Enjoy A Meal With A Simple Spring Salad

Enjoy A Meal With A Simple Spring Salad The arrival of spring means that seasonal fruits and vegetables are in season. Produce like asparagus, strawberries, leafy greens and rhubarb among others.

We look through some of our favorite past cooking magazine issues and possibly yours as well to find the perfect spring salads.

Your family will love these vibrant, colorful and delicious salads. If you want to make a meal out of them, just add some chopped cooked chicken, or fish, like salmon, halibut, or tuna.

Both featured salads serve a table of four.

Arugula Salad Topped with Walnuts Strawberries and Parmesan Cheese

Vinaigrette 

1 cup halved fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar *see recipe notes below

1 tablespoon EV olive oil

1 teaspoon raw local honey (local to your area)
Add ingredients to a blender and blend until well mixed.

Recipe Notes

Aged balsamic vinegar may not be economical for you, as I thought it wasn’t for me. Unless you plan to regularly use it. A bottle of 12 year old aged balsamic vinegar is around $40 a bottle.

What we did, is brought a 1/2 cup of regular balsamic vinegar infused with strawberry (you can also opt for blueberry or pomegranate) to a boil over high heat in a small ceramic coated skillet. Cook until the vinegar begins to thicken and becomes syrupy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool then follow vinaigrette recipe above.

Salad Ingredients

1 cup walnut halves

We found a cool way to candy the walnuts, and credit goes to private chef Chris Crary  with his candied walnut recipe featured at California Walnuts.

1/2 cup California walnuts

1 egg white

1 ounce sugar

2 tablespoons walnut oil

Salt to taste

Beat egg white until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and mix in to peaked egg white. Next add the walnuts and coat with the egg mixture. Place in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Once mixture is cool, toss in walnut oil. Set aside.

16 ounce bag of arugula

2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup candied walnuts

Shaved Parmesan

Arugula Salad Topped with Walnuts Strawberries and Parmesan CheeseIn a large salad bowl, combine arugula, strawberries and candied walnuts. Plate salad and drizzle with vinaigrette and top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

To make salad a meal, when mixing salad ingredients, add a cup or two of your choice, chopped cooked chicken, salmon, halibut, or tuna.

Mixed Greens with Smoked Salmon Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

1 grapefruit with white flesh, peeled, pith removed, and dice segments

5 ounce package of mixed greens

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

5 ounce package smoked salmon, flake with a fork

Vinaigrette

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon of sweet garlic mustard (we found this at Whole Foods Market)

1 tablespoon of EV olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mixed Greens with Smoked Salmon Avocado and Grapefruit SaladMix lemon juice, mustard, oil, salt and pepper to a large salad bowl.  Next add mixed greens, grapefruit, avocado, and smoked salmon. Toss until well coated with vinaigrette. Plate and serve.

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How To Cook Dried Beans

Mixed Legumes on paper and burlap - How To Cook Dried BeansSoaking dried beans or legumes in water first, helps with dissolving the raffinose sugars that can cause discomfort in the digestive system. Rinsing the beans after soaking and draining any water after cooking will further help to reduce the sugars as well.

soaking deied beans - How To Cook Dried Beans

Image credit: EHow

Here are some steps you can take to reducing the raffinose sugars, a complex carbohydrate found in most in most dried beans.

This type of sugar is also found in cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus, among other vegetables, and including whole grains.

The California Dry Bean Advisory Board recommend this method for gas-free beans.

  • Place 1 pound of beans in 10 cups of boiling water for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove from heat, cover and set aside overnight

 

Soaking the beans overnight helps to remove or dissolve between 75 to 90 percent of the indigestible raffinose sugars.

If you want, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to help remove the raffinose sugars as well.

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

Delicious Living recommends soaking 1 cup of beans in 3 cups of water for 6 hours before cooking them.

After soaking the beans, drain them of the water, then rinse thoroughly. Now your beans are ready to be cooked.

When cooking the beans, you can add any herbs and spices, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients, like vinegar, tomatoes or juice, which can considerably slow the cooking time. Add these ingredients when the beans are done cooking.

When cooking your beans you can use either water, or a stalk made from vegetables, beef or chicken.

Cooking times will vary depending on the type of beans you will be using. Most cooks will tell you that dried lentils or split peas do not require soaking, but they do require sorting and rinsing.

Keep in mind that cooking lentils in too much liquid, or over cooking them, will make them mushy. They should only be cooked for 20 minutes or until tender.

How to Use Cooked Beans

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Dried beans when cooked are very versatile, and although they have different flavors and textures, they can often be used interchangeably in recipes.

Cooked beans can be used to make soups, added as a topping to vegetable salads, add to cooked rice, couscous or pasta salads for texture.

Here are some of our featured recipes using cooked beans.

