5 Vegetables You Can Regrow in Your Garden

Our garden planning is coming along nicely, but, with the spring snowfall, we won’t be able to start planting for another month or so. But that time gives us an opportunity to explore all of our planting options. We’re trying to stick to a budget, so what we’re looking at this week are vegetables we can grow from our kitchen scraps — and there are a lot! Here are 5 vegetables you can regrow in your garden.garlic

Garlic You need it for everything! In your salads, pizza, pasta, sauce — just about every type of culinary challenge requires garlic. Planting a clove or two is a sensible money-saving project. Garlic can be planted in the fall or spring, but if you’re planting in the spring, put it in the ground as soon as the soil is warm and soft enough to be worked. They’re easy to plant — one clove produces a bulb and each clove should be planted about 2” down with plenty of organic matter mixed in with the soil. The only thing you need to be really careful of is drainage — too much water will cause rot.

onionsOnions Just like garlic, you can never have too many onions — and they taste so much sweeter when they’re free! They’re pretty easy to grow — when you’ve cut up an onion, save the root part that you usually toss. It should be a little bit dry (calloused) before you plant it. When it’s ready, bury it in a sunny spot in your garden under an inch or two of soil and let it sprout.

potatoesPotatoes Potatoes are a staple in just about any culture. It’s a hardy vegetable that is eaten year-round, so you’ll be doing your meals and your wallet a favor by planting a few in your garden. When you see a potato sprouting eyes, it’s ready to grow. Cut the potato up and let it dry out for a day or two (like onions) before you put it in the ground. Holes should be about 6” deep and the pieces of potatoes should be planted with the eyes (sprouts) facing up. They love lots of sun and require a good amount of water to produce healthy spuds.

romaineRomaine When we eat in the summer, we eat salad alongside our grilled meats — and growing the lettuce in the backyard is a great way to cut costs at the grocery store! Romaine is not only easy to re-grow, but it’s also the most nutritious type of lettuce. Saving your stumps is a win-win-win!  To get it going, let the stump soak in about a half-inch of water that you should change frequently (every 1 to 2 days). Put it in a sunny spot and in just a few days you’ll start seeing growth. You can keep growing it just like this, but it’s better grown in soil and you can transplant it in your garden after a week.

vertical-planterBasil Right now is the perfect time to start basil cuttings indoors to transplant in your garden. When you have your package of basil, make sure there are leaf nodes (they look like branches will sprout from them). With kitchen shears, cut just below the node and remove any leaves from the bottom two inches. Stick this in a clear glass of water and put it in a sunny window. Make sure to change the water every other day and it should be ready to plant in soil in about four weeks.

At LTD, we’re all about saving you money. From ideas for growing a great garden on a budget to brightening your home with products at discount prices, shop LTD for all your home improvement essentials.

5 Best Herbs to Grow in Your Garden

ChivesMother Nature has been teasing us with the snowy spring weather, but this last storm is not going to break our stride. We’re still planning our gardens as if we didn’t just get a fresh blanket of snow! Right now we’re focusing on adding a little flavor to our gardens with herbs. Herb gardens make so much sense — herbs can get pretty expensive when you buy them fresh — so we’ve put together a list of the best herbs to grow in your garden.

Chives Chives are versatile for cooking — freshly minced, they add bright green to an omelet, give cream cheese a delightful zip or boosts a soup’s freshness. Chives are also rich in dietary fiber, packed with vitamins and an excellent source of folate. While they do so much for our food and bodies, they’re also easy on the eyes. When they’re in bloom, their wisps frame a delicate purple flower that some gardeners use as edging for herb gardens. To make sure they’re as happy as they make us, keep them in full sun. They’re not picky about the dirt they grow in —  they grow well even in poor soil.vertical-planter

Basil Basil is great on pizza, makes pesto perfect and produces a stand out pasta salad. There’s no herb that you’ll use more than basil! Basil is a great source of protein and vitamin E on top of being tasty. Basil plants are bright green and don’t stop growing if they have rich, moist soil and a good six hours of sunshine every day. They’ll be good to plant outside two weeks after the last frost.

