Cheesy Hot & Spicy Meatballs

We are working on some new recipes to enter a few of our spicy seasonings into the Scovie Awards.  Not everyone likes Hot and Spicy foods but for those who do we want to have yummy healthy products for you too. These meatballs are simple, delicious, moist and spicy.  Remember, you can adjust the spice to fit your own scoville tolerance.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds ground hamburger meat
3 large eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
6 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil (I use a mild flavored one.)
3 tablespoons dried C & J Farms Parsley or 1/4 cup fresh
1.5 tablespoons dried C & J Farms garlic or 3 large cloves minced
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoons C & J Farms black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcester Sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons of C & J Farms Hot & Spicy Blend
Mix all ingredients together until well mixed. Form meatballs by hand about 1″.  Put a small amount of oil in your skillet and add the meatballs when the oil is hot.  Cook until done over a medium heat, turning as needed.  Recipe by Tara Tyler R.D./C.D.E.

Cheesy Hot and Spicy Meatballs 2

You can tell by the photo this is full of flavor.
Cheesy Hot and Spicy Meatballs

The final product.  So yummy!!!! Serve with noodles, potato’s or rice and a small green salad. Dinner is served. Be sure and let us know what you think of these.

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Ultimate Bake Potato Soup

This Ultimate Bake Potato Soup Recipe – by Michelle Tyler

4 -6 red or gold potato cubed & cooked
1 package of bacon fully cooked
1 – 1 1/2 cups of C & J Farms Chives
2/3 cup of butter
1 ½ – 2 cups of cheddar cheese shredded
1 cup of sour cream
2 tsp C & J Farms Sea Salt
2 tsp of C & J Farms Scarborough Fair
1 tsp black pepper
5 – 7 cups of milk
2/3 cup of flour

Keep skin on the potato’s; cube and cook until soft. Melt butter in a large soup pan, whisk in flour then slowly stir in milk one cup at a time. Mix well between adding milk. Cook until thicken.

Add potato’s, chives ( or fresh green onions), C & J Farms Scarborough Fair, Sea Salt and bring to simmer. Now add all other ingredients (bacon, sour cream, black pepper)and serve hot. Garnish with fresh or dried chives and cheddar cheese.

potato soup

Autumn Spice Blend our Fall Favorite

I love when we bring out the fresh and full flavored blend of Autumn Spice. Combination of Cinnamon, Ginger, Allspice, Nutmeg and Clove is simply delightful in and on your Autumn and Winter favorites.

These warm flavors evoke a comfort at the thought and certainly when you taste them.

Think of your dishes for the season this year and add our favorite to make your dishes unique and different this year. We give you some details on how to use this below:

Add to:
pancake, waffle or french toast batter
to your sweet breads, cake and muffin batter
to your vanilla yogurt
to your oatmeal

Quick dessert or snack recipe: Saute fresh fruit ( pears, banana’s, apples, pine apples, etc) in butter, brown sugar and Autumn Spice blend. Have your skillet hot, sear for a couple of minutes on each side (if applicable) serve and enjoy. Eat as is or put on top of ice cream.

Autumn Spice Apples 2

Pancake with Autumn Spice. Yum!!! Pancake with Autumn Spice. Yum!!!

Savory:
try in your dumpling batter
add to acorn, butternut or spaghetti squash
sweet potatoe’s or yams with butter and/or marshmallows
enjoy on any root vegetable including carrots and turnips

Acorn Squash with Autumn Spice Blend, brown sugar and butter.

Acorn Squash with Autumn Spice Blend, brown sugar and butter.

What about Brussel Sprouts? cut your fresh sprouts in half, coat with your favorite oil, sprinkle with brown sugar and Autumn Spice Blend. Roast in a 450 degree oven until crispy brown edges and the sprout is soft.

Steak too?
Get your cast iron skillet nice and hot after you have oiled it up. Coat your steak with Autumn Spice Blend, add salt and pepper to your taste. Sear in the hot skillet on both sides until your desired doneness. (Is that a word?)

Don’t forget pies and cobblers – berry, pumpkin, peach and cherry

Coffee Lovers – add a small amount to your coffee grounds before the coffee brews.

Enjoy!!

Keyhole Gardening Beginnings at the Farm

We entered into using a new method of gardening on C & J Farms last fall. Having attended a tour and seminar on this method last year (www.debtolman.com) I was fascinated and had to try it. Keyhole Gardening.
We purchased some cider blocks (but you can use anything from broken up concrete, limbs, landscape timbers, glass jars, etc.) to begin our first keyhole garden. I am encouraged but not yet proficient. We began in September thinking we were ready to put one together. We knew we had to have a lot of cardboard but we really didn’t realize what a “lot” of cardboard was. We had to ask our local neighbors for help. We were able to get cardboard boxes from a local Country Store. They were happy to be able to save the space in their dumpsters.
The keyhole garden takes a few, but required, elements – it must be 6 feet in diameter and approximately 4 feet high. A wire center cone is also required. So required, walls, cardboard (brown matter) and green matter (green grass, leaves, scrapes of green foods from your kitchen, etc.) in a 6 to 3 ratio for composting properly. Note: this does change if you start a garden in the heat of the summer then the ratio should be 6 to 1.
Determine what the outer wall will be made out of. We chose cider blocks. We then worked with our neighbor, Aggie General Convenience store, about a mile from us to save their cardboard boxes for us. They were happy to help as this relieves storage space for them in their dumpsters. Collecting and storing all of this cardboard is the part of this process I like the least. I don’t like clutter. We break down the boxes and store them outside next to where the keyhole garden will be created. You need a full commercial dumpster load to begin.

