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Flowers for Tea

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Feb 15, 2017


The older I get, the more I have adapted to drinking more tea and less coffee.  I have no idea why this is but I’ve got to admit that I feel a lot better.  There’s a big difference between the two beverages even though they both can contain heightened amounts of caffeine (although coffee typically has about 100x’s more depending on the brand).  While coffee is made out of concentrated beans, tea is made from leaves, petals, herbs and other natural environmental elements, which hold properties benefiting digestion and vascular circulation.  Tea also has a longer history of existence since it was first introduced in 2737 BC while coffee came into play only in the 9th century AD.  If you think about it, emotional states connecting to the drinks are also a differentiating factor because while coffee is tied to speed and quickness, tea is linked more often to relaxation and calmness.  

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So what does this have to do with flowers?


Due to this emerging interest of people consuming more tea, manufacturers are looking for ways to expand product lines beyond Breakfast, Green and Earl Tea flavors.  One surge we’re seeing is the addition of flowers into brands that are said to bring about a preferred sweeter tang to the taste.  


What flowers are the most efficient and effective for tea making?


Passionflower Rose Hips Yarrow


Lemon Balm Milk Thistle Lavender


Dandelion Lemon Grass Calendula


If you’re thinking about trying to make your own floral tea, it’s really pretty easy!


For Herbs/Sprigs:

Boil water and insert herbs or sprigs of leaves into a mesh ball or infuser.  Let the contents sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes so that the essence can flavor the water.  It will likely not change to a darker color similar to store bought teas, which is more natural and healthier for the body.


For Hips/Petals/Seeds:

These floral ingredients make wonderfully flavorful accents to teas and you’ll notice a freshness that packaged varieties don’t have.  First you want to crush the ingredients thoroughly and then place the contents into a cup of boiling water.  Let stand for 10 minutes and then strain the remains so that the “earthy” substances are extinguished.  


If you really get into floral teas, there are hundreds of easy ways to create your own indoor “Tea Garden” so that you can enjoy it year round!

Tags: Chef, cooking, Wellness, Lavender, Passion Flower

A Comforting Winter Soup Recipe

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Jan 22, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that most Bostonians pack on a few pounds once the temperature starts to drop.  Reasoning says that we are just putting on a few layers to help protect from the cold, which is a natural biological response to our habitats.  Humans are not alone either since millions of New England wildlife participate in the same ritual including cats, dogs, birds and bears.  So if everyone is doing it, why feel guilty?  For one reason, many of the foods that we are ingesting contain a higher amount of fat and processed sugars.  These unhealthy additives are what make it a bit tricky when we finally decide to shed those pounds in the spring.  If you think about it, you seldom see squirrels stressing about their winter waddle once the warm weather arrives because their calories needed to be burned are mainly nuts not ice cream and cream puffs.  Does that mean forgo the comfort foods altogether in order to spare ourselves the trouble?  Absolutely not!  We can still indulge in this New England tradition of finding solace and warmth in our food; we just have to do it in a slightly different way.  Try this recipe on for size!

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photo credit via countryliving.com

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup is made by a variety of companies and there a few like Progresso and Campbell’s that are in all honesty, pretty good.  The soup is for the most part, healthy so why should you make your own?  In many canned brands, the salt and processed ingredients rank high and may even contain “iffy” ingredients that you can’t even pronounce when reading the labels.  Using real poultry and veggies is always a better way to go where you can control the amounts of seasonings and be sure that your meats are fresh for cooking.  You may not be able to can and shelf your finished product but freezing is a definitely possibility allowing you to re-cook and save for a later date!  Wait to make this recipe after you’ve made a chicken roast so that you can use your own stalk, too.


