Foodie Favorite: Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea

There is absolutely nothing like a warm, soothing drink on a cold, wet evening, in my humble opinion. The weather is a ‘changing and Old Man Winter is slowly making his approach known. The leaves have turned and are falling, and the cold, damp air is becoming a fixture, rather than the occasional feature that it once was earlier this fall.

Back to that warm drink . . . I am an equal opportunity coffee and tea drinker. And I most definitely have different purposes in mind with each beverage:

-Some form of coffee or espresso for the morning and afternoon pick-me-ups.
Black or green tea might also feature in a midmorning work session.
-For evenings, some variety of herbal tea.

It should be stated though, “equal opportunity” should not be confused with “having no opinions” or favorites; I absolutely have those.

celestial seasonings peppermint tea

This Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea has been a longtime favorite of mine, although I have newly rediscovered it these last few months. Besides intriguing quotes and fun facts adorning the box, the ingredients (and usually where they came from) are clearly noted. This is a robust, though not biting, peppermint tea. Brisk, but domesticated.

With some added honey this becomes a refreshing and delicious treat. On its own, it is a very pleasant afternoon or evening, no calorie, no caffeine beverage. My absolute favorite use of this tea is as an after dinner/bedtime tea. I am ashamed to admit that I have a bad habit of overeating at dinnertime, but I love how a cup of this tea seems to soothe my digestion and calm my belly before bedtime.

‘Tis the season for large family meals and hours of sitting and talking to loved ones in front of cozy fireplaces, or, perhaps more commonly these days, the warm glow of a favorite Netflix film. All this eating and socializing sometimes requires a beverage that is both soothing and invigorating (with an added benefit: it can freshen your breath!). This tea fits the bill for our house.

Wishing everyone peace and warmth; stay cozy!

Nine Cozy and Sage Kitchen Staples

As the chief chef here at Cozy and Sage (as well beauty editor, editorialist, and custodian), I have come to appreciate the security of knowing I can toss a nutritious and satisfying meal together quickly and easily with what I have around the house (ahem: office).

I try never to run low on these items:

1. Canned Black Beans

While any kind of canned bean would be a good choice here, I find black beans to be  most tasty and versatile (although I do love kidney beans, as well). Beans are high in fiber and protein, and can pair well with both carbohydrates and vegetables. The canned versions are also marvelously easy to use, though if you want to be super budget conscious and have the time, soaking, cooking, and freezing dried beans can be an economical meal prep solution.

2. Canned Diced Tomatoes

There may be nothing more multifaceted in my cupboard than canned diced tomatoes. Unassuming and delicious, they lend themselves to all kinds of recipes, such as pasta sauces, soups, various Mexican-inspired dishes, and even as an additive to a slow cook pot roast. They also come in many varieties now; I prefer the fire roasted for most dishes, but I also like having an unseasoned variety on hand for pasta especially.

3. Dried Spaghetti (high fiber)

It’s hard to beat a traditional spaghetti meal for ease and satiety. I always get the Barilla white fiber version, as it contains some extra fiber but doesn’t alter the taste too much. Almost any kind of sauce (homemade or canned) will do. Paired with some garlic bread and a salad, this great meal comes together quickly and beautifully.

4. Salsa

We love Mexican food here at the home (office?) of Cozy and Sage—so much so we have to actively make sure we are always stocked with salsa. Offered with chips as an afternoon snack or poured over eggs for breakfast, salsa is one of those items improving almost any dish. (If in a real pinch, it can even substitute for canned diced tomatoes—see above—in many cases.)

5. Bouillon cubes

If I were a little more motivated and had a bit more time, I would definitely attempt to make my own broth. As things currently stand, having a small stash of bouillon cubes will have to do. While this isn’t something I use all of the time, it is one of those items I sorely miss when I need it and find the box empty. For me, bouillon cubes are a must for soups and stews, and a nice thing to have for the occasional broth soup (for times when you have a cold or just want something warm and salty).

6. Rice

Rice is another all-arounder lending its talents to numerous types of cuisine. I love rice in all its forms: jasmine, brown, long grain . . . however I can get it. Combine with any kind of protein and a veggie, and dinner is served! When I have the time and inclination, I will sometimes cook up a large batch of rice and portion some out to be frozen for later use. This can make future meals even quicker to prepare!

