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Another super simple recipe – maybe I should dub this ‘Super Simple Recipe Week’. Here’s a variation on the Orange Pekoe Sun Tea – inspired by a comment Jo left on said post (so leave comments, your happenstance idea might inspire a new creation). She mentioned the addition of lemons, so that inspired me to write up this little diddy! I must say, it is delicious – I wouldn’t be posting it if it wasn’t. The lemon and jasmine complement the Ceylon/Orange Pekoe so well…it’s like a match made in the sun. I ended up drinking the whole pitcher within 3 days – and that was because I forced myself to ration it. 😉

Ingredients:

4-6 bags Ceylon tea (or 4-6 tsp loose tea) – like the OP Sun Tea, I used Twinnings
1/2-1 lemon, washed and sliced into rounds
2 tsp jasmine flowers
2 qts cold water

Directions:

In a lidded pitcher, place the tea bags, jasmine flowers, and lemon slices. Fill with 2 qts cold water and place in sun for 2.5-3 hours. Strain into a pitcher and sweeten with sugar/nectar if desired (Since it isn’t as strong as a hot tea, I didn’t need to sweeten mine). Serve chilled, over ice and enjoy with a black bean burger!black bean burger and potato wedges

**I apologize for not having a fresh picture, but it looked exactly like the glass in the photo! 🙂

Happy Teatime!

On this day in History: Mint-Chip Vegan Ice Cream

mint-chip IC2

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Heirloom Tomato Salad2This heirloom tomato salad is definitely for the lovers of tomatoes! It’s so simple, yet so delicious. It makes a perfect light dinner, or appetizer, served alongside some crusty vegan-buttered bread – at least it did for me.. I got it straight from the newest Food & Wine magazine (Aug 2009), and only had to make two changes – no cheese grated on top, and I included some fresh thyme. So keeping in line with simplicity, I’ll just go straight to the recipe!

Ingredients:

2 pounds heirloom tomatoes – cored and sliced 1/4-inch thickness
salt, to taste – I used a blend of sea salt and mineral salt
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 TBSP minced chives
2 TBSP chopped fresh basil
1 TBSP fresh thyme
*optional: some fresh ground black pepper, if you roll like me

Directions:

Arrange tomato slices on a platter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper (if using) and drizzle with oil. Scatter the chives, basil, and thyme. And enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Happy Slicing!

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Lemon Balm Lemonade

LemonBalmLemonadeI’ve been overrun with lemon balm, so much that I’m giving it away to friends and family in bulk! It seems like every weekend I trim an increasing number of sprigs of it to dry, leaving plenty left growing for fresh tea all week. So what can you do with all that excess dried lemon balm during these hot summer months? Cool off with a refreshing glass of lemon balm lemonade, naturally! This is so simple to make, easy enough to consider this a DF-category recipe 😉 . If you don’t have lemon balm, you could use another herb like lemon verbena or even a lemon thyme. This recipe makes about four 8-oz servings, so feel free to double the recipe if you’ll need (or want) more.

Ingredients:

1.25 C water
1/3 C nectar (or 1/2 C plus 2 tsp sugar)
1/4 C dried lemon balm (lemon verbena, lemon thyme, etc)
zest of 2 lemons (I got about a shy 1/4 C from 2 medium lemons), cut into 3-inch-long strips, plus 3/4 C fresh lemon juice (from about 3 medium lemons – the 2 you zested + 1 more)
1/2 C mint leaves *optional
2 C ice

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, combine the water with the nectar (or sugar) and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring to dissolve the nectar (or sugar). Add the dried lemon balm leaves and the strips of lemon zest and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and mint (if using) and let stand at room temperature until cool, about an hour. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 20 min. Strain into glasses filled with ice and enjoy immediately.*It is a bit on the tart side, so pouring over ice will let it come to perfection as the ice melts without watering it down. If you don’t want to serve over ice, add about 1/4 C cold water before serving – unless you’re fond of the super tart like me!

*You can adjust the sweetness of the lemonade by adding more nectar, 1 TBSP at a time.
*For a slushy variation: Strain the lemon mixture into a blender along with the 2 C ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and frothy. Pour into tall glasses and serve right away.
LemonBalmLemonade2

Happy Juicing!
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DF: Pasta Bake

pasta bakeAnother Dad-friendly recipe – it’s ready within 30 minutes, minimal chopping (if any), and makes leftovers for lunches! I call for veggies like grape tomatoes and baby spinach which require no prep other than washing and pre-minced garlic (or pre-roasted garlic cloves) and shallots, but feel free to chop your own (I was just aiming for a no-excuse dish that Dad could make). You can also choose to add in your favorite veg if you don’t mind chopping – like diced bell pepper or onions. And by the way, how awesome is that casserole dish of mine? pasta bake1It’s the old-school ones from the 70’s that we had growing up!

Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil
1.5 C orzo pasta
1 (loose) C baby spinach
1/2 C cherry or grape tomatoes
1 TBSP pasta bake2pre-minced garlic (or handful of roasted whole garlic cloves)
1 TBSP pre-minced shallots
1 C (or 1 can) cooked chickpeas or cannelini beans
1 jar favorite pasta sauce
1 C vegetable broth
1 tsp each herbs (fresh or dried): pasta bake3basil, oregano, thyme, sage
1/2 C peas

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Drizzle 1 TBSP olive oil on the bottom of a casserole dish (13X9 or 10X10 shown in photo). pasta bake5Combine all ingredients into the dish (except the peas), give it a stir, and cover with glass lid or aluminum foil.
2. Bake for 15 minutes, give it another stir, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Add peas and bake for a final 5-8 minutes. Let cool about 5-10 minutes, pasta bake6serve up in bowls and garnish with a fresh sprig of basil or herb of choice. Serve alongside some herb foccacia or rosemary potato bread and a nice glass of Chianti Classico (Brolio 2003 is a good bottle if you can get your hands on it).

*Note: You can also reduce the quantities by half and make this in a smaller dish. You could also opt to combine everything in a big mixing bowl, then aliquot into two casserole dishes if all you have are smaller ones. Dad, you could mix this up in a bowl and pour what you could into the 9X9 red le Creuset, and the remainder in the smaller le Creuset that’s with the other ‘veggie only’ items in your kitchen.

pasta bake7

Happy Cooking!

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Teatime: Apple-Berry Sun Tea

sliced applesWho wants another warm-weather recipe? Those of you Down-under perhaps – or even those in Texas?! Well, here’s a fruity sun tea that I concocted with fresh apples, frozen berries, and of course..tea (ok, dried flowers which can still be considered a ‘tea’)! It is inspired by the “Sunset Rouge” blend from my favorite Herb Store, Phoenix Herb Company. Don’t worry those of us still in the midst of winter, I’ll remind us all again once we hit the warm weather 🙂

Ingredients:

1 TBSP dried Hibiscus
2 TBSP dried rose petals or budsapple-berry sun tea1
apple slices from one apple(1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, such as Pink Lady)
1/2 C frozen raspberries (or any berry of choice)
lemon peel or a couple wedges

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a 2L pitcher (glass preferable, but plastic is ok). Fill up to 2 L with cold water. Place in sun 2-4 hours…Strain and enjoy!

With the inclusion of the berries and the sweetness of the apple, I highly doubt that you’ll need to sweeten with nectar. Of course, we are all a bit different on our sweetness preference for tea 🙂 …

apple-berry sun tea2

Happy Teatime!

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lemon sorbet2Call me crazy, I realize we’re in the dead of winter and it’s currently 17°F (that’s -8°C for you fellow scientists and non-Americans who prefer the metric system)…but I crave frozen things in the winter. I always have. Yesterday, I had an ice cream sandwich for dessert..that’s right! And of course, we have to remember that not everybody reading this blog is experiencing the same weather I am… like those of you south of the equator…you’re in summer and you need refreshing treats! So here’s a super easy, super tasty, and gluten-free treat! Lemonade Sorbet…it can’t get any simpler or refreshing! It comes out very fluffy and lemon-ice like! If you use store-bought lemonade (making this fall into the DF category), you don’t even have to squeeze lemons or sweeten (kind of like those boxed foods that say, “just add water”..this could be “just add vodka”!! 🙂

Ingredients:lemon sorbet1

2-4 C lemonade (store bought, like Newman’s Own..or homemade), sweetened to your liking with nectar or sugar; I say 2-4 C of prepared lemonade depending on how much your ice cream maker can hold!
1-2 shots vodka

Directions:

Mix lemonade and vodka together. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Enjoy!

lemon sorbet3

Happy Freezing!

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SOP: Black Beans

Although Sara and I can pull off some amazing culinary feats, we are often surprised how impressed people will be by the simplest things. Everyone buys lots of things from the store out of habit, but which are actually very easy to make at home. Beans are one such item. Making your own beans from scratch allows you to control the salt content in them, it reduces the amount of waste put out into our environment since you’re not wasting aluminum cans (even though they’re recyclable), and it’s often cheaper to buy dried beans in bulk…

Ingredients:

1 C beans

1 bay leaf

water

Instructions:

Pick over the beans to check for pebbles. Then place in large bowl with lots of water. Soak for at least 3 hours (to overnight). If you’re making them during the week, put them to soak before you leave for work and cook them when you get home.

Bring a few quarts of water to a boil in a medium or large pot.

Rinse beans very thoroughly in large colander. I cannot stress this enough, you do not want dirt in your beans!

When water boils, add beans and bay leaf and reduce heat to med-low. Cook at a slow simmer for 1 hour.

*Note: When storing, leave the beans in the cooking water in an airtight container…otherwise they’ll dry out and be gross, and we don’t want that!

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