Dragonfly Home Recipes

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Refreshing Cucumber Mint Soup

Cool off with this refreshing and invigorating cucumber mint soup. Cucumbers, mint, and lime juice are some of the coolest foods around.  When pureed with an avocado, some coconut milk, and spices, you get an amazingly flavorful and healthy chilled soup that has a lovely, creamy texture.

cucumber mint soup with 3 vases 6With the outdoor temperature around here soaring this week, a cold soup is a perfect addition to any meal.  And it is so easy to make–just put the ingredients in a blender and blend! Then pour it into a container and let it chill!  This recipe is adapted from my husband’s favorite cookbook, Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.  It is a plant-based, vegan recipe–great for building up the immune system and recharging the body with lots of wonderful nutrients. If you don’t like coconut milk, you can always substitute Greek yogurt to get the creamy texture without the subtle coconut taste.  I have gotten so I really like the coconut milk taste, and it feels good to have an alternative to dairy sometimes, though I still love my cheese and yogurt.

cucumber mint soup in hand 1I made this soup a couple of times this week especially for my husband.  Like I mentioned, he loves the Thrive cookbook, and he loves all these super-healthy, plant-based recipes.  Since he is almost fully recovered from his knee surgery and enjoying doing more running and exercising outside, he is looking for food that will help his body renew and gain energy.  Our kids don’t love this soup, so it is in honor of my husband that I make it (though I like it a lot too).  In the busy hubbub of our days and our life right now, he doesn’t always get the special attention he got when we were first married.  He is my biggest supporter when it comes to me doing this blog, and he is awesome.

DSC_0072Summer is fully, completely here.  We went swimming at a nearby lake last weekend.  Before we left for home, I went into the bathroom there to change out of my wet bathing suit. The changing room had an open-air courtyard and curtains across the individual changing stalls.  The wind came in through the open ceiling and was lightly blowing the curtains, not enough to compromise anyone’s privacy, but enough that the curtains were billowing gently in the breeze, creating a hushed, peaceful atmosphere.  It was such a serene setting, with the sun shining through the leaves in the open-air ceiling, and the curtains quietly flowing with the breeze.  Women from all walks of life were going in and out, and everyone was so peaceful and refreshed after cooling off in the lake.  I never expected to find this lovely setting in a public bathroom at a state park. It was a quiet oasis in the middle of a busy crowd, like time was standing still for a few minutes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and can find some time for some peace in the middle of it all! Fiesta Friday is a happy space to visit too, and I plan to head over there soon. Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen @ Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck are co-hosting this week.cucumber mint soup in hands 3cucumbers, etc.cucumber mint soup spicescucumber mint soup on tray

Cucumber Mint Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes, plus at least an hour for chilling time
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Ingredients:

  • 3 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • a small handful of fresh mint leaves, torn from the stems
  • a small handful of cilantro leaves, torn from the stems
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • a pinch of chili powder
  • fresh mint leaves for garnish

Directions:

Wash the vegetables and herbs. Peel and coarsely chop the cucumbers.  If they have big seeds, cut out the seedy parts before chopping.  Tear the mint and cilantro from their stems and peel and chop the avocado. Squeeze the lime juice. Place the cucumber, mint, cilantro, avocado and lime juice in a blender.  Add the cumin, sea salt, and pepper.  Puree all the ingredients.  Add the coconut milk and lightly blend to combine.  Add more salt, if desired.  Pour the soup into a container, cover it tightly, and chill for at least an hour.  Serve the soup cold as a side dish or a light lunch. Top with a pinch of chili powder (it looks pretty when swirled) and mint leaves if desired. This tastes great with tortilla chips! Enjoy!

 

Berry Cake With Lavender Sugar

Make a weekend breakfast special with this lovely berry breakfast cake.  It’s full of fresh blueberries and black raspberries, and it’s  sweetened with the subtle flavor of homemade lavender sugar–a taste of summer in every bite!

lavender on railingThe lavender in our garden is thriving. I’m kind of surprised, considering how hot and dry this past month has been, but I am happy to see it.  It is gorgeous and it smells so good! I’ve been wanting to use it in some way, and then recently I came across a post by Laurie, of the blog ten.times.tea, for lilac sugar. The lilac sugar sounded so good and looked so pretty, it made me want to try lavender sugar.  I found that there is lots of information out there about making your own lavender sugar.  What a fun and simple way to use lavender, and what a subtle flavor the lavender gives the sugar. You can use lavender sugar to sweeten tea or flavor lemonade, and you can use it in baking.