How To:

Add 4 cups of your own chicken stalk to a crock-pot and set to low heat.  If you couldn’t save this much stalk after cooking your roast, just add water slowly as the soup continues to cook-it will make it’s own broth over the course of the preparation.  Add chicken that has been pulled from the leftovers being careful not to add in any bones or cartilage (it won’t taste good to those you serve and be disruptive to their palette.  Chop roughly 2 celery stalks and 1 small onion and add that to the brew.  Wash 4 large carrots and then peel and cut into circular shapes and then throw them in as well.  Add 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the soup for 4 hours until the chicken naturally pulls apart and vegetables soften.  In a separate pot, boil water to cook 4 cups of “No-Yolk” noodles.  When done, rinse in a colander over cold water, afterwards adding the pasta to the soup.  If you put the noodles in when they are still hot, they’ll dissolve in the soup creating a funky consistency, so make sure you rinse them first in cold water.  Serve in crock bowls with a fresh piece of Italian bread and bon appétit!  

Tags: Chef, cooking, winter, Health

Let’s Talk Turkey this Thanksgiving

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Nov 16, 2016

So this might sound a little strange but there’s a new trend sweeping across New England this Thanksgiving and it’s all about dressing the bird in flowers!  That’s right!  People are actually asking caterers and florists to create small flower displays either around or on top of their turkeys in order to reap a particular benefit!  Sound crazy?  Well, the reason lies in the belief that doing so will bring about some…umm- interesting side effects.  We’re not quite sure where this phenomenon started but we do know that Bostonians are actively placing their orders for the upcoming holiday sending designers into turkey hysteria!  Want to learn more about how and why this fad is circulating?  Read on to learn the secret to this turkey taboo…

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photo credit via http://blovelyevents.com/

According to ancient scripture, the turkey was once thought to be of regal stature in certain cultures and was often given a bed of petals to sleep on during customary celebrations.  Depending on the color of the feathers the bird adorned, people would actually attempt to match the shading to the blossoms presented.  If the turkey had more red feathers, he was thought to be a bringer of love and romance while a turkey having blue feathers was believed to induce sorrow or death.  Nowadays, the Thanksgiving turkey is being wrapped in flowers of a chosen color in the hopes to encourage the desired omen.  (For those who would like to try this, select green flowers to entice a windfall of money, purple for courage and yellow for happiness.)


A second theory for why people are covering their birds with flowers is due to the aroma-therapeutic benefits that can be infused into the skin.  While many of these dressings include herbs such as rosemary, parsley and sage, there are blossoms such as dandelions and nasturtium now being thrown into the mix.  Creative chefs are infusing their meat with an incredible seasoning of sweet to spicy tastes just by covering the top of the turkey’s back and legs with freshly cut florets.  Be careful not to use species like roses that will embellish a musty aftertaste and try choosing varieties that have an earthy consistency such as heather, alliums, chicory, geraniums and borage.

Tags: Thanksgiving, Holidays, Chef, cooking, November

Incredibly Delicious and Healthy Blooming Onion Recipe

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 01, 2016

I love flowers and I also love healthy and delicious food so when I tried out this recipe and flipped over how great it was?  I had to share.  This is after all, a floral blog so that not only includes beautiful arrangements but anything else that I can find that’s spectacularly flowery!  Trust me- this recipe makes the cut and it’s super easy so anyone can make it.  There are only a few ingredients and the bet part?  It’s low in calories and fat as well as visually pleasing.


The dish is called “Bloomin’ Onions”, which you may of heard of or ordered before in a restaurant.  The difference between this appetizer and the others is that the frying factor is eliminated making it less greasy and healthier for your body.  Pair this with a chicken or fish entrée and you’ll start to see magic appear on your dinner plates.  This also makes an exquisite presentation because of the rich purple coloring alongside buffet items or as a plate dressing for other main courses.  Give it a try and see what you think!  


Instructions:



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photo credit: epicurious.com



  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Take a red onion (preferably large) and slice into eighths.  Make sure that the slices are still attached to the root so that are still held together.

