I love Spring!

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What a week this was! Four days off in a row!
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I love Spring!

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I love Spring!  All the fruits and vegetables that are available at this time of year make eating a real dining experience! 

TIP:  When citrus fruit is in abundance I stock up and juice them.   Put the juice in an ice cube tray and freeze it.  These little cubes of juice are perfect to make a pan sauce after cooking chicken or fish in a sauté pan.  Simple remove the meat or fish, toss in a couple of cubes and deglaze the pan.  Add seasoning and this makes the perfect sauce for any protein you serve!

TIP:  When fresh vegetables are in abundance I stock up.  I blanch them in boiling water for a minute then remove them to an ice bath.  This stops the cooking.  I make sure they are dry and vacuum seal and freeze them.  This way I can have fresh spring vegetables throughout the year when they are unavailable. 

Homemade Applesauce

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Making your own applesauce allows you to know the ingredients and avoid additives and preservatives.  My wife has begun making her own and the recipe is simple.  The picture above is her cherry applesauce.  Last week she made nectarine applesauce.  The recipe is simple:  6 apples (Gala, Pink Lady) – 2 16oz bags of frozen fruit, if the fruit you want to use is not yet in season – 2 tablespoons local raw honey – the juice of 1 lemon.  Cook until soft.  Allow it to cool then put in your blender and pulse until there are no big chunks.  Be careful not to over blend or you will have soup.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow it to set up and you have applesauce.  It makes about a quart.

Because it is using fresh ingredients (no preservatives) it must be eaten within five days, however, it does freeze well. 

I wanted to show you the applesauce because it is on the next plate of food and is not that attractive.

This dish is one she made while I was working.  She cooked chicken breasts with only salt, pepper and garlic powder as seasoning.  Sautéed in a shallow pan until cooked through.  Using a vegetable peeler she shaved Zucchini into long strips – lined 3 up side by side – shredded the chicken and put a about a tablespoon on the end of the strips along with fresh spinach leaves.  Rolled them up and baked them.  The picture does not do the meal justice!  You can see the cherry applesauce on this plate. 

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We have been trying to avoid the typical side dishes like rice, potatoes, etc., and include more vegetables.  The combination of vegetables is endless!  Also, a splash of citrus juice brightens everything!

We had chicken thighs that needed to be cooked so I grilled them using CK (Almost) Famous BBQ Rub.  I needed a salad and came up with the following recipe:

Roasted Corn, Roasted Red Pepper, Roasted Poblano and Black Bean Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

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Serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients

2 Fresh Ears of Corn – Husk opened and silk removed. Do not remove the husks.

1 Large Red Pepper

1 – Large Poblano or Pasilla Chil

1 – 15 oz. Can of Black Beans Rinsed

½ Cup Chopped Cilantro

1 Large Lime – Zested and Squeezed

¼ Cup Mild or Neutral Oil – I used Grapeseed

Salt to Taste

Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

 

Method

Pre-Heat the Gas BBQ Grill

While the grill is heating, turn on a burner on the stove to high.  Using tongs, char the chili on all sides and remove to a zip lock style baggie.

Using the same burner, cook the red pepper on all sides until some charring occurs.  Remove to a cutting board.

Put the corn with husks on onto the BBQ grill.  Cook about 3 minutes per side.  When done remove the now burnt husks. My corn wasn’t charred enough so I put them back on the grill to get them slightly charred and fully cooked.

Remove the Poblano Chili from the baggie and using your figures over a sink remove the charred skin with your fingers. Cut the top off and remove the seeds and cut into 3/8” cubes.  Place in a large bowl.

Remove the top of the red pepper and remove the seeds.  Cut into 3/8” cubes and place them into the same bowl.

Place the corn cob upright on your cutting boards and using a chef knife, or other sharp knife, and cut downward against the cob to remove the corn kernels.  Remove to the same bowl.

Add the black beans and cilantro to the bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix all of the ingredients together.

For the vinaigrette place the lime juice and zest with the oil (one part lime juice to one part oil).  Add salt and pepper and mix using a whisk.  Taste it to make sure it has enough lime flavor.  If not, add the zest from another lime.

Add the vinaigrette to the salad mixture making sure to stir it up so everything gets coated.  Taste again for salt and pepper and adjust as necessary.

If possible, let the salad rest for at least 30 minutes before serving to let all of the flavors marry.

This same salad can be stuffed into a bell pepper for a vegetarian version of stuffed bell peppers.  It is good hot, cold and at room temperature.

Creating salads can be as simple as cleaning out the vegetables in your fridge at the end of the week and combining them with the same simple vinaigrette.

 

Kids’ Corner

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I was looking around to see what is happening in the child decorating eggs cyberspace community.  I came across this website and it was inspiring!  http://www.toddlerapproved.com/2011/04/i-love-you-stinky-face-eggheads.html

Make decorating fun this year for the children!  No recipes this week as I know we have the Easter Sunday celebration coming up.  More recipes for the children next week.

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