Thursday, May 13, 2021

Cream Cheese Spread and Chive Dip for a Charcuterie Board

For May the recipe theme is appetizers.  Since we just created a new product, a Charcuterie Starter Kit.  This month we thought we would share different recipes one can use on a Charcuterie Board. 


Charcuterie, pronounced [shar-koo-tuh–ree], is the art of preparing cured or smoked meats. Charcuterie boards are essentially meat’s response to a cheese board, and boy are they good. For many folks they are a great way to create a board filled with appetizer bites.  And the awesome thing about charcuterie boards is that there is no end to the possible variations. Switching up a few ingredients yields something new and amazing each and every time.


In our CharcuterieStarter Kit we have combined several herb mixes for spreads and dips, Olive Oil Dipping sauce, a small bowl, and instructions for putting together a Charcuterie Board including a recipe for a board to serve 4 with all the needed ingredients. 

To get us started this month here is a cheese spread and a dip you can try with fresh herbs from your garden.  If you have chive blossoms available, you can substitute those for snipped chives.

Herbed Cheese Spread

  • 2 Tbls fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbls marjoram, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbls chives, snipped with scissors
  • 2 Tbls shallot, minced
  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temp

In a small bowl add the herbs and cream cheese.  Mix together until well blended.  Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Serve with an assortment of crackers and breadsticks.

 


Chive Dip

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped with scissors
  • 1 Tbls fresh sage, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic salt

In medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Let chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before using to allow all the flavors to meld together. Serve with vegetable dippers.


RECIPE THEME

Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  

To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018, Recipe2019, or Recipe2020.

 
You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD for each month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2021 so you can find them all.

The themes are:
Jan 2021 – Baked Items
Feb 2021 – Breakfast Dishes
March 2021 – Italian Dishes
April 2021 - Chicken Recipes
May 2021 - Appetizers
June 2021 – Mediterranean Dishes
July 2021 – Pork Recipes
August 2021 - Seafood
September 2021 - Pizzas
October 2021 – Mexican Dishes
November 2021 - Cookies
December 2021 – Gift Recipes

Friday, April 30, 2021

Sheet Pan Chicken and Vegetable Bake - Weekend Recipe

One last chicken recipe and one more sheet pan recipe.  I plan to spend the entire weekend outside, because the beds need preparation, and the plant sales start next week.  I will be working in or layering on compost and mulch and getting the last of the leaves out of the beds.

We got no more than 1/4 inch of rain this week to my disappointment, but it did sprinkle many times keeping the soil damp for my germinating seeds.  I have planted my Black-eyed Susan Vine and comfrey seeds, two plants I am very excited about having this year.

As a result of all these garden plans, I am planning two sheet pan dinners, this one and one with pork which I will eventually share.  This one has the hint of lemon that I love with chicken and easy vegetables I have on hand.  If you do not have any shallots, just finely dice an onion for that good flavor.



Sheet Pan Chicken and Vegetable Bake

  • 2 (8 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise 
  • 12 ounces baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 8 ounces carrots, diagonally sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces celery, diagonally cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place chicken on a clean work surface and cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken pieces to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Arrange on one half of a large, rimmed baking sheet. Arrange potatoes, carrots and celery in a single layer on the other half of the pan. Drizzle the chicken and vegetables with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, shallot, mustard, honey and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

Remove the pan from the oven; switch the oven to broil. Stir the potato-carrot-celery mixture. Spoon the lemon juice-shallot mixture evenly over the chicken and vegetables. Broil until the chicken and vegetables are lightly browned and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the chicken registers 165 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle evenly with parsley and dill. Serve with lemon wedges.

RECIPE THEME

Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  

To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018, Recipe2019, or Recipe2020.

 
You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD for each month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2021 so you can find them all.

The themes are:
Jan 2021 – Baked Items
Feb 2021 – Breakfast Dishes
March 2021 – Italian Dishes
April 2021 - Chicken Recipes
May 2021 - Appetizers
June 2021 – Mediterranean Dishes
July 2021 – Pork Recipes
August 2021 - Seafood
September 2021 - Pizzas
October 2021 – Mexican Dishes
November 2021 - Cookies
December 2021 – Gift Recipes

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Parmesan Chicken Sheet Pan Recipe - Recipe Theme

I am getting out in the garden which means making dinner is not high on my list of tasks.  Hubby and I like to take turns cooking, although he does it more often than I do.

