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How To Dry Herbs In The Oven.

My little herb garden has done really well this year. Especially the chocolate mint. . . . that stuff is practically trying to take over the whole bed. 

In fact, I’ve been using it as the background for a lot of product photos lately. . . . 

Herb Garden as background

I love using fresh herbs in soap making and DIY beauty treatments (like the rosemary ACV hair rinse here) and of course cooking, but sometimes you have to turn to dried herbs. And while, we haven’t had any really cold weather, yet, and the herb garden is still going strong for now, those frigid temps are on the way. But before it gets here, I wanted to dry some of the herbs.

Now, there are a few different ways to dry herbs. . . . there’s drying by bundling the herbs and letting them air dry over several days, oven drying them, and even microwaving. If you live in humid areas (like I do – even in the Fall, it’s still humid). then air drying is going to take a lot longer. So, for me, that means oven drying the herbs. 

How to

First, some tips that I have quickly learned:

Pick the herbs in the morning when the essential oils and flavors are stronger. 

If they need it, rinse them immediately. 

For smaller leafed herbs, wait until after they’re dry to pick them off the stems. It’s much easier and quicker.

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Preheat the oven to a very low temperature setting (under 200F degrees).

Spread the herbs out on a cookie sheet, making sure they’re not touching each other as it’ll take longer to dry if they are.

Place in the oven, leaving the door cracked. Leaving the door cracked ensures that they dry instead of bake. 

After about 20 to 30 minutes, check the herbs. When they’re through drying, the leaves will crumble in your fingers. If they need longer to dry, leave them and recheck them every 10 minutes. 

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I dried my basil and chocolate mint with the oven at 180F degrees, and it took about 30 – 50 minutes in all for each batch. 

Store whole or ground in a jar. 

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Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Pie

For me, Fall is all about sweet potatoes, and the many ways to eat them. 

Such as:

Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Bread

And the latest dessert. . . . Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Pie!

sweet potato cream cheese pie

I made this very same pie last year for Christmas dinner, and it was such a hit, that I’ve promised to never make another sweet potato pie unless it has the cream cheese with it. And I haven’t 🙂

In fact, I’ve already made this pie five times this Fall, and I’ll most likely add a sixth and seventh time before long.
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Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Pie

Ingredients

  • Cream Cheese Layer:
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Sweet Potato Layer
  • 2 cups of baked, cooled, and peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Cream Cheese Layer:
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Spread evenly in the bottom of an unbaked pie shell.
  4. Sweet Potato Layer:
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Spread evenly on top of the cream cheese layer.
  6. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Allow pie to cool before serving.
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Peach Blueberry ~Coconut Flour~ Upside Down Cake

So, I meant to post this recipe two months ago. For whatever reason (trip planning, lots of soap making, just plain ole procrastination, etc), I never got around to it.

But there’s no time like the present, and although this is definitely not a Fall-type dessert. . . it’s still delicious no matter what season it is.

A big “Thank You” to cousin Eleanor for the blueberries. They have been so yummy!

Peach Blueberry

This cake is made with coconut flour (so it’s gluten free and low carb), but if you’d like to make it with regular wheat-based flour just use the cake recipe from the Summery Mango Upside Down here

Start off by melting the butter in an iron skillet in the oven. Once melted, remove from the oven (being careful as the skillet will be very hot) and set aside to cool for a bit. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt).

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (melted coconut oil, honey, eggs, vanilla lemon juice and zest, and yogurt).IMG_4924
Whisk together the dry and wet ingredients until completely combined. 

IMG_4925Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar into the skillet.
IMG_4922Arrange the peach slices in the skillet. Add the blueberries in between the peaches. 
IMG_4923Then, evenly spread the cake batter on top. Bake in a 350F degree preheated oven for about 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake is set and golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding. Run a knife around the edges to loosen, then invert on a serving plate.

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Peach Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 6 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Upside Down Topping:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 3 - 4 Ripe White Peaches
  • 1 cup blueberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Place 3 tablespoons of butter in an iron skillet. Place in the preheated oven to melt. Remove once the butter has melted. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients (eggs, honey, yogurt, vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and coconut oil) and mix together.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Set aside.
  6. Sprinkle a 1/4 cup of brown sugar into the bottom of the skillet. Line the bottom of the skillet with peach slices. Place blueberries in the spaces in between the peaches. Cover with the cake batter, spreading it out evenly.
  7. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake is set.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven (being careful as skillet will be very hot) and let it cool for about 15 minutes before unmolding. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter on top of skillet and invert.
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Pickled Jalapeno Peppers.

