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Easy Healthy Recipes

In Easy Healthy Recipes/ Vegetarian Meals

Foraged Food: Dandelion Greens Couscous

dandelion greens recipe

This delightful foraged food recipe uses either dandelion greens and chickweed or store-bought greens such as spinach. If you are new to foraging, be absolutely sure of what you’ve picked before you eat it.

dandelion greens

Lunch made from couscous, black beans, dandelion greens and chickweeds. Delicious.

 

Dandelion Greens, Nutritional Powerhouse

Dandelion greens are a nutritional powerhouse! They are packed with vitamins A and K as well as folate. One cup has almost 2 grams of fiber and protein. Better still, they are free and growing abundantly around you.

If you choose to eat dandelion leaves, pick only those that have  not been sprayed with herbicide. Choose the dandelion greens from plants growing in your garden and away from the roadside.  I once saw elderly women picking dandelions along the Belt Parkway in New York City – not an ideal place given the car exhaust and road salt that the dandelions came into contact with on a regular basis.

[Tweet “#foragedfood recipe using dandelion greens www.homegardenjoy”]

Dandelion Greens Couscous Recipe

To make this recipe, you will need:

  • One box of couscous. I like the garlic parmesan flavored couscous for this recipe but you can use almost any flavor.
  • One cup of fresh greens. Dandelion leaves, chickweed, or spinach works fine.
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can of drained, rinsed black beans

Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Most recipes call for boiling water with oil or butter in it. Place the couscous seasonings and grain, cover, remove from the heat, and let the grains absorb the liquid.

While the couscous is fluffing up nicely, sauté the chopped greens in the butter until wilted but not overcooked. Add the drained, rinsed beans in and quickly saute for about a minute to warm them up.

When the couscous is done, add the warmed greens and beans, stir, and enjoy.  Makes 2 – 4 portions and can be vegan if you use olive oil for sautéing instead of the butter.

dandelion greens recipe

Dandelion leaves and chickweed add delicious greens to this simple recipe.

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In Dessert Recipes/ Easy Healthy Recipes

Raspberry Jelly Muffin Recipe

raspberry filled muffin recipe

This recipe results in sweet yet filling wrap-and-go breakfast muffins that have the spread baked right in. Make a batch on Sunday, wrap them individually in plastic, and pop them in the freezer. Then just grab and go. By the time you get to work or school they should be defrosted enough to enjoy or you can pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds or more until defrosted.

tea party

Muffin Recipes and Tea for Two – or Three

This Monday I had a rare treat – two hours in my schedule for friends. Conversation. Women with similar interests. Friends. Let me say that again – friends!

One of the hardest aspects of moving from New York to Virginia was leaving behind four women who had shared my ups and downs, triumphs and failures, life and death events since literally the moment I was born. My older sister. Close friends from grammar school, high school, college and the work force. These were women with whom I had a regular open invitation to their homes. We scheduled Friday evening ‘girl’s night out’ dinners at bistros in Huntington and Northport. Conversation, shopping trips, family parties, the doors were always open to one another.

Then I moved, and while there were many friendly people locally, making friends took time. It still does. People who I thought were friends turned out not to be friends – shades of sixth grade all over again. But others, introduced to me by early acquaintances and friends in my new home, have began to blossom into those long-lasting women friendships that thrive over tea, conversation, and the occasional shopping trip. And if our shopping trips are now to local Amish grocery stores, garden centers and craft fairs, well, so much the better!

This past week, Helen and her daughter Serena came over for tea. About two years ago they came for tea with Serena’s sister, Abby, and I didn’t understand that ‘tea’ could mean more than a mug of hot water and a tea bag. I began exploring ‘high tea’ fueled by my love of Victoria magazine and old-fashioned elegance.  I decided that this year, I’d make my own version of ‘ high tea’ for my friends.

tea party

We had a delightful time (I’m in the red sweater on the far left) and Helen Brough pie. Pie! A woman after my own heart. More importantly, you know you’ve found a friend when someone brings you a bag of – gasp! treasure! – dried nettles. As in, herbal nettles for nettle tea! She has a supply from a friend in Pennsylvania. I bought garden seeds and plan to grow stinging nettles in pots on the deck for medicine tea. She must think I am crazy….but all herbalists and gardeners are to some extend, I think.

So while we sipped tea from my favorite brocante china, and my cats played tag and leaped on the table to steal pie crumbs, we nibbled on these muffins. They are perfect for tea, for snacks, and of course, for breakfast. Enjoy!

Raspberry Jelly Filled Muffins

You can substitute any flavor of jelly for the raspberry jelly – grape, strawberry, orange, apricot.

