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Mediterranean Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

November 13th, 2012

Looking for a fabulous way to use the Tuffy Acorn Squash and fresh herbs from your garden this season? This mediterranean inspired recipe is sure to hit the mark. When roasted, acorn squash naturally becomes tender and subtly sweet, while the brushed on butter and brown sugar adds a warm, hearty flavor, perfect for chilly temps. While the acorn squash roasts, prepare the savory and sweet mediterranean stuffing. The fresh herbs picked directly from your garden brings this stuffing over the top, and tastes delicious hot as it does cold.

If you’re expecting vegetarian friends at your Thanksgiving this year, they will undoubtedly love this hearty main dish. This Mediterranean Stuffed Acorn Squash also tastes wonderful when paired with a favorite soup.

Mediterranean Stuffed Acorn Squash

(Serves 4)

2 medium acorn squash, halved and insides scooped out

2-4 tbsp melted butter

1-2 tsp brown sugar

sea salt and pepper

1 cup whole wheat couscous, or other whole grain

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, chopped

1 can garbanzo beans

1/2 cup raisons

1 lemon

2 teaspoons fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, sage, cilantro, or a combination)

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Method: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and place the acorn squash on a lined baking sheet. Brush the insides with the melted butter, brown sugar, sea salt and pepper. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until tender and caramelized. Meanwhile, prepare the couscous by following the package instructions, and lightly saute the celery, garlic, tomato and a pinch of sea salt in a large skillet. Stir in the garbanzo beans, raisons, and fresh herbs, and remove from the heat when warm.

Combine the couscous with the vegetable mixture, and add the lemon juice, additional salt and pepper to taste, and a light drizzle of olive oil. When the acorn squash is roasted, brush additional melted butter and brown sugar inside the flesh (if desired). Stuff each half with the warm couscous stuffing, and serve immediately.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Green Tips For Treating Pests In Your Garden

February 15th, 2012

It’s time to water your garden and with your trusty watering can in hand,  you meander back to your prize-winning cabbages.  They appear happy and healthy at first, but as you inch closer; you notice tiny, pear shaped insects clustering on the leaves, sucking out the juices and leaving damage behind.  Before you grab a bottle of pesticide, consider that the chemicals found in traditional pesticides can be harmful to your health, and can eventually leak into the ground and contaminate your family’s tap water.  Check out these common pests that could disrupt your garden, and the natural remedies to keep them at bay.

Aphids: These pear-shaped insects may appear harmless at first glance, but these little guys defy the laws of science and are born pregnant; which can lead to a quick infestation.  Try spraying them off with forceful water, using a plant based soap (recipe below), and attracting ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies to your garden.  Plants like parsley, fennel, coriander, sunflowers and Queen Anne Lace will attract these ally insects, and could help keep Aphids and other harmful critters out of your garden.

Beetles: There are many varieties of beetles, and many will hide under the leaves and flowers of your plants, chewing away the foliage and leaving your plants looking tattered.  If you’re not terribly squeamish, pick them (or dust buster them) off the plants, and destroy their eggs that may be hiding just beneath the surface of your plant. While beetles love feasting on starchy plants like potatoes, they tend to loathe yarrow, catnip and garlic plants.  Keeping these plants nearby may prevent beetles from trespassing in your garden.

Caterpillars: Caterpillars may look charming, but as they increase in size, their mouths grow even larger; leaving gaping holes in their feasting paths. Once they become butterflies, they will deter harmful pests in your garden.  But if their caterpillar stage is wreaking havoc on your garden, pluck them off the plants and make your own caffeine spray (recipe below) to deter them from inching along your favorite vegetables.

Leafhoppers: Feeding on plant sap, leafhoppers are another villainous garden pest.  Leafhoppers belong to the Cicadellidae family, and there are numerous species that could damage your garden.  Just as their name implies, these insects hop from plant to plant when disturbed. Ranging in size from approximately ¼ – ½ inch, wedge-shaped leafhoppers feed on plants using their sucking mouthparts, similar to their sidekick; the aphid.  Some species of leafhoppers can transmit a virus particularly harmful to beets, tomatoes and other crops causing crinkled, dwarfed or distorted roots and veins. If you suspect a small leafhopper problem, spray off the leaves with forceful water.  For more severe infestations, consider incorporating ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies and praying mantids in the garden (see Aphids for plants that attract these insects).

Mealybugs and White Flies:  Common in indoor plants, these critters can weaken your plants while mealybugs leave a sticky substance behind. Normally infestations occur from a new infested plant exposing the others to the insect. To keep these pests at bay, try creating more air circulation in the area the plants reside in. For severe infestations, spray the leaves with diluted alcohol (remember to administer a test a patch first). Neem oil, plant based soaps and even natural dish detergent has also been studied to rid your plants of these bothersome pests.

Slugs and Snails: Similar to caterpillars, these plump pests leave holes in your plants, while leaving behind their trademark sticky trail.  Luckily, slugs and snails go wild for a cold brew, and some prefer leaving a container of beer at the base of the plant for the slugs to eventually drown in.  If the thought of watching a slug drown in your favorite stout seems hard to swallow (pardon the pun), try attracting lizards and garden snakes to your garden by leaving sunning stones and water nearby.  Your garden will feel like an oasis to these slug-loving reptiles.

