Recipe Friday: Peace and Joy Essential Oil Diffuser Blend

Pretty much every day, and certainly every evening, I put essential oils in my diffuser. My daytime diffuser sits in our kitchen, which is an open space to the dining area. I spend a lot of time around there, so I like to enhance my moods and physical health with the benefits of essential oils

The essential oils, and their benefits, in my daytime favorite, which I name Peace and Joy are as follows. Benefits and other information are listed for use in diffusing (inhaling), topical application, and ingestion.

  • Lemon: cleaning, lymph drainage, cleanses the body, antibacterial, antitumoral, antiseptic, improves microcirculation, immune stimulant (increases white blood cells), improves memory; use for circulatory problems, arteriosclerosis, obesity, parasites, urinary tract infections, varicose veins, anxiety, hypertension, digestive problems; acne; use with local honey to treat/sooth a sore throat; drink in water to promote weight loss; detox for gallbladder and lymphatic system (drink in water)
    • Other info:
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • citrus family
      • Caution: avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight within 24 hours
      • Made from the peel
  • Sweet orange: eases stress and anxiety (when used as aromatherapy); Improves digestion and helps to relieve constipation; Nourishes dry, irritated and acne-prone skin when mixed with a carrier oil and applied as a cream; Promotes a feeling of happiness and warmth when used in aromatherapy; Helps to eliminate toxins from the body; Helps in stimulating lymphatic action to promote balance in water processes and detoxification of the body; antimicrobial properties; may prevent the proliferation of E. coli bacteria; Natural remedy for high blood pressure; anti-inflammatory; Reduces anxiety and boosts mood; Natural anti-depressant; mild tranquilizer
    • Comes from Citrus sinensis, the oranges you are used to eating. It is derived from the fruit, especially the rind.
  • Grapefruit: supports metabolism, cellulite reduction, antitumoral, metabolic stimulant, antiseptic, detoxifying, diuretic, fat-dissolving, cleansing for kidneys, lymphatic and vascular system, antidepressant. Rich in limonene, which has been studied for its ability to combat tumor growth. Used for Alzheimer’s, fluid retention, depression, obesity, liver disorders, anxiety
    • Other info:
      • Mix with coconut oil and rub on areas of cellulite, or take a few drops internally with water
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • citrus family
      • Caution: avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight w/in 24 hours
  • Frankincense: reduces inflammation, destroys cancer, spiritual awareness; boosts immune system, treats autoimmune disorders, fights infections, improves anxiety ,heals skin (acne, scars), balances hormone levels, regulates estrogen production, eases digestion (helps produce bowel movements), beneficial in reducing symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, sleep aid, antiviral; contains sesquiterpenes which stimulate the limbic system of the brain (the center of memory and emotions) and the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. (The hypothalamus is the master gland of the body, producing many vital hormones including thyroid and growth hormone.)
    • Other info:
      • Breathe it for immune, colon, lungs
      • Apply to neck and feet to boost immune system
      • sometimes referred to as olibanum
      • topically, inhale, diffuse, or ingest
      • This is a potent oil: if you ingest, dilute it first, and do not ingest large quantities.
      • Mix 6 drops to one ounce of carrier oil and apply to the skin to fight
      • sagging, wrinkling (helps tighten skin)
      • Helps speed digestion, like digestive enzymes (modulates the gut)
      • Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale for respiratory assistance (good for asthma or allergies); or an oil diffuser.
      • Inhaling also helps relieve muscle aches, stress, and negative emotions.
  • Rosemary: thickens hair, improves brain function and memory; good for Alzheimer’s, soothes aches and pains, balances androgen and estrogen, liver detox and gall bladder function (benefits bile flow, reduces plasma liver enzymes), lowers cortisol (lowers stress), protects the liver, anti-tumoral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, enhances mental clarity & concentration, relieves throat & lung infections
    • Other info:
      • an evergreen oil
      • from labiatae family
      • part of the “four thieves” formula
      • add a drop to shampoo for healthy hair
      • dilute to apply topically, directly inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • Cautions: do not use on children under 4 years of age; avoid using on persons with high blood pressure
  • Peppermint: digestion, aids in absorption, cools heat in the digestive lining; focus, energy booster, fever reducer, relieves headaches and body/muscle aches. Anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, antiparasitic (worms), antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, gallbladder/digestive stimulant, pain-relieving, curbs appetite, helps with irritable bowel system; improves focus, improves breathing (bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies); relieves headaches (2 drops peppermint + 2 drops lavender, rub on forehead)
    • Other info:
      • Can rub right on the stomach to relieve symptoms; also rub on bug bites for a few days to relieve itch
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • inhale 5-10 x/day to curb appetite
      • do not apply to infants younger than 18 mo
  • Eucalyptus: good for respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies; insect repellent (helps block malaria), expectorant, mucolytic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-aging; respiratory/sinus infections, decongestant, rheumatism/arthritis
    • Other info:
      • can use the leaves to cover wounds, to disinfect
      • a spray of 2% eucalyptus oil will kill 70% of airborne staph bacteria
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • myrtle family

