Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cucumber Mint Salad - Weekend recipe

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Turkey.  It goes well with chicken, lamb and salmon.  It is fresh and bright and slightly minty and perfect to brighten up your summer fare.


Cucumber Mint Salad
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbls fresh spearmint leaves, minced
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
dash of salt and pepper to taste
3 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients, except cucumbers in a medium bowl and refrigerate.  Slice cucumber and stir into bowl just before serving and garnish with additional mint.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Strawberry Basil Dip - Weekend Recipe

The other day I had lunch with and spoke to the Antiquarian Study Group of Naperville.  We had great summer sandwiches and veggies with dip and a wonderful fruit salad with great cream cheese dip.  That got me to thinking about fruit dips and I located this perfect recipe to share.  It takes only 10 minutes and a blender to create this, and you will adore it.



Strawberry Basil Dip
This recipe is perfectly timed for using your current local fresh ingredients!  Basil, which is naturally sweet, combines with strawberry and honey to make a perfect dip that is good on lots of things, not just fruit.

6 ounces fresh strawberries hulled (1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened (1/4 cup)
3 Tbls honey (herbal honey, like lavender will add a nice touch)
1 Tbls packed fresh basil leaves, purple or green or even lemon all work well


In the blender container or food processor, combine strawberries, cream cheese and honey.  Cover and blend until smooth.  Stop occasionally to scrape the sides as needed.  Add basil and pulse until just chopped.  Serve immediately.  You can make ahead and chill for up to 8 hours, then serve a room temp.  Makes 1 ½ cups.

Friday, June 16, 2017

National Vinegar Day! - Make a vinegar and a marinade

June 16 is National Vinegar Day and I know why it is in the summer.  This is the perfect time of year to make pickles, marinades and salad dressing which all use generous amounts of Vinegar.

I am using this day as a great excuse to write about making herbal vinegars and what to do with them. You can and should only make an herbal vinegar with fresh herbs.  It allows you to capture the flavor of the fresh herbs and save it for use in winter when fresh herbs are scarce.

For step-by-step directions on making herbal vinegar check out my How To.

Here are some perfect summertime recipes to try out with your newly made vinegar.

Cucumber Salad
2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup herbal vinegar (chive, chive blossom, lemon or thyme will all work well)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbls. salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:
Arrange alternate layers of cucumber, zucchini and onions in a deep bowl.  Mix vinegar and sugar until dissolved.  Add water, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Drain any water from the cucumbers before adding dressing.  Pour dressing over cucumbers, onion and zucchini and allow to marinade for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Herbal Vinegar Salad Dressing
1/4 cup herbal vinegar (lemon, thyme or chives will do)
3/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme
1 tsp fresh Parsley, chopped
Dash of garlic powder


Directions:
Mix together in a glass jar or cruet, shake well.  Refrigerate one hour before serving.  Keep remainder in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Lemon Herbal Marinade
1/4 cup lemon herb vinegar (any combination of lemon herbs is good)
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
4 strips of lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, or a mix of all four
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Combine the vinegar, pepper and salt in a nonreactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are dissolved. Add the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and basil. Stir or whisk in the olive oil. The virtue of this marinade is its freshness: Use it within 1 to 2 hours of making. Stir again before using.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Making Herbal Rub Mixtures for Grilling

This was originally posted on the Supporting Artist Blog back in June 2013.  That Blog is now gone so I thought I would share the recipes here, in case you missed them back then.  For details on What Meat Rubs are and how to use them see this previous post - What is an Herbal Meat Rub?


With Father’s day right around the corner, I thought I would share a few ways to make some great blends of herbs to use for grilling everything from beef and chicken to fish and vegetables.
The Backyard Patch makes several Grilling Rub and Marinade Mixes (LINK) 

Two of the blends are nice and spicy for those who like a robust meat rub:
N’OrleansSecret - This blend will add some punch to everyday dishes and makes a great meat rub for grilling as well as a way to zip up your ketchup for burgers.  Just try 1 Tbls. N’orleans Secret in a cup of tomato ketchup for a spicy summer condiment. 

FourSpice Meat Rub - A nod to the fact that when barbequing the need for a stronger flavor that will hold up to fire is sometimes required,  we created this spice blend (with a few herbs) that can be used as a meat rub.  You can also use it to create a wonderful warm BBQ sauce.  Blend 1 tablespoon Backyard Patch Four Spice Meat Rub with 1 cup ketchup or tomato sauce and a bit of salt to taste, then warm in a sauce pan and serve hot.

