Tag Archives: vegetables

Gardening Without Breaking the Bank

Ladies, it’s just about time to break out those watering cans! Summer is just around the corner and we know what that means… fresh vegetables and flowers straight from the garden! We wanted to help you make the most out of your gardens this year while still being able to stay within your budget. Also, we have a few ideas to keep you out of those annoying hardware stores buying gallons of chemical-filled products for your garden, and instead spending more time enjoying your garden by making your own products at home!
First, did you know that you can actually regrow some vegetables like lettuce, celery, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and even potatoes from the scraps left in your own refrigerator? This is a huge time and money saver because you’re regrowing from something you have already purchased and you’re starting from a base instead of a seed! So, stop throwing them away and find a planting pot, fast! For flowers, you and your neighbors can share and propagate cuttings from your larger flower bushes/plants in order to save one another money.  Plus, this way everyone has beautiful flower beds while building stronger relationships with their neighbor! Another super easy way to save money is to, instead of waiting until the middle of the day when it’s the hottest to water your flowers or vegetables, do it first thing in the morning or after the sun has started to go down. This saves money because you end up using less water because plants will need more water in the middle of the day to prevent becoming wilted. However, if you water them in the morning or the evening, then they already have all the water they will need to make it through the day! While this may seem like a difficult time of the day to squeeze another task into your morning/evening routine, spending quality time in your garden during the most peaceful times of the day is good for the soul. You might even find that it puts you in a better mood for your day by just spending a few extra minutes in your garden each morning/evening.
gardening1Making your own organic sprays or fertilizers in order to avoid spraying your flowers or vegetables with potentially harmful chemicals is a great alternative! Even better is that making your own organic sprays prevents you from going into those overwhelming home improvement stores trying to sell you unnecessary things in order to have a successful garden. If you are active on Pinterest you can find tons of recipes for both organic pesticide sprays and fertilizers here. Our favorite organic pesticide spray to use on vegetables and flowers is from LavenderandLime.com and contains only the best ingredients to keep pests and chemicals out of your garden! For more ideas on how to have a successful garden and how you can get an early start, pick up our March issue out now!

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Fear of Frost?

Tips to keep your garden growing through fall’s chill

As warm weather begins to fade to memory and frost threatens, even avid gardeners may be tempted to pack up their trowels and call it a season. You may think it’s better to leave the victory garden gracefully, than risk the disappointment of watching crops wither in chilly temperatures. But fear of frost and failure don’t have to stop you from enjoying a fruitful fall garden. With the right plant choices and a few tricks, producing a hefty harvest can be easy.

A few facts about frost
Frost occurs when temperatures drop enough to condense and freeze the moisture in the air. In fall, when air temperatures sink, it’s common to find frost layering the ground, leaves and crops. Frost may occur frequently in the fall before the ground really becomes frozen — known as a hard freeze.
While a hard freeze generally heralds the end of the growing season and frost can harm warm weather crops like oranges, some veggies actually do very well — and taste better — when nipped by frost. By stocking your fall garden with frost-loving varieties, you can ensure your garden remains victorious and bountiful right up to the first hard freeze. Not sure when the hard freeze will occur in your region? Check out the USDA Freeze Map.
When you consider the many advantages of fall gardening, frost shouldn’t be feared. Cooler temperatures mean you’ll have a more comfortable experience while working in the garden, and you’ll have fewer insect pests and weeds to deal with.

Frost-friendly choices
Just because the growing season is over for summer crops like tomatoes, you don’t have to give up gardening before the cold winter weather. Instead, clear out the remnants of summer plantings and debris and get the ground ready for fall favorites like spinach, cabbage, collards and kale. These hearty, leafy vegetables — available from Bonnie Plants — actually like the chill weather and can stand up to some frost.
Certain root veggies, such as radishes and turnips, also do well in cooler temperatures. All are packed with nutrients, so you can plant them knowing you’ll be filling your dinner table with fresh, nutritious, great-tasting veggies this fall. For a list of fall-weather favorites, tips and harvest advice visit www.bonnieplants.com.

21637979Get a good start
When planning your fall garden, time is of the essence. Start with well-established, vigorous plants like those Bonnie Plants offers in some regions at garden retailers.
Starting out with more mature plants not only allows you to get your fall garden growing faster, it helps ensure your vegetables are strong enough to endure unexpected or extreme temperature variations. And remember to choose short-season varieties that will produce quicker in fall’s shorter growing season.

