Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and FigsThe number on producer of sweet potatoes in the United States alone, is the state of North Carolina, planting and harvesting more than 40% of the national supply.

3 popular sweet potato varieties sold at market

Image Credit: Saveur Magazine

The website for the sweet potato industry, North Carolina Sweet Potatoes say that the list of sweet potato varieties changes rapidly and new varieties are released almost annually.

The most popular varieties sold at your local market are, Covington Sweet Potato, O’Henry Sweet Potato, and the Japanese Sweet Potato.

The popular food magazine, also found on line, Saveur says that shopping for sweet potatoes, particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday (USA), you can came across a surprising range of varieties, 16 to be exact.

They go on to say that a consumer can find both heirlooms and new hybrids alike, all which are being grown in the United States.

Our feature recipe – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs – uses three different types of sweet potatoes, which are the speckled purple sweet potato, which is named because of their flecked magenta flesh.

An heirloom variety with pale orange skin and flesh, and not to forget the Hannahs varity which has tan skin and an off-white interior. When roasted the flesh takes on a yellow cast, a lightly sweet flavor, and a dry texture.

Here is what you will need to prepare – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs in your own kitchen.

2 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes, different colors

5 tablespoons olive oil

Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper to taste

6 dried figs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 peeled coins fresh ginger

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar

12 scallions or green onions (white and green parts), cut into 1 1/2 inch segments

1 red chili,halved, seeded, thinly sliced

My mother had two fig trees in her garden, both a black and green variety. Fresh figs can be very fragile, and need to be eaten within a day or two of harvesting. We used dried figs in our recipe because they are just as versatile as fresh figs when re-hydrated.

Read more here about the Benefits Of Figs Help Fight Against Common Ailments.

Recipes directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Scrub potatoes and slice each one into wedges.

roasted sweet potatoesToss wedges with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, s teaspoons of Himalayan salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle and roast until soft, about 25 minutes.

rehydrating fdried figs with lemon zest, juice, sugar and fresh gingerMeanwhile, place the dried figs in a medium saucepan with lemon zest, juice, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until figs return to plump fig pose.

dried figs rehydratedScoop figs from saucepan with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels. Let dry, and quarter the figs, cutting away the stems.

In a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs - close upArrange roasted sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat. place in onions, and chili. Fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon the oil, onions, and chili over the sweet potatoes.

Nestle the figs among the wedges and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Suggested to serve at room temperature.

Ginger and Lemon Juice WaterMaybe you are wondering what to do with the water solution that was used to dehydrate the figs? Put it into your Nutri-Bullet or blender, and blend for about 30 to 40 seconds and drink down a nutritious anti-inflammatory drink.

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How Too Eleminate Pungent Kitchen Smells

Woman washing a cup in white kitchen. Vegetables on the background - How Too Eleminate Pungent Kitchen SmellsWe all enjoy good aromas in our kitchen. But let’s face it, there are just some smells which we can’t avoid while cooking and are hard to get read of after making dinner.

If you made some fish, then you know how hard it is to get to eliminate the smell from your cutting board or the air? Even preparing onions on cutting surfaces and your hands leave you with that unwanted onion smell? We’ve all been there.

But there’s no need to fret, as there are simple ways without synthetic chemicals to tackle common kitchen odors. And if you want to go – “Green” – you will like employing these ideas.

Let’s start with general everyday kitchen odors.

baking soda to clean odors from cutting board

Image Credit: Homedit

General odorsBaking soda is not just for baking and cooking, it can also be used for removing odors from all over the kitchen. Just as baking soda placed in your fridge will remove odors, but it will also remove odors from your hands.

You can also create a paste with a little water and baking soda and apply to your cutting board or other cooking services to remove any unwanted smells.

You can even wash your garbage pail with a mixture of water and baking soda. Also remove odors from dishrags and sponges by soaking them in baking soda and water as well.

raw fish on a cutting board

Image Credit: The Canadian Way

Fish Odors– Slice a lemon in half and use the lemon flesh down on the cutting surface and your hands to cut that fishy odor. You can also chose to mix lemon juice with water to rinse your hands and cutting surface.

The citric acid in the lemon turns a group of decaying organic compounds called amines. When the lemon juice makes contact with the compounds that are causing that “fishy” smell, they are turned into ammonium salts which are less offensive to your nose.

Garlic Odors – Coffee ground are great at removing garlic smells. Wash your hands and then scrub with the coffee grounds. This exfoliates the skin, removing the dead tissues which is where the stink resides.

Onion Odors– Use some organic made toothpaste, like Dessert Essence made with natural tea tree oil and ginger oil or fennel oil . This will work for any of those strong fish and garlic smells as well.

