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Thursday, 31 December 2015
Holiday Food Leftovers
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Holiday Food Leftovers

You've made more than one roast turkey or roast beef this holiday season, I'm sure. And you might find yourself doing another roast with all the trimmings, making more food than you need for one meal.

Likely your refrigerator is loaded with plates of leftovers.

So, remember the rules for leftovers:

  •     always promptly refrigerate foods in covered containers, avoiding cross-contamination 
  • no more than 4 days in the refrigerator  
  • a leftover is a leftover only once
  • reheat previously heated foods to an internal temperature of 165 degrees

With holiday meals, you have quite an assortment of leftovers, right? That makes a baked casserole a likely plan.

We always plan some kind of a casserole following a turkey dinner. Here's one assembled, before baking:

 


 Layer stuffing, turkey pieces, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and slide a bit of cranberry sauce in between somewhere. Then cover everything with turkey gravy. Once assembled, it will look something like the picture above.

Then cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees until internal temperature is 165 degrees, about 45 min to an hour depending on the thickness of your layers and size of plan. Remove to counter, remove the foil, allow to rest another 5-10 minutes and scoop generously for a pleasant casserole brunch.


Another favorite and easy recipe for leftover turkey isTurkey Enchiladas.

In the photo below, I used cubed turkey, mixed with green chilies, mild enchilada sauce, Mexican blend shredded cheese and Spanish rice. Roll into flour tortillas, top with additional enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until internal temperature is 165 degrees.

Finally, I know you will be craving a sweet breakfast that's easy to prep and serve. A decadent recipe for Cinnamon Roll Bake has been circulating on the internet this season.

It looks fantastic, but it is way too sweet and syrup-y for most of us as the original recipe was written. The portion sizes are also too big for the New Year resolutions.

Here's my somewhat lower carb version for 4-6 servings:

 


 

Cinnamon Roll Bake -adjusted portion and carbs.

Start with 8in X 8 in baking pan, 350 degrees preheated oven.

On the bottom of the baking pan, 2 Tbsp butter, melted.

1 can of flaky Cinnamon rolls- remove and set aside the frosting. Separate the 8 rolls and cut each unbaked roll into 8 pieces. Place all pieces on the bottom of the buttered pan.

Whisk together 4 eggs and 1 Tbsp milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 Tbsp maple syrup. Pour over the dough pieces.

Bake about 45-50 minutes until the egg batter is fully set. Drizzle the reserved frosting over the top.

Cut into 4-6 pieces and serve with some spicy sausage and strong coffee.

Perfect for that January 1st "day after" brunch.

Happy New Year!


Posted by Karen at 22:03 CST
Updated: Thursday, 31 December 2015 22:09 CST
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Saturday, 12 December 2015
Crazy Holday Season Requires Good Food
Topic: Home Environment

Happy Crazy Holiday Season !

This is unquestionably one of the most stressful times of the year—hard emotionally and physically. It's easy to look at your “to do” list and hit the panic button. Worse, it's the time of the year when we neglect our health while we run non-stop between full time jobs and full time shopping and party planning, trying to make everything perfect along the way.

How about a really easy crockpot recipe that you can prepare from good ingredients that are likely in your freezer and pantry right now?

Put this Italian Meatball Stew together, turn the crockpot on “low” and come back 8 hours later to make the polenta (which will take all of 5 miniutes)-- meanwhile, you'll have completed that full time job “to do” list for the day, without sacrificing a healthy dinner, one that's almost upscale-- in a rustic, Italian, pub-grub kind of way.

 


 

Italian Meatball Stew

serves 4 adults, very generously

Oil prep the crockpot

Mix together:

Cook all day -8 hours on low.

When your three simultaneous full time jobs are done, and you get back home, make the Polenta. It must be made right before you intend to eat or it will turn into a gummy coagulum.

 

 

Polenta

Per serving: 1 cup of boiling water, stir 4 Tbsp polenta. --multiply according to number of servings needed.

Cook until thickened for 5 minutes.