berry breakfast cake with pink linenAt the same time that I have been wanting to use my lavender, I have been wanting to bake with fresh berries–the blueberries that are in season now, and the black raspberries growing wild all over my yard.  So I made this lovely berry breakfast cake, sweetened with my own homemade lavender sugar. It is so delicious and festive for a summer breakfast! The breakfast cake recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Hollyhocks & Radishes by Bonnie Stewart Mickelson.  The only thing I changed was that I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries, and I used lavender sugar instead of traditional white sugar, and butter from grass-fed cows instead of vegetable shortening.  I am very happy with the result! The lavender sugar is not essential in this recipe–if you don’t have extra time, conventional sugar can be used just fine, and any kind of fresh berries would work.

berry breakfast cake on table 2The Hollyhocks & Radishes cookbook is such a gentle reminder of the beauty in using the food growing around us, and also the simple elegance of hospitality.  Such a simple gesture as making a cake or a salad or a plate of sandwiches for others can be so satisfying to both the giver and the receivers.  We have had the opportunity to extend some old-fashioned hospitality to a variety of people this past week, and it has been so much fun to get together with old friends who now live far away, and to have friends of our kids in our house and around our table.

berry breakfast cake in hands 3Life can get very fast-paced and over-scheduled these days, and it’s so nice to slow down sometimes to cook and bake, to pick lavender and make lavender sugar, or spend the whole afternoon at a nearby lake.  To eat breakfast on the porch or a picnic dinner at a park, and let the dinner and conversation last till dark.  Sometimes it takes guests and hospitality to make us slow down, and what would we do without it.  We need to do more of it.

berry breakfast cake with vaseI hope you all have a great weekend! It is mid-summer, and feels every bit of it to me. I look forward to checking out some new recipes at Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week! If you are ever in a food rut, that is a great place to go to check out some really interesting blogs.berry breakfast cake overheadlavender sugar overheadlavender sugar on porchberry breakfast cake on porch

Berry Breakfast Cake with Lavender Sugar

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 15 minutes plus a day for the flavors to mesh for the lavender sugar, then 15 minutes of prep time plus 30-40 minutes of baking time for the cake
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for the lavender sugar:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of lavender buds
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar

Directions:

Pick a handful of lavender.  Remove the blossoms and buds from the stems and measure out 2 tablespoons. **If you wash the lavender, or if it is damp when you pick it, make sure it is completely dry before you combine it with the sugar.  (If you don’t have access to lavender in your garden, you can buy culinary lavender buds at health food stores or specialty food places.)

Place the lavender buds and the cup of sugar in a food processor (I used a blender).  Pulse or blend for a couple of minutes, stirring in between pulses, till the sugar and lavender are well mixed and the lavender is broken down a bit.

Spoon the lavender/sugar mixture into a clean, dry glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Let the mixture sit, covered, for a day or at least overnight.  Double or triple the recipe if you want to make more lavender sugar.  Use this delightful sugar to sweeten tea or lemonade, or use it in baking. Enjoy!

For the berry breakfast cake:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup lavender sugar (you can use regular white granulated sugar if you prefer)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, soft and at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 cups of fresh berries (I used a combination of blueberries and black raspberries)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the lavender sugar, egg yolks, and butter until creamy.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.  Add the unbeaten egg whites and stir until well mixed.  Add the milk and vanilla and stir to mix again.  Fold in the berries.  If you are using blueberries, gently stir in a bit of flour to the blueberries before folding them into the batter, so they won’t sink to the bottom.  Gently stir until the berries are combined with the batter.  Spoon the batter into the baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is golden and the center springs back to the light touch.  Serve warm. Enjoy!

 

 

Cherry Berry Cobbler

Luscious tart cherries, blueberries, and black raspberries are baked with a biscuit topping until the fruit is sweet and bubbling and the topping is fluffy and golden in this delicious cherry berry cobbler. This recipe is a classic that never goes out of style. The fresher the fruit, the better this cobbler tastes.

cherry berry cobbler with holders 4The sweetness of the blueberries and black raspberries (and some sugar) balance the tartness of the cherries to make a mouth-watering fruit filling full of flavor and those much-sought-after antioxidants. The biscuit topping is golden and moist, pairing beautifully with the fruit.  I really notice a difference in taste when I bake with high quality butter, and butter from grass-fed cows is gaining popularity as a relatively healthy fat.  With just a few basic ingredients, this cobbler is easy to make and tastes impressive.

