Sunday, July 21, 2013

Local Produce

I'm a huge fan of buying local produce. It tastes garden-fresh and with less distance to travel, you are guaranteed a fresher product. This time of year, sweet corn, tomatoes and cucumbers are great vegetables to incorporate into your favorite salads or pasta dishes.

Grilled Zucchini and Tomato Salad
Serves 4

All you need:
Marinade
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 zucchinis, thickly sliced
2 large tomatoes, cored and thickly sliced

8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
Balsamic vinegar, for topping (optional)

All you do:
1. Combine marinade ingredients in a shallow dish. Add zucchini and tomato slices and toss to combine. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high. Place zucchini and tomato slices on the grill and cook 4-5 minutes per side, or until slightly charred. Transfer to a platter and let cool.


3. Dice grilled zucchini and tomato and place in a large mixing bowl. Add diced mozzarella and any leftover marinade and toss to combine.

4. Transfer salad to a serving platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Cucumber-Feta Toasts
Serves 8

All you need:
1 loaf fresh Italian bread
4 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (4 ounce) container feta cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cucumber, thinly sliced

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 450. Split bread loaf lengthwise and lightly brush cut sides with 4 teaspoons olive oil. Bake until golden around edges, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash together feta, 1 tablespoon olive oil and juice of 1 lemon with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Spread feta mixture evenly over toasted baguette and top with cucumber.


4. Season with salt, pepper, juice of 1 lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. Cut into pieces and serve.


Fresh Sweet Corn Salsa
Makes 2 cups

All you need:
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 3 ears)
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small red pepper, diced small
1/4 bunch cilantro
1/4 red onion, diced small
Juice of 2 limes
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

All you do:
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes; drain.
2. Mix corn, jalapeno, red pepper, cilantro and red onion in a bowl. Stir in lime juice, green chiles, olive oil, sugar and salt. Adjust seasonings as needed and serve.





Friday, July 19, 2013

Cherries

Summer is a perfect time to pick up some fresh, sweet cherries! They're bursting with flavor and health benefits. They are among the top 20 foods with the highest concentration of antioxidants. They are heart healthy and contain melatonin, so they are a great food to incorporate into your diet if you need help regulating your sleep cycle. Although I love them with ice cream, here are two unique cherry recipes that are perfect for a summer event:

Cherry Berry Fruit Salad
Serves 10

All you need:
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
2 (6 oz.) containers fresh raspberries, rinsed
1 (16 oz.) container fresh strawberries, rinsed and diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

All you do:
1. Place cherries in a larve mixing bowl.

2. Top with raspberries and strawberries.

3. Add fresh basil.

4. Top with white and brown sugar.

5. Finish with lemon zest and juice and toss to combine.

Perfect!

Grilled Chicken with Chipotle Cherry BBQ Sauce
Serves 4

All you need:
1 cup fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

All you do:
1. Stir cherries, broth, preserves, ketchup, vinegar, chipotle peppers, thyme and allspice together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until sauce has reduced by half.



2. Carefully pour sauce into a food processor or blender and combine until smooth. Pour sauce back into the saucepan and cook 5 minutes longer over medium low heat. Reserve half of the sauce for serving.


3. Preheat grill to medium high. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and drizzle with olive oil.

4. Grill chicken for 5-7 minutes per side, brushing with sauce as it cooks.


5. Place chicken on a platter, spoon extra sauce over and serve.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a vegetable you know you should be eating but may be a little uneasy to try. Well, I'm here to show you they can be super delicious if prepared correctly. Here are four recipes to try this summer that are satisfying and may actually leave you craving more!

Kale: Excellent source of vitamins A, C and K; good source of calcium, folate and potassium


Recipe #1: Kale and Cabbage Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing



Dressing
1/2 cup cashews
3/4 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons honey  
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

3 bunches kale, cleaned, de-stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
4 green onions, sliced thin
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried cranberries

All you do:
1.     Place all dressing ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
2.     In large bowl, toss together all salad ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and massage salad with your hands for 3-4 minutes until kale breaks down a bit. Serve immediately or cover and keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days.


