Archive for September, 2014

 Meringue Ghost Cookies
Makes 12 meringues
preparation 25 minutes
cooking 150 minutes


 3   egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
48 mini chocolate chips


  1. Heat oven to 225° F.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the sugar, then continue to beat until stiff peaks form, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; place a small dab of meringue under each corner of the paper to anchor the paper to the tray.
  4. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag or resealable plastic freezer bag (snip a ½-inch hole in the bag). Using a circular motion, pipe 2-inch high mounds of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Add the chocolate chips to make the eyes. Bake until firm and dry, 1½ hours to 2 hours. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
Kristen Evans Dittami
August 2013

Nutritional Information

  • Per Serving
  • Calories 31
  • Fat 0 g
  • Sat Fat 0 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 7 mg
  • Protein 0 g
  • Carbohydrate 7 g
  • Sugar 7 g
  • Fiber 0 g
  • Iron 0 mg
  • Calcium 1 mg

One of the easiest herbs you can grow, basil comes in many varieties that can be put to numerous culinary uses.

By Patricia Lehnhardt

10 Basil Varieties and How to Use Them - Photo by Rachael Brugger (
Photo by Rachael Brugger
Choosing what basil variety you want to grow from the 40-plus known varieties might be your biggest growing challenge when it comes to this staple herb.

Choosing from the array of basil varieties to plant might be the most difficult part of growing this herb. Basil has minimal growing requirements—full sun (at least six hours a day), warm temperatures (above 50 degrees F) night and day and fertile soil with adequate moisture—but there are more than 40 known varieties to choose from. Your local garden center likely offers a few basil varieties as seedlings, but to grow the most unusual basils, you’ll need to start from seed.

To help narrow your selection, determine how you will use the basil: to color in the landscape, as an ingredient in food or drinks, as a garnish, or to make a year’s supply of pesto. Below is a list of 10 basil varieties and their uses to help you make your decision.

Christmas Basil 1. Christmas Basil
With 2-inch, glossy green leaves and purple flowers, Christmas basil adds fruity flavor to salads and drinks, and the plants are gorgeous in the landscape. A beautiful border plant, it averages 16 to 20 inches tall.
Cinnamon Basil 2. Cinnamon Basil
This basil variety has a delightful fragrance and spicy flavor. A beautiful, 25- to 30-inch-tall plant with dark-purple stems and flowers accented with small, glossy leaves, it’s my favorite basil to use for fresh arrangements and in fruit salads and garnishes.
Dark Opal Basil 3. Dark Opal Basil
A must in my garden, Dark Opal basil adds color to fresh summer floral displays and depth to dried arrangements and wreaths. Beautiful and spicy in a salad or garnish, it can also be made into pesto, which adds an unexpected color and flavor to your pasta or bruschetta. The plants are attractive in the herb garden, ranging from 14 to 20 inches in height with purple stems, flower and leaves.
Holy Basil 4. Holy Basil
A revered plant in the Hindu religion, Holy basil is also referred to as Sacred basil or Tulsi. Its leaves can be used to make tea for boosting your immune system. It is a beautiful plant in the garden with mottled green and purple leaves and grows to about 12 to 14 inches tall.
Lemon Basil 5. Lemon Basil
This basil variety can be added to salads and fish dishes with abandon. A sprig of Lemon basil in a glass of iced tea is particularly delightful on a hot summer day. The 20- to 24-inch plants are light green with white flowers and 2½-inch-long leaves.
Lime Basil 6. Lime Basil
With small green leaves on compact, 12- to 16-inch plants with white flowers, this basil variety’s lime scent and flavor makes it great in fish and chicken dishes. A simple syrup infused with Lime basil is a delicious addition to tea and margaritas.
Spicy Bush Basil 7. Spicy Bush Basil
The cutie of the basil garden, Spicy Bush basil has tiny leaves on small, mounded plants, which are perfect for pots or lining the garden in bonsai-like fashion. It only takes a few of Spicy Bush basil’s intensely flavored leaves to add a punch to a sauce or soup. The plants are a soft green and about 8 to 10 inches in height and width, with 1/2- to 1-inch-long leaves.
Purple Ruffles Basil 8. Purple Ruffles Basil
A feathery variation of Dark Opal, Purple Ruffles adds another dimension to the landscape, floral arrangements or garnishes. It has the same flavor as Opal basil and can be used similarly. It is a 16- to 20-inch-tall plant with 2- to 3-inch-long leaves.
Sweet Basil 9. Sweet Basil
This basil cultivar is the best choice for Italian sauces and soups and for making pesto. Varieties include Genovese, Napoletano, Italian Large Leaf and Lettuce Leaf. Plants range from 14 to 30 inches tall and are prolific in hot, sunny locations. Harvest the top four leaves often to keep the plant growing and sweetly flavored.
Sweet Thai Basil 10. Sweet Thai Basil
An Asian variety with a distinct, spicy, anise-clove flavor, quite unlike common sweet basil, sweet Thai is a must-have addition to Asian cuisine and makes a nice addition to the herb garden for fragrance and color. It has purple stems and blooms with green leaves reaching 12 to 16 inches tall.
Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy





  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 Thai or serrano chiles, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 lime wedges




  1. 1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté 1 minute. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Remove shallot mixture from pan.
  2. 2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well. Return chicken to pan over medium heat. Add chiles; cook 1 minute. Add shallot mixture to pan. Stir in fish sauce and next 3 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove pan from heat; stir in basil and juice. Serve with lime wedges.



Purple Basil Parmesan Biscuits


  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces$
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh purple basil
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. 2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in basil and cheese. Combine milk and egg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; pat to 1-inch-thick circle. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 12 biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool.

8 Health Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

You know that apple cider vinegar is a green cleaning dynamo, but what about the health uses for apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar – ACV for short – is some versatile stuff! You can use it to top salads or make pickles, then use it to clean the counters afterwards. Then, you can apply it to your skin and even drink the stuff for all sorts of health benefits. Really, is there anything that apple cider vinegar can’t do?

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Drink it? I know, drinking vinegar might sound…kind of gross. We’ll get more into the benefits and how to make it a little more palatable below. Just stay with me here, OK?

Proponents of ACV will tell you that the reason it’s great is that it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. That is both true and not true. A cup of apple cider vinegar is rich in vitamins like potassium and manganese, but who is drinking a full cup of this stuff, right? Chances are you’re going to drink an ounce – about two tablespoons – tops at a go.

What ACV does have in spades is acetic acid, which helps your body better absorb vitamins and minerals in the food that you eat. That acetic acid also slows down digestive enzymes, regulating blood sugar levels, which can definitely contribute to overall better health.

Health Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is beneficial topically and when you ingest the stuff. The list below contains just a few of the health uses for apple cider vinegar. I’d love to hear how you’re using apple cider vinegar, too. Drop a comment with your ACV tips!

1. ACV Tea for a Sore Throat – Combine 1 tablespoon vinegar in 1 cup hot water. You can add a sweetener of your choice if you have a hard time drinking this as-is.

2. A shot a day keeps the doctor away? You can take advantage of ACV’s health benefits with a daily vinegar shot. Research suggests that it can help prevent high cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and improve heart health. Just put 2 tablespoons of ACV in a shot glass, and slug it. Chase with a little juice, if you need to wash away the strong vinegar flavor quickly. Even better: chase with a glass of water. I know this may sound crazy, but some folks – like me! – like the taste of straight vinegar, and over time you’ll get more used to it too. There’s even research showing that taking a shot of ACV before bed can help regulate your blood sugar levels.

3. Wart removal – Check out this video showing how to use ACV to treat warts naturally.

4. Dandruff Treatment – Got dandruff? ACV to the rescue! Check out this natural dandruff treatment made with apple cider vinegar.

5. Natural Heartburn Remedy – I know, swallowing something acidic sounds a little bit counter-intuitive when you’re trying to get rid of heartburn, but before you write off this idea, see what Reflux MD has to say about it.

6. Homemade Astringent to Beat Acne – Do you struggle with acne? The natural acids in apple cider vinegar can help. Here’s a great recipe for a anti-acne astringent made with ACV.

7. Soothe a Sunburn – Did you overdo on the last pool or beach day of the year? Apple cider vinegar can help your body bounce back from a sunburn.

8. Stop Leg Cramps in their Tracks – Scientists looked at how consuming vinegar affected muscle cramps, and their findings were dramatic! Though to be fair, pickle juice will do the same thing, but with all of its other health benefits, you may as well use ACV instead, right?






Serves 8


2 cups frozen blueberries (you can use any fruit you choose and canned fruit minus the juice)

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 large egg

1/2 cup (1 stick) real butter

3 cup self-rising flour

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place butter in cast iron skillet and let it melt in the oven. (you can also do it in a 9 x 12 Pyrex dish if you do not have iron skillet)

3. Meanwhile, mix together flour, egg,   sugars, milk, cinnamon and vanilla, the batter should be  easy to pour.  Pour batter into hot dish, over melted butter. Spoon berries (I use frozen blueberries harvested from our bushes earlier in the yea and frozen)  all over  batter until you have some  in every area of the batter.

4. Bake for about 35  to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool. Serve warm.

Note:  using canned fruit or fresh not frozen  minus juice will cut down baking time by about 15 minutes…each oven is wee bit different and when you put toothpick in middle comes clean and it is golden brown it is ready.  I turn off and let sit in warm oven for 10 minutes after I turn off)


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