Healthy Cherry Quinoa Bowl

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Happy New Year, Friends! This month we’re focusing on delicious, healthy, EASY meals here at Crowded Earth Kitchen! A hearty serving of today’s Healthy Cherry Quinoa Bowl weighs in at only 225 calories yet offers up 26 grams of protein and a big punch of Vitamins A, B-complex, and K. Let’s get started! Continue reading

Lavender Chamomile Tea Cookies

lavender1Perfect with brunch or afternoon tea, these little cookies offer lovely and surprising flavors. Because they are crisp (perfect for dunking), they will keep well in a sealed storage container on your counter or in the freezer. Let’s get started! Continue reading

Part I: Kitchen Gadgets to Help You Eat Healthy

Happy New Year, everyone!

If you’ve been following Crowded Earth Kitchen for a while, you know that we don’t make impossible to maintain New Year’s resolutions around here. Instead, we are simply pledging to eat a little leaner and a little cleaner in 2017.

Want to join us? First, throw out all of that leftover holiday junk food. Seriously… that half eaten bag of Hershey’s kisses lurking in your pantry? Those partly stale cookies still sitting on a festive tray? Throw. Them. Away.

Then, stock your kitchen with a few items that will help you on your way to eating more mindfully this year. Throughout the month of January, Crowded Earth Kitchen will feature foods and gadgets that we find useful in our healthy eating journey!

scaleToday’s item is a digital kitchen food scale. Why is a kitchen scale #1 on our list of must have gadgets for the New Year? That’s easy. You can’t improve your meals if you don’t understand what you are eating in the first place! It’s super important to understand how many ounces of different foods you are accustomed to eating in one meal, so that you can make realistic changes that are healthy and – here’s the crux, friends – actually sustainable.

Famili Digital Kitchen Food Scale with Tempered Glass Platform, 11lb Capacity By 0.1oz, White

The kitchen scale linked above is only $6.99. Seriously, friends – $6.99 to start you on your journey to more mindful eating and better health. In the coming weeks, I’ll share simple recipes with the number of ounces of each ingredient spelled out for those who are keeping track. Here’s to better heating, and a healthier you (and me)!

Chinese New Year: Poached Tuna with Noodles

WIN_20160116_133238Chinese New Year falls on Monday, February 8th this year. 2016 is the year of the Red Fire Monkey. You fall under the sign of the monkey if you were born in 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, or 2016. Chinese astrology suggests that people born under the sign of the monkey should expect competition and challenge in 2016.

10 Pcs Fine Bone China Blue and White Bowl, with Free 10 Porcelain Spoons, Rice Bowl, Cereal Bowl, Soup Bowl, Fruit Bowl Set

Chinese New Year celebrations often span one week or longer, involving spectacular parties, fireworks, family reunions, and lots and lots of food! Today’s recipe for Poached Tuna with Noodles is just the dish to get you in the spirit of things, while still being kind to your body. Poached Tuna with Noodles is a heart-healthy dish complete with long vermicelli noodles for good luck! Noodles represent longevity, and according to superstition should never be cut.

WIN_20160116_131938Ingredients (Makes 4 side dish servings or 2 main dish servings)

4 inch piece of lemongrass, lightly crushed with the broad side of a knife

1 lime leaf

2 tablespoons tom yum paste

WIN_20160116_1307271/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

4 cups water

1 handful of vermicelli noodles (pinch your thumb and index finger together to make a circle, and fill the circle with noodles)

2 tablespoons dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into pieces

6 ounce tuna steak, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup snow pea pods, sliced into matchsticks

WIN_20160116_131525Directions

Step 1) Combine lemongrass, lime leaf, tom yum paste, ginger, and water in a wok or large pot. Bring to a boil.

Step 2) Add broken shiitake mushrooms and vermicelli noodles. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Step 3) Add tuna pieces and simmer for 5 minutes or until tuna is just barely pink in the center.

Step 4) Remove wok from heat. Stir in sliced snow pea pods. Serve immediately.

Three Food Resolutions to Consider

Happy New Year from Crowded Earth Kitchen! Let’s kick off 2016 with a few new and improved food habits, shall we? Not only can these three simple changes improve our health, they can help us save a LOT of money. What’s not to love about that?

picture650#1  Less soda pop, more tea. The negative health effects of soft drinks, even diet soft drinks, have been well researched. Also, commercial sodas are expensive! Think of all of those SuperBowl commercials… those advertising dollars have to come from somewhere, right? Let’s give this simple swap a try. Our bodies and our wallets will thank us.

