Kale Ratatouille… Meatless Monday!

Kale Ratatouille – Stirring the Pot

Well it’s the beginning of a whole new week… the best time to go meatless, once a week. It may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

For most individuals and families the week begins on Monday- when we we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days.

There are plenty of benefits to going meatless, even for one day a week.  Further, if you do eat meat on other days, try grass-fed, hormone-free, locally-raised options whenever possible.

Go to Meatless Monday for more information on the benefits of going meatless…one day a week… cut out the meat.

Kale Ratatouille

Shredded kale is added to the mix of this classic French dish which highlights the beauty of zucchini, tomatoes and fresh herbs. Serve this Kale Ratatouille over Black Rice with Shaved Scallions. This recipe comes to us from Stefanie Sacks of Stirring the Pot radio.

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • or
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • or
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups shredded kale
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté for 4-6 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Add the rosemary, thyme, tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, tomatoes, kale and salt to the pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. If using fresh herbs, take out the sprigs when the dish has simmered together and enjoy!

Crab and Herbs Quiche: Delicious and Elegant

Crab Quiche

Crab and Herbs Quiche

The crab quiche makes a tasty lunch or brunch dish with a salad or cup of soup. Here is that delectable open-faced pastry crust , this time, filled with a savory custard of crab, cheese and a variety of herbs.  Believe me when I say that it will be gone in one sitting.

Fresh is best when it comes to the star in any dish, but you can make this dish just as delicious with canned or packaged crab as well, so don’t let that hold you back. Of course, if you wish to invest in fresh crab, by all means use it in this seafood quiche recipe, it will only taste all the better.

I love it. I can still remember the first crab quiche I prepared… it was the star of the show and I almost always serve it when I have company for lunch because it makes such a pretty presentation, but it’s not hard to make. It gets rave reviews from family and friends—almost everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe. 

Time: 1-3 hours

Serves: 8

Ingredients

For pastry*

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

* Feel free to use a store bought pie crust… it will cut down on time.

For filling

  • 1 (1-lb) king crab leg, thawed if frozen, or 1/2 lb lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning such as Paul Prudhomme’s or Tony Chachere
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 oz coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz coarsely grated Swiss cheese (1/2 cup)
  • Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper; a 9-inch glass or ceramic deep-dish pie plate; pie weights or raw rice

Preparation

Make pastry:

  • Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.
  • Drizzle evenly with 3 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in processor) until incorporated.Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.)
  • Turn out mixture onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat.
  • Gather dough together with scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 4-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
  • Roll out dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin and fit into pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pie plate to reinforce edge.
  • Decoratively crimp edge and lightly prick bottom and side of shell with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until pastry is pale golden along rim and set underneath foil, about 20 minutes.
  • Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until bottom and side are pale golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely in pie plate on a rack, about 20 minutes.
Make filling:

  • If using crab leg, hack through shell with a large heavy knife and cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Discard shell.
  • Whisk together eggs, cream, herbs, seafood seasoning, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then stir in cheeses and crabmeat.
  • Pour into prebaked crust and bake until filling puffs and is no longer wobbly in center when quiche is gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Cool in pie plate on rack 15 minutes before serving.

Chilled Papaya & Watermelon Soup With Lemon Coriander Cream

June is National Papaya Month!

The papaya is native to the tropics of the Americas, perhaps from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America.  It was first cultivated in Mexico. Papayas grow on trees in hot climates and have a green skin, orange flesh and black seeds. Picking a ripe papaya can be tricky: It’s ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue. And as it ripens, its flesh will turn from green to yellow, and don’t worry if it looks slightly bruised.

Christopher Columbus once called the papaya the “fruit of the angels,” and for good reason! This fruit that is slightly larger than a mango is bursting with nutritional goodness. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Papaya Soup
So this spring and summer when you don’t want to hover over a hot grill or stove, enjoy the taste, texture and nutritional values of a wondrous soup. Try this sweet, hearty  and refreshing summer soup from McCormick & Company. It has Papaya and Watermelon and  seasoned with coriander and coconut water.