 

Make your own natural insecticides!

Caffeine Spray: Combine a few tablespoons of used coffee grounds with herbs like: catnip, lavender, yarrow and thyme. Add 2 cups of water, and allow at least 24 hours for the mixture to steep. Strain, and spray liberally on insects and plant leaves. Combine with insecticide soap (below) for a stronger treatment.

Plant-Based Insecticide Soap: Add 1-2 tablespoons of castile soap to 2 cups of water. Spray insects as needed. Add boiled garlic cloves to boost the effectiveness.

How have you treated bothersome pests in your garden?

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The Nine Easiest Plants to Grow with your Kids

October 17th, 2011

Children are fascinated by plants and animals, especially if the
outcome is edible or impressive. The only problem is that they’re also quite
quick to lose interest when less-than-spectacular results are achieved after a
long wait. Obviously there’s an element of risk to cultivating any plant, but
we felt we should draw up a list of the plants we found the easiest and the
most satisfying to grow. Most of them don’t require too much specialist
knowledge, and nearly all of them can be grown in confined spaces. All of them
will capture the minds of youngsters and adults alike, hopefully inspiring more
people to grow their own vegetables at home.

We’ve decided to split this post into two categories – vegetables,
and everything else. The “everything else” category is an eclectic mix of
this-and-that, but we felt we ought to give precedence to the vegetables
section for two reasons: Most youngsters are interested in food and, boys
especially, will be doubly entertained by the notion of snacks growing in the
garden. Also, healthy eating is one of the most important elements of education
and the knowledge your child needs to nourish itself will last a whole
lifetime.

Vegetables

Lettuce

This might not get your child’s heart racing at dinner time, but
if they’re used to the dingy, dank stuff from supermarkets then they have no
reason to be excited. Home-grown lettuce with vinaigrette will bring your child
‘round to salad being acceptable, even if they’re unconvinced currently.

Carrots

The only thing we should mention with this is that carrots are
liable to bend and be knocked out of shape by rocks in the soil. Your child will have the opportunity to
plant a seed in the ground, and then mysteriously dig up an eight-inch root in
that exact spot a few months later.

Radishes

Your child may or may not like radishes, but they’re among the
easiest plants to grow and will encourage an interest into more diverse tastes.
If your child does not like them, consider “sculpting” them by scoring them
slightly then plunging them into cold water. They’ll look cool, and taste a bit
less tangy.

Bell peppers

Incredibly easy to grow, but even easier to incorporate into
dishes. You can toss them into salads, add them to kebabs, use them to garnish
dishes, put them in your Bolognese… they have a certain sweetness which you’ll
be able to appreciate even more when you eat them straight from the garden.

Tomatoes

Again, so easy to grow and they work in many summer meals. These
are so easy that a lot of people don’t even bother with planting or pots – just
score some holes into a bag of compost and away you go. Watch out for tomato
blight – the same spores which demolish potato harvests - and if you detect signs of blight in your plant, pick all the
fruit at whatever stage and turn it into chutney.

Everything Else

Basil

This will grow indoors quite happily, provided it has the sunlight
it needs to photosynthesise. (Never too young to start
learning about these processes!) The magic of basil lies not in its biology but
in its taste, which brings any Italian dish to life. Try cooking the leaves on
pizza for an aromatic addition.

Rosemary

Alongside its sister Thyme, these two stalwarts of the herb
cupboard are evocative smells for anyone who grew up in a foodie household.
There are different types of thyme for your child to explore (try the
distinctly citrus-scented lemon thyme) and rosemary goes almost too well with
lamb.

Strawberries

Who doesn’t like strawberries? They’re incredibly good for you,
even if served with cream, and they’re fun to grow. Once they’ve established
themselves, they’ll put out “runners” and colonise whole areas of the garden.
After three years, dig them up and start again to maximise fruit production.

Garlic

Plant garlic in Autumn or even Winter, covering them up with hay
and watering them in the Spring (once you remember what all that hay is doing
all over the garden). The flavour of garlic is a brilliant addition to many
dishes and is a key ingredient in a lot of French cuisine.

 

About the Author:

Dee is a freelance writer and a proud mother of two.  She writes for several sites, one of which
deals in truck rental which might be handy if the kids grow too much vegetables!

