Rustic Apple Cranberry Galette

Many of us enjoy baking throughout the year but it seems like when the weather gets colder, baking in the kitchen takes on a whole new meaning. Tea brewing, music playing…making the kitchen is one of the coziest places in the house. Using fresh local apples and cranberries, this week I’ll show you how to make a super easy, positively delicious galette!

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A galette is a rustic country pie. No pie plate, no attention to fancy crust or fluted edges. Filling can be whatever you like, sweet or savory. The key is to not overwhelm the crust with filling. Let’s get started!

Ingredients 

  • 1 recipe of pie dough, top and bottom crusts, homemade or store bought
  • 4 apples, Cortland, Macoun or any other baking apples available
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole cranberries
  • raw sugar
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

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Parchment paper on the pans.

Peel, core and slice apples. In a bowl coat apple slices with the sugar, spices and flour. Stir and set aside.

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Apples.

Divide dough into four pieces. Form them into round discs. Dust surface with additional flour. Roll out one at a time into approximately 9” circles.

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Rolling out the dough.

Move dough onto the pans. Arrange apple slices in a pinwheel fashion in the center of each crust.

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Arrange the apples.

Scatter the cranberries in top of the apples. Fold the edges of the crust over to make a rim.

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Add cranberries and fold the edges.

Whisk the egg and brush it gently on top of the crust.

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Egg wash.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. Move to a wire rack to cool.

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Golden brown.

Serve warm or cold. Especially good with rich vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce!

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For such a simple dessert it makes quite an elegant presentation!

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With garden chores wrapping up, there is more time for catching up on indoor things. The trees are bare, all but a few copper-colored oak and beech leaves. Bright red winter berries are everywhere. Beau has been cutting more teeth so you can imagine how that’s going! Until, next time, happy baking!

Hilary|Everlongardener

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup!

Believe it or not, I had a few requests for the roasted tomato basil soup that I mentioned in last weeks blog post, What Will I Do With All These Tomatoes? I’ve been trying to eat all of our tomatoes and I think I’m finally at the point where I’m keeping up. Cooler fall temps have slowed down the ripening process and now my green tomatoes outweigh my ripened ones by far. But if you are still drowning in ripe tomatoes or you’ve picked up some from a local farm, here’s another delicious recipe for you to try!

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Pretty much any tomatoes that you might have available will work for this tasty soup. I used a combination of colors, shapes and sizes for my soup. Since I grow a wide variety of tomatoes, it’s hard to say what I will have on hand each week. This soup is packed with flavor and is suitable for a wide range of diets. It is by no means an ordinary tomato soup! All of these measurements are approximate, so you can’t mess it up. Use what you have and improvise if you like.

Ingredients

  • 10 medium sized tomatoes
  • 20 small or cherry sized tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • thyme, marjoram or oregano
  • salt and pepper
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Cover the entire pan with tomatoes.

Instructions

Anyone can make this soup. With simple methods and fresh produce, you will be no more than an hour or so away from a hot meal. Set oven for 375 -400F. Wash all of the tomatoes. Cut small tomatoes in half and medium ones tomatoes into 4-8 pieces. Position them on two cookie sheets face up.

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Sprinkle with basil and your choice of herbs.

Sprinkle basil leaves and your choice of garden herbs over the trays of tomatoes.

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Time for the garlic!

Remove the outer papery covering from the garlic cloves. Place them with the tomatoes whole, no chopping required. Then drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Looks good already.

Roast pans of tomatoes for about an hour.

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Look at that luscious tomato stuff!

Allow pans to cool for a few minutes. With a spatula, put the tomatoes into your blender or food processor. You will now have to resist the temptation of eating the entire pan of roasted tomatoes. Notice how the olive oil and tomato juice settles into an ooey, gooey liquid.

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Scrape that pan!

Blend cooked ingredients until smooth. At this point you can thin the soup without water or chicken stock. I left it thick for a really satisfying fall meal.

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Blend it up!

To serve, pour into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese. Try serving with crusty bread or a sandwich. This soup would also go well with a big salad for lunch. It comes out so thick that you could even serve it over pasta! This recipe will make about 4 cups of soup.

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Hot and healthy tomato soup!

