Food, Recipes

Roasted Fennel & Tomatoes

I always love hearing what kind of produce folks need recipes for. My latest request was for a fennel recipe. Depending on where you’re located, fennel is a completely underutilized winter/spring vegetable. This celery like bulb is crisp, slightly sweet, and tastes of anise. Here is a quick, simple, and light recipe for roasted fennel and tomatoes. It makes a great side dish or you can serve it tossed with a pasta.

Roasted Fennel & Tomatoes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bulb fennel & stems, halved & sliced
  • 1/2 an onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a roasting pan or baking sheet, toss the onion, garlic, fennel, and tomatoes with the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place pan in oven and roast for roughly 45 minutes or until tomato edges start to brown. Make sure to stir every 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven. Top with freshly grated parmesan and serve.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes: When chopping the fennel, use some of the feathery fronds, you don’t have to use all of them. You can add a little red pepper flakes if you’d like some kick. I highly recommend adding a little freshly grated parmesan at the end.

If you are interested in putting in a recipe request, let me know! Shoot me a message through the contact form or comment below!

Food, Recipes

Whipped Goat Cheese & Strawberry Balsamic Pastry

With Galentine’s and Valentine’s Day this weekend, I thought I’d pay another tribute to the Hallmark Holiday’s with a recipe in addition to last week’s blog! Nothing says Valentine’s Day like fresh strawberries. While I admit I’m in now way a baker*, I thought an easy and delicious treat was in order. This is great for brunch or dessert!

Whipped Goat Cheese & Strawberry Balsamic Pastry

  • 8 ounce goat cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons agave
  • 4 cups sliced strawberry
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 2-4 Puff Pastry Shells

For ease of following this recipe, please know you’ll be making the strawberry balsamic topping first, then while baking the pastry shells you’ll create the whipped goat cheese.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place strawberries in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stirring regularly.
  3. Once bubbling, add honey and balsamic.
  4. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer to cool container.
  6. Place strawberry mix in the fridge to cool while prepping other elements of the dish.
  7. Next place pastry shells on a nonstick pan and put in oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. (The package says 18 minutes, but that was too long with my oven.)
  8. While pastry shells are baking, in a bowl vigorously mix goat cheese, agave, and milk. Set aside.
  9. After removing pastry shells from the oven, allow to cool for a moment before plating.
  10. Remove the tops from the center of the shell and add goat cheese mixture.
  11. After top with two to three large spoonfuls of strawberry balsamic topping and serve!
  12. Enjoy!

Notes: You can use the honey and agave interchangeably or just use one for the entire dish. I, myself, prefer agave, but use whatever you have and it will still be delightful. For the whipped goat cheese, you can use any kind of milk. I’ve tested this with both almond and regular milk, neither will disappoint.

Disclaimer: I am not a baker. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, so please do not judge that I use pre-made pastry shells instead of making them from scratch! It won’t change that these are yummy and easy.

Food, Recipes

Tamarind Beets with Lime Crème Fraîche

I’ve been wanting Southeast Asian flavors lately without the heaviness of a curry or saltiness of stir-fry. I cooked up this unique combo of earthy beets, tangy tamarind, spicy chiles, and the sweetness of crème fraîche. You can make this as an appetizer, snack, or on a bed of greens for a decadent salad.

Tamarind Beets with Lime Crème Fraîche

  • 5-6 small beets, boiled, peeled, and diced
  • 1 Tbsp butter or cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste or sauce
  • 1 hot pepper, diced (I used a Serrano)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • Chili powder or cayenne (just a pinch)
  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro and green onion for garnish, optional
  1. In a sauté pan, heat butter.
  2. When melted add ginger, spices, and hot pepper. 
  3. Once ingredients have blended and spices begin to smell aromatic and ginger caramelizes, add beets. 
  4. Add tamarind to beet mixture and coat thoroughly. 
  5. In small bowl, add crème fraîche, chili powder, lime zest, and juice. 
  6. Serve with cilantro and green onion garnish.
  7. Deep beets and enjoy!

Note: I highly recommend boiling the beets the day before, cooling over night for the easiest way to peel them. The skins will pop right off. Also, if you don’t like spicy food, hold back on the pepper. I thoroughly enjoy spicy food. I admit, the last time I tested this recipe the pepper was so hot, I had to add a touch of agave to the crème fraîche.

Food, Recipes

Healthy Start with a Fresh Recipe

I think every time a new year begins we reevaluate our habits, particularly when it comes to food. I, of course, am no different. If you’re looking for a quick and healthy addition to your salad repertoire here is a great and easy recipe for you to try.