Chilled Papaya & Watermelon Soup With Lemon Coriander Cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cubed papaya (1-inch cubes)
  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon (1-inch cubes)
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut water*
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh jalapeño pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander, divided
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation

  1. Place papaya, watermelon, coconut water, lime juice, jalapeño, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the coriander in blender container; cover. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Mix crème fraîche, lemon juice, sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon coriander in small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. To serve soup, ladle into serving bowls. Drizzle each serving with a heaping tablespoon of Lemon Coriander Cream. Serve immediately.

Makes 5 servings.

Springtime, Asparagus Time!

It’s Springtime, so it must be time for asparagus! You can’t go wrong with asparagus at this time of year.  Boiled, broiled, baked, steamed or grilled, the choices are endless for this luxury vegetable.  This deliciously sweet and sexy superfood is in season  for just a short time… about 2-3 months. They take a lot of time (3 to 4 years to produce from the day the seed is planted) and space (several square feet per plant) to grow; thus their exalted status as a luxury vegetable.  That’s why we grab them while we can and make all kinds of delicious dishes.

Here, Catherine Newman at Disneyfamily.com breathed some life in day old french bread with the world’s easiest, cheesiest soufflé.  Make it in the spring, when asparagus is fresh and plentiful. You could also try using sauteed mushrooms, steamed broccoli florets, roasted zucchini, or whatever vegetables catch your eye at the market. Likewise, although the tarragon and chives go beautifully with asparagus, use whatever fresh herbs your family likes best. Serve the bread pudding with fruit for brunch or with a crisp salad for dinner.

Savory Asparagus Bread Pudding

Asparagus Bread Pudding

Savory Asparagus Bread Pudding

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
1 loaf of French bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch slices
1 bunch of asparagus, washed, bottoms snapped off, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 large eggs
2 1/2 cups whole milk (or a mixture of low-fat milk and cream or half and half)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1/2 pound cheese, grated (try Swiss, cheddar, Monterey jack, or a combination)

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 and grease a large casserole dish. Place the bread on a large baking sheet and toast for 10 or so minutes, until it is dry to the touch, but not browned.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and cook the asparagus pieces for 3 minutes, then drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs.
  3. Arrange the bread slices in the casserole dish, overlapping as little as possible, then arrange the asparagus over the bread, sprinkle with the cheese, and pour the custard over all, pressing down any bread pieces that aren’t submerged. Allow to sit for half an hour or so, so that the bread can absorb the egg mixture–or else refrigerate it, covered, overnight. Bake it in the middle of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until it is puffed and brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Quick Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe

Chicken Tikka Masala

One of the most popular Indian dishes in the U.S. and the U.K., chicken tikka masala usually involves several steps including marinating and grilling the chicken before simmering in a curried tomato cream sauce.  Authentic Indian Chicken Tikka Masala  (the word “Tikka” in Hindu means pieces or small bits) is prepared with pieces of chicken, marinated with spices and yogurt and grilled over a charcoal fire to give it a lovely smokey flavor. 

The chicken tikka masala known today is a curry(sauce) dish in which roasted chicken chunks (tikka) are served in a rich orange, creamy, lightly spiced, tomato-based sauce. The origins of chicken tikka masala are disputed.  Some say it was created for the Mughals in the pre-British India era and another legend has it that chicken tikka masala was actually created in the U K in the 1960s.  While I won’t get into that, I will say that it’s one of my favorite dishes, but  the original dish has plenty of ingredients and takes time.

But look, Eating Well has simplified it to a one-skillet dish and lightened it by increasing the vegetables, omitting the butter and using less cream. Serve with brown basmati rice.  Also notice that the garam masala, shown in the list of ingredients below , is a blend of spices used in Indian cooking, usually includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, cumin and coriander.  This seasoning can be found already blended.  It takes the place of many spices, saves time and is available in the spice section of most supermarkets. Today its easier to prepare, with less calories per serving and is every bit as delicious as the original.

