Sunday, July 31, 2011

Recipe: Blackberry Sage Tea Shortbread Cookies

Don't miss your chance to enter my Easy LunchBox Giveaway!

I have a tea cabinet.  Full of tea.  I don't drink that much tea, but I can't resist buying it.  It's so delicious.  I have made tea jelly, which I can fully recommend, and now... tea shortbread!  Brings a whole new meaning to tea cakes.

I used Blackberry Sage tea, but you could try any of your favorite teas.

You could roll the dough out and shape it, but I just pressed it into logs and sliced it thinly.  Not gorgeous, but kind of rustic and definitely easy.  A food processor works best for this dough.

Blackberry Sage Tea Shortbread Cookies

1 c butter, frozen
2 c flour
1/2 c confectioner's sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 Tbsp Blackberry Sage Tea (loose, or from bags)
1 Tbsp water

Grate the frozen butter in a food processor.  In a coffee grinder (that has been cleaned), grind the tea into a fine powder.  Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until the dough sticks together when you press it between your fingers.  Do not over-mix.
Looks crumbly

All pressed together

Well wrapped

Turn the dough out onto a large piece of parchment paper.  Press firmly into a long log and wrap well.  Freeze for about 20-30 minutes.
 I gave up the pressing after not too long - just pressed with my hand

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Slice the cookies thinly (press with the bottom of a glass or the palm of your hand if need be, if they crumble apart) and place on baking sheets.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Let cool several minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.  Enjoy with or without tea.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Recipe: Garlic Creamed Swiss Chard

Don't miss your chance to enter my Easy LunchBox Giveaway!

My friend gave me a big bag of excess bounty from her CSA box this week, including a lot of gorgeous chard.  She had golden chard, red chard, and a bunch of rainbow chard.  So beautiful!

The Girl liked this, and declared it was much like kale.  The Boy declined.  I remain unsurprised.  I had friends over who enjoyed it quite a lot.

Garlic Creamed Swiss Chard
(from Eating Well)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound chard, stems and leaves separated, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Isn't that beautiful?

Separate the leaves and stems of the chard.  Wash well.  Rip the leaves into small pieces, and chopping the stems into small pieces.

Heat oil in a large saute pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add chard stems and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in chard leaves and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Cover and cook, stirring once, until tender, about 2 minutes more.  If there is excess liquid, transfer to a colander placed in the sink and press with a wooden spoon to remove it (I didn't find this necessary).
After wilting

After covered cooking time

Place garlic and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook until bubbling, about 30 seconds. Add milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg; cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir the chard into the sauce and serve immediately.
Served with mashed potatoes and chicken feta spinach sausage.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Recipe: Braised Red Cabbage with Onions

Don't miss my Easy LunchBoxes giveaway!!

This is an extension of the caramelized onions I posted earlier - and a delicious one at that!

A friend gave me some extra veggies she had from her CSA box, and it included some red cabbage.  Yum yum yum.
Served with pork chops and couscous.

If you don't think you like cabbage, give this a try.  It's sweet and yummy.  Not to mention gorgeous.  The color is fantastic.

I used some beer mixed with Better Than Boullion for the liquid, but you could use stock if you like.  The alcohol in the beer all boils away, so there's no fear in serving this to children.

Braised Red Cabbage with Onions

1 head red cabbage (mine was about 1 1/2 lbs before trimming up)
2 onions
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 c beer (or stock)
1 tsp Better than Boullion (veggie stock base - omit if using stock)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Remove any tough or dry outer leaves from the head of cabbage.  Cut in half and cut out the core.

Slice the cabbage thinly into strips.  I got about 8 c.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan or dutch oven.  I used a 5 qt saute pan.  Add the onions and cook over medium heat until golden, stirring occasionally.  This should take about 8 minutes.

Stir in the cabbage, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage has wilted part way.
Your beer of choice.

