1
Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole
2
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
3
CHINESE Chicken and Broccoli
4
Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
5
Braised Lettuce
6
Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil
7
Banana, Strawberry, Pineapple Smoothie
8
Green Bean and Broccoli Casserole
9
Fresh Spinach Cupcakes
10
Frozen Pesto Cubes
11
Kale Turkey Meatballs

Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole

You’ll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.  

Who doesn’t like pizza?  I love it.

You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.

Who doesn’t like cauliflower? I love it.    

Cauliflower pizza casserole is born!

When I first found a great cauliflower pizza casserole recipe it called for pureed cauliflower, but pureeing cauliflower that we grew seemed like a absolute sin to me.  I can’t give so much energy and love to our garden cauliflower and then just blend it up, that would be the saddest thing ever.  If we were ever to sell produce commercially I would put on every single package a (cute) warning sign that says “YOU MAY NOT PUREE ME, IT WILL MAKE PAMELA VERY SAD, PLEASE LOVE CAULIFLOWER WHOLE.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH”.  So in my recipe, we cut it into small bite size pieces.  I prefer it this way as well as the cheese will get in all the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower.    And who doesn’t’ like cheese?    Especially with cauliflower.  This is a absolute win situation.

You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.Here’s your cauliflower.  Mine happens to talk.



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.Here’s your cream, butter and garlic mixture.  Pizza always needs a little garlic.



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.And here’s your pepperoni.  I quartered each slice.  Do this with scissors, a knife or just tear it apart with your hands.



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.This is step 1 of the casserole, your cauliflower/butter mixture/pepperoni are all mixed up. 



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.Step 2: Add your pizza sauce.



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.Step 3: Add your cheese!  Be brave, cover this sucker.



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.Step 4:  Pepperoni time.  Feel free to eat a few slices too, I won’t tell anyone.

Then into the oven it goes…



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.And out of the oven it comes! Mamma-Mia!



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.The cheese is melted, a little bubbly, a little brown. I have pure joy right now.



You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.Then take a few whole basil leave and put it on top.  I love pizza with fresh basil. 

You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.

Cauliflower Pepperoni Pizza Casserole, it’s like having your own garden pizzeria!  Major winner here – enjoy!

Cauliflower Pepperoni Pizza Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower head - cut up into small bite size pieces
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter - melted
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 15 slices of pepperoni - quartered
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For on top of the casserole

  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 12 slices pepperoni
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil to garnish

Instructions

  1. Chop your clean cauliflower into small bite size pieces. Steam for 2 minutes, drain. Put into casserole dish.
  2. In a bowl mix your butter, heavy cream and garlic.
  3. Pour butter mixture over cauliflower.
  4. Add quartered pepperoni slices, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella on top of your cauliflower.
  5. Mix everything up so cauliflower is coated.
  6. Spread your pizza sauce evenly on top of your cauliflower.
  7. Pour your 1 cup shredded mozzarella evenly on top.
  8. Put your sliced pepperoni on top.
  9. Cook at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
  10. Garnish with basil when it comes out of the oven.
  11. Enjoy!
 You'll love this baked extra cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe.

 

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I have a few rules for lunch.

-It has to be yummy.
-It has to be easy.
-It can’t use the oven.  

Every single day when I eat lunch I sit in front of my computer, usually catching up on email or going through my blog reader to see what all my great recipe/garden friends are up to.   You know lunch is exceptional when you plan to do this, but the only thing you can do is turn your monitor on before you devour your entire lunch without touching the keyboard or mouse once.    This lunch time experience was just me and the stuffed pepper and it was a good one.

These stuffed peppers are:
-Yummy.  Very.
-Quick and easy.  The thing that takes the most time is making the quinoa.
-It doesn’t use the oven.  It uses the stove top and the microwave.  
-Fresh!  Garden pepper and spinach, yum!

Quinoa Stuffed PeppersIMG_3332

Quinoa-Stuffed-Peppers
Here’s all your beautiful ingredients.  Such a pretty lunch we’ll be having!