 

Makes: 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

Active Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preparation

  1. Stir together garam masala, salt and turmeric in a small dish. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture and dredge in the flour. (Reserve the remaining spice mix and 1 tablespoon of the remaining flour.)
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved spice mix and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon flour and stir until coated. Add tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and the onion is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in cream. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

 

Avocado Fritters with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

Avocado Fritters with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

Avocado Fritters

Avocado Fritters with Avocado-Cilantro Cream Dipping Sauce

Take a look at what Melanie at A Beautiful Bite did with this green-skinned, fleshy, pear-shaped, delicious, fruit known as the avocado.

The  avocado or the alligator pear as it is sometimes called, originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico and although many varieties are grown, the Hass avocado is today the most common, producing fruit year-round and accounting for 80% of cultivated avocados in the world.

It has a smooth and creamy texture, with a rich and distinctly yet subtly flavor. It’s used in both savory and sweet dishes and are very popular in vegetarian cuisine and as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. They are generally served raw, but can be cooked for a short time without becoming bitter. It’s used as the base for the very popular Mexican dip, guacamole, as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast.  Check out these scrumptious looking  bite-sized fiesta fritters that Melanie fried up into a crispy golden ball… did I say fried up, umm!!!!

Recipe

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 4 mins
Total time: 34 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
For the fritters
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1¾ cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 oz cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn kernels (I just grilled mine)
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (more or less to taste)
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 2 avocados, diced
For the dipping sauce
  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Pour 2″ of vegetable oil into a deep fryer or a heavy skillet and heat to 350º.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add eggs, milk, cheese, corn, onion, peppers and cilantro. Stir to incorporate. Gently fold in avocados.
  3. Scoop batter into heaping teaspoons and gently drop into oil. They are done cooking when golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 200º oven.
  4. Prepare dipping sauce by mixing all ingredients in a bowl. If you want a smooth consistency, give it a whirl for two minutes in a blender or food processor.

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Oh my, check out these crispy seafood packed pancakes from Chef Grace Parisi of Food and Wine. They get a spicy tang from the kimchi that’s mixed into the batter.  Kimchi is Korea’s national side dish and is made with fermented vegetables and a variety of seasonings.  To add more heat to this pancake dish, a thinly sliced hot chile pepper is add to the dipping sauce.  It takes a total time of 45 min and makes 4 servings.

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons seltzer or sparkling water
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt
1/2 cup kimchi—drained, pressed dry and chopped
4 ounces medium shrimp—shelled, deveined and split horizontally
4 ounces baby squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rings, tentacles halved
4 large scallions, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour and the rice flour with the egg, seltzer, toasted sesame oil and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the kimchi, shrimp, squid and scallions to the batter.
  2. In 2 medium nonstick skillets, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. Spoon 2 mounds of the batter into each skillet and gently spread them into 4- to 5-inch rounds; be sure to evenly distribute the seafood in the pancakes. Cook over moderately high heat until the pancakes are golden and crisp on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook over moderate heat until the pancakes are golden and crisp and the batter is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Cut the seafood pancakes into wedges and serve them with the dipping sauce.

Let’s Celebrate Strawberries!!!

If you love strawberries, then you know that nothing compares to that deep red, fleshy, succulent, mouthwatering, juicy, delicate taste of a  fruit saying “eat me” like a strawberry.  The month of May is said to always be National Strawberry Month, a time when farmers and consumers alike celebrate the peak abundance of America’s favorite fruit.

Strawberries photogenic color, shape, easy preparation and adaptability,  makes them among one of the most talked about fruits on culinary websites, blogs, Pinterest and other social media, including  mine Tasty Goodness. It’s said that conversations on Twitter mention strawberries, along with its most popular companions, chocolate  and cream, has garnered more than 2 million mentions.  According to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, Americans now consume twice as many strawberries than two decades ago… wow!