Whisk the veggie stick into the beer.  Pour into the cabbage mixture, cover, and cook until the cabbage is tender (about 10 minutes).  Remove the cover and simmer until the rest of the liquid evaporates (2-3 minutes).  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and serve.
Totally delicious!

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Recipe: Balsamic Caramelized Onions

Don't miss my Easy LunchBox giveaway!

I made these delicious onions the other night to top a pizza, and they were so easy and delicious - it's a great thing to know how to do.

(There's another recipe that builds on this one coming)

Balsamic Caramelized Onions

2 large onions
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
salt to taste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Pretty onion rainbows!

Peel onions and cut in half.  Slice thinly into "rainbows."

Separate all the pieces of onion well. 

Heat oil and butter in a large saute pan (I used a 5 qt).

Add the onion pieces and coat with the oil and butter.  Stir occasionally and let cook over medium heat until they are nicely browned and softened.  For me, this took about 10-15 minutes.
Sprinkle in salt to taste.  Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.  Use in recipes, as toppings for pizzas and burgers, or use your imagination!

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Gifts for the Lunch Packer: Back to School Edition - Boxes, Bags & Containers PLUS an EasyLunchBox Giveaway!

This is a series of posts I'm going to do about good gift ideas for the lunch packer - or for the follower of my blog!

First things first, I want to disclose that I am an Amazon Affliliate, and the links I post are my affiliate links.  All opinions of products are my own.

Much of this post is a bit of a re-post of one I did around Christmas time, but I have a lot of new readers since then (hello, and thank you!).

What does the lunch packer need most?  Well, containers, of course!

My favorite containers are obviously Easy Lunchboxes.

I love Easy Lunchboxes because they are sturdy, stackable, easy, and dishwasher safe.  I have three sets, I think, so there are always clean ones ready for our family lunch packing.  They are a good size for kids or grown ups.  I have had mine for over a year, and have never had one break, warp, or discolor.  
A fantastic piece of news is that Easy Lunchboxes are now available through Amazon, and are eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping with orders over $25, and they also qualify for Prime shipping, if you have that.  Since they have been available through Amazon, they have quickly become the best selling item in the lunch box category.

Easy Lunchboxes also have a cooler available, which holds up to three of their boxes.  Perfect for outings!

If you would prefer something other than Easy Lunchboxes, there are of course other boxes available.  

The first boxes I got were these Emsa divided boxes.  They are also sturdy and dishwasher safe, with removable trays.  These Lock & Lock container sets are also wonderful - the smaller containers are perfect for yogurt, applesauce, or fruit cups (and they fit inside the Easy LunchBox containers).  I love using the Lock & Locks for snacks.

For other options, Emsa also has a smaller divided container.  Also popular are Laptop Lunch Boxes.  You can also buy their Bento Buddies container sets separately, which I happen to have.

If you are looking for a really adorable lunchbox and container set, the yubo box is so cute... I got one hoping that the EasyLunchBox containers would fit in them... alas, they do not, and so I returned the box, but they are a great option.  The interchangeable face plates are so so cute.  The whole box is dishwasher safe, except for the paper face plates.  The containers are also all dishwasher safe.

Another great online shop, which I have not ordered from, but I know other lunch bloggers have, is Allthingsforsale.  They have some great items.

Inner containers and accessories are also important. 
Allthingsforsale has a good selection of them.  I like them for things like ranch dressing or nutella or the like.
There are several other options for boxes to pack your lunches in, and a couple that do fit the EasyLunchbox containers are the adorable Stephen Joseph lunch boxes (many of which also have matching water bottles available!) and the more streamlined koko freshpacket.  Just be aware that EasyLunchbox containers are a little more likely to leak if put on their side. 

********GIVEAWAY CLOSED**************
Now for the really cool part:  EasyLunchboxes is offering a container set and a cooler bag of your color choice (Retail value of $21.90).  All you have to do is head on over to EasyLunchboxes and come back here and leave a comment about something you like about EasyLunchboxes!

This giveaway is offered to US residents onlyPlease do not enter this giveaway if you have won or received free product from EasyLunchboxes within the past 3 months. 