rosemaryRosemary There’s no shortage of health benefits from rosemary — it’s good for digestion, makes our hair and skin nice as well as boosts our immune system. In the kitchen, it’s fantastic roasted with chicken, infused with oil for salad dressing or in drinks, it adds a unique layer of flavor to cocktails. In the garden, rosemary brings a garden bed a unique aesthetic. It has leaves that are like soft needles with a piney fragrance. That fragrance is very relaxing — studies have shown that it can actually reduce hormones that make us feel on edge and anxious. If you put it on a garden path for people to brush against, it releases its scent to make your garden a sensory oasis. To care for rosemary, give it full sun with well-drained but moist soil and prune it regularly.dill

Dill Dill can turn just about anything into a summer treat — mixed with Greek yogurt, it makes a fabulous sauce for grilled chicken, it stamps out bland in egg or potato salad and it’s the perfect addition to savory baked goods like scones. Dill is also packed with anti-oxidants, vitamin C and folic acid, so you can’t go wrong by sprinkling it on your meal! In the garden, it’s feathery fronds peak out behind adorable yellow blossoms to add a little brightness to your herbs — it’s also a butterfly magnet! To care for dill, give it full sun, plant it in deep soil water it moderately.thyme

Thyme Thyme is a good source of folate, calcium and dietary fiber. It’s also known to lower blood pressure as well as boost your mood. In the kitchen, it’s popular for our holiday dishes — Thanksgiving probably wouldn’t be the same without it! It brings out the flavor in mushrooms, roasted vegetables and poultry. In the garden, thyme is a little different than the other herbs mentioned in that it makes fabulous ground cover. It looks great surrounding garden paths or as a flowery, fragrant blanket peppered with tiny blossoms on a garden bed to attract bees. To care for time, give it full sun and soil that drains well.

Clever Easter Treats

We have less than two weeks to plan for Easter — the first big holiday of spring! We know we’ll be eating ham, potatoes and plenty of hard boiled eggs (which we will certainly make into deviled eggs!), but we’re looking for treats for the kids that we can make with them and share on Easter morning while they hunt for their baskets. But Easter treats have to be cute so we’re sharing some of our favorite, clever Easter treats.Bunny-bait

Bunny Bait Simply Kierste put together Bunny Bait — it’s a simple mix reminiscent of Chex Mix only made for bunnies and kids. It’s super easy and fun to hand out — and don’t worry, it’s not packed with sugar! Pretzels and peanuts balance out the candy and marshmallows.

birds-nestBirds’ Nests The Curvy Carrot has another no-bake treat that is about the cutest Easter confection we’ve found — birds’ nests! Melt some chocolate to toss with pretzels and these little guys practically form nests themselves! It’s a memorable treat to please adults and children alike.

pretzel-chicksEaster Pretzel Chick Treats Pretzels seem to be the snack prop of choice when it comes to Easter treats! Cincy Shopper turned her pretzels into little chicks! Putting these together doesn’t require turning on the oven and they’re a great little craft to keep the kids busy on a Saturday afternoon.

Nutter-Butter-ChicksNutter Butter Chicks Sweet Simple Stuff somehow made Nutter Butters even tastier! Making these chicks is a little bit more involved, but these don’t require baking either, so the kids can help make these fun snacks.

baby-bel-bunniesBabybel Bunny Snacks There aren’t too many tasty savory snacks for Easter, but Blessed Beyond Crazy came up with something to take the edge off that sugar high on Easter morning! Babybel bunnies are the perfect break from all the sweets the kids plow through on Easter. They don’t require much prep work and it’s a fun snack for kids to try to assemble themselves.

Whether you’re planning Easter dinner or a Memorial Day barbecue, we love  any and all holidays at LTD! We have ideas, decor and products to make every holiday delightful! Keep checking back for a little inspiration for every season.