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Spinach: Rich in vitamins A and C as well as folate; concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection; 20 calories per serving (2 cups)


Recipe #2: Spinach Walnut Pesto


2 cups baby spinach

2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

All you do:

Puree ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked pasta, fish or roasted vegetables.


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Mustard Greens10 calories per serving (1/2 cup); high in vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium


Taste – peppery; give off a mustardy smell during cooking

Recipe #3: Sautéed Mustard Greens

 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

All you do:
1.     In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.
2.     Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.


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Arugula: 8 calories per serving (2 cups); also known as salad or garden rocket; young, tender leaves feature sweet, nutty flavor and less peppery taste in contrast to the strong, spicy flavor of mature greens; great source of vitamin A, C, K and folate



Recipe #4: Pasta Salad with Arugula, Feta & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

 Kosher salt
1 /4 pound arugula, washed (stem and rip the leaves into smaller pieces if they're large)
 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (16 to 20), quartered
2 heaping tablespoons drained, thinly sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (or 8 sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water and thinly sliced)
1 pound whole wheat rotini or orecchiette pasta
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade


All you do:
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Put the arugula, feta, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes in a large bowl. Reserve or refrigerate until needed. 
2. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it's just tender, about 9 minutes (follow the package's instructions). 
3. Meanwhile, add the vinegar and oil to the arugula salad, season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss well. 
4. Drain the pasta, add it to the salad, and toss. Check the seasonings and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, adding the basil just before serving.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Blueberries

July is blueberry month! That means this is the perfect time to stock up. And why not? These beauties are bursting with flavor and nutritional benefits. Here are some tips on how to buy/store/use one of my favorite fruits:


How to Buy Blueberries

Fresh blueberries are available year-round. The peak season for fresh blueberries runs from mid-June to mid-August. Like fresh blueberries, frozen, canned and dried are never out of season.

When purchasing fresh blueberries, look for firm, plump, dry berries with smooth skins. Size doesn’t matter, but color does – reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, but can be used in cooking. Containers with juice stains indicate that the fruit may be bruised.

How to Store Blueberries

Refrigerate fresh blueberries as soon as your get them home, in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or storage container. Wash berries just before use. Use within 10 days of purchase.


Blueberry Serving Suggestions

·      Add blueberries to your favorite muffin recipe – about 1 cup for each batch of 12 muffins. Gently stir in the blueberries at the end (unthawed, if frozen).
·      Layer blueberries with yogurt and granola cereal in a tall glass.
·      Sprinkle blueberries, chopped pecans and crumbled feta cheese onto salad greens (see recipe below).
·      Make a homemade blueberry salsa (see recipe below).
·      Place 2 to 3 blueberries into each section of an ice cube tray. Fill the tray with water or lemonade and freeze. Use the blueberry ice cubes to chill and flavor water and drinks.



Blueberry Pineapple Salsa
Makes 2 cups

All you need:

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, minced


Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/4 cup diced red onion
Kosher salt, as needed

All you do:
1.     Combine blueberries, pineapple, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and red onion.

2.     Season with salt and additional lime juice as needed.
3.     Serve with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.


Adapted from: U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council


Chicken Salad with Fresh Blueberries, Pecans and Honey-Poppy Vinaigrette
Serves 8



   

All you need:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, 8 ounces each
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
6 ounces arugula
6 ounces spinach
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta

All you do:
1.     Sprinkle chicken with garlic and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
2.     Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook chicken until internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 8 minutes per side; set aside to cool.

3.     Heat oven to 375°F. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet; bake until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.
4.     In a food processor, combine the balsamic, white balsamic, honey, mustard and remaining salt and pepper. Gradually add the olive oil.



6.     Stir in the poppy seeds; set aside.



7.     Place arugula and spinach on a large serving platter. Top with chicken, blueberries, cheese and pecans. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.


Adapted from: U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council