When cooked, and just prior to serving,

Stir in about 1 Tbsp butter per serving,

Then turn the polenta right into the bottom of your chunky stew bowls.

You will quickly re-fortify yourself and happily so, ready to face the next day's holiday multi-tasking!


Posted by Karen at 17:50 CST
Updated: Sunday, 13 December 2015 14:33 CST
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Sunday, 22 November 2015
Let's Squash This!
Topic: Harvest Hills Farm activity

Let's Squash this, right now!


If your last load from the garden looks something like a bunch of orange, green and yellow things--you have your hard squashes ready for winter. And you will likely need a couple of good ideas for those hard squashes: pumpkin, assorted winter squashes, spaghetti squash, etc.

 

Butternut and pumpkin soups are easy “go-to's.” Pumpkin pie is a classic. And you likely have some good recipes already for these. (Remember too that pumpkin is an excellent food for your dogs whenever they have a little dietary problem, cook them some pumpkin!)

I'd like to share two good recipes for using Spaghetti squash.

First, a quick inservice on cooking the squash. I favor poking a couple of holes in the squash with a skewer and baking it in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes depending on the size. Bake it until the sides seem “un-firm” to pressure, not really “soft” but compressible to firm finger pressure. If you note, the squash is virtually impenetrable with a knife until it's cooked. After it's baked, you can cut the squash easily through the center. Allow to cool a little, so as not to burn your fingers, then scoop out the seeds. After the seeds are discarded (or saved for the chickens), the flesh comes out in typical spaghetti-like strands. You are then ready to use the cooked squash in your recipes.

You can also pat excess water from the squash and freeze in ziplock freezer bags for later use!

And remember you do not have to get tricky to have a wonderful vegetable dish. Cooked squash simply buttered and seasoned with salt, pepper and chopped parsley is a wonderfully clean, high fiber, healthy side dish!

 

 

 

Here's one recipe for Layered Spaghetti Squash Casserole--


You'll need a casserole dish, one roasted medium sized spaghetti squash, a 16 oz jar of tomato OR Alfedo pasta sauce, 8 oz. Mozzarella cheese.


  1. Butter a casserole dish

  2. Place cooked, and patted dry, spaghetti squash on the bottom

  3. Top with ½ of the pasta sauce and 4 oz. mozzarella cheese.

  4. Repeat with a layer of spaghetti squash

  5. Repeat with remaining pasta sauce and cheese.

  6. Bake at 350 degrees about 30-40 minutes until fully heated through and cheese is melted.


Another Option for Spaghetti Squash might be to substitute it for bean sprouts in EGG FOO Yung.

Who doesn't love a healthy version of this classic Cantonese dish?

 

 

 

Here's a quick version of EGG FOO YUNG.

  1. Beat together 6 fresh eggs

  2. Add chopped Chinese vegetables -typically snow peas, carrots, green onion, green and red pepper, and optional diced small cooked shrimp.

  3. Add about 1 cup of cooked and dry spaghetti squash, which has been cut into smaller pieces.

  4. Heat olive oil with a little sesame oil in a skillet.

  5. Drop by ladleful and fry, turning once.

  6. Sprinkle with soy sauce or make a light gravy with chicken broth and cornstarch.



 

 


Posted by Karen at 18:24 CST
Updated: Sunday, 22 November 2015 18:32 CST
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Wednesday, 7 October 2015
Pub Grub: Bangers and Mash
Topic: Recipes

Pub Grub


I think I first heard the term when touring England and Scotland many years ago. “Pub Grub” is earthy, common man's food, served in a community, local pub. At least back in the day, families could go into a local village pub and expect to find a daily special of “bangers and mash” or “fish and chips” or “steak and kidney pie” or “Sheperd's pie” or “lamb or beef stew” --whatever specialty of the day--readily available.Pub grub might have been the forerunner of convenience food. Certainly, it's heritage could claim the food of the local inns of decades and centuries before.