Some Strawberry Facts:

  • Strawberries were originally called “Strewberries” due to the way the berries seem to be just strewn about the leaves of the plant.
  • Eight strawberries provide 140 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
  • They are the first fruit to ripen in the spring.
  • One cup of strawberries has just 55 calories.
  • They are only fruit with the seeds (on average, 200) on the outside of the fruit.
  • They are grown in every state in the United States and every province of Canada.
  • Strawberries are the most cultivated berry in the country and are grown in every state.
  • Strawberries are picked and loaded onto the refrigerated trucks within 24 hours.
  • Because strawberries are highly perishable, their consumable life varies from 5 to 7 days from the moment they were picked.

However, almost all commercially produced strawberries come from the northern hemisphere. The largest strawberry producing country is the United States, growing 20-25% of the world’s annual production; Spain is the world’s second largest producer, with about 6-7%.

Spain is also the world’s largest exporter of fresh strawberries (Poland is the world’s largest exporter of frozen strawberries).

California dominates U.S. strawberry production. The state’s annual harvest consistently approaches nine-tenths of all U.S. strawberries. Most strawberry farming is in the southwestern counties of the state (particularly along the coast), where full sun and a mild climate predominate.

Florida is the second largest producer of strawberries in the United States at 8-9% annually. Plant City is the epicenter of strawberry farming for the state. Most of the strawberries sold in U.S. groceries during the winter (especially in the months of December and January) come from Florida.

Together, California and Florida account for well over 95% of all strawberries grown in the U.S.A. This is largely due to the fact that the mild winter climates of these states allow farmers to utilize hill cultivation on their strawberry farms.

In contrast, other states rely heavily on matted row cultivation of strawberries, a form of strawberry farming that cannot offer comparable yields to hill cultivation. For more information on hill and matted row strawberry cultivation, go to the “How Are Strawberries Grown” page on this site.

– See more at: http://www.strawberries-for-strawberry-lovers.com/where-are-strawberries-grown.html#sthash.XwSXW4GI.dpuf

In the U.S., strawberries are grown in family gardens in all 50 states. There are very few places on Earth in which no strawberry species will grow.

However, almost all commercially produced strawberries come from the northern hemisphere. The largest strawberry producing country is the United States, growing 20-25% of the world’s annual production; Spain is the world’s second largest producer, with about 6-7%.

Spain is also the world’s largest exporter of fresh strawberries (Poland is the world’s largest exporter of frozen strawberries).

California dominates U.S. strawberry production. The state’s annual harvest consistently approaches nine-tenths of all U.S. strawberries. Most strawberry farming is in the southwestern counties of the state (particularly along the coast), where full sun and a mild climate predominate.

Florida is the second largest producer of strawberries in the United States at 8-9% annually. Plant City is the epicenter of strawberry farming for the state. Most of the strawberries sold in U.S. groceries during the winter (especially in the months of December and January) come from Florida.

Together, California and Florida account for well over 95% of all strawberries grown in the U.S.A. This is largely due to the fact that the mild winter climates of these states allow farmers to utilize hill cultivation on their strawberry farms.

In contrast, other states rely heavily on matted row cultivation of strawberries, a form of strawberry farming that cannot offer comparable yields to hill cultivation. For more information on hill and matted row strawberry cultivation, go to the “How Are Strawberries Grown” page on this site.

– See more at: http://www.strawberries-for-strawberry-lovers.com/where-are-strawberries-grown.html#sthash.XwSXW4GI.dpuf

In the U.S., strawberries are grown in family gardens in all 50 states. There are very few places on Earth in which no strawberry species will grow.

However, almost all commercially produced strawberries come from the northern hemisphere. The largest strawberry producing country is the United States, growing 20-25% of the world’s annual production; Spain is the world’s second largest producer, with about 6-7%.

Spain is also the world’s largest exporter of fresh strawberries (Poland is the world’s largest exporter of frozen strawberries).

California dominates U.S. strawberry production. The state’s annual harvest consistently approaches nine-tenths of all U.S. strawberries. Most strawberry farming is in the southwestern counties of the state (particularly along the coast), where full sun and a mild climate predominate.

