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Herb Roasted Root Vegetables

I have vivid memories of sitting at the table as a small child and my mom coaxing me to eat the beets on my plate.  They’ll make your blood red she’d say – they don’t, but that’s what she said.  I‘d just stare at the red, slippery round slices in disgust. I really, really didn’t like beets.  Never have – until I discovered roasted beets.  After visiting our local farmer’s market this summer I thought it was about time I try them again.  After all, it’s been some 40 odd years since I decided I didn’t like them.  And tastes change, right?  They’re also a good source of potassium, folate, and fiber.  So, I bought some and tried roasting them with other root vegetables and herbs.  They were delicious!  I’ll still probably not try beets in the slippery red sauce in which my mom prepared them, but I’ll definitely try them roasted again.  Roasting brings out wonderful flavors in root vegetables, caramelizing them just a bit. Mixed with fresh herbs, a little kosher salt, and olive oil and we have a winner.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Scrub beets well with a vegetable brush and remove stems and greens.  Don’t forget to save some of the greens!

Everything’s almost ready to go into the oven.

Looking good!

Ingredients:

6-7 small, fresh beets, washed and diced (reserve about 1 c. of the beet greens)

1/2 large sweet onion cut into wedges

5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4-5 potatoes, cut into chunks

1-2 Tbsp. fresh thyme

1-2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 c. water

Method:

Coat bottom of 9×13 in. baking dish with 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Place prepared potatoes, carrots, onions, and beets in the prepared pan.  Sprinkle evenly with chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, kosher salt, and remaining olive oil.  Roast at 375 F for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and add 1 c. torn beet greens and 1/2 c. water.  Return to oven and roast for 15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.  Remove from oven and serve.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Cooking, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Easy Green Sauce for Freezing

We had a huge harvest of tomatillos from our garden this year – definitely enough to make some salsa verde (green sauce) to freeze for use later in the winter. We brought in about 17 pounds.  That’s a lot of tomatillos!

Tomatillos, or husk tomatoes, are in the same family as tomatoes, yet have a completely different flavor and texture.  The fruit is low in calories and has a good amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins, and antioxidants.  They can be a healthy addition to your diet.  My favorite way to use them is salsa verde.

This sauce is great with tortilla chips, as a salsa for tacos, or as a sauce for chicken enchiladas.  And it’s not hard to make either.  Since we had so many tomatillos, I tried making the sauce two different ways: on the stove top, and in the oven. The sauce was great either way.  So if you have some extra from your garden, or get them at the farmer’s market, try it and let me know how you like it.  Enjoy!

Green Sauce for Freezing

Ingredients:

5 lb. tomatillos, husks removed and fruit washed

1 large, sweet onion, cut in wedges

7-8 cloves garlic, unpeeled (for stove top – peel and coarsely chop)

2 ancho peppers, cut in chunks

2 whole jalapeno peppers (for stove top remove seeds and dice)

2 tsp. kosher salt

3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Oven Roast Method:

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Line 2 jelly roll pans with foil and drizzle olive oil on top of the oil.  Husk and wash tomatillos; place on pans.

Peel onion and cut into large wedges.  Add these to the pans, along with garlic cloves, ancho peppers, and jalapenos.

Roast at 400° F for 35 minutes until tomatillos are soft and have turned olive-green.

Remove from oven.  Cool slightly.  Peel garlic and return to the pan.  Remove stems and seeds from jalapeno peppers and return to pan.  In small batches, spoon roasted ingredients into food processor along with kosher salt and cilantro.

Process till smooth, or desired consistency.  Fill freezer containers to within 1/2 inch of top.  Place on lid, label, and freeze.  Makes 5-6 pints.

Stove Top Method:

Husk and wash tomatillos and place in large pan with 1/2 cup water.  Peel onion and cut into large wedges; add to tomatillos.  Peel garlic, chop coarsely and add to pan along with chopped ancho peppers and diced jalapenos

Cook on medium heat 25 minutes or until tomatillos are soft and turn olive-green, stirring occasionally.  Add water in small amounts, only if needed, to prevent scorching.

Cool slightly.  In small batches, spoon mixture into food processor along with kosher salt and cilantro.  Process till smooth, or desired consistency.  Fill freezer containers to within 1/2 inch of top.

