Category Archives: Recipes

Now that you’ve grown and harvested your delightful fruits, veggies and berries, what do you do with them? Love Your Yard isn’t going to leave you hanging. We have all sorts of recipes to make the most of your garden’s bounty.

Herbed Macaroni and Cheese

Herbed Macaroni and Cheese Recipe


  • Salt
  • 1 pound macaroni (regular or whole grain)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • About 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup basil, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chives, cut into small bits
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe


For the Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon cloves (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Filling

  • 2 cups 10X confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cookies: Combine the oil and brown sugar in a mixing bowl, add the pumpkin and eggs until they are all mixed into a thick paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine until thick and doughy. On a lightly greased baking sheet, drop large teaspoon-sized amounts of dough at even spacing throughout the pan. Bake the cookies at 350°F for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are firm.

Filling: Thoroughly combine egg white, milk, and vanilla in a new bowl with half of the confectioners sugar. Then add the shortening and the remaining confectioners sugar. Mix until the filling is smooth and fluffy.

Once the cookies have sufficiently cooled, spread an equal amount of filling between two cookies to form the whoopie pie.

Serve immediately.

Yields: approx. three dozen whoopie pies

WINPLNTR13 (plants)

Planting Herbs 101

Plants have always been used to provide food and to add flavor to our foods. Many people grow herbs through the summer months, but shy away from continuing herb gardening through winter months. With the use of planters and containers, indoor herb growing is an easy task and will fill your home with a delicious aroma!

Most herbs need about six hours of sunlight each day. Plan to place your herb containers in a well-lit space where they can soak up the sun for energy and growth. It is important to note that containers have a tendency to become little heaters for your plants, so depending on which type of container you use, your herbs may need less sunlight than if they were placed outdoors.

Consider the watering needs of your herbs when you choose their container. Some herbs appreciate a constant supply of water, which can be achieved through a self-watering container. Other varieties of herbs can survive with periodic watering and can be placed in most any container. Herb containers should offer sufficient drainage because overwatering your herbs may kill them. Most herb plants have shallow roots so you can use smaller containers, too!

Equip yourself with high quality planting soil and fill your pots half way. If starting with seeds, fill the container ¾ of the way and place the seed about two inches into the soil. If transplanting a started seed, place the plant and roots into container and fill the remaining space with potting soil.

Now that you’ve got the necessary information to get started, it is time to choose which herbs to grow! Here are a few staples you may want to have in your home:

Parsley – With low light and watering requirements, this plant will provide a tasty addition to your recipes.

Mint – Known to grow like a weed, peppermint will choke out other herbs in the same container. Place a “peppermint only” container in an area that receives a small amount of light throughout the day.

Oregano – A required 6-8 hours of sunlight is suggested for healthy growth, so place your oregano container in a southwest-facing window.

Basil – Popular and frequently used in the culinary world, your best bet is to host African Blue Basil indoors. Hydroponic growth for basil is a great option, too.

Chives – An easy-to-grow herb that does not require much light. These are best started from already established plants.

Now that you’re prepared with knowledge and a few tips for better planting and growing, you’re all set to get started. Which herbs will you plant today?

Spinach Salad with Citrus & Thyme

Spinach Salad with Thyme & Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, freshly chopped
  • 1-lb. fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and cleaned
  • 1 small red onion, diced finely
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3-4 ribs celery from the heart, chopped

Optional: Seared scallops would be a great addition to this salad as a main course


In a large salad bowl, whisk together the marmalade, mustard, and juice and zest of both lemon and orange. Slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk until the dressing is emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in the spinach and vegetables. Toss to coat in the dressing and serve!

Yields: 4 servings


Herb Cheese Crostini Recipe


  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 French baguette, sliced into 1/3 in. slices
  • 1 stick of non-salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup of grated white sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup of grated Parmesan cheese


Place the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and cheese into a food processor. Pulse until blended to the consistency of your choice.

Remove the herb-cheese mixture from the food processor and pack the mixture into a ramekin. Cover the ramekin with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat over to 500 degrees.

Remove the ramekin from the refrigerator and spread the herb-cheese on each slice of bread and place on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake the bread for 6 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yields: approx. 4 servings


Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup Recipe


  • Salt
  • 4-6 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sized onions, cut into large pieces
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees

Place the cut onions, cherry tomatoes, oregano, ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves (whole) and salt and pepper to taste on a small roasting pan. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes, onions and herbs, and toss to coat.

Place the pan in the oven and roast about 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and blistered. Remove from oven and pour into a medium to large size sauce pan. Turn the burner on medium-low. Add the minced garlic and chicken stock, and remainder of fresh basil.

Using a counter top blender or an immersion blender, blend the vegetables to the consistency you prefer – chunky, thin, or in between. Once its blended the way you like it, add the parmesan cheese and heavy cream. Stir to blend and heat through. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

Yields: approx. 4 servings


Backyard Entertaining for Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is right around the corner… the perfect end-of-summer, beginning-of-fall weather for campfires!  Perhaps you have been traveling all summer long and are ready for an extended weekend at home without any travel plans!  Here are a few tips and ideas for getting the most use out of your backyard this weekend:

1.  Incorporate a Fire Pit in your Backyard

Relatively inexpensive and easy to move around, a fire pit or fire ring can bring an extra element of excitement to your backyard, bringing friends and family together without all of the technology and toys you may be used to throughout the day.
Shop Fire Pits

2.  Use your Backyard for Family Camping

Family camping can be one of the best ways for families to bond while having fun in the backyard. Pitch a tent, light a fire in a fire pit or campfire ring, and enjoy some treats under the stars before bed.
More Camping Ideas
Expert Camping Tips
Backyard Camping FAQs

3.  Have Dinner (and Dessert!) in your Backyard

Instead of the typical family dinner indoors, take your meal time outside!  Try a new recipe on the grill, and get the kids involved with dessert by making S’mores!
Grilling Out FAQs
Expert Tips on How to Make S’mores

Still need some more inspiration?