When frost arrives
Even though your fall vegetables might be able to handle the cold, you may want an extra layer of protection for unseasonably cool nights. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect plants from sudden dips in temps.
Growing veggies in the right spot can make a big difference. Choose a location for your garden that gets plenty of sun, especially in the morning when you’ll want plants to quickly shake off overnight chill. Planting in a raised bed also helps insulate plants and their tender roots from ground freezes. Container gardens are also great for fall; when a severe frost or hard freeze threatens, you can bring plants inside, overnight for protection.
Sometimes you may want to cover plants against extreme cold. One option is a cold frame. Typically constructed of wood and glass or plastic, the frame sits over plants like a portable mini greenhouse. You can build your own — an online search will yield plenty of how-to plans — or purchase a prefabricated one. For less severe situations, simply turning a pot or bucket upside down over tender young plants can be enough to shield them from cold.
When fall arrives, you don’t have to fear frost, or give up your garden. Success starts with choosing cold-hearty varieties that prosper and produce well in cool weather. Visit www.bonnieplants.com to learn more about fall vegetables.

Transform Your Picky Eater!

Few things cause more parental frustration than trying to get a picky eater to enjoy a well-rounded diet. Whether your child has been picky all his life, or, out of nowhere is now turning up his nose at healthy foods he previously adored, it’s easy to feel like your failing as a caregiver.

“I think we need to remember that it is developmentally appropriate for children to not only move in and out of enjoying certain foods, but also to test limits and boundaries with their parents around refusing to eat what we give them,” says Dr. Aimee Gould Shunney, a licensed naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s health and family medicine.

20941719_originalA parent herself, when Shunney’s son goes through phases when he eats only certain things, she tries to remain consistent and optimistic.

“I believe it’s part of my job as a mama to keep a positive tone in my voice as I offer variety, explain the importance of protein for muscles and smarts, and sing the praises of eating a rainbow – even after a full day’s work while going up against a tired first-grader who only wants dessert,” she says. “I think the biggest mistake we make is when we just give up and give in because, well, it can be exhausting.”

To help parents win the food fights and bring peace to the dinner table, Shunney offers five simple ideas for transforming a child with finicky tendencies into an amazing eater with optimal nutrition.

1. Cook more.   Cook for your children and make their dishes simple without lots of sauces and spices. If possible, let them help you cook so they can be part of the fun. Cooking whole unprocessed foods will ensure your family is getting the biggest nutrition bang for your buck. There will be less sodium, sugar, additive and preservatives as well.

2. Eat more veggies.   Present them with choices: Would you like carrots or red peppers? Pickles or olives? Try starting dinner with a raw veggie plate and let your kids select what they want. It’s a healthy appetizer that makes eating whole foods a regular part of the meal routine.
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3. Pick your protein.   Find three protein meals your kids like and use them often for dinner and lunches. Peanut butter and jelly should not be an everyday option. Other ideas: Alaskan salmon burgers, organic chicken strips and eating breakfast for dinner that includes a protein like eggs. Choose animal products that are pastured and fed organic feed. If you eat beef, choose grass-fed – this will provide better fats for your children’s development, immune system and cognitive function, as well as help you avoid exposure to chemicals and antibiotics.

4. Supplements.  Supplements are really important for kids – even ones who eat well. A good multivitamin can help bridge the gap for a picky eater. Add in an omega-3 EPA and DHA supplement which has numerous well-researched benefits in areas like childhood immunity, behavior and attention, cognitive function and emotional well-being. Try a vitamin D supplement – 400 I.U. for breast-fed infants, 500 I.U. from 1-3 years old, 800 I.U. from 4-8 years old, and 1300 I.U. from 9-18 years old.

5. Show them. Teach them good eating habits by modeling good eating habits. Share your favorite foods. Sit down at the table and eat. Love your veggies. Relish your protein. Don’t overdo it on starch. Take it easy on dessert. Drink water. Enjoy your food.

“We often take health and nutrition way too seriously and it stops being any fun. I believe that eating food is one of the supreme joys of life, particularly when it’s eaten with people you love!” says Shunney. “Planning meals, preparing food, eating it together while talking and laughing – even the clean up – can all be fun if we make that our intention. The more fun it is, the more our kids will want to participate, and the more they do that, the more engaged they will be around food and family.”

Serve it up Sassy!®: Dining on a Dime!

placesetting 1A - CopyRECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

Winter may bring cold winds and snow showers, but there’s a bright spot in all of this wintery bliss, a healthy meal with a pretty table ushering in the promise of spring and dining on a dime. Hope you are hungry!

Here is a budget-friendly menu for light supper at home. Melt away the icy chill with a hearty tomato bacon soup, triple cheese “spoons” and for dessert, a mouthwatering chocolate meringue brownie with cashew caramel sauce.

If the past season has left you money hungry, this menu will help you stretch-a- dollar. Purchasing seasonal foods is a healthy and cost-effective way to approach menu planning and shopping. Grocery stores tend to purchase in-bulk seasonal items because they are plentiful, making them less expensive for you—especially when they go on sale. Vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic and carrots are just a few seasonal foods that were used in this menu. There are many other vegetables to select from ranging from arugula to turnip greens. Ask your produce manager what items are seasonal and they should be able to help you.