If you want to craft your own rubs and seasoning, here are a few blends to try.  At the bottom of the post are a couple of recipes to go with these blends.

Bay Blend for Meat & Poultry
3 parts powdered bay leaf
2 parts rubbed sage
2 parts dried savory
1 part dried marjoram
1 part dried thyme
1 part dried basil
1 part dried rosemary
½ part garlic powder
½ part onion powder

Mix all ingredients. Store in lidded container. Rub into meat or poultry before roasting or broiling, or grilling.

No Salt Seasoning Mix
Good sprinkled on eggs, meat or chicken.  Use 1 to 2 Tbls. as a meat rub.  Blend with butter or margarine over fresh steamed vegetables.   You can even combine 1 Tbls. of the blend with 2/3 cup oil and 1/3 cup vinegar for a tangy salad dressing.

2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. basil, crumbled
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. granulated garlic
½ tsp. thyme, crumbled
½ tsp celery seed
½ tsp parsley, crumbled
½ tsp curry powder (optional)
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well.

Peppered Lavender Beef Rub
1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoons whole white peppercorns
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender flowers
Pinch of savory
 
In a small spice or coffee grinder, coarsely grind the black peppercorns, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, thyme, and lavender flowers; rub mixture all over the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight (preferably).

This is good on a tenderloin roast, rolled roast, steaks or even pounded Round steak.  Just sear the meat then broil or crock pot cook it until fully cooked.  The recipe amount is calculated for a 3 to 4 pound roast

Fish & Poultry Rub
2 parts sorrel
1 part lemon balm
 ½ part thyme

This blend can also be made with fresh ingredients.  Just finely mince the fresh herbs using the same proportions add to a bit of olive oil and spread on your fish or chicken like a paste.  When using dry herbs combine ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Use as a rub or stuff the cavity before poaching or baking.  Use about 1/3 less on you fish or poultry when using dry versus fresh herbs in this mixture.

Blackening Rub
4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. black pepper
1.2 tsp. cayenne pepper (adjust for personal taste)
2 tsp. garlic granules
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt (optional)
Combine the dry ingredients in a screw-top jar, using more cayenne if a hotter mix is required; shake well

Recipe to try

Blackened Chicken

6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
8 Tbls butter, melted

A generous portion of  Blackening Rub.

Pound the chicken breasts lightly until thinner and of an even thickness. Heat barbecue or cast-iron skillet or grill pan for about 10 minutes, until very hot.

Dip the chicken into melted butter and sprinkle the spice mixture on both sides. Cook the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side, until a black crust forms and the chicken is cooked through. (This cooking process will create a lot of smoke and is best done outdoors. Have a strong exhaust fan operating if cooking indoors.)

Pork Roast with Horseradish & Herbs
Serves 8

1  2-pound lean boneless pork rib roast or loin roast, all visible fat removed
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

2 Tsp. Backyard Patch Butter N Cheese Herb Mix

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place pork roast in a shallow baking pan. Rub horseradish over the surface of meat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over roast. Place roast, uncovered, in oven. Cook about 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer registers 160°F. Let stand 5 minutes. Slice to serve.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Broiled Buttery Shrimp - Weekend Recipe


1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls. Steak sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined


In a large bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, salt, thyme, pepper, hot pepper sauce.  Add shrimp and toss to coat.  Arrange shrimp in a single layer in a greased 10 x 15 x 1 inch baking pan.  Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, turning once.  Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Shower bag - Bath Blend of the Month

I go the idea for this recipe from my friend Tina at The Essential Herbal.  She posted a recipe for Bath Scrubby on her herb blog back in 2013 that I have played around with ever since and this is my version of that.


I make shower bags with herbs and soap that can be used to wash with.  The key with a shower bag is the herbs must come in contact with the skin to impart their herbal properties. My solution was to put soap in it so that you would put it in contact with the skin.  Tina's recipe uses only herbs and you just wipe it over the skin after wetting it.  I like the variations that were possible with her recipe and came up with a blend that would soothe my sensitive skin and remove irritation from being outside and sun exposure.