Check out these two blog posts from blogger GOODeness Gracious who recently used an Avant Garden Decor Fire Pit for some family fun!

GOODeness Gracious: Ring of Fire
GOODeness Gracious: The Great Marshmallow Debate

What are your plans for this Labor Day weekend?
Will you be spending time outdoors around a campfire, perhaps?


Eggplants: Grow ‘Em, Cook ‘Em, Eat ‘Em!

These plump, often purple, veggies are believed to have originated in India and are known for their meaty texture. They are used throughout the world in various dishes from China, to Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Oddly enough, folks here in the U.S. and Europe once thought they were poisonous plants belonging to the nightshade family (Solanacae). Thank goodness they were wrong!

Eggplant seedlings can be difficult to start, but you do have a larger variety to choose from. If you’d like to buy a transplant, you’ll need a spot with at least 6-8 hours of warm sunshine. Transplant eggplants at a temperature of at least 70 degrees F during the day, and at least 45 degrees at night.

Fertilize your soil well and plant them 2 feet apart. Water them weekly. Remember to mulch the surrounding area properly to prevent weeds, and to maintain soil temperature.

Once eggplants begin to grow and mature you will need to stake the plants or cage them for added support and proper growth.

Beware of beetles, common pests of eggplants – fabric row covers can help with this issue. Spraying the plants with water in the morning can help with mites and aphids, or you can try an organic insecticidal soap.

What eggplant variety should I grow in a container or in a smaller urban area? Try ‘Hansel’ and ‘Gretel’ – these varieties are perfect for smaller spaces. For common, western varieties, try ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Florida High Bush.’

Have fun and happy gardening!

Expert Tips on How to Make S’mores

how to make smoresThe original recipe on how to make s’mores appeared in the American Girl Scout Handbook in 1927. This recipe utilized Graham crackers – first invented by Sylvester Graham way back in 1829, before anyone knew how to make s’mores – plus chocolate and marshmallows.

If you ask anyone today how to make s’mores you might get the original recipe that tells you how to make s’mores, or you might be told how to make s’mores a completely different way.

Here are some tips on how to make s’mores the traditional way:

•    Use Graham crackers which are more like cookies than crackers.

•    Get the crackers and chocolate ready before you toast the marshmallows.
You can ‘roast’ them over a stove burner or use long metal forks for roasting
over an outdoor fire pit or grill.

•    Marshmallows are ready when slightly brown outside and runny to make smores

•    Sandwich chocolate with a toasted marshmallow between a halved cracker and squeeze together gently.

Other fabulous s’mores recipes:

The Mexican S’more: use flour tortillas with crunchy peanut butter, chocolate chips and marshmallow.

The Chilled S’more: spread peanut butter and instant chocolate pudding on Graham crackers and add whipped topping instead of marshmallows.

The Elvis S’more: spread peanut butter on the Graham cracker, add chocolate and banana… marshmallow is optional!

Tell us… what is your favorite recipe for making a s’more?!

WINPLNTR13 (plants)

Easy-to-Grow Indoor Herbs

Growing herbs indoors should not only be fun, but easy! Herbs are perfect to grow indoors in the colder months because you don’t have to go outdoors to reap the benefits. If you plan on growing your herbs in your kitchen, that’s even better. You can make so many delicious dishes with fresh herbs – you will be amazed.

Below is a list of the five best and easiest herbs to grow indoors.

1)    Chives – this is a must have herb. It is very versatile because of its mild onion flavor, and can be used in many savory dishes. The flavor of white or yellow onions can often be a bit on the strong side, but chives are perfect for those who just want a hint of onion flavor. Snip them back often so that they don’t get too out of control.

2)    Thyme – is a great, all around herb that can be used in just about anything – even desserts! Most all varieties of thyme are easy to grow. Remember to trim this herb regularly. The more you trim the better the flavor. Thyme is known for its slight lemon flavor. It is perfect for fish, chicken, or vegetable dishes. You can also use thyme in hot tea.

3)    French tarragon – French tarragon has a terrific flavor, similar to basil. Its hints of licorice are a bit stronger, but goes great with many things. From frittatas to chicken dishes to bruschetta – tarragon makes a tasty addition. No tricks to growing this herb just plant it and watch it grow.

4)    Sweet marjoram – this herb is closely matched with the flavor of oregano, yet not as robust or bitter. Sweet marjoram is great on pizza dishes and in home made breads. It also holds up nicely when used to season the hearty flavor of steak. Anyone who loves herbs will appreciate marjoram.

5)    Sage – Sage is one of those must have herbs. It is very easy to grow, versatile and packs quite the flavor punch! Sage is great around Thanksgiving, because it goes nicely with turkey and other poultry dishes. It is also great to use in vegetarian meals when you want to add some flair to your dinner. Use this herb in tea for sore throats and colds. Sage comes in many varieties, so feel free to choose more than one!