Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekend Recipe - Hungarian Baked Vegetable Stew

I love Hungarian sweet paprika.  Hungary is a place with a large number of sweet and chili peppers and they make a sweet paprika that has all the smokiness and robustness of paprika, but is sweeter than a paprika made from chili peppers.  I love it because I can eat it without causing a flair up of my rosacea.  It is a wonderful ingredient in meat rubs and marinades and I use it in Paprika Chicken Rub, Barbeque Spice Blend, Italian Dressing and Marinade and several other blends.  This recipe proves it is also good on vegetables.  I found this recipe in a great cookbook called Herbs in the Kitchen by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger.  If you have a great number of root vegetables this is a wonderful wintertime baked dish you can serve as a main dish and it is perfect when the weather turns cold like it is this weekend here.  And freeze the extra, because it tastes better with age!

 Hungarian Baked Vegetable Stew 

•4 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 large shallots, diced
• 1 medium red or green sweet pepper, diced
• 1 medium red onion, diced
• 5 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 or 4 bay leaves
• 1 pound potatoes
• 2 large carrots
• 2 turnips or parsnips
• 1 rutabaga, about 4 inches in diameter
• 1 Daikon radish
• 1 tart green apple
• 19-ounce can of chopped tomatoes
• About 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
• 1 tablespoon light honey
• 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika (you can also use BYP Paprika Chicken Rub)
• 1 chili pepper, ground or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 3 cups rich red wine (of course a Hungarian Wine is best)
• 1/2 cup sour cream


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat and add shallot, pepper, and onion. Stir in the minced garlic and bay leaves, and cook for about 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Wash, peel if necessary, and rough chop potatoes, carrots, turnips or parsnips, radish, rutabagas, and apple. Add to skillet along with tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir in salt, paprika, chili pepper, parsley and red wine. Mix ingredients thoroughly and transfer to a lightly oiled earthenware or ceramic casserole. Cover and bake for 1 hour.  Reduce heat to 300º F and bake 1 hour longer. Remove the casserole from the oven and let stand, covered, for about 15 minutes. Serve in individual bowls, and pass with sour cream.

Monday, January 16, 2017

January is Hot tea month

To celebrate hot tea month this year, I dragged out the infusers and the teas I “have been meaning to try.” And put them front and center in the kitchen so that I can enjoy them morning and night.  I also took my hot pot to the office so I can make hot tea at work.  I think this will start a new and tastier habit for me in the office as well as show off my new tea blends as I make and test them in the weeks before I start to sell them.

So if you enjoy wrapping your hands around a warm cup of tea, you might want to make it a habit too. And if you need incentive, the evidence continues to mount that tea is good for you.

Heart health is the most notable benefit, says Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at Tufts University: "People who drink more tea do appear to have less risk of heart disease, and for those who have developed some cardiac event like a heart attack, those who are tea drinkers seem to have a lower incidence of a second event."

Herbal teas are more than just decaffeinated alternatives to regular black tea. In fact, they can be very powerful & beneficial, and whether you’re looking to improve your digestion, boost detoxification, curb your sweet tooth or if you need a natural sleep aid – there’s an herbal tea that can help! The secret is to buy the right tea & brew it the right way.

Tea is a bit like food – quality matters. There is the food in its natural state and then there’s the nicely packaged processed food, which is often void of any original goodness. In tea language, this means that the processed teabags with dust-like tea inside are more than likely devoid of any original aroma or nutritional value. Meanwhile, whole leaf teas are the very best choice and well worth the price difference. These teas have whole or slightly broken down pieces of leaves & stems and are not bagged but instead bought as a loose tea. These teas are full of uncompromised nutritional benefits, and aside from having a higher content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they also contain the fragile essential oils which are responsible for the medicinal properties of herbal tea. Loose and Fresh can truly make a difference to your health and improve your overall wellbeing. Check out the more than 25 varieties of Backyard Patch Herb Teas in our Etsy Shop.

After buying the right tea, brewing it right is just as essential. It all goes back to the beneficial essential oils. These oils are fragile and need to be preserved as best possible. Covering your tea while steeping it helps preserve these oils that otherwise easily escape in the steam, rendering the herb less effective medicinally.