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Spanish Seafood Dish

June 17th, 2011

Our guest chef has done it again! Check out Katheryne’s spanish shellfish recipe. Fresh mussles and clams come together with tomatoes, fresh herbs and white wine to create this great dish.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:
1 lb of cleaned de-bearded mussels
1 1/2 lbs cleaned little neck clams
2 cups white wine (a white table wine will work perfect)
1 cup of organic canned crushed tomatoes
1 small onion finely diced
4 cloves of garlic finely diced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried oregano leaves
the juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
handful of roughly chopped or torn cilantro leaves to garnish

Directions:
First heat either the oil or the butter on med-low heat in a big deep soup pot with a lid or dutch oven.  Once the oil/butter is hot add the finely diced onion.  Sweat the onions for about five minutes.  Once the onions have turned translucent, add the minced garlic and continue to cook for another two minutes.  Now add the crushed tomatoes, white wine, smokey paprika, cumin, thyme, and oregano to the pot to make a broth.  Turn the heat up to medium or until the broth begins to simmer. Let the alcohol in the wine cook off for about twelve minutes.  Add the mussels, clams, and the lemon juice and cover the pot with the lid.  Cook covered for about three to four minutes or until all of the shell fish have opened (that’s how you know they are ready).  Serve in a big bowl with crusty bread and garnished with cilantro from the Humble Seed.  The bright cilantro really awakens this hearty seafood dish.

*NOTE always check your shell fish prior to cooking to make sure they are all alive.  To do this look to see if all of the shells are closed.  If the shell is open, tap it on the counter, if it does not close, its dead, throw it away.

 About Katheryne:

Sustainability is very important to me because I believe that we should take care of the planet that gives us so much. Love the earth and it will love you back. Know where your food comes from; be informed about what you are consuming. By choosing to eat organically grown produce the impact that you are making on the environment and your own health is a positive one.  Living sustainably to me, is not about  what you are giving up, it’s about all that you get! You can check out my website and please be sure to “like” my Facebook page!

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Themed Gardens for Kids: Pizza Anyone?

June 7th, 2011

 

Getting kids interested and involved in gardening is not only a great way to spend quality time together, it’s also a fun, adventurous activity for them, and it’s a great educational experience—you never know, you may have some future plant botanists or horticulturalists in your family!

Make gardening with the kids fun by allowing them to help plan the garden from the start. Incorporate a theme that will really get them excited, such as “Pizza Garden,” “Stir-Fry Garden,” or “Peter Rabbit Garden.”

Decide together what you want to plant and how the plants will be arranged in the garden then get in there and grow your own foods. You can also mark a wall calendar with fun, colorful gardening stickers on the days that you and your kids will be tending to the garden; this will give them something to look forward to, and it’s a great way to incorporate routine and responsibility into their lives.

Help your kids make and decorate some whimsical signs for their garden or let them pick out a few garden accessories to place in their garden.

Pizza Garden

A Pizza Garden is as much fun for the adults as it is for kids. Why? Because who doesn’t like pizza? And this themed garden is shaped like a pizza!

Place a stake in the ground, attach a 3 ½ foot piece of string to the stake then mark off a circle, keeping the string tight. Divide circle into six wedges.

In each wedge, plant classic pizza ingredients: 2 to 3 basil plants, 1 to 2 bell pepper plants, onion, 2 to 3 oregano plants, 2 to 3 parsley plants, and 1 tomato plant. If you plant more, you can always transplant them into another area of your yard.

It just doesn’t get any better than homemade pizza made with fresh herbs and vegetables from your own garden.

Stir-Fry Garden

Stir-fry is one healthy meal, and fresh-from-the-garden vegetables make it simply amazing. This is a great dish for experimenting with your favorite food flavors.

Some classic stir-fry ingredients include: bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chives, garlic, green beans, hot peppers, squash, etc.

With stir-frying, foods cook fast so they retain their flavor and texture, and cooking fresh ingredients contain less calories than packaged stir-fry entrées.

Peter Rabbit Garden

Beatrix Potter’s characters are great inspiration for kids to garden, and this theme is a wonderful way to educate kids on nature and animals.

Plant a variety of herbs and vegetables along a border or in raised beds then tuck garden bunny statues in between the plants. Name the statues after The Tale of Peter Rabbit characters: Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy, and/or Cottontail. Even though Mother Rabbit forbade her children to enter Mr. McGregor’s garden, your children’s garden can be a cozy home for their sweet garden statues.

Parsley, sage, thyme, bush beans, cabbage, and carrots are perfect for a Peter Rabbit Garden.

Making fun, meaningful, and long-lasting memories with family is so important, and this is an activity your kids will cherish for their whole life.

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Parsley Salad (Tabouli)

March 22nd, 2010

2 cups cracked wheat
2 cups very hot water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 medium-size cucumber, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
8 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced

Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water for about 30 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. Drain any excess water then squeeze cracked wheat dry. While cracked wheat soaks, prepare dressing by mixing the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside. When cracked wheat is ready, add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, mint, parsley and garlic to a large bowl. Add cracked wheat and dressing; stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Basil Pesto

March 22nd, 2010

2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

Place basil and pine nuts in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add garlic; pulse to combine. With the food processor running, slowly add in the olive oil in a constant stream. Stop food processor then scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add grated cheese; pulse again, to combine. Season the pesto with salt and black pepper.

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Stuffed Jalapenos, Southwest-Style

March 22nd, 2010

8 large jalapenos, halved, lengthwise, seeds removed
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 package cream cheese, softened
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Hickory smoked bacon slices

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, garlic powder and salt. Stuff peppers generously with cheese mixture. Wrap bacon slices around peppers then secure with toothpicks. Bake until bacon is crisped.

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