Florida is the second largest producer of strawberries in the United States at 8-9% annually. Plant City is the epicenter of strawberry farming for the state. Most of the strawberries sold in U.S. groceries during the winter (especially in the months of December and January) come from Florida.

Together, California and Florida account for well over 95% of all strawberries grown in the U.S.A. This is largely due to the fact that the mild winter climates of these states allow farmers to utilize hill cultivation on their strawberry farms.

In contrast, other states rely heavily on matted row cultivation of strawberries, a form of strawberry farming that cannot offer comparable yields to hill cultivation. For more information on hill and matted row strawberry cultivation, go to the “How Are Strawberries Grown” page on this site.

– See more at: http://www.strawberries-for-strawberry-lovers.com/where-are-strawberries-grown.html#sthash.XwSXW4GI.dpuf

In the U.S., strawberries are grown in family gardens in all 50 states. There are very few places on Earth in which no strawberry species will grow.

However, almost all commercially produced strawberries come from the northern hemisphere. The largest strawberry producing country is the United States, growing 20-25% of the world’s annual production; Spain is the world’s second largest producer, with about 6-7%.

Spain is also the world’s largest exporter of fresh strawberries (Poland is the world’s largest exporter of frozen strawberries).

California dominates U.S. strawberry production. The state’s annual harvest consistently approaches nine-tenths of all U.S. strawberries. Most strawberry farming is in the southwestern counties of the state (particularly along the coast), where full sun and a mild climate predominate.

Florida is the second largest producer of strawberries in the United States at 8-9% annually. Plant City is the epicenter of strawberry farming for the state. Most of the strawberries sold in U.S. groceries during the winter (especially in the months of December and January) come from Florida.

Together, California and Florida account for well over 95% of all strawberries grown in the U.S.A. This is largely due to the fact that the mild winter climates of these states allow farmers to utilize hill cultivation on their strawberry farms.

In contrast, other states rely heavily on matted row cultivation of strawberries, a form of strawberry farming that cannot offer comparable yields to hill cultivation. For more information on hill and matted row strawberry cultivation, go to the “How Are Strawberries Grown” page on this site.

– See more at: http://www.strawberries-for-strawberry-lovers.com/where-are-strawberries-grown.html#sthash.XwSXW4GI.dpuf

California by a large margin grows the most strawberries, four times the amount of Floria, which comes in second. Nearly 90 percent of U.S.-grown fresh strawberries come from California. The strawberry growing season runs from January through November, with the peak season being April to mid August.  But, new farming methods extends the season until mid December, making fresh, delicious and tasty strawberries available all year long.

Choosing the best strawberries

  • Choose brightly colored, dry, firm, shiny, plump berries that still have fresh-looking green caps attached.
  • Avoid soft, dull looking, or shriveled berries.
  • Since strawberries do not ripen after being picked, avoid berries that are partly white or otherwise unripe.
  • It may seem obvious to say, but strawberries should smell like strawberries. Take a whiff before you buy.

Caring for strawberries after purchase

  • Do not wash until you are ready to use them.
  • Do not hull (the green stem on top of the fruit ) until you are ready to use them.
  • Store (preferably in a single layer on a paper towel) in a moisture proof container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  • Wash strawberries by placing them in a large colander and rinse gently with cool water, then lay them in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or layer of paper towels and pat dry.

Strawberry Festivals   have been a part of spring and summer celebrations marking the transition from the cold and dreary wintertime to a time of renewal, life, and color.  Strawberries are the first crop ready for harvest in most temperate regions.  When they are ready to be picked, it is a signal that scarcity is about to give way to abundance.  And, that is cause to celebrate!

There are scores of strawberry festivals, through out the country and are held in either the month of May or June (although some are held both earlier and later).  Each festival is different and offers unique traditions and character. Check to see if there is a strawberry festival in your state.

Recipes

The versatile strawberry stretches beyond shortcake, inspiring unexpected savory and sweet dishes and serves as a key ingredient in endlessly creative recipes.  Here are three strawberry-filled recipes I know you will want to try.