Creamy Lemon Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch large bunch lacinato kale (chopped)
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • 3 tablespoons Vegenaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Take time to massage, yes, massage, the kale with the dressing ingredients. 

Kale can be tough, which is why I like it.  It doesn’t get soggy like spring mix or baby spinach.  Massaging the kale softens it a bit yet you still get that fabulous crunch.  If you like sardines, you can definitely add them for a little saltiness.  Grilled chicken is great with this too!  Obviously, if the thought of vegan mayonnaise makes you weary, go ahead and use the real stuff! 

Updates

A Sigh of Relief

I had originally written this blog post while the election results were being tallied with a simple, perhaps lame title of, “How are you holding up?” It was really all I could think of given the suspense of the fluctuating numbers and time at a standstill. I know I had been more than just a little bit of a wreck for a week and I can only assume that y’all were too. The results have been decided and no matter what team you were rooting for, we now know and that’s what matters.

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog for the last couple of months. While part of me feels guilt and the need to profusely apologize, giving you reason after reason why I haven’t been blogging twice a week. The fact of the matter is, I’m pretty sure you understand. 2020 is crazy and we all have to stay sane. For the first time in months, I finally feel like I have room to breathe a little, even if it is a sigh of relief.

With working a job from home, refinishing furniture nonstop, starting a homestead, raising chickens, cooking, cleaning, laundry, actually sleeping, voting, etc. sometimes something has to give. I’m still here… I’m still being creative and more. In fact, as part of my completing unfinished projects plan at the beginning of the summer, I’ve been tackling a studio of ragged furniture that I’ve had in my shop for years. (More on that later.)

I’ve also been updating the online shop slowly but surely for the holiday season. Please, keep an eye on the blog for refinished furniture coming out at a steal of a price. I’ll be working on some new healthy recipes because let’s face it, I’m sure we’ve all been stress eating a little more, or is it just me?

All this to say, I’m back to blogging at a reasonable rate… and if I miss a week, I’ll see you the next week. I’m saying all of this so that I remember not to beat myself up for not being Super Woman during a pandemic and the election season. I hope you’re well, healthy, coping the best you can, and staying sane. If there is something you want to see on the blog, please, please, please… reach out and say hello! I’d love to hear from you.

XOXO

Laura Lee

Food, Recipes

Rustic Cornmeal Loaf Cake 

I’ve always claimed that I’m not much of a baker. I still stand by this statement, but I admit I’ve been doing far more baking since I moved into this little cabin. I’m not sure if it’s all the hard work that we’re putting into building a homestead or if it’s stress baking from coronavirus. Either way, y’all benefit with some delicious recipes!

I’ve been making variations of this cornmeal loaf for a few weeks now just to have as a snack for my hard-working farming man. The great thing about this loaf is I’ve tried it was several types of fruit, so far my favorite has been the combination of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, but I’ve got the recipe shown below with rhubarb which makes for a unique and tart treat.

Rustic Cornmeal Loaf CakeIMG_4599

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk (regular or non-dairy)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups of fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease pie pan (or baking pan) with butter
  3. Line fruit at the bottom of the baking dish
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix making sure to add fruit last after all other ingredients are mixed well
  5. Add to the baking dish
  6. Bake for one hour or until inserted knife comes out clean. Make sure to rotate halfway through.
  7. Remove, let cool… if you can, slice and enjoy!

 

 

DIY, Food, Homesteading

Coming Right Up: Sprouts

IMG_3236Before I moved out to the country, my ability to grow my own food was fairly limited. I had potted herbs galore, but past that, veggies weren’t really an option. One food I learned to grow at home was alfalfa sprouts. In fact, now that we’re starting our little farm, we have these on hand all the time!  It only takes a matter of days, it’s simple and incredibly delicious. All you need is a mason jar, sprout seeds, and a piece of cloth, fine mesh, or one of the fancy lids that I used. (I got my lid at Natural Gardener in Austin, TX).

A couple notes before getting started: I highly recommend you purchase USDA Certified Organic Seeds. A lot of seeds are treated with chemicals and you do not want to ingest them. Also, if you’re a sprout fanatic, maybe get two jars going and stagger them so you have fresh sprouts every couple of days.