There are many roasted tomato soup recipes out there. I just used what’s I had from the garden. Why not try mixing up different types of tomatoes or choose the herbs that you happen to love. The combinations are endless!

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Just look at that melted cheese!

There’s nothing like using fresh produce in the kitchen! Whether you grow your own food or get seasonal vegetables from a local farm, you can use your imagination with your family’s weekly menu! Garden cleanup has begun for most of us around here. The crunchy leaves are falling, the ticks are out and the squirrels are on the move. Beau has been eagerly helping with garden cleanup. He’s really good at pulling plants out of the ground and digging big holes! I always wanted an assistant! Enjoy your week everyone!

Hilary|Everlongardener

For more articles to boost yourself into fall mode, try Build Up Your Soil This Fall, Wonderful Winter Squash and Fall Cleanup Tips all right here on Everlongardener!

Garden Harvest 4 Bean Salad

Summertime and the living is beany! I know, I’m so corny that I make classic songs into lame gardening jokes! Maybe I’ll just stick to gardening. If you have a garden of any size and you grow green beans, you know how huge the garden harvests can be all at once. Sure, you can freeze or can them but how about eating your fill of them in fresh dishes? This week I’m sharing my Garden Harvest 4-bean salad recipe, filled with garden fresh veggies and lots of flavor.

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Ingredients List

  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup wax or yellow beans
  • 15 oz. cooked kidney beans
  • 15 oz. cooked black beans
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped dill
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar or preferred sweetener, optional
  • 1/2 tsp. each dry mustard, celery seed, crushed red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to tastewww.everlongardener.com

Directions For the Salad 

Assemble all of the ingredients to make the salad. If you are using canned kidney and black beans, drain and rinse them.

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Peppers and onions.

Snap the beans and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces.

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Snap the beans.

Place the beans in a saucepan and put in enough water to cover the beans. Cook over high heat and boil for 2 minutes. Immediately drain beans to prevent overcooking. You can even shock them with cold water. We don’t want mushy beans!

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Steamy beans.
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Cooked beans.

In a large bowl, mix all beans together. Add onions and peppers.

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Add peppers and onions.

In a small bowl, make the dressing. Whisk all wet ingredients and spices together.

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Whisk the dressing.

Pour over bean salad and completely combine.

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Pour dressing over beans.

Cover bowl and place in the refrigerator. Allow to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. The Garden Harvest 4 Bean Salad keeps for days and gets better the longer it marinates.

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Tucked into the fridge!

This salad makes a wonderful side dish to bring to gatherings, an addition to your lunch or eaten as a snack. 4 bean salad is a fantastic lunch on the go.

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Beautiful salad!

Packed with tons of tangy flavor, hearty beans and the freshness of summer, you’ll want to make this again and again. It’s inspired by traditional bean salads and my friends pickled dilly beans that we grew up eating. There’s nothing like garden fresh produce to help inspire all of us in the kitchen. I make this in winter if any decent looking beans are a available. Mix up the type of beans that our use to your liking. The kidney and black bean combo is my fave but you can use whatever you like or have on hand. If you would like to start growing beans, get some tips in the post Green Beans. They are one of the easiest veggies to grow!

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Great bean flavor!

This week in the garden we’ve received just a bit of rain to soothe the very thirsty ground. We could definitely use more. The cucumbers are finally beginning to produce and salad green seeds are in the ground for future cool weather harvests. Tomatoes are ripening like crazy. The new pup has been attacking my hosta plants and the low branches of the hydrangeas. This too shall pass! I forgot what it was like to have a baby in the house! Have a great gardening week everyone!

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

Pasta With Fresh Garden Peas

In the summertime, I need to make a lot of 30-minute meals. When the weather is nice, we often get carried away with outdoor activities. Suddenly it’s 6 p.m. and there’s no meal on the table. Sweet produce like fresh garden peas and comfort food like pasta make it easy to come up with a quick recipe. Often, we just grab what’s on hand and get cooking!

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Summer recipes can be simple, using basic pantry ingredients. Having just a few staples on hand for busy summer nights can make all the difference!

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Just 4 ingredients!

Ingredients List

  • 10 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup of fresh peas
  • 1 pound of cooked pasta
  • Parmesan cheese
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Shuck the peas!