Just think of all the health benefits we get from essential oils!

To make Peace and Joy Blend:

Ingredients:

  • 3 drops lemon essential oil
  • 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 3 drops Frankincense essential oil
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil OR eucalyptus essential oil

Directions:

Fill diffuser to manufacturer’s instructions with tap water (mine holds 2 oz, or ¼ cup).

Drop essential oils into the water. (Amounts are really up to you.)

Replace diffuser lid.

Turn diffuser on.

Recipe Friday: Leftover Turkey or Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

Serves: 5

Yield: 1.5 qt baking dish
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min

I pulled our leftover Christmas turkey from the freezer this week. It was more than enough for one meal. I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy (chicken bone broth, thickened with some cornstarch), and we had more leftovers. I didn’t want anything (again) that smacked of Christmas or Thanksgiving, so I browsed the Internet for ideas, and came up with this alteration.
I made this with leftover turkey, but any kind of cooked meat would do: chicken, canned chicken, beef, venison, buffalo, pork, etc.
The measurements for all the ingredients are just suggestions; but this amount fit easily into a 1.5-quart baking dish.
If you want to stretch this, you can add corn, peas, and/or green beans to the top of the pie before you put on the mashed potatoes.
As for the mashed potatoes: we like potatoes in this house, so 3 cups was just right. If you like potatoes even more than we do, pile ’em on!
I used a sour cream and chives mixture to add to the mashed potatoes. Any kind of cheese would be a nice substitute (I’m thinking cream cheese…yum).
As we ate it, I thought that perhaps mushrooms would be a good addition in the sauté. Also, I have another Shepherd’s Pie recipe for beef, and it includes a dash of ground clove. I had my doubts about that, but after tasting it, I now add a bit of clove to many of my beef dishes.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons     butter

1                            medium onion, peeled and chopped

3                            stalks celery, with leaves, chopped

2                            medium carrots, sliced

1 teaspoon          minced garlic

2 1/2 cups           leftover meat, such as turkey, chicken, or pork; cut to bite-size pieces

                              salt, to taste

                              black pepper, to taste

1/4 teaspoon       dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon       dried basil

2 cups                  gravy, more or less to appearance, texture, and taste

3 cups                  mashed potatoes, more or less to taste

1/4 cup                 sour cream

                              corn, green beans, peas; optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrots, cooking until onions are translucent.


Gently heat mashed potatoes until stir-able, and stir in the sour cream.
Add turkey, seasonings, and garlic, cook 2 minutes.
Add gravy, cooking until heated through. Transfer to a 1.5-quart baking dish.


Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the meat mixture
If your meat mixture is pretty runny, leave the dish uncovered as it bakes. If it’s dry, cover it.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Recipe Friday: Beef Stew in the Instant Pot

This recipe takes a bit longer than the dump-set-and-forget-it types, as it takes some babysitting. I cook the meat, then add the potatoes and carrots and cook again. Total time is about 2 1/2 hours. A quicker way to cook it is to add all the ingredients and then bring to pressure for 18 minutes. I did that the first time, from a recipe I found; but the potatoes and carrots were too soft and mushy for me.
Any kind of red meat would go nicely in this stew.
A nice alternative to the cornstarch slurry is to add instant mashed potato flakes, a little at a time, until the desired thickness.

This is good with a crunchy, chewy bread, or biscuits.

Servings: 4 – 6
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 2.5 hours, includes coming to pressure and natural pressure release

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef stew meat (or venison or whatever kind)

2 medium-large onions, diced

2 generous stalks celery, diced, include leaves

a few shakes each of spices: paprika, celery seed, basil, cayenne, minced garlic, parsley

1 cup strong, hot coffee; mix 1 tablespoon salt into it to dissolve

1 cup water

4 or 5 medium potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

7 medium-large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces

4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water or broth to make a slurry

Directions: Use Sauté mode to brown meat and onion. When mostly cooked, stir in celery. Cook maybe 10 minutes more, then add spices and stir well. Cook another 5 minutes.
Add a small amount of the coffee/salt, and scrape to stir up the fond.
Pour the rest of the coffee, and the extra cup of water, into the pot. Stir.
Put on the lid, set to Seal. Set Meat/Stew mode to 10 minutes.
Since it was hot from the sautéing, the pot took about 10 minutes to come to pressure.
Natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then release pressure.
Press Cancel.
Remove lid carefully.
Add the potatoes and carrots, stir.
Replace the lid and seal.
Set Meat/Stew mode to 8 minutes.
When the 10 minutes is finished, allow 10 minutes for natural pressure release, then release pressure and remove the lid.
Press Cancel, then press Sauté.
Stir in cornstarch slurry and stir thoroughly. Allow to simmer and thicken.
Serve.

Recipe Friday: Funfetti Chocolate Bars

Just so we understand one another, this recipe has no nutritional value and is, in fact, pretty much a negative nutritional value. It has a lot of sugar, and sugar snags your immune system for up to six hours, while it processes the garbage out of your body.

That said, they are delicious, quick, and easy. These are good for church potlucks.

We had these at an assisted living lunch, and they were so good I looked up a few recipes online, and patched this one together.

For variety, you can substitute for the milk chocolate bars:

  • Chocolate almond bars
  • Krispy chocolate bars
  • Rolo caramel pieces
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Heath candy bars, or sprinkle Heath bits
  • Hershey kisses
  • Chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Peanut butter chips
  • Any combination of these

These could be frosted, but it would really be overkill, I think.

Yield: 1 9×13 pan

Ingredients:

1 boxed Funfetti cake mix

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

3 eggs

6 Hershey milk chocolate candy bars, full \ regular size, unwrapped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix together the dry cake mix, melted butter, and eggs.
Press half the dough into a greased 9×13 baking pan.
Arrange the 6 unwrapped, whole candy bars atop the dough (If needed, break the bars so they fit the pan).
Working carefully, smooth out remaining dough on top of the candy bars.
NOTE: wet hands work well for spreading and smoothing dough.
Bake at 350° 13 – 16 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow to cool. Cut into bars.