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas – Featuring a side dish of quinoa with black beans, onion, corn, and chili pepper

Spicy Chorizo and Bean Soup

Prosciutto Cotto and Lentils

South Of The Border Chicken Tortilla Soup

Gluten Free BBQ Chicken Lasagna

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas

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Cast Iron Seared and Broiled Salmon With Fruit And Herb Salsa

Cast Iron Seared and Baked Salmon with Fruit and Herb Salsa

The website Yummly boasts over 493 different pan seared salmon recipes, and we have one for you that you are sure to enjoy.

We pan seared and broiled salmon steaks in a cast iron skillet. The exciting thing about that for us was, the cast iron skillet we used is black enamel coated, so there is no seasoning or special care needed, as there is with a traditional cast iron pot or skillet.

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Read More: How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

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The Science of Cooking explains the purpose of searing meat, noting the process is called  the “Maillard Reaction,” and is not to be confused with “Caramelization.”

When searing meat, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. When heated, these compounds break down to form new flavor. Each type of meat being seared has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction.

The important thing about the Maillard reaction isn’t the color—, it’s the flavors and aromas.

The Modernist Cuisine explains that temperatures need to be high to bring about the Maillard reaction, but as long as the food is very wet, its temperature won’t climb above the boiling point of water.

Now for our featured recipe: – Cast Iron Seared and Broiled Salmon With Fruit And Herb Salsa – and here is what you will need.

First prepare the Fruit and Her Salsa, and refrigerate for later.

1 cup diced peaches, fresh or frozen

3/4 cup diced mango, fresh or frozen

2 mini red sweet peppers, seeded and diced

1/4 cup diced red onion

5 leaves of fresh mint, leaves chopped

1 spring thyme, leaves only, discard steams

1/4 cup Italian parsley

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

cast iron cooking with avocado oilPrepare and mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Top and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now prepare your salmon steaks. You will need the following for two servings.

2 salmon steaks, skin on

3 to 4 tablespoons avocado oil, smoke point to 500 degrees

3-4  cups Arugula

Salmon steaks in a cast iron skilletHeat oven on broil. Next, lightly drizzle avocado oil (heat safe to 500 degrees) into a cast iron oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add salmon steaks to heated skillet and sear on each side for 2 minutes.

turning salmon steaksPlace skillet in pre-heated oven under the broiler for 7 to 10 minutes, turning steaks about every 3 minutes.

Be careful not to overcook. As the skillet is close to the broiler element, keep a close eye on your salmon steaks so they do not burn. We baked our salmon steaks to about 155 degrees, as you need to remember the fish continues to cook even after you remove it from the oven.

Cast Iron Seared and Baked Salmon with Fruit and Herb Salsa - close upIt is important to remove the salmon from the skillet soon after removing it from the oven. Have plates ready with arugula, and top each with a salmon steak. Next spoon some fruit and herb salsa over the salmon, and enjoy!

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Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

150 px

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthocyanins are plant pigments widespread in nature. They play relevant roles in plant propagation and ecophysiology and plant defense mechanisms and are responsible for the color of fruits and vegetables (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry).

Being the antioxidant chemical that it is, anthocyanins help to fight free radicals in the body, and is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer plant-based compound.

Medical research with anthocyanins, have found that the compound may protect against obesity. Medical study’s have noted that mice fed an anthocyanin-enriched high-fat diet for eight weeks gained less weight than mice fed a high-fat diet without anthocyanins.

The reason for less weight gain in the mice fed a diet high in foods containing anthocyanins, is the fiber content as well. When eating foods high in fiber, the food eaten benefits the body more in respects to nutrition, rather then turning it to fat storage in the body.

Fruits and vegetables are not the only food source containing anthocyanins, as legumes or beans also contain this natural plant compound, and are also high in fiber (Read More Here About Legumes: The Health Benefits Of Beans).

Enough of the science lesson, now for our featured recipe: Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup, and here is what you will need.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced fine

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups chicken stock

Radishes, avocado, and cilantro for garnishing (optional)

cooking onions and sweet potatoes in a sauce panIn large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat, and cook onion, garlic, salt, chili pepper, and sweet potatoes, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes or until mixture smells fragrant.  

bring soup to a boilAdd chicken stock, and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook another 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.

mixing ingredients with chicken broth in a large sauce potNext add the black beans, and stir in, cooking another 5 minutes.

Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Unexpected Chedder CheeseLadle into soup bowls and top with radish slices, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and shredded cheese.

We used a cheese exclusive to Trader Joe’s. One day they were giving out cheese and wine samples. The cheese sample include the “Unexpected.” You red right, the Unexpected.

The store clerk explained to me, that the cheese manufactures made a mistake in processing this cheese.

But Joe said keep making it, and we will purchase it, and so it is. The cheese taste great. As the package describes, it is a Cheddar with hints of Parmesan.

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Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

BBQ Hotdogs and Potato PackPreparing your Independence Day (July 4th USA) is always done with either a party, picnic, or a cookout, at which you may try to make easy to have in the backyard, at the park or by the water. Here is an easy and fast way to accomplish that, with our featured recipe: Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack.