Do not use paper muffin cups to bake these muffins. Some of the jelly might leak out onto the bottom of the muffin cup. If you use paper, it sticks, and will tear the muffin apart leaving you with nothing but crumbs. Use old-fashioned shortening to grease the muffin tin thoroughly. I use a paper towel, swiped inside the shortening can and then rubbed inside each muffin cup on the metal tin to grease the pans.

muffin recipe

Grease the muffin tin by hand using shortening.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease one 12-cup muffin tin.

Mix by hand:

  • 1 and 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

In a separate bowl, mix:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, well beaten

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix by hand the wet ingredients into the dry. Then place about 1 tablespoon of muffin batter into each of the cups, filling it 1/3.

muffin recipe

raspberry muffins

Place one teaspoon of your favorite jelly on top of each 1/3 filled muffin cup.

Then place the remaining batter over the top of the jelly. Each muffin tin should be about 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes then let cool for five minutes before removing them from the muffin tins. Serve warm.

final raspberry filled muffins

 

Enjoy and may you find friendship, tea, laughter, and nettles (if you want them) as medicinal as I do!

raspberry filled muffin recipe

 

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1 In Easy Healthy Recipes

Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

sweet potato fries recipe

 

Even just writing this recipe for sweet potato fries is making me crave them. I am new to the world of sweet potato French fries.

I first enjoyed them at a restaurant here in Farmville when I went there with my friend, Annette, for lunch. They were so yummy I ordered them at the Fishin’ Pig, an eatery just outside of town, when I went out for dinner with my husband around Christmas time.

Now it’s February and I have a basket of garden-grown sweet potatoes in the pantry. I’m sick of baking them, baking them in a casserole, and making pies and soup out of them (although the soup was really good). I decided to try my own hand at making a sweet potato fries recipe.

Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

I don’t own a deep fryer and I really don’t enjoy deep-fried foods. I also find that stovetop frying is messy, and I end up spending twice as long cleaning the kitchen as I do cooking or enjoying my food. I looked for an oven-frying recipe so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the oil spatters.

This recipe resulted in tasty fries in just about half an hour of cooking time. My first attempt resulted in soggy fries, but the smaller fries crisped nicely, and I think if I cut the sweet potatoes into thinner shoe-string style potatoes they would have been just right.

To make this recipe, you’ll need one large sweet potato for two servings. Parchment paper is a “must” mostly to absorb the oil and prevent the fries from burning. You can find baking parchment in any grocery store near the baking aisle. Sometimes it is located near the aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

Ready to get cooking?

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 or smaller strips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • heavy baking sheet covered with parchment paper

Seasoning Mix

  • 1/4 teaspoon chive salt mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Dash of paprika and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degree Fs. Make sure the oven is HOT. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes and place the strips in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with a big spoon until all of the strips are coated with oil.

Next, mix the seasonings together. I used a small Pyrex glass bowl for this but a measuring cup would do the trick. As you stir the oil-coated sweet potatoes, drizzle the seasoning mix over them until they are coated with the mixture.

Place the seasoned strips on the parchment-paper covered baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes then use a spatula to turn the fries over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. I poured them onto a paper towel to blot up the excess oil before plating them for dinner.

What Is Chive Salt?

Chive salt is a culinary herbal salt made from fresh chives and kosher salt. I made herbal salt in a coffee grinder in the fall. You grind the herbs and salt together then pour it onto a baking sheet in a warm (150 degree or less) oven to dry and crisp the herbs. Once dry, the salt is poured into salt shakers and enjoyed as a seasoning.

I made chive salt and use that for this recipe, but any other spicy herbal salt will do: basil, oregano, parsley.

I did not make any kind of dipping sauce with this recipe. It was too yummy to dip!

I hope you enjoyed this #foodiefriday recipe. Happy gardening and keep growing (and cooking with those delicious garden fruits, vegetables and herbs!).

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In Dinner Recipes/ Easy Healthy Recipes

Autumn Waldorf Salad Recipe with Leftover Pork Loin

autumn waldorf salad recipe with leftover pork loin

Have you ever looked at leftovers and thought, “What in the world am I going to do with this?”

That’s what I thought when I saw the three sad-looking slices left over from last night’s roast pork loin. The pork roast was delicious, but what do I do with leftover pork?

I could make a stir fry, but it suddenly occurred to me how much I love the taste of apples with pork. I still have fresh apples from our monster apple harvest –

 

– so why not make a Waldorf salad with added pears and pork loin?

The salad came out fantastic! Here is the recipe I came up with today. It blends the sweet autumn tastes of pears, apples, and roasted pork with celery and a creamy dressing. I served it on a bed of lettuce as a lunchtime salad but you could also enjoy it without.

What if you don’t have leftover pork? Make the salad anyway but sprinkle it with walnuts for a little twist on the fall Waldorf salad. Bon appetit!

