Blog posts categorized as: Food & Drink

Cocktail Gardening: First Day of Spring Spritzer

Mar 20, 2014

Ok, I don't know if this beverage actually qualifies as a "spritzer", but it sounded good in the title. To celebrate the first day of spring, we gals here at HH headquarters decided to partake of a bit of sunshine in a glass.


Photo by Nikki Rosen. Cocktail mixing and styling by Leslie Halleck .We're professionals.

On a whim, we through together  ice, 1.5 oz. homemade limoncello (complements of my BBFF Jimmy Turner's meyer lemon tree, of which I'm now in custody), a couple of splashes of club soda, some fresh lemon slices and a sprig of mint from the garden. Simple and refreshing. Perfect for this first and most beautiful day of spring. Cheers!

Growing veggies? Check out The Fresh 20!

Oct 6, 2013

So you've tackled the veggie garden and after some practice you've started to get good harvests. Once this happens, you'll often find yourself with the task of figuring out what to do with all that harvest! There's freezing, canning, pickling and so on and so forth. Of course the goal is to always eat as much of the seasonal veggies fresh if you can. But with busy schedules, it's easy to get behind on all that cooking.


Recently, I started experimenting with a program called The Fresh 20. Now let me say, I'm not being paid to write about this, I have not been contacted by the author of The Fresh 20, or any such thing. I'm just a paying customer like any other who happens to LOVE it! I've spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years on cookbooks; downloaded hundreds of recipies online; subscribed to any number of cooking magazines. But it's still hard for me to get my kitchen act together because I work all the time. For what was not the first time, I set out online to find some sort of cooking program that would help me organize my shopping list (or garden harvest list), provide easy recipes and suit the varied eating habits in my house (veggie vs. meat eater).

What I stumbled across was The Fresh 20 Cookbook. The description of the cookbook led me to further investigate the website, which offers up subscriptions to weekly shopping and cooking plans that are built around seasonal ingredients. I purchased both the Classic and the Vegetarian plans (when you buy the first one, you get additional plans for 1/2 price). It' AMAZING and the price is more than worth it. The author, Melissa Lanz, has done all the work: Created the recipes, which are tasty and easy, built the shopping list and provided all of the nutritional info. I swear, this is the easiest meal plan I've every tried to use. She also gives you a ballpark of what the week's shopping will cost you (but you should probably go ahead and double that if you shop at Whole Foods, lol). Simply substitute your garden harvest for veggies in the recipes (or sub the veggie completely for something else you have in the garden).

Each week you get 5 dinners worth of recipes, your shopping list, and panty staples. If you're a household of two, you'll have plenty of leftovers to cover all your lunches. If you have a family of 4, you should end up with just about the right amount for dinner. Some meals you'll still end up with extra. Food is great, easy to make and really makes the week of cooking so much easier.

Anyhoo, if you're a veggie gardener and are looking for an easier way improve your kitchen time, grocery bill and use up that garden harvest, check this program. It's just been too good not to share!


Harvesting Mushrooms

Oct 21, 2012

So, in addition to harvesting salad greens, cilantro, basil and other yummies from my garden this weekend, I'm also harvesting THESE beauties!


I've added three species of fungi to my garden, firstly to help improve the soil, but secondly to reap the fruits of their labor. This would be a specimen of Stropharia rugosoannulata, also known as the "Garden Giant".  Unlike most other species of Stropharia, this species is a choice edible. This species offers up a late-summer or fall harvest. I was so excited to find a big crop of them yesterday popping up in my shade bed. Adding inoculants of certain fungal species to your vegetable garden can be highly beneficial for other food crops, however in our super-hot climate in Texas, it can be tough for the shrooms to be planted in ful-sun locations. So I've instead inoculated my partical shade beds with good success. Can't wait to cook these up!

Harvesting Tomatillo

Aug 6, 2012

One of  the veggies (fruits) you can count on harvesting, even in 107 F degree weather, is the Tomatillo. This little tomato relative produces shiny green fruits surrounded by a paper wrapper from the calyx. The fruits look like little paper lanterns hanging from the plants once they start to mature. Plant in a sunny location and keep regularly watered. Otherwise, these babies are easy to grow! You'll also hear them referred to as "ground cherries', although this can be confusing because technically that common name refers to plants of the genus Physalis, a relative to the Tomatillo.


One important thing to note about Tomatillos is that are not self-fertile. This means you'll need to have at least two plants grown together in order to have successful pollination. Three or four plants is much better! Tomatillo plants will sprawl to 4-5 ft. wide and around 4-feet tall (but can get taller!).  Typically, you'll want to harvest the Tomatillo's while the papery shell is still a bit more green than those I have in the photo. I've been remiss in not harvesting mine often enough! But, they till roasted up great.