More Techniques To Removing Fowl Odors From The Kitchen

Have you ever used parsley to combat your garlic breath? Rub it on your hands to remove that garlic smell as well. Not only parsley, but any fresh herb will absorb those odors. Just tear the herb into pieces and rub between your hands.

Most herbs are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Meaning they kill germs, and with the germs gone, so is the odors they can cause.

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Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and AsparagusAbout 70 years ago, way before fast food restaurants opened up, one pot meals were popular. The reason being that the women worked long hours in the fields or in factory jobs, and were often too tired to make a complete meal for their family. So instead they made meals that were quick and easy to put together.

One pot meals are quick and easy to prepare and do not not require a lot of time in the kitchen. On many occasions these meals are enjoyed by family and friends, and always include foods that go well together, like pinto beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti and ground pork.

A true one pot dish is literally using one pot to cook all the ingredients at the same time. The one pot meal can also include using one pot to cook the ingredients separately, and then combining them together at the end of the preparation and cooking time. These type of one pot meals are also not time consuming.

Our featured dish: Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus is the later description of the one pot meal. Here is what you will need.

produce ingredients for Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Italian dressing, your favorite, store bought or homemade

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/4 lbs chicken, sliced horizontally, and cut into 2 x 4 inch pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper for seasoning

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed of tough ends, cut to 2-inch pieces (thinner stalks are the best to use, if you can find them)

1 1/2 cups rainbow matchstick carrots

1 cup grape tomatoes, mixed colors, halved

If you can not find rainbow matchstick carrots, then the orange ones are fine. We did take the time to make our own matchsticks using a red and yellow carrot with a julienne peeler.

In a large measuring cup, mix together dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes, and set aside.

cooking chicken in a large skilletIn a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with a little salt and pepper, then place chicken evenly in skillet. Cook about 8 minutes, turning chicken pieces once halfway through cooking, until it has cooked through.

Add half the dressing mixture to skillet and rotate chicken to evenly coat. Transfer chicken to a large serving platter, and leave sauce in the skillet (if there is any).

cooking asparagus and carrots in a large skilletNext add the prepared asparagus and carrots to skillet, season with a little salt and pepper (optional), and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer veggies to a serving platter with chicken.

Add remaining dressing mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute.

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Chicken and Asparagus - closer viewAdd tomatoes to vegetables and mix in. Drizzle dressing mixture in pan over top of chicken and vegetables or return chicken and vegetables to pan and toss to coat. Plate and serve.

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Asparagus and Bacon Cream Pasta

Asparagus and Bacon Cream PastaAccording to Food History asparagus has a long history as far back as the first century. There are records of it growing in ancient Greece and Rome. History even records Egyptians over 2,000 years ago cultivated asparagus for medicinal reasons (Kitchen Project)

Of course most eatable plants were first discovered growing wild, and asparagus is no exception. A wild asparagus has thin shoots thinner than a pencil and is much different than the asparagus that we find in the market.

Nutrition facts asparagusThrough selective breeding and growing techniques, a modern non wild asparagus has a thicker stem with more edible flesh.

Asparagus is even a low carbohydrate food, and a 15 on the glycemic index, which is the rating of plant food and how it effects your blood glucose or insulin in the body (0-35 is low).

Now for our featured recipe, and here is what you will need.

 

8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb pasta (your choice)

2 cups Alfredo sauce (homemade or your favorite store bought brand)

Himalayan salt

black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Return the pasta to the pan that you cooked it in, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until browned, but not crispy. Remove and place on paper towel lined plate to drain.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of grease from the skillet, and return to the stove. Add the chopped asparagus to the pan, stirring occasionally. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic to the skillet, and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the cooked asparagus, garlic, bacon, and Alfredo sauce to the pot of cooked pasta. Toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the saved pasta water to thin it out. Season to taste with Himalayan salt and pepper before serving (optional).

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Sugar Snap Peas with Tarragon

Sugar Snap Peas with TarragonFresh tarragon has an intense flavor over dried tarragon. When the herb is dried the oils dissipate.

You can store tarragon from 3 to 5 months in the freezer, doing so retains the most flavor of fresh tarragon during sprig of tarragonstorage. There is no need to defrost the herb before using it. Dried tarragon should be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dark place and used within 1 year.

Heat greatly intensifies the flavor of tarragon.

Though is may not look like it, tarragon is a species of perennial herb in the sunflower family.

There are variations of the herb and they include “French tarragon“, which is best used for culinary purposes, “Russian tarragon”, typically better than wild tarragon but not as good as the French tarragon, and “wild tarragon”.