 

Last Minute St. Patrick’s Day Treats

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day! If you don’t have everything together, don’t worry — there are shortcuts for everything, even a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Since we like to keep things simple at LTD, easy St. Patrick’s Day treats is what we’re working on today. Here are 5 Last Minute St. Patrick’s Day Treats to try.

Rice-krispy-shamrockShamrock Rice Krispy Treats I Heart Naptime won us over with these Shamrock Rice Krispy Treats! It doesn’t get much easier than melting butter and marshmallows to mix with green food coloring. If you’re doing this last minute, the hardest part about it might be finding a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter.

green-velvet-cupcakesGreen Velvet Cupcakes If you made red velvet cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, making green velvet cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day should be a snap! Christi at Love From the Oven takes you through the cupcakes, step-by-step. The only obstacle you might encounter is deciding if you want to make a cake, cupcakes or mini-cupcakes!

Shamrock-cupcakeShamrock Cupcakes How cute are these shamrock cupcakes? Leigh is behind Easy Cake Decorating – and she certainly makes these cupcakes look easy AND adorable. Apparently, all it takes to make these sweet treats is a bag of marbles!  And, of course, you need a steady hand, but they’ll impress anyone as long as they taste as great as they look.

leprechaun-barkLeprechaun Bark Paint Chips & Frosting really knows how to keep St. Patrick’s Day simple, delicious and clever! All you have to do is melt chocolate — it practically makes itself. The only thing hard about making leprechaun bark is waiting for it to cool before breaking off a piece to eat!

Mint-crinkle-cookiesMint Crinkle Cookies Jen’s Favorite Cookies for March is the mint crinkle — and boy are they easy! They don’t require any decorating to be cute — with just 6 ingredients and 20 minutes, you’ll be ready for St. Patrick’s Day with your new favorite green treats!

We have ideas and products for every holiday at LTD! Check back for Easter and Mother’s Day for more great items and inspiration to plan for your holiday.

Dessert for Any Holiday: Key Lime Pie

Key-Lime-PieSaturday is March 14 — to math nerds, this is known as Pi Day (as in 3.14 — the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter). And, as you may know, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on March 17th. Here at LTD, we wanted to do something to celebrate both holidays (we love holidays here!). What we came up with is also one of our favorite desserts — Key lime pie. Though it’s not pi, it is a perfect circle and it’s not a traditional Irish dessert (surprisingly, there aren’t very many), it’s green-ish. The one thing we can definitely claim is that it’s delicious.

There are many ways to make a key lime pie. Everyone seems to have an idea on how it should be done, so there’s not really a wrong way to make it, but there are a few things it has to include: a graham cracker crust, lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. As the name suggests, it originated in Key West, Florida and it’s the official dessert of the state of Florida. As the legend has it, Florida’s first millionaire, William Curry, had a cook who created the Key lime pie. Her name was Aunt Sally, but some people believe she adapted it from what fishermen made on their boats. This was in the early 20th century when they didn’t have refrigeration on boats so they relied on canned milk (sweetened condensed milk) and the egg yolks didn’t require cooking (the acid in the lime juice cooks the eggs, but most people don’t feel safe doing that now). And, of course, they’re made with Key limes which are no longer plentiful in Florida — the ones we get at the store are usually grown in Mexico (they are a bit more tart than our regular limes and much, much smaller, but regular limes are a reasonable substitute — plus, they’re easier to work with than Key limes and they’re less expensive).The idea that fishermen made it on board a vessel makes perfect sense — but we’re not here to make sense, we’re here to make Key lime pie!