Here is my go-to style of recipe when I don’t have time and desire to take much time with dinner, but still really want something tasty and a bit different. You do have to bread the chicken for this, but it does not take much time to do.  Prep should take only 30 minutes.



With a sheet pan meal, you have all the ingredients, everything gets done at the same time and it is easy to serve.  A serious time saver too as you can get all the clean-up done while dinner is cooking.

Parmesan Chicken Sheet Pan

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed
  • 3/4 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour2 large egg whites, lightly beaten 
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 4 portions

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine cumin, thyme, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir oil and half the spice mixture in a large bowl. Add asparagus and potatoes; toss to coat well. Spread the vegetables on one side of the prepared pan. 

Place flour in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a second shallow dish. Combine panko, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the remaining spice mixture in a third shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dredge in the egg whites, shaking off the excess, then heavily coat the chicken in the panko mixture. Coat both sides with cooking spray and place on the empty side of the sheet pan. 

Bake, stirring the vegetables and flipping the chicken once, until the vegetables are tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees F, about 25 minutes. Toss the vegetables with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan and serve.

RECIPE THEME

Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  

To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018, Recipe2019, or Recipe2020.

 
You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD for each month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2021 so you can find them all.

The themes are:
Jan 2021 – Baked Items
Feb 2021 – Breakfast Dishes
March 2021 – Italian Dishes
April 2021 - Chicken Recipes
May 2021 - Appetizers
June 2021 – Mediterranean Dishes
July 2021 – Pork Recipes
August 2021 - Seafood
September 2021 - Pizzas
October 2021 – Mexican Dishes
November 2021 - Cookies
December 2021 – Gift Recipes

 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Orange and Spice Chicken - Weekend Recipe

This recipe is quick and easy for a weeknight meal or simple weekend faire.  It is perfect served with a side of ancient grains or brown rice.  The orange gives it a brightness to make you think spring!

Summer Savory

You can omit the savory if you do not have any on hand, but this special herb is an excellent companion to chicken and a must-have for the home cook, so grow a bit yourself this year.  It is an easy herb to grow from seed.

Orange and Spice Chicken

  • 3 oranges
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 10 ounces package baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast strips 
  • 1 teaspoon savory
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Remove peel and white membrane from 1 of the oranges. Section orange and cut each section into thirds; set aside. Squeeze enough juice from the remaining oranges to measure 2/3 cup; set aside. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium heat. Add spinach; cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or just until slightly wilted, stirring occasionally. Drain and transfer to 4 serving dishes or a serving platter. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the 2/3 cup orange juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger, cornstarch, and crushed red pepper. Set aside.

Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and savory. Wipe out Dutch oven with a paper towel. In Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Whisk orange juice mixture with cut oranges; add to chicken in Dutch oven. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more.

To serve, spoon chicken and mixture over Spinach with a side or grains or rice. Makes 4 servings.


RECIPE THEME

Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  

To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018, Recipe2019, or Recipe2020.

 
You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD for each month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2021 so you can find them all.


The themes are:
Jan 2021 – Baked Items
Feb 2021 – Breakfast Dishes
March 2021 – Italian Dishes
April 2021 - Chicken Recipes
May 2021 - Appetizers
June 2021 – Mediterranean Dishes
July 2021 – Pork Recipes
August 2021 - Seafood
September 2021 - Pizzas
October 2021 – Mexican Dishes
November 2021 - Cookies
December 2021 – Gift Recipes

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021

When I started this list I was listening to the wind wildly howling outside of my home. Although we had no snow yet, Winter was definitely knocking at the door.  I dislike not having a blanket of snow on the ground when the wind howls, I worry about my lavender which can dry out in strong wind. I worry about my thyme whose tiny roots can freeze without a winter blanket.  And I get concerned that the water table will not be properly replenished without the moisture of snow.

Wind can be an inconvenience to me when it blows my mulch around the backyard, and can be a threat to me when it becomes a destructive force during weather events. But I remind myself that this wind is a gift. This is the wind that blows fresh air into my lungs. This is the wind that disperses the seeds that will be this summer’s bounty. This is the wind that will bring in the warmer weather to come. This is the wind that shapes the landscapes that shape my life.  



Every minute of every day in every season we receive gifts from the earth.  That’s why, to celebrate Earth Day this year, I decided to give myself an Earth Day Challenge:

List 51 reasons why I am grateful for the earth. (It is the 51st Earth Day this year and we so did not celebrate last year!)