Recipe Friday: Chili Cheeseburger Stew

I made this on a day when I didn’t have anything planned for dinner, or anything in mind. I started with a pound of burger and some onions, and kept throwing stuff in. Turned out pretty good; and it’s all in one pot.
I’ve been trying to use up a “government cheese” block someone gave us that we’ve had for a long time. It’s like Velveeta, I guess: rather a soft, yellow cheese-like substance. I don’t know if it’s real cheese or not. You can use whatever cheese you like in this recipe; cheddar, mexican, monterey jack, colby – all, I think, would go well.
I used part of a bag of frozen corn, but the amount was about a can’s worth.
This went really well with corn bread. In fact, you could put this in a casserole dish, spread corn bread dough on top, and bake in the oven at 350° for about 20 minutes. What we did was put some baked cornbread in the bowl with the stew.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef or whatever kind of ground meat you have

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 8.3 ounce can baked beans (I used Bush’s Original)

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can corn, drained

5 ounces choice of cheese, cubed

Directions:

In a medium-size pot, brown the burger and onion. Add the garlic; cook and stir one minute.
Add the baked beans, stir.
Add the green chilies, chili powder, and corn; stir. Heat to bubbling.
Stir in the cheese. Cook, and stir occasionally, until the cheese is melted.
Serve hot.

Recipe Friday: Shrimp Alfredo with Asparagus

My husband got a deal on a two-pound bag of frozen shrimp, so I started looking for ideas for a meal. I found an easy alfredo recipe and the rest came together.

This is a really filling meal: shrimp is, itself, filling, then there’s the cream cheese and all the butter. The pictures look like skimpy servings, but it was really all we could do to eat it, with a side salad.

Filling as it is, this is a pretty healthy meal. Butter (even though it gets a bad rap in too many cooking and health articles) is one of the best types of cooking oils you can find, especially if you use the expensive, organic kind.

I used an eclectic mix of pasta: some spinach, some gluten-free (rice), and some semolina (regular kind). They were all spaghetti noodles. You could go fancy and use linguini pasta.

The alfredo sauce is so simple, just four ingredients. If it’s too thick, go ahead and add more milk – either while you’re cooking the sauce, or after you mix it into the pasta, shrimp, and asparagus.

Steamed broccoli florets would be a nice swap for the roasted asparagus.

This recipe makes four servings, give or take, depending on everyone’s appetite. A side salad and some garlic bread would go great with it.

Shrimp Alfredo with Asparagus

Servings: 4

Time: 45 minutes from start to serve

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh asparagus, washed clean, dry ends cut off

6 ounces dry spaghetti or linguine noodles (3 or 4 servings)

1 pound shrimp, pre-cooked or raw, but peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup milk

Extra olive oil and extra 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Cut the asparagus into bite-size pieces. Oil a baking pan, and spread the asparagus in it. Drizzle with more oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a hot oven (375°), stirring once, 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly roasted.

Boil pasta according to package directions.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream cheese and butter. Whisk together until melted and creamy. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, then the milk. Stir and heat until smooth. Turn off the heat.

In a medium-size frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Drain the shrimp, and sauté in the butter. When shrimp are 1 minute away from being done, stir in 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Cook and stir one minute, then remove from heat.

Drain the pasta, return to low heat. Pour in the cooked shrimp and garlic, along with all the cooking liquid and butter. Stir.

Add the roasted asparagus; stir.

Add the alfredo sauce. Stir well. Add more milk, if needed.

Serve in small portions.

Recipe Friday: Tea

Because ’tis the season, we have viruses and bugs and germs and cold etc., I am reposting this from a year ago:

RecipeFridayTea

Oh, how comforting is a cup of tea! Tea is one of my favorite things to do each day. I was introduced to hot tea by an English woman when I was in high school. She served it to me with 4 lumps of sugar and some cream. So delicious as all those sugars and carbs zipped straight to the pleasure centers of my brain! I was hooked on it as warm, comforting, and satisfying. I have since learned to curb my sweet tooth propensity and look more toward healthy options. I was doing well to make herbal teas with a bit of natural organic honey added until my friend was visiting and I noticed she didn’t put any honey in hers. “Oh,” I thought, “I guess tea doesn’t HAVE TO have sweetener in it at all!” This was a revelation to me. Well, we’re all still learning.

