Recipes

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and even Supermarkets. Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley. If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS. BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant. Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin. More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls like little lollipops that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives. Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to a broth, soup or stew they are used to ease digestive problems; treat anemia; and as food for sick or convalescing patients. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DILL:  There was a time when we made gallons of pickles and relishes and used lots of dill. We don’t bother with that anymore and also no longer bother growing dill. (The dill shown above is store bought.) But I still know enough about using it to share. Dill is used most often for culinary purposes but it has some excellent medicinal qualities. It contains many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C plus iron and calcium. Culinary Uses: Eggs, poultry, salads, potato salad, and as a sauce (recipe below) for fish, especially salmon. Dill Sauce: 1 cup yogurt 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped 1 Tbsp. lemon juice Dash of Worcestershire sauce Directions: Blend all the ingredients together. Serve with fish, delightful over salmon. Medicinal Uses: Dill is a centuries old herb...

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Ice Cube Tray: 20 Tips for Best Frugal Use

Posted by on Jul 26, 2015 in Common Products - Uncommon Uses, Frugal For Everyone, Product Information, Recipes | 42 comments

Ice Cube Tray: 20 Tips for Best Frugal Use

In many homes, the ice cube tray is an often overlooked item tucked away on a high shelf in the back of a cupboard. This is especially true nowadays when many refrigerators come equipped with ice-makers. It certainly isn’t something considered to be a money-saving kitchen tool. But it sure can be. Before starting on the list for best frugal use of the ice cube tray I thought it worthwhile to first provide some basic tips: Know how much each cell of the ice cube tray holds. That way you will know how many cubes you will need for a specific purpose. Each cell in the ones I use for serious freezing equal 2 Tbsp. (1/8 cup); Once the cubes are frozen, transfer from the ice cube tray to freezer bags, seal, and label. I freeze mine in small batches 4 (1/2 cup) or 8 (1 cup) cubes to a baggie, then I place the baggies in a larger bag, keeping them all together. That way it’s easiest to grab the right amount without having them all frozen together; When working with sauces like Pesto and Persillade (recipe below) you can do a cleaner job if you spoon the sauce into a ziplock baggie, cut off a small corner and squeeze to fill the cells; It isn’t necessary to blanch foods frozen in an ice cube tray (and transferred to freezer bags) since they are normally frozen for short-term. My rule of thumb for this is: Less than four months storage ideal, six months maximum; It is totally necessary to label the bags properly. Once frozen, everything looks the same; For plain cubes – To make them clear and not add a nasty taste to a drink, boil the water first before using it to fill the ice cube tray. Now on to the list. The Ice Cube Tray as Money/Time Saver: If you have a small amount of wine leftover after a party, what do you do with it? Turn it into ice cubes to be prepared next time a recipe calls for a little shot of wine; Have you ever bought one of those little cans of tomato paste and used only a tablespoon or two of the paste? Make ice cubes and store them for the next time you need a small amount; How about those recipes that call for ½ a cup or so of buttermilk and buttermilk only comes in quart/litre size? Use what you need and cube the rest; Stop wasting food – it’s quite amazing how much you can save by using up your leftovers. The smallest amounts can be frozen in ice cube trays to be added to soups or stews; You probably won’t find a better price on herbs than right now. Take advantage of that and freeze herbs for winter use. Finely chop the herb, place in the cells and cover with extra virgin olive oil, water or herbal tea, depending on how you plan to use the herb; Parsley is growing rampant in my garden so I’ve been freezing loads of Persillade. This is a great addition to add zip to sautés, tomato soup, chicken soup, mashed/roast potatoes, and tired carrots. You can stir a cube or two into pasta – with or without the optional choices of parmesan cheese or pine nuts. It can be spread on french bread which can then be toasted or it can be spread on fish or meat before baking or grilling. A truly versatile sauce. PERSILLADE RECIPE: So easy. Blend together 4 cups parsley, 4 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup extra virgin...