  1. Drizzle olive oil over flower and in between the petals.

  1. Insert bay leaves and rosemary sprigs every other petal.

  1. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

  1. Roast for 40 minutes and eat immediately.   

Tags: Chef, cooking, #EXFL

Cool Dishes to Barbecue this Father’s Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Jun 02, 2016

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19th and just as the weather seems to be finally warming up, those grills are being awakened from a long winter’s nap in storage!  One of the biggest traditions associated with this holiday is cooking cheese hamburgers, hotdogs and other choice meats right over an open flame.  Did you know that for the last 50 or so years, aprons, oven mitts and chef hats still remain the number #1 present to gift old dad particularly for this very reason?  Well, it’s time to put them to good use!


This Father’s Day, challenge yourself to try new and exciting recipes that will excite a fresh culinary tradition for your family and friends.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a patty of ground beef but isn’t it time we showed dear old dad that we really care by grilling outside the familiar box?  Contemporary chefs from around the world are shaking their grilling styles up a bit this Father’s Day offering delicious menu items that are both inventive and creative.  From fish to poultry, to top grade “A” meat, by infusing some of these selections into your Father’s Day barbecue, you’ll make this a special holiday that he’ll never forget!   

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www.dishmaps.com

Meat and Chicken:

Ribs are pretty much a staple so spice things up with marinades like bourbon tequila to make every last bite pack a punch!  For burgers, mix oregano, celery salt and paprika for a nice wave of spice.

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photo credit: blog.danone.ca

Fish:

There’s no better place to cook fish than on a grill so make sure you salt everything before you begin and add playful juices such as lemon and lime.  Salmon, trout and shrimp are my favorites!

 





Tags: Father's Day, Barbecue, Chef, cooking, Outdoor Living

Vegetarian Christmas

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 11, 2015

 

Vegetarianism is growing in popularity for many reasons including weight control, organ health, animal conservation and dental hygiene.  There are many different types of non-meat-eaters including those who eat fish and dairy but omit pork, beef and chicken.  Due to this expanding range of vegetarians, several people are giving this diet a try because they’re able to tailor their food selection with omitting everything they like.  

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Lucky for many of us (I myself am a vegetarian), eliminating the meat and poultry from diets has gotten even easier because food companies, supermarkets and farmers are realizing the growing demand to eliminate fat and increase healthier eating habits.  Grocery stores now offer a wide array of non-meat products such as veggie burgers and tofu based meals allowing us to find the foods that are nutritious and appetizing to our taste.

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With that said, is it possible to host a holiday dinner such as Christmas without serving any meat as a main course?  Is the turkey and roast beef what makes this feast so special or can an all-vegetable menu still satisfy an entire house of guests?

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I believe that it can if you take special care in selecting particular dishes that will both compliment one another as well as fill everyone’s bellies.  Having platters of only raw celery sticks and carrots as appetizers may encourage a rumbling growl from stomachs and in all honesty, there’s a better way to go about it without having to starve.  Over the years, I’ve collected some fabulous additions to my holiday fare that is both filled with vegetables and satisfyingly delicious!  Here’s what I’ll be cooking in my kitchen this Christmas for both my meat eating and vegetarian guests.

Looks good to me!



Tags: Christmas, Chef, cooking, Vegetable Garden

Labor Day - Feast and Relax

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Sep 04, 2015

Labor Day is a holiday tradition celebrating the great efforts of American workers and their contribution to society both economically and socially.  Traditionally celebrated on the first Monday of September, the day is symbolic to rest, play and enjoy the people around you.  Weather permitting, a last summer visit to the beach, a family barbecue or a pool party is commonly the events you see being used to observe Labor Day usually planned to also say good bye to the warmer days of the year.  For those of you anticipating on hosting a feast to accompany your special soiree, you’re going to want to incorporate the characteristics associated with this holiday within your food selection.  Menus should coordinate well with the feel of the get together so the cuisine should be brightly colored, veggie based and prepared predominantly in the outdoors.  These might seem to be sticky guidelines for the struggling chef but I can assure you there are a few recipes perfectly suitable for your Labor Day fete!  These are the hottest recipes for 2015’s end of the year celebration.


