onion, diced fine
1 Tbls oregano, chopped
1 Tbls parsley, chopped
2 Tbls half and half cream
1 Tbls butter, melted
2 Tbls shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
¼ cup water


Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomatoes, scoop out and discard pulp.  Sprinkle salt inside tomatoes if desired.  Invert on paper towel to drain.  Combine bread crumbs, corn, celery, onion,  cream, herbs and butter.  Spoon into the tomatoes.  Place in an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.  Pour water into the baking dish.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are tender.  Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: You can add 2 Tbls. green pepper, diced fine to the corn mixture if you like peppers (I don't.) You can substitute 2 Tbls or basil cut in ribbons for the other herbs.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cucumber Dill Dip - Weekend Recipe


Let's get in a few more picnics and barbeques before summer ends and enjoy a few items from the garden too!  This recipes is great on carrots and celery or use it as a great spread on Cucumber sandwiches.  This is a twist on the standard Dill Dip recipe found on the package. 

Cucumber Dill Dip
1-8 oz. pkg of cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Tbls. sliced green onions
1 Tbls. lemon juice
½ tsp hot pepper sauce (optional)


Beat cream cheese until smooth, stir in chopped cucumber and green onions.  Add remaining ingredients until well mixed.  Cover and chill.  Makes 2 ½ cups.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Flowering herbs - what to do with the bolting herb

This year we have been miraculously cool, but I know other parts of the country have not been so lucky, so what to do when the heat causes your herbs to bolt, or flower and make seed? 


Being the year of Cilantro I thought it was important to mention that some herbs can lose potency when flowering. Cilantro actually changes from Cilantro to Coriander and the leaves change shape and flavor.  Once a Cilantro plant starts to go to seed (bolting,) there is no amount of pinching off the flowers that can stop the process and you either pull it out and start over or use the coriander seed.


Most of the time, with other herbs, you can pinch off the flowers.  From perennial herbs like chives, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme; cut the plants back a bit give them a good watering and let them regrow. With that care, they will keep growing and produce more flavor-filled herb leaves for you to harvest.  Use the pinched off flowers to spice up your meals in the mean time.  


In my garden the marjoram is flowering now, I like to harvest and dry the flowers for arrangements so I let it flower.  It does not seem to harm the flavor of the dried marjoram that much.



The thyme is such a prolific flowering plant that you cannot just pinch off the flowers, you need to give the entire bush a trim.  But I gather the flowers and leafy stem pieces into a paper bag and let them dry, a bit of flower in my dried stripped leaves will not hurt the flavor of anything I cook them with.

For annual herbs like basil, cilantro/coriander, dill and fennel, their one and only botanical job is to bear seeds; bolting signals the end of their growth cycle, so you need to use them before you lose them to seed (saving the seed will give you a head start on next year’s garden.)  


Basil can be halted by slipping off the flowers, but most of the other annuals need to be harvested or used before they start making seed, when it gets hot, keep an eye on them.


Dill weed can be eaten when the plant is producing seed and is still very tasty.  However if you want to dry the dill weed, you want to harvest that before there are seed heads forming.  I sow a crop of dill seed every two weeks through out the growing season to keep a fresh selection of dill weed available.  Dill is a nice herb to start now for a fall harvest so sprinkle a few dill and cilantro seed now and harvest in a few short weeks.

If your herbs have already made flowers, remember they are perfectly edible so clip them off and use as a garnish on your dinner plate or in a salad.  I like to sprinkle a few basil flowers onto my caprese salad, it adds a different flavor dimension than just basil leaves with my mozzarella and tomato.

Ramen noodles are often a quick summer dish especially mixed with fresh vegetables from the garden.  You can make a fresh herb broth to season both the vegetables and the noodles with your herb clippings.


Food writer Mark Bittman shared this broth recipe that I have tried again and again.  He puts a small handful of rosemary, thyme or sage sprigs (bolted or not), a large handful of parsley stems, a few fresh bay leaves or sprigs of savory, 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves and a pinch of black peppercorns in a pot with 6 cups of cold water, then brings the pot to barely a simmer, removes it from the heat and steeps the herbs for 15 minutes, then strains the broth before using it.  It is perfect with all those thyme clippings and if you use sage flowers the flavor is more mellow than sage leaves.

