Category Archives: Recipes

How to Freeze Basil Without Oil

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How to Freeze Basil Without Oil

It happens every summer- you plant a basil plant or two and before you know it, you are overrun with fresh basil, burnt out on eating it and have no idea how to preserve it for the winter. Most tip articles recommend using olive oil but I’m not comfortable using that much oil at the end of my meal when I typically add basil.

So I tested out using just water and it worked! Now I used about 3-4 cups of loosely packed, fresh basil leaves and about 1/4 cup of water, so plan on using 1 tablespoon of water per one cup of basil leaves. (I have not tested this out with any other herbs yet, so I don’t know how this method works on other plants.)

How to Freeze Basil Without Oil

 

How to Freeze Basil Without Oil

Start by pruning your basil plants to promote growth. If you have an outdoor plant, I recommend doing this outside only because of all the little bugs that may call your plant home will scatter and you don’t want them in your kitchen. Give your trimmings a good inspection before bringing them in to the house in case any bugs stuck around (I don’t spray my plants with anything other than a little soap mixed with water to keep the bugs at bay. It does a good job with caterpillars and ants but not so much with grasshoppers.)

Back in the kitchen, give your basil a good rinse. I like to submerge mine and swish it around to get all dirt off. I’ll do this a couple of times. Then pluck off the leaves. (Do this with intent. You will be using these herbs in the future, don’t accidentally spoil your meal in 3 months with ill-intent today.)

Fill your food processor with the leaves and water (ratio 1 cup of loosely packed leaves to 1 tablespoon water) and pulse until you have everything chopped and mixed. Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays. (I do about 2-3 teaspoons per cube.) Freeze until firm and use like you would fresh in sauces and soups.

I’ve been told you can freeze whole leaves in freezer bags but have not tried it yet.

I hope this method helps another basil lover who wants fresh basil taste year-round!

Until next time, blessed be.

Using Fresh Herbs

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Using Fresh Herbs

I love my herb garden even though it’s not as big or full of as much variety as I’d like. I keep everything in pots so I can easily bring them indoors when the weather is too harsh for them. I used to have dozens of plants but having moved around so much, I now only have basil, rosemary and thyme. These guys play a huge role in my daily cooking and despite their small numbers, produce a lot of leaves. The tips I offer today help me prevent herbal burn out or waste.

Add herbs to your salads

Add fresh herbs to any salad for a punch of flavor. I just tear up basil leaves and strip thyme & rosemary stems after rinsing them. Pop them right into your dinner salad, pasta salad or even potato salad for that extra bite of flavor. (This can be done with any herbs you love or edible flowers.)

Make an herbal tea

Pour hot water over your herbs and let steep to brew a delicious (and often healing) tea. 

Add to any slow-cooked or prepackaged meal

Adding fresh herbs and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice to any slow-cooked or prepackaged meal at the end will add a pop of flavor and freshness lost from slow-cooking or processing. I even like to sprinkle them over a store bought roasted chicken when I bring it home and then pop it in the oven to stay warm. I feel like it gives new life to a potentially dull bird.

Dips, dips and more dips

Pesto is an obvious choice for using up a lot of basil, but go one step further! Any time you make a meat dish, potatoes or roasted vegetable, grab a handful of your favorite herb or herbs, toss them into a blender or processor, and pulse while adding in some olive oil, salt & pepper and anything else you want. Personally I like to use either lemon infused oil or garlic infused oil, but use what you like and have on hand. Once it tastes perfect, drizzle over your food or set on the table for everyone to drizzle themselves. Leftovers can be tossed in with hot pasta for a delicious but easy meal.

Freeze or dry the extras

If you aren’t going to use up all your herbs before they turn, either freeze them with a bit of oil or dry them in a dehydrator or in your oven then store in an airtight container. Once winter hits and you can’t locate fresh herbs, you will be grateful for your stockpile! Take it up a step by drying your leaves whole then add them to a grinder. When you go use them, you will grind them up, releasing a lot of flavor in the process that pre-ground herbs can lose.

I hope you like my tips and put them to use in your own kitchen!

Until next time, blessed be everyone!

Samhain Soul Cakes

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This post comes from Sacred Mists An Online Wiccan College on Facebook. Please be sure to check them out and give them a like!

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Samhain Soul Cakes

Soul cakes are traditionally made on Samhain (two days before All Soul’s Day). These are mildly sweet, with hint of spice and topped with currants in the shape of a cross.

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
2 cups All purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup dried cranberries or currants
1/3 – 1/2 cup milk (or milk alternative)

Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Make sure that butter is in room temperature. Cut butter into cubes so that it will be easy to work with. Using a hand or a stand mixer, cream the butter in large bowl until fluffy.
Add sugar and mix until blended.
Add in egg yolks and beat until incorporated.
Sift the flour into another bowl with the pumpkin pie spice and then add about 1/2 cup at a time to the wet mixture. Beat well after each addition until fully blended.
Add milk a bit at a time to make a soft dough.
Roll the dough out and cut out little cakes with a biscuit cutter. Set them on baking sheet. You can space them closely, they do not spread.
Mark each cake with a cross and decorate the marks with dried cranberries or currants.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack and the store in an airtight tin for up to 5 days

Coffee Alternative

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Coffee Alternative

A few months ago I realized that wonderful drink from the gods was not so wonderful on my sensitive system. Yes, my beloved coffee was causing more pain than joy so I sought out a replacement. Since caffeine* was not an issue, I looked into roasted cacao nibs. Cacao is the raw, unprocessed version of cocoa from which we get chocolate. I had a bag of raw nibs and after a quick look online, I found a recipe that lead to me ditching coffee for good. Now I currently do not have a french press and I’m told that it’s the “only way” to make this brew. Screw that. I use my regular old coffee pot and it does the trick. I will warn you though, if you use a reusable filter, clean it while it’s hot. Once the ground cacao cools, it’s a bitch to get off your filter!

Roasted Cacao Nibs
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Spread an even layer of raw cacao nibs on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes. (FYI, your kitchen will smell like chocolate cake. If you live with others, you may be forced to bake them a cake later as an apology for “tricking them into thinking you were baking a cake.” Or maybe that’s just my family…) Once they are done, cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Coffee alternativeCacao Coffee
2 tbsp cooled roasted nibs
4-8 oz water, depending on how strong you like it

Grind your nibs in a coffee grinder. Pulse the grinder as the heat will melt down the nibs. Either brew for 10 minutes in a french press, or if you are like me, add to the coffee pot (select a strong brew setting if possible) and brew. I tend to use 4 oz of water to 2 tablespoons of ground nibs but I’ve made up to 8 oz with it. It’s all personal preference. After that, fix it just like you would a cup of java the same size. You can add flavored syrups but I find flavored creamers too overpowering in this (maybe pressed nibs will work better for them, but I honestly don’t know). Sip & enjoy!

*Now some sites and companies claim that cacao is caffeine free however, I have also read that there is caffeine in them. If you are sensitive to caffeine, don’t drink this past 2 PM. For me, I can down a cup and go right to bed but I could do that with coffee as well.

Until next time, blessed be!