German Potato Salad


You’ll need a bag of small wax potatoes (either red or white your choice) and clean well to remove any dirt on the skin.  Boil the potatoes in a pot of water with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Once cooked, rinse in a colander with cool water and set aside.  In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add one medium sized onion finely chopped and sauté until softened.  Place the cool potatoes and onions in a large mixing bowl and then add finely diced scallions, one tablespoon of vinegar and three sprigs of dill mashed well.  Stir together until all of the ingredients have combined and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place the dish in the refrigerator until serving time and watch your guest go wild for the beautiful tasty sensation!  


All American Burger Dog

This is a great recipe I found that the kids have a great time preparing and eating!  The combination of a hotdog and hamburger (really, what’s not to love?) becomes a fun grilling treat, which is a perfect main dish accompanied with chips and potato salad.  All you have to do is make a regular hamburger patty with lean meat and form into a tube.  Wrap plastic around the beef and work with reshaping until you are confident the form has been set.  Unwrap the hamburger dogs and grill on medium heat until cooked through.  Add a slice of Swiss or cheddar cheese and continue to cook until the topping has melted.  Place the dogs in a long bun that has been seasoned with a light spread of mayonnaise.  Right before serving, give it a thick swipe of ketchup on top to finish the decadent masterpiece!  

Tags: Holidays, Chef, cooking, September, Labor Day

Canning Your Own Tomatoes

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Aug 20, 2015

If you’re lucky, you’ve got tomatoes coming out of your ears right about now and you’ve even considered the possibility that you might have too many?  Bite your tongues!  You can never have enough of those beautiful, juicy red vegetables and chances are if you’re like me - you’ve found plenty of ways to use your crop efficiently and effectively.  There’s the marinara sauce, tomato pies, tomatoes on the grill, garden salads, ratatouille, fried green tomatoes, stuffed tomatoes and if you’re a clever chef- you can even make your own Bloody Mary’s.  


If the stove has already been burning making these delicious tomato based concoctions and your pile is still overflowing with your harvest, you might be getting nervous about the possibility of waste.  Pitching vegetables because they aren’t used in a timely fashion is a shame and is often looked upon as a tragedy by hard working gardeners who have nourished the plants since they were mere seeds.  


Well, worry no further!  Canning tomatoes are a popular procedure when farms produce a vast amount of one crop and need a back up plan for preservation.  Many are deterred from this method because they believe it’s more work than its worth but honestly, its pretty simple.  Follow these steps for jarring your tasty tomatoes and enjoy them all year round.


Step 1 Select Your Preferred Tomato Variety.  

Keep in mind that less water such as Roma will keep better than juicier tomatoes with a thinner shell.


Step 2 Sanitize Your Jars for Canning

You need to make sure that your containers are squeaky clean so place them in your dish washer then place them and their lids in a pot of boiling water for approximately 10 minutes.


Step 3 Prepare Your Tomatoes

Place the chosen tomatoes in a pot of boiling water and then immediately drain by putting them in ice-cold water.  You’ll be amazed how fast their skins peel right off.  You also want to discard any bruised or damaged vegetables as well because they wont preserve decently once canned.


Step 4 Fill Er’ Up!

Fill the jars with tomatoes leaving at least 1 ½ to 2 inches of space, which will then be filled with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the rest with boiling water.  Make sure all of the air bubbles have left the vessel and seal the lid securely.  If you’re feeling daring, add a sprig of rosemary or basil for seasoning.  


Step 5 One More Round of Boiling

You’ll need to boil the sealed containers in a pot of boiling water for about 40 minutes to make sure the contents will “can” properly.  Let them cool completely and then store in a cool place.  


Step 6 Bon Appétit Enjoy!  

 

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Vegetable Garden, Tomatoes

Zucchini Greatness at the Dinner Table

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Aug 07, 2015

Do you have zucchini coming out of your ears? Is your squash challenging you to come up with new recipes that are fun, healthy and inventive?  Look no further. This year’s harvest of the delicious legume has been wildly successful making it imperative to whip up several different ways to utilize the crop.  Since zucchini is a tough vegetable to freeze (although possible) the smart way to handle an abundance of one vegetable is to get creative with your culinary options.  You’ll be pleased to know that squash can be used in a wide variety of dishes offering delectable taste at a low calorie intake.  Even the fussiest eaters will dive right in to these suggestions that have become my summer go to recipes during zucchini picking season.  Give them a try and watch this veggie become your family’s favorite!


