Herb Gardening

posted in: Gardening, Herbs | 0
Clockwise from top: C. Zeolights, Chamomile, C. Resina

 My first attempt at herb gardening was about 5 years ago. We had just had some horse manure put on our garden. Unfortunately, it was still a bit hot, so none of my herbs came up.

My second attempt at herb gardening was this year. We were excited to be gardening again after so many years of not being able to due to busy-ness and moving/renting. With the new place we are living, and all the water here, I was able to have my own herb garden separate from the vegetable garden.  I planted German Chamomile, Soapwort, Calendula Zeolights, and Calendula Resina.

 My plants were a little slow to pop up. I direct sowed them in mid May. Since our first snow that was mid September, they have all, except the Soapwort, really thrived. We have had a lot of warm weather too, but the cold snaps have really encouraged the plants. I have been drying my harvest in the dehydrator. Barely any Soapwort came up. 3 seeds sprouted in the planter I had set in my garden, and one seed sprouted in the ground. They are all about 4 inches tall.

What have I learned from this years planting?

  1. Move the location of my herb garden. It is currently located right next to the ditch that the sewer just so happens to run off into in the middle of the summer. It gives off a rather… unpleasant smell that Chamomile just doesn’t quite cover up.
  2. Plant more. I ended up having not quite as much plants as I wanted, consequently, not as much harvest as I wanted.
  3. If I don’t want an ‘ugly’ garden, need to have more time spent with upkeep.

Next year, hopefully, I will not be as busy away from my garden so that I can spend a little more time with it. I also plan on doing much more variety and being a little more extravagant. I will also try different drying methods. I have yet to decide the new location. 😉

I bought my seeds from Southern Exposure. I really like the variety of seeds they have in organic. Their catalog is beautiful. The biggest downfall in my opinion is their seed packaging. The only seed specific information they have is the name and little bit of info like a date, lot number, how many grams it is, and a percentage (I am guessing the germination percentage?) printed on the front. Otherwise, the planting instructions are very generic and they do not have a picture of the seedling, which when you have plenty of weeds is quite helpful if you have never planted that specific seed. Overall, I would definitely buy from them again. Their service was as would be expected. The seeds got to us on time.  Nothing was amiss.

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The Country Rose’s Yeast Doughnuts (And More)

posted in: This Is The Life | 0

I made doughnuts the other day. Really good doughnuts, if I dare say so myself! My family agreed. 😉 I have made yeast doughnuts in the past from various recipes, but they never turned out, in my opinion. They never had the right taste or texture. My family thought they were fine, but I guess I am picky. Especially when I am the cook. Below is the recipe that I came up with that I am finally satisfied with. I should add these are NOT THM.

I was also really wanting Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts, not just yeast doughnuts. I ‘searched the world over’ and I found true love! I found this amazing recipe at Peaches Please. One thing I did not like about the recipe was the nutmeg. I have never been fond of nutmeg. I, instead of nutmeg, used 1 tsp. vanilla.

Those fingers in the picture are supposed to be cruellers. The recipe wasn’t particularly impressive. The dough was too stiff to shape like they suggested, so we just went the easy route and made fingers.

The Country Rose’s Yeast Doughnuts

2 TBSP yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot milk
2 eggs
4 – 4 1/2 cups sifted flour

In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the very warm water. Take your 1/2 c. sugar and spill some in with your yeast. Stir yeast mixture. Set aside.

Take your hot milk and put it in a medium bowl. Stir in the rest of your sugar, and your salt, and butter. Stir until butter melts. If your milk isn’t hot enough, scoop the butter out and melt it in the microwave. Cool the milk mixture to where you can stick your finger in for awhile and not have it uncomfortably warm. In a small bowl, beat your egg. Add it to the milk mixture. (If the milk mixture isn’t quite cool enough, the egg will cool it down enough so it won’t kill your yeast.)

Add the milk mixture to the yeast mixture and stir. Beat 3 cups of sifted flour in, one cup at a time. Add another cup and start kneading in your bowl. You may or may not need the last 1/2 c. flour. After kneading the dough until soft and barely sticky, put into a large, greased bowl. Turn over once to get both dough sides greased. Cover and set to rise until double, about 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours. (Be sure to not let it over rise. If you end up having to wait longer than the rising time before dealing with it, punch it every 1/2- 1 hours.)