My recent interest in herbal cocktails caused me to try tossing herbs into brandy also.  The flowers of herbs, especially the exotic basils, like cinnamon, lemon or Thai along with savory, lavender and even some garlic chive blossoms and mint flowers placed in a quart jar filled with 2 cups brandy, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water when stored in the dark until October or November can be strained and bottled for holiday sipping or gift giving.  Let the herbs steep for 2 to 3 months before you strain and rebottle them.

I found this recipe in an article from England, but I think it is a great idea.

Garbage Vinegar
Use the scraps, trimmings and flowers from your herbs when you are pinching them back. The stems and flowers of culinary herbs infuse the vinegar with flavor and fragrance.  Makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups vinegar.

1 clean quart-sized canning jar with a plastic lid
1 quart of good white wine vinegar
Bits and pieces, odds and ends of fresh (or dried) herbs

Fill the jar with vinegar.  Screw on the lid. Each time you use fresh or dried herbs in cooking, instead of throwing them away or composting the leftover pieces, put them in the jar. When the jar is completely full of leftover herbs, let it sit for a week. Strain the herb vinegar through a coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth. Pour it into a clean bottle. Cap tightly. Use frequently for marinades, dressings, sauces and any place else you want a dash of flavor.  This will never spoil and may become your perfect go to for cooking.

Another way to make garbage vinegar is to add the dregs for your single herb vinegars to a common jar.  My hubby did this when the clutter of 5 almost finished single herb vinegars got in his way in the kitchen.  He poured them all into one jar and uses it for his chicken pork marinades.






Saturday, August 12, 2017

Weekend Recipe - Zucchini Boats

Back around 2009, my husband and I joined our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.)  We went to a local farm and picked up a box full of locally grown produce weekly.  Like many people who join a CSA we got things we might not otherwise have gotten for ourselves at the farmer's market.  We started looking for recipes to go with these unique or bountiful items.  Herbs were included in our CSA regularly so I shared with the farm several recipes they could include in the CSA boxes.  Now that Zucchini is arriving in our garden in abundance, I dug through and found these CSA recipes and decided to share them with you here.  Look for more in the coming weeks.



Zucchini Boats

6 medium Zucchini
2 cups dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large tomato diced
1/3 cup grated parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
2 Tbls. Butter, melted

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise.  With a spoon, scoop out and reserve pulp, leaving a 3/8 inch shell.  Cook shells in salted water for 2 minutes.  Remove and drain.  Chop zucchini pulp, place in large bowl.  Add bread crumbs, eggs, tomato, parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic.  Stir in broth salt and pepper.  Stuff into zucchini shells.

Place in greased 13”x9”x2” baking dish.  Drizzle with butter.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 6.


This recipe was crafted for Walkup Farm in Crystal Lake as a postcard give-away.  I do not know if they were ever distributed to the public.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tomato Herb Tonic - Weekend Recipe

If you like V-8 or Bloody Mary you will love this herbal tonic.  It tastes a lot like a Bloody Mary but without the vodka, of course if you add some for an afternoon relaxer, who can say it is a bad thing?



Icy Tomato-Herb Tonic
Serve 4

4 cups tomato juice
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup minced fresh lovage (substitute minced celery leaves if you have no lovage)
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbls. soy sauce or to taste
celery sticks for garnish


Mix tomato juice with minced herbs, black pepper and soy sauce in a large pitcher.  Chill for several hours.  Garnish serving with a celery stick.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mint Julep Dip - Weekend Recipe

We have a shady area next to the house which is becoming a struggle.  It is hard to get anything to want to grow there.  I have lost more perennials in that garden in just two seasons, than I lost in the flood catastrophe a few years ago.


So one of my solutions was to plant mint there.  Mint will grow anywhere, dry, wet, shade, sun.  But it will not grow as quickly or as well in conditions that are not ideal.  That has always been my way to control mint - put it in a place where it competes with a tree for water, grow it in the shade, etc. That is working in the side yard, but even stunted I am getting a large harvest of mint.  So I decided to create dip with the many surplus mint sprigs I have collected.