Of course, “a cuppa tea” in casual conversation may refer to a number of hot drinks: infusions, decoctions, herbal teas, green/black/oolong tea, etc. To get that out of the way, I first offer a glossary:

“Tea” technically refers to Camellia sinensis, the leaves of which may be made into  white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong, dark tea, and black tea, depending on how the leaves are processed.

“Herbal tea,” or tisane, refers to using the roots, leaves, seeds, bark, or flowers of plants to make a hot drink (stems don’t generally have much medicinal value).

Preparation of plant parts may be divided into

  • Infusion: herbs macerated and steeped in water
    • Quick infusion = 5 minutes in hot water: good for small amounts of herbs. These herbs do well in a quick infusion:
      • Chamomile
      • Sage
      • Peppermint
      • Thyme
      • Tulsi
      • Rosemary
      • Lemon verbena
    • Nourishing herbal infusions are steeped for longer periods, good for pulling out nutrients. Pour hot water over the herb, cover, and let sit for 8 hours or overnight. Some herbs good for nourishing herbal infusions:
      • Linden
      • Hawthorn
      • Plantain
      • Violet
      • Stinging nettle (the most famous nourishing herbal infusion)
      • Mullein
      • Oats
      • Red clover
    • Cold infusion: herbs are infused in cold water for 4 to 8 hours, often placed in a sunny window, can also be placed in the refrigerator
  • Decoction: simmering plant parts for a length of time (20 – 60 minutes)
  • Any of these may be gently re-warmed before you drink.

Cautions:

  • Always know your tea source. Choose organic brands. You do not want to drink teas made from chemically-laden plants.
  • Do not use aluminum pots or pans for preparing tea.
  • Avoid plastics.
  • Drink tea in moderation. Too much of anything is not healthy.
  • Some people are allergic to some plants. Avoid teas made from known allergens (although, some people are able to overcome allergies by ingesting small amounts at a time).

I use the term, “tea” to refer to hot drinks I make from plant parts.

I prefer loose tea, as it is easier to buy and store in bulk. I use mason / glass jars of varying sizes. It is best to store herbs in a cool, dark place. Label your herbs with the name(s) and date. I say name(s) because sometimes I mix herbs together in a big jar to avoid having to mix them every time I want to use them. Tea bags, however, are a convenient and clean way to make tea.

While I buy most of my herbs for teas, I grow a few. Each summer I grow peppermint in a pot; at the end of summer, I dry the leaves, crush, and store them. (I also grow stevia in the summer, and dry and grind the leaves to use as a sweetener.) We have four linden trees in our yard. I discovered them shortly after we moved into the house, and I was following my nose to the source of the rich, flowery scent. I was delighted to find that the flowers and leaves of the linden were not just for show, but were also medicinal. When it came time to prune the branches, we hung them in the garden shed until they dried, then I stripped the leaves and flowers, and stored them in a gallon glass jar.

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To make tea:

  • Use filtered water. Your water should be as pure as possible.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then let it cool only slightly.
  • Pour the hot water over the herbs into a cup or teapot. (How much herb? Whatever tickles your fancy at the time. Herbal teas are food, and it would be well nigh impossible to overdose. That said: Please drink responsibly.)
  • Cover the cup or teapot to contain the nutritive oils.
  • A hot pad underneath and a tea cozy atop will help keep everything at the right temperature.
  • After steeping, press the herbs to extract all the benefits you can from the plant parts.
  • Some teas lend themselves to mixing with other teas. Nettle, for instance, while extremely nutritious, tastes pretty “green.” Adding a bit of peppermint or lemon in with the nettle improves the experience.
  • Most people like to add a bit of sweetener to their tea. Honey is the favored choice, and it’s a good one (if you use natural, raw, organic honey) because you add more nutrition (and some say it’s a good way to prevent against seasonal allergies). Please don’t ruin your tea with off-the-shelf sugar. Sugar is like an anti-nutrient, and it grabs all your immune system’s attention for the duration of the digestion and processing of it out of your system. There are other, preferable, sweeteners available, like maple syrup, sucanat, and stevia. (See my post, https://maggietiggles.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/recipe-friday-treat-time-chocolate-mug-cake/ , for a discussion of sweeteners.)