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Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie

Posted by on Jul 12, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Recipes | 34 comments

Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie

Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie was originally written by Erica Mesirov. As part of my 31 day #ProBlogger blogging challenge I needed to link to another blog post. For that I had the pleasure to choose one of Erica’s. The reason I chose this post is that it fit in well with my blog plus I found her directions for transforming a regular smoothie into a  powerhouse smoothie just too good not to share. Erica is a food and weight loss coach and she blogs about following a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now and enjoy her posts tremendously. They are always full of good, practical advice as this post will demonstrate. I’ll now let Erica’s post speak for itself. Amazing Add-Ins to Transform Your Smoothie Into a Nutrient Filled Powerhouse (By Erica Mesirov) We think of smoothies as a healthy breakfast or a protein rich snack. Yet your smoothie is only as healthy as what you put in it. Here are six things you need to be doing to assure that your smoothie is a lean, mean nutrient rich, nutrient filled powerhouse. Freshly grind your seeds – Throwing in flax seeds, chia seeds or pumpkins seeds can be a good way to supply your body with additional omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. It is popular to purchase packaged ground seeds for use in such things as smoothies. The problem is that once seeds are ground, the oils are easily oxidized which diminishes their nutrient value. Freshly grinding seeds keeps the oils fresh. You can grind them in a small coffee grinder or in a power blender. Just make sure the seeds are fully ground into a powder or you won’t be able to absorb their nutrients. Avoid Using Fruit Juice – Fruit juice seems like it should be a source of vitamins and minerals for your smoothie. In reality, fruit juice is made by isolating the sugar from the fruit while leaving out any of the fiber and vitamins that make fruit nutritious. The sweetness from fruit juice is enough to upset your blood sugar balance and lead to sugar cravings later in the day. Stick to some form of milk as your base and leave the sweetness to your fresh fruit. Check for hidden sugars – While we are talking about the sweet stuff, many smoothie ingredients are full of added sugars. This might be in your non-dairy milk, your protein powder or any add-ins like peanut butter. Read all ingredients carefully before using. Nothing detracts from a smoothie’s health potential than lots of sugar. There are plenty of unsweetened or naturally sweet options, so pick those instead. Add Greens – Hate kale? Cool, throw it in anyway. If you do a smoothie right, you will have such a mix of flavors that you won’t even taste the veggies. This is perfect for a little kid (or big adult) who won’t eat their vegetables. One handful of greens is usually just perfect. Choose Antioxidants – Think beyond just the banana when choosing fruit for your smoothie. Berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are not only really satisfying in smoothies; they are a great source of antioxidants. Some of the many benefits of antioxidants are better skin, improved immunity and increased overall health. Go ahead and use frozen. Once they are blended your smoothie will by cold and refreshing. Support Healthy Gut Bacteria – So many people have taken multiple courses of antibiotics or years of birth control pills (which both help destroy the much needed healthy bacteria in the gut.) For that...

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Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Health and Safety, Product Information, Recipes | 39 comments

Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals

Salad without salad dressing is pretty blah, but have you looked at the list of ingredients on the dressings you buy? It’s enough to make you want to eat your salads plain. Most of the ingredients listed are either synthetic or chemical based. Check your bottled dressing against the list at the end of this post and see for yourself. Fortunately it isn’t necessary to consume these chemical-laden products. Salad dressings are easy to make using ingredients found in most kitchens. Homemade dressings also tastes way better and cost a whole lot less. TO MAKE: Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing: 3/4 cup light pure olive oil 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1/8 tsp. dry mustard (optional) Salt and pepper to taste. Blend all together until smooth. Pour into a glass jar with tight fitting lid and refrigerate overnight before using. Shake well before serving.  Balsamic Vinaigrette: Replace the apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar and the mustard with 1 garlic clove, minced. To make any of the variations below start with ½ cup of the basic dressing and add: Italian Salad Dressing: Blend in 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/8 tsp. each: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, optional 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, optional 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes. French Salad Dressing: Blend in 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes, and ¼ tsp. each: onion powder, paprika, sugar, garlic powder. French Dressing Variation: Blend in 1/2 Tbsp. catsup, ¼ tsp each: sugar, onion powder, paprika..  Russian Salad Dressing: Blend in 1 Tbsp. chili sauce. Catalina Salad Dressing: Blend in ¼ cup catsup, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp. onion powder, pinch of paprika. Ranch Style Salad Dressing: ¾ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup milk 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 ½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional) 1 ½ tbsp. fresh chives, cut fine 1 ½ tbsp. fresh parsley, cut fine Salt and pepper to taste Blend the first four ingredients together, when well blended stir in the herbs, salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight before using. NOTE: Since homemade salad dressings contain no preservatives, it is best to make them up in small batches. They should be kept refrigerated for no longer than a week. See how easy this is? It almost takes less time to make salad dressing than it does to read all the ingredients on the commercial products. Common ingredients found in commercial salad dressing: Soybean, canola or corn oil – GMO products – will increase cholesterol Glucose –throws blood sugar levels out of whack and drains nutrients from the body Flavour or Artificial Flavour – made in a lab and may contain chemicals and preservatives known to be toxic Monosodium glutamate – can cause headaches, pain, nausea and asthma-like symptoms; severe allergic reactions in some people Phosphoric acid – several studies have shown a link to decreased bone density Propylene glycol – this is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water – it is used as a solvent for food colours and flavours Potassium sorbate – an easy to make chemical preservative Sodium benzoate – a synthetic preservative that may be linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and premature aging Polysorbate 60 – common contamination with 1,4 dioxane has linked this product to cancer in lab studies Calcium disodium EDTA – currently being studied for possible link to reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer along with a host of other health related issues. Who wants to eat that stuff? Much better to head to the kitchen to make up a fresh batch of salad dressing – better tasting, lesser cost, no chemicals. Works for me....

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Host A Heart-Healthy Tea Party

Posted by on Feb 8, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 55 comments

Host A Heart-Healthy Tea Party

February is National Heart Health Month. Wouldn’t it be fun to promote awareness by hosting a heart-healthy Tea Party? You could go all out, putting all the la-de-da and elegance that you can think of into the planning. This would include the dress-up, the hats, the flowers, fancy china, tablecloths, napkins, etc. It would be fun to pretend you’re Kate Middleton throwing a party for her royal in-laws. None of this needs to cost a lot- it just needs to look impressive. A good Thrift Store would be able to provide anything needed for next to nothing. This would include table linens, dishes, serving platters, etc. Things wouldn’t need to match, it’s actually better if they don’t. Of course, hosting a heart-healthy tea party means the focus is on food and drinks that are exactly that – heart-healthy choices. While scones, a traditional food could be served, they should be oatmeal scones served with light cream cheese (or yogurt cream cheese) instead of clotted cream, and topped with quick strawberry spread. (Recipes/Instructions later in this article). If you need inspiration, check out the gorgeous photos in this post about Afternoon Tea at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in London, England.  http://www.safariontheblog.com/2015/01/afternoon-tea-at-the-sheraton-park-lane-hotel-london.html Now let’s go plan a  Tea Party. The details: Set the date and the time – traditionally between two and five in the afternoon Send out fancy invitations Ask the guests – young girls love this one – to dress-up: dresses, hats and if available, white gloves. If boys or men are invited they should wear suits and ties Plan the table(s) setting: Tablecloths and cloth napkins Flower arrangements – one bouquet divided into smaller ones is perfect The dishes, again, nothing needs to match: Tea Pots, Cream Pots, Sugar Bowl, Honey Bowl, Dish for Lemon Slices Serving Dishes of all kinds Cups and Saucers Small Plates Cutlery The Tea: It may be possible to buy a variety pack of herbal teas which will allow your guests to sample different kinds. They may prefer to drink regular black or green tea or be more adventurous and try the different herb teas or even a combination. Both black and green tea contain tannins which are good for heart-health. One of the best herbs for general heart-health is hawthorn (the berries). Celestial Seasonings, available at any supermarket, includes hawthorn berries in several of their teas. For children rooibos tea is a pretty safe bet. A great way to get used to drinking herbal teas is to mix them with regular tea. Ginger and  cinnamon, two spices that most people normally have on hand, are excellent heart-healthy choices. Try adding 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger to a pot of regular, chamomile or mint tea. Provide cinnamon sticks in place of spoons to stir the tea. The Food: Besides the spices mention above, oatmeal, fruit (apples, cherries), berries (red ones like strawberries and raspberries), nuts (almonds, walnuts), and dark chocolate all benefit the heart. None of those foods are exotic, hard to find or costly. Some suggestions to get you started: Fancy cucumber or salmon sandwiches Oatmeal Scones http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Scottish-Oat-Scones/ Yogurt Cream Cheese  http://frugalforeveryone.ca/yummy-yogurt-treats-so-easy-to-make/ (make the cream cheese plain without the herbs) Quick Strawberry Spread: Boil together until spreading consistency 3 cups chopped strawberries (frozen is fine), 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Make a few days ahead and refrigerate until ready to use. Strawberries partially dipped in melted dark chocolate Small apple tarts topped with cinnamon You get the idea – be fancy, be elegant, be hoity-toity. Present heart-healthy food and drink, then simply enjoy. Talk to you again next...