7. Frozen Veggies (in Steamer Bags)

One of the greatest food-related inventions of the last century (in my humble opinion) is the steamer bag. A variety of vegetables can be taken from the freezer and popped into the microwave for a nutritious dinner addition in a matter of mere minutes. For a parent who is constantly attempting to make sure there is a vegetable involved in every dinner, these bags are a boon!

8. Eggs

So simple and so nutritious, eggs can add an easy and satisfying protein to a meal at a moment’s notice. They are usually necessary to have on hand for various recipes, plus they can become the main dish in a pinch! Frittatas, quiches, and scrambles can make for great meals and are generally simple to prepare. They are incredible, and they are edible. Just sayin’.

9. Shredded Cheese

I usually don’t prefer to get pre-cut or pre-shredded items due to the increased cost. This is one exception I do make, however, just because it can lend itself to so many dishes in a hurry. I try to buy the largest bag I can; it lasts a long time in the refrigerator and the larger size usually proves a better value. This ingredient is useful for nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, and as a topping on a variety of meals.

simple red beans and rice

While things can be a bit hectic around our home office, I am comforted by the fact I can almost always whip up a nutritious and tasty (if simple) meal with what I already have on hand. As long I stay stocked up, I have very little need to make any emergency runs to the store, which as a very busy person is something I value highly!

What are your kitchen staples?

Thanks for the read; stay cozy!

Simple Bibimbap

Discovering Bibimbap

The first time I heard this name, I was confused: an Asian-inspired dish that I hadn’t heard of yet, or had the chance to fall in love with? Astounding.

I quickly gathered my ingredients, did a little research, and investigated the difference between refined and unrefined sesame oil (by the way, for this recipe, go as unrefined as possible). Be aware this recipe isn’t the completely traditional stuff, but it is lovely tasting and comes together quickly and simply! Who doesn’t love that?

cheater bibimbap

Ingredients

  • several cups prepared rice (any brand or variety will do nicely)
  • 1-2 cups shredded carrots
  • about 3 cups greens (spinach or arugula work well, although any greens will work)
  • thinly chopped (matchstick style) cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sesame oil, plus some to add after cooking as flavoring
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 eggs per person
  • soy sauce to taste
  • roasted sesame seeds (as garnish)

Preparation

Prepare rice as desired. After preparing vegetables, add olive oil and sesame oil to pan and begin sautéing carrots first. After about five minutes, add the greens and cucumbers and allow to cook for another five to seven minutes. After cucumbers are soft, but not overly soggy, set stir fried vegetables aside and add butter to the pan. Fry one to two eggs per person (most adults prefer over-easy and kids usually like them cooked until the yolks are firm).

Assemble each dish beginning with rice, then add vegetables and finally, top with fried eggs. Add a splash of sesame oil, soy sauce, and roasted sesame seeds.

Notes

This a great recipe for chilly, busy nights. It’s both quick and satisfying, as well as healthy and satiating. If you like, substituting soft tofu for the eggs can make this dish vegan quite easily. Other great toppers include green onions, hot sauce, and pickled radish. Paired with a hot cup of decaffeinated tea, this can make for a very warm and cozy meal. (See what I did there?)

Cheers, and stay cozy!

 

 

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

I must admit, the first time I tried quinoa, I didn’t care for it. I suppose that I had the expectation that it would taste something like couscous (after all, that is what it most closely resembles). At any rate, due to the flavor and (especially) the texture being a far cry from my preconceived notions, I avoided quinoa for, well, years.

I am not currently a super health conscious person, although I used to be. I must admit though, that when I rediscovered quinoa recently, I was most impressed by its nutrition portfolio. According to Healthline.com, 100 grams (about 3 ounces) of cooked quinoa contains 4.4 grams of protein, 2.8 grams of fiber, and a bunch of other good stuff.

In an effort to try to eat a healthier diet, and with encouragement from my husband (who happens to love quinoa), I thought I would give it another try. This time I decided to go with Mediterranean-type flavors. As usual, I also went for simplicity (laziness?), and this salad may be my easiest recipe to date!

