Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter

Good food is nothing short of art, and herbs and spices can add a burst of fantastic flavor to it, especially when they’re harvested from your own herb garden, so chemical- and preservative-free.  But there’s a standing belief that in order to grow your own herbs you have to have a plot of ground to grow them in, which simply isn’t true.  Herbs are hardy and adaptable plants that don’t require a huge amount of ground space in order to produce enough to be used, so I’d like to give you some solid suggestions about where to put them and start growing!

For the apartment dwellers

If you don’t have your own patch of ground to put them on, but you happen to be lucky enough to have a sunroom in your home, this is the perfect place to grow your own selection of herbs. The windows on these rooms bring in copious amounts of natural light, and will let you grow your own herbs and spices all the year round, safe from insect infestations and the moodiness of the weather!  Just imagine taking a sprig of fresh marjoram out of your own herb garden, and bringing its burst of flavor to your favorite dish.

Herbs

If you live in an apartment building, you can often take the planters and hang them from your windows, allowing you to grow a delicious selection of herbs and spices right outside your window.  You may only be able to grow a few select varieties in a window, but then again every window can serve as a potential herb garden!

Some apartments and condos will let you grow plants on your balcony.  Never underestimate just how much space is available here.  You can grow potted plants up against the sides of your balcony. With some growing in carefully secured pots on the railing, and some hanging plants, this doesn’t even have to take up all that much room.  In These ways, you can have an entire spice cabinet right outside the nearest window ready to bring your meals alive with flavor!

Herbs

Some neighborhoods also have growing co-ops, shared pieces of ground where people come together to grow their plants, and each member gets to harvest from the crops.  This will allow you a lot more ground, and also have more hands to make it light work.   Look into your local community and see if there are people coming together to work on a communal garden, and make new friends and swap recipes along the way!

If all of these options fail you, there is still one potential option open.  With an arrangement of full spectrum light bulbs, you can even grow plants in closets!  This tends to be a bit more of a financial investment, as the cost of running these bulbs can be prohibitive, but barring that, you may very well find yourself with a flourishing garden hidden in an unused closet or cupboard!

Whatever method you decide on, one thing is indisputable: fresh herbs and spices are the very heart of a meal that contains them, and the difference in flavor between these and the ones you buy dried and jarred in the store is unbelievable!

Make your dishes more nutritious and delicious with your own herbs!

Herb Stuffed Trout

That said, I would now like to share with you one of my favorite recipes, that would not be half as delicious without the freshly picked herbs that go into it. It is very little work, smells incredible, and is low in cholesterol and high in protein, to boot! Who could ask for more?

Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter
 
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Make your dishes more nutritious and delicious with your own herbs!
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 trouts, cleaned and gutted
  • Sea salt, pepper
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh coarsely chopped thyme, sage and parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coarsely chopped basil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sweet paprika
Instructions
  1. Rinse the fish, then rub salt, some basil and pepper well into each one, inside and out. Divide the remaining herbs evenly and stuff each fish with them. Cover pan or dish with foil wrap, and put in refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Put garlic though garlic press, then add to softened butter; combine well.
  3. Put a tablespoon of garlic butter inside each fish and drizzle fish with lemon juice, dust lightly with paprika if desired.
  4. Wrap each fish tightly in foil wrap and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. If you like, you can tie the fish with a bit of string (not plastic, natural!) to keep them from coming open when you wrap them in foil.
  5. Unpack each fish carefully, serve with a slice of lemon, a baked potato and a simple cherry tomato salad.

Guest Post

Nicole Nowlen Guest PostNicole Nowlen: Full-time businesswoman. Full-time DIY enthusiast. Living in old London town, but with a burning desire to go everywhere and see everything!

Check Nicole out at: nicolenowlen.com or follow her on Twitter @nicolenowlen87.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

How to Make Homemade Taco Seasoning

Tacos are one of my go-to easy dinner ideas during the work week. Not only can they be thrown together in less than 30 minutes, the kids LOVE tacos and they’re easily built to each person’s specific and particular tastes:

  • Husband: meat, cheese, green onions, sriracha sauce
  • Nine-year-old: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, refried beans, sour cream
  • Five-year-old: meat, “only a little” cheese, lettuce, tomato
  • Me: meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onions, avocado, refried beans, sour cream

For years I used a yellow taco seasoning packet. It’s what I grew up with, so that specific brand’s blend is super nostalgic.

But then I realized it’s just as easy to make a similar tasting taco seasoning at home … with spices and herbs I already had in my pantry. Love that.

The homemade taco seasoning blend I use is simple: chili powder, garlic salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin, dried parsley.

It takes all of 2 minutes to throw together.

And it tastes GOOD.

With no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredient words.

You might like this blend, or you might play around with other add-ins like red pepper flakes or dried onion. It’s flexible, which is terrific!

Next up: homemade refried beans. (With or without lard? That is the question.)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Taco Seasoning & Tacos
 
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Why buy a packet when you can make homemade taco seasoning in just a minute or two? These tacos are SIMPLE and delicious.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ⅔ cup water
Instructions
  1. Combine the chili powder, garlic salt, paprika, cumin, black pepper and parsley.
  2. Sprinkle the mix over your favorite taco meat while it's cooking. Once the meat has cooked through, add the water and bring the meat to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat and continue a low simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Serve the taco meat hot with crispy shells or soft tortillas. Seasons approximately one pound of meat.