Pub grub is still good stuff. And, it's easy, adaptable to any culture. Below I show you the traditional “Bangers and Mash” but made a bit healthier by adding sauerkraut to the plate. In St. Andrews, Scotland, you might have just gotten literally sausage and mashed potatoes. Adding sauerkraut is an adaptation from my cultural heritage. Another adaptation might be in the sausage you choose to use. I chose bratwurst. But really, couldn't it be any sausage? Even tofu sausage?


 

 

My recipe for Bangers and Mash is simple.

 

  • Rinse 1 lb of sauerkraut and drain.
  • Add sauerkraut to an oiled crockpot. Season with your favorite sauerkraut additions. For me, I chose simple, but you know sauerkraut is another one of those culturally personal things. I used simply garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper (this time!).
  • Next, cut 5 or 6 links of uncooked bratwurst in half and place on top of the sauerkraut.. Again, any of your favorite sausage is fine!
  • Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Longer won't hurt anything.
  • In the last hour, make a batch of mashed potatoes and some fresh, cooked and buttered carrots.
  • Plate in large bowl as shown above. You'll see that the "mash" (potatoes) are not main stage but are supported by additional vegetables: healthy carrots and sauerkraut.  

 

Simple food, with a nod to your cultural heritage, is always deliciously satisfying!
And if you close your eyes, add a pint of lager, you can almost transport yourself to a distant land...a pub in St. Andrews or the Cotswolds, maybe? 


Posted by Karen at 20:35 CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 7 October 2015 20:38 CDT
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Saturday, 5 September 2015
How to Sneak Vegetables into dinner
Topic: Nutrition and food safety

Spaghetti Casserole

(OR- how to sneak vegetables into your children)

During harvest time we are overwhelmed by the amount of zucchini and tomatoes that can come out of the garden. Zucchini bread aside, it's often hard to get more fresh vegetables into your children unless they don't see it coming!

But who doesn't like Spaghetti? It's a favorite for all ages. And even gluten-free pastas are readily available in every market. The trick to making pasta healthy is in the portion control of the pasta and determining what else is being offered with the pasta.

One way is to use Spaghetti squash directly in place of the pasta noodles. That will work for adults and teenagers most of the time. But younger children and finicky eaters of all ages will reject not having the real deal spaghetti.

If that's the situation in your house, your plan will be to increase nutrition by fortifying the sauce, by planting extra vegetables (natural sources of vitamins) and meat (protein) into the sauce to supply needed nutrition.

But, portion control will still be a challenge. Spaghetti from traditional wheat flour contains about 42 grams of starch in 2 ounces. And 2 ounces of cooked Spaghetti is a small amount to serve a hungry growing teen or adult so it is most likely, they'll be filling their plates or bowls with two and three times the amount before saucing it up.

The compromise balance comes in this very simple, delicious recipe for “Spaghetti Casserole.”

This casserole favorite has been doctored up to assure there's plenty of protein with grassfed beef or ground turkey, cheese, and natural sources of vitamins with extra vegetables in the sauce. It's robust and yet the portion control of starch is curtailed. The six generous servings refers to adult portions, so children will eat less volume, but still get balanced amounts of other nutrients along with the starch. You can use your own canned tomatoes, or conveniently start with organic crushed tomatoes- and add more vegetables!


It's so good that virtually everyone's palate should be happy! It's a great casserole to make for a Saturday night casual dinner --OR--to bake and bring to a potluck dinner or a tailgate party!

Creative cooks can readily adapt this recipe to make it vegetarian.

 

 

Spaghetti Casserole

6 generous servings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 13” x 9” baking pan.

Create your sauce:

Brown and cook 1 lb. of grassfed beef or ground turkey in a heavy skillet or pot.

Add :

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 medium carrot (or 4-6 baby carrots), diced

1 green pepper, diced

1small onion, diced

Cook these ingredients together until vegetables are no longer firm.

Add to above mixture:

1-28 oz can of crushed organic tomatoes

8 oz. tomato sauce

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

Season with Italian seasoning dried herb blend (basil, oregano,parsley)--or equivalent fresh herbs, finely chopped –amount to your tastes

Salt and garlic powder (instead of garlic powder, add fresh chopped garlic to meat when browning)-amount to your tastes

Note: this is where the personal tastes of the chef prevail—add fennel seed ? adjust amounts of everything to your tastes.)