You can easily prepare these at home before you leave to the park, or beach. For each serving, you steam 9 to 10 mini colored potatoes (about 40 mini potatoes for a serving of 4), just until a fork can insert with no problem.

preparing BBQ Hotdogs and Potato PackNext, using heavy duty foil, cut a piece 12 inches X 18 inches long. Place a cooked uncured organic all beef hot dog in the center, and arrange 9 to 10 of the small  steamed potatoes around the hot dog. For each packet you will add 3 to 4 tablespoons of diced onion (optional), 1/4 to 1/3 cup of  shredded cheese, of your choice, and pour an organic barbecue sauce over the top.

Foil wrapped BBQ Hotdogs and Potato Pack in a BBQ

Fold foil to form a tent around the food, making sure it is closed tight. Place into your ice cooler, until ready to barbecue at the park or beach.

Foil wrapped BBQ Hotdogs and Potato Pack in a BBQ basketHeat your barbecue grill to medium. Now place your foiled tent wraps in a barbecue basket and place on the warm grill. Close the lid and let the food heat through for about 10 to 12 minutes.

BBQ Hotdogs and Potato PackUsing a pair of barbecue tongs, remove the tent wraps and place each on to individual plates. Open the wraps, top with more cheese (optional) and allow to cool, serve and enjoy.

Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

1 pound organic colored mini potatoes

4 uncured organic beef hot dogs

1/2 cup diced organic white or purple onion

1 cup shredded organic cheese, your choice

1/2 to 1 cup of organic barbecue sauce

Divide potato wedges among four pieces of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Top each with a hot dog, onion wedges and cheese. Drizzle with barbecue sauce. Fold foil around mixture, sealing tightly.

Grill covered over medium heat 10-12 minutes or until heated through. Using a pair of barbecue tongs, remove from heat to individual plates. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Top with more cheese, if desired.

(Recipe adopted from June/July 2013 Taste of Home Magazine – rearranged to fit our pallet)

 

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National Tortellini Day

National Tortellini Day

collage-of-places-in-modena-italyTortellini is a pasta that has made centuries of tradition for all the families that live in an Italian province called Modena.

The pasta is made on special occasions, using recipes handed down from one generation to another.

It is said the origins of tortellini dates back to the early 1600’s.

There is doubt and speculation as to who the person or persons are that invented the pasta.

Italian food is romantic

Today, February 13th is National Tortellini Day in the United States, according to The Nibble.

Italian food represents romance, and can bring out the romantic affection in anyone.

How is Tortellini Made

Here is a short video to demonstrate how tortellini is made. The video will present the preparation of Tortellini Bolognesi.

 

Nutritional Benefits of Tortellini 

Regular cheese tortellini, though it is pasta made from flour does have some nutritional benefits, like 72 mg of potassium, 20 mg of magnesium, also some small amounts of vitamin-A, iron and vitamin B-12 per 3/4 of a cup serving.

Recent studies have shown that a deficiency in vitamin B-12 can be associated with feelings of fatigue and low energy, including depression, irritability, anxiety, and dementia. So let’s eat some Tortellini.

Here’s three recipes from our kitchen to celebrate National Tortellini Day:

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Tortellini with Asparagus

Plated close up of Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinagrette

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tortellini and Summer Sausage with Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

 

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Organic Cooking

Organic CookingOrganic cooking is one of the best ways to get healthier in your cooking.  Organic fruits, vegetables, and other organic food products are grown naturally, which is allowing to occur or develop gradually and naturally, without being forced or contrived.

Organic food is not a Genetically Modified Organism. There has been debates since GMO foods have been farmed and brought to market as to  whether organic produce or foods have more nutrition than non-organic.

Finally the debate has ended, with the conclusion that the vitamin content is the same in traditional grown foods versus organically grown, with the difference being found in the antioxidants and phytonutrients, they are found more in organic produce.

Are you worried about how to cook organically?  You shouldn’t be.  For the most part, it’s no different than cooking traditional foods, and you know how to cook those.

There are several reasons to cook organically: It’s better for the environment.  Organic food is readily available at the supermarket.  You could grow your own foods.  The best reason

yet: Organic foods are free from chemicals, pesticides, and poisons.  They are also free from growth hormones and antibiotics.

Organic.org states 10 reason why we should eat organic. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Reduce the toxic load; keep chemicals out of the air, soil, water, and our bodies
  • Reduce, if not eliminate farm pollution
  • Protect future generations
  • Build healthier soil
  • Have tastier food
  • Celebrate the culture of agriculture
Organic Meal- Organic Cooking

ORGANIC MEAL

They say whether it is local produce, coffee that is imported or artisan cheese, organic has demonstrate a reverence for the land and the people that farm it.

No matter what zip code you live in, organic has proven to use less energy (on average, about 30 percent less), is beneficial to soil, water and local habitat, and is safer for the people who harvest the food.

Are you convinced yet?  Organic cooking IS the way to cook!  It’s cooking for the future. Organic cooking is the only way to go.

Check out our page Recipes Using Organic Foods with a list of 9 recipes and growing. Some of the splendid recipes are:

 

What Others are saying About Organic Foods: