Friday, May 22, 2015

Rhubarb - The Pie Plant

One of the Spring rituals I recall growing up was chopping the celerylike stalks of rhubarb from the garden.  Rhubarb is typically quite tart and usually requires a form of sweetener.  The natural sweetness of strawberries allows for less sugar to be added so many recipes pair these two together. Rhubarb is most remembered for its delicious pies such as Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  However, this veggie stalk has lots of options other than pies.  Muffins, sauces, jellies, syrups, drinks, strudel are just a few ways to prepare this healthy veggie.

This recipe for rose colored sauce can be eaten "as is", drizzled over ice cream or angel food cake or try it over Greek yogurt or oatmeal for a morning treat.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
1 pint strawberries, stems removed and halved
1 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1-2" pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

In medium saucepan, bring the rhubarb, sugar and orange juice to a boil.  Reduce the heat, add the strawberries, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the rhubarb and berries break down.  Remove from the heat and cool completely before storing in the refrigerator or freezing for later enjoyment.

Uncooked stalks freeze well.  Simply chop them into 1-2" long pieces and freeze on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer to a zip lock bag or container.  This allows for tasty treats to be available all year!

I took a little trip down memory lane as I chopped some rhubarb and made these muffins. Maybe next time you are at Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast, rhubarb sauce or muffins will be on the breakfast menu.  Enjoy!

Rhubarb Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP melted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with paper cups.  In bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In separate bowl, beat the brown sugar, oil,egg, vanilla, and buttermilk until smooth.  Pour in the dry ingredients and mix by hand just until blended.  Stir in the rhubarb and walnuts.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling almost to the top.  In small bowl, stir together the melted butter, white sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle about 1 tsp of this mixture on top of each muffin.  Bake in oven about 25 minutes.  Cool in pans at least 10 minutes before removing.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

World's Largest Chicken BBQ - May 16, 2015

Who doesn't love a great meal of Chicken Barbecue and at the same time support a worthwhile organization?

Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 10-6 marks the 62nd annual barbecue. This huge event is held at Long's Park in Lancaster, PA and benefits Sertoma Club of Lancaster. Over 25,000 complete chicken dinners will be prepared!  You can either go to the Park and relax around the beauty of the lake and grounds or use the drive through lanes to pick up your dinner for enjoyment at home.  The full chicken dinner meal includes half chicken, Herr's potato chips, banana, roll, Turkey Hill beverage, M & M candy, and Turkey Hill ice cream - all for only $8 in advance or $10 on day of event.

This event started in 1953 and has grown to such a great size that Guiness Book of World Records has listed it as the largest one day chicken barbecue.

Stop at Long's Park for your barbecue, support the local Sertoma Club and enjoy the dinner in the gazebo at Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast during your stay in Lancaster County!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Making Your Own Patio Herb Garden

Fresh produce whether vegetables, fruits or herbs represents the seasons of Spring and Summer.  Growing up surrounded by the Lancaster County farmland, the start of Spring meant spending the weekends walking barefoot in the garden preparing the soil for flowers and planting seeds to grow all types of vegetables and herbs.  I gained this passion for gardening through my mother and grandmother who have taught me about different types of flowers and sharing gardening tips. A fond memory is driving around Lancaster County visiting numerous nurseries to buy annuals, perennials and packets of seeds before heading out into the garden to plant. You do not have to live by the farmland to have your own garden as you can grow beautiful herbs and vegetables in containers on back porch or even apartment balcony.

One main ingredient that is always utilized in recipes are herbs such as basil, parsley, chives, dill, and cilantro.  Typically, you will buy the necessary herbs for your recipes at local grocery stores; however, making your own herb garden located in your garden or in a pot located on your back porch is an easy afternoon project and a way to save money on herbs.  Take an afternoon drive to visit a local nursery and experience the greenhouses filled with vibrant colored flowers.  Wander back into the vegetable and herb section of the nursery and pick out a few of your favorites that you utilize often when cooking.  If you do not have a garden, you can pick up a longer planter at a local hardware store or nursery, use old wine boxes or any other container that you wish to grow your herbs in.

Even though you can buy plants and herbs at Lowe's and Home Depot, the experience of driving into a locally owned nursery and exploring the vast variety of flowers, plants and gardening ideas is a great way to spend an afternoon. I visited a local nursery and walked through the stone paths exploring every nook and cranny filled with beautiful flowers.  A small greenhouse located in the back of the property was filled with beautiful herbs and plants such as peppers, tomato plants, cilantro, parsley, mint, chives, green onions, and basil. Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs so I immediately picked up the perfect plant and could instantly smell the strong aroma of this herb.  After picking up two other containers of basil and parsley, I wandered into a cute shed that contained rustic containers for plants and herbs.  A beautiful wire basket with burlap and decorate herb sign attached to the front caught my eye which will serve as the perfect home for my three herbs this growing season.

After picking up a bag of potting soil, I started to fill the bottom of the container with soil.  After arranging the herbs in the container and ensuring each plant has adequate space to grow, use your hands to place the damp soil around each plant until each herb is surrounded.  To achieve a successful herb garden, the herbs will need to receive some sunlight throughout the day and receive water.  The best time to water your herbs is either in the early morning or evening after the hottest part of the day has past.  You want to ensure that the soil in the container is slightly damp at all times. 

Instead of picking up herbs at the grocery store for a recipe, you can walk outside to your herb garden and pick the ones that you need for that evening’s dinner. Caprese salad is a favorite recipe that is easy to make and a great use of basil.

