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Three Essential Spices to Keep in Your Pantry

One of the things I have learned over the many years of cooking for my family is to embrace herbs and spices.  It's the little bit of this and the little bit of that when added to a dish that brings an otherwise bland dish to life.  It is what I call "the love".  I remember a time years ago when my husband, two sons and I were sitting around the dinner table and one of the boys asked me what made my dinner so good.  My answer, "It's the love, baby." A while ago I shared five essential herbs I grow in my garden .  Parsley, chives, mint, basil, and rosemary are herbs that I always try to have on hand in their fresh state.  Growing them in my garden makes that relatively easy for about six months of the year.  In addition to those herbs there are three essential spices that I try to keep on hand in my pantry in their non-ground state.  Garlic Garlic Garlic is closely related to the onion, leek, shallot and chive, and is used around the world for both cu

June's Garden To Do List

Whenever June rolls around I am reminded of  June Is Bustin' Out All Over, the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from Carousel .  June is bustin' out all over All over the meadow and the hill! Buds're bustin' outa bushes And the rompin' river pushes Ev'ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill! June is bustin' out all over.  June vegetable gardens in the Northeast are just starting to show their stuff.  Memorial Day usually marks the date for the planting of those vegetables that require warm soil and air temperatures for optimal growth.  As a result vegetables like squash, beans, peppers and tomatoes are just getting started.  Hot weather last week really gave my little raised bed vegetable garden a boost. The Vegetable Garden My June flower garden is welcoming irises, peonies and roses.  Morning Flower Garden Shadows in June Our rhododendrons have come and gone, all within a 10 day period.  The show was beautiful this year . Rhodode

Frozen Caramel Coffee Treat

The temperature hit 89 degrees here one day this week.  The humidity was high as well, making the day sticky and uncomfortable.  On the one hand it was terrific to have a day that finally was warm and sunny, but we don't have our air conditioners installed in our windows yet, so other methods of cooling must be relied upon. Frozen Caramel Coffee One way I like to cool off on a hot afternoon is with a frozen coffee treat.  Are you a fan of those frozen coffee drinks at your local coffee shop?   You know the ones I am talking about. Their names end with  --uccino, or ---acchiato and if you drink one of them a day you will end up ---afatto and ---abroko.  It takes a little planning, but once I'm into the swing of summer I usually have all my frozen coffee treat ingredients on hand.   That way I can control the outflow of $$ and the inflow of calories. An essential tool in making a frosty cold coffee drink is a good blender.  You'll need one that can chew up and

Easy Chicken Cacciatore

Easy Chicken Cacciatore Chicken Cacciatore is one of those dishes I have been making for years and years.  It falls in and out of favor from one year to the next.  Right now it is in favor because I've started making it with boneless chicken breasts.  Traditionally chicken cacciatore is made with bone-in chicken pieces.  I prefer chicken cooked on the bone because I think it is more flavorful than boneless chicken, but there are members of my family who disagree.  I make this chicken cacciatore with boneless chicken when I don't feel like listening to complaints about the bones. This is really a great recipe to add to your menu rotation.  It is easily made in one pan.  It can be made in advance, refrigerated and reheated, or frozen for later in the month.  This recipe will serve six, but you can easily make adjustments for fewer or more mouths to feed.   Feel free to use bone-in chicken pieces instead of boneless chicken breasts if you prefer. Let's make it, shall

How Does My Garden Grow?

Yesterday I watched the bean seeds I planted in my garden on Memorial Day sprout.  These pictures were all taken yesterday.  While not exactly time lapse photography, they give you a sense as to how quickly these seeds grow.  These pictures were taken over a five hour period. It took five days for these little rascals to break through the soil.  I'm looking forward to the day I can pick fresh beans for dinner. How does your garden grow?

Easy French Fries

Let's all just admit it.  Every once in a while we want French fries.  We know they are not good for us.  We know they don't fit into our healthy eating plan.  We know that eating French fries will not help us lose the ten pounds we are trying desperately to shed.  Even knowing all these things, every once in a while we still want French fries. Well, thanks to the folks at America's Test Kitchen (ATK) there is a way for us to make French fries at home with very little fuss and mess.  On top of that, their recommended approach for making the fries produces fries that absorb 13%  of the fat as compared to the 20% of fat absorbed by the usual twice cooked approach widely used today.  Sounds good, right? Here's some more good news for you.  The fries are cooked in less oil than is usually recommended and you start with both the oil and the potatoes at room temperature.  No sputtering or splattering of oil when you add the potatoes. Does all of this sound too good to

Red Potato Salad

All of a sudden I got the urge for potato salad today.  I was standing at the deli counter of my grocery store ordering sandwich meat when the potato salad called out to me.  It must be because Memorial Day is this weekend, but whatever the reason I dashed to the produce department to get some red potatoes and dill, two essential ingredients for my favorite potato salad.  A craving for potato salad can not be denied.  There are three things I really love about this potato salad. Red Potatoes   I love the texture of the red potatoes.  Some will tell you that a good potato salad can only be made with russet potatoes.  I disagree. Fresh Dill    Oh, there's just something special about the taste of fresh dill in potato salad. Sugar   The addition of a little bit of sugar nicely offsets the vinegar.  This potato salad in not sweet, but the hint sugar adds balance. Let's make some... Donna's Red Potato Salad Printer Friendly Recipe My Red Potato Salad Ingredients