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Hello Mr. Pepper!  You are huge, beautiful and delicious. I love you dearly.

Quinoa Stuffed PeppersIMG_3329
Here’s your quinoa with chopped up spinach and garlic.   The way I make my quinoa is 1/4 cup dry  quinoa with 1/2 cup water.  Bring to boil, then simmer and cover for 15 minutes.  

Quinoa Stuffed PeppersIMG_3333
After I melt the cheese, I put the pepper top back on.  More pepper to eat makes me a happy girl!

Quinoa Stuffed PeppersIMG_3335
If you have any quinoa that can’t fit in your pepper, I just put it on the side.  Also, I always put extra tomato sauce on top. I love tomato sauce. When it’s time to start picking tomatoes from the garden this will all be fresh. I can’t wait!

Lunch Time Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 green pepper - seeds removed and top cut off but keep the top!
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 4 spinach leaves - chopped
  • 1 clove garlic - minced
  • 2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • tomato sauce - amount depends on your preference

Instructions

  1. Cook your quinoa as instructed on box.
  2. Cook green pepper in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, set aside.
  3. When quinoa is done, add spinach and garlic and mix around.
  4. Fill pepper with quinoa mixture. Add a spoonful of sauce on top, then cover with your mozzarella cheese.
  5. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until your cheese is melted.
  6. Add another spoonful of tomato sauce on top.
  7. Put your green pepper top on.
  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can add additional tomato sauce all over the pepper as desired.
This recipe is for one 1 pepper, if you want 2 peppers, duplicate it and so on.

CHINESE Chicken and Broccoli

CHINESE  Chicken and Broccoli. Homemade, healthy and easy recipe that tastes just like your favorite Chinese  takeout restaurant!  Your entire family is going to love how delicious this is, and you’re going to love how simple it is to make!

When I get Chinese takeout I usually order:

Chicken & Broccoli
Broccoli & Garlic Sauce
Shrimp & Broccoli
Lo Mein with Added Broccoli

Do you see the broccoli love?

Authentic Chinese Chicken and Broccoli Recipe

I have been trying to perfect a takeout restaurant version of chicken and broccoli for many years.   I was close but the broccoli was never perfectly crunchy, the sauce was too thick, the sauce was too thin, the taste was off.  But finally, finally!  I shake my fist at you chinese chicken and broccoli recipe because I did it!  chinese chicken broccoli

It was a great moment sitting down at dinner to eat this and hear the cheers from both my and Matthew’s mouths.  It’s really good.  I don’t think I can ever order takeout again if I know it’s this easy (and much more healthier) to make at home.  

If you love Chinese Takeout Chicken and Broccoli, you will love this recipe!

chicken and broccoli chinese

How to Make Chicken and Broccoli

Oh garden greens, I love you.   I picked some fresh broccoli, green peppers and sugar snap peas.  You can omit the sugar snap peas if you want to, but I would highly recommend keeping them in. It gives it a great additional crunch!   

broccoli and green peppers

You want your chicken to be cut up into bite size pieces, and then you let them marinate for a bit until you are ready to move on to the next step with them.

chinese chicken marinated
This is the magic sauce that holds everything together.  It’s the sauce I have fought with to get just right.  It was a glorious moment!

chinese brown sauce

The sauce turned out so well due to these 3 great ingredients.  I’ve really come to love sesame oil in cooking the past few years.  PS. Make sure you use low sodium or lite soy sauce, we want to cut back on the salt in this recipe.

rice cooking wine and soy sauce

And when it’s all done you will have one beautiful skillet full of chicken and broccoli.  
chinese chicken and broccoli in pan
chinese vegetables on spoon

Dive right in,  this CHINESE TAKEOUT Chicken and Broccoli is delicious!

PIN FOR LATER:
CHINESE TAKEOUT Chicken and Broccoli. Homemade, healthy and easy recipe that tastes just like your favorite Chinese restaurant!  Your entire family is going to love how delicious this is, and you're going to love how simple it is to make!