Directions

Assemble all ingredients for making the dish. Put pasta water on the stove to boil. Start removing the peas from the shells. We call this shucking the peas! When pasta is nearly done, heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon to desired crispness. Please don’t mind the cooking action shots coming up!

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Sizzlin’ bacon!

Take the cooked bacon out of the pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour off some of the remaining bacon fat. Leave a tablespoon or so in the pan for cooking.

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Peas in the pan!

Add the fresh garden peas to the hot frying pan. Cook them for a few minutes while stirring gently. When the peas start to show that fresh, bright green color, turn off the heat. Toss in about 2/3 of the cooked pasta. Chop up the cooked bacon with kitchen scissors into 1/4″ pieces.

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Combine the ingredients.

Using tongs, turn mixture over several times to combine.

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Mix all ingredients.

When all of the pasta is mixed with the bacon and peas, serve in bowls. Grate on some Parmesan cheese for garnish and flavor.

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Delicious Pasta with Garden Peas!

Serving Suggestions

This recipe will work with nearly any pasta shape. We love it with bow-ties, shells or penne. Gluten-free pasta or cooked rice can also be substituted. If you already have leftover cooked pasta, cut the recipe in half for a express meal for two. As you can see, I used leftover spaghetti. Frozen petite peas can be used in place of the fresh garden peas. Garlic or onions could be added in the cooking process but may take away from the fresh pea flavor. Eat this meal alone or serve with a garden salad. This recipe makes about 4 meal sized servings. For more garden-to-table recipes, search ‘food’ in categories.

Do you have any speedy summer meals that can come together in just a few minutes? I would love to hear about them! We have needed many of these quick, throw together meals lately. We have been working on a patio area outside and these summer evenings go by so fast. Hopefully soon we will be out there enjoying our new outdoor space! The bush beans are ready for harvest. We have purple, green and yellow. Believe it or not, we are already thinking of planting for fall. But for now, it’s time to take advantage of the great weather for summer fun! I hope you try this garden fresh, easy recipe in the next few weeks. It’s a favorite around here! I’m leaving you with a few shots from the garden this week. Thanks and enjoy!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Nasturtiums from the vegetable garden.
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Grab on for dear life little guy!
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Pollinators out in full force.

Refreshing Strawberry Watermelon Granita

Summer is here and so are the watermelons! Every barbecue and picnic would not be complete without watermelon. Remember those huge watermelons that used to be in the stores? Did you have watermelon seed spitting contests with all of your siblings and cousins? I bet you did! Everyone’s faces were covered in pink, sticky liquid. You probably miss that. Right now watermelons are in those giant bins at grocery stores but they will soon be available from local farms or maybe even your own home garden. These smaller varieties we see now are perfect for just two people. There’s more to watermelon than just cutting it up and serving. With a little creativity, you can serve watermelon in many other ways.

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One of my family members cannot have dairy products so I’ve been cooking most of our food dairy-free for about 2 years. It has now become a way of life. The other day I had a quantity of watermelon that I wanted to do something with. The idea for a refreshing granita popped into my head. What is a granita? A granita is a unique Italian dessert usually made from sugar, water and flavoring.

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Juicy watermelon!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of watermelon chunks
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled, fresh or frozen
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons sugar or preferred sweetener

 

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Put watermelon and strawberries in the blender.

Directions

Assemble ingredients for the granita. If using fresh lime juice, juice the lime. If you are using bottled, measure out equivalent amount. Place watermelon and the strawberries in a blender or food processor. Pour in lime juice and add sweetener. You can make this without sugar but it really kicks the flavors into gear. You could use honey, agave nectar, stevia or coconut sugar. Less or more sweetener can be used to suit your taste.

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Blend all ingredients.

Blend all ingredients until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier granita, stop blending before all of the pieces are pulverized.

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Pour into shallow dish.

Select a shallow dish to pour your mixture into. A glass, oven-safe container is usually a good choice. Pour the slurry into the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a stable spot in your freezer for about 3 hours. Freezers will vary.

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Stir the frozen mixture.

After the time is up, check on your frozen creation. It should not be frozen solid but be somewhat firm. Using a fork, scrape the frozen slush to make the granita. If it seems too firm, just let it sit for a bit until it is workable.

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Serve it up!