Enjoy drinking your tea. Tea is soothing and nourishing: let it be so.

My favorite go-to tea is a mix of peppermint and stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is a fabulous source of magnesium (along with other nutrients), and many health-conscious writers advocate drinking it daily. [Rosalee de la Foret (at https://learningherbs.com/ and https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/ ) claims that stinging nettle remains an unsung champion for improving health in many powerful ways. She advocates drinking a nettle infusion daily for general health, as it contains an amazing amount of nutrients that can support your energy level as well as the health of your bones, hair, and teeth.] Peppermint is great for the digestive system. We have our main meal at noon, and I usually have my peppermint/nettle tea afterward. Peppermint is best steeped quickly, and nettle is best steeped in a long infusion. I compromise both. I prepare my peppermint tea bag and my scoopful of nettle in a cup with simmering water, cover it with a small saucer, then put my tea cozy over the whole thing. I let it steep for about 20 minutes (sometimes much longer, if I forget about it).

Another tea I use often is a mixture of elderberry, hawthorn berry, mullein, peppermint, calendula, and stinging nettle. This is a good tea for hot/moist colds, but also good for boosting your immune system. Elderberry prevents viruses from replicating; hawthorn provides Vitamin C; peppermint is antimicrobial and antiviral; mullein protects mucous membranes from inflammation, thereby decreasing mucous secretions; calendula is antimicrobial and assists the lymphatic system; elderberry, hawthorn berry, and peppermint are immune-boosting. I either add the herb mixture to simmering water and continue to simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes; or prepare it as I do the peppermint and nettle.

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SO MANY herbs make well into teas (I have most of these at home). I culled the Internet for information, and found most of it at Dr Josh Axe’s site, draxe.com :

  • Green teas are made from leaves that have not been fermented, so they have higher levels of antioxidants.
  • Milk thistle: detoxifying, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes liver and gallbladder health, good for digestion, soothes mucous membranes throughout the body, increases breast milk production
  • Burdock root: cleanses the blood (detoxifier), lymphatic system strengthener, skin healer, natural diuretic
  • Chamomile: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes tranquility, resolves digestive issues, treats insomnia, relieves mild pain
  • Jasmine green tea: just inhaling the beguiling fragrance is good for my soul. Jasmine improves mood, overcomes stress, and balances hormones.
  • Dandelion leaves: enhances heart health, boosts weight loss, supports liver function (besides making tea, dandelion leaves are a powerhouse of nutrition and are good for consuming, either fresh in a salad, chopped into a pesto, or sautéed with onions)
  • Dandelion root (quite tasty when the root is roasted): promotes good digestion, liver-healthy, benefits cholesterol, good antioxidant, antimicrobial
  • Yarrow: reduces inflammation (especially in the digestive tract), sedative to relieve anxiety or insomnia, stimulates blood flow, helpful for high blood pressure and asthma
  • Turmeric: powerful anti-inflammatory, relieves joint pain, enhances immune function, regulates blood sugar, helps manage cholesterol levels (drinking turmeric tea with pepper, honey, lemon, ghee, or coconut milk can enhance its properties)
  • Barley: cleanses the kidneys, treats kidney stones, flushes out toxins, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidants to safeguard the body against cell damage, stomach pain relief, reduces sleep disturbances, reduces constipation
  • Red clover: benefits for menopause, bone and heart health, balances hormones
  • Moringa: anti-inflammatory; treats thyroid disorders, kidney stones, bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections; high in protein, Vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and Vitamin C; antioxidant; balances hormones; helps improve digestive health; boosts liver function, helps detoxify the body; protects and nourishes the skin; mood stabilizer; protects brain health
  • Licorice root: adaptogenic herb (helps balance, restore and protect the body, helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions), leaky gut remedy, anti-inflammatory, enhances the effects of other herbs to be more beneficial, helps with heartburn and acid reflux, helps with adrenal fatigue, boosts immunity, effective expectorant and soothing demulcent (helps with colds)
  • Matcha green tea: may help prevent cancer, promotes weight loss, speeds up muscle recovery in athletes, high in disease-fighting chatechins (a group of antioxidants), boosts energy, aids in reducing damage from UVB radiation
  • Hibiscus flower: tart, very high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides, natural antidepressant
  • Ginger: soothes the stomach, enhances immunity, protects brain health, eases pain, increases weight loss, promotes blood sugar control
  • Echinacea: eases pain, functions as a laxative to help loosen the bowels, anti-inflammatory (especially helpful for rheumatoid arthritis), relieves upper respiratory issues, immune-boosting (helps relieve the flu, asthma, common cold, croup, strep throat, whooping cough), fights infection
  • Yerba mate: promotes energy, mental alertness, fights cancer and inflammatory diseases, high antioxidant count, anti-inflammatory, stimulates the immune system, kills colon cancer cells, contains a host of beneficial vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting compounds, reduces cholesterol levels, promotes weight loss
  • Linden: potent sedative, calming, relieves high blood pressure, soothes digestion