At first it seemed like a tedious task, but about halfway through I noticed that the more gratitude I listed, the more gratitude I felt, and the rest of the list was done in a flash. That’s the way these things work. Fear leads to more fear. Gratitude leads to more gratitude. And more gratitude leads to more gifts. So this year for Earth Day, I have decided to focus on the gifts I receive from the earth.

By the time I reached the end, I had renewed my appreciation and commitment to giving back to the earth as best I can. Isn’t that what Earth Day is all about? Good luck, and remember to share your lists to spread the gratitude!

This Earth Day, I Am Grateful For:

  1. The wind’s power and presence.
  2. The beautiful sunset today.
  3. The fresh drinking water that comes into my faucet from an underground well.
  4. The trees around me. I always feel sheltered. Not to mention their gift of oxygen!
  5. The seasons. They encourage me to remember that change is good and necessary. 
  6. The smell of lavender, which is very calming to me.
  7. Bees. Besides the gifts of honey and wax, they pollinate plants so that humans can enjoy the fruits.
  8. Rocks. Many indigenous people call rocks the grandfathers of the earth. They hold the wisdom of the earth as they humbly hold up my home.
  9. The knowledge and wisdom that I have gained from watching my herbs grow.

  10. The reliability of earth’s cycles (daily, monthly, yearly, etc.) is very grounding.
  11. The song of frogs in the spring. It makes me want to sing, too!
  12. The few inches that my shoulders drop when I go into nature.
  13. Turtles. They teach me patience and persistence.
  14. The satisfaction of planting a seed in the spring and watching it grow all summer.
  15. Spring flowers, which bring hope after a long winter.
  16. The experience of absolute stillness and peace that can be found in certain places on this earth. It reminds me to slow down and listen.
  17. Medicines I have created that have come directly from the earth.
  18. The feeling of my bare feet in grass. Aaahhhh!
  19. The freshness of the air in wintertime, especially after a snow.
  20. The smell of fallen pine needles in the sunshine
  21. The changeability of nature. It’s very rare to see the same exact thing twice.
  22. The extremes in nature that collectively create balance. Our earth has darkest and lightest, highest and lowest, biggest and smallest, hottest and coldest.
  23. Eagles that amaze me in their strength and power.
  24. The clouds in the sky that warn of upcoming weather and amuse me with their designs.
  25. The ocean. It can be a very relaxing place, but also exhilarating!
  26. The end of a hot summer day when the cicadas start calling, the fireflies come out, and the relief of coolness is finally felt.
  27. Resources from the earth such as sun, coal, oil and wind that provide me with heat and power.
  28. The times I have seen the earth physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually heal people.
  29. Human beings. We are as much a part of the earth as the crow that calls and the leaves that fall.
  30. The diversity on this planet in people, plants and animals. This keeps our ecosystems strong and resilient.
  31.  The yearly emergence of butterflies reminds me to live within the natural stages of my life.
  32.  The adaptability of nature and people.  
  33. The dead squirrel in the road, it reminds me to slow down.
  34. The song of the chickadee.
  35. Water. It can take any form, can serve any purpose, and keeps us all alive.
  36. The light of sun and moon that brightens the dark reaches.

  37. Zinnias, an explosion of color that can last all summer.
  38. Comfrey – purple flowers and large leaves that enhance the growing of other plants
  39. The change of flowers as spring blooms give way to summer flowers and changes the atmosphere.
  40. The smell of lemon herbs as I harvest them and the brightening of my mood as a result.
  41. Rain as it nourishes the earth, feeds the plants and cleans the air.
  42. Sunshine as it sparkles of the dew in the early morning when I rise.
  43. Birds who take a bath in my rain garden after a large summer rain.
  44. Skipper butterflies playing games in the afternoon glow of my front yard.
  45. The blooming of the perennial herbs in late summer to bring delight to the cooling weather.
  46. The flowering of shade plants the brighten the gloom.
  47. The crack of thunder in a summer storm.
  48. The texture of bark on the trees as one strolls through the woods.
  49. The smell of lilacs on the fence line.
  50. The electricity of a summer rain when everything is that much greener.
  51. The sudden release of scent when I brush against scented geraniums on my steps, it reminds me to pause and experience my day.

So do you have things to be greatful for from the earth?  Share them with me!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Fast Chicken Fettuccine

Here's a healthful chicken recipe with some major bonuses: rich Parmesan cheese, savory fresh zucchini, and zesty dried tomatoes. With a mere 20-minute prep time, it's an easy dinner recipe you can count on for quick gratification after a long, busy day. 