Punch dough and knead a few times till all smooth again. Cut into circles with the middles cut out, or whatever shape you want them in. Gently slip into hot oil and deep fry until both sides are golden and the middle is cooked. I don’t have any set temperature to bring your oil to. Just takes a little practice. You want it so when you put your doughnut in, the grease bubbles all over the doughnut. You don’t want it to brown too quickly, or the inside won’t be cooked. Shake in cinnamon sugar mixture, glaze, or frost with your choice of frosting. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Shake (S)

posted in: Beverages, Cattle, Coffee, THM S | 0

Mom asked me last night to make her a pumpkin milkshake. She had a pumpkin frappe at Starbucks last week that she really enjoyed. This is the recipe that I came up with. We are eating Trim Healthy Mama style, so this would be a THM ‘S’. Sorry about the bad pictures. I am not a talented food photographer.


Pumpkin Shake (or Frappe)                (S)
1/2 c. cottage cheese
1 c. unsweetened almond milk (or cooled, strong coffee)
2 TBSP. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 TBSP Truvia
3 scoops stevia (I used KAL brand stevia. It comes with a little scoop that I use. For frappe version, do an extra scoop)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 or 2 pinches cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. glucomannan
2 TBSP pumpkin puree
Ice (roughly 1 – 2 cups)

Blend all your ingredients, except ice, together until fairly smooth. Add ice and blend until smooth. If you do not like strong flavors, try less spices to start with.

This is our Hereford heifer, Pumpkin. We got her a couple days ago. I thought it appropriate to include her in this post because of her name. 🙂

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Play Dough

I have had this recipe tucked away for years, but in all honesty, it has been years since I pulled it out and used it. Since my husband and the older kids are all away for the greater part of today, I thought I would mix up a couple batches for the littles to play with.

This recipe came from my husband’s Aunt. Thanks, Faith! It is a really nice texture. I wanted to share this recipe with photographs so you could get an idea of the process. That way, when the lumps show up, you won’t be concerned that it is flopping.

Let’s gather the ingredients:

The ingredients
Flour, water, salt, cream of tartar, oil, food coloring
Food coloring options
Food coloring options. Any type will do.

Combine in pan:

1 c. flour
1 c. water
1/2 c. salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbl. oil
Food coloring (Don’t be shy here. Be generous with the food coloring to get vibrant colors.)

Play dough in a pan
Play dough in a pan. The beginnings of great things.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Medium heat
Medium heat
Mixing it up
Mixing it up
Stirring constantly
Stirring constantly
Progress
Progress
Getting thicker. Switched to whisk
Getting thicker. Switched to whisk
Ta da! A ball forming. Looking more like mashed potatoes to me!
Ta da! A ball is forming. Looking more like mashed potatoes to me!
Almost done
Almost done

Let’s check out the yellow:

Lumps are okay. In fact, they are good.
Lumps are okay. In fact, they are good.

Knead until smooth. Kids do this perfectly!

Love these colors!
Love these colors!
Good look'n dough
Good look’n dough
Not so good look’n… and I’m not talking about the blob monster.
Not so good look’n… and I’m not talking about the blob monster.

 

The blue didn’t turn out so good. It needed to cook on the stove longer. We discovered that letting it sit out for a couple hours dried it to the point it became really nice to work with.

Store in a sealed container. We used gallon zip lock bags.

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Key Lime Cream Cake

cake

 

Key Lime Cream Cake

 

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2/3 cup oil

2/3 cup key lime juice

3/4 cup sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans.
  • Sift flour, sugar, powder, soda and salt into mixer.
  • Add eggs, oil and lime juice. Beat until smooth.
  • Add sour cream and beat until smooth.
  • Pour in prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost.

Frosting

1 cup butter, softened

2 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened

2 – 16 oz boxes confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup key lime juice (optional)

green food coloring (optional for color)

  • Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. For really creamy frosting, mix in 1/4 cup of key lime juice. You can also leave it out or add more confectioners sugar to make it thicker. Add a small amount of green food color if you’d like the frosting tinted.