Cook 12 oz. of Spaghetti according to instructions on package to al dente (slightly firm) stage.

Drain spaghetti.

You will also need 2 cups of shredded Italian cheese blend or shredded mozzarella


You are ready to assemble when the pasta is cooked.

Layer half of spaghetti, then half sauce, then half cheese.

Repeat with remainder of spaghetti, then remainder sauce, then remainder cheese.

Additional shaved parmesan, fresh chopped herbs, as desired--

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Allow to sit 10 minutes, then cut and serve portions with a large spatula into pasta bowls.

Maybe add a side of simply sauteed broccoli, Italian green beans, broccoli rabe or greens? Or green salad? You're done!

(I don't have a final picture because we were into devouring dinner before I remembered we missed the “after” shot!)


 


Posted by Karen at 14:40 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 5 September 2015 15:01 CDT
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Monday, 24 August 2015
An African-Inspired Breakfast
Topic: Recipes

A Healthy African-Inspired Breakfast

In Uganda last month, my group was treated to beautiful tropical fruits, in the form of juices—a tart orange juice, a sweet passion fruit cocktail-- and also fresh fruits, such as mango, pineapple, and their wonderful mini varieties of bananas. We also often had a soft bread, rolled-up that was referred to as “Rollex” to us, but in actuality is a crepe-like bread from north African, called Injera Bread.

Traditional Injera Bread is made from millet flour or “Teff” which is allowed to ferment for 24 hours in the batter. Natural yeasts allow the fermentation of natural sugars in the flour, which will produce tiny bubbles in the batter and give it a spongy texture. The batter is thin and, when spooned into a saute pan or grill surface, spreads like a crepe. The bread is then rolled up OR placed open on a plate and other foods placed on it, then scooped up and eaten. The basic recipe for Injera Bread is 1 part Teff flour to 1 part water. No additional sugars or flavorings or spices are used..

Below is a picture of a recent breakfast I made at home in the United States I've taken the concept of Injera Bread, but modified the recipe to use ingredients I had available. The “mini” bananas I found at a local market, and the yogurt is plain yogurt (certainly common and readily available in northern Africa) with a drizzle of honey, a commodity also found readily throughout Africa. I could have drizzled mango puree over the yogurt!

My Version or Adaptation of Injera Bread is as follows, note that I avoid fermenting the batter, instead using seltzer water or club soda to provide the little “bubbles”. And you must add additional seltzer or club soda to thin the batter, depending upon the flour you are using—in order to create a thin, crepe-like batter, or it won't spread. You want a spongy crepe, but not a pancake!


 

Injera Bread (without the fermentation step) 

I also have to work on making this bread perfectly round without the squiggly edges--this batter may have been slightly too thin or I wiggled the pan too much in trying to get it spread out. In any case, better thinner than a pancake. And a good excuse to keep working at it!

 


Posted by Karen at 12:16 CDT
Updated: Monday, 24 August 2015 12:31 CDT
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Wednesday, 12 August 2015
A Trio of Fresh Vegetable Dishes
Topic: Garden

 

We are awash in vegetables now! Why not make three amazing vegetable dishes, refrigerate and pull them out for a salad buffet lunch or readily available sides to serve with a poached, chilled salmon or some grilled meats? All of these dishes contain vegetables that can be  freshly picked, whether from your garden or your local Farmers Market!

Green Bean Salad with Walnuts and Feta

Steam 1 lb of French green beans, cut in half—until crisp-tender

Roast 6 oz walnut pieces (either bake for about 10 minutes in the oven or toss in a shallow pan on the stove top)

Cut up 6 oz. Feta cheese

Combine in a large bowl and toss with Dressing made from equal parts white wine (or Balsalmic?) vinegar and olive oil.I usually use about 1/8-1/4 cup of each—depending upon how much green beans you actually prepared. Vegetables should be coated, but not visible liquid sitting in the bowl. Whisk ingredients before tossing into salad.

