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Posts Tagged ‘using herbs’

It’s a busy time. There seems to be a lot going on and I don’t seem to be catching up on certain things, yet I am getting other things done. So anytime I can make a quick meal, it really helps.

Celery Leaf

Celery Leaf

Spinach growing season is over here and my spinach has bolted and I am patiently waiting for seeds to I can harvest them and then get the next phase planted out there. I picked on last large batch of spinach and had plans to saute it and freeze it for meals later, but meal plans can change rather quickly around here. I also had some local chicken and carrots in the refrigerator that needed to get used up. Chicken salad came to mind, but I haven’t managed to make any bread in a few weeks.

Chicken salad

Chicken salad

As I gazed into the refrigerator I decided that the spinach would get used to make chicken salad wraps. Brilliant!

Add spinach

Add spinach

I ran out back and pulled up a bunching onion and also snipped several stalks of celery leaf. Chicken salad coming up!

Lunch!

Lunch!

The meal was quick, easy, and healthy. In fact, I am running in several directions right now and I had a repeat of this meal for dinner too! Yum x 2!

What do you do to throw together a quick lunch?

Sincerely, Emily

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I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but the warmer days have me thinking about the Spring/Summer garden planting.

We have already hit 90F here in South Texas. That is just too hot, WAY too soon for me. Last week we had another cooler down that was right up my alley and it had me opening the bedroom windows at night to cool the me down!

Tabouli

Tabouli

I try hard to purchase veggies in season, but I had an itch (and an event to bring a dish to) to make Tabouli (click on the word “Tabouli” to link to the recipe that I posted back in July of 2013). I picked and used as much as I could from the gardens; parsley, mint, cilantro, onion. But I did have to purchase things like cucumber and tomato (oh I can’t wait to pick that first fresh tomato!)

I am behind in my seed starting, but my tomato seedlings are up and a few of the pepper seeds are starting to sprout. I did pick up some heirloom and non-GMO seedlings at The Natural Gardener a few weeks ago. They are already potted up into gallon containers. The Natural Gardener didn’t have their pepper plants in yet, so I will check back in with them, as well as check a few other local nurseries to find some organic ones.

Reality check: last wee our temps are back in the “Texas Winter” range. We have been 25F at night with a few days that didn’t get about 45F (I know that is a heat wave for some of you out there.) so my seedlings are living in the garage and in the house for while.

What type of seeds will you be starting to prepare for the upcoming gardening season?

Sincerely, Emily

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This past Sunday a few of us gave you a glimpse at what we have growing on our gardens. This week I wanted to share with you what I do with some of that fresh produce that comes out of our garden.

One of the salads that I make a lot is tabouli (or tabbouleh). It is great in the heat of the summer not to have to turn on the stove-top or the oven.bulgar tabouliSome tabouli recipes you find will have you pour boiling water over your bulgar, but I just soak mine. Again, any reason not to turn on that heat-producing appliance!

This salad can be made with the traditional way using bulgar or cracked wheat, but it can also be made using quinoa (need to follow quinoa cooking instructions for that)

Tabouli

  • 2 cups bulgar or cracked wheat
  • 1 tbsp.  salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 chopped mint

Put your bulgar in a bowl or sauce pan and cover it with water an inch above the bulgar. The bulgar will soak most or all that water up and you may need to add more. I let mine sit for at least 45 minutes, usually longer. The last thing I want it to take a bite and come down on a hard piece of wheat.

Chopping Mint

Chopping Mint

If you do end up with more water that your bulgar soaked up, just use a mesh colander and strain it.

While your bulgar is soaking up that water, start chopping all your herbs and vegetables. It is up to you whether you want to de-seed your cucumbers and tomatoes.

I toss things together as I chop. Once your bulgar is ready, toss it with all the vegetables and herbs. Mix your lemon juice and oil olive together ad pout it over your bulgar mixture and toss again.

You want to allow time for all the flavors of the herbs and dressing to mingle so give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes to let everything marinate before serving. If you are in the area of the kitchen, give it a toss and stir as you walk by to bring any of the marinade up into more of the tabouli.

If you want your tabouli heavy on the vegetable and herb side, either double the amounts of the herbs and veggies or knock the bulgar amount down by half. Up to you! This makes a pretty big bowl.

I love making this using all the fresh herbs from the gardens along with the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It is a great way to celebrate summer and the harvest from your garden or local farmers markets.