#2  Less drive-thru food, more homemade freezer meals. My weakness is drive-thru burritos, even though I know they are a nutritional nightmare. The wake-up call for me was when I admitted stopping at a drive-thru after pledging a boycott and a friend said, “Of course you’re having trouble stopping – you’re addicted. You’re addicted to the salt, the MSG, and who-knows-what-all in the chemical soup that is Fast Food.” Gross. I know better, and my body deserves better. Time to stock up on home cooked, individually portioned and frozen soups, stromboli, and other meals which thaw and reheat easily.

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Chili freezes and thaws easily!

WIN_20150517_184936#3  Less brown food, more green food. This one is self-explanatory. Most Western diets are higher than they should be in breaded, fried “brown” food, and lacking in fresh, vegetable-based “green” food. Crowded Earth Ktichen is chock full of vegetable-based recipes for on-the-go snacks, simple lunches, family dinners, and a variety of ethnic dishes.

May 2016 bring you good health, and may your kitchen be a place that makes you happy!

Crowd Pleasing Cranberry Sauce

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Don’t forget the cranberry sauce on your holiday buffet. It adds bright festive color as well as palate-cleansing flavors to your party! Here’s a recipe for a big batch. Enjoy!

WIN_20151118_165543Ingredients (Makes 6 cups)

6 cups fresh cranberries (24 ounces)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Finely diced peel (yellow part only) from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons strawberry gelatin powder (i.e., from a small box of strawberry Jello)

WIN_20151118_171406Directions

Step 1) Bring cranberries, sugar, and water to a boil in a . Boil gently with stirring for 2 minutes, or until most of the cranberries have “popped” (you’ll be able to hear this).

Step 2) While the cranberries are coming to a boil, peel a lemon with a vegetable peeler. This is the easiest way to remove the yellow zest from the white pith. You don’t want the white part – it’s bitter! After you have peeled off the yellow zest, dice the zest with a paring knife.

Step 3) After the cranberries have boiled for 2 minutes, stir in the lemon peel and strawberry gelatin powder. Cook for another 30 seconds, then remove from heat.

Step 4) Allow the cranberry sauce to cool in the saucepan for a while, then transfer to a serving bowl. Cranberries may be served at any temperature, but I think they taste best cold (they also set up better, and are less “liquidy” when cold). My preference would be to place the serving bowl full of cranberry sauce in the refrigerator for an hour or two (or even overnight) before serving. Enjoy!

Inside Out Bloody Marys

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This just might be the easiest item to prepare on your entire party buffet… and the most popular! Who doesn’t love a good Bloody Mary? Sure, the spicy, tomato based vodka beverage is tasty, but everyone knows the best part of a well made Bloody Mary is the garnish. Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we ran with that idea and created Inside Out Bloody Marys. The beverage itself is shot sized and potent, accompanied by an assortment of excellent pickled vegetables. Rock On!

Ingredients (Serves 12)

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) spicy Bloody Mary mix, chilled (Preservation and Co. Bloody Mary Mix 32 Oz. Jar)

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) good quality vodka, chilled

1 cup of pickled mushrooms

1 cup of pickled beans (Tabasco Beans, Spicy, 16 Ounce)

1 cup of pickled okra (TABASCO Spicy Pickled Okra 12 oz. jar)

Double (3 ounce) shot glasses

Toothpicks

Directions

OK, friends – this is easy enough to prepare even if you’ve already enjoyed a full size Bloody Mary or three.  😉  Begin by arranging your relishes in the center of a party platter. If you want more than three options, go for it. Try thick slices of dill pickles, ginger pickled carrots, garlic stuffed green olives, rosemary pickled cherry tomatoes, etc.

Next, arrange your shot glasses on the outer edge of the party platter. Fill your shot glasses half full with chilled vodka, and top with chilled Bloody Mary mix. Serve immediately!

 

Cherry Bell Cookies

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Cherry Bell Cookies

Don’t forget to enter the 12 Days of Cookies FREE GIVEAWAY DRAWING!

Cherry Bell Cookies have the delightful flavor of old fashioned spritz cookies, without the hand-aching challenge of using an old fashioned cookie press. These “two bite” cookies are a bit larger than spritz cookies as well, and have a more pleasing consistency. I think you’ll enjoy them, and think they make a great kick-off recipe for our 12 Days of Cookies!

Ingredients (Makes approximately 40 cookies)

2/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 egg

1/2 small box (3 tablespoons) cherry-flavored gelatin

1 3/4 cups flour

Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter, sugar, and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except for gelatin.

Step 2) Remove two tablespoons of dough and place in a small covered container in the refrigerator. This uncolored dough will be used to make the little spheres inside of each bell, as shown above.