Mint Julep Dip

This will remind you of a summer cocktail and go well with warm sweet pastry or plain donuts or muffins.




6 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. packed fresh mint leaves (I used Kentucky Colonel and chocolate mint)
6 ounces of cream cheese, softened (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbls. bourbon

In a small bowl, combine sugar and mint leaves.  Using a wooden spoon mash the mint and sugar until fragrant.  Should take about 30 to 60 seconds.  In a blender combine sugar mixture, cream cheese, milk and bourbon.  Cover and process until smooth.  Serve immediately.  Make 1 1/4 cups.

NOTE in photo  I was unable to label the mint plants but peppermint is in the lower right corner, pineapple mint is in the center bottom next to the violet with the heart-shaped leaves.  The Kentucky Colonel is along the fence above the chair and the chocolate mint is against the house.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Strawberry Lavender Spritzer - Weekend Recipe

Before the Strawberries are all gone you just have to try this wine spritzer.  Perfect in a punch bowl at your garden party.  I am making a non-alcoholic version to serve at the Villa Park Gardenwalk next Weekend!


Strawberry - Lavender Wine Spritzer

• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 1 cup fresh strawberries
• 1 tablespoon fresh lavender buds
• 3 cups white wine (or one 750 ml bottle)
• 4 cups club soda or seltzer water
• 4 to 6 fresh lavender sprigs
• 4 to 6 fresh strawberries

In a blender or food processor, blend the orange juice, 1 cup of strawberries, and lavender flowers.

Transfer to a jug or bowl.  Pour wine over the blended mixture and allow to steep for 30 minutes; then strain into a punch bowl, discarding solids. To serve, fill a wineglass half full with flavored wine and top with mineral water. Garnish with a sprig of lavender and a strawberry.

For a non-alcoholic version use white grape juice or apple juice,instead of wine.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Broccoli Sunflower Salad - Weekend Recipe

Sunflower seeds and broccoli go amazingly well together.  So when I saw this recipe on the Taste of Home Website, I realized this particular recipe would be great with Backyard Patch Herb Mixes, so I tied it out.


Broccoli Sunflower Salad

2 quarts water
6 cups fresh broccoli florets
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
Sugar substitute equivalent to 1 tablespoon sugar (Like Spenda sugar blend)
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower kernels

Directions
In a large kettle, bring water to a boil. Add broccoli; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place broccoli in ice water. Drain and pat dry.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, oil and sugar substitute. Pour over broccoli; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, stirring several times. Just before serving, stir in sunflower kernels. Yield: 6 servings.



Originally published as Sunflower Broccoli Salad in Light & Tasty October/November 2004, p59, found on and adapted from the version on the Taste of Home website.

Nutritional Facts
3/4 cup: 121 calories, 10g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 322mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 3g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 fat, 1 vegetable.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Citrus Body Scrub - Bath Blend of the Month

Dried citrus peel makes a wonderful face and body scrub.  You can make your own easily by saving the peels from citrus as you eat it, then running it through the blender or food processor.  If you want you can also purchase already dried and ground orange and lemon peel.


Citrus Body Scrub

1 Tbls dried citrus peel
2 Tbls plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp honey

Mix together all the ingredients and stir until smooth. Makes 1 ounce or about 1/8 cup of scrub.

To Use: Massage into damp skin and rinse well with warm water.  Pat skin dry.

Storage: Store any left over scrub in the refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fast Recipe for a Busy Weekend - Saucy Chicken


  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1 cup prepared BYP Italian Dressing and Marinade
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
In a glass baking dish or zip-type bag, mix the prepared BYP Italian dressing, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, mustard, ginger and brown sugar. Place chicken in marinade and allow to marinate overnight, or for at least eight hours.

Preheat grill to high heat or prepare charcoal as needed. Discard marinade and place chicken on grill. Grill chicken for about 30 minutes, turning often until juices run clear. Smaller parts may take less time. Serve with rice or noodles.  (This is great over boiled ramen.) Serves 4 

OPTION: You can also roast the  chicken in the oven, just place on a foil lined roasting pan and cut holes to allow juices to drain off.

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