Sunday, April 30, 2017

dandelion jelly

This year is my second year making dandelion jelly.  I found the recipe online and gave it a try and it was really good.  Every year I have acres of dandelions.  I do not spray them and there are too many to pull so I get these huge waves of yellow and now it is fun to do something with them.  The jelly is made by first steeping the petals in boiling water to make a dandelion tea.  Then the tea is mixed with lemon juice, pectin and sugar to create the jelly.

This week, before mowing, I 'harvested' about a gallon of the flower heads.  I just pulled the tops off of the plant and threw them in a container.  After that I brought them in the house and proceeded to separate the yellow petals from the green parts.  Only the yellow parts are used.  It is a bit tedious to separate them but a good project for television watching or podcast listening.  I gently pulled the yellow petals from the green base and when they were all separated I poured boiling water over them and let them stand overnight.  It is said that the green parts can be bitter so I tried to not get any green in with my petals.  If you are not growing your own dandelions you would want to choose flowers from an area that has not been sprayed.
my dandelion field AKA my front yard

The next morning I strained the tea.  The flower petals are discarded and the dark amber liquid is saved.  The tea is brought to a boil with the lemon juice and pectin and when boiling the sugar is added.  It is returned to a boil, allowed to boil for 1-2 minutes and then transferred to the jars and water bath canned.

Dandelion jelly


3 cups dandelion tea
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 box powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar

Place the tea and lemon juice in a pan.  Stir in the pectin and bring to a boil.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Continue to heat until it returns to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes.

Pour into prepared pint or half pint jars leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.  Apply the lids and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Begin timing when the water is boiling.

To make dandelion tea cover 4 cups of yellow petals with boiling water and allow to cool to room temperature or overnight if possible.  Strain.  I didn't have a full 4 cups of petals and used more water than three cups and I ended up with enough tea for two batches.  The flavor was good.  I did allow it to stand overnight.  It is possible that had I not left it to stand the longer period of time that it might have made for a weaker tea and less flavorful jelly.

The original recipe can be found here.  It includes a version using the liquid pectin instead of the powdered, which I have not tried.

Next I will be researching recipes for dandelion wine.

Joining Met Monday at BNOTP here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

arugula salad

This past weekend I spent a good part of the daylight at a painting party.  A bunch of us were helping paint Robb's house.  We all brought food so it was fun.  I took a salad both days.  The Saturday salad was one that I have made several times before: mixed greens from the greenhouse, goat cheese, candied pecans and apples with a balsamic vinaigrette.  Alas, no pictures of that salad.

On Sunday I tried a new recipe that I found in an e-cookbook called Salads that Inspire-A cookbook of Creative Salads.  Although I am seeding for the winter greenhouse I don't have a lot that is harvest ready yet but I did have some enough mixed greens for the Saturday salad and some arugula.  So I went looking for an arugula salad.  
arugula in the greenhouse
 The salad from the cookbook called for grilled watermelon, pistachios and mint.  It was topped with a honey lime dressing.  
watermelon on the grill
 I chopped the mint from the garden with the mezzaluna and added it to the torn arugula. 
mint
 We all thought it was pretty good.  The watermelon was only slightly softened and a little caramelized.  The arugula was young and not as peppery as it would get as it matured.  The mint and the lime in the dressing added a brightness that really made the salad. 
finished salad

Arugula Salad


Dressing
1/4 cup honey
1/4 lime juice
zest of one lime

Salad
1 watermelon
4 cups loosely packed arugula
olive oil for drizzling
salt (I used pink Himalayan)
2 cups chopped mint
1 cup unsalted chopped pistachios, toasted (I could only find dry roasted and they were good)
Freshly ground pepper

 Cut the watermelon in slices.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Grill 1-2 minutes per side.  Alternatively broil the watermelon.  They should be warmed and slightly charred.  Move the watermelon to a cutting board and remove the rind and cut into pieces.  Combine the dressing ingredients.  Add the pistachios and watermelon to the arugula and mint and toss.  Top with the dressing.

The arugula wilted  upon standing awhile so I would put the salad together right before serving.  I grilled the watermelon ahead of time so it had cooled but I think that slightly warm would be nice too.

Sharing with MM at BNOTP.


Monday, August 29, 2016

elderberry cordial

This year is the first year that my elderberry bushes have produced flowers and then berries.  The flowers are a white flat cluster.  The tree flowers in a rolling pattern with the lowest branches flowering first and the upper branches later.  I have harvested the ripe berries from the low branches and the top of the bush is just now flowering.  The berries are small, less than 1/4 inch in diameter and they form in clusters.  I picked the berries by trimming the cluster from the branch with a hand prumer.  Once picked I submerged them in water and then swished them gently.  I removed the clusters from the water and then set about to destem the berries.  The stems are slightly toxic so I worked carefully to make sure that no stems were missed.  Once they were all destemmed I placed a pint of berries in a quart mason jar and filled the jar with vodka.  Three one inch pieces of lemon rind are added to the jar.  Making sure that the white pith is removed as it is bitter.  The jars are sealed up and placed in a dark place to age.  Once the berries have steeped in the vodka for one to six months the vodka is strained and sugar is added to the vodka and it sits again.  My berry harvest was enough for two batches and a partial third batch.  My plan is to complete the process for each jar at a different number of months and see which amount of steeping is best liked by our family.

Elderberry Liqueur


1 pint fresh elderberries
1 quart vodka
3 1 inch pieces lemon rind, white pith removed
1/4-1/3 cup sugar

Put the washed, destemmed elderberries in a  quart jar.  Pour over the vodka.  Add the lemon rind.  Place a cover on the jar and put in a dark place for 1-6 months.  The longer it sits the darker it will become.