As always, I need a way to contact you.  Anonymous commenters, with no contact information, cannot win.  If I can't contact you, I can't get your information to EasyLuncboxes and you can't get your prize.  Simple as that.  US entries only, please.

One comment per person, please.

I will choose a winner, using, on Thursday, August 4 at 6 PMish, EST.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Winner: Back to School King Arthur Flour Giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered, and a head's up - if you go to King Arthur Flour and shop NOW, they are having a Stock Up Sale through midnight tomorrow (July 28th).   15% off a $50 purchase, 20% off $100, and 25% off $150! 

The winner is... #12, Stephani!
Stephani said...
Oh gosh! There's some great stuff there! I think I might go for the Green Polka Dot Bakers. So cute!
I will send your email address over to the wonderful people at King Arthur Flour and they will get your e-gift card sent out to you as soon as possible.

Thank you again, and keep a look out tomorrow for my next Gift Ideas for the Lunch Packer post, which also includes a giveaway!

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Recipe: Pineapple Ginger Shortbread

Admittedly, this recipe is born of my purchase of some interesting Pineapple Juice Powder at King Arthur Flour (don't miss my Giveaway!!) - you might be able to create a similar flavor by using a little pineapple juice in the mix, and adding a little flour, or by using chopped dried pineapple.  If anyone tries this, please let me know how it goes.  These would also be phenomenal with some crystallized ginger in them.  I didn't have any on hand.

But the pineapple juice powder is really cool.

I also used my pineapple pastry press, and I just love these things.  So so cool.  You could use a small cookie cutter.

Pineapple Ginger Shortbread

1 stick (1/2 c) butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp Pineapple Juice Powder
1 tsp ground ginger (to taste)
1 c flour

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Add in the remaining ingredients.  I like to pulse everything together in a food processor, so as not to over mix.  When you can press the dough together with your fingers, press it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for about 10-15 minutes.
Don't overmix.  This is good.

Ready to chill

Roll out to about 1/2" thickness.  Cut out into shapes (I like my pineapple shaped pastry press - dip into a mixture of sugar, pineapple juice powder, and ginger in between cookies) and put onto a lined cookie sheet.  Put the pan in the freezer for about 5 minutes (this helps the cookies keep their shape), then bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Enjoy.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gifts for the Lunch Packer: Back to School Edition - Bento Gadgets

Don't miss your chance to enter my King Arthur Flour Giveaway here!

This is a series of posts I'm going to do about good gift ideas for the lunch packer/things you might need for Back to School.

I want to disclose that I am an Amazon Affliliate, and some of the links I post are my affiliate links.

I don't do a lot of the super cute bentos that many people do, but I have a few toys that I just adore using in my lunches.  This post is a bit of a repost of one I did around Christmas time, but I have a lot of new readers since then (hello, and thank you!).

One of the most fun tools is hard boiled egg molds.

In the realm of traditional Japanese bento hard boiled egg molds, you can get a car & a fish, a bunny & a bear, a star & a heart, or for even more fun, Hello Kitty (I don't have her yet - but I want her!).

You can also shape hard boiled eggs with Tovolo Ice Cream Sandwich molds.  I have the farm animals, but they also have a set with a star, a heart, and a cylinder, or the Oh-My-Goodness-I-Want-Them-Before-Winter set of a Gingerbread Man, a Snowman, and a Snowflake.

Another staple of fun lunch is bento picks.  How about these adorable animal ones?  Or these swirly Wilton "Message" ones?  (I have never tucked a note of any kind into them, but you could).  Allthingsforsale also has a HUGE array of picks that I am dreaming of.  I love the panda bears, the letters, and the music notes!

Silicone cups also make great dividers in lunches.  These square cups are perfect, or you could go the cute route and get some animal shaped ones, or these flower shaped ones.

You could go all out and get super cute.  You could stay more utilitarian.  But, any way you shape it (hardy har har), adding a couple of these things to your lunch packing arsenal could help start the school year off right.

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