Autumn Waldorf Salad Recipe with Leftover Pork Loin

Serves 2 large portions

You will need:

  • 2 medium-sized tart or medium sweet apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 large Bartlett pear
  • 1 large stalk of celery
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooked, diced leftover roasted pork loin OR walnuts

 

Clean, peel, and dice the apples, pears, and celery. Mix in a bowl with the diced pork, cutting off any fat that remains on the slices before dicing it. Mix mayo and lemon juice, then stir together. Serve on lettuce. Couldn’t be easier!

Happy fall, keep growing!

autumn waldorf salad recipe with leftover pork loin

3 In Canning and Food Preservation/ Easy Healthy Recipes

Recipe for Lemon Parsley Jelly

Have you ever looked at your herb garden and wondered what you would do with all of that parsley?

Aside from feeding these guys: (Eastern swallowtail butterfly caterpillar)

caterpillar on parsley

Parsley is often used as a garnish but it offers tremendous nutrition. Contained within its leafy green leaves is a blend of vitamin K and vitamin C, folate, and iron. Its volatile oils include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. Its flavonoids include apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin. What does that mean to you? It means an herb that acts as a nutritive and diuretic herb.

I’ve stir-fried parsley into dishes calling for leafy greens with excellent results. I’ve also added it to salads, but the same volatile oils that give it such a strong scent also give it a strong flavor when it’s eaten raw. It’s not everyone favorite flavor.

What to do, then, when you have an abundance of parsley? Our ancestors made savory jams and jellies to flavor their foods throughout the winter months. Jellies and jams were also served the way that we would serve a dessert, simply placed in a  little cup with a dab of cream on top.

Parlsey-lemon jelly is similar to the recipe that I made a few weeks ago for cranberry-basil jelly. It uses a strong infusion of parsley, along with a fruit juice, sugar, and pectin, to make a sweet and savory jelly that, when tinted with a bit of green food coloring, would make a wonderful Christmas gift!

Here is the recipe that I used to make this batch of lemon-parsley jelly. As with the cranberry-basil jelly, the recipe is inspired, with many updates, from the book Herbs with Confidence by Bertha Reppert.

lemon parsley jelly

Recipe for Lemon Parsley Jelly

This recipe makes about eight half-pint jars of jelly. Have a hot water bath canner ready along with clean jars, new lids, and jar sealing rings, along with your favorite set of canning tools.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 to 2 cups of fresh, chopped parsley
  • 4 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh or bottled pure lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons of powdered classic fruit pectin
  • 4-6 drops of green food coloring

First, make an infusion of parsley. To do this, clean and chop the parsley into a large heat-safe bowl. Boil water. Pour boiling water over the parsley in the bowl. Put a heat-safe lid on the bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes. Strain and save the water, placing the parsley into your composting bin. The water is now an herbal infusion which will form the base of the jelly.

Pour 3 cups of the parsley infusion into a heavy saucepan, turn the heat on high, and add the lemon juice and pectin.  Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a full boil. Add the sugar and keep stirring. Bring it back to a full boil and add the food coloring. Boil it hard for one full minute. Then, turn off the heat. Skim the foam from the top. Pour the jelly mixture into jars, placing lids and rings on them and tighten the screw bands. Place filled jars into the canning pot and when the water in the canning pot comes to a full boil, process for 10 minutes. Allow to stand in pot after lid is removed after 10 minutes, then remove the jars to a heat-safe space to enable the seals to set. Check seals. Date and label, and allow to cool. Enjoy!

lemon parsley jelly

Finished lemon parsley jelly

 

herbal jelly

Doesn’t this look pretty? Lemon-parsley jelly, left; cranberry-basil jelly, right.

 

 

2 In Canning and Food Preservation/ Easy Healthy Recipes/ Herb Garden

Cranberry Basil Jelly Recipe

What do you do when you’re drowing in basil? That’s how I described the bounty from my garden this past week. The cinnamon basil didn’t grow, the holy basil didn’t grow, but the Genovese basil? Abundant, beautiful, silky, emerald green, bee-attracting bushes everywhere in my garden.

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And when life hands you an abundance of basil, you get creative…and make jelly out of it. Here, my first attempt at making an herbal jelly and the recipe for cranberry basil jelly.

Warning: it’s addictive. And delicious.

Basil from the Summer Herb Garden

I planted flats of basil seedlings this spring, unsure if the seeds would germinate. It was an older package of seeds that I hadn’t bothered to date, and it was already open. Sometimes, older seeds don’t germinate as well as fresh seeds.

In this case, the basil did germinate. I had so many plants that I tucked them in everywhere in the raised bed vegetable garden as well as throughout my flower garden. I figured that if they grew well in the flower garden, the bees would enjoy them. Bees love basil.

The abundance of basil this year meant that I could share it with friends, dry plenty of it for winter use, and experiment with many recipes I’ve earmarked to try when the herbs were finally ready.