Once it has reached the level of darkness that is preferred strain the mixture into a second jar and add the sugar and shake to combine.  Return the jar to the cupboard for another few days or weeks.
The vodka is already taking on the color of the berries

A cordial or liqueur is usually served in one to two ounce amounts in a tiny glass.  It is served neat, no ice or mixer, and meant to be sipped.  I am acquiring a collection of such glasses, most vintage or antique, many discovered on thrift shop outings.

I talk about my collection here.

The original recipe can be found here. .   

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

stuffed pepper soup

This is a great soup full of garden veggies.  It is almost too hearty to call a soup.  Nikole made this soup as part of a healthy welcome home meal and it is great.  It has all the flavor of a stuffed pepper without having to stuff and bake the peppers.
Unfortunately this picture does not do it justice.  It goes together, start to finish, in less than an hour and serves 6. 

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 pound lean ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (just over 1/2 of a medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can low sodium beef broth
2 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, more for garnish
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 cup uncooked white long grain or brown rice

In a large pot heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot add the ground beef to the pot and season with the salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally while breaking up the beef until browned.  Drain and then pour onto a plate lined with paper towels, set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in the pot and add onions, red bell pepper and green bell pepper to the pot and saute for 3 minutes.   Then add the garlic and saute 30 seconds longer.  Pour in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, parsley, basil and oregano.  Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring just to a light boil and reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While soup simmers cook the rice according to package directions.  Once soup is done simmering stir in the cooked rice (see below) and serve with garnish of additional parsley and grated cheese (optional)

For a thinner soup add only part of the rice.  For a thicker soup add all of the rice.  If making the soup ahead of time or planning for leftovers add the cooked rice to each bowl as it is served rather than adding it to the pot to keep it from turning mushy.  Orzo can be substituted for the rice.    .





healthier stir fry with Thai peanut sauce

In an effort to make a stir fry with less sodium Nikole made a great stir fry with a Thai peanut sauce.  The stir fry included carrots, onions, celery, garlic, fresh ginger, bell pepper, cauliflower, water chestnuts, pea pods and chicken thighs.  The ingredients were cooked in stages in a wok in oil and then combined and cooked all together for the last couple of minutes.  The chicken was seasoned with Mrs. Dash.  Once the stir fry was done it was served over a small portion of rice and topped with the peanut sauce that added great flavor while being more healthy for those watching their sodium intake than the traditional soy sauce or soy sauce based sauce.  It was great.  There are some of our family that prefer less heat and so the red curry paste was left out.  It was still very good and it the omitted salt was not missed either. 

Thai Peanut Sauce


1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste (Nikole left this out but would recommend using it)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar or to taste
2 Tbsp ground peanuts (Nikole did not use this but would recommend)
Salt to taste (none added)

Place all the ingredients except for the ground peanuts in a saucepan and whisk together.  Place the pan on the stovetop and cook over low heat.  Continue to whisk until all ingredients are well combined.  Once it begins to simmer and bubble, remove from the heat.  Add the ground peanuts and drizzle over the cooked vegetables and chicken.

lemon chicken orzo soup

I received this recipe from my daughter after having a chance to sample it when she had made it.  The recipe included a caption which absolutely captures the essence of this soup perfectly describing it as full of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a lemony broth.  It was originally found by my younger daughter who shared it with my older daughter who cooked it for us and then shared the recipe.  It was so tasty and done in only 30 minutes.  Makes six servings.





Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 sprig of rosemary
 juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat.  Add chicken thigh pieces, season with salt and pepper and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes, then set aside.

Add remaining olive oil to the stock pot.  Add  garlic, onion, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in the chicken stock, bay leaves and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in the orzo, rosemary and chicken.  Cook until orzo is tender, 10-12 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.






Monday, May 18, 2015

sweet and sour meatballs

This is a recipe that I have had for over 30 years that was shared with me by a co-worker at my first nursing job. This recipe is for meatballs that are cooked separately and then added to the cooked sauce.  I bake my meatballs in the oven but they can be browned in a fry pan on top of the stove instead.  The cooked meatballs are then added to the sauce which has been cooked on top of the stove and then baked or put into a slow cooker.  If I am in a hurry I have served it right from the stove top and it is just as good.  I serve it over cooked white long grain rice.  I often make this for a crowd by tripling the meatballs and doubling the sauce.

Sweet and sour meatballs


meatballs
1 pound hamburger
small onion, chopped
2 slices white bread, cubed or made into crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
2/3 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients.  I used the food processor to make the bread slices into crumbs and then mixed everything in the stand mixer.  Form the meat mixture into small balls a little bigger than an inch and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  I bake mine on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch
15 ounce can pineapple chunks in heavy syrup
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce.

Drain the pineapple, reserving the syrup.  Place the cornstarch in a cold pan with reserved syrup and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved.  If you do this while it is cold it is easier to get it mixed together without any lumps.  Mix in the brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce and begin heating over medium or medium high heat, cooking until it thickens.  Once the brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce are combined add the pineapple chunks and green pepper.  When the sauce has thickened add the cooked meatballs and place in crock pot or bake in a casserole dish in the oven at 350 for 30-60 minutes.  Serve over cooked white rice. 

I first started making this when there was only one kind of brown sugar.  Either light or dark will work but I think the dark will give a richer, more interesting color to the sauce.