CHINESE Chicken and Broccoli

CHINESE Chicken and Broccoli. Homemade, healthy and easy recipe that tastes just like your favorite Chinese restaurant!  Your entire family is going to love how delicious this is, and you're going to love how simple it is to make!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4

Ingredients

Vegetables

  • 1 head of broccoli cut up into florets
  • 1 small green pepper - cut up into small slices
  • 3/4 cup sugar snap peas - chopped into thirds

For the chicken marinade

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts - cut up into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Additionally

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to fry in
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Mix your marinade ingredients in a bowl - add your bite size chicken pieces and stir. Set aside.
  2. Mix your sauce ingredients in a bowl - set aside.
  3. Steam broccoli for 3 minutes, drain - set aside.
  4. Heat up 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken, it's marinade and 1/2 of the sauce mixture. Keep cooking until chicken is fully cooked.
  5. Add steamed broccoli, sugar snap peas, green pepper and remaining sauce with 1/2 cup water.
  6. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until sauce thickens up.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Video

Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

We’ve harvested alot of broccoli this season.  Every single plant produced a beautiful big head of broccoli.  You guys know I love broccoli already,  but do you know I love macaroni and cheese too?  Macaroni and cheese is a comfort food and it holds dear memories of my father making me dinner every single day he was home from work during high school.  He knew I loved that mac and cheese so he made it once a week, I was a very happy girl.  Thanks Dad!

 So what happens when you mix comfort food with happy harvest?  You get one of  my favorite broccoli dishes: Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese. I love macaroni and cheese of all sorts.  I’m fine with the box, I’m super fine with homemade.  I’m fine with it made with cheese that comes in a foil package (Where my Velveeta fans at?), I’m super fine with a baked version.    This recipe is a in between, yes it’s baked, but the inside of the dish is still soft and cheesy and gooey.   It’s just perfect, the best of both worlds.

So if you like mac and cheese and you like broccoli, this dish is for you!

 broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2912broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2931      
broccoli-mac-cheese

 

Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces Velveeta cheese
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Boil water and cook macaroni as instructed on box. When there is 3 minutes left, add your broccoli to the boiling pot. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan melt your butter over medium heat. Slowly add flour, dry mustard and pepper until it's smooth.
  4. Add your milk slowly and keep stirring until it's smooth.
  5. Add in your cheese and continue to stir until it's smooth.
  6. Take off burner.
  7. Add your macaroni to cheese mixture saucepan and stir until all noodles are coated.
  8. Transfer your mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
  9. Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
  10. Enjoy!
broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2851
We have a big bag right now full of broccoli.  Every time I open it I just smile and breathe in the scent of broccoli.  

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2854
For this recipe, you need 4 cups of florets.  I leave mine pretty big.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2860
For this, we’re going to cook our macaroni, then when there’s 3 minutes left we’re going to throw our broccoli in too.  This means only one pot to clean.  High 5.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2865
Drain and set aside for a few minutes.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2869
Hello cheese. I love you so much. I like to use 2 different versions of cheese for this recipe so I use good ol Velveeta and Monterey Jack. 

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2873
Shred it however you want.  I was lazy so I put it in my food processor.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2875
Now we want to start to make the cheese sauce so get your butter melted.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2876
Then add in your flour, dry mustard and pepper.  You’ll want to mix quickly until it’s smooth.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2878
Then add your water and keep stirring.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2879
Then your beautiful cheese.  This take a few minutes for it to melt, but  keep stirring.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2884
Great job, some yummy cheese sauce  there.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2887
Take your macaroni and broccoli and add to the cheese sauce.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2890
Perfect! 

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2893
Transfer to a baking dish.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2898
You can see here it’s still pretty soupy, but this cheese is going to melt beautifully and hold it all together.

Add your bread crumbs and into the oven it goes…

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2917
And out pops out this beautiful dinner after 20 minutes!

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2919
The bread crumbs are just slightly golden brown, just how I like them.

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2923
And see how the cheese all melted together and it’s no longer too wet, instead it’s gooey and cheesy and oh my!

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2930
Serve some up.  You can add some bread on the side if you’d like too.   Who doesn’t like bread on the side? 

broccoli macaroni and cheeseIMG_2932
And enjoy this broccoli macaroni and cheese!

