Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Farmhouse Herb Garden

I adore herb gardens. I love them mixed in with landscape because they are beautiful and always smell so great, but I knew that this year that wasn't going to be an option for me. We are not going to tackle our front landscape until fall or early next Spring. And although we do plan to do landscaping around back I just don't have any good place for a little herb garden (we are sticking with mainly hydrangeas lined with boxwoods)

SO I opted for a little back porch herb garden lined in the center of my outdoor dining area. Fresh herbs I can use in the kitchen...and I don't have to worry about  planting something for a table centerpiece this summer. I'm practical.... or at least that's what I try to tell my farmer. :)

All you need are some herbs (I went with Dill, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Mint and Thyme) I have to get one more pot for cilantro, so that is not pictured. I use so much cilantro...because...... guacamole... :) I could live on that stuff...

Good potting soil, small pots and saucers and some gloves were the only other things needed. I went with Terra cotta pots.... just simple and natural looking.

 YUM - I am now searching recipes with fresh herbs and summer drinks with fresh mint..... hello mint juleps and mojitos.

A true farm girl always has the radar up on her phone.... A storm was rolling in.

How cute.

 Rosemary! this stuff is amazing. I have a wonderful recipe for lemon and rosemary shortbread cookies.... I'll be making those soon.

My outdoor table scratches VERY easily.... It looks like wood but it is heavy duty aluminum.... SO I am always trying to protect it from whatever I put on it. I added little furniture felt pads to the bottoms to minimize the scratching.

A storm was rolling in. 


 That's it... all done.

If you use fresh herbs often and need a place to plant them, give this little "garden" a try.

 It is a covered porch but because it's on the West side it still gets plenty of sunshine without scorching them.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Springtime Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad.... It's a regular summertime side and perfect with anything on the grill. I'll add anything and everything to it and create different versions, or add whatever needs to be used up from the fridge. The past couple of months we have been loving this Springtime Pasta Salad. This weekend I am going to add grilled chicken to it and make it a meal instead of a side.

First I cut up all of my veggies while I boil my noodles.

Hi Spring - I just love you....

Next I whisk up my "dressing." I use this dressing in salads all the time - it's delicious. And I am a ranch loving girl - so that's big for me.

Too dark of a photo... but I was loving all the birds at my feeder the afternoon I was making this dish. My spot at my kitchen table is my favorite spot in the whole house. I would love to tell you that I sit in those big chairs and drink my morning coffee while watching the birds... but reality is I sip my coffee in the living room watching t.v and folding laundry. #reallife :)

Sauté vegetables in the skillet over medium heat just enough to get warm... You don't want to over cook these vegetables because then they will lose their beautiful color...and turn to mush.

Add the spinach and tomatoes towards the end....

Remove the vegetables and add the pasta. Notice the veggies are cooked down but they still have their great color...

Add the vegetables back to the pasta and all dressing.....

I failed to get one of those beautiful pictures of the food in a bowl with the tulips and green grass right out the window. #reallife again hit... we were hungry and dug right in.

Grocery List:

2 cups asparagus
2 tbsp. fresh basil
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 cup of peas, frozen
1 cup spinach
1 sweet pepper
1 pound pasta
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup lemon juice and some lemon zest


1. Cook pasta according to the package instructions, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute broccoli, asparagus, pepper, onion and garlic in olive oil just until veggies are tender (about 7-10 minutes). Stir in spinach, peas and cherry tomatoes and cook an additional 5 minutes.
3. Remove cooked veggies from heat and stir in cooked pasta, 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water, lemon juice and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top pasta primavera with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve Warm.

Happy Friday. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches....Farmer Approved

I’m obsessing over lilacs right now. Last week my grandmother was in Florida and I completely raided her lilac bush. I literally have about 10 little lilac arrangements in my house. Planting a bush is on my list is things I want in my yard….Up next are peonies… I cannot get enough of spring flowers.
Currently my favorite spot in our house.