Balsamic Strawberry and Chicken Pizza with Sweet Onions and Smoked Bacon

How about something a little different in the form of strawberry recipes.  How about a savory flavor… a strawberry pizza! This Balsamic Strawberry and Chicken Pizza with Sweet Onions and Smoked Bacon dish is very alluring with its beautiful combination of flavor and balance of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy elements.

Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Chicken, Sweet Onion and Smoked Bacon ~ Closet Cooking

Servings: makes 1 large pizza

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves/jam
  • sriracha to taste
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 1 pizza dough
  • 4 slices smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces and cooked
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, torn
Directions
  1. Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small sauce pan, reduce the heat and simmer until it reduces by half, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Mix in the strawberry preserves and sriracha to taste.
  3. Mix 2 tablespoons of the balsamic strawberry sauce into the chicken.
  4. Roll out the pizza dough and spread the remaining balsamic strawberry sauce onto it.
  5. Sprinkle on 3/4’s of the cheese, the chicken, bacon and onion followed by the remaining cheese and finally 1/2 cup the strawberries.
  6. Bake in a preheated 500F oven until golden brown on top, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining strawberries and the cilantro onto the pizza.

Savory Strawberry Sauce with Grilled Salmon

Wow, take a look at this delicious grilled salmon dish with an incredible savory strawberry sauce, and just in time for Mother’s Day.

Click to visit the original post

Savory Strawberry Sauce with Grilled Salmon ~ Karista’s Kitchen

Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb fresh organic strawberries (watch for local organic strawberries at your Farmer’s Markets)

1 teaspoon grapeseed oil or butter

¼ – ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

¼ – 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder or 1/2 teaspoon Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste

¼ cup white wine (can substitute with water and a teaspoon of white wine vinegar or lemon)

1-2 tablespoons strawberry preserves (or more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve over grilled salmon or try it over grilled or roasted pork tenderloin.

Directions

Slice the strawberries.  Transfer the strawberries to a sauce pan, add the oil or butter and heat on medium heat.

Stir in the fresh grated ginger, chipotle chili powder or chili paste, white wine and preserves.  Bring the sauce to a lively simmer and let the sauce simmer on low for about 5 minutes.

Take it off the heat and let it sit while you grill the fish or roast the pork.  The longer it sits the more the flavors will develop.  It can be served room temp over hot off the grill fish or hot out of the oven pork.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Kale and Strawberry Smoothie

Add Kale to your fresh strawberries and take your smoothie to the next level. You not only boost your immune system, but this homemade shake provide you with a delicious and nutrient-dense energy lift.

kale smoothie 3 Kale Smoothie Recipe With Strawberries
Kale and Strawberry Smoothie ~ Built Lean

Ingredients

  • 1 tightly packed cup of kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of non-fat or low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • up to 1 cup of ice

Directions

1. Place the kale, strawberries and yogurt into your blender.

(If you use fresh strawberries, and are looking for a slushy consistency, you’ll want to add up to 1 cup of ice; if you use frozen strawberries, you may want to add less ice, if any at all).

2. On full strength, blend the ingredients together until the kale looks like it is finely incorporated into the smoothie

3. Enjoy your vitamin- and mineral-packed smoothie.

Quick Tip: Have some extra fresh kale leftover and worried that you wont use it up before it spoils? Just blend the leftover greens with a little water, pour into an ice cube tray, and freeze! Now you have nutritious kale cubes to quickly pop in the blender for your next smoothie, defrost to make a nourishing juice, or add a boost to your favorite soup.

Celebrating National Salsa Month!

Delicious Salsas!