Fast Chicken Fettuccine (Makes 4 servings)

  • 8 ounces fettuccine
  • ¼ 7-ounce jar oil-packed, dried tomato strips or pieces
  • 1 large zucchini or yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces chicken breast meat, cut in cubes
  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • Black pepper, freshly ground

Directions:

Cook in lightly salted boiling water according to package directions; drain. Return pasta to hot pan.

Meanwhile, drain tomato strips, reserving 2 tablespoons oil from jar; set aside. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon reserved oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from skillet. Add remaining reserved oil to skillet. Add chicken and herbs; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken no longer pink. Gently toss zucchini, chicken, and tomato with cooked pasta. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and season to taste with pepper.

RECIPE THEME

Each month a theme is chosen and a number of recipes on that theme from my massive archive will be shared.  This year we have 12 new topics, different from the topics of last year.  

To find the recipes of last year, check out this recipe link or search the blog with the topic Recipe2018, Recipe2019, or Recipe2020.

 
You can search the monthly theme by looking for the theme keyword in the search box and it will pull up the recipes on that theme as posted, so look at the bottom of the recipe in each posting for the KEYWORD for each month.  All recipes this year will be tagged Recipe2021 so you can find them all.

The themes are:
Jan 2021 – Baked Items
Feb 2021 – Breakfast Dishes
March 2021 – Italian Dishes
April 2021 - Chicken Recipes
May 2021 - Appetizers
June 2021 – Mediterranean Dishes
July 2021 – Pork Recipes
August 2021 - Seafood
September 2021 - Pizzas
October 2021 – Mexican Dishes
November 2021 - Cookies
December 2021 – Gift Recipes

Friday, April 9, 2021

Garden Planning for Containers

I worked the election this week as an election judge.  My reward was to go plant shopping the next day. You can see my haul below.  This trip was a few herbs and mostly annuals for my hanging baskets.  I tend to landscape in shades of green.  As an herb grower, you get into that, as flowers are something you cut off, not encourage, but I love the bright shades of flowers so I grow zinna and sunflowers from seed and put out annual hanging baskets.  Our garden club normally has a plant sale where I buy my baskets, but this year no sale, no baskets.  But if you are looking for native plants, the club will get 10% if you SHOP HERE.

As a result, I need to make my own hanging baskets.  I have plenty of planters, so I went to Redbud Creek Farm in Sheridan, IL.  It is about an hour from me, but worth the drive.  They have herbs, vegetables, annuals and perennials.  The layout is wonderful to wander through. And I will have to go back later in the year to see the herb and vegetable garden during the growing season.


We also stopped at Shady Hill Gardens in Elburn to pick up my scented geraniums - and some lemon thyme which was too aromatic to pass up!



Hanging Basket Design

Designing a hanging basket is about the same as designing a small pot spiller, filler, thriller.  But one does not need a tall exceptional center plant as much as one needs more spiller.  Most hanging baskets hang above eye level so you need the plants to flow over the edge.  That means finding plants that low grow and spread or are viney. My favorite for this is portulaca - a variety of purslane, an edible weedy herb, that will grow well in-ground and spread nicely and in pots, it will cascade.  It is covered with colorful blossoms throughout the summer.

English ivy is a good choice, Sweet potato vine with its unusually shaped leaves and lovely shades of green to dark purple allow you to find versions to suit your design.  Another great spiller is Dichondra.  This version is "Silver Falls." 


Trumpet vine and bougainvillea are popular hanging basket items, but they tend to be grown alone.  Because of their own showy appearance, no extras are needed.

For the thiller I like annual flowers. Bright, colorful, sun-loving annuals that will grow fast and fill the pot to overflowing is the best. For one I chose portulaca in 5 different colors. I love yellow and my husband does to, so we got some yellow and orange ----  to hang in the front yard.  Since I am still working from home, my home desk will overlook it everyday.

As filler I got these pretty white flowers -- 


I think I will have to get a few more. 

I wintered over two ivy.  One variegated with wide leaves and one a more traditional ivy.  The traditional ivy died back terribly due to the lack of humidity in our house, but the other ivy flourished.  The cats will be glad it is no longer growing into their lounging space in the bedroom.


Once we are free of the threat of frost I will put these containers together and take photos of the final versions.  



 


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