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Charm the Chocolate Lover in Your Life

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Bookshare, Frugal For Everyone, Health, Product Information, Recipes | 61 comments

Charm the Chocolate Lover in Your Life

 I recently received the book “Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate”. As I was reading it I thought this would make a fabulous gift for the chocolate lover. Written by my friend, award-winning author Doreen Pendgracs, a fellow Canadian, Chocolatour takes you on an adventure around the world in search of the World’s Best Chocolate. Through the book, Doreen allows the reader to accompany her on the journey. She starts by taking you to  where it all begins, the cacao plantations of South America. This is also where the adventure begins – to Peru, with a two-hour cab ride followed by a four-hour river journey, in a small motorized boat, over numerous rapids. This is followed by a trip to Ecuador where a mudslide disrupts the journey and you need to wait eight hours for the roads to be cleared before traveling on. She then takes you on the rest of the South American adventure, which is fortunately not all hazardous as it includes a visit to a luxurious spa where a chocolate body scrub turns into a blissful, rejuvenating experience. The next chapter is called “Chocogasms and other health benefits of chocolate”. How’s that for an enticing title? Chocolate is called the ‘feel good’ drug and it has numerous health benefits. It contains many health-friendly minerals, vitamins and antioxidants (raw chocolate has ten times more antioxidants than blueberries). One research finding that chocolate lovers are going to love is if you have a chocolate craving, just give in to it. Once you do, you’ll feel better, be more mentally and emotionally balanced and more able to get on with your day. Later in this post I have included a scrumptious recipe for Guinness Chocolate Truffles made with 70% chocolate and Guinness extra stout beer. Imagine, a treat that is actually good for you. Back to the book. Doreen then takes you on a tour of chocolate companies throughout Europe and the UK. You will meet world famous chocolatiers from Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. These masters proudly discuss their craft and offer many different ways to use and serve chocolate. They’ve provided some fascinating recipes, including chocolate gazpacho or how about a summer salad dressed with a chocolate vinaigrette? One of the cities that really intrigued me was Brussels, in Belgium. This tiny European country is home to 2,130 chocolate shops and the Grand Place in Brussels, shown below, has a number of famous chocolate shops. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend a day or two there? There is so much more to enjoy in this book, but you’ll have to discover that for yourself. Right now I want to share one of the recipes in the book for: Guinness Chocolate Truffles From Executive Chef, Justin O’Connor, of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. 1 kg. dark chocolate 70% or better 400 ml heavy cream 100 ml Guinness extra stout beer zest of one orange, grated cocoa powder or dessicated coconut to coat the truffles. Method: Add the cream and the Guinness to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chocolate and grated orange zest. Mix together until the chocolate is fully melted. Leave the chocolate mixture until it is cool to the touch, but not set. Take generous teaspoons of the mixture and roll in your hands to form small round truffles. Dust in cocoa powder or coconut powder. I prefer the coconut as it adds a lovely flavour to the truffles. Set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Makes 25 truffles. Shelf life: One month. MY NOTES: You...

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