This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Container Herb Garden with Recycled Plastic Containers

05.07.2013 · Posted in What's New with This Dame

DSCF0861

Don’t throw those plastic jugs away…they make perfect self-watering containers for growing herbs.  With the right soil combo and seeds you can grow your own herbs on your patio, porch or balcony.  It really is easy, cost effective and nothing beats cooking with fresh herbs.

There are a number of videos on YouTube demonstrating how to make a plant container with a water reservoir so that the plants soak up the water they need and you don’t have to worry about over-watering or under-watering them.  Also, the soil nutrients will not wash out from watering them from the top.  The soil mixture I used is Miracle Grow Potting soil and Peat Moss in 4:1 ratio.  In just one week all the seeds geminated.  The photo above was taken today, just 3 weeks since sowing the seeds.  There are half-gallon milk jugs with tarragon and sage, 1-gallon juice bottle with thyme, and  a Clorox bottle with cherry tomato.  I also have a milk jug of mint and one with dill.  Five gallon containers are holding Roma tomatoes and basil.  I also have rosemary and chives growing in regular planters.  Cilantro and Italian parsley will be added shortly.

Bugs are a major problem here in the tropics and diatomaceous earth which is food safe and organic works well.  A mosquito net works the best for big bushes like basil and tomatoes keeping the bug problem well under control.

I have a new solar dehydrator that a friend built from my plans and it will get a workout when the tomatoes are harvested.  Can’t wait.  I love sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, on focaccia and in couscous.

And so these herbs don’t go to waste I’ll be drying some for storage and preserving some in olive oil with feta cheese and olives and  selling some fresh herbs at the Sunday Farmers Market.

Check out this video on how to make self-watering containers…

Next up -  Salad for National Salad Month

Teriyaki Chicken Made with Orange Marmalade

05.06.2013 · Posted in Main Dishes

Teriyaki ChickenThis simple recipe is from runnyrunny999 on YouTube.  Its just 3 ingredients all of which I had on hand and thought it would be a good way to use up my last jar of homemade marmalade and a few chicken tenders.  The teri is the shine and the yaki is the grilling and hence teriyaki is barbequed chicken but for a quick preparation you can do this in a non-stick skillet in about 15 minutes.  Its caramelized sweet soy and tangy orange glazed chicken without all the basting and waiting.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.  Serve with jasmine rice and your fav veggie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken boneless thighs or tenders
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (I like Kikkoman)
  • 1/3 cup Orange Marmalade (homemade is best)

Method:

  1. Salt and pepper chicken and heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Saute chicken until lightly browned on all sides.  Remove chicken to a plate.
  3. Add soy sauce and marmalade to the center of the pan and stir until smooth.  Cook sauce until it thickens and add back the chicken.
  4. Continue cooking and turning the chicken pieces in the sauce until the chicken is done and the glaze is shiny.

Spinach Soup with Greek Yogurt in a Mug

04.25.2013 · Posted in Recipes, Soups

Spinach SoupYou can’t get much healthier than fresh baby spinach soup with Greek Yogurt laced with plenty of fresh dill.  This is pure comfort food and all homemade!  Often I grab a mug of some soupy concoction for a quick lunch.  It may be tomato soup, chicken noodle or minestrone but always homemade so I know what is in it.  Fresh vegetables in season are just the ticket to a quick, delicious and nutritious soup like this spinach soup… loaded with iron and vitamins.  A mug lends a little portion control which is my major food challenge.  Even healthy food can be fattening if you over-do-it.

Spinach was pretty common in our house when I was a kid.  The Popeye cartoon series was all the rage then and parents exploited it so we had no choice but to eat it and learn to like it.  Mom drizzled a little vinegar on canned spinach to give it a little bright flavor and she  made fresh spinach frittatas (quasado) and spinach salads which were full of flavor. Early exposure is the trick to teaching children to eat vegetables.  Growing your own vegetables with the kids is another way to develop their taste for vegetables.  They’ll love eating what they have helped to grow…back in the day, we certainly did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small potato, peeled and sliced thin (or shredded)
  • 1 package prewashed baby spinach (about 12 oz.)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (homemade is best)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • Greek yogurt or creme fraiche to garnish

Method:

  1. Warm a stock pot over medium heat, add oil and when oil is warm add garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds and add potato.  Salt and pepper lightly and cook until potato starts to soften.
  2. Add all the spinach at once and stir fry until its soft.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a lively simmer.
  3. When the potatoes are done, remove from heat, stir in the fresh dill and lemon juice.  Whiz with an immersion blender or puree in a blender or food processor.
  4.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Garnish with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of dill.