cherry berry cobbler in handMy favorite thing about this dessert, aside from the luscious flavor, is that much of the fruit came from my very own yard!  Our wonderful cherry trees gave us even more fruit than we expected, allowing me to make two cobblers, a few batches of breakfast jars, and a smoothie with them, and our black raspberries are coming along nicely!  I wish I could say I picked the blueberries in this cobbler, but those I did buy from the grocery store, yet they were still sweet and juicy.  In any case, seasonal fruit tastes better than candy in my book, and it reminds me to savor the moment, because each season is fleeting.

cherry berry slump with spoonI hope you are all having a great summer so far.  It has been very sunny, but much drier than usual here lately.  We finally got some rain last night, and the air smells so fresh, especially since the storms cooled things off.  We had an interesting Fourth of July–we got to go for a sail with my brother’s family in his boat, out to a sandbar near a small island.  He put down the anchor and we all went swimming off of the boat in gorgeous, cold, clear water.  That evening, we hiked a mile at dusk to the top of a hill in a nature preserve, overlooking a lake.  Someone from the preserve had a campfire going, and we roasted marshmallows and ate s’mores while the fireworks showered dazzling colors over the lake.  Then we hiked down in the dark woods by flashlight.  It was amazing to be surrounded by so much natural beauty, up in northern Michigan for a few days.

Now it is good to be home, though a little bit tough getting caught up and back to reality, and though a lot of our flowers need some more rain, the sweet peas are thriving!  I hope you all have a great weekend! I’m a bit late, but looking forward to joining Fiesta Friday , co-hosted this week by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Jess @ Cooking Is My Sport. cherry berry cobbler in loft 1sweet peasDSC_1201

Cherry Berry Cobbler

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time and about 50 minutes baking time
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of tart cherries, washed with the pits removed
  • 2 cups of mixed berries (I used blueberries and black raspberries)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wash the fruit and remove the pits from the cherries.  Place the fruit in a 2 quart baking dish or casserole.  Add the sugar and 3 tablespoons of flour to the fruit and stir gently to combine.

For the topping, combine the cup of flour, the salt, and the baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir just until a batter forms.  Drop the batter by the spoonful on top of the fruit, distributing it as evenly as possible.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling and the biscuit topping is golden.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or just with itself, which is the way I like it best. Enjoy!

Cherry Berry Breakfast Jars

Tart, juicy cherries and sweet blueberries are layered with Greek yogurt, granola, and chia seeds to make a healthy, beautiful breakfast bursting with flavor.  Mason jars make this not only pretty (I love how they show the colorful layers), but they are also practical–just screw on the lid, put the jar(s) in the cooler, and you have a portable breakfast or snack.

cherry berry breakfast jars on porchSummer fruit really is a special treat. There is just nothing like being able to walk out the door and pick fruit right in your own yard, or pick it up from a nearby farm stand.  You can taste the bright sunshine in every bite, and something with that much fresh flavor and naturally bright color has to be loaded with beneficial nutrients!

I wanted to do a post in honor of our cherry trees this week, because they have given us such great fruit this season!  We planted them a few years ago as tiny little trees, and over time we have nursed them, protected them from hungry deer, and watched them grow.  This is the first summer we have been able to harvest more than a handful of cherries from them, and I am so excited about it! Tart cherries have been a favorite of mine since I was a child.  Lots of good childhood memories are mixed in with the pursuit of good cherries and cherry pies. To have them now growing in my own yard feels like a huge luxury, and I know how my dad would love it.

cherries in white bowl 3Our two cherry trees, though still not large, are just loaded with bright red tart cherries! So far, we have been eating them too quickly to make a pie filling, but these easy breakfast jars are perfect.  The sweetness of the blueberries helps balance the tart flavor of the cherries, and really, you could substitute any seasonal fruit if you don’t have cherries or blueberries.

cherries and berries 2This recipe is so simple, yet it is so delicious and so pretty that it is worth remembering and sharing.  My kids, who were definitely in a breakfast rut, have been loving these jars the past couple of mornings.  I think it has to do with the freshness of the fruit and the novelty of the layers instead of everything just mixed up in a bowl.  You can use your favorite yogurt and favorite granola, and sweeten it all with honey if you are using unsweetened yogurt.

cherry berry breakfast jar overview 2I hope you are all enjoying some summer air and summer fruit! We went camping last weekend, and it was just what we needed.  To be away from routines and to be surrounded by nature, getting back to the basics.  It felt like time kind of stood still for us for a couple of days, and we had some good family exploring new territory and sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and listening to the fire crackle and pop.  The trees, the lakes, the fresh air and stars at night all soothed my soul.  And the juicy, tart cherries give vitality and hope.  I hope you are all having a good week! I am going to share this tasty recipe at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, where lots of great food bloggers gather to trade recipes and inspiration.cherry berry breakfast jars in hands 3cherry berry breakfast jars with stripescherry tree

Cherry Berry Breakfast Jars

  • Servings: 4 half-pint sized jars
  • Time: about 15 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of fresh tart cherries, washed and pitted
  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries, washed
  • 2 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups of your favorite granola
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of honey (use if your yogurt is unsweetened)
  • 4 half-pint sized mason jars

Directions:

Wash the fruit and remove the pits from the cherries.  Set out the yogurt, granola, chia seeds, and mason jars.  In each mason jar, spoon in a layer of yogurt, fruit, granola, and a 1/4 teaspoon of chia seeds. Repeat the layers.  Serve immediately or cover with the mason jar lids and refrigerate or take with you in a cooler.  Enjoy!

Lemon Tarragon Chicken

In this recipe, each chicken breast half is baked in its own foil packet with a lemon-tarragon sauce and sliced mushrooms: so flavorful and so moist! Serve this lemon tarragon chicken with potatoes, rice, or any type of grain, plus a vegetable or a salad, and you have a quick, delicious meal!

DSC_0976I have been making this recipe for many years.  In fact, I made it so often awhile back that I had to take a break from it for a time, and just tonight I made it again.  No wonder I used to make it so often! It is so tasty and so easy! It’s easy, but it tastes like something special.  I think it’s the baking of the chicken in the foil packet.  The foil keeps in all that moisture, and the lemon juice, olive oil, and tarragon blend together so nicely.  This recipe is very loosely adapted from a cookbook called 365 Ways to Cook Chicken by Cheryl Sedaker. Over the years I have tweaked it here and there to fit our tastes.

Do you ever feel like the forces of chaos have been unleashed into your life?  That’s how I have been feeling this week, and in times like that, it’s good to fall back on a meal that is reliable, comforting, and nourishing.  I can’t even quite explain what has been going on–I think it’s just a lot of little things happening all at once.  In any case, food is a constant, food is a comfort.  We all have to eat, no matter what is going on, or how crazy our days can become. If we can make eating enjoyable and restorative, then we are doing one important thing toward fostering a feeling of goodwill, toward building up rather than breaking down.  And if we can pick some flowers and put them in a vase, so much the better!

lemon chicken tarragon with linen 1One thing I love about this recipe is that there is minimal prep work, and then it bakes in the oven for twenty minutes.  During that twenty minutes this evening, I also put some asparagus, mixed with garlic and Parmesan cheese, in the oven to roast along with the chicken, and then threw together some mashed potatoes. It all came together pretty quickly, yet it tasted like a real meal that took lots of time to prepare.  Super-satisfying, yet easy on the one doing the cooking.

I hope you all have a great weekend! This is the perfect time to eat outdoors as much as possible, and don’t forget to marvel at all the beautiful flowers! I am adding this recipe to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Quinn @ dadwhats4dinner and Elaine @ Foodbod.lemon tarragon chicken in foilsweet peas in the window

Lemon Tarragon Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 15 minutes of prep time and about 20 minutes of baking time
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Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, chopped onion, tarragon, salt, and lemon juice. Stir well.

Tear off four sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, about 12 by 18 inches.  Line them up on your counter. Place a chicken breast on the lower half of each piece of foil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Evenly top each piece with the mushroom slices.  Spoon the olive oil-lemon juice mixture evenly over each piece of chicken and mushrooms.

Fold the upper half of the foil down and seal it with the lower half. Make a series of locked folds all the way around the foil to seal each foil packet. Fold the edges for a tighter seal, while still allowing room for the heat to circulate and expand. Place the foil packets on a baking sheet and bake in your 450-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is done and no longer pink. Cut an X in the top of each foil packet, fold the foil back, and transfer the chicken and mushrooms to a plate.  Pour the remaining juices over the chicken, if desired. Serve with potatoes, rice, or a grain of your choice, plus a vegetable and/or salad. Enjoy!

 

 

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