We chose cider blocks.

We chose cider blocks.

The wall structure is built using a six foot long board on the ground to determine the diameter. We use cinder blocks and begin to stack the blocks in a circle but creating a notch in the wall, thus the “keyhole”. This is necessary to be able to access the center cone.
Look for the center wire cone.

Look for the center wire cone.

Once the wall was completed we made a center cone out of small holed wire. The cone is approx. 10 to 12 inches in diameter and 5 feet tall. This is put into the center of the keyhole structure. This is where you put the green scrapes from your kitchen or garden to feed the garden. NOTE: we learned the hard way to use a small holed wire. We used a 4” holed wire in one of the gardens and we have had the composted earth in that garden collapse into the center hole. That prohibits the green matter from being able to go all the way to the bottom of the garden.
Now begin layering wet, soaking wet, cardboard in the interior of the garden. Layer the sides and up the center cone. Step on the wet cardboard to pack it down as you go. Layer in the green matter between layers of cardboard and do this until full. Once you have reached the top of the wall, continue to layer the cardboard, and keep level with the wall but tilt the layering up towards the top of the cone going about half way.
Now, add soil, manure and plant full. Watering in well, feed the center cone and watch things grow.

kh filling 5

Here the earth has receding during composting. So we add waded up paper to fill in around all the plants. Then add mulch or rabbit manure on top.

kh filling 3

This is a keyhole once filled up with the newspaper.

kh full

A successful garden.

Roast Beef with Cardamom – Tara Tyler RD

Tara enjoyed the smell and taste of Cardamom so much she made this great seasoning for your roast.  Don’t be afraid of cardamom, it’s delicious!

Roast Beef of your choice
Mix together the following ingredients:
2 to 2 ½ tbs. ground cardamom
1 tbs. ground cumin
½ tbs cinnamon
1 tbs dried onion
1 tbs dried garlic minced
2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Cardamom, cumin and cinnamon seasoning mix

Cardamom, cumin and cinnamon seasoning mix

Rub the mixture liberally all over the roast. Even pack it on to make a crust. You can sit this in the fridge or cook immediately.

Cardamom mixture patted onto roast.

Cardamom mixture patted onto roast.

Put in your crock-pot on low and let it cook all day.
Simply delicious and just a hint of different, a must try!

Sliced and ready to eat. Yummy!

Sliced and ready to eat. Yummy!

Dill in the Summer Time – *Series

Dill in the summer time

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Dill, what a beautiful fragrant herb to having your garden and on your table. It is lovely to have access to fresh dill but to ensure that you get the most of the plant we like to dry it, of course we dry a lot of herbs here at C & J Farms. Using fresh, or fresh dried, dill is so good in summertime meals. Most of us recognize dill as used in making fresh pickles, but it’s so much more than just that.
From now through the weekend we will be outlining some great recipes and some simple uses for this wonderful herb.

Here are some simple uses to get you started and be sure to stay tuned for some great recipes to follow in the coming days.

*Try adding 1 tablespoon of dried dill to 1/4 cup of yellow mustard and stir. Use as a dip or spread for fish and pork, or on a sandwich .

*Sprinkle dried dill to your chicken or potato salad for a delightful addition.

*Combine dill with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber tray cool dip great for crackers or chips.

*Add to your vegetables, coat with good olive oil and then roast in 425° oven for around 20 minutes.

*Sprinkle on any variety of fish just before cooking.

*Put dill seeds in a dish on your table after meals to be enjoyed. It is said that it sooths the stomach after meals.

*Add fresh or dried dill to your egg salad, scrambled eggs for breakfast, or in a quiche.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started on some great uses for dill this summer. Be sure to be watching our social pages for new updates on recipes that will be posted in the coming days. With summer finally in full swing here in Texas we can’t wait to keep sharing ideas with you on how to use so many of our great herbs.

Selecting Spices for Their Medicinal & Yummy Benefit

Selecting Spices for Their Medicinal Benefits

spoons

As a general rule, you really can’t go wrong when using herbs and spices and I recommend allowing your taste buds to dictate your choices when cooking. However, you can also choose spices based on their medicinal benefits.

To boost your immune system:

Turmeric: a general immune system booster due to its high antioxidant capacity. Turmeric is 5 to 8 times stronger than vitamins C and E.
Black Pepper: Increases the bioavailability of just about all other foods — herbs and other compounds. Oregano: The active agent is rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant.

To reduce inflammation, and treat inflammatory and infectious conditions:

Turmeric: Its potent anti-inflammatory properties come from curcumin — the pigment that gives turmeric its yellow-orange color, and which is thought to be responsible for many of its medicinal effects. There are an estimated three to five grams of curcumin in 100 grams of turmeric. Cloves: One of the most potent anti-inflammatories with anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. Beneficial against muscle pains from injuries, arthritis and rheumatism. Its mild anesthetic benefits are useful for toothaches, gum pain and sore throats. Also offers relief from respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis, and eliminates intestinal parasites, fungi and bacteria.
Nutmeg: A study in the Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering found that nutmeg extract has antibacterial activity that can significantly reduce certain strains of E. coli. Nutmeg is also beneficial for joint pain and gout, and has been traditionally used to treat toothaches. Ginger: Has anti-inflammatory properties and helps protect against bacteria and fungi. Also eliminates intestinal gas and relaxes and soothes your intestinal tract, while boosting your immune system.
Peppermint: Traditionally used to sooth the digestive tract; a study published in the journal BMJ in 2008 found peppermint oil may even be beneficial in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Also known to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi, and can help relieve symptoms of allergies and asthma. Cinnamon: A powerful antimicrobial agent that also enhances your antioxidant defenses. It’s been found to kill E. coli and many other bacteria. Its anti-inflammatory compounds help relieve pain and stiffness of muscles and joints due to arthritis. Also helps prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease.

To boost mental health and/or reduce anxiety:

Nutmeg: According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, an extract of nutmeg seeds elicited a significant antidepressant-like effect in mice; in some doses comparable in potency to the antidepressants imipramine and fluoxetine. In fact, reducing anxiety and treating insomnia are two ailments that nutmeg has been traditionally used for. Natural Salt/Sea Salt: According to a 2008 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, salt may be a natural mood-elevating substance. Sodium deficiency can induce behavioral changes such as reduced motivation, fatigue, and feelings of depression. However, it’s important to understand that common table salt and the salt used in processed foods is the highly processed variety, and NOT at all the same as the natural salt your body needs to perform its vital functions, including the maintenance of proper brain function. So when adding salt to your meal, make sure you’re using a natural unprocessed salt, such as Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.

Turmeric—A Potent Cancer-Fighter!

A couple of spices deserve further review; one of which is turmeric. It was already mentioned twice above, both as an immune booster and potent anti-inflammatory. But perhaps its greatest value lies in its anti-cancer potential.

In India where turmeric is widely used, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers — colon, breast, prostate and lung — is 10 times lower. In fact, prostate cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in U.S. men, is rare in India and this is attributed, in part, to the curcumin in turmeric.

Dr. William LaValley from Austin Texas is one of the top natural medicine cancer physicians I know and he recently shared this important information with me. Interestingly, curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—actually has the most evidence based literature backing up its anti-cancer claims of any other nutrient!

Numerous studies have looked into this potential cancer-fighting link, with promising results. For instance, curcumin has been found to:

Inhibit the transformation of cells from normal to tumor, as well as inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells already existing Help your body destroy mutated cancer cells so they cannot spread throughout your body
Decrease inflammation Enhance liver function
Inhibit the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation Prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth (known as anti-angiogenesis)

Curcumin affects over 100 different pathways once it gets into a cell. Interestingly, this also applies to the metabolite of curcumin and its derivatives, which also have anti-cancer properties. According to researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, curcumin blocks a key biological pathway needed for development of melanoma and other cancers.

The spice actually stops laboratory strains of melanoma from proliferating and pushes the cancer cells to commit suicide by shutting down nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB), a powerful protein known to induce abnormal inflammatory response that leads to an assortment of disorders such as arthritis and cancer.

Cinnamon—An Excellent Choice for Diabetics

The other spice I want to review further is cinnamon, simply because of its potential benefits against diabetes, which is a problem of epidemic proportions in the US.

Researchers have investigated the “insulin-like” effects of cinnamon for a number of years now, and it keeps proving it’s a viable contender in the fight against diabetes.

Among this spice’s most impressive health benefits is its impact on blood sugar and ability to improve glucose control. For example, just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In another earlier study, cinnamon was found to increase glucose metabolism 20-fold!

Interestingly, cinnamon lowers your blood sugar by acting on several different levels, including:

  • Slowing the emptying of your stomach to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar following meals
  • Improving the effectiveness, or sensitivity, of insulin
  • Enhancing your antioxidant defenses. A study published in 2009 stated that “polyphenols from cinnamon could be of special interest in people that are overweight with impaired fasting glucose since they might act both as insulin sensitizers and antioxidants.” Yet another bioflavanoid compound called proanthocyanidin may alter the activity of insulin signaling in your fat cells.

Researchers have suggested people with diabetes may see improvements by adding 1/4 – 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to their food, and I see no reason not to give this a try if you enjoy cinnamon (along with doing the other essentials to improve diabetes, including eliminating fructose and grains from your diet and exercising daily).

Clearly, adding ample amounts of cinnamon to your diet is an incredibly inexpensive and great tasting tool for diabetics, and the likelihood of this food causing any long-term complications is very small.

Go Ahead, Spice Up Your Life!

All these benefits give you ample reasons to be adventurous in adding spices to your meals, and to be generous in the amounts you use. It will be worth it for the flavor enhancement alone, and the boost it will give your health is the icing on the cake!