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!