Braised Lettuce

You’ll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe!   Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!

I love this braised lettuce.  Love, Love, Love.

As we have been harvesting our lettuce plants, I have been requesting this almost every single night.  Most people use lettuce in salads or as a topping, but  in this recipe you can use it as a entire side dish.   When I first learned about braised lettuce I didn’t think twice about making it because just lettuce as a side, really?   Then I tried it and my opinion changed immediately.  Just like my lettuce soup recipe, this one is a life changer too!

 It’s such a easy recipe consisting of just a few ingredients, but it packs such a hit in taste.   Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew.  Just as you would expect in the greens family, lettuce wilts much, so  as it simmers,  it gets tender.  As it simmers, the lettuce will pick up the garlic and broth.  Your lettuce will be full of flavor.  It’s so great.

Please, please see this past recipe as “just lettuce” and give it a try.

 You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!

Braised Lettuce

Ingredients

  • 1 head of lettuce cut up into quarters - washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Take your washed lettuce head and cut it up into quarters.
  2. Head olive oil and minced garlic in pan over medium heat. Add your quarters of lettuce, cut side down.
  3. Saute until the side is lightly brown. This takes about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn over, add your chicken broth and bring to a slight boil.
  5. Turn down to low, cover and heat for 15 minutes.
  6. Add salt + pepper to taste.
  7. Serve as desired.

Recipe Notes

Bibb or Romaine lettuce works well.
You can substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
First, let’s take a minute and admire this gorgeous lettuce we grew.   Sigh.   

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
This recipe calls for one head, so cut it into quarters so you have 4 pieces.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Lettuce, you are so pretty.  For this recipe I used buttercrunch because that’s what we grow.  You can use Bibb variety, or Romaine – it’s up to you.  

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Take your lettuce and put it in a pan with olive oil and garlic.  Make sure you put it cut side down in the pan.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Once it’s slightly golden brown, you’re going to flip it over to the other side.  

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Then add your chicken broth.  Alternatively, you can use vegetable broth if you’d like.    Bring to a boil, then put your heat on low and cover for 15 minutes.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
When the 15 minutes is up, you will notice how much your lettuce has wilted.  Then you will smell that aroma and smile.  Then you will taste the lettuce and faint.

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
Who knew, lettuce could be this good? I’m a lettuce believer now. 

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
You can use this in many ways, feel free to even think outside the box, like putting it on pasta or rice… or a sandwich!

You'll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!

Preserving Strawberries, Kale and Basil

Instructions on How to Preserve Strawberries

As the garden season takes off, I will be doing a series of posts on how to preserve everything you grow so you can enjoy them now and many months later.   We won’t let any of our hard work that went into planting and caring for these plants go to waste here!

I often say “I garden because I cook”.    My love for being in the kitchen goes hand in hand with getting my nails dirty pushing down seeds.    

Here are other reasons why I love bringing these worlds of gardening and cooking together:

-You learn where everything comes from.  Did you know Brussels Sprouts grow the way they do? I didn’t either!    By gardening you see the process from seed to harvest, it often surprises you!
-You respect everything you grow.   Those pumpkins that I grew? They came from me pollinating them for a week straight at 5:30AM in the morning.   Those tomatoes that are beautiful red and perfect?   They stayed alive because you ran out into the pouring rain to make sure their windblocker fabric was up and everything was secure.    Those sugar snap peas?  Do you know how long they take to pick? Oh my!
-You try new vegetables.   I hated lettuce before we had our garden, now I’m like a rabbit where Matthew has to shoo me away.    I never tried radishes before, now I eat them whole.  
-This results into trying new dishes in the kitchen.  Pesto? Never made before, except now I have about 10 different recipes for it with every different plant.   I scour websites and cookbooks looking for new ways to use tomatoes, broccoli, carrots.  Dinner, Lunch, Desserts – I try it all!    The most important part is starting with a base you love.  So grow what you like!  
-Preserve! Preserve! Preserve!   This is the big one for me.  There are a few weeks in July and August that I am spending many hours every single day preserving our tomatoes to last us (forever).  So you just grew those kale plants – but did you have any idea how much kale grows on a plant? Or those edamame plants that I grew last year – did I know that I would get 20 pounds of edamame, all at once?  What are you going to do?  Well you just spent so much time and energy and love on these plants to grow great vegetables so now we’re not going to let it go to waste! Oh no we aren’t!  We are going to preserve it!    Did you know I had to buy my first can of diced tomatoes earlier this month because I had enough saved from last summer’s harvest?  Do you know how awesome of a feeling that is to have fresh vegetables you grew in your freezer all winter long?  Oh it’s snowing out and 3 degrees, let me just grab a extra fresh pack of frozen green beans that I grew a few months back.  *High 5’s*