Place on lid, label, and freeze.  Makes about 6 pints.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Cooking, Gardening, Recipes

 

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Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. . .a perfect fall breakfast

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Breakfast is touted as the most important meal of the day. . .and sadly skipped by many people, young and old.  With September being National Breakfast Month I thought it would be appropriate to post a good, healthy breakfast recipe.  But why eat breakfast?  Do a quick Google search and you’ll find resources showing how kids do better in school if they’ve had breakfast; you’ll feel more energetic; or that you’re overall health will improve.  Personally, I find that I feel better and work more productively if I’ve had something to eat after going all night without anything.  So don’t skip.  Find something you like and fill your tank before you head out for the day.

One of my favorites is oatmeal.  It’s easy to make, doesn’t take too long, and you can easily change up the flavor by adding a variety of other food items.  In fact, you could get all the dry ingredients together the night before so all you need to do is chop an apple, add the liquid, and cook.  Even the apple could be chopped the night before if you toss it with a little lemon juice to prevent browning. This recipe is perfect for autumn, when apples are in season, and the smell of cooked apples and cinnamon leave a rich scent in the kitchen.  Health-wise, it’s great, filled with fiber, good-for-you walnuts, and low-fat too.  Enjoy – my daughter did!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1 c. quick cooking oatmeal

1 c. water

1 c. skim milk

1 small apple, finely chopped

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 T. dried cranberries

Dash of salt

1 Tbsp. finely chopped walnuts

2 tsp. brown sugar

Method:

In medium-sized sauce pan mix together oatmeal, cinnamon, cranberries, salt, brown sugar, and walnuts.  Stir in chopped apple, water and milk.  Cook on medium heat, stirring continually to prevent scorching, about 5 minutes or until desired consistency.  Remove from heat and add 1 more tsp. brown sugar on top, then cover and let rest for 1 minute.  Serve warm with milk.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups ( 5 – 1/2 cup servings).

Chop the apple into small chunks. Larger pieces won’t cook as quickly.

All ingredients in the pan and ready to cook.  Stir continually to prevent scorching.

Cooked and ready for milk.

Ready to eat

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Cooking, Health, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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Hunger

Today, my kids and I spent two hours packing dried food packets to send to hungry children.  We were a few of many  volunteers.  Feed My Starving Children is an organization dedicated to helping hungry and starving children worldwide.  Our boxes will be sent to Haiti.

I’ve known that hunger is a problem our world faces.  We all hear of the poor starving kids in . . .  Parents of generations past used to shame their children into eating everything on the plate because, you know, there are starving children out there who would appreciate what was on their plate.  But now, here in the USA, we’re surrounded by such an over abundance of food, that true hunger and starvation seem distant.  That’s not to say there are no hungry or starving people here in our country.  There are, I’m sure.  And they face the same hunger as others, just in a different location.

So when the opportunity came up to volunteer, and in some small way affect the lives of these children, we came on board and signed up for our two hour shift.  It was amazing!  My kids and I worked alongside other children and adults to pack 179 boxes of food.  At 32 packs per box, each pack feeding a child for a day, well that’s a lot of food. And it’s specially formulated for starving children, to sustain them and help them improve nutritionally.

Did you know that about 17,000 people die each day from hunger and starvation?  It’s a staggering number.  I’ve read many blogs lately dealing with delicious food and recipes that we can try at home to enhance our diet or taste palette.  Yet while I sit here writing, or while I’m trying to decide what to make for supper from my well stocked pantry, there are children who don’t have enough to eat.  That’s sad, really sad.  While it seems like a far away problem that I can do little about, there are groups like Feed My Starving Children who get out there and do something about it.  I’m thankful they do and thankful my kids and I could be a small part of that today.  My 9-year-old said it best when he said “Mama, we helped some starving children today, didn’t we?”

If there’s a packing location near you, won’t you consider volunteering?  Two hours are all it took.  And the time flew by.  We had fun doing it together.  You can too.  Take a look at Feed My Starving Children.  You’ll be glad you did!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Family, Health, Nutrition

 

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Birthday Dinner Salad

The Birthday Salad

It was birthday time at our house today and I usually ask the birthday person what they would like for a meal that evening.  The requested meal this time, by my husband, was salad.  I found all kinds of good stuff to put into a birthday dinner salad for him.  In his words, this was really good!

On the counter I found a day-old cinnamon raisin bagel.  I figured no one was going to eat it for breakfast, and rather than throw it out later this week I decided to make a little crostini to go with the salad.  Slice the bagel into thin pieces and lay them on a baking sheet.  One bagel  made about 27 pieces.  Melt about 2 Tbsp. of butter (yes, butter) and brush a small amount on each slice.  Top it with a slight sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and then broil for 3-4 minutes till golden brown.  Remove the pan from the oven, turn the slices over, and repeat the procedure on the other side.  Broil about a minute till golden brown.  Watch closely to prevent burning.