IMG_3234Sprouting Sprouts

    1. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of seeds into the jar
    2. Fill the jar with water until the seeds are suspended and covered an inch or two
    3. Let them soak 8-10 hours
    4. Drain/strain the water out of the jar
    5. Rinse the seeds and give them a swirl then drain again
    6. Leave the jar tilted upside down so that the water can drain out the jar (Leave a paper towel underneath or, what I do, is leave it on my dish mat to drain)
    7. Rinse and drain twice a day (AM and PM) for roughly 3 days or until sprouts are full-grown
    8. When the sprouts are ready, remove from container and rinse thoroughly to remove seed hulls
    9. Store in a closed container in the fridge for several days.

These are great in salads, sandwiches, and tacos! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Let me know how it goes… or in this case, grows!

 

 

Canning, DIY, Recipes

Turn Up The Heat

IMG_4267My favorite jelly that my grandmother used to make was jalapeno jelly. She would dollop it on top of cream cheese and crackers. To this day, I remember it being her go-to appetizer for family gatherings and our little afternoon treat on hot summer days. I think it was then that my love of the sweet and spicy combo began. I thought I’d share with you the recipe that she used to use. Admittedly, I may have wanted to share it with you just so I could whip up some crackers with cream cheese. Either way, I hope you enjoy it!

Jalapeno Jelly

  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 14 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • 1 packet of liquid pectin
  • 3-4 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  1. Coarse chop bell peppers and 14 jalapenos in a blender, pulse smooth
  2. Pour in a saucepan with the vinegar and bring to a boil for 20 minutes
  3.  Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth or fine sieve
  4. Return pepper juice back to the saucepan and combine with salt and sugar
  5. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and stir in pectin
  6. Then add minced jalapenos and ladle the mixture into jars.

 

 

Before & After, DIY, Homesteading, Updates

July Homestead Update

Can you believe we’re already through the first week of July?! With all the craziness in the world, it seems the days are flying by. To be honest, we are certainly keeping ourselves busy here at the Homestead. I wanted to give a quick update as many of you have expressed interest!

IMG_4208

Gardens

Our first bed is finally bearing fruit and veggies. We’ve enjoyed bell peppers, serranos, yellow tomatoes, and sweet potato greens. The rescue tomatoes we saved from Lowe’s are finally established and are now growing. We’ve built a third bed and have planted kale, cucumbers, acorn squash, radishes, and red onion. Our hanging garden is making huge progress, the sprouts are inching higher!

ChickensIMG_4298

Our five girls have been introduced to their lay boxes and we are hoping for farm fresh eggs next month! Earlier this week, we placed an order from a local hatchery for ten more baby chicks. We spent days researching and picked ten that are unique, beautiful, and will give us eggs just as diverse as their feathers. Stay tuned for cream-colored eggs, blue, green, and even red!

Aquaponics

Last week, we stumbled across a 250-gallon water tank which we will be setting up for an aquaponics system. We are looking forward to having fresh fish and healthy greens.

IMG_4300Worm Farm

One of the key ingredients to a functioning farm is healthy dirt. We’ve been trucking in dirt and compost to build our beds, but after a while it won’t be sustainable. Our compost bins are collecting kitchen scraps, chicken droppings, and mixed with worms, we’ll be making our own dirt in no time… ok, six months or so.

Thank you so much to everyone for your support and excitement during this process. All I can say right now in regards to all of this is, “Dreams really do come true.”

Canning, DIY, Recipes

Things Are Just Peachy

IMG_4183I hope that everyone had a happy and safe Fourth of July! Here at the homestead, we had a quiet and relaxing day. No farm work, picking out new chickens to add to our flock, feet up, delicious summer mocktails, and, ok, finally at 2 pm I had to do something and made some peach jam!

Texas peaches are here. They are big, juicy, and absolutely perfect. We snacked on them, grilled them (served with ice cream), and still had plenty to whip up some jam. We even fed a few to the chickens! I don’t share jam recipes as often as I should, but here is a great recipe for peach jam!

Peach Jam

  • 4 pounds of peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  1. Place chopped peaches into a pot and bring to a boil
  2. Use a potato masher periodicaly to mash peaches into smaller pieces
  3. Stir often so that the peaches do not burn on the bottom of the pot
  4. After 30 minutes or so add the sugar and lemon juice
  5. Return to a boil for about ten minutes or until the jam begins to gel
  6. Remove from heat and transfer the jam to jars

If you do not want to cook the jam for what seems like forever, you can add pectin to speed up the gel process. You can store this jam in the fridge in Tupperware, or use the traditional water bath canning method and store it in the cupboard up to a year. IMG_4261