Tuesday, September 2, 2014

We've Moved!

A reminder that Seven Oaks has moved! The blog (not our farm).

Our new home and website: Home Garden Joy

See you there!

post signature

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Blog Posts on Our New Gardening Site

Monsieur Pierre would like to remind you that our blog has moved!

New articles on gardening, cooking, homemaking and more are available on: Home Garden Joy

Please "like" and follow us there!
post signature

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fresh Food Wednesday: Greek Garden Feast Recipe

Photo by Xandert, Morguefile.com license

My friend Helen is a wonderful cook. She shared a recipe that I've seen floating around Facebook that uses chicken breasts, potatoes and green beans sprinkled with Italian salad dressing to make a quick meal. I've been meaning to try it for several weeks now, but Hubby is fussy about meals, and I hate making a disappointing meal for him. So I decided that today would be 'experiment' day and I would make a few recipes I've collected to see which ones taste good. 

I had to tinker with the recipe. I tinkered so much that it's a totally different recipe. And it came out great!

The Back Story:  The Sad, Lonely Bottle of Greek Vinaigrette Salad Dressing 

There's always a story behind a story at my house, and this one is no exception. I tinkered with the original shared recipe simply to use up a bottle of Greek Vinaigrette salad dressing that neither my husband nor I could stand. 

Sure, it looked tasty in its fancy bottle on the grocery store shelf. Then I poured it onto a salad. And my taste buds flinched. It was sharp. Peppery, lemony, and with a lot of tarragon in it.  A lot. And more than a lot. Did I mention neither of us are big fans of tarragon?

The bottle went back to the fridge, and there is stood sentinel amidst its more highly favored brothers of Thousand Island, Ranch, Blue Cheese and Italian dressing.

The recipe I saw on my friend's Facebook page called for a package of dried Italian salad dressing, the kind sold in envelopes that you mix with vinegar and water in a special cruet.  I decided to use plain old extra virgin olive oil and the rest of the Greek Vinaigrette dressing.

The results were tasty, healthful, and used wonderful vegetables from the garden. I hope you like my new recipe, "Greek Garden Feast," as much as I enjoyed making it!

A Few Words on the Ingredients

Not only did I have the bottle of Greek salad dressing lurking in the door of the fridge, I had two pints of canned potatoes in the cellar that needed to be used up.  I used one can of home-grown, home canned potatoes. If you do not have a similar item, you can use fresh potatoes from the garden. Rinse, peel and cube before using.

The green beans were also from my garden and canned at home last year.  You can substitute low or no salt green beans from the market if you do not can your own green beans.

Greek Garden Feast

1 pint of potatoes OR 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can of green beans, rinsed and drained
Half a can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup of feta
2 tablespoons Greek salad dressing (you can substitute Zesty Italian too)
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Oven proof dish or casserole dish with a lid

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In the dish, place a drizzle of olive oil on the bottom of the dish and swirl it so it coats the bottom. Place potatoes on one side and green beans on the other. Drizzle or sprinkle vegetables with salad dressing and remaining olive oil. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes. Add the chick peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking. When the potatoes are fork-tender, remove from the oven and place on dinner plate. Sprinkle with feta. Makes two portions of about 1- 2 cups. 

post signature

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We've Moved!

If you're here, and you're looking for the Seven Oaks blog, we've MOVED!

We now have a full-fledged, honest to goodness home and garden joy WEBSITE.

Find us at Home Garden Joy.

post signature

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fresh Food Wednesday: Low Cal Caprese Grilled Cheese

Fresh basil, a summer favorite from my garden.

I'm a fan of those shows on television in which a group of restaurant experts rushes in to save a failing business, takes one bite of the food, vomits in the bathroom, and declares the place a disaster. We're shown just how disastrous the business is by watching mobs of customers readying for a food fight when their drinks are late or their burgers are under cooked. Then we see a miracle happen; within 48 hours, the restaurant or bar is completely revamped, lousy cooks and servers are fired, and the place is a stunning success.

It's like What Not to Wear for a food business - a makeover for your restaurant.

One of my favorites is Bar Rescue on Spike.  I have to be honest - it's an odd favorite for me. I hate bars. I never understood why people love them. Music so loud it hurts your ears, too much cigarette smoke, and warm beer. Uh, no thanks.  The last bar I was in was about 20 years ago when my husband and I went to hear my friend Mark's band play in Northport, Long Island. A long time ago.

Yet there I was on Sunday afternoon, watching Bar Rescue the way most people watch a nice makeover show. My mouth began to water when the show's host demonstrated several new recipes to the grill chef to replace their outdated fare of burgers, wings and nachos. Grilled sandwiches were the new upscale fare for the 20-something crowd, and this sandwich took center stage.

Grilled mozarella slices, fresh tomato slices, fresh basil, some sort of sauce...cheese oozing out all over the grill...warm, buttery, cheesy goodness....I almost swooned. I did. That's how much of a foodie I am.

Alas, I may be a foodie, but I've revamped my diet and exercise program this year, and begun working with a personal trainer and coach. Lisa, my coach, wouldn't condone such a sandwich. Hmm. So what to do?

Make it low-cal, of course...and fresh from the garden.

Thus I created this adaptation of the Bar Rescue sandwich which I have dubbed The Low-Cal Caprese Grilled Cheese. 

A Caprese salad consists of fresh tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices, and fresh basil arranged alternately on a plate and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. I adore Caprese salads in the summer and grow fresh basil just for that dish!

I used the same ingredients as the salad but moved it to a grilled cheese format. If you do not have a nonstick grill, use a nonstick pan with a dab of butter of margarine to get the outside nice and toasty. Go easy with the cheese as that's the most calorie-dense portion of the meal. Go heavy on the basil, because that adds the most flavor.  Whatever you do, make it, because this simple sandwich is delicious.

Low Cal Caprese Grilled Cheese


You will need...

  • Two slice of white bread
  • 1 tablespoon of part-skim, low fat finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 fresh medium sized tomato, sliced thin, ends discarded
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry
  • Non stick pan or a non stick grill
  • Spatula
  • Low calorie margarine
Heat the grill to the recommended temperature while you prepare the sandwich.  On a plate, place the bread; spread a very thin layer of margarine. Slice the tomato into thin slices. Layer the half of the tomato, then several basil leaves. Sprinkle with the cheese. Layer more tomato and basil. Top with a thinly buttered slice of spread. Butter one side of the outside of the sandwich and place it, butter-side down, on the grill or in the pan. Cook about 1-2 minutes, watching it carefully for signs of burning. Carefully spread margarine on the side facing up; remember the pan is hot, no burns, please! 

Flipping the sandwich is the most difficult part. Go slowly and carefully so it doesn't come apart. Flip, grill the opposite side, slide it onto a plate, and enjoy. 

post signature