Spaghetti Frittata – Pan-fried Leftovers

04.10.2013 · Posted in Main Dishes, Recipes

DSCF0836Baked frittata is magnificent for a crowd but this quick pan-fried frittata, which takes less than 15 minutes to throw together and cook, is perfect for one or two servings as a light dinner with a green salad and glass of wine.  Its just a little less than one serving of leftover cooked spaghetti pasta, about 1/2 cup of leftover marinara sauce, leftover mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses plus 2 eggs.  The outside is crusty and buttery, and the inside is tender with lots of Italian flavor.  Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Here’s how to do it:

Blend the leftovers in a bowl with the eggs, don’t forget the cheeses.  You shouldn’t need anymore seasoning if the marinara sauce was adequately seasoned when cooked. Use a 10-inch nonstick skillet and melt a tablespoon of butter or more over medium high heat, then pour in the pasta/cheese/egg mixture.  Let it cook undisturbed until the eggs set and the bottom is nicely golden brown.  The top will look slightly undone, not runny but not totally dry.  Slide the whole thing in one piece onto a plate bigger than the skillet.  Using hot pads or kitchen towel, invert the skillet over the plate.  Then flip the plate over so the frittata lands upside down in the skillet.  Return the skillet to the heat and cook 3 minutes more or until the bottom is nicely browned and crusty.  Slide the finished frittata onto the same plate you used for flipping and garnish with fresh basil.

Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies with Cardamom

Easter Cookies - photo by Wisconsinfood.com

Easter Cookies – photo by Wisconsinfood.com

No matter what the holiday or occasion sugar cookies are colorful reminders of love and caring. Easter really snuck up on me this year. One minute I was working on a new doll pattern and the next minute a friend was calling for Easter cookies.  Sugar cookies are the easiest to make but rather tasteless so I tweaked the recipe with a bit of cardmom and some homemade vanilla extract.  A couple drops of almond extract add a nice flavor to the Royal Icing and doesn’t muddle the cardamom flavor of the cookie.

Time was of the essence while I iced and decorated the baked cookies and hoped the icing would dry before placing them in individual bags with ribbon ties.  Ribbon?  Well no time to shop for ribbons so a pink plastic bag, cut into strips, was the remedy.  Then, just to be generous I made a felt bunny to add to the basket (link to pattern below) .  And when the basket was all done and on its way out the door I suddenly remembered I didn’t take any photos…duh!  The photo below is from Rhea’s iphone.  The felt bunny is the star rather than the cookies but its all good until next year.  I used the cookies cutters as depicted in the photo at the right.  Needless to say Rhea was delighted with the basket of decorated cookies and the felt bunny.

Couple of tips for making crisp cookies:

1)  Chill the dough at least 2 hours

2)  Cut off a piece of chilled dough just big enough to roll for one cookie

3)  Sprinkle a piece of plastic wrap with flour, place the dough on the flour, sprinkle the top lightly with more flour and cover with another piece of plastic wrap, then roll to desired thickness (1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick), remove the top plastic and cut with a floured cookie cutter.  If the dough is cold enough the cut-out will be easy to release and transfer to the baking sheet using the plastic wrap.

Easter bunny 24)  Place the baking sheet with the cut-outs in the freezer until firm – this will prevent them from spreading during baking.  I like to use parchment paper on the baking sheets – comes in handy if you want to move the chilled cut-outs and for easy release when baked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature (use salted butter)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (pure vanilla or homemade vanilla extract)
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  2. Whisk the cardamom with the flour and add to the butter cream in 3 additions.  The dough will be quite soft.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and cover it completely shaping it into a rectangle or disc.
  4. Chill the dough until firm, at least 2 hours.  Roll and cut-out cookies (see tips above).
  5. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven until barely browned on the edges, about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of cookie.  Lightly touch the center of a cookie to check for doneness.  The less it gives, the more done is the cookie.

thumb_1248_48289_DIYFELTBUNNYsewingpattern_1       http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/sewing/toy/diy-felt-bunny-sewing-pattern/48289