Our menu has five seasonal items including the vegetables in the centerpiece. The onions, garlic and carrots were cooked in the savory tomato soup along with canned tomatoes. The triple cheese spoons and chocolate meringue brownies were baked to perfection using basics from a well -stocked pantry. If you don’t have a stocked pantry, begin to add one or two extra items each time you shop to keep your pantry ready for those impromptu meals. A good resource for stocking your pantry is budgetbytes.com.

lenton rose centerpieceBlooming in the midst of a cold winter and reaching toward the warmth of the sun, white Lenten roses are the welcomed centerpiece for this light supper. The roses were not purchased but cut from the backyard. The base of a green head of cabbage provided an interesting vase and the Brussels sprouts compliment the dark green leaves of the Lenten roses. The cabbage is hollowed in the center and holds a small glass container for water. After the flowers are spent, you can use the cabbage and Brussels sprouts for another meal or two. A great way to save money is to use vegetables and fruits as part of your centerpiece.

Decorate your table with what you have, begin with the white dinner plate and add colorful salad plates or bowls to the setting. Fold a pretty napkin and tuck it under the salad plate. In this sassyscape, the $3.00 centerpiece set the tone for this green, white and black color scheme. The napkin is a tea towel. Be creative and make your table your own by using what you already have available. Perhaps you have extra lemons or limes around; you could create a scheme from those two colors.  Inspiration is all around you. Take the time to find it.

February may indeed bring cold winds and snow showers, but there is always a bright spot in each and every day no matter what the season brings. A pretty table, a fulfilling meal and the satisfaction knowing you didn’t over spend makes every day a little bit brighter and less stressful. Dining on a Dime can help you usher in the promise of spring with a big smile on your face and money in your pocket.

tomato soupSavory Bacon Tomato Soup with Avocado Sauce

2 strips of market fresh bacon
½ cup chopped yellow onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup canned tomato sauce
2-12 ounce can diced tomatoes basil, garlic and oregano
3 cups chicken broth
Garnish
Avocado Sauce
½ cup bacon bits-divided
8-10 Chive stems

Avocado Sauce
¼ cup yogurt or sour cream
1-tablespoons water
½-avocado, mashed

In large saucepan, fry bacon. Remove bacon but reserve oil. Sauté onions, garlic and carrots in the bacon oil on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir until onions are transparent and soft.
Add tomato paste and canned diced tomatoes. Add broth, salt and pepper.
Simmer for 45 minutes.
In blender or using hand emulsifier, puree the soup in batches until smooth, return to saucepan over medium heat. Serve soup in individual bowls.
Make avocado sauce; mix all ingredients together until smooth.
Top each bowl with avocado sauce, crumbled bacon bits and chive stems.
Serve with Three Cheese Cheddar Spoons.
Yield: 4-6 Servings

 

cheesespoonsThree- Cheese Spoons (Straws)

16 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
1 stick butter- land a lakes
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more as desired
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
Garnish:   white sesame seeds-optional

In food processor with steel blade, or with a mixer, cream the butter and cheeses until fluffy and smooth. Add cayenne, salt and flour and process the dough until the dough gathers inside the bowl.
Preheat oven to 325.
Remove dough and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 25 minutes or longer. When ready to roll out, the dough should be pliable and easy to roll. You might need to knead the dough to make it pliable and easier to roll.
Roll dough on flour surface to a little more than 1/8 inch thick – these will puff slightly during baking. (¼ inch is to thick, unless you want a thicker spoon)
Cut desired shapes using cookie cutters or a spoon cut out.
On a parchment lined double baking sheet space each spoon 1/4 inch apart. Brush spoon with water then sprinkle with sesame seeds or other grain. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and brown. Allow to cool on pan before removing to avoid breakage.
Store in airtight container after cooled.
Yield: about 40 spoons (These freeze well. Serve with soups, salads or as appetizer mini’s.)

chocolatemeringueChocolate Meringue Brownies with Cashew Caramel Sauce

1-8×8 inch square pan full of baked brownies- use favorite mix or recipe
1 cup chocolate frosting, purchased or home-made

Chocolate Meringue

½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened special dark cocoa
2 egg whites, room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar

Cashew Caramel Sauce

½ cup purchased caramel sauce
½ cup whole cashews

Instructions for Meringue and Cashew Caramel Sauce

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Trace 8- 2 ½ inch round cookie cutter size on to parchment paper. Turn paper over. Set aside.
In small bowl, sift confectioners sugar with cocoa, set aside.
In large mixing bowl, using wire wisk, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gradually add granulated sugar to egg whites, beat until stiff peaks form.
Gradually add confectioners and cocoa mixture, beat to blend. Peaks will be lost.
Spoon mixture into zip lock bag, close bag, clip one end to 1/8 inch, pipe circles onto parchment paper.
Bake meringues in oven for 20- 25 minutes or until firm. Open oven door slightly and cool completely.
In small bowl, combine cashews with caramel sauce. Set aside.