 I spend quite a bit of time preserving everything we grow, and figuring out new ways to try.  One year I went as crazy as literally not wasting any of the broccoli plants, by finding ways to use the leaves and chop up the stems.    I blanch, I freeze whole, I puree,  I turn into sauces, I chop, I husk, I dry.  I do whatever it takes to preserve everything.   This post will be dedicated to strawberries, kale and basil.    Sometimes in future posts, I will give you another idea for the same vegetable.  There are many ways to preserve each plant, so I want to share some options for whatever is best for you in your kitchen. 🙂

Strawberries
Who doesn’t love strawberries?  And is there anything better than a sweet strawberry picked right off the vine and plopped straight into your mouth?  Oh yum!  But what happens when you are are harvesting pounds of strawberries?  Or what happens when you go the grocery store and find out that they are selling pints of strawberries for 89 cents.  Buy a bunch, we can keep your strawberry love stocked up for months!

We are going to freeze strawberries.   Strawberries keep in a freezer for a long time, I’m talking  a year.  Amazing, right?

What can we do with frozen strawberries? Well I’m glad you asked.
Smoothies!  My favorite.  Throw frozen strawberries in your blender and continue as usual in creating your favorite smoothie.
-Throw them into pies.
-Strawberry jelly!
-Strawberry sauce! Blend them up and pour over ice cream, cakes and waffles.
-Strawberry butter.  Yup,  you heard me right!
-Make strawberry bread.
-Strawberry salad.

Here are your beautiful strawberries.  
preserveIMG_2394
Seriously, aren’t they the most loveliest things in the world?   I hope one day I can be at least 1% cool and classy as strawberries.
Now you want to wash them, wash them real good.
preserveIMG_2396
Then once they are washed, you want to hull them.  Basically you want to rip off their green tops and cores.  You can do this a variety of ways with special tools, or just a knife.  Personally I just use my finger nails to get in there.   Then lay them on a cookie sheet and let freeze.    Once they are frozen, put them into freezer bags.  
preserveIMG_2398
Then when you need some strawberries, take them out of your freezer and bask in the glory of them!  Use them however you want.  I will be making myself one happy strawberry smoothie. 🙂
preserveIMG_2464


Kale
Kale, the winner of everything cool in 2013. Do you hear all the buzz about kale?  What a popular guy.    It seems to be the king of greens!  One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K.  It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.  Can we say it’s healthy?  


So what to do with kale?  When you’ve eaten your share of fresh raw kale, let’s figure out ways to preserve it, so you can be eating this vegetable powerhouse for months to come!
I like to make kale cubes, which is basically kale all chopped up, frozen into cubes.  It’s all kale, nothing else added in. 

What you can do with those frozen kale cubes?
-Smoothies! Again!  Want a real pick me up?  Throw a kale cube into your next smoothie.  
-Defrost and mix into pasta.  Warm through.  
-Throw a cube or two into any soup or stew.   Just a little bit of frozen kale goes a long way in getting your vitamins in!
-Defrost and mix with meats to make delicious ravioli.
-Defrost and mix with meats to make delicious meatballs!