Green salsa

I love making a "green" sauce or salsa with my Tomatillos. I just pop in the oven under the broiler on high  for about 15 minutes, along with some peppers from the garden. Let the peppers blacken a bit...the Tomatillos should be beginning to blacken in bits, and be soft and popping before taking them out of the oven. I just through it all into my vitamix blender with a bit of salt. Yummy! You can also add garlic if you like a more traditional salsa flavor. Enjoy!

Harvesting ‘Golden Mama’ Tomatoes

Jun 12, 2012

I've been harvesting some fruit off of my 'Golden Mama' tomato plants over the last few weeks, but the big haul is beginning to come in! I filled this obviously inadequately sized bowl to overflowing today, and there are plenty more fruits to come.


I'm also harvesting some wonderful 'Black Cherry' heirlooms. I've saved the larger fruit for slicing, but what to do with some of the smaller fruit? Well, one of my favorites and super easy thigns to do with cherry or small tomatoes is marinate them overnight, then roast them. So some of these babies will be going into a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary from the garden.

I'll let the tomatoes marinate overnight, then tomorrow, I'll pop them into a 425F oven and roast them for 15-20 min (15 minutes is typically adequate for cherry sized tomatoes, I give it an extra 5 minutes for larger fruit). And there you have it, the most delicious soft warm tomatoes to serve on top of bread, crackers, or anything really. YUM. I wish it was tomorrow already!


Get that pesto made!

Oct 30, 2011

Still have basil in the garden here in Texas? If so, I'd say today is the perfect day to get it harvested and start making Pesto to put away for the winter.

Basil won't tolerate temperatures below 40 F degrees and we've already dipped to 40F at night, and into the mid- to high- 30's in some parts of Texas at night. Pine nuts, the traditional ingredient in pesto, can be pricey...but you don't have to use them. You can use any other nut you have on hand like walnuts or almonds - it's just as good! And remember, you can make pesto from many different doesn't have to be basil. One of my favorite pesto combinations is cilantro and walnuts. So pesto isn't just for warm season herbs!

If you're making mass quantities of pesto right now like I am, you'll want to freeze pesto portions for future use. I like to scoop the pesto into ice trays, which make just about the right amount for a single portion. Cover the pesto in the tray with some plastic wrap and freeze. Then just store in freezer safe ziploc bags. Yum!



Homemade Ginger Ale…mmmmmm

Feb 14, 2010

ZingiberThere aren't many opportunities for treats on my restrictive diet. So when I came across this recipe for homemade ginger ale, and I realized that all the ingredients were not only things I'm allowed to eat, but I'm allowed to eat them on the same day... I had just had to make it of course! It sure is yummy...

  • 2-3 tablespoons filtered water 
  • 1/3 cup peeled/chopped fresh ginger
  • ΒΌ-1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 3-5 table \spoons honey 
  • 2-3 tablespoons agave nectar 
  • one pinch sea salt
  • Club soda or sparkling water

First take the peeled chopped ginger and mix with 2-3 tablespoons filtered water in a blender or magic bullet type mixer. Pulse a few times and then blend on high speed until really smooth.

Then take some cheese cloth and place it over a strainer. Pour mixture onto cheesecloth/strainer into a small pitcher. Once the liquid has passed through, pull the corners of the cheesecloth together and press out all the juice into the pitcher.

Add the lemon juice, honey, nectar (or stevia) and salt together. Stir until completely mixed.

Pour about 1/4 of the mixture into a class with ice and fill glass with club soda or sparkling water. Top with lemon slice.

YUM...I can actually have some soda!

Rediscovering Barley

Jan 25, 2010

With the restrictive diet I'm on right now, I don't have a lot of options when it comes to grains and proteins. On the day-2 rotation of my LEAP diet, I'm allowed barley. I have to admit, it had a been a loooong time since I'd eaten barley and I honestly couldn't tell you if I'd ever cooked it before. I knew I could use it like a rice or quinoa on the days where I'm not allowed those staples. But then it occurred to me that it might actually make a nice breakfast.

So I cooked up a batch of barley pearls, of which bulk can be purchased at your local health food grocery. Takes about 25 min to cook then I just store it overnight. The only dairy I'm allowed on day #2's is goat milk. Which I have to say, I seem to be able to drink just fine without a lot of problems (can't do regular cow's milk without taking a lactaid or buying lactaid milk). So I take about a 1/3 cup of the cooked barley, added about 1/2 cup of goats milk, added a teaspoon of maple syrup and some fresh blueberries. Heat it up for about 1 1/2 minutes and whaalaaa. A pretty yummy breakfast cereal.

Barley is also apparently very good for you. "Barley contains eight essential amino acids. According to a recent study, eating whole grain barley can regulate blood sugar (i.e. reduce blood glucose response to a meal) for up to 10 hours after consumption compared to white or even whole-grain wheat, which has a similar glycemic index. The effect was attributed to colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates. Barley can also be used as a coffee substitute." (Wikipedia)

So there ya go...barley is yummy and healthy...

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