How to Roast Peppers

It’s pepper season! Do you have a garden with lots of peppers and aren’t sure what to do with them? Try roasting them. You know, like those ones you buy in the jar near the olives? Except when you do it yourself, they taste so much better! Never thought of doing it? You think it’s too difficult? Not at all, my friends! It’s so simple and it can be used to roast any pepper {red, chiles, pablanos, etc}. 

Give your peppers a good cleaning.

Cut them in half and remove the pulp and seeds.
 you are using hot peppers, watch out! Those insides can get on your fingers and then in your eyes. Yikes!

Move the oven rack to the highest position and turn the broiler on high.

 Place the peppers {cut side down} on a baking sheet and brush with oil. I like to use extra virgin olive oil.

Place the peppers under the broiler, close the door and keep a close watch. “Why?” you ask. 

Because after just a few minutes, the skin will start to bubble and turn black. Let them roast about 10 minutes.

Immediately remove the peppers from the baking sheet and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
Let them sit for about fifteen minutes. The steam trapped in the bag will help loosen the skin on the peppers.

After about fifteen minutes, take the peppers out of the bag and the skins should be able to be pulled right off using tongs. 

Discard the skins and use the peppers for whatever you like. I used these for a chicken poblano chili recipe.

If you have red and yellow peppers in your garden, roast one of each, let them cool and chop them. Layer mixed greens, roasted peppers, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese in a large bowl. Toss with Asian dressing {I like Kraft’s Asian Toasted Sesame}. I know this sounds kinda funky, but it is one of my favorite salads! 

Martha Inspired Terracotta Herb Pots

Monday I shared with you the beginning of my summer veggie garden in this post. Although I have several herbs planted in the garden, I also like to have some potted herbs on my deck. I plant the herbs with a fast growth rate {basil, parsley, oregano and mint} in the garden because they require more space. The smaller plants I put in pots. Not only does this give me more space in the garden for other veggies, but the herbs in the pots look pretty displayed on my outdoor kitchen counter.

I love good old terracotta pots, but decided they could be taken up a notch and made a little more attractive. Immediately chalkboard paint came to mind. HUGE trend right now in decorating. So I decided to use chalkboard paint on the pots which would then allow me to label them. 

I will admit that I did a Google search and had a little inspiration from these:

And this is how I decided to do mine. 
Supplies: Chalkboard paint, Frogtape, terracotta pots, herbs/veggies {and dirt}.
Tape around the top {or any area} where you do not want any paint.
Spray two good coats of chalkboard paint on each of the pots.
After the paint is fully dry, remove the tape.
I love Miracle Gro’s Organic Choice Potting Mix for my herb pots. Be sure when you are planting in pots you buy a potting mix variety. I also use the Organic Choice garden variety for my vegetable garden. 
Plant the herbs deep in the pots and cover with soil.

After planting the herbs/vegetables, label the pots accordingly. I did not use chalk since my pots were staying outdoors because it would wash off in the rain. They now make chalkboard ink which you can find at Michaels. Cool! They look like this:

Okay, I cheated, I just used a regular old white paint marker because that is what I had on hand. I didn’t see a difference except that it can not be erased. Oh well, that means the rain can’t wash it away!

And here are my herb pots! I do still need to add the trays underneath. And I might tie a raffia ribbon around each, but I’m not sure how it will hold up outdoors.

Time for Growing Veggies!

My boys and I spent the entire afternoon outside today. It was gorgeous! However, I know I will pay for it tomorrow {allergies}. After Little Man #2 went down for a nap, Little Man #1 and I worked on getting the veggie garden ready. 

Prepping the spot.

Here is the little corner of our yard that we call our garden. It gets tons of sun and is the perfect spot for growing veggies. Last weekend we cleared the area of last year’s leftovers and the weeds that had grown during the winter. 

Lots of them! Then we mixed our compost {PEE-EEW} with organic vegetable soil in the wheelbarrow and dumped it in the garden We combined it with the existing soil using a metal rake. Let me tell you that the compost was the smelliest stink I’ve ever smelled in my life. And it lasted for DAYS! Awful!
Ok, so the garden is ready to go. 
Let’s plant some veggies!

So I put my kid to work. NO, just kidding! He wanted to use the big shovel, so I let him try. He put it down quickly and returned to his little plastic one. And yes, he is wearing snow boots. When I told him to grab his shoes from the closet, he came out with these. Bless his heart. 70* and wearing snow boots.
 Here is what we planted. . .
Onions, red and white. I’ve never grown onions before, so we’ll see. Apparently, depending on how far apart you plant them, they can be grown as large onions or green “table” onions.  We planted the white to grow as green onions. We also planted asparagus {not much to photo, it was just an ugly root}.

Green bell peppers. These didn’t do so well for me last year. I only got 2 peppers, I think. Hoping for more this year. 

Sweet red pepper. A couple of the leaves got stepped on and broken off so it looks a little pitiful. Again, not very successful last summer, so I will give my peppers extra tender loving care this year. LM #1 eats these like apples. Swear! It’s his favorite “treat” when we go to the farmers’ market.

LOVE heirloom tomatoes. This is Cherokee Purple. It was the only one I could find when I bought my veggies the other day. I’ll be on the hunt for more. Especially the yellow/orange variety.
Good ole Roma tomatoes. I still need to get some grape or cherry tomatoes and a big red variety. I’m on the lookout for one that I like. Last year I grew little yellow pear tomatoes {which I LOVED}. I swear to you, it provided something like 10 little tomatoes a day! At first I was excited and just popped them in my mouth like candy. But after a couple weeks, I got so tired of them. If I have room, I’ll plant them again.

And now for herbs. 

Flat-leaf parsley.
Sweet basil, of course. LOVE this stuff.

And these guys {lemon balm, oregano, and chives} are perennials and come back every year. I also have mint which I noticed just starting to peak through the dirt today.

And last, but not least, we planted strawberries! Another newcomer to our garden this year. We shall see. Pretty sure the bugs will eat these up.

Now we just water and wait {and pray we won’t have one of those spring freezes that always come right as the Azaleas start to bloom}.

Signs of Spring are Popping Up

I was out in the yard playing with my boys when what to my wondrous eyes should appear? Several signs that spring was finally near! 

I first noticed the Daffodils which were ready to bloom.
I love Daffodils! Just when we think winter will never end, these beauties show their yellow flowers, giving us the first signs of life and reminding us that spring is indeed in our near future.

As I wandered around the back yard I couldn’t miss the mounds of these. Spring Beauties (Scilla Siberica) have beautiful small blue flowers and multiply like crazy so they can be separated and planted elsewhere each year (which is why they are all over my yard, front and back).

I continued my search and noticed these in my front yard. The blooms are small, white, bell-shaped flowers. They are pretty when they are in bloom, but they don’t last long and their leaves fall flat. Not sure if they are Snowdrops (Galanthus) or Lily of the Valley. 

Another of my favorites is my pretty, crooked, drooping little tree in the front yard. It took me forever to figure out what this little lady was. My conclusion: it’s a Weeping Cherry (I think). Whatever it is, it’s pink blossoms are beautiful and bring happiness and life back to my yard after the blah of winter. Any day now it will be in full bloom.
And finally, my hydrangeas are peeking through! Periwinkle and pink, they border the house and back deck. 
Others in my yard that will be showing soon: Azaleas, Irises (in many different colors), my pink Almond Bush and my Snowball bush.  
Spring is near. Praise the Lord! I am over winter!