After you have scraped up enough granita, spoon the dessert into glasses or pretty dishes. Garnish with mint or lemon balm leaves if you like. This recipe makes 4-5 servings. Keep any remaining granita in the freezer. Mixture will freeze solid, so plan enough time for thawing if you want to serve any left over portions.

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An elegant dessert!

There you have it! One healthy, vegan, gluten free, summertime dessert. It really is very refreshing. Even my pickiest eater loved it and ate every last drop. Try this easy summer recipe, I think you will really love it!

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As beautiful as it is tasty!

The garden has been slowly taking off. The flower beds are blooming right on time but the vegetable garden has been slow. My beets are still in the miniature stage. Chard is also behind. I have to attribute it to the very slow start we had with the weather. I’m continually surprised at the hope that I have for next years garden even when things don’t turn out like I planned this year. The peas are doing well. We eat them while we are tending the garden. I have a pea recipe in mind but they rarely make it to the house! I hope your garden is doing well. Thanks for checking out my recipe post this week here at Everlongardener! I really hope that you give it a try!

Hilary|Everlongardener

Grow a Reliable Crop of Mizuna Mustard Greens

One thing about being a gardener is the opportunity of trying new veggies and interesting varieties. It’s fun, delicious and colorful to plant different things every year. From the Brassica family of Asian greens or mustard greens, comes mizuna. If you want to add color and mustard flavor to your table, add mizuna to your planting list!

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I’ve grown many types of mustard greens over the years and I really do love them all. One drawback to growing them is that they do suffer from insect damage. After a while I realized that the mizuna, particularly in shades of red, are unharmed by flea beetles or aphids. Sometimes referred to Japanese mustard greens or spider mustard, these greens are great in salads or sandwiches and you can use the more mature leaves in cooking if you like. Just treat it like spinach.

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‘Ruby Streaks’ mizuna.

My favorite variety of red Mizuna is ‘Ruby Streaks’. It’s lacey leaves have greenish undersides with burgundy red streaks stretching across the top. Mizuna is as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. This type is widely available from most seed suppliers. Other types that may appeal to you include ‘Red Splendor’, ‘Early Mizuna’ or ‘Scarlet Frills’. One review from Baker Creek Seeds describes it as being the “easiest green to grow for my tough soil/weather conditions, including shameful neglect. Grows all seasons for me (and holds in most winters) without any problems.” Sounds like a winner! I’m sure we can all relate to that part about neglect.

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‘Ruby Streaks’ mustard.

What can you expect for flavor? Well, as the name mustard greens denotes, these greens have a very mustard essence about them. ‘Ruby Streaks’ has a surprisingly sweet, hot flavor. The hotness is not overpowering though and you can still taste the flavor of the greens. Each nutrient packed variety of mustard greens that you choose to grow will have it’s own unique flavors and qualities.

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Mizuna leaves add so much to a salad!

Mizuna can easily be used for microgreens. In the garden, plant in spring through fall for a summer full of mustard flavor. Mizuna only takes 21 days for baby greens to mature and 40 days for adult leaves. Even if warm temperatures cause mizuna to bolt, continue to harvest it’s leaves as long as you like the flavor. Their pretty yellow flowers are edible too. With small sprigs of mizuna sprinkled through a salad, the mustard taste will add quite a zesty pop! Because of it’s long growing season, mizuna could quickly become one of your 4 season favorites! Mizuna is a hardy addition to a fall planted garden and will readily self-seed if allowed.

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The small flowers of mizuna.

What are some of the unique crops that you love to grow? Speckled beans, purple podded peas? Of course, most of us can’t grow everything but it keeps things fresh when we try new colors and flavors. With these hot days this week the garden has really shot up. Beans are continuing to poke through the ground, the peas are reaching for the sky and the irises are blooming like crazy! Along with the warmth, the evening mosquitoes are attempting to carry us away! I’m leaving you with a few garden pics of what’s going on here. Have a great week out there!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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Peonies in bud!
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The bees are crazy for the rhododendrons.
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Iris in the evening light.

Simple Roasted Vegetables

What’s one of the easiest, tastiest ways to enjoy eating your vegetables? Roasting them!  No matter what season it is, simple roasted vegetables are an excellent way to prepare an evening meal.  Roasting vegetables is one of the best ways to use up storage vegetables or just a way to clean out the crisper!