Flavor

If you are wondering what the flavor of tarragon is, we would describe it as slightly peppery and it has a taste that’s somewhat similar to fennel, anise or licorice.

Health Benefits

Tarragon has great health benefits. It contains trace amounts of minerals including iron, potassium, and small amounts of calcium. It also contains vitamin-A, a nutrient essential for healthy eyes. This is herb is one of the recommendations to reduce your risk of macular degeneration.

Our featured recipe also includes:

Cilantro: contains trace minerals and vitamin-A

Shallots: Part of the allium family, which includes onions, garlic and scallions. Shallots also help to ward off cancer. They also contain 34 micrograms of folate, which is good for brain and nerve function.

Sugar Snap Peas:  They are a good source of vitamin-C, a nutrient that protects DNA structures from damage and improves the immune system. The sugar snaps also contain folate, which helps to improve heart health. Low levels of folate can raise levels of homocysteine, which increases the risk of heart disease.

Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. If you are taking the B-vitamin as a supplement, it is recommended to take the natural form, folate. As noted folic acid is a synthetic oxidized form, and is not found in fresh natural foods as is folate. Because it is synthetic, is not bio-available to the body, as is folate.

Now for our featured recipe – Sugar Snap Peas with Tarragon – and here is what you will need.

1 pound sugar snap peas

1 shallot, diced

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 to 1 teaspoon tarragon, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cilantro, chopped

Himalayan salt and pepper to taste (optional)

cooking sugar snap peasIn a large sauce pot, bring water to a rapid boil, and add snap peas and cook until they turn bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

chopped fresh herbs and shallotsMean time, prepare the tarragon, cilantro, and shallots.

In a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat, add butter and melt. Next add shallots and cook until soft, about  3 minutes. Next whisk in a splash of fresh water, about 1 to 2 tablespoons, then add snap peas and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Next add chopped tarragon, cilantro, and mix in with snap peas and shallots.

Sugar Snap Peas with TarragonSpoon cooked sugar snap pea mixture into a serving bowl, and serve with your favorite main dish.

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Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

The medical journal, “American Medical Association” publish  in 2010 based on a study that found vitamin B-6 when combined with folate ( not folac acid, the inferior form, a synthetic form) and methionine ( an amino acid, also found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs, garlic, onions, legums, and some dairy) can reduce the chances of lung cancer by as much as two-thirds. Asparagus contains both of these vitamins, and including the amino acid methionine.

More great news of the vegetable asparagus is it contains saponins which helps to fight inflammation, and can help with arthritis and rheumatism. It can also help to prevent varicose veins. Ayurvedic medicine has used asparagus for century’s to treat the symptoms of menopause as well as infertility and loss of libido (in both men and women).

The featured recipe also includes vitamins and minerals like vitamin-A, vitamin-C, calcium, and iron. It also has 18% of your daily need of protein 9 grams (daily protein need is 25 grams for woman and 30 grams for men).

Now for our featured recipe, and here is what you will need.

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

1 package cheese tortellini

Pint of cream

¼ cup grated Asiago cheese

5 – 7 asparagus stalks

1 4 oz. can mushrooms

1 cup baby spinach

1/2 tsp. black pepper

 

Asparagus being blanched - Mushroom Tortellini with AsparagusBring a pot of water to boiling. Separately prepare a bowl of cold water with some ice.

Add salt to the boiling water and blanch the asparagus for 2 – 3 minutes until they just start to become tender.

Remove and add asparagus to the cold water to stop the cooking and set the color.

Remove to a paper towel to drain and dice into ½ inch pieces. You could do this ahead of time and keep the prepare asparagus in the refrigerator.

Next bring a pot of water to boil and the tortellini according to package instructions.

While cooking the pasta, heat a large sauté pot over medium heat and add 3/4 of the cream. While the cream is heating continue to stir and allow it to slow reduce, scrap sides of pot if needed.

When the cream has reduced by about 1/3 lower the heat and simmer, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Next add the asiago cheese to the cream, and turn the heat to high, stir in till cheese is melted. Add mushrooms and black pepper, and stir in.

Tortellini should be done now, so quickly drain and add to the cream along with the asparagus and toss to combine.

Place spinach on top of mixture and place a lid over pot, and allow spinach to wilt, about 4 minutes.

If you see the cream sauce to thick and would like it a bit thinner, just add a little more cream a tablespoon at a time till you see the thinness you desire.

Plate paste and garnish with cheese, if desired.

A great addition to this recipe would be roasted pine nuts. You can also 86 the mushrooms if you like, in other words delete them from the recipe (86 is a restaurant term for “out of product”, can also mean, “you’re out of here”).