To Assemble:
Cut brownies into 4 -2 ½ inch circles using cutter for meringues. Frost each brownie top with chocolate frosting. On serving plate, layer one meringue upright, brownie round, top with meringue. With spoon drizzle cashew caramel sauce over meringue brownie dessert.
Yield: 4 servings

Make a Statement, Make it Sassy, Make it Your’s.®
Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. She makes elegance easy for her audience and encourages them to add their own Sassy touch to make it unique. Liz is famous for creating her own version of a beautifully presented tablescape – which she calls a Sassyscape ™ -and she also creates magic beyond the dining experience. In 2009, 2010, and 13, she was selected from thousands nationwide to be part of an elite team of 100 professionals entrusted with decorating the White House for the Holiday. In 2011, she was part of seven-person team selected to decorate the Tennessee Governor’s Mansion for the holiday.
Liz has been featured as the monthly guest chef on Daytime Tri-Cities, television show on WJHL, the CBS Affiliate for the Tri- Cities Area of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Daytime Blue Ridge in Roanoke, Virginia and Daytime Tampa, Tampa Florida. She is also the creator and host of her own one-hour seasonal television show called “Serve it up Sassy!” for the same market, which aired in 2011. She is also a contributing writer for the regional magazine VIP Seen and Lovely Bella magazine in Roanoke, Virginia.
She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Consumer and Family Sciences from Purdue University and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Fashion Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She is also certified in Decorative Finishes and has been trained as a volunteer Master Gardener.
Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook. Liz turns dessert into the fifth basic food group and features recipes for her signature specialty, delicious “mini-desserts and appetizers.”
Liz makes her home in Johnson City, Tennessee. She continues to perfect her sassy approach to turning simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments.
Liz Bushong, Serve it up Sassy! ™
To purchase cookbooks, find recipes, cooking, and decorating demonstrations, go to www.lizbushong.com.

 

Swapping Habits for Healthier Living

When it comes to cooking, you’re always on the lookout for new recipes, easy shortcuts and ways to make familiar recipes healthier without sacrificing the great taste. If you are a health-minded cook, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Add colors to your foods – Colorful fruits and vegetables quickly decorate a traditional recipe and make food appear much more appetizing. Look for deep greens in spinach, vibrant reds in tomatoes and a rainbow of colors in peppers to add to your casseroles, lasagnas or meat dishes.

2. Swap out the plate size – It may surprise you to learn serving meals on smaller plates encourages people to eat less food. So downsize your dinner plates, and you might find your family eating the proper portions. You’ll also ensure they clean their plates!

3. Change your take-out menus to meal plans – If you have a stack of take-out menus in your home, replace them with recipes and a daily meal planner. Having a planner will help you arrange a weekly grocery shopping list and save you time and money by limiting the number of nights you eat out.

4. Flip the after-dinner routine – Instead of settling down into the couch after dinner, jump start your digestion and take a family walk around the neighborhood together. For healthy bodies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people work their way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activities per week, which can include a brisk walk (at a 15-minute mile pace).

5. Vary the ingredients – If you already have family-favorite recipes, look them over to see if there are ways to swap healthier ingredients in place of others. For example, corn oil can help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil, according to a recent study sponsored in part by ACH Food Companies, Inc. which sells Mazola(C) Corn Oil. The research found plant sterols, which are naturally present in corn oil, have heart healthy benefits such as preventing the absorption of cholesterol in the body. Corn oil contains more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils, making it a healthier swap for your favorite recipes.

If you’re looking for a new delicious recipe that uses corn oil, check out this Kick’N Chicken recipe:

chickenKick’N Chicken with Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (one pound total)
2 tablespoons Weber Kick’N Chicken Seasoning
1/4 cup Mazola(C) Corn Oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Mango Pepper Salsa
2 cups diced fresh mango, 1/4-inch dice
1 cup diced red bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons minced, fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat grill to medium heat, or between 350 to 450 F.
Trim excess fat from chicken, rinse and pat dry using paper towels. If necessary, pound chicken to an even 1/2-inch thickness using a mallet, rolling pin or cast iron skillet (this will ensure the chicken cooks evenly). Place chicken into a 1-gallon size resealable plastic bag. Add seasoning, oil and lemon juice to the bag. Seal bag and turn to thoroughly coat chicken.
Grill chicken over direct high heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn chicken and continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes until cooked through. Transfer cooked chicken to a serving plate.
Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl; stir and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made up to 8 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.)
Top grilled chicken with mango salsa and serve immediately.
Recipe tip: Try slicing the chicken onto warm, low-fat tortillas, top with mango salsa and crumbled queso fresco cheese for delicious spicy chicken wraps.