While I’ll never qualify for any gardening awards (lack of green thumb, here), there is one thing that I do know how to grow. In abundance. 

Peppers. Specifically, jalapenos. Which leaves me with one problem. What to do with them. 

First, I tried adding them into a few salads. A marinade or two. Grilled jalapeno poppers. But I quickly realized, it wasn’t enough. There were just way too many peppers.

Then, in a moment of brilliant (if I do say so myself 😉 ) ah-ha inspiration, the answer emerged. . . pickling!!

Pickled Jalapeno Peppers

 

Now, my pickled peppers also have the addition of chives from my garden (mainly because they are also growing in abundance this year), but you can totally leave them out if you want.

Wash the jars and lids thoroughly. Fill your canner or a large pot with enough water to completely cover the jars. Place the jars in the water, tilting them to fill up with water. Bring to a simmer. In a small saucepan on low to medium low heat, place the lids and rings in warm water.

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Slice the peppers into 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch rings and discard the stems.
In a large saucepan, pour in the water and vinegar.
Add the sugar, salt, peppercorns, and garlic. Bring to a boil.

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Add the jalapeno slices and the chopped chives. Remove from heat. 

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Allow the jalapenos to cool while sitting in the mixture soaking up all of the flavor for 10 or so minutes.

Carefully remove the jars from the canner, emptying them of water. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, fill the jars with the jalapenos. Pour the vinegar mixture into each jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Then, insert a chopstick or skewer down the sides of each jar to remove air bubbles.
Wipe the rims of each jar with a damp paper towel. Using a magnetic lid lifter, remove the lids and rings from the warm water and place a lid and ring on each jar, tightening until they’re snug or fingertip tight. 
Using a jar lifter, carefully return the jars to the canner, making sure they are completely covered by water with at least 1 inch of water above the tops of the jars. Process in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars from the water. Set on a kitchen towel or cooling rack. Don’t place the hot jars directly on the counter. Allow to cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours. You may hear a pinging noise as they cool.
After 12 hours have passed, check to see if the jars have sealed by pressing the center of each lid. If there’s any give, the jars didn’t seal properly. Either reprocess them or refrigerate and use immediately.

IMG_4812

Pickled Jalapeno Peppers.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs jalapeno peppers
  • 1 tbsp chives, chopped (optional)
  • 2 - 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 - 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar (2 cups white vinegar and 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons peppercorns

Instructions

  1. Wash the jars and lids thoroughly. Fill your canner or large pot with enough water to completely cover the jars. Place the jars in the water, tilting them to fill up with water. Bring to a simmer. In a small saucepan on low to medium low heat, place the lids and rings in warm water.
  2. Slice the peppers into 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch rings and discard the stem.
  3. In a large saucepan, pour in the water and vinegar.
  4. Add the sugar, salt, peppercorns, and garlic. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the jalapeno slices and the chopped chives. Remove from heat.
  6. Allow the jalapenos to cool while sitting in the mixture soaking up all of the flavor for 10 or so minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the jars from the canner, emptying them of water.
  8. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, fill the jars with the jalapenos. Pour the vinegar mixture into each jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  9. Insert a chopstick or skewer down the sides of each jar to remove air bubbles.
  10. Wipe the rims of each jar with a damp paper towel. Using a magnetic lid lifter, remove the lids and rings from the warm water.
  11. Place a lid and ring on each jar, tightening until they're snug or fingertip tight.
  12. Using a jar lifter, carefully return the jars to the canner, making sure they are completely covered by water with at least 1 inch of water above the tops of the jars. Process in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
  13. Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars from the water. Set on a kitchen towel or cooling rack. Don't place the hot jars directly on the counter. Allow to cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours. You may hear a pinging noise as they cool.
  14. After 12 hours have passed, check to see if the jars have sealed by pressing the center of each lid. If there's any give, the jars didn't seal properly. Either reprocess them or refrigerate and use immediately.
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Mini Coconut Berry Cakes

It’s hot, hot, hot! And while it’s not officially summer, yet, with a temperature of 94.7F degrees (to be exact. . . . thank you Weather Underground!) and a heat index of 105F right now, it certainly feels like it.

For me, summery weather equals summer food. Grilling, lots of salads, and, of course, my favorite, summery desserts. I.e. anything that contains one or more of the following: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries.

You could say I’m a berry nut, and guess what? You’d be correct. And summer is the time of year I let all of my berry-loving qualities shine through. 

Example: Mini Coconut Berry Cakes. Raspberries, blueberries, and coconut. 

