Moroccan Mint Tea

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I am from a little town right outside of Portland,OR.  My husband and I had a year or so stint of living there right before we headed east to Iowa.  During that year I worked at a local, organic vegetarian Moroccan restaurant.  Coincidentally the name of the restaurant was Mint Tea.  Needless to say it was their specialty and I learned to make it the traditional way.  I’ve never been to Morocco, but from what I was told this is one of the most commonly imbibed in beverages.  Try it and you will find out why!

Moroccan Mint Tea

1tsp. Gunpowder green tea (optional if you’d like a caffeine free version)
1 handful fresh mint leaves (dried is okay….fresh is far superior!)
1 heaping tsp. sugar (I used agave instead )

Put the sugar/sweetener in the bottom of the teapot.  Add in tea and mint leaves.  Allow tea to steep about 3 minutes.  Remove the tea, leaving the mint leaves to further infuse.

It is traditional to add a splash of Rosewater or Orange Blossom water to the tea.  You can find these things at most grocery stores, ethnic food stores and health food stores.  If you don’t have any, add in some dried/fresh rose petals or drink as is!

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I love drinking this tea on a hot afternoon, while maybe reading a good book….preferably one that takes place near Morocco, so that I can further immerse myself in the spicy and bustling Marrakesh of my imagination :-)

Salad Niçoise

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The summers in Iowa are humid, hot, unpredictable…and did I say humid?  Yesterday I believe the heat index was at 105 degrees.  This means that even though it was “only” 93 degrees, the humidity made it feel 12 degrees hotter.  Yikes!

So what is a hungry Midwesterner to do about dinner?  Salad Niçoise.  BINGO.

It is super filling and full of nourishment, yet still light in the body.  Steamed potatoes and green beans sit next to cucumbers, olives and cherry tomatoes (I didn’t have any, but you should put some on yours!).  The whole salad is topped with a delicious, tangy, Dijon vinaigrette…the true French dressing.

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On to the recipe.

Salad Niçoise 

1 head lettuce, red or green
1 bunch spinach
about 4 small potatoes, cut into quarters and steamed
handful of green beans, steamed (canned will work fine, too)
1/2 cup niçoise olives (or just use black like I did!)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (again, I didn’t have any :-( So that is why they are not pictured above)
1 medium cucumber, sliced

2 tsp. French Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 tbsp. vinegar (both apple cider and white wine vinegars are excellent here)
6 tbsp. Olive oil

Fill a large salad bowl with lettuce and spinach.  Top with veggies…it doesn’t have to be in separate sections like I did, just throw ‘em on willy nilly if you fancy.  Now to make the dressing.  Whisk together the mustard, garlic, spices and vinegar until well combined.  Slowly drizzle in the oil while stirring.  It will take about a minute of stirring for it to emulsify.  Allow to sit about 10 minutes before tossing on salad.  This allows the flavors to fully release.  Once done, just pour on top of salad and toss.  Munch. Enjoy. Slop up leftover dressing with some yummy, crusty bread.

P.S. This salad makes a wonderful picnic sandwich!  Just scoop out a little of the inside from a loaf of french bread, and stuff the salad into the hole.

:-)

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Classic Fruit Pizza

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Does this dish scream summer potluck to anyone else?  I love it, not only because I am a chocolate chip cookie fiend, but also because it brings me straight back to being a kid…Running through sprinklers, twirling sparklers through the air, and chowing on fruit pizza.

Also, a side note, shouldn’t this dish more honestly be called cookie pizza? I’ve always found the more healthful title a bit misleading… ;-)

Fruit “Cookie” Pizza

1 batch already made chocolate chip cookie dough (while baking, place individual cookie circles extremely close together and pat down to flatten.  You do not have to do it on a circular pan, your pizza will just be square!)
1 8oz. tub vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Fruit of your choice (I love bananas, berries, and kiwi!)

Combine the cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with a fork until fluffy.  Top the chilled cookie dough with the cream cheese mixture, and place fruit on top.  It looks pretty to try and make some sort of pattern, but it really doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in the end!

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DIY Summer Spray

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I’m calling this “Summer” spray instead of bug spray because it will not only be great at warding away all sorts of bugs, but also because it would be so soothing to spray onto a minor sunburn or skin irritation!  Bring it on, summer!

Lemon Eucalyptus Summer Spray 

Witch Hazel extract
lemon water
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops citronella essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to combine.  Spray liberally on body!!

Rose Geranium Lavender Summer Spray 

Witch Hazel extract
rose water
10 drops rose geranium essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops citronella essential oil

Same as above.  Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to combine.  Spray liberally on body!!