Recipe Friday: Bread with a Side of Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 20 min + overnight
Cook Time: 20 – 35 min

Although this can be made all at once, instead of fermenting, this recipe is best if the dough is allowed to ferment, as described in the instructions, for 8 hours or overnight.

This recipe makes one loaf of bread and 7 – 9 cinnamon rolls (depending on how thick you cut them). After the overnight fermenting, allow three hours from adding the next-morning ingredients to taking them out of the oven.

Yield: 1 loaf and 8 rolls

Ingredients:

            The first day:

  • 4 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 4 tablespoons chia seed
  • 6 cups flour (I used 4 cups einkorn and 2 cups spelt flour)
  • 2 tablespoons egg replacer
  • 1/4 cup kefir, or other fermented liquid
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil

            The second day:

  • 1 tablespoon (heaping) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sucanat or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

            For the cinnamon rolls:

                        for the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, very soft (if you prefer to omit the cream cheese, use 5 tbs butter)
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, very soft
  • 1/2 cup sweetener, such as palm coconut sugar or sucanat
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

                        for the caramel-type sauce:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup palm coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk or cream
  • more cinnamon

Directions:

The first day:
In a coffee grinder, or other similar device, grind the flax and chia seeds until well ground, 10 – 20 seconds.
Add all the first-day ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix well enough that all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it sit 8 hours or overnight at room temperature.

The second day:
Proof the active dry yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sucanat.
Add the salt to the dough, mix in.
Stir in proofed yeast. It is easier (and less messy) to let the mixer do the initial mixing, with a dough hook, even though you may have to babysit it with a spatula for a while.
After the dough comes together, turn out onto a countertop (with all the oils in the dough, it didn’t stick, so I didn’t need to dust with flour).
Knead until smooth and dough doesn’t crack or come apart (10 – 15 minutes).
Return dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm oven until double (30 – 60 min, depending on your yeast).
Turn dough out and punch down.
Roll dough into a fat log and divide 3/5 by 2/5. The slightly larger “half” will be your loaf of bread.
Shape the larger “half” into a loaf and place into a loaf pan (I use an 8 ½ x 4 ½” pan). Let this start rising as you prepare the cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls:
Heat the oven to 350°. Put the 1/4 cup of butter into a large cast iron skillet, a large (Pyrex-type) pie plate, or an 8×8″ baking pan. Melt the butter in the oven.
Take the smaller “half” of the dough and roll out to a rectangle, about 1/4″ thick. Eyeball approximate length/width to slice into 7 or 8 rolls.
Mash the softened butter and cream cheese together; spread over the dough rectangle.
Take the melted butter out of the oven, turn off the oven. If you leave the door ajar, you can let your bread and rolls rise in there after it cools a bit.
Mix together the 1/2 cup sweetener, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; sprinkle over the butter/cream cheese.