Roasted vegetables work so well as a side dish, a vegetarian meal or with meat added to the pan to create a one dish meal.  Try using chicken, pork or sausage made from chicken or pork.  Our favorite option uses local pork sausage mixed with as many veggies as we can fit on the pan.

Snip sausage with kitchen scissors.

Use a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.  I use my kitchen scissors to cut the sausage in 2″ pieces.

Chopped turnip and beets.

On to the vegetables!  A number of years ago, a friend mentioned that she had been just roasting veggies every night.  No matter what they were, she would simply cook them in the oven.  Broccoli was one veggie that she specifically mentioned.  I had always steamed broccoli.  After trying this method of cooking, I now roast broccoli whenever I can.  As you can see above, beets and turnip can be chopped uniformly to add to your pan.

Cauliflower and broccoli cook up nicely.

Cauliflower and broccoli cook up about the same when you roast them.  Broccoli tends to get a little singed on the edges.  Cauliflower is wonderful when roasted with garlic and then pureed to emulate mashed potato.  Just know that the garlic flavor is quite potent!

Parsnips and carrots have so much flavor.

What would this one pan dinner be without carrots and parsnips?  The sweet flavors are almost like eating candy.  This is one way to use up smaller homegrown carrots.  The ones that are a nuisance to deal with.  Give them a scrub, cut off the end and throw into the pan.  Sometimes our local farm stand has parsnips as big as your forearm.  It only takes one of these to make a meal special and give it that earthy, sweet parsnip taste.

Sweet potatoes are as sweet as can be!

Did I mention sweet potato?  Cut them into chunks or slice like in this photo.  They are fabulous.  It seems that when you roast vegetables, everything just goes together.

Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, cauliflower and beets, ready for the oven.

This past year, I started roasting brussel sprouts.  I’ve grown to love them in this way.  They are especially good with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  Don’t forget that you can use pieces of white potato, asparagus, green beans and bell peppers.  Winter squash wedges are really good too.

Onions are do sweet when roasted.

Onions turn into pure perfection when roasted with other vegetables.  Soft with crispy edges.

Try not to overcrowd the pan!

I literally throw this meal together.  It’s almost like a convenience food for me.  I simply chop, assemble and then we are about an hour away from an awesome meal.  In my oven, the roasted veggies come out best cooked for about an hour at 400 degrees F.  Before placing in the oven, drizzle or spritz with olive oil if desired.  If you are using sausage, go easy on the oil.  Toss in some garlic cloves and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder or brown sugar.  Whatever you like.  Stir vegetables half way through cooking.

A delicious meal!

The resulting meal is so delicious and satisfying.  The flavors all blend together.  It may be simple to make roasted vegetables but the flavors are anything but.  I think that you should make it tonight!  If you have some vegetables in the fridge that are borderline or if some of your veggies stored from your fall harvest are looking sad, try this sumptuous one pan meal!  I hope that you will enjoy it as much as our family does!  Thanks for coming along this week as Everlongardener explores the simple art of roasting veggies!  Don’t forget to subscribe for free in the sidebar for my weekly garden related ramblings!

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

Grow Your Own Sunflower Shoots

Of all the microgreens and shoots out there, sunflower shoots may just be king of the windowsill.  Easy to grow, quick to mature, a snap to harvest and totally nutritious!  If you haven’t tried growing your own sunflower shoots, it may be the new winter food you have been looking for.  What exactly are sunflower shoots?

Sunflower shoots are the young, edible seedlings of sunflower plants.  Within a weeks time, a batch of sunflower shoots are ready.  A nutritional powerhouse, they are full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein.  They are also considered a complete protien.   Check out the impressive nutritional information at Markito Nutrition.  As for taste, they are crunchy with a pleasant nutty flavor.  They almost have a succulent quality about them.  In the article A Salad’s Surprise Shot of Flavor, chef Robert Newton says, “They taste like a sunflower seed, kind of, but with chlorophyll.”  I would have to agree!

Start with some sunflower seeds.

It is said that you can use black oil sunflower seeds for growing.  If food safety is a concern, purchase seed from a reputable sprout company that tests for food-borne pathogens.  The Sprout House is a good company.  I’m sure there are many sellers out there.  At Savvy Gardening, they recommend a 12 hours soak for the seeds, then another rinse and soak.  I’ve had great result without even soaking but it would probably speed things along.