Kale!  You hearty animal you (not really a animal). 
preserveIMG_2400
I destem it.  I do this with my hands too, I just rip it off.  Maybe I’m the animal here.  Then I rip it into pieces to fit it into my food processor.preserveIMG_2401
A few pulses later and your once entire food process cup hardly has any kale in it.  Kale likes to shrink.  preserveIMG_2403
Then spoon it out and throw in some ice cube trays.
preserveIMG_2406
Fill them up to the top.    A entire bushel of kale filled up one ice cube tray, so pack it down.  Now put into the freezer.
preserveIMG_2407
Once they’re frozen, poke them out with a fork.    I find it works best to let them sit on your counter for a few minutes, then poke them out.  They defrost pretty quickly for you to grab one out of the tray.  From here you can keep them in the tray and use as you want, or throw them in freezer bags.
preserveIMG_2468
Because you packed them in, they stay in cube form nicely.preserveIMG_2475

 

Basil
Who else loves the smell of basil?  I love picking fresh basil and putting it in pasta, and especially on pizza! A slice of margarita pizza with basil is the key to my pizza loving heart.   But what do you do when you have pounds of basil and you can’t eat 8 pizzas a nights (don’t try this, just believe me).  You can dry it!
I love dried herbs.  Almost 80% of the time if a recipe calls for fresh herbs, I will ignore it and use dried herbs.  Why? Because I know the dried herbs are ones I grew, loved and they will taste just as good in the dish!  
What can you do with dried basil?
-Any dish call for fresh basil? You can substitute with dried basil.
-Use in any tomato pasta.
-Sprinkle over each lasagna layer.
-Sprinkle over pizza.
-Use in rices.
-Use in a varieties of stews and soups for extra seasoning.
-Use in pasta salad.
-Sprinkle on garlic bread.

So let’s pick your basil!  What you want to do is wash it, then let dry.  I do this by putting it on paper towel sheets and then help blotting excess water on top.  Let dry completely.
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Then find a space of your home that you want to smell like basil for the next few weeks.  Grab a rubber band and hang on something.  We have screws in the top of our loft that we drilled in just for drying herbs.  This is at the very front entrance of our loft, so as soon as you walk in… it’s fresh city USA.preserveIMG_2412
Then just let dry until they are completely brittle.  If the basil seems “fresh” and flexible they aren’t dry enough.  You basically want them to the point of if you touched a leaf, it would crack.  You can see in the top right of this picture I have some dried oregano ready to go.  
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Then pick the leaves off the plant (do this over a bowl, the leaves are going to fall apart beautifully).  Throw in your food processor and you’re done.  If you don’t have a food processor, just crumble with your fingers.  Now you have dried basil ready for whenever you want!preserveIMG_2467

 

Banana, Strawberry, Pineapple Smoothie

The last few afternoons I have been craving a smoothie.  We’ve been hard at work gardening and all I want is a cold “pick me up” when I’m exhausted.  This does the trick!  The best thing about this recipe is that you can match fruit to your liking and create your own. Other examples:  banana, orange, pear watermelon, kiwi banana, orange, strawberries banana, blueberries watermelon, orange, pineapple banana, apple, orange pineapple, kiwi orange, strawberries banana, peach strawberry, banana blueberries, apple, banana banana, cherries pineapple, blueberries blueberry, pomegranate, banana There are so many more variations.  Isn’t it amazing?   I also love this recipe because it gets rid of any fruit where you aren’t sure what to do with.  Many times I’m left with a few random strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, a banana that is very ripe, half an orange, etc.    Put all the soon to go bad fruits in your blender and you’ll quickly have a delicious drink.

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Green Bean and Broccoli Casserole

You’re about to become everyone’s favorite at any gathering!

I love green bean casserole.  It reminds me of holidays, friends, smiles.  I also love it because it’s green and beautiful.  A few days ago around midnight, Matthew came into the bedroom where I was reading and asked if we could have green bean casserole “tomorrow”.  I told him we would gather the ingredients the next day.  Then I came to thinking how I made broccoli casserole last year and I loved it so much, so why don’t we mix these beans and brocs and make a delicious green bean and broccoli casserole?  I can’t be happier about how it came out!  In the recipe below I am using frozen vegetables which adds simplicity in the time saving department.