 

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

May, June and July proved to be three of the busiest months of my life. OF MY LIFE.

Okay, perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic.

The reality is, we did have a lot going on – mostly good stuff – and I’m glad that it’s all over.

We sold our house and moved to a new house. My daughter had her dance recital, final competition in southern Maryland and Nationals in Virginia Beach. I traveled to Boca Raton, Fla., as a blogger for ADMERICA! My husband coached a travel lacrosse team. My son had a week long kindergarten camp. I changed jobs (same company, different position). We finished renovating the garage to a family room in the new house. My sister got married! And we spent a week with my family at Slaughter Beach in Delaware.

And I didn’t write at all. I miss writing.

What’s the saying? Distance makes the heart grow fonder. (Right?)

So, the craziness is starting to die down, and I’m [clearly] writing again. WRITING!

That feels good.

You know what else is good? These strawberry banana oatmeal muffins.

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

I baked a big batch in June just when the craziness was in full swing so that we could grab and go for breakfasts and snacks. The chunks of strawberries and bananas were a HUGE hit with the kiddos and the husband, and I loved the texture of the oatmeal.

They’ll also freeze well, which can be extremely helpful if you bake a super huge gigantic batch of muffins. Simply stand them in a zip top bag (flat) and then lay the bag (flat) in the freezer. Pull one out to throw in a lunch bag – it will thaw by lunchtime, or microwave it for a few seconds for an easy breakfast.

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins

I mean, how can you go wrong?

Deep breath. Hello, August!

5.0 from 7 reviews
Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins
 
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A delicious grab & go breakfast or snack!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup quick cook oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup roughly chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup chunky mashed bananas (2-3 over-ripe bananas)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and place paper liners in your muffin pans.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl until they're combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment, add the eggs, oil, butter, milk and vanilla. Place the setting on medium and mix for 2 minutes. Gradually add the flour mix to the wet ingredients, and continue mixing until the batter is just combined. Add the oatmeal, banana and strawberries, and mix on low for 30 seconds.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to fill each muffin tin about half-way to two-thirds full, and then sprinkle each one with a little more oatmeal.
  5. Bake the muffins for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden and they bounce back when you gently press with your fingertip. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 24 muffins.

 

 

 

Summer Dessert Recipes

It’s officially SUMMER.

School’s been out for two weeks already for my kids, so technically summer vacation started in spring. “Spring” vacation doesn’t quite have the same ring though.

This summer’s a little different for us. We’ve just moved to our new house on my parents’ property, about 40 minutes away from our old house in Frederick. It’s a little more rural, and unlike the past decade…we’re no longer part of a neighborhood with a community pool.

Believe me when I say you get used to having pools at your fingertips over the summer, especially when kids are part of the equation. It’s wonderful.

But, with acreage at our fingertips now, I don’t think we’re going to miss those pools TOO much. There are forts to build. Veggies, berries and eggs to gather. New neighborhood kids to meet. Fireflies to catch!

Another great thing about this time of year are all the summer dessert recipes. I can’t get enough of the berry cobblers, pies, ice cream…. Oh my!

And speaking of summer dessert recipes, here are a few of my favorites from the blog over the years:

 

Summer Dessert Recipes

1. Lemon Curd Tartlettes

These little mini tarts are bursting with lemon flavor, and they’re so incredibly easy to prepare for a crowd. Bonus: the lemon curd will keep for about two weeks in the fridge, so use any leftovers for topping pancakes, over ice cream…or simply by the spoonful!

2. Homemade Key Lime Pie

I talk about this pie a lot. A LOT. It’s a family favorite, so much so that my sister requested three pies for her birthday one year – one to eat now, and two to freeze later. Another easy recipe, you’ll make it time and time again!

3. Raspberry Crumble Bars

After the my blueberry crumble bars went viral on Pinterest, I quickly decided a raspberry version was in order. I mean, who doesn’t love raspberries? (Now’s the perfect time to make these!)

4. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

This twist on the original summer favorite is perfect for a birthday party, or just because. The whipped cream frosting really sets it off (although I suspect cream cheese frosting would also be delicious)!

5. Homemade Frozen Fudge Pops

Why bother buying frozen fudge pops when it’s ridiculously easy to make them from scratch at home? This particular recipe sweetens with real maple syrup instead of sugar, so they’re better for you too (but taste just as good).

6. Blueberry Crumble Bars

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and in the case of this recipe – it’s SO true. One look and you’ll want to lick the screen. Or rush into your kitchen to make a batch.

7. Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Bake the cookies from scratch, make your own ice cream (or buy your favorite), and then look at crazy easy it is to make your own ice cream sandwiches. I dare you to buy them from the store after this. Dare you!

8. Lazy Cook’s Banana Pudding

Disclaimer: This recipe is a couple years old and uses things like “instant pudding” and “whipped topping” that I’d probably not use today. (Although my in-laws enjoy this version, so I make it for them now and then.) If I were to do it today for our family, I’d make homemade whipped cream and pudding from scratch. It really wouldn’t be that hard….

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