Planting shoots and microgreens.

Sunflower shoots can be grown in a plant pot, seed starting tray or a recycled container.  The roots are shallow.  Just make sure you have a few inches of soil.  Use a food safe growing mix.  No fertilizer is necessary.  Press down the soil and scatter the seeds thickly across the surface of the soil.  Sprinkle additional soil over seeds.  Some growers just firmly place another tray over the seeds to block the light for a few days.  For the home grower, covering the seeds with dirt works just fine.

They are growing!

Within a few days, your little shoots will be reaching for the sun to become a thick sunflower shoot forest!  You can even have a few batches going at once for a continual harvest.

Sunflower shoots emerging!

As your shoots grow, pick off the seed coats to allow them to open fully.

Sunflower forest, ready for cutting.

When the shoots are at 4″ or so, cut them with scissors.  Always wash shoots in cool water and store in a bag.  They will last when stored in this way for a few weeks.  Don’t allow them to grow beyond the shoot stage.

Give Shoots a thorough washing.

Sunflower shoots make a fantastic plant to grow with children.  The seeds are big enough for even the tiniest of hands to grasp and they love watching the fat seedlings rise up through the soil.  Getting my son to even try them is another story all together!

Salad garnished with shoots and microgreens!

Typical uses for sunflower shoots are salads, sandwiches, smoothies and can be used as a garnish.  But, think beyond this.  Try them as a substitute for bean sprouts.  Throw them last minute into a stir-fry.  Use them anywhere you think they will compliment the meal.  Sunflower shoots are an excellent way to get through the winter and a wonderful addition to your winter windowsill garden!

For more information on shoots and microgreens, go to my articles Easily Grow Windowsill Microgreens or Grow Pea Shoots in 4 Super Easy Steps.  Thank you for joining me this week at Everlongardener and happy growing!

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

Simple Refrigerator Pickled Peppers

Recently, I was having a lunch with some great friends.  There was an interesting array of jars of pickles, pickled peppers and spicy mustard spread over the dining room table to go with our lunch.  As I was sampling everything in site, I spooned some pickled hot peppers onto my plate.  After trying them I felt the urgent need to try making some simple refrigerator pickled peppers!

As my friends watched me pile on the peppers, it was soon brought to my attention that some of the peppers in that jar where Ghost peppers (Bhut jolokia).  Once, this pepper was considered the hottest pepper in the world!  Turns out, I did not eat all of them, but I did try one.  They were tasty, although there was a fair amount of forehead sweat and burning ears!

The gears in my brain started turning!  What if I adapted my refrigerator sweet pickle recipe to a hot pepper version (minus the Ghost peppers!)?  During my next grocery store stop, I bought some jalapeño and chili peppers.  The red and green colors are gorgeous together.

Jalapeño and red chili peppers.

Normally,  peppers don’t do too well in my garden.  If I start them from seed they seem to grow too slow.  Last year, I was determined to do better.  I purchased an assortment of sweet and a few hot pepper plants from a local greenhouse.  I had the best harvest ever!  There was a tip that I read somewhere about planting them close together in a block and this worked well for me.  I’m excited to try some more varieties this season!  I’m also curious about vertical growing for peppers.  I’d love to grow some habanero peppers for our homemade barbecue sauce.  We used to make frozen habanero cubes for making our own sauce.  Here’s how I made the pickled peppers!

Simple Refrigerator Pickled Peppers 

7-8 fresh peppers of your choice

1/3 cup sliced onion

1 tbsp. kosher canning salt

1/3-1/2 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. each of mustard seed, turmeric and celery seed

White vinegar, at least 5% acidity, good quality

Carefully slice peppers and layer them in a pint canning jar with the sliced onions.   Gloves and a dishwasher safe cutting board are helpful.  Do not touch your eyes!

Jar of peppers and onions.

Sprinkle in the dry ingredients.

Had to get out my tiny measuring spoons!

Add enough vinegar to fill the jar.

Add the spices!