Key Lime Pie

Crust:

  • 12 graham crackers (one regular packet plus three more)
  • 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Filling:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest (optional)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup Key lime juice (regular lime juice is fine — freshly squeezed is best)

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Key-Lime-Pie

To make the crust, crush the graham crackers into a powder. You can do this by pulsing them in a food processor or by putting them in a sealable plastic bag and hammering them with a wooden mallet. Mix the crumbs with the sugar. Add the melted butter and mix it with your hands until you have what looks and feels like wet sand. In a 9” pie plate, press the mixture into the bottom and along the sides. Use a measuring cup to press it tightly and make it dense so it doesn’t crumble. You don’t have to make a lip around the edges — it will fall away when you serve it — but it doesn’t hurt to have it there. Bake for 7 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Key-Lime-Pie

 

Place the egg yolks and lime zest in a bowl fitted to a stand mixer. Using the whip attachment, mix the ingredients on high until the yolks are creamy — 4 or 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the condensed milk and sour cream and continue mixing until everything is well-combined — occasionally scraping down the sides. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the lime juice. When it’s combined, pour the mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and the pie is set — the top should be smooth with no cracks. Let cool completely on a wire rack. After about an hour, refrigerate (it’s best served cold). It’s good by itself, but a dollop of whipped cream doesn’t hurt!

 

Alternatively, you can use this recipe for mini Key lime pies — this can be made into two 4” pies or if you want to go tiny, you can use a mini muffin tin (which is great for parties!)

Whether you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or honoring Pi Day, LTD Commodities has ideas and products to make your holiday special!

 

Key-Lime-Pie

St. Patrick’s Day: Fun Facts About Leprechauns

leprechaunIt’s finally March — the snow hasn’t melted yet but, luckily, we still have St. Patrick’s Day to distract us until the sun starts to shine. It’s a holiday with religious roots but it’s also adopted quirky symbols to help celebrate the day — particularly leprechauns. They’re mythical creatures with peculiar behaviors. Here are 5 fun facts about leprechauns.

Cobblers What you may know about leprechauns is that they’re cobblers (not the kind of cobblers you eat!) — they make shoes by trade. This is why you can track them by the sound of their tiny hammers — they’re always tapping away to put together shoes. What you may not know is that they make shoes because they are unstoppable dancers and they wear out their shoes so quickly making shoes themselves was the obvious solution to being shoeless. They’re also very good musicians — they have a talent for tickling the strings of a celtic harp, blowing a tin whistle or playing a fiddle.

leprechaunCousins Leprechauns are not known to be charming — they’re moody little creatures, but it’s nothing compared to their cousins, the lurichauns. Lurichauns are similar in stature, but instead of making shoes, they make trouble. They’re heavy drinkers and hideout in wine cellars — if a wine cellar owner has a lurichuan in his cellar, he can expect many messes and misfortune.

Granting Wishes According to legend, leprechauns squirrel away they’re boot bucks scattered across the Irish countryside or in little pots at the end of rainbows. It is believed that if a human catches a leprechaun he’ll get the leprechaun’s pot of gold or three wishes in exchange for the leprechaun’s freedom — but leprechauns are tricksters and they almost always outsmart their captors. In fact, leprechauns are where the term “Luck of the Irish “ comes from. Folklore holds the story of an Irishman caught a leprechaun who granted him three wishes. For the first two wished, he asked to be the richest man on a tropical island. When he arrived, the island was deserted and he had to use his remaining wish to get back to Ireland. Seems there’s nothing lucky about the luck of the Irish. 

Lady Leprechauns There are no female leprechauns. There are two possible explanations for this: 1) Leprechauns are part of the fairy kingdom. When a child is born as a girl, it is considered a fairy; boys are leprechauns. 2) According to The History of Fairies by Carolyn White, they are possibly the male offspring of fairies considered to be repulsive.leprechaun

Protected by Law According to IrishCentral.com leprechauns are considered endangered species and is now protected under the European Habitats Directive. Leprechauns are one of the draws to the community tourists who contribute to the economy. Since 2011, the law has shielded the flora, fauna and heritage of the leprechauns from those who might monkey with their habitat.

Whether leprechauns exist or not is important on St. Patrick’s Day, but celebrating the mystical tricksters is part of the fun of March. Set a trap, come up with your three wishes and prepare to be outsmarted!