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 In other words, red, white, and blue. Which makes them perfect for any July 4th party!

But these little cakes aren’t just any old cake. Nope, they’re healthy. Grain free and sugar free. Because, while I may love to bake, I also love to eat healthy and try new things. 

Which is why I’m teaming up with Nuts.com, to share a coconut flour recipe with y’all. 

Why coconut flour, you ask? 

Well, because it’s a low-carb or gluten-free dieter’s dream. It’s 100% gluten free and low in carbohydrates, and yet, it contains more protein than wheat flour and more fiber than any other flour. Which means that it’s excellent for building muscles and for helping you feel fuller longer. 

That may be, but how does it taste, you ask?

Coconut flour has a very mild, slightly sweet taste. I’ve tried a lot of different flour alternatives, and this is, by far, my new favorite, and not only because of the taste but also because it’s really easy to bake with.

Be sure to check out Nuts.com’s coconut flour page for more information.

Now, let’s get to baking. 

First, start off by stirring together the dry ingredients (i.e. coconut flour, baking soda, and salt) in a medium sized bowl. 

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Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients (eggs, yogurt, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest), mixing until everything is completely incorporated.

Since coconut flour absorbs liquid ingredients like a sponge, you need more eggs than you would typically use with wheat flour. So, even though eight eggs seems like a lot, they’re very much needed. 

And, living on a farm, means that eggs are always an ingredient that I have in abundance.

Except when the girls molt, but that’s a story for another day and another time. Right now, I have eggs. 

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And aren’t they pretty? See the humongously big egg? Duck egg. Which are actually phenomenal in baked goods, but unfortunately, I only had the one at the time. Oh well. 

By the way, you could totally make these dairy-free by using coconut yogurt instead of Greek. I would have done that, except, let’s face it. . . I have milk goats, and those girls would be a little offended if I even attempted to make a completely dairy-free dessert. No, seriously they would 😉

Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until completely combined. Spoon into a prepared baking dish.

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 Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes in a 350F degree preheated oven. 

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 I removed mine after exactly 40 minutes of baking time, and I think it could have come out a couple of minutes sooner. 

Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes, then, being very careful as it may still be hot, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert to remove the cake.

Allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cooled, with a sharp knife, trim the edges of the cake off so that they’re more even and precise. 

Cut the large cake into 16 smaller squares.

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Then turn each small square on its side and slice in half. 

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 Now for the whipped coconut cream:

Refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk (very important that it’s full-fat) for about 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and open the can. Scoop out the solid coconut cream into a chilled mixing bowl (chill the mixing bowl by placing it into the freezer for 10 minutes prior to using it), leaving behind the coconut water.

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 By the way, you can actually buy canned coconut cream and completely skip the previous steps, but, uh. . . . I live in a small town, and, I’m lucky to be able to find coconut milk in the store. Coconut cream? It ain’t happening. 

Using a whisk attachment, whip the coconut cream for a few minutes or until it’s soft and fluffy and has soft peaks.

Add in a little vanilla extract and honey, and mix until completely incorporated. 

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 To assemble the mini cakes:

Place a dollop of coconut cream on the bottom piece of each cake square. Top with at least four blueberries. 

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Place the top piece of each cake square on top, then add a dollop of coconut cream and a raspberry.

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Serve immediately. 

Mini Coconut Berry Cakes

Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 55 minutes

Yield: 16

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 6 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Coconut Whipped Cream:
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 - 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 small container of blueberries
  • 1 small container of raspberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray (I used coconut oil spray) and sprinkling a bit of the coconut four in the bottom to help prevent sticking.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients (eggs, honey, yogurt, vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and coconut oil) and mix together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake is set.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Being careful, as it may be hot, invert the dish and remove the cake.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely, then using a knife, carefully trim the edges off of the cake until you're left with a big square cake with uniform, even edges.
  8. Cut the cake into 16 smaller squares. Then slice each one of those in half.
  9. Coconut Whipped Cream:
  10. Refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk for about 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and open the top. Scoop the solid coconut cream from the can (leaving the coconut water behind) into a chilled mixing bowl. Using a whisk attachment, whisk the cream until light and fluffy.
  11. Add in the vanilla and honey and whisk until completely incorporated.
  12. To assemble:
  13. Place a dollop of coconut cream on to each bottom cake square. Top with at least four blueberries.
  14. Place the top cake square on top of that, then, a dollop of coconut cream and a raspberry.
  15. Serve immediately. If there are any leftovers, store in the refrigerator.
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