 Another thing I have been obsessing over is chicken on the grill. Last summer we were really too busy moving in to “mess” with getting the grill ready and grilling dinner (we are still old school charcoal users). And years past when we were in our little house it just was not convenient to grill. You literally had to walk out the house down to the little garage to the grill and there were no outside lights. I know I know… it was rough. :) But this Spring we are grilling all the time....
I like to “create" – I use that term very loosely new recipes and try new things… my farmer on the other hand likes to stick with what works. Every single time I tell him I am trying something new I can see his eye twitch as he probably starts to wonder if we have a frozen pizza in the freezer for backup. MOST of the time of works out - and this time it certainly did with chicken Caesar salad sandwiches.

Lately I have been trying to avoid carbs in the evening hours. Anything we have for dinner that would normally require bread or carbs (tacos, hamburgers, sandwiches, etc.), I just substitute for lettuce. And since I am a salad lover I usually enjoy it more. Okay okay...maybe not more but just as much.  I skipped that with this recipe this time, but I could see this being great in a wrap as well – the possibilities are endless.

Grill the chicken breasts. Anytime I am making a chicken sandwich I always slice the breasts very thin. They are easier to cook and eat that way. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. These 4 slivers of chicken are really 2 average size chicken breasts. They are just very thin.
Meanwhile toss together your Caesar salad. Lettuce and lots of dressing with some shavings of fresh parmesan cheese – yum…
Take two section of a French baguette (that’s what I used, you can use whatever you want or have – ciabatta would also be great)…  This was a lot of bread so I cut the middle section out. This made it easier to make a sandwich and pile your lettuce down in.

Lightly butter and toast on the stove top.

Assemble chicken, bacon, lettuce salad and extra dressing on top… super easy…. Barely blog post worthy but gives you another idea for a very quick and easy dinner….

Poor lighting.... and I am in the middle of washing up winter coveralls to be put away so that's what's draped over my chairs.... But this sandwich was delicious. Give it a try, or create your own version of a chicken sandwich at home.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spicy Oven Baked chicken Tacos..... Farmer Approved.

Its spring, things are growing, things are being planted, the sun is out longer and therefore my farmer stays busy.  Just like I did last fall for Harvest I am doing a weekly post of dinner around here. Things I can make up in the afternoon and I can throw them in the oven a little bit before my farmer gets home. Things to make life a little easier and clean up a little less.

I’ll admit – this was much easier to do in the fall with harvest.  Food that time of the year it’s easier to do casserole (ish) things, heavier and meatier. I don’t want that this time of year. I want to grill, I want veggies and lemony things.... I want salads. That’s hard to do for a hard working farmer that’s been working outside all day. To come home to..... lettuce..... So I’m putting a spin on some of our favorite dinners to get us through this busy time.

Enter Spicy Chicken Baked Tacos (recipe below). These actually aren't very spicy. Maybe the rotel (crushed tomatoes) makes it a little spicier, but you can always change the variation of the heat to the recipe.... We love Mexican food and this is easy. And unlike most Mexican dishes I don’t have 847 dirty dishes and bowls.  I made it all up in the afternoon and baked it for 10 minutes right before my farmer got home. It was delicious.

Ingredients List:

1/2 lb Chicken, cooked
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles,
1/2 cup Onion
1 (14.5 ounce) can Ro-tel
1/2 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 (1 ounce) taco seasoning,
10 stand and stuff taco shells
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
You really must get the stand and stuff taco shells.... they make it so much easier and they make a larger taco - I ate two and was stuffed. 

I really wanted shredded chicken for this recipe. I grilled my chicken breasts like normal and put them in my Kitchen Aid.... perfect for shredding chicken last minute.



Stir together your can of green chile's and your can of crushed tomatoes...

Add to the chicken

Then add 1/2 an onion....

Spread a layer of refried beans on the bottom of your taco shell (next time I might try black beans, my farmer LOVES black beans). Add the chicken mixture and top with cheese....


 I wrapped them in foil and refrigerated until later that evening when my farmer got home - I was worried about them becoming soggy from sitting... but they were perfect...

For toppings we chose lettuce, avocados and black olives...

Bake for 10 minutes (or until cheese melts) on 350°.

YUM - it's only been a few days since we have had these and I'm already hungry for them again. 

Happy Monday...

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