 

National Corn Chip Day: Our Favorite Corn Chip Recipe to Serve at Your Big Game Party

Chicken-Casserole January 29 is National Corn Chip Day! We’re also just days away from the NFL’s biggest game when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. So, while we’re celebrating the corn chip, we thought we’d also give you some ideas for your Big Game Party!

We love the crunch and salty goodness of a corn chip — it’s an amazing way to add a little texture to a casserole for a tasty game day snack. Here’s our favorite corn chip recipe to serve at your Big Game party:

Chicken-CasseroleCheesy, Crunchy Chicken Casserole

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2-10.5 oz cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1-10.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 2 chicken breasts cooked and cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 1-12oz bag of corn chips
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (you can be generous with the cheese)

(if you like it spicy, you can add 1-4 oz can diced green chilis)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sautee until they are slightly soft and a little translucent. Add cream of chicken soup, diced tomatoes and chicken. Mix well and heat until the mixture is just bubbling.

Chicken-Casserole

Prepare a medium casserole dish (11”x7”) with cooking spray. Make a layer of corn chips on the bottom of the dish. Spoon the chicken mixture over the layer of chips followed by a layer of cheese. Continue layering until you run out of ingredients. There should be three layers with cheese on top.

Chicken-Casserole

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly. Let cool on a cooling rack. This recipe makes 4 cups.

Once you starting eating this dish, you won’t be able to stop — and neither will your game day guests! However, if you can’t eat it all by the time your favorite team is celebrating its victory, it makes great leftovers. This casserole is even better the next day or even two days later.

We have more ideas for your Big Game party — check out our Pinterest page for more inspiration to get your party started!

Chicken-Casserole

Seattle vs. New England: Regional Food for the Big Game

fish-and-chipsSunday, February 1, 2015, the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots go head-to-head on the gridiron for football’s championship title. While the players will be battling it out on the ball field, fans and foodies will be duking it out at the dinner table! The Big Game has created a true culinary face-off between two cities and two coasts — but whichever dishes you want to serve at your Big Game party, you’ll be the big winner! Here’s what you have to work with for regional food for the Big Game:

Fish and chips: Both Seattle and Boston boast of some of the best fish and chips in the nation. They both use cod and they’re both served with coleslaw.

Oysters: Seattle and Boston name oysters as hometown favorites. Who has the best should only be determined by experts.

Hot dogs: Seattle makes the hot dog its own by adding cream cheese and grilled onions to it — it was the brainchild of a bagel purveyor who wanted to please late night crowds during the grunge boom of the ‘80s and ‘90s..

Boston hot dog lovers are on the purist side. What makes up Boston’s Fenway Frank (named for the home of the Red Sox) are sauerkraut and mustard. It’s been a Boston fan favorite since the early 1900s.

crabcakesCrab Cakes: Seattle and Boston crab cakes recipes are both derived from Maryland, but Seattle has bragging rights with its Dungeness crabs.

Side dishes: Boston has Boston baked beans. They were a staple for the Pilgrims when they settled in Massachusetts. Settlers didn’t do any work on Sundays to observe the Sabbath — which included cooking meals. To get around this rule, they would cook the beans overnight (molasses being the key ingredient) on Saturdays so they’d have a hot meal to eat on Sunday.

Though it’s not something you can get everywhere in Seattle and they don’t have a rich history (just rich flavor), the garlic fries at Safeco Field are among Seattle’s iconic foods, so we’re pitting them against Boston’s beans. Both the beans and the fries can be made at home with comparable prep times.