Grilled Zucchini


There’s nothing more delicious than veggies cooked straight on the grill.  With minimal seasoning of salt, pepper, olive and rosemary, you can turn an average side dish into the main attraction.  Mix with other varieties such as carrots, peppers or potatoes and give yourself a break to make cooking easy!




Zucchini and Couscous


I love this side, particularly with salmon because the flavors compliment one another with texture and color.  All you have to do is dice zucchini in small triangles and sauté in a pan with olive oil.  Follow the directions to a Near East couscous package (the parmesan box is so good) and once it’s ready, mix the squash together and let sit for 20 minutes.  If you also have tomatoes growing at the same time, throw those in too for a little added decadence.



Zucchini Focaccia


This might take a little longer than the others but boy, is it worth it!  Roll out two squares of pizza dough and slather a layer of soft garlic cheese over the top.  Place the top square over the other and dust with olive oil.  Seal the edges by gently pinching the sides to capture the flavors.  Layer strips of zucchini and red onion in rows and season with salt, pepper and another serving of olive oil.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Slice like pizza and serve immediately. YUM!

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Outdoor Living, Vegetable Garden

Garden Tomato Sauce

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 24, 2015

There’s nothing like making your own sauce with the main ingredient being hand picked from your own garden.  Yes, it might be an overzealous bit of pride in the hard work it took to cultivate the delicious beauties but there’s no doubt that real tomatoes taste better than store bought.  I bet you didn’t know that while the “Anti Carb War” is still being fought, there are great benefits to eating certain dishes that, yes, contain some form of pasta.  Marinara can be looked at from an entirely different perspective if you just take the time to tweak what goes into your recipe.  The first step, of course, is to avoid the mainstream grocery stores and look for other locations where the food hasn’t been altered such as farmers markets, farm stands, and hopefully- are own backyards.  Once we’ve done that, it’s only a matter of creating the right taste and texture that you and your family prefer.


Different varieties of tomatoes provide different attributes that will change the way your sauce comes out.  For instance, some varieties are more watery while others have more seeds.  Some tomatoes possess a bite in seasoning while others lean to the sweeter side.  It all depends on what your recipe calls for and what you need those yummy veggies to do once they’ve been added to the pot.  When I make my own sauce, I depend on a meatier type but I also combine other varieties to flavor it with richness.  I prefer the Jet Star tomato for my base and then add baby heirloom tomatoes to finish it off but there is a multitude of different ways to do it.  These are some descriptions of popular New England tomatoes to help you choose what the right tomato is for you!  


Beefsteak

These bad boys are big, juicy and most importantly, delicious!  They contain a great balance of sweetness and acidity making them popular in sandwiches and salads.  Since the rind holds well after cooking, Beefsteak tomatoes are perfect to use if you enjoy an earthy rendition of marinara because you’ll be able to have chunks of the fruit and a fair amount of seeds present.  


Heirlooms

These guys are my favorite because depending on the shade of the fruit, the taste will vary significantly, making an otherwise boring pot of sauce an exciting treat!  There are a few guidelines though such as red being the sweetest while green holds the stronger tart characteristic.  Yellow heirlooms can be bitter so they’re fabulous when you need to bump up the flavor of a too sweet tomato sauce.  If you want my advice, mix them all together for the most interesting and delicious outcome!


Cherokee Purple

This one has a gorgeous color that your sauce will benefit from because it will turn a deeper shade of red than common sauces.  Originally from the heirloom family, this variety needs an extended amount of time to grow in the heat than other types but boy is it worth when they’re ready to be picked.  Pasta lovers will love their rich and complex taste while enjoying a recipe that requires little help of flavor from other ingredients. Olive oil, salt and pepper is all this variety will need!

Tags: Gardening, Chef, cooking, Tomatoes

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