Flower Bath Scrubbie

2 Tbls. calendula petals
2 Tbls  rose petals
1 Tbls  lavender buds
1 Tbls  chamomile flowers
1 Tbls  thyme or sage flowers

This makes about 3/8 to 1/3 of a cup of blend that is enough to fill one 3 x 4 inch cotton  (or you can place them in the center of a 10x10 inch square of muslin fabric and pull the edges together.)  To use in the shower, wet the bag and scrub over your skin.  The soothing properties of the flowers is perfect for your skin.

I like the method of brewing the bag in a pan of water and pouring that into the bath water as the best way to get the benefit of the flowers, but if you want to take a shower with this scrubbie, the key is to make sure the bag comes in contact with the skin.

Here is a breakdown of the benefits of the flowers:

Chamomilereduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also possessing anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Calendulahas anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and helps to heal wounds and soothe damaged skin, such as sunburn, cuts and scrapes. 

Rose - Antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties in roses make them wonderfully soothing for skin, especially swollen spots and redness.

Sage - the antioxidants in sage reduce fine lines and wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Thyme - is an anti-bacterial herb that can be used on skin bacteria that creates acne, and an antifungal agent that works on eczema.

Lavenderis rich in a compound called linalool that assists with skin healing while also preventing tissue degeneration keeping skin firm and preventing wrinkles.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lemon - The unexpected Herb of the Week

Wednesday is a day to focus on a single herb.  Sometimes it is details to grow and recipes to use and other times it is growing or using tips.


This week it is ways to use lemon peels.  Although one could grow a lemon indoors in Illinois, I have never had the windows or space to bring a lemon tree indoors for winter, so I have always gotten my lemons at the market.  But even though I do not grow them I do process the peel and use them in my teas and bath products.  Most of the time I grate the lemons and toast the grated peel in the oven to make sure it is completely dry.  Somedays I get a great peel that holds its yellow color, most of the time it turns a tan color, so if you see little brown flecks in your Lemon Cream Scone Mix, don't panic it is just my dried lemon peel.

Here is a baker's dozen of tips for using fresh and dried lemon peel around your home. Lemon is technically a fruit, but we use it like a spice in recipes, so I tend to treat it like an herbs.

Lemon juice is 5 to 6 % citric acid with a low pH of 2 to 3.  This low acid pH makes lemon juice perfect for breaking down rust and mineral stains.


  1. A juiced lemon can be used to polish copper pots.  Just rub the interior pulp on the pot until the copper shine returns.  Then rinse with cold water.  If you need some abrasion, sprinkle the lemon with baking soda.
  2. You can use these handy juiced lemon halves to wipe up splattered stove tops and messy granite, formica or corian counter tops.  Sprinkle some salt on a lemon half and rub the greasy areas.  Then wipe with a towel.
  3.   Remove mineral deposits built up in your tea kettle.  Fill the kettle with water, add a couple thin slices of lemon peel and bring to a boil.  turn off the heat and let sit for an hour, drain and rinse well.
  4. Clean the microwave.  Place a glass bowl filled with water and lemon rind strips in the microwave.  Cook on high for 5 minutes.  the steam will condense on the walls and make it easier to remove cooked on messes.
  5. Keep bugs out of your kitchen by chopping rind into small pieces and place along windowsills, door ways, under sinks and near openings and cracks. 
  6. Lemon's antibacterial properties make it a good choice for freshening cutting boards.  After cleaning a cutting board, especially wooden ones, you rub the surface with half a lemon and let rest for a few minutes, then rinse.
  7. Add lemon peel strips (with all pulp and pith removed) to your brown sugar to keep it from becoming brick sugar.

  8. Use a vegetable peeler to cut lemon peel into long strips and use them ti garnish cocktails or sparkling water.
  9. Craft your own lemon extract powder.Take peel (making sure to remove all the white bitter pith.) Lay the peel skin side down on a plate and allow to air dry 3 to 4 days.  then run in a blender (or spice grinder) to powder.  Use this powder in place of extract or zest in recipes
  10. Use dried lemon powder mixed with sugar to create lemon sugar.  You can also layer lemon peel strips with sugar to craft a lemon sugar.
  11. Blend the dried lemon powder with black pepper to make your own salt-free lemon pepper.
  12. Folk remedies suggest using lemon peel to help lighten age spots and freckles.  Make a paste of baking soda and fresh lemon peel and a bit of water and place on the spots.  Leave for an hour, then rinse off.
  13. Mix a cup of sugar with grated lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a scrub.  Wet your body in the shower and turn off the water and massage sugar mix all over your skin, rinse and enjoy the softness.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...