Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

Thanks to their distinctive smokey flavor, canned chipoltle peppers really bring this recipe to life, but they can be a little intimidating if you haven’t worked with them before.

map of MexicoThe chipotle pepper is not actually a pepper, but rather the process of smoking jalapeño peppers. Such process is said to have originated in the area surrounding Mexico City.

The chipotle pepper, once smoked and dried, tends to be brown and shriveled. It loses very little if any, of its heat or spiciness through the smoking process. It is enjoyed by many for its spiciness and the natural wood smoke taste that accompanies it.

You can remove some of the heat from a chipotle pepper by carefully cutting the pepper in half down the center and gently removing the seeds and membranes that hold the seeds to the inside of the pepper. There will still be a little heat, as the flesh of the fruit also contains capsaicin, the compound that makes chilies hot and spicy.

Be assured though, with the seeds removed, most of the heat is also removed.

A word of caution, if you choose to remove the seeds, be careful not to touch your eyes during the removal, as the pepper can be extremely irritating to the eyes and skin. If you want, just wear some gloves while removing the seeds.

Because of the chipotle pepper’s spiciness, only a small amount of the pepper needs to be used in a recipe, large or small to provide flavor without creating a dish that is too hot.

Freezing Canned Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce For Later Use

can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauceMost recipes call for a very small amount of the chipotle, which means you will end up with an almost full can when you finish. To get around this, remove the peppers from the can and pour all of the flavorful liquid into a food processor.

If you don’t have one, use a small glass bowl. Cut the peppers in half and scrape out and discard the seeds. The seeds pack a lot of heat, so keep some of them if you like extra spice.

Place the peppers in your food processor and pulse them until a paste is formed. If you don’t have a food processor, finely mince the peppers with a knife and add them to the bowl of reserved liquid. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Next, line a large plate with plastic wrap and scoop the pepper paste in 1 teaspoon measurements onto the plate, leaving enough space between them that they don’t run together. Place plate in the freezer to harden.

Once set, wrap the edges of the plastic wrap around the now-firm pepper paste portions and place in a freezer-safe bag and freeze. Pull out 1 or 2 teaspoon-sized portions and use in your favorite recipe that calls for a little heat.

Start small with the amount of chipoltle peppers you use. You can always add more if you like a little more heat.

Our featured recipe is Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings, and here is what you will need.

Ingredients

3 pounds chicken wings
2 teaspoons himalayan salt
2 teaspoons frsh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3-4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teasapoons from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

spicy chicken wingsLine a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Next add chicken wings to baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure wings are not touching.

Season wings with salt and pepper, then place in oven. Bake until skin is crisp, approximately 45 – 50 minutes.

About 20 minutes before the wings are done, add garlic and butter to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until garlic becomes translucent.

Reduce heat to low and add ginger, chipoltle peppers, honey, soy sauce and vinegar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid becomes syrupy.

Transfer the sauce to a glass bowl and add the cooked wings. Toss until coated and either serve immediately, or place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place under broiler for two minutes or until brown and bubbly. Serve with a side salad.

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Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

It looks as though bacon will always rule as king of the breakfast meats. Interesting enough, we don’t reach for bacon near enough to add great flavor and fat to other meals, like lunch or dinner. The addition of bacon to other dishes can be a good way to enjoy its smoked flavor.

Charcuterie - The Craft of Salting, Smoking & CuringDo you know the process of smoking bacon?

Chef Jeff Raycroft explains that homemade smoked bacon is a simple process. Jeff says the bacon should be hot smoked in a smoker that has reached an internal temperature of at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the smoker is ready, the bacon should be hung or placed on racks and smoked until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward being smoked, the meat needs to be cooled and sliced.

If using charcoal in your smoker, add soaked wood chips directly on top of the charcoal then a water bath added above that to keep humidity up in the smoker which stops the meat from being dried out.

Chef Raycroft recommends the book, “Charcuterie – The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing” buy Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Link here to have a look inside the book.