Step 3) Mix gelatin into remaining dough. For even, red color, don’t be afraid to use your hands to mix! Place dough in a covered container and refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight).

Step 4) On a floured counter top, roll red dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into 2 1/2 inch circles.

WIN_20151117_160007Step 5) Fold the dough as shown, above, to make a bell shape. Place a tiny sphere of uncolored dough on each bell, where the folds meet.

Step 6) Transfer cookies to greased cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch of space between cookies.

Step 7) Bake cookies in a preheated 375 degree oven until cookies are set and bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.

Step 8) Transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before storing. These cookies freeze well!

 

Rosemary Lemon Roast Turkey

WIN_20151118_175731For many years, I was apprehensive about roasting a turkey. I’m not really sure why. The first year I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in my own home, I ordered a turkey from a deli – precooked, with ready-made gravy on the side! At the time, it seemed like a brilliant idea. Now, I don’t understand what the fuss was all about.

Roasting a turkey is really, really easy. Before we get started, here are a few pointers. Other cooks may disagree – if so, please join the turkey conversation by posting a comment below!

  1. If there’s not a big price difference between fresh and frozen, buy a fresh turkey. They’re juicier, which is wonderful because roasting is a dry cooking process. I bought a fresh turkey at Aldi for 99 cents per pound.
  2. Unless you have 5 or 6 days to allow a frozen turkey to thaw in your refrigerator, you need to buy a fresh turkey. I have never… not once… seen a frozen turkey fully thawed after only 3 days in my refrigerator (which is what the directions on the turkey wrapping often promise).
  3.  Bigger is not better. If you’re feeding a lot of people, consider buying two small turkeys (10 – 12 pounds each) instead of one, massive bird. Smaller turkeys roast more evenly, and because they require less time in the oven, they are less likely to dry out.
  4. You don’t need a special roasting pan, a baster, a “turkey bag” (to cook a turkey in plastic??), or any other strange turkey paraphernalia. A 10 pound turkey will fit in a 9×13 cake pan. A larger turkey will fit on a jelly roll pan, or any baking sheet with sides at least 1 inch high.

Let’s get started!

WIN_20151118_131852Ingredients (Serves 8)

1 small, fresh turkey (10 – 12 pounds)

2 lemons

6 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

WIN_20151118_1336221/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter (not margarine), melted

Directions

Step 1) In the kitchen sink, remove your turkey from the wrapping. Find the bag of giblets and remove it from your turkey. Check both ends of your turkey for that bag of giblets!

Step 2) Rinse your turkey with cold water on the inside and the outside. Lift the turkey and turn it upside down to drain for a moment. Pat the turkey dry with a clean kitchen towel (and put that towel immediately in the hamper, so you don’t accidentally use it for anything else).

Step 3) Place your turkey in a pan or on a roasting sheet. Rub salt and pepper onto the skin.

Step 4) Poke a few holes with a paring knife in each lemon. Insert rosemary sprigs into several of the holes in each lemon, as shown.

WIN_20151118_133827Step 5) Insert one of the rosemary lemons completely inside of the turkey. Rest the other rosemary lemon near the opening of the turkey cavity.

Step 6) Coat the outside of your turkey with melted butter. Don’t use so much butter that it drips all over the pan (try to avoid that), but make sure at highest part of the turkey is covered. The butter will spread down the sides of the turkey as it roasts, sealing in flavor and giving the turkey skin a golden color.

Note: We are buttering our turkey skin instead of basting. It’s easier and prevents the meat from drying out. A buttered turkey will have a slightly darker color than a basted turkey (or a turkey in a bag), and the skin will be crispy. The end result is delicious!

Step 7) Showtime! Place your turkey in a preheated, 325 degree oven on the lowest rack possible. Your turkey needs to slowly roast until a meat thermometer poked into the thickest part of the turkey (but not against a bone) registers 165 degrees. Your turkey might have a little red timer attached (see photo) – this timer will pop out when your turkey is done. It’s STILL a good idea to check the temperature. Your turkey needs to reach 165 degrees in order to prevent food-borne illness!

How long will your turkey need to roast? That is the million dollar question! Every turkey and every oven is a little bit different. At 325 degrees, a 10 – 12 pound turkey will require approximately 3 hours of roasting time. Check your turkey after 2 1/2 hours, but don’t open the oven door before then!

Step 8) Let your roasted turkey rest on the countertop for 15 minutes before carving. A “tent” of aluminum foil (just a very loose covering of foil) can be used to prevent heat loss, but that’s not entirely necessary.

Enjoy your roasted turkey!

PS  – Don’t wash that pan! In our next Crowded Earth Kitchen post, we’ll show you how to make gravy with the drippings on that turkey pan!