What are you cooking with things from your garden?

Sincerely, Emily

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LemonI am starting to see posts around blog-land about lemons coming into season. Lemon is a favorite fruit  and used in so many different ways for many people for so many reasons. Lemonade on a hot summer day. Lemon cakes. Candied lemon peels. I could go on and on and on.

For a recent cookie exchange with an herbal culinary group that I am involved in I thought long and hard about what I was going to make. Last year I had the brilliant idea to make cardamon peanut brittle, which didn’t work and it forced me to regroup and come up with something else. The day before I needed to have 12 dozen herbal cookies I fell back on a basic Mexican Wedding cookie and added the cardamon to it. They turned out great.

This year I made rosemary lemon cookies. Man-o-man were they good.

RosemaryRosemary-Lemon Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter – soft

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp snipped fresh rosemary

2 tsp finely grated lemon peel

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

Rosemary-Lemon cookies

Line cookie sheet with parchment.
Beat butter, sugar, rosemary, lemon, baking powder, salt and vanilla in electric mixer until completely combined.
Beat in flour, one cup at a time until it is all combined.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
Flatten balls with the bottom of a glass that is buttered and dipped in sugar.
Bake at 400F for approx. 8 min, or until lightly browning on edges.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.
Transfer to cooling rack

Makes approx 40 cookies

You will taste the lemon right away and after a few seconds have gone by the rosemary flavor will come through ever so slightly. I loved that.

I also loved the thinness and crunch that these cookies had, and I can see myself using this cookie base for other herbs and spices like ginger and cinnamon.

Do you prefer a crunchy, crispy cookie or one that is soft?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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And the holiday season begins. It hardly seems fair that we just get done with all the awful political ads, and they start right in on all the awful holiday ads, but oh well. Here at NDiN, I think we’ll turn off the tv and spend the week cooking.

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Here’s the turkey, which I (Xan) will actually be making for the December holidays rather than Thanksgiving this year. My sister-in-law will make Thanksgiving.

Turkey with apple-raisin stuffing
from Sphere magazine, circa 1975
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. butter
1 quart chopped apples (I use Granny Smiths)
1 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1 egg
1/4 c. apple cider
1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Saute onion in butter over medium heat until transparent (about 5 minutes); stir in apples and celery, simmer uncovered over medium heat sitrring occasionally (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, lightly beat egg and stir in, stir in remaining ingredients. Stuff bird. Oops. Find a recipe/instructions for roasting a stuffed turkey. Do that. (Actually Alton Brown says make the stuffing separately, cook the bird unstuffed and spatchcocked- you heard me- and then stuff it on the sly when no ones looking, during the “resting” period after you take it out of the oven.)

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Ahhh, where does that time go. I (Sincerely, Emily) am involved in a lot of things this year that are taking me away from home during the day and I find that I seem to be scrambling to get anything done right now. In terms of our Thanksgiving dinner, so far, the only two things I have thought about are the turkey and the stuffing. The local man I was getting a turkey from let me know that the turkeys did not put on weight, therefore, he has no turkey for me. I scrambled to find an organic turkey this past week. Yesterday I started making bread for my stuffing.

I use my normal no-knead bread recipe.  Then I add seasonings.

No-Knead Bread

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp yeast (original recipe is 1/8 tsp, but I never got much of a rise so I added more!)
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 cup water (adjusted for your flour

Before I add the water I add the following herbs and spices

  • 2 T dried oregano  or minced fresh oregano
  • 2 T dried minced onions (or fresh)
  • 2 T dried ground sage or minced fresh

Mix dry ingredients together then start adding your water a little at a time.  I tend to never add the full water, I prefer my dough on the dry side. I then cover my bowl with plastic and let it sit over night or all day or until I remember to get back to it. I then knead the dough (yes, I knead the no-knead dough!) just a bit to pull it all together.) I then place it in an oiled bowl and let it rise about an hour or until it has doubled in size. I pre-heat the oven and the crock pot insert to 500F. I bake the bread, covered, for 30 minutes at 500F, then 15 minutes at 450F uncovered.  (see my above link for photo of crockpot insert)  (you can use dutch oven.) I allow the bread to completely cook before cutting it into cubes to dry for stuffing. The bread has all the wonderful herbs and spices already in it, but I do tend to add more when I make the stuff.

Ok, now I am in the mood for the holidays… or at least the food part!

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What are you making for Thanksgiving?

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