Crostini made from a day old cinnamon raison bagel

In the freezer I found some salmon – not enough for a main dish by itself, but I thought it would make a lovely addition to our salad tonight.  So out it came.  After it defrosted I sprinkled on a little dill weed, sea salt, and fresh lime juice.

Salmon waiting to be cooked

For the salad, use a variety of lettuce and spinach, about 1 c. of golden grape tomatoes – halved.

Lettuce and tomatoes

One purple carrot from the garden – cut in small pieces

Purple carrot. Isn’t it pretty?

And 1 cucumber – peeled, halved and sliced.

Now with carrots and cucumbers

If you have red peppers you can try grilling them.  Peel, slice, and add them to the salad for a little more interest.

Peppers on the grill

To cook the salmon, wrap it loosely in foil and grill for 5-7 minutes or till done.

Lifted the foil a bit to check the salmon

To finish the salad, core and dice one apple, drizzling the pieces with lemon juice to prevent browning and add to the salad. Top it with 2-3 Tbsp. of feta cheese and salmon pieces, drizzling some fresh lime juice on top.

Almost done!

Serve with the cinnamon raisin crostini.  For dressing I let everyone choose their own.  My favorite, however, was a simple raspberry balsamic vinegar.  This made a tasty, healthy salad the whole family liked.  Hope you enjoy it as much as they did!

The Birthday Salad

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Cooking, Family, Recipes

 

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Garden Anomolies

Double headed sunflower

Gardening is fun in lots of ways, but one of my favorites is finding the unusual or peculiar among the harvest.  Show them to my kids and peels of laughter or ooh’s and aahs’ find their way to my ears.  This summer we found a two-headed sunflower (my favorite this year), a dahlia flower that was half red and half white – split down the center, a pepper with an obvious deformity, and numerous tomatoes with odd growths.

While these are fun to look at, when it comes down to it, they’re still what they were made to be – the pepper was still a pepper, the tomato a tomato, and the sunflower a sunflower.  They just looked a little different, but inside they’re the same as the perfect looking one right next to them.  It’s a good reminder to me how we, as humans, are pretty much the same regardless of how we look or appear to others.  After all, we’re all made in God’s image.  And that’s pretty cool.

Odd looking pepper

So back to my funny looking produce – while I didn’t get photos of all of the them, I did take a few, and hope you enjoy them. I know others have seen some of the same things I have.  So if you have a favorite oddity you’ve found in your garden, let me know!  Post a link to it in your comment if you have a photo (keep it clean please). Should be fun to see.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Faith, Gardening, General

 

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Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes from the garden

Tomatoes are a fantastically versatile vegetable, which is good considering the amount of ripe ones I have in the garden right now.  Ranging from marble-sized to softball-sized or larger they can be eaten raw or cooked in a number of ways.  There’s nothing like popping into your mouth a fresh from the garden cherry tomato, or a thick slice of a garden fresh heirloom tomato.  They can be used fresh as is, stuffed, or added to salads or sandwiches.  Cooking them just expands their usefulness.  Baked, broiled, grilled, fried, sautéed, or roasted – there are many methods to explore with this wonderful summertime fruit.

And when the crop is abundant it’s time to think of how to preserve it.  One of my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes for use in the winter is to take my excess cherry and grape tomatoes, roast them with some garlic and basil, and freeze it for later.  The result is delicious.

In my last batch, most of the tomatoes I used were cherry or grape, but I did add a few Roma and slicers to thin it out a bit as it can get pretty thick otherwise.  This is a healthy recipe that’s easy, fairly quick, and good tasting.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

8 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4-5 cloves garlic, or more if desired

8-10 large basil leaves

1 T. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. kosher salt

4-5 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

1-2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Remove stems and wash tomatoes.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half, and larger tomatoes in wedges.  Line 2 jelly roll pans with foil and drizzle olive oil on the foil.

Foil lined pan with olive oil

Spread out the oil and put cherry tomatoes on the foil, cut side up.  Place wedges on the foil, cut side up.

Peel garlic and place on the pan among the tomatoes.

Wash basil and add to the tomatoes, gently tearing the larger leaves.

Sprinkle the pan of tomatoes, garlic, and basil with balsamic vinegar and kosher salt.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on top.

Tomatoes and all the toppings

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are tender.

Remove from oven and blend together in a food processor till desired consistency.

In the food processor

Sauce will be thick.  Freeze in bags or  plastic freezer containers.  Makes about 3 pints.

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Cooking, Gardening, Nutrition, Recipes

 

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