A Tasty Herbal Beverage Recipe

My fabulous friend Wendi and I made this herbal lemonade from scratch a few weeks ago on a hot summer day. It did take some work but in the end it paid off. The fresh herbs and lemons helped make this lemonade a delightful summer drink. Pair this recipe with a good book and some shade. Cheers!






INGREDIENTS:

For the Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup mixture of fresh herbs, finely chopped or roughly ground (I use a blend of lavender flowers, rosemary, and sage. Pure mint is tasty too...)

DIRECTIONS FOR SYRUP:

To make syrup, heat water in a small sauce pan to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in the sugar. Place herbs in a satchel and dunk it down into the mixture. (If you don't have a satchel, you can just put the herbs directly into the pot and then strain them out out the syrup with a fine sieve. It's messy though!) Let the herbs infuse the mixture AT LEAST five minutes, or until it smells like ricola before removing the satchel. Maintain a low boil until the liquid reduces and the mixture becomes syrupy. Remove from heat and let cool. It'll last for several weeks in a covered jar in the refrigerator.

For the rest:
Juice from 6-8 lemons (however zippy you want it)
Water (or sparkling water if you're fancy)

DIRECTIONS TO FINISH:

Add the syrup to a large pitcher. Stir the lemon juice into the syrup. Then add enough water to the mixture to fill up the rest of the pitcher. Serve chilled.

My thanks again to Wendi for sharing this fabulous and tasty beverage.

Comfort Pie a.k.a. Shepards Pie Recipe

I got together recently with an old friend of mine, Wendi, we had a glass of red wine and caught up on each others lives. During our talk I mentioned that I missed my mom's home cooking. Wendi said "I can make almost anything! Can I make you something?" I was flattered and we continued talking. Before I knew it, she was cooking yellow potatoes and asked me "Do you like Shepards Pie?" Of course I do :o) Wendi cooked this delicious comfort pie for me.

*Bear in mind that no two shepherds pies are alike because their ingredients tend to be whatever is in the fridge.





INGREDIENTS:

8 medium potatoes, cooked (Wendi used golden Yukon potatoes)
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 stick butter
Pinch of both Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery heart and leafy bits, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 (10ish oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup cottage cheese
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fortified instant baby cereal/oatmeal

DIRECTIONS:

Mash the first 3 ingredients together (mashed potatoes!) and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, celery, and carrots until onions are transparent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and the ground turkey. While turkey browns, add the Worcestershire sauce and more salt and pepper. When it is cooked, add the tomato sauce an the frozen peas. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the baby cereal (to thicken it). Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish. Then spread the mashed potatoes on top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes then serve hot.

Thank you Wendi for sharing this delicious Shepards Pie recipe with our readers.

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Everyone's Favorite Cookie!! It's Chocolate Chip!

These have been a comfort food for as long as I can remember and are easy to bake. The recipe I recently made makes up to 24 good size cookies. If you want to add nuts or something else special feel free.

Tip: Most cookie recipes call for using a tablespoon to put your cookie dough on a baking sheet. I use a teaspoon which equals more cookies and less calories per cookie. It's a win-win!



INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Using a blender; mix together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Remove from blender and add egg, vanilla and milk.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Add moist mixture to dry mixture and mix well. Drop by small spoonful onto greased baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes. Once cookies are nice and golden brown let sit on sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack or plate.

Adapted from AllRecipes

Tasty Beef Stroganoff Recipe

One thing I love about this Stroganoff recipe is that it's easy, cheap, filling, and delicious. It's not a traditional Stroganoff recipe, it's even easier! While growing up this was one of my favorite meals and to this day it still makes me smile :o). Make a complete meal by pairing the stroganoff with whole wheat toast and green beans. You could also add sliced mushrooms for an extra veggie. Cheers!



INGREDIENTS:
1/2 pound of lean ground beef
1 tablespoon of minced onion
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
2 pinches of sea salt (regular salt is fine too)
1 pinch of black pepper
3-4 cups pasta of your choice (I like to use egg noodles)


DIRECTIONS:
In a large skillet or sauce pan brown the beef and mix in onion and garlic over medium heat. Once browned stir in cream of mushroom soup and milk. Let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes during this time begin to boil your water for the pasta. One the sauce has simmered add sea salt and pepper. Cook noodles according to package directions. I like to add a bit of olive oil to my noodles so they don't stick together. Drain water from the noodles; continue to stir the meat mixture. Pour mixture over noodles.


Adapted from AllRecipes

Patriotic Blueberry Cheesecake

When I think of the Fourth of July, blueberries top my list of must-have foods. We did an article about all the fabulous health benefits of these blue fruits last year so today we're focusing on yummy cheesecake with blueberries. This recipe has a unique phyllo crust...don't let it intimidate you, it's easy to work with and really makes the recipe special.



When buying fresh blueberries look for firm, dry fruit that is smooth and relatively free of stems and leaves. While size is not an indicator of maturity, color is. Berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black in color. Reddish berries aren't ripe, although they may be used in cooking.

Avoid containers of berries with juice stains, which may be a sign that the berries are crushed and possibly moldy. Soft, watery fruit means that berries are overripe, while wrinkled fruit means they have been stored too long.  Fresh berries should be stored covered, in the refrigerator. Wash just before using and use within 6 days of purchase.




Yield: 8 to 10 portions

Ingredients:

8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup melted butter
16 oz. of 1/3 Less Fat "Neufch√Ętel" Cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature*
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup organic raspberry jelly
1 cup nondairy whipped topping

Preheat oven to 425°F.

For crust: Grease a 9-inch pie plate; set aside. On a flat surface place one sheet phyllo (keep remaining phyllo covered to prevent drying out); brush with the melted butter. Top with another phyllo sheet; brush with butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo and butter to make a total of eight layers. Using kitchen scissors, cut the layers into a 12 inch circle. Carefully press circle of phyllo into the prepared pie plate and gently fan the edges. Bake crust until the edges are just golden, usually six to eight minutes. Cool crust slightly on wire rack.

Reduce oven to 350°F.

Using an electric mixer...In a medium size bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until it is light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat until well blended. Gently fold in one cup of the fresh blueberries. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake cheesecake in oven until set...40 to 50 minutes depending on your oven. To prevent over-browning of the crust, gently cover with aluminum foil for the last 25 minutes of baking. Cool
cheesecake on a baking rack completely before serving.

Topping: In a small bowl beat jelly until smooth; spread over cheese cake filling. Arrange remaining blueberries on top in a star shape. Garnish with whipped topping.

*Tip - remove eggs from the refrigerator about 20 to 30 minutes before you use them or put them in a bowl of warm water while you assemble other ingredients. Dry them with a towel before cracking.

For more info about Blueberries: http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/