Our featured recipe is Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and here is what you will need.

stuffing ingredients for chicken breasts2 tablespoons olive oil
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons crumbled cooked smoked bacon – 1 slice of bacon = 1 tablespoon crumbled, cooked bacon
6 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

butterfly cut chicken breast seasoned Butterfly the chicken by running a sharp knife horizontally through the thickest part of each breast. Place one hand on top of the breast to stabilize while holding the knife parallel to the work surface while cutting. Do not cut all the way through.

preparing stuffed chicken breastsOpen the breast so both halves can lie flat. Season the exposed surface with salt and pepper, then add 1/4 of the ricotta cheese, crumbled smoked bacon, and sliced basil leaves to each breast.

Fold the breasts in half so the cheese mixture is surrounded by chicken breast on the bottom, back and top. Secure with long wooden toothpicks, if desired.

pan searing stuffed chicken breastsHeat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Once hot, add the stuffed chicken breasts to the pan to sear.

Once browned on the bottom, carefully turn each breast over and repeat on the other side. Season top and bottom with salt and pepper, if desired, during this process.

Place skillet in preheated oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted, approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover until ready to serve.

Smoked Bacon And Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts - close upA few minutes before removing the chicken from the oven, start making the balsamic glaze. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Stir while heating until the vinegar is reduced to about 1/3 of its original volume. It will form a thick, syrupy consistency when it is ready.

To serve, place a stuffed chicken breast on each plate and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Pairs well with a mixed green salad or roasted vegetables.

Here are some ideas for roasted vegetables:

  1. Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs
  2. Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables
  3. Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

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Honey Mustard Salmon Salad

Honey Mustard Salmon Salad on a green platter with gluten free crackers Rich salmon with slightly sweet garlic mustard, and local raw honey. There’s crunchy vegetables included that makes this fresh salad a more flavorful one than tuna salad.

Children, teens, and adults alike will enjoy it on some crackers, or as a sandwich.

We enjoyed our “Honey Mustard Salmon Salad” with some crackers made from red, yellow, and green lentil flour.

Wild caught salmon is in season from April through November, during which time you can find it fresh at your local markets and it is the least expensive.

Wild salmon not only provides exceptional flavor and nutrition found in few other foods, but is easy to prepare and enjoyed even by those who are not always fond of fish (WHF).

Skinning and Boning A Salmon Fillet

Though we used canned salmon from The Whole Foods Market, you can use fresh cooked salmon as well.

If you happen to buy some with the skin still on and you wish to remove it and not really sure how to do it, just follow these instructions from The World’s Healthiest Foods – Salmon Bones and Skin Removed.

salmon-skinned-deboned

GIF credit: Worlds Healthiest Foods

Start with a sharp knife and hold one edge of the filet with your fingers and slide the knife between the skin and meat at about a 45° angle facing the edge of the blade toward the skin.

Position the blade so that the fish is in the middle. Do not move your knife back and forth, but rather move the salmon back and forth on your knife blade holding the skin.

Keep the edge of  the knifes blade at an angle so it cuts between the meat and skin without cutting through the skin.

To remove the bones, run your fingers over the top of the fish too find a line of bones. Remove them one at a time with a pair of tweezers, pliers, or your fingers. Pull them out going with the grain of the fish so they slide out without tearing the meat.

It takes some practice, but with a sharp knife it can actually be quite easy.

Bears Enjoy Salmon To

We would say that this recipe has been kitchen tested, and is budget friendly.

Here is what you will need to prepare your own Honey Mustard Salmon Salad.

4 tablespoons sweet garlic mustard (found at Whole foods Market)

4 tablespoons plain yogurt (we used a homemade yogurt)

2 tablespoons local raw honey

2 – 6 ounce cans Alaskan Wild Salmon, drained

1 small red bell pepper, diced

2 celery stalks, sliced thin

1/2 cup white onion, diced

ingredients for Honey Mustard Salmon SaladIn a large bowl, mix together mustard, yogurt, and honey. Add salmon, red bell pepper, celery, and onion.

mixing in honey - Honey Mustard Salmon SaladStir together until mixed.

Honey Mustard Salmon Salad - close upPlace the Honey Mustard Salmon Salad in the center of a serving platter and surround the fish mixture with your favorite crackers, and serve.