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction
½ cup fresh basil leaves

1 package fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into slices
Tomatoes cut into slices
¼ cup honey
1 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Stir balsamic vinegar and honey together in saucepan over high heat.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for approximately 10 minutes, set aside to cool.
Arrange the tomato and mozzarella cheese slices on plate with basil leaves, season with salt and pepper as needed. Drizzle the salad with balsamic reduction before serving.

During your stay at Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast, you will get the opportunity to explore the beautiful gardens on the property.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Herb and Garden Faire - May 8 & 9, 2015

What would Spring be like without shopping for new plants for your garden?  I plan to stop at the Herb & Garden Faire held at our local Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum.  This event began 28 years ago and now is one of the area's most popular horticultural events. 

Drive about 15 minutes from our Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast to the Garden Faire into the abundant varieties of perennials, annuals, vegetable and heirloom plants that await you!  Beyond all the various plants being sold, there will be garden art, herbal products and jewelry that the 80 vendors will have for purchase.  There are informative speakers that will share gardening advice throughout the day. Take time to grab some healthy lunch options as you tour the grounds.

Plan to make this one of your stops during your Mother's Day weekend.  When planning your Lancaster visit, we have excellent lodging options.  The Faire will be held Friday and Saturday, May 8 & 9 from 9-5 each day.  There is a $10/person admission fee.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring's Versatile Vegetable - Asparagus

Arrival of Spring is marked by the distinct seasonal flavor of this tender spear. Let this veggie adorn your menu options!  Because of its versatility, you can serve them sauteed with just salt and pepper, pureed in creamy soups, baked into frittatas, or grilled and drizzled with vinaigrette.  The key for cooking asparagus is simple:  don't overcook it.  

Asparagus can take up to 3-4 years to grow to an edible length and most grown in the United States is green and purple. Not only are these spring spears delicious, they provide great nutritional value. Only 20 calories in a serving of approximately five spears, these are also excellent sources of Vitamin A, B6 and C.  The Greeks believed asparagus was a herbal medicine.

Don't miss out on trying these delicious recipes.  You will savor the flavor with each bite.

Asparagus and Tater Toss
2 bacon strips, chopped
2 TBsp butter
4 fingerling potatoes, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cloves minced garlic
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1 TBsp fresh lemon juice

In a saute pan, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove and set aside.  Add the butter to the remaining bacon fat and add the potato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute until crisp on one side, and then toss and cook on the other side until crispy.  Add the garlic and asparagus.  Continuously toss until the asparagus are bright green and tender, but still crunchy, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the lemon juice over top.  Toss in the reserved bacon and serve warm.

Cream Cheese and Parmesan Asparagus
1 puff pastry sheet
10 pieces asparagus, ends trimmed
5 oz cream cheese
1 egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll the thawed puff pastry sheet out on lightly floured surface and layer generously with cream cheese.  Cut pastry into 10 strips.  Wrap one strip around one spear of asparagus.  Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
* Personal note:  I added crumbled bacon on top of cream cheese before rolling the asparagus.

If you stay at Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast, you may enjoy this vegetable at the breakfast table!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Lancaster PA Bed and Breakfast Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!  I hope to keep you informed with happenings here at the bed and breakfast, as well as upcoming local events.  I may also intersperse my blogs with articles about my passions – recipes and gardening ideas and tips.

We are in the busy season of welcoming guests to our bed and breakfast – guests coming in from near and far to experience the quaintness and peace of Lancaster County.  Tonight guests are checking in from Brooklyn NY, Italy, and Wrightsville, PA. 

Whether folks come from near or far, we want them to enjoy the bounties and pleasures that abound here in the area.  This is the growing season and if you travel on the back roads you will happen upon a roadside stand.  Stop to sample and take home some of the finest produce you’ll find.  Presently, corn is in abundance and the peaches are producing their luscious fruits.  Tomatoes and cantaloupe are also beginning to show up on the stands.  Some stands also offer a variety of baked goods.

Other reasons for coming to the area may be the theaters, the outlets or the Strasburg Railroad.  Whatever your reason for coming – to take in the peaceful countryside, to be immersed in the hectic activities, to see the rural or urban areas – we do extend to you a friendly welcome here at Flowers & Thyme Bed and Breakfast.  If you would like to reserve a room, visit us at
Blue skies on lush countryside pastoral meadow.
View of farm meadow from porch of our bed and breakfast

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Amish Experience at Plain and Fancy Farm

When visiting Pennsylvania Dutch Country, you will likely have many questions about the Amish. A great way to have those questions answered is to visit the Amish Experience at Plain and Fancy Farm. The farm offers many glimpses into the life of an old order family, from tours to a multi-media presentation on the life and choices of a young man, called Jacob's Choice.

The Farm offers a few different tours, which are as varied as a 45 minute Amish House Tour to a two and a half hour Witness Tour, which takes you to the farm where the movie Witness was filmed, as well as rides through beautiful farmland and historic covered bridges.

The Plain & Fancy Farm Dining Room (featured on Man vs. Food) offers both family style and ala carte dining options to fill you up with delicious Amish recipes such as broasted chicken and chow-chow. Don't forget to leave room for the fabulous home-made deserts! A little farther down the road, make reservations to  Miller's Smorgasbord for a buffet option. Big eaters will not leave hungry, with carving stations, soups, sides, and desserts available. Lighter appetites can opt for the soup, salad and bread buffet. Make sure to check their website for coupons to save a few dollars on your meal.

The Amish Experience is open March through October, seven days a week 10 am to 5 pm, November  7 days through Nov. 25, December, Saturday and Sunday only through December 24 and daily December 26-31, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's Day, and January through mid-March.