Mild Wonderful Salsa

‘Salsa’ is Spanish for sauce…  salty sauce in it’s original Latin.  It is said to be named in the 1500s by the Spaniards. However Salsa’s history is much older. It was a favorite condiment of the ancient Aztecs, Myans and Inca’s as early as 5200 BC.  The first salsa consisted of chopped tomatoes, chilies, beans and ground seeds such as squash seeds and was often used as a topping on meats such as turkey and fish.  English-speaking countries usually refers to the often tomato-based, hot sauces typical of Mexican cuisine, particularly those used as dips.  Mexican salsas were traditionally produced using the mortar and pestle-like molcajete, although blenders are now more commonly used. The Mayans made salsa also, using a mortar and pestle.  There are many types of salsa which usually vary throughout Latin America.

Outside of Mexico and Central America, the following salsas are common to each of the following regions

  • Argentina and Chili – Chimichurri –  A spicy vinegar-parsley sauce that is the salsa and leading condiment, served with grilled meat. It is made of chopped fresh parsley and onion, seasoned with garlic, oregano, salt, cayenne and black pepper and bound with oil and vinegar.”
  • Costa Rica – Salsa Lizano, a thin, smooth, light brown sauce.
  • Cuba and the Caribbean –  a typical salsa is mojo. Unlike the tomato-based salsas, mojo typically consists of olive oil, garlic, and citrus juice, and is used both to marinate meats and as a dipping sauce.
  • Peru, a traditional salsa is Peri, Peri or piri piri sauce: “The national condiment of Peru, peri-peri sauce is made in medium to hot levels of spiciness—the more chile, or the hotter variety of chile used, the hotter the sauce. Original peri-peri uses the African bird’s eye chile (the African word for the chile is peri-peri). Milder sauces may use only cayenne and serrano chiles. To a base of vinegar and oil, garlic and lemon juice are added, plus other seasonings, which often include paprika or tomato paste for flavor and color, onions and herb—each company has its own recipe. It is also used as a cooking sauce.”

There are fruit salsas, chili sauces, taco sauces, guacamole and mole just to name a few which all can be considered salsa’s.

As more people become concerned with eating healthy foods, salsa has become more popular as consumers realize that salsa is much more nutritious than ketchup or nacho cheeses sauces.

Mild Wonderful Salsa

Ingredients:

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 1/2 cups onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups green peppers
1 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste

Directions:

  1. Mix all together and bring to a slow boil for 10 minute.
  2. Seal in jars and cook in hot water bath for 10 minute.
  3. This is a mild/medium salsa. This is also a chunky salsa so if you want a smoother salsa cut your veggies into smaller pieces.

Yields 3-6 quarts or pints.

Ingredients

  • 5 roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 10 green onions
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

    Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro to desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the lime juice, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

Avocado, Tomato and Mango Salsa

Fruity Salsa ( Avocado, Tomato and Mango)

Prep Time 15 min
Total Time 45 min
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 mango (- peeled seeded and diced)
  • 1 avocado (- peeled pitted and diced)
  • 4 diced tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and minced)
  • 12 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsps fresh lime juice
  • 14 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 3 tbsps olive oil   

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion, and olive oil. To blend the flavors, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Today is National Beverage Day!

Image

Italian Sparkling Lemonade

Today is National Beverage Day! It’s a chance to kick back with your favorite beverage and enjoy the day. The term “beverage” is broadly defined. So, how about celebrating all beverages today.  Beverage Day should be a day of pleasure and relaxation.  And experts recommend drinking at least 3 liters of fluid a day for men and 2.2 for women. Why not make it more interesting than a glass of water?

BE BOLD! Take advantage of Beverage Day and try a beverage that you have never had before. Here is a tasty and refreshing take on a lemonade recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network.  It’s an Italian Sparkling Lemonade.

 
Ingredients

2 cups lemon juice, about 12 to 15 lemons
2 cups Basil Simple Syrup, recipe follows
2 cups cold or sparkling water
Ice
Lemon twists, for garnish

 
Directions
Mix lemon juice, Basil Simple Syrup, and water together in a pitcher. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Pour over ice filled glasses and garnish with a lemon twist.
 
Basil Simple Syrup:
 
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and stemmed
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

In a saucepan combine basil, sugar, and water and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 5 minutes. Cool, strain the simple syrup, and store in the refrigerator.