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Condiments – Sauces – and Dips – Oh My!

Condiments - Sauces - and Dips - Oh My!

Supermarket-Condiments-Aisle

Image Credit: Fooducate

Depending on what you are going to eat, no meal is complete without condiments, sauces and dips.

You could become easily over whelmed as you stroll your shopping cart down the condiments, sauces, and dips aisles of your favorite grocery store, as there are so many choices.

Even on Pinterest, Instagram, and other social networks you can find amazing, delectable and tasty-looking condiments, sauces and dips that you can create on your own to enhance your meals.

In the United States alone, the production of marketed condiments was valued at 5.6 billion dollars (USA) in 2010 and was estimated to grow to 7 billion dollars (USA) by 2015. 

Condiments are the second largest bought specialty food with the first being cheese.

What Is A Condiment

A condiment includes a spice, herb, salt, pepper, and sauce. The word “condiment” was coined from the Latin word condimentum, which means spice, seasoning, or sauce. The Latin word condere, also means, to preserve, pickle, or season.

The preparation of a particular condiment is added to food to render a distinct flavor, and/or to intensify a culinary dishes flavor. The term originally described food items like pickles, tarter sauce, mustard, ketchup, or Tabasco sauce, but has shifted meaning over time.

Link here to check out a List Of Condiments referred to on Wikipedia.

What Are Sauces and Dips

ranch dip with vegtables, tomatoes and crusted bread

Ranch Dressing or Buttermilk Dressing Dip With Vegetables, Tomatoes and Crusted Bread

Sauces are a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent along with other flavoring ingredients served with food, usually savory dishes, to add moistness and flavor.

About Food says there are 5 Mother Sauces, and they include…

  • Béchamel Sauce
  • Velouté Sauce
  • Espagnole Sauce
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • Classic Tomate Sauce

About Food explains that the term “mother sauce” in culinary arts, refers to any one of the five basic sauces just mentioned, which are the starting points for making various secondary sauces. They say that they are called “mother sauces,” as each sauce is like the head of its own unique family of sauces.

types of Mexican SalsasSalsa is the Italian and Spanish word for sauce, and in English speaking countries salsa usually refers to the sauces typical of Mexico’s cuisine, referred to as salsa picante, particularly those used as dips.

Salsas are most often prepared with a tomato-based sauce or dip which is heterogeneous or diverse in character, as it can include the addition of onions, chilies, beans, cilantro, corn, and assorted spices that are customarily piquant, ranging from mild to very hot.

Salsas can be runny or thick. Both types of salsas are also used as dipping sauces, such as platters that are prepared with corn chips, beans, sour cream, and salsa.

guacamole dip and corn chips

Guacamole With Corn Chips

Dips are a thick food item, for dipping other finger foods into.

Dips are usually dairy based, like a buttermilk based dip, or a sour cream or cream cheese based dip, as well as tomato based.

You can even mix a salsa with sour cream to form a dip.

Dips can be thick or a liquid, and they can include a spinach dip, fruit dip, like guacamole, or a pizza dip, such as a tomato sauce based dip, or a garlic sauce.

Creative Condiments – Sauces – and Dips

Add coconut to your curry sauce. This gives it a more south-east Asian flavor. Just sauté some onions, ginger, curry powder, and sugar. Add some coconut milk and allow to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Add fresh, frozen, or peach preserves  and spices to a favorite barbecue sauce. Mix in some peach preserves, a little sriracha, and your favorite barbecue sauce, and turn some yum into a wow in an instant.

You can create a great slider sauce or marinade for grilling meats by using Dijon mustard, key lime juice, Himalayan salt and pepper.

Here are some great Condiments – Sauces – and Dips prepared here at Splendid Recipes and More…

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Cooking Simple With Your Family

Collage of adults cooking with their children - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyWe have been interviewing Keisha T. Prosser – The Mobile Cooking Teacher on Using Your Cooking Skills To Teach Others About Good Nutrition (March. 15, 2016) and  The Mobile Cooking Teacher – Inspiring A New Generation Of Cooks (March. 19, 2019). To see the interviews again just click and follow the above links.