Back to the melted butter in the baking pan: Mix the 1/4 cup palm coconut sugar, vanilla, and milk together, and pour into the melted butter. Swirl around and mix it together. Sprinkle as much cinnamon over the top as you like.

Back to the dough: Roll the dough into a log, carefully keeping the sugar and spices inside.
Slice into 7 – 9 rolls, depending on how thick you like them.
Place the rolls into the prepared pan.
Let the rolls rise alongside the bread. They should both be ready to bake in another 20 minutes or so. (Check on them, as dough rises in varying times, depending on your yeast.)
Turn oven to 375°.
Bake the rolls and the bread together.
Rolls should be done in 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how doughy you like them. Tops should be browned nicely.
Remove the rolls from the pan immediately. Cut around each roll, lift from the pan, and invert each roll onto a plate. If any sauce is left in the pan, spoon it over the rolls.
Bread will be done after 30 – 35 minutes total baking time. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
Let the loaf cool for 5- 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool another 15 – 20 minutes, then package.

Recipe Friday: Easy Apple Pie-ish

I had the apples

I had the spices

I had the pie dough

I had the appliances.

 

I had the time

I had the space

I had the oven,

I had the place.

 

I had all I needed

Except the ambition

So here is the –ish part

Of my creation.

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
  • 1 prepared pie crust dough, thawed
  • Sucanat (or sugar, or brown sugar)
  • Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice
  • Butter (about 2 tablespoons), shredded or cut into itty-bitty pieces

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spread dough out flat onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Arrange apple slices onto dough.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and sprinkle with spices.
  • Sprinkle with butter pieces.
  • Bake 35 minutes, until crust is golden.
  • To serve: Tear off portions and eat by hand; or slice and serve on plates. Ice cream might be good with it. Or maybe cheese.

To my surprise, this was SO GOOD!

Recipe Friday: Beef Stroganoff Pressure Cooked

We’ve got a blizzard going on in our neck of the woods. This calls for comfort food.

I know, I know, stroganoff automatically goes over noodles, right? Well, you can do it that way, but this household likes potatoes. Hey, you can even serve it over rice or quinoa or whole grain barley or not over anything.

The Instant Pot (or a pressure cooker) and the coffee make the meat tender. The sherry or red wine adds “depth of flavor,” as I hear in all the cooking shows (well, it makes it better is what it does).

Ingredients:

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon (heaping) minced garlic

1 cup strong brewed coffee

spices to taste: cloves, basil, paprika, parsley, celery seed

salt to taste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup cooking sherry or red wine

1 tablespoon tamari sauce

1 cup hot water

1/2 – 1 cup instant potato flakes

1/2 cup sour cream

hot mashed potatoes

 

Directions:

Set pressure cooker to sauté. Sauté onions and beef until browned. In the last five minutes, add garlic.
Add just a bit of the coffee, and stir up the browned bits.
Add the rest of the coffee, the hot water, the spices, salt, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, and sherry or red wine. Stir.
Push Cancel. Put the lid on, and seal.
Set the Instant Pot to meat/stew, set for 20 minutes.
At the end of the 20 minutes, allow natural pressure release for at least ten minutes. After ten or fifteen minutes, release the pressure. Remove the lid.
Stir in the potato flakes: add enough to thicken. (This should be a bit thicker than you want it to end up, as it thins out a bit after you add the sour cream.)
Push Sauté, and let the mixture come to a low simmer.
Turn off the Instant Pot.
Stir in the sour cream; stir until completely incorporated.
Serve over hot mashed potatoes.