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

About 3 cups quinoa (made per package directions, usually 2 ½ cups water to 1 cup quinoa)

1 small package (6-8 oz.) of crumbled feta cheese

1 cucumber, partially peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks

3 tablespoons favorite Italian dressing (or to taste)

Cook quinoa and allow to cool a bit, for about 20 minutes. Add other ingredients and mix. This salad may be consumed slightly warm or cold and fares well in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

(They don’t know who I am, but I must say, the Kraft Tuscan House salad dressing was great in this recipe! Very flavorful and tangy!)

Mediterranean Inspired Quinoa Salad

Yum!

I must admit, this was a salad I really enjoyed, as did my family. I even used it for a small get together that included a few lacto-ovo-vegetarians and was quizzed about the recipe. Its nutritional characteristics as well as its versatility are quite appealing to me, and I expect to be posting more quinoa recipes in the future!

I hope you enjoyed my very short and sweet recipe today.

My best to all, and stay cozy!

10 Cozy Meals in About 10 Sage Minutes

KNIFE AND FORK ON TABLE

Do you work? Go to school? Have kids? Live? There are bound to be times in any schedule when a quick meal for one, or a crowd, is required. Here are 10 meal ideas that can be prepared in about 10 minutes and can be scaled to meet your needs.

  1. Cucumber, avocado, and tomato salad– Just slice everything up and add your favorite salad dressing or a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
  2. Warm tomato and cheese sandwich– Spread a bit of butter on two slices of bread. Top one side with sliced tomato and then your favorite cheese. Bake, open-faced, on cookie sheet in 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Take out of oven (carefully), and put two halves together while still warm.

    tomato sandwich caprese

    (this time I added basil and vinegar)

  3. Couscous salad– Make the couscous according to package directions (almost always less than 10 minutes). While the couscous is cooking, chop up some tomatoes and/or cucumbers. Add veggies to cooked couscous along with a bit of your favorite Italian-style salad dressing (or, alternately, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper). This salad is delicious warm or cold!
  4. Eggs on avocado toast– Top slices of toast with mashed avocado and an over-easy egg. Spice with salt, pepper, and a dash of lime juice.
  5. BTC– Just like a BLT (bacon, lettuce, tomato), but the lettuce is replaced by, you guessed it, cucumber! Simply spread mayo on two slices of bread and stack your cooked bacon, tomato, and cucumber. A dash of dried dill or Italian seasoning wouldn’t go amiss here, either!
  6. Chicken burritos– Shred some rotisserie chicken and warm up a can of drained black beans in the microwave. To tortillas, add chicken and black beans, and top with tomatoes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Yum!
  7. Chili potato– “Bake” a potato in the microwave and top with your favorite pre-made chili, a smattering of cheese, and a bit of sour cream.
  8. “Green” Breakfast for dinner– In a warm, buttered pan, add several handfuls of spinach and/or salad greens. When greens are wilted, add beaten eggs and cook to desired (scrambled egg) consistency. Add a favorite cheese, if you like. Serve with whole wheat toast and A1 Steak Sauce.

    Green scramble

    “greens and feta scramble”

  9. Pasta– Ever the perennial simple meal, boiling up some pasta and adding a can of premade sauce, a can of diced tomatoes, or just some olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper is about as easy as it gets. Include a bagged of steamed veggies or (better yet) some cut up peppers or cucumbers on the side to round out the meal.
  10. Lamb Burgers– Like the traditional hamburger, but using ground lamb. Top with feta cheese and Tzatziki sauce and serve with sliced cucumber. (We like cucumbers around here.)

Hope you enjoyed this quick post about fast and simple food. More easy and delicious recipes coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by! What does your family eat on a busy night?

Stay cozy!

Autumn Three Bean Soup

The air has finally turned chilly and the breeze brings with it a crispness absent in the summer months. The leaves are beginning to change from green to burgundy, and the skies are suddenly greyish. It is time to prepare another fall inspired soup!

I love soup; over the last month I have shared some of my favorite soup recipes. There is nothing like a warm bowl of savory goodness, especially in the cooler weather, in my opinion. Soups can be had as a light supper, or transformed into a robust meal with the addition of bread or sandwiches. They are also wonderfully convenient to feed a large number of people.

During a recent family visit I ran out of white beans while attempting to make a white bean and ham soup that I knew they liked. I ended up varying the recipe a bit and the results received praise all around!

three bean soup and ham

Autumn Three Bean Soup

2 cans white beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

3 cups water

3 cups broth of your choice

1 pound of diced ham

3 large carrots, sliced

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1-2 tablespoons herbs de Provence (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot. Softly boil on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, until carrots are of desired tenderness. Notice that the broth is diluted in this recipe due to the saltiness of the ham. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian; to do so, use vegetarian broth (full strength, undiluted) and add some extra vegetables such as potatoes and/or celery to add texture.

Serve with a crusty bread, or as we had it, with garden fresh sliced tomatoes and crackers.

It’s hard to beat the simplicity of a soup like this. Something you can just toss together, and then sit and enjoy the company of family and friends as the scents of salt and rosemary fill the air. This concoction is hearty enough to provide a sustaining meal on its own, but pairs well with a fresh produce accompaniment.

What foods do you crave in the fall?

Enjoy! And stay cozy!

Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fall is approaching, if ever so slowly where I am. The chill that’s beginning to creep in makes me long for soft, fuzzy blankets, good books read by a fire, and belly filling, soul-warming soups. Now is the time I bring out my giant, battered, decade-old soup pot and begin concocting.

Soups are wonderful for so many reasons, not the least of which are their ease and simplicity. They can come in so many varieties and forms, so as to suit any taste. They are generally economical to make, and can also be scaled to feed any number of guests. Paired with a warm loaf of bread, crackers, or a squat, buttery biscuit, they can become a hearty and robust meal, or light fare, when enjoyed solo.

I have recently become quite enamored with lentils. Firstly, they are extremely nutritious, with one cup of cooked lentils boasting 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They also cook up extremely quickly as compared to other dry legumes; they are quite economical as well. Additionally, they are extremely versatile and pair rather well with various cuisines and flavors.

lentil and spinach soup

Lentil and Spinach Soup

1 cup of dry lentils

1 can of diced, stewed tomatoes

6 cups of broth of your choice

pinches of oregano and ginger, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 dense handfuls of fresh, cleaned spinach leaves

In a soup pot, combine broth, diced tomatoes, dry lentils and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes on medium-high heat, adding olive oil at about the 10 minute mark. After 20 minutes, or when the lentils are soft, add the fresh spinach and simmer the soup for an additional 10  minutes. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian with a vegetarian broth.

Serve with crusty bread or flavorful crackers. This recipe is simple to prepare and can be the perfect accompaniment to a chilly autumn evening.

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

We love Mexican food in my house! At any given moment, we are guilty of having various types of salsas in the refrigerator, beans in the cupboard, and a diverse assortment of tortillas lurking in the breadbox (whole wheat, flour, spinach, etcetera), ready for any Mexican-inspired craving. We prefer authentic, of course, but when we don’t have the time or inclination to go out, we attempt something simple and fast at home. This particular recipe was actually pioneered by my husband and son on a busy night years ago (I just added more cheese).

vegetarian enchilada

cheater vegetarian enchilada

This recipe is about as simple as it gets. It might appear time-consuming at first glance, but honestly the preparation only takes about ten minutes at the very most. Most of the production is already completed by using a premade enchilada sauce. (Note: not all enchilada sauces are created equal, and because this recipe depends heavily on the sauce for its flavor, try to choose the best one available to you.)

This recipe is versatile in that it can be easily doubled or tripled if you have a large crowd to feed; just make sure you have a large enough pan! It can also be a quite economical meal if you purchase generic items or some items in bulk.

enchiladas in pan

vegetarian enchiladas in the pan

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

6-10 tortillas (depending on the size of your pan)

1 can of vegetarian refried beans

2 cups of shredded cheese (we prefer sharp cheddar)

1 can of premade enchilada sauce

Start by lightly greasing a 9×13 baking pan (I usually use a Pyrex-type glass dish), or larger depending upon the number of enchiladas you want to assemble. Place a tortilla on a clean, flat surface and spread a spoonful of refried beans (roughly 1/4 cup per enchilada) along the middle. Top the beans with a sprinkle of cheese (retaining some for the topping), roll up somewhat tightly, and place in baking dish. Repeat for desired number of tortillas and nestle each enchilada next to one another in the pan. Open and pour your favorite enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (until cheese is melted and any exposed tortilla is slightly crispy).

enchiladas 2

cheater vegetarian enchilada

If you wanted to get a little fancy, it might be nice to include some grilled or oven-roasted vegetables in them. Of course, these could be made with meat if desired; however, meat should be completely cooked prior to assembling the enchiladas.

Serve with preferred toppings and sides; we like sour cream, some Spanish-style rice, and some of our various salsas. Enjoy!

What do you like to make on a busy weeknight?

Stay Cozy!

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

I spent my early childhood in an area that is notoriously green. It is the kind of place where you can drop a seed in a pile of dirt, walk away for several months and find a huge, green, vegetable-bearing plant in its place. I have such fond memories of my childhood, most of which are associated with either the green backdrop of the area, or the many foods which it produced.

At least four generations of my family have fried zucchini in the following fashion. It is not complicated or unique, but it is one of my favorite dishes, ever. Though I make it myself today, no one has ever made it better than my precious mother. I remember being very young, at her side, watching her cook, and waiting impatiently for the little circles of fried goodness to be done. My father and I would devour them almost as soon as they popped off the pan, lured by their savory taste and smooth, yet crispy texture. Even today, the smell and taste of this recipe take me back to days of yore.

fried zucchini squash

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

2-3 medium to large zucchini

2 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

salt and pepper

1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil

First, slice the zucchini to desired thickness. Remember that thicker slices will retain more moisture and therefore be “juicier” while thin slices will crisp up better. Keep the beaten egg and flour in separate bowls. I like to season this recipe twice (once in the flour and once in the pan), so I add some salt and pepper to the dry flour and mix. Submerge zucchini slices in the beaten egg and allow to soak for a moment, then move each slice to the flour and coat thoroughly. In a large frying pan on medium heat, add some olive and fry both sides of zucchini slices to desired doneness. Season again with salt and pepper during frying as you see fit. Between batches you may have to add additional olive oil.

This dish is best served immediately! These little circles of delightfulness can become cold and mushy given too much time on the plate. I usually set them out as they are being cooked so as not to let too much time pass. I sometimes serve them as part of a meal, though many times they become the meal themselves, and the act of cooking transforms into a social event with people commuting between conversation, watching the process, and waiting for each batch to finish.

fried zucchini squash plated

Yum!

I will admit that although this is a very simple recipe, it can also be a very time-consuming one. Therefore, rather than doing it for a proper dinner, I usually make it a late afternoon “event” that generally replaces dinner. Crudités and cocktails (or mocktails, for the little ones) generally round out the fare nicely.

Do you like zucchini? What are your favorite late summer recipes?

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Cozy and Sage Herbal Lime Rickey

Since we’re still experiencing some pretty warm temperatures where I am, I thought I would offer up one more refreshing (and refreshingly easy) beverage recipe for these late summer afternoons.

Growing up in the west I have imbibed in many versions of the “Lime Rickey” (non-alcoholic, of course). Some were definitely better than others, but because of the inclusion of lime I think, they have all been invigorating in the hot summer months. I understand that the Lime Rickey has had a long and illustrious history as both a soda fountain favorite as well as an “adult” beverage. Here I’ve tried to put my own spin on it and create something that is both satisfying and sophisticated enough for the adults, and fun for the kids as well.

lime rickey 2

Cozy and Sage Herbal Lime Rickey

3 to 4 leaves of sage (or your favorite herb)

2-3 tablespoons of frozen white grape juice concentrate

Juice of 1/4 lime (and a slice for garnish, if desired)

Seltzer water (may use ginger ale, though it may mask some of the herbal flavor)

Ice

Muddle the leaves of herb along the white grape juice concentrate in the bottom of your favorite glass. Add lime juice and seltzer and stir gently. Finally, add in ice and garnish as desired. To make this a “tipsy” Herbal Lime Rickey, add 1 ounce of gin before adding seltzer (adults only please). If the bits of leaves in a muddled beverage are bothersome to you, consider straining the mixture or using a straw.

lime rickey 1

And there you have it, another cooling potation that’s not too sweet or cloying to keep those late summer afternoons from being overly balmy (even when they are).

Stay cozy (and cool), cheers!