Keisha T. ProsserSplendid Recipes: Today we are going to let Keisha explain the right time to start teaching your children cooking skills. Okay Keisha, we pass the platform over to you.

Keisha: Thanks Randy. Do you have children? Have you ever thought when would be a good time to start teaching my child how to cook? But not only cook, but cook healthy meals.

It is true we are all busy, but our children will not always be with us, and they need to know the importance of COOKING. And it doesn’t matter if they are a girl or boy, we all should have some basic cooking skills.

Okay, so when is a good time to start teaching your children? Let’s talk about age groups and what are some skills they can learn during those ages.

Teaching Children Age Appropriate Cooking Skills

Here are the age appropriate cooking skills to teach your children.

Preschoolers – 6 years old

young boy learning to cut with a knife - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyThis age group can help preparing fruit and pasta salads, help with setting the table, and for those who can read, they can read the recipe ingredients and directions with you. Doing so will help them learn to follow recipe directions.

They can measure ingredients, learn how to use a food timer, including a meat thermometer. They can help with making smoothies by allowing the child to place the ingredients into the blender.

This is also a wonderful age group to let help with young girl helping to make cookies - Cooking Simple With Your Familybaking cookies, as they can learn the effort that goes into making one of their favorite snacks.

Explain to them how herbs and spices flavor a recipe. You might think teaching this to a preschooler to 6 year old would be something they wouldn’t understand, which may be true at first. But repetition is key to teaching children the skills of cooking.

Other things this age group can help with in food preparation is preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner, helping with menu planning, as well as helping to clean up the kitchen after eating.

This age group is the right time to start and teach them the importance of eating healthy.

Ages 7-12

young boy learning to cook - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyContinue with what they have learned up to age six, that is measuring ingredients, making smoothies, menu planning, and help with cleaning the kitchen.

Ages 7 to 12 is a good age group to start teaching kitchen prep work, that is cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses that will go into the recipe you are preparing.

Continue with teaching them the importance of healthy eating, flavoring foods with herbs and spices, including following and reading recipe directions.

 

Ages 13-18 

 teen boy preparing a recipe - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyThis age group can start learning to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner by themselves.

They even make their favorite cookies on their own, including learning how to cook different cuisines, like a simple Asian stir-fry or Mexican food, like tacos.

They still should be encouraged to read and follow recipe directions. At this age let them sit with a paper and pencil and plan out the weeks menu.

Letting them do this will help them learn appreciation for planning ahead to eat, instead of waiting to the last minute when you are really hungry, and may go for some junk food.

Cooking Simple

We all would like meals to be done in 20 minutes or less, at least I do.

young girl cooking - - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyHere are some simple ingredients you can teach your child to mix together to form different recipes in the kitchen.

You can do 3 easy things with these ingredients: Lemon, Garlic, Salt, Sugar, Olive Oil, and Onion.

Salad Dressing: Lemon, Olive Oil, Garlic, Onion, Salt and Lemon Zest.

Marinade: Lemon, Garlic, Onion and Olive Oil

The ideas are endless with these simple ingredients.

Having your family helping in the kitchen more is one way to make sure everyone is eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Preparing meals together brings you closer as a family. You are teaching your family how to cook healthier and smarter.

Remember, the heart of the home is in the kitchen, and a healthy kitchen, is a healthy heart.

Splendid Recipes: Thanks so much Keisha, for taking the time out to share all that you have with us on teaching good nutrition through cooking, inspiring future cooks, and cooking together as a family.

Keisha: No thank you Randy for this opportunity. And I appreciate any one who would like to follow me on any one of the social net works I am on.

Splendid Recipes: Yes follow Keisha on any one of the following social net works and keep up with the latest adventures of – The Mobile Cooking Teacher.

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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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Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils as well as any legume are an inexpensive source of protein, as well  as fat-free, high in fiber and rich in a number of essential nutrients. Adding lentils to your diet offers a number of health benefits, from controlling your weight to promoting heart health.

varieties of lentils You need 25 to 30 grams of fiber everyday, and one half cup of lentils will supply 8 grams of that fiber. Fiber in foods helps suppress appetite, helping you to manage and maintain a healthy weight.  Eating a diet that is rich in dietary fiber also decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your body.