Dessert: Boston has an obvious signature dessert: Boston cream pie. A french pastry chef at the Parker House Hotel is credited with coming up with this dessert in 1856. It’s not really a pie — it’s more of a pudding cake (yellow cake, custard filling, chocolate ganache icing) — but it’s celebrated as a Boston favorite and became the official dessert of the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1996.99668421

Seattle doesn’t have a signature dessert like Boston does, but it does have a famous dessert that can easily be replicated at your Big Game party (and it would make a pretty spectacular end to the game if the Seahawks win): The Lunar Orbiter. Basically, it’s an ice cream sundae served in a bowl atop a bowl filled with dry ice. Before taking a bite, water is poured on to the dry ice to make cloud-like vapors as you eat your sweet treat. They served it at the restaurant that tops the Space Needle for decades, but it’s been replaced by bread pudding, cheesecake parfait and seasonal cobblers.

Of course this list doesn’t include all of each city’s best food (we left off coffee, salmon and clam chowder), but there’s enough on your list to make a pretty amazing spread if you want your Big Game party to outshine the actual game. Even if the team you’re rooting isn’t favored to win, your food will be more than enough for a great party.

Artichoke Dip for the Big Game

artichoke-dipThe Big Game is almost here! While we all might be football fans, most of us won’t be in Phoenix to watch it in person — we’ll be at home or at a friend’s house for a party to watch every touchdown, field goal and commercial. It promises to be a great time — but you have to have the right food!

According to the National Restaurant Association, the most popular food for watching the Big Game is dips (spreads and salsa fall into that category). We’ve gone through all our recipes and came up with a favorite that’s both delicious and easy to make (nearly fool-proof!) with minimal ingredients. Our hot Artichoke Dip got the most votes and today we’re sharing it with you. Here’s how to make artichoke dip for the Big Game.

Artichoke Dip

  • 3 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 ½ cup grated parmesan three-cheese-blend (pecorino and asiago are the other two cheeses, but you can probably get away with just parmesan)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced (you can add garlic if you really like garlic)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Place the artichoke hearts in a large mixing bowl. Break the hearts up with your hands so they’re in scoop-size pieces. Add mayonnaise, garlic and cheese. Mix everything together really well.

artichoke-dip

Place the mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish and spread it out evenly. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top. Serve warm with tortilla chips or sliced bread. Makes 4 cups.

This dip is easy to make at the last minute so you can spend more time on games, entertainment and making sure all your guests are taken care of. Not only is it easy to make — it’s delicious! You won’t want to wait until the Big Game to serve it!

We have loads more ideas to make your Big Game party perfect — check out our Pinterest board for tricks and tips to put your party together.

artichoke-dip

Five-Minute Fudge for the Big Game

five-minute-fudgeFood, fun and football! We’re getting ready for football’s biggest game! It’s our favorite reason for a mid-winter celebration. For our Big Game party, people come for the football and stay for the food. Because there will be a lot of people to feed we want what we serve to be delicious and easy to put together. While wings and nachos are must-haves at Big Game parties, you need a little something sweet to break up all the salty snacks. We thought most of your entertaining energy should go to dips and spreads, so we’re sharing our easiest sweet treat to satisfy sugar cravings during the Big Game: Five-Minute Fudge! Here’s how you make it:

five-minute-fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

 

Line an 8×8 casserole dish or cake pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.

Top it with the condensed milk.

five-minute-fudgePut the bowl in the microwave on high for one minute. Stir the chocolate and condensed milk until it’s well-combined.

If the chocolate isn’t completely melted, put it in the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir until it’s smooth.

Stir in the vanilla followed by the nuts. Spread the fudge into the aluminum foil-lined dish.

Place in the freezer for an hour or until it’s hard. Remove the foil with the fudge from the pan.

On a cutting board, flip the fudge over so the foil is on top.

Remove the foil.

five-minute-fudgeCut the fudge into one-inch squares. Serve at room temperature. Makes 49 one-inch pieces of fudge.

This fudge takes so little time to make, you’ll be able to concentrate on cheering for your team. In fact, this fudge is so easy to make, it’ll be your new favorite go to treat for parties even after the Big Game!

We have more ideas on what to do for your Big Game party — check out our Pinterest board for inspiration to make your Big Game party awesome!

five-minute-fudge