Here are a few more useful brewing tips:
o    Make a whole pot of tea and use a tight lid to cover while steeping. Any tea pot with a lid or French press tea maker is good as long as it is covered up.  If you like your tea very hot get a cozy as well.  These are made by PawPrints onEtsy and are my favorite style that will fit any sizes of pot!
o    Let your tea steep for 10-15 minutes to maximize the health benefits of the herb.
o    Get a good tea cup infuser tool. The larger the better to give the leaf room to unfurl and release minerals and oils. We have been making beaded infusers for a year now.
o     Remember that herbal teas have medicinal properties and some of them can interact with certain medications. Check with your health care provider before taking any new herbal teas if you are on medication and if you are pregnant or nursing.

And finally, if you want to enjoy our teas and tea accessories like infusers, shortbreads and scones, use this discount code at checkout on Etsy for 20% off – TEASALE11

Friday, January 13, 2017

Spicy Rice Pilaf Weekend Recipe

This is an updated recipe from the 1950s when Spanish Rice” was all the rage.

½ cup chopped onion
2 Tbls olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup dry lentils, rinsed
1-16oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup salsa
1 uncooked long grain rice
1 cup frozen corn
1-2oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
1 tsp. chili powder

In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion in oil until tender.  Add broth and lentils.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes longer or until lentils and rice are tender.  Makes 12 servings.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Seven tips for surviving the Flu

Simplify your diet to veggies, grains, soups, bone/seaweed/and/or miso broths, tea and fresh water.

Take an immune booster every 1–2 hours; try Echinacea tea, elderberry syrup or St. John’s wort oil.
Sleep a lot.

Keep warm—cover up your feet, neck, ears and lower back.

Flu virus is transmitted in the nose and mouth, so keep them clean with light rinses of sea salt water or a drop of tea tree oil in water.

Do an electricity or media fast to let your nervous system recuperate and to give your adrenal glands a rest. Turn off the radio, TV, computer, cell phone, newspapers, magazines, junk mail and shopping. This practice helps you slow down, hear your internal voice and de-stress.

Avoid sweets and milk products (raw milk is okay) for a few days. Sugar feeds bacteria and increases inflammation; pasteurized cold milk increases mucus and congestion.

Make this wonderful herby broth and sip it from mugs while you bundle up on the couch with a good book.

Noodle Soup Broth

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 ½ cups water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
1 teaspoon thyme or oregano
1/2 cup carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

Thinly slice shiitake caps (makes about 2 1/2 cups.) In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine broth with water, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and herbs; bring to a simmer. Add mushrooms and carrot; simmer until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in sesame oil, and if desired, green onions.  If you want something heartier, add ramen noodles and chicken or tofu cubes when you add the carrots.  Serve warm and sip slowly.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Herb of the week Cooking with Herbs

I posted a resolution about sharing more recipes in 2017, but I thought I should make it easier for others to use herbal recipes.  Adding herbs to dishes provide a big punch of flavor to your food. But more than just flavor enhancers, herbs were pre-pharmaceutical medicine: They provide some serious health benefits.
So today’s Herb of the Week are the seven herbs you should keep on hand

Try them yourself and see if they don’t give your dishes some serious flavor:
   1.   Sage.  This vibrant grey-green herb provides a unique earthy flavor that’s simultaneously sweet and bitter.  Sage pairs perfectly with pork, legumes, and poultry.  Try cooking a boneless chicken breast in parchment paper with a few sage leaves, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Talk about warm, succulent flavor!  Sage helps lower blood sugar, prevent excessive perspiration, and provides antimicrobial properties (inhibits disease-causing microorganisms).
2.   Tarragon.  A sweet herb with slightly peppery flavor and hints of licorice, antioxidant-rich tarragon helps reduce free radical damage.  You often find it in French cuisine like omelets, fish and chicken.   Tarragon doesn’t play well with other herbs, so avoid combining with other strong herbs like rosemary, basil, and oregano.

3.   Thyme.  This delicate herb has many different varieties, such as, lemon, orange, and the classic French thyme.  Each adds its own distinct flavor. While it pairs well with any meat or fish, thyme seems destined for roasted chicken and tomatoes.  Research suggests antioxidant-rich thyme helps improve brain function. Don’t know about you, but I could use that boost!
   4.   Basil.  If you’ve dined at an Italian restaurant, you’ve probably tried basil. Think pesto, pasta, and caprese salad.  Basil is actually native to Asia, India, and Africa, so try adding it to some of your other ethnic dishes like curry.   Basil works as a sedative and helps sooth digestive issues as well as headaches.