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, fiber rich foods can also help in the regulation of sugar in the blood stream.

According to the World Health Organization iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, and 1/2 cup of lentils provides 3.3 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving.

Keep in mind though, that your body can’t absorb as much iron from plant-based foods, including lentils as it does from meat sources. Eating lentils with a food rich in vitamin-C, such as sweet peppers, can help improve absorption.

As you might have guessed by now our featured recipe has lentils, and to  help your body take advantage of the iron in them, the recipe includes vitamin-C sources, including green beans, carrots, and celery.

Our featured recipe is: Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 medium rainbow carrots, sliced (colors include yellow, purple, and red)

2 medium celery stalks, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 medium purple sweet potatoes, 1/2-inch dice

9 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 – 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Himalayan salt and fresh ground black pepper

Whole leaf cilantro and plain Greek yogurt, for garnishing

chopped vegetables for Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Prepare vegetables and in a extra- large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables while stirring until they are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Next add the garlic and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Next add 7 cups of fresh water and the green lentils. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook 10 minutes.

Next add the sweet potatoes and continue to cook, with the pot covered, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.

Nest add the green beans and can of diced tomatoes with juice, and cook until warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove bay leaf from stew pot, and add the chopped cilantro and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Bowl of Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and whole cilantro leaves. Enjoy!!

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Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig DressingFigs are a fruit native to Italy and Greece. The fruit is available in both fresh and dried forms, and they offer a nutritional advantages due to their nutrient content.

Are you worried about the appearance of your skin? Figs are rich in nutrients that build and maintain healthy looking skin. The nutrients include B-complex, vitamin-C, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are all essential nutrients for boosting and rejuvenating the skin’s health. Figs contain high amounts omega-3 fatty acids which helps to keep skin moisturized and conditioned.

Rubbing fresh figs on your face and allowing it to dry can help cure acne.

Fig leaves are also used is used for skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo (loss of pigment color). The milky sap from the tree is used to treat skin tumors and warts, when applied directly to the skin.

Research with the chemicals found in the leaves of the fig tree reports that a tea made from fig leaves could help use insulin more efficiently and reduce insulin requirements in people with type 1 diabetes. It also helps to lower blood sugar levels after eating (WebMD).

Let’s enjoy the healthy benefits of figs as well as their natural sweetness with our featured recipe: Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing. Here is what you will need.

Bellas Blackberry and Fig Dressing6 black figs, stemmed , cut in half

1 small eggplant, sliced

1 cup fresh blackberries

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

4 cups mix tender leafy greens (can mix spring greens with some spicy greens)

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/3 cup pecan pieces

1 jar Bella’s Blackberry and Fig Balsamic Dressing (3 to 5 tablespoons each plated salad)

sliced eggplant and figsThe eggplant we used is a long narrow purple and white Asian eggplant. According to Grow Organic, they are a “new” eggplant on the garden scene, though it is a much older Asian variety. They are long and narrow, and come in a variety of colors including white, purple, magenta and green (Grow Organics).

Slice the eggplant into 1 inch slices, and cut the figs into two.

olive oil coated sliced eggplant and figsIn a large mixing bowl, add the oil, salt, and slice produce and toss until coated.

on the bbq - grilling eggplant and figs

bbq grilled eggplant and figsNext place a piece of tin foil on to a BBQ grill, and heat BBQ until hot.

Place figs and eggplant on to hot grill, and turn after 2 minuets.

After turning  you should hear the figs make a pop noise (skins are bursting slightly), about 1 minute, then remove from grill and set aside.

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing- detailed close upNext, per plate add two hand fulls of leafy greens. Top with grilled eggplant, figs and blackberries. Next sprinkle on cheese and nuts. Now splash 3 to 5 tablespoons of balsamic dressing (about 1/4 cup or 2 ounce). You can purchase the dressing at your favorite market if available, and if not, you can find it at the Whole Foods Market.

The number of eggplant and fig pieces, including berries you place on each plated salad will determine how many salads you will be preparing.

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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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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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