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Green Bean and Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients

  • 11 oz frozen green beans
  • 11 oz frozen broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups French's fried onions

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Mix soup, milk and pepper in a baking dish.
  3. Stir in frozen beans, frozen broccoli and 1 cup fried onions. Stir good.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. (Make sure it's hot inside)
  5. Stir it, then top your remaining 1/2 cup onions on top.
  6. Bake 5 more minutes until your onions are golden brown.
  7. Enjoy!

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We are getting down to the nitty gritty with saved frozen vegetables from the garden last year.  I found these guys hiding in the back of the freezer, they are the last bag.  

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Here are all your ingredients.

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Cream of mushroom soup – I love you.

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Does anyone eat cream of mushroom soup by itself? I don’t but I can imagine how good it would be as I always lick the spoon clean after scooping it out.

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Then add your milk.

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Mix it! Arm workout!

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Add pepper and stir again!

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Add your frozen beans..

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Then your frozen broccoli…

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Here are your fried onions.  Truth: I don’t like onions.  I’m really picky about them.  But for some reason I’m 100% fine with these fried onions – how that makes sense, I have no idea.

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Sprinkle your onions in..

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Then more arm power and keep mixing..

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Until you have a creamy beautiful  mixture that looks like that. Into the oven it goes..

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Then 40 minutes later, this lovely smelling dish comes out.

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We want to add some more onions to crisp the top. This will really make the casserole extra special!

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5 more minutes until they’re slightly browned on top.

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Oh man, about this time Matthew just happily showed up in the kitchen.  I slapped his hands away.

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Many people serve bean/broccoli casserole as a side, but we had it for a man dish with some toasted garlic bread/bread rolls.  There is creaminess residing in the casserole so you want to have some bread to dip in..

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Serve away! Just wait for the “ooohs” and “aahhs” and “iloveyous”. 

 

Fresh Spinach Cupcakes

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won’t believe how good these are!

Now before you go reading the title and thinking I’m crazy, I just want to make it clear that I’m a genuine cupcake lover.  I’ve been known to go to Crumbs, get the biggest cupcake in the display with vanilla frosting, rainbow sprinkles and eat it up in a couple bites.  I’ve been known to go  back for seconds.  I love sweets, I love cupcakes.  So when I found a recipe a few months ago saying  I could make cupcakes with fresh spinach and it would taste amazing, I didn’t quite believe it.  Even while making these and mixing the spinach in, I still was worried.  Really, I could make cupcakes full of spinach and it was going to be good? Really? Well folks.. I have the verdict..

YES YOU CAN.

THESE CUPCAKES ARE AMAZING.

WE ARE TALKING  “OMG THESE ARE MADE WITH SPINACH?! WHAT? ARE YOU LYING TO ME? NO IM NOT. “

They will probably change your life.

I have had a post-it note on my desk since June to post the recipe and finally today, I am!

Rejoice! Bake these cupcakes.  They will change your life.  I’m totally serious
These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!

Fresh Spinach Cupcakes

These cupcakes will change your life.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of applesauce
  • 4-5 cups fresh raw spinach
  • box of store bought yellow cake mix
  • icing and sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line your cupcake tins with baking cups.
  3. Puree the applesauce and spinach in a food processor.
  4. Put cake mix in a bowl, then add your spinach puree to it.
  5. Beat with mixer until it’s combined evenly.
  6. Fill up your cupcake baking cups.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, put a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, decorate with icing and sprinkles.
  9. EAT THEM. ALL OF THEM.

Recipe Notes

I used spinach picked from our garden - if you can pick it fresh, please do!

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
These are all your ingredients for the cupcakes.  Can it get simpler?

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Puree spinach and apple sauce.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
It will look like this.  Very green.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Add your puree with your cake mix.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Mix it up.  It will look light green now.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Add to your baking cups… into the oven it goes.  Can you believe we’re making spinach cupcakes?

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Out it comes, exactly how you imagined!

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Aren’t they beautiful plain?

 

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
I put my icing in a plastic bag so I can pretend I’m a pro cake decorator when I put the icing on them.