Salt and pepper to taste.


Wild Rice, Tomato and Kale Salad

Cook 1 package of wild rice (making 2 cups of wild rice, when cooked)

Chop fresh kale leaves, 2 cups

Cut 2 cups of cherry tomatoes into halves

Dice 1 stalk of celery

Dice 2 small carrots

Combine above in a large bowl and toss with Dressing made from equal parts olive oil and lemon juice—see note above--add 1 Tbsp fruit puree (I used Mango) and 1Tbsp honey. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and whisk dressing thoroughly before pouring over salad, “Fatigue le Salad” with at least 40 tosses.


Ratatouille--"a Classic French vegetarian dish"

Combine the following in a large roasting pan:

2 medium Zucchini, chopped bite size chunks

2 large green peppers, larger sized diced

1 large onion, larger sized diced

1 medium, peeled eggplant, chopped into bite sized chunks (I prep eggplant ahead of time by salting directly or soak pieces in salted water about 30 minutes, then rinse and drain)

1 Tbsp capers

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 Tsp (or more) Herbs de Provence blend

Additional Fresh Rosemary sprigs

Salt and Pepper

About 1/3 cup of olive oil to toss into and coat the vegetables.

Roast vegetables with olive oil in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Remove roasting pan to counter and add 1-28oz can crushed, peeled and seeded tomatoes and 1-28oz can of stewed tomatoes. Stir into vegetables. Return roasting pan to the oven and bake an additional 30 minutes until vegetables are throughly cooked.

You may serve Ratatoiulle as a hot dish, or refrigerate and serve cold, which is how I have it on my luncheon plate below!


 

 


Posted by Karen at 14:09 CDT
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Friday, 31 July 2015
African Vegetarian Stew and Chapati
Topic: Education and Values

I just got back from Africa, Uganda specifically--following a medical mission to a hospital in Nebbi district. This was my second trip and I already miss the patients, staff and entire environment. There is a simple, pure honesty in their day-to-day life, unfettered by the materialism of our western culture.

My observations of their daily rhythms expose the often artificial nature of a day in our lives. Funny values we have, often self righteous to a fault: predominantly consumers, not producers, often petty, unkind, pitting one against the other, instead of uniting. We fail to act as community, instead as little self-interested groups, and this behavior is encouraged by our political leadership. We behave with a poor conceptualization of individuality. 

The Socratic saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living" still applies, we should heed that advice.

Instead of preaching about values, let me share a recipe for a meal we often had--seasonal vegetables in a stew, prepared in a kettle over an open firewood fire. Even at the "hotel" in Nebbi, food is prepared off site in an open kitchen, over a wood or charcoal fire. (Yes, they make their own charcoal!).  No "fast" food here, also no GMOs, no preservatives or chemical additives.


 

 African Inspired Vegetarian Stew

serves 4

4 medium carrots, sliced ½ in thick

1 small onion, chopped larger chunks

1 medium zucchini (without seeds) chopped larger chunks

1 large sweet potato or small eggplant, chopped (you might use pumpkin or other hard squash here)

1 small green pepper, chopped

2 large Russet potatoes, chopped

28 oz can crushed peeled and seeded tomatoes

1 tsp salt (iodized, universally needed for thyroid function)

Chili sauce, to taste—

OR—if you prefer north African seasonings:

½ tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp Za'atar, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp dried thyme,1 tsp dried parsley or fresh parsley chopped


If in Africa—you'll have to bring to a boil over an open fire in a kettle, then cover and bury in ashes next to the fire or cover with hay and incubate for several hours until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked.

If in the US—suggest putting in an oiled crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. OR- in a Dutch oven, bring to a boil, then cover and bake 2 hours in a slow oven 300 degrees until vegetables are soft.

The Vegetable Stew should be served over rice. I cooked 1 ½ cups dry rice (3 cups cooked) to be divided between 4 bowls, then ladle stew over. . I used canned peeled and seeded tomatoes, imagine if you had to produce the same from fresh tomatoes--you CAN do it, but thankfully, we have the canned product readily available and nutritionally it is equivalent. 