Screw on cover and turn upside down a few times.  Place in fridge for 3-4 weeks.  I turned to jar every time I thought of it.  The green peppers will turn an olive green color when they have fully taken on the flavors in the jar.  This recipe can easily be doubled or adapted to any size jar.  Use store purchased peppers or homegrown.  Mix it up a bit and experiment with the flavors!  This recipe delivers a sweet/hot pepper.  Serve with sandwiches, salads, appetizers or on pizza!  They are excellent stuffed into a grilled cheese.

Finished pickled peppers!

This is a great way to preserve peppers without canning.  Try some of my other simple ideas in the post Quick Food Preservation Tips.  There you will find some great tips for the busy gardener!

Have you finished planning your garden yet?  I’m still working on mine.  I’ve been thinking about starting some onions soon.  Do any of you start onions or do you direct seed or use sets?  Leave me a comment, question or advice below.  I would love to hear from you!  I hope you try this recipe and like it as much as we did!  Thanks for following along and subscribe for free in the sidebar.

Hilary|Everlongardener

 

 

Cranberry Orange Labneh Cheese Ball

What’s creamy, delicious and fancy all at the same time?  A tasty treat with no fat?  How about making a labneh cheese ball?  I’ve made them with savory flavors before but what if the cheese was mixed with sweet and sour flavors for a delectable party cheese ball or breakfast spread?

This may sound like the craziest idea ever but believe me, this is fabulous!  This time of year in New England, fresh cranberries are in local stores.  In our area, we have a cranberry farm that supplies beautiful bags of these tart, crimson jewels to our local health food stores.  Usually we think of making cranberry sauce, bread or relish.  I even have a cranberry pie recipe that everyone loves. But, how else can you enjoy these seasonal fruits?  I had been thinking of making labneh or laban recently.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a simple Middle Eastern yogurt cheese.  Possibly the easiest cheese you can craft at home.

The Process

For making your own labneh at home you will need non-fat or low fat yogurt, cheesecloth, a colander and a saucepan.  I follow the recipe in the 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking cookbook.  For this recipe, I used vanilla non-fat yogurt.  Regular yogurt will do, no need to buy Greek yogurt.  For a savory cheese spread, plain yogurt is best.

Place cheesecloth in the colander.

Place a small colander in a quart saucepan, then layer three pieces of cheesecloth in the colander.  Leave excess for wrapping.  Scoop 2 cups of yogurt onto the cheesecloth.  Add 2 tsp. salt if making a savory version.  Wrap in a loose ball shape.  Place the saucepan cover over yogurt and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  That’s it!  That’s all you have to do!  All excess liquid will be in the saucepan.  For a savory labneh, mix in your choice of herbs…rosemary, mint, basil, oregano, you decide.  Form into a ball, sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with good olive oil.  Serve with pita, crackers or vegetables.  No one will guess that it is a healthy snack!

Cranberry Orange Labneh Cheese Ball

Local Maine cranberries!

For this sweet and tart version, a sort of chutney is needed.  Do not add salt in the cheese making process.  You will need cranberries, a large orange, sugar and pecans.  In a quart size saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, the juice and zest of 1 large orange.

Juicing the orange to add to the cranberries.

Cook over medium heat until cranberries burst and mixture thickens.

Cooking down the chutney.

Add water as needed but the chutney should have a thick consistency, not watery.  Near the end, add 1/8 cup of sugar.  Add more or less sugar according to taste.  Allow chutney to cool.  This makes enough for two recipes.

Stir in the chutney.

Gently mix half of the chutney into your cheese.  Save the rest for another ball or use for something else.  Just swirl it in, don’t over mix.  Return mixture to cheesecloth to form a ball.

Wrap cheese ball up again.

Put back in the fridge to firm it up.  When you are ready to serve, turn cheese ball out onto serving plate.

Look at that cheese ball!

Toast chopped pecans and coat cheese ball with cooled nuts.  Serve with crackers, bread, bagels…what ever you can think of!  Use in stuffed french toast or on pancakes! Yum!

Just try to stay out of that sweet cheese spread!

This is just one way to serve labneh cheese. If you have fresh cranberries locally, why not try this alternative way of serving them? I hope you try making some, it really is an amazingly easy process.  You will be carrying on an ancient cheese making tradition.  I also hope you love it as much a we do!  This is perfect for a party or even just to keep in the fridge for an anytime of day snack.  Enjoy!

Hilary|Everlongardener

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