Look at these beautiful cupcakes.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Now add your sprinkles..

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
There you go, you just made spinach cupcakes.  I know, it’s amazing.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!
Now try one. I KNOW, IT’S AMAZING.  Life changed, right?
These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won't believe how good these are!

 

Frozen Pesto Cubes

DIY frozen pesto cubes! Perfect to use for easy dinner recipes!

If you are growing herbs in  your garden then right now you might have alot and not sure what to do with them. Do you dry them? Do you use them as is? How about we make delicious pesto and freeze them? Yes, let’s do that!  Here we will use our fresh parsley and basil.  Just think about in December when it’s freezing out and you’re in a bad mood because your boot has a hole in it and you stepped in a big slush pile.  You come home, cranky, boil some pasta.  What to put on top.. pesto… from your garden.. oh the summer time  memories.. everything feels better now. 🙂

What can you do with pesto besides put in pasta? Use it as a pizza sauce.  Marinade chicken or steak or shrimp in it.  Use it as a vegetable dip.  Make soup.  So many options!

frozen pesto cubes

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Let’s make some pesto and freeze it!

Directions: Blend all ingredients together. Put in ice cube trays, freeze for a few hours.  Take out and then package in freezer bags.  Can it get more simpler?

From the recipe/ingredients above I made 2.5 batches of it which equaled 6 cups of fresh parsley and 1.5 cups of basil. I also made a quick batch of just basil pesto.

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Gather your supplies.

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I have 2 bags of walnuts just in case.  I totally didn’t need all those but I’m overly prepared (in life).  I have so many bottles of soy sauce in the pantry.. just in case.

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Beautiful fresh parsley and basil, picked minutes before.  MMMM. Smell it!

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Parsley, I love you.

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Basil, I love you.

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Put your herbs and your garlic in your blender/processor.

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Add your cheese.

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Add your nuts. I like to use walnuts,  some people use pine nuts.  Whatever.

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Put your olive oil in.  Look at this.

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Blend, blend, blend.

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Take it out and put it in a plastic bag.  Seal it shut.

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Get your ice cube trays and some scissors.  Cut the bottom corner of your plastic bag, you’re basically going to make it into a cake icing bag.

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Start to fill them up…

DIY frozen pesto cubes! Perfect to use for easy dinner recipes!

All done? Yay! Cover them up with wrap and put them in the freezer.

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Magic, they are frozen now!

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Now you need to work quick when you take them out of the freezer because they like to melt pretty quickly.  Work them out of the trays.

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Put in bags. Label them if you must.

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Enjoy these frozen pesto cubes!

Frozen Pesto Cubes

DIY frozen pesto cubes! Perfect to use for easy dinner recipes!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Directions: Blend all ingredients together. Put in ice cube trays, freeze for a few hours. Take out and then package in freezer bags. 

Recipe Notes

What you’ll need to freeze:
Ice Cube Trays, Clear Wrap, Freezer Bags

 

Kale Turkey Meatballs

Our kale in the garden is out of hand, it’s basically taking over. So last night I decided to pick some to make kale meatballs!  Not only are the ingredients easy, but the directions are as well.  While eating dinner Matthew proclaimed “This is the best spaghetti meal I ever had in my life”.   Good job kale! 🙂

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Update: 

We put these meatballs on the grill and boy were they delicious! So if you are grilling this summer, try this recipe. I like adding sticks inside them once they’re  done, makes eating fun!
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Kale Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked chopped fresh kale
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • Pinch of dried rosemary parsley, oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Add kale and spices. Cook until your kale is wilted.
  2. Put kale mixture and garlic into a food processor and chop it up. Add your turkey and egg and pulse until it’s all combined.
  3. Form this mixture into 1 inch balls.
  4. Add one more tablespoon of olive oil into your previous pan, turn to medium-high heat and then add your meatballs. Cook until browned on both sides (make sure to flip them).
  5. Serve with some spaghetti, sauce, cheese on top..and some bread on the side!

Recipe Notes

These work great on the grill too.

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