Make Ahead Make Over 4 Bean Salad

4 Bean Salad

4 Bean Salad, no sugar added recipe

Recently, my mother was ill and I catered her a meal that included four bean salad.  Store bought mixtures are far too sweet tasting for me, so I made over a recipe from the early 1970’s.  This original recipe was in the Better Homes and Gardens Blender Cook Book.  My make over version eliminates table sugar and cuts the sodium by at least half.  You can find my version by going to my main web site, www. floridafuntimes.com and clicking on the “Cooking At Home” tab.

If the site is down for maintenance, it means that I am busy posting the recipe and check back in about 20 minutes for the computers to update.  But do check out this recipe.  It is fast, easy, nutritious, and can be stored in the refrigerate until you finish eating it up.  I have never seen it go bad, although I am sure it’s possible.  I enjoy having something like this that can be eaten cold, which is great for catering, picnics, hot weather, and a spur of the moment pot luck dish.

In the case of my mother, I had to drive more than an hour to her home.  All the food I took could be eaten cold and kept well in a cooler with ice.  It was just luck that I made this and other recipes when she happen to need it.  She was better by the next day; I think having good food ready for her to eat had something to do with it.

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Hibiscus Tea and Fruit Punch Recipe

hibiscus tea and fruit punch

Hibiscus tea and fruit punch

The Twinings Tea Company, which has a presentation at the Festival Center at EPCOT, this weekend, has inspired me to make this post of a herbal tea and fruit juice punch recipe which I created. I was told that Twinings carries a hibiscus, pomegranate, and raspberry tea. This sounds delicious, and when I find it, I will try it.

Although I didn’t know about the Twinings hibiscus tea, and am not using it for this recipe, it is possible that you might use it to substitute for the Nile Valley brand which I am using. Depending on the amount of flavorings in the Twinings tea, you might want to reduce some of the fruit juice in my recipe.

This might make the punch recipe a bit more economical, as pure cranberry juice is quite expensive and difficult to find. Usually, I need to make a trip to the health food store. Big box stores carry apple juice flavored with cranberry juice. Pure doesn’t mean 100 per cent one type of juice. Read the ingredient statement carefully. The labels are very misleading.

Here is my original recipe, it has a sweet tart flavor and it’s very addictive:

Florida Fun Times Hibiscus Punch

6 pure hibiscus tea bags (I order this from Nile Valley Herbs)
spring water
3 stevia plus monk fruit packets, I use the Kal Brand
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup 100 % cranberry juice with no additives, sweeteners, or other juices
2 cups Pom Wonderful juice, or other brand of 100 % unsweetened pomegranate juice

In a saucepan, place tea bags and enough spring water to cover plus half inch. Bring to a boil. Boil for five to seven minutes. Turn off the heat and let the infusion of water and tea sit until it is cool.

Meanwhile squeeze and measure out 1/4 cup of lime juice. Set aside.

When the tea has cooled, remove each tea bag, and give them a good squeeze to save every drop.

Place a canning funnel, or other funnel, on top of a 64 ounce glass container. Pour in the hibiscus infusion. I usually sit the glass container in the sink. It’s easier that way.

Kal Stevia plus Monk Fruit

Kal Stevia plus Monk Fruit

With a table knife, one at a time, stir in each of the three Kal packets, mixing well after each one with the long table knife.

Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well.

Add enough spring water to fill the glass container. Cover with the container top, or with waxed paper and a rubber band.

Keep refrigerated. Enjoy over ice, or straight up.

Free Garden Fun

IMG_2343Find this whimsical garden decoration just north of the Orlando airport in the explorations gardens behind the University of Florida Orange County Extension service office on Conway Road.  The parking is free.

Take a free self guided and very educational tour of the shade, formal, pollinator, trial, bog, flowering tree, fruit tree, succulent, tropical, and small vegetable gardens.  The best time to visit is during the week and on a sunny day.  Plan to spend about an hour.  It’s a nice place to visit when you are looking for inexpensive but worthwhile activities while you are waiting to check into your hotel.   When you need to enjoy some air conditioning a bit of shopping and a light meal, it is a short drive to the Florida Mall, the mall at Millenia, or Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney.)

Help Feed Kids and Enjoy the Rewards

IMG_2319

La Madeleine Restaurant is making donations to the Children’s Hunger Fund.  If you buy a cookie from now until the end of May, they will donate one dollar.  If you donate $5.00, they will give you a sheet of coupons that is worth much more.  The coupons introduce you to many items that you might not have tried if you didn’t have a coupon.  I would call this a win-win-win.  The children win, the restaurant wins, and you win.

Breakfast Brings Family Together

Florida Fun Times Waffle Blintz

Quick and easy technique.

 

Check out www.floridafuntimes.com the “Cooking at Home” tab for a new, fast, easy, healthy, breakfast recipe.  It’s more of a technique than a recipe.  After years of putting food on the table for my family and attending other family member’s dinners, this is my best advice for achieving family harmony and happiness.

1.) Develop kitchen techniques that do not involve complicated, messy, time consuming work which leaves you exhausted, unpleasant, or worse.

2.) Your self worth is not dependent on your ability to cook.  Life is not a Norman Rockwell painting.

3.)  Use a slow cooker whenever possible.

4.) Always eat a good breakfast and eat small portions.

5.) Have healthy snacks available at all times.

6.)  Set out an array of healthy options that don’t require your direct involvement or supervision, if everyone is an adult.  Always supervise children.

7.) Pot lucks are fine, going out to a restaurant is better.

8.) The ultimate prize is a happy healthy family that have fond memories of how you make them feel.

9.) Remember to take a lot of pictures.