Whipped Cream

16 oz. heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Chill metal bowl and beaters in freezer for about 20 minutes. When ready to whip, add ingredients to the bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.

Divide cake into four layers and frost. Pipe top with whipped cream or add crushed graham crackers to the side of the cake if desired. Refrigerate.

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No-Bake Cheesecake

Img_292310 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Nustevia to taste

1 cup heavy cream

———————————–

1 and 1/2 cups almond meal

3 tablespoons butter

1 shake Nustevia

Heat oven to 350 F. Melt the butter (if the pie pan is microwave safe, melt the butter in it) and mix the butter, almond meal, and nustevia up in the pan and pat into place with your fingertips.

Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is beginning to brown. After 8 minutes, check every minute or so, because once it starts to brown it goes quickly.
Combine cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, and sugar substitute very well. If you are using an electric mixer, fluff it up for a minute or two.

In a second bowl (if you have only one bowl for a stand mixer, just transfer the cream cheese and use the mixer again for this step), whip the cream to soft peaks – you actually want it slightly less beaten than you would for a dessert topping.

Mix about a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Then gently mix another third in, and then the rest.

Spread cream cheese mixture into crust. Smooth off and chill for at least 2-3 hours. Cover with topping and serve.

Crustless option: Chill cream cheese mixture in bowl, then serve in individual dishes with topping.

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Dirt Dessert Recreated – S

1/2 cup almond flour

1 egg white

1 heaped TBSP cocoa powder

Sweetener (I used Nustevia)

1/2 tsp baking powder

dash of vanilla

——————————

1 1/2 cup Choco Pudding (THM pg. 366) made before hand

2 oz cream cheese, softened

2 TBSP butter, softened

1/4 cup heavy cream

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the first 6 ingredients together well, using however much sweetener that suits your taste. I used at least 4 shakes of nustevia. Roll the dough out to be about 1/4″ thin or so on a parchment papered cookie sheet. Bake for 11 minutes. Let cool.

 

Blend cream cheese and butter well. Add Choco Pudding and mix it in good, too. In another bowl, whip cream with some sweetener until it is thick. Crumble your cookie into the pudding mixture and fold it in with the whipped cream. Chill and serve.

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Mini Puff Cheesecakes

posted in: Candy, Desserts | 0

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • 36 fresh raspberries or semi-sweet chocolate pieces

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet into an 18×9-inch rectangle.  Cut into 18 (3-inch) squares.  Press the pastry squares into 18 muffin-pan cups.  Brush the edges of the pastries with the egg.  Prick the centers of the pastries with a fork.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Using the back of a spoon, press down the centers of the hot pastries to make an indentation.  Let the pastries cool in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes.  Remove the pastry cups from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks.
  4. Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract.  Fold in the whipped topping.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture into each pastry cup.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until the filling is firm.  Top each pastry with 2 raspberries.  Sprinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
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Seasoned Baked Rice

posted in: Main Dishes | 0

baked mushroom chicken rice4

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1.5 cups uncooked rice

2 chicken thigh

100g fresh mushrooms of your choice , sliced thickly

some minced garlic 1 cup cream (dairy) 1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt (adjust according to taste)

some black pepper

some grated mozzarella cheese

dried parsley
Method:

  1. Wash and cook rice with rice cooker.
  2. Bring a pot of water to the boil, put in the chicken thigh and boil till the chicken is almost cooked. Let cool and shred the chicken into bite sizes. Reserve half cup of the chicken stock.
  3. Heat up a deep pan, with some cooking oil (or butter) stir fry minced garlic and mushrooms. Add in the shredded chicken meat. Add pepper and salt to taste. Continute to stir fry till the mushrooms become soft.
  4. Add in the cream, stir well. Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. (Note, always add cream BEFORE the chicken stock, otherwise the mixture may not be smooth.)
  5. Add in the cooked rice. Stir and let it cook for a few mins or until the sauce is almost fully absorbed by the rice.
  6. Place rice into a heatproof baking dish. Cover top with grated cheese.
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degC, till the cheese turns golden brown. Sprinkle with some dried parsley. Serve immediately.
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