I found a great herb book called Herbs with Confidence through the Paperback Swap Club I belong to. I took a chance and ordered it since I enjoy collecting herb books. This little paperback, dated 1986 and with the last printing date of 1990, features inspiration quotes, growing information, and herbs with recipes.

The recipe I was drawn to was one for herbal jelly. I knew you could make mint jelly, of course. What’s a roast lamb without mint jelly? But I did not know you could make jellies out of parsley, basil, lemon balm, thyme, and other herbs.

I decided to make the herbal jelly recipe from this book and use some of that basil from the garden.

Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

Adapting Older Recipes to Modern Knowledge

The recipe Bertha Reppert includes in the book is an older one. I have found similar ones in cookbooks and documents dating back to around 1864, and herbal jellies seemed to have been popular during the Victorian era.

It’s a vague recipe, however, in that the Reppert doesn’t specify a lot of very important information. For example, she says to use “one bottle of liquid pectin.” How big a bottle? Three ounces, six ounces, eight, ten, a hundred? Who knows?

She also does not include canning information but instead recommends pouring the jelly into jelly jars and sealing with paraffin. According to what I have read, that type of canning was popular in the early 20th century and prior to 1900 but faded out of use around 1960 or 1970. New, metal canning lids have seals that last longer and are safer to use.

Aside from those two problems, I also had the problem of what to use as the base for the jelly. The original recipe makes jelly out of water infusion of basil, but I wanted more flavor and color and I don’t like using artificial color. Reppert suggested substituting cranberry juice. There’s just one catch; did she mean all natural cranberry juice or is cranberry juice cocktail aka Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail an acceptable substitution?

Deep breath…I decided to adapt the recipe to what I had on hand. The book I’m always raving about, the  Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, came to my rescue. The recipe for mint jelly in that book calls for 10 minutes of water bath processing, so I opted for that.

The best book on canning and home preserving – ever. 

I also opted for the Ocean Spray cranberry juice cocktail. We’d stocked up on bottles of it when it was on sale since my family likes it.

As for the liquid pectin, I had to make an educated guess. I purchased it in pouches since that was the only type of liquid pectin I could find. Each pouch was three ounces. I doubled the recipe to use up more basil, so I decided to use both pouches.

Ready? Here’s the recipe for cranberry basil jelly.

Recipe for Cranberry Basil Jelly

To make this jelly, you will need a water bath canner and eight-pint canning jars with new lids. I found extra larger 12-ounce jelly jars on sale, so I used six of those.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, rinsed
  • 5 cups of cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1/2 cup of white vinegar
  • 8 cups of sugar
  • 6 ounces (two pouches) of liquid pectin

 

Place the washed basil leaves in a large ceramic bowl. Bring the cranberry juice to a boil in a separate pot, then pour it over the basil leaves. Place a lid or a dinner plate over the top of the bowl and let it steep for 15 – 30 minutes.

When the time is finished, remove the cover and strain the herbs out, reserving all the cranberry juice. It is now infused with the basil. Pour the cranberry juice infusion into a large saucepan. Add the vinegar and sugar, and cook it on high heat until all the sugar dissolves.

As soon as the mixture boils, add the liquid pectin and stir constantly. Keep stirring and boil it hard for one minute, stirring constantly. It’s going to foam up but that’s okay. You’ll deal with that later.

When the time is up, turn off the heat. Quickly skim off the foam. Pour the jelly mixture into canning jars, wipe the rims, and place the lids. Tighten screw band lids to finger-tight. Place in a hot water bath canner with at least one inch of water covering the tops of the lids. Place the lid on your canning pot and turn up the heat, following the directions in your favorite canning book (see above) for water bath canning procedures and safety.

Processing time is 10 minutes at a full boil. When the time is up, uncover the canning pot and wait five minutes before using a jar lifter to remove the jars. Let cool, label, and store for up to a year.

cranberry basil jelly

This jar is an antique jar without a seal. I put this one into the refrigerator. The jars behind it are apples from my orchard, which I canned before working on the jelly recipe.

cranberry basil jelly

Cranberry basil jelly poured into Ball canning jars with modern seals. These are ready for the hot water bath canner.

Using Cranberry Basil Jelly

Like pepper jelly, cranberry basil jelly is a savory jelly. Americans have lost their taste for savory jellies. We like sweet foods and savory jellies may seem strange to our palate.

I spooned the jelly onto Ritz crackers and enjoyed it with a glass of iced tea. You could also spread it on fancy breads, water crackers, or saltines for a delicious treat.

cranberry basil jelly

It’s tea time! A treat fit for a queen.

The taste is a great layering of flavors. First is the sweet taste of cranberry, followed the vinegar tartness. Lingering on the tongue is the taste of basil, the lush swan song of the summer herb garden.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe for cranberry basil jelly. I also experimented with making herbal basil salt, which I will share with you in an upcoming recipe.

Happy gardening! Keep growing!

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