Serve the stew with homemade CHAPATI, an African flatbread. 

 

 

 

Chapati (African flat Bread)

4 slices

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tbsp oil

½ cup water

½ tsp salt.

Combine in a bowl and divide dough into 4 pieces.

Roll each piece flat, adding extra flour to avoid sticking.

Fry each piece in an oiled pan, turning once. Start with 1 Tbsp of oil in the pan, then add more as needed.


 

Enjoy this fabulous dish of simple, pure vegetables and easily made fresh flatbread...


 

 

 

 

 


Posted by Karen at 17:43 CDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 18:46 CDT
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Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Make a Meatloaf with fresh herbs!
Topic: Recipes

Try Meatloaf with Fresh Herbs

 

 

 

For a quick dinner idea, why not meatloaf ? It will give you a chance to use those fresh herbs that are happily growing in pots near your kitchen right now. And for a little effort, you can create a quick homemade dinner that will give you wonderful sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

2 lb grassfed ground beef

1 packet dry onion soup mix

1 Tbsp. Worchesteshire sauce

1 egg

Add a good handful of freshly cut fresh herbs. I decided to grab basil and parsley.

But, it can easily be “Chef's choice” and fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano all make good choices too.  Remove extcess stems, thenchop the herbs in a mini-food precessor and add to above.

You may now add a filler* if desired. Then, shape into a loaf and place in a baking pan.

Bake at  350 degrees until internal temperature is 145 degrees or higher, about 1 hour.


*Comment about fillers: Virtually all classic meatloaf recipes add about ½ cup of bread, cracker, or cornflake crumbs to their meatloaf mixtures. A better filler might be uncooked, rolled oats. If you want to add a filler, with oats you'll avoid possible GMO corn and wheat allergens and get a bonus of fiber. Use one-minute oats, they're finer than old-fashioned oats and never use the long-cooking,steel cut oats.


Cooking with fresh herbs brings the fresh garden to your dinner table while waiting for those vegetables to grow.


Posted by Karen at 10:58 CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 June 2015 11:00 CDT
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Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Find a Spot for Fresh Herbs
Topic: Home Environment

Find your Spot for Fresh Herbs

I encourage everyone, wherever you live, to find a spot to grow something fresh for your family.

The easiest things to grow in a pot are fresh annual herbs. I keep my perennial herbs—like thyme, sage, oregano, assorted mints, etc. growing in beds in the garden. But annual herbs are often more fragile, so I have taken to growing these in pots, kept near the house, where watering is convenient and they can quickly be moved if weather is particularly harsh, like some of our intense thunderstorms can be.

 

 

 

 Using fresh herbs during the growing season is one of the classic culinary joys of Summer cooking. Plus- snipping them (and using immediately) assures that their health benefits are “alive and well.”


Some reported health benefits of fresh herbs include:

This is a short list—there are many resources available to consult regarding medicinal herbs and plants. However, even if they had no additional health benefits, fresh herbs contribute to increased savoriness of foods and culinary art and for “foodies” that makes fresh herbs essential!

Because annual herbs germinate and grow quickly, you'll have these herbs ready to snip daily in a few short weeks. You may even want to try some of the more exotic herbs, like the pots of Thai Basil seen in my picture above. Wait until that herb is combined with chicken in an Asian inspired chicken salad, or tucked into fresh Spring rolls.

You don't have to wait for your tomatoes to create a super Tomato-Cannellini Bean salad shown below.

I used a large can of petite diced tomatoes (drained, use that tomato juice in a soup or stew or ?) and 1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) with 2 chopped carrots and 1 small chopped onion. Then snip a large handful of basil and parsley, chop and add to salad. Dress with equal parts of lemon juice or red wine vinegar and olive oil, to which you've added salt and freshly ground pepper. As usual, toss thoroughly, then refrigerate until serving.

And doesn't that salad compliment the plate of Mushroom Lasagne and cooked Green Beans with butter and dill very nicely?


 

 


Posted by Karen at 09:45 CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 June 2015 12:45 CDT
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