5.   Rosemary. This hearty, pungent herb is fast friends with grilled meat and roasted fish, but also works well with lamb.  Rosemary’s flavor becomes milder in winter, so you may need to add more to winter stews.  Its powerful anti-inflammatory properties make rosemary a good choice for people with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.  Among its other benefits, rosemary aids in digestion, improves blood flow to the brain, and stimulates your immune system. Talk about a workhorse herb!
6.   Dill.  A relative of carrot and celery, this wispy herb traditionally helped treat gut issues. Dill aids in digestion, combats gas, and detoxifies the liver.  I can’t imagine salmon or crab cakes without a good hit of dill:  It brightens up seafood like no other herb.  Try baking salmon in parchment paper with some dill, lemon, and capers. See what I mean?
   7.   Marjoram.  An under-utilized herb related to oregano that provides a milder, sweet, spicy flavor.  Use it wherever you’d use oregano for a new spin on old favorites like marinara sauce or grilled chicken and lemon.  Besides being anti-microbial, both oregano and marjoram contain more antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables.

Remember dried herbs are more concentrated. If you’re subbing fresh, you’ll usually need to double or triple the amount. One teaspoon of dried rosemary would be two to three teaspoons of fresh rosemary.
One more tip: Tender herbs like, thyme, and dill should be added toward the end of cooking. Heartier herbs like rosemary can be added earlier in the cooking process.
If you need to restock your Herb Cabinet this season, check out our loose herbs here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bath Blend of the Month - Healing Salt Blend

This recipe contains baking soda which is used to cleanse and detoxify the body, and a blend of essential oils that are known for their cold-symptom-helping qualities. Since January is the height of flu season I thought this blend might be just what you need, especially after a stressful holiday season.

Healing Salt Bath Blend
  • 1 cup Epsom salts
    1 cup sea salt
    1 cup baking soda

    25 drops eucalyptus essential oil
    17 drops lavender essential oil
    10 drops tea tree essential oil
    10 drops pine or cedar essential oil
    5 drops peppermint essential oil
Directions:Measure out the salts and mix them together well, making sure to break up any clumps. I find that a large, wide, stainless steel bowl works best for blending the salts. Add the essential oils. Mix everything together well. Scoop the salts into jars or other air-tight containers.

Note: The essential oil blend is pretty flexible. If you don't have one of the oils, you can leave them out, or sometimes even substitute. The eucalyptus is the main part of the blend. The lavender is there to round it out a bit and give a bit of "relaxing" quality. Tea tree is a great anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Pine and peppermint are used for loosening up your nasal passages.

To Use: Add 4 to 6 Tablespoons to a running bath and soak away your symptoms.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Top Recipes in 2016

I posted more than 100 different recipes in 2016.  In late 2016 I started to sort and organize my immense collection of recipes (it fills 4 filing cabinet drawers,) so in 2017 we will be sharing even more from that enormous collection.  These are the top 10 recipes from my posts last year.  I thought I would gather them together so if you missed them, you can see what others are enjoying as well.

This year we will continue to dig into our stash of recipes and post one at least every weekend with more shared in the Herb of the Week posts too!

Here is a countdown of the top 10:

#10 In November 2016 I posted Five herbs of holiday wellness with a set of recipes in in and it ranks among the highest of the year, even though it was not posted until November.

#9 Spices must have been popular in 2016 because this post for Herb and Spice Day with recipes was also among the top 10 in 2016

Appetizers were very popular this year.  The 2 most clicked were
#8 A hummus recipe
#7 Muffalata Salsa

Chicken was a popular ingredient this year and this recipe was among the more visited.
#6 Chicken with Pineapple Sage

#5 Crockpot Chicken

#4 The most popular single recipe in 2016 was Charcoal Grilled Chicken

#3 And one popular recipe was not to be eaten but to be enjoyed, this bath salt blend was first posted in June as one of our Bath Blends of the month.

#2 This Punch was the second most popular recipe

#1 The top recipe with the most visits was my tribute to Dr. Seuss with a Ham and Green Herb Paste recipe!

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