Cooking Local Seasonal Foods – Week 2

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What my farmer brought me in my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share this week.

Follow along as I show you what I made with these local, seasonal foods I received from my farmer this week:

  • Radish
  • Tomatoes
  • Small green onions
  • Radish
  • Cucumber
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Sugar snap peas

Radish Mouse

Radish Mouse

radish-mouse

Directions

These little creatures are a whimsical way to eat radishes. Cut the tip off the stem end and you have a white nose. Cut a very thin slice from the bottom to help stabilize the mice; proceed to cut the slice in half for the ears. Make a small notch in the radishes near the nose and insert the ears.

TIP: The ears can fall off rather easily. I placed a spoon in the dip so any displaced ears ended up on plates instead of in the dip bowl. Added benefit: People can double-dip from their plate!

Source: Recipe developed by Alice Henneman, MS, RND

Relishes with Onion Yogurt Dip

Make a quick dip by mixing 1 part mayonnaise to 3 parts Greek-style yogurt (for example, I used 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup yogurt). Mix in some finely sliced green onion. Since the onions were small, I added two of them. A bit of the stem served as a garnish for the dip.

I like using yogurt in dips as it adds extra calcium and protein to snacks. Let the dip refrigerate at least one hour so the flavors can blend. This dip was mixed the night before I used it and made the perfect accompaniment to the kohlrabi, cucumbers and radishes.

raddish-mouse-dip

Tuna and Lettuce Salad

I tossed lettuce, tomatoes, radish, cucumbers and kohlrabi with an oil and vinegar salad dressing. Tuna mixed with mayonnaise and chopped green onion topped the salad.

tuna-salad

Egg Salad Sandwiches

For the perfect hard-boiled eggs for my sandwiches, I used these directions for Classic Hard-Boiled Eggs from the American Egg Board. Since there are just two of us in our household, I usually buy only a 6-pack of eggs at a time. If you’re wondering how long to keep eggs, check out Cracking the Date Code on Egg Cartons.

I chopped the eggs, mixed them with some mayonnaise and thinly sliced one of the green onions into the mixture. Served on toasted whole grain bread with a bit of the lettuce, this was the perfect light sandwich for a noon meal.

TIP: Hard-boil extra eggs when cooking eggs for this recipe. Hard-boiled eggs in the shell can be refrigerated up to one week; store in a clean container, not the original carton.

egg-salad-sandwich

Tomato Topped with Egg Salad

Remember those extra eggs I recommended hard-boiling? I made some more egg salad and served a scoop of it on a tomato on a plate lined with lettuce. Tuna salad also makes a good topper for tomatoes.

tomato-egg-salad

Pasta Salad with Fresh Veggies and Eggs

Here’s another way I used some of the eggs I hard-boiled earlier during the week. Cook pasta according to package directions. Use about 2 ounces of dry pasta per person, which equals about 1 cup cooked pasta. The amount need not be exact … if you don’t have a kitchen scale, check the total ounces of pasta in the package and and use proportionally an amount equal to two ounces. For example, if there are 16 ounces of dry pasta, you would need 4 ounces for two people or about 4/16 or 1/4 of the total amount of pasta in the box.

Run cooked pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Next, I mixed the pasta with all the remaining veggies from my CSA share (radish, kohlrabi and cucumber) and some cubed cheese together with an oil and vinegar type salad dressing. I chopped two eggs for my husband and me into wedges, saving the best-looking wedges to place on top of the salad. The rest were mixed in with the salad.

Refrigerating the salad (covered with some plastic wrap) for about an hour before serving helped meld the flavors.

pasta-salad

Foods in my CSA share are courtesy of Pekarek’s Produce. 

Mashed Cauliflower

mashed cauliflower

I’m just finishing my first CSA box of foods  and decided to make mashed cauliflower accompanied by a salad of my remaining salad greens.

The wonderful thing about cooking with fresh, local foods is you don’t need to do much to make them taste good … they’re at their peak of freshness.

Mixing the lettuce with a dab of your favorite salad dressing is all it takes to make a delicious salad. I used a vinaigrette on this salad. If you’d like to make your own dressing, here’s a quick recipe for an olive oil and vinegar salad dressing.

The mashed cauliflower was also super simple. As I was cooking for just my husband and me, I used only half the cauliflower. Just double the following recipe to use the whole head.

yogurt salsa dip

Yogurt Salsa Dip

I cleaned and separated the total cauliflower into florets and stored the remaining half in a plastic bag in the fridge. It should keep well for at least four days; use by adding to salads, eat as is, or serve with a dip.If you have some salsa and yogurt in your fridge, try combining two parts plain yogurt with one part salsa for quick, flavorful dip (for example, mix 1 cup plain yogurt with 1/2 cup salsa). Or, roast the cauliflower; directions follow below the Mashed Cauliflower recipe. 

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

  • Servings: 2 generous servings; double the ingredients to use the whole head
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced OR 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt (if desired), to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese (you can use any cheese)

Directions

  1. In a large sauce pan (use a Dutch oven if cooking the entire cauliflower), bring an inch of water to boil.
  2. Add cauliflower; cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. (Test by sticking a fork into the cauliflower.)
  3. Drain the cauliflower and return to the pan. Add the milk, butter or margarine, garlic, pepper and salt. Mash with a potato masher until combined. OR, place the cauliflower and other ingredients (except the cheese) in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer. (NOTE: I prefer to stop mixing while the mixture still contains some small chunks of cauliflower than until it is perfectly smooth. This is a matter of personal preference, however.)
  4. Stir in the cheese.

Credit: Recipe developed by Alice Henneman, MS, RDN

Roasted Cauliflower

roasted-cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting adds flavor to the cauliflower and reduces the volume slightly. You may be surprised by how much you and family members eat when you roast cauliflower. (NOTE: Just halve the following ingredients if only using half a head.

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Remove outer leaves of cauliflower. Cut florets off the stem. Wash and drain.
  3. Combine oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil mixture.
  4. Spread cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Roast in the oven at 450 degrees 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower starts to soften and begins to brown.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese. Continue to roast for 5-10 minutes.

Recipe source: University of Maryland Extension. Food Supplement Nutrition Education Program at USDA’s What’s Cooking.

Foods in my CSA share are courtesy of Pekarek’s Produce. 

Salad in a Jar

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Foods received in my Week 1 CSA box

“Salad in a Jar” seemed perfect for my second recipe this year using local, seasonal foods. My first share of foods for the summer in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from a local farmer included the cauliflower, radish and lettuce used in this recipe.

Local, seasonal fruits and vegetables are at the peak of freshness when purchased either directly from a farm, at a farmers’ market or in a grocery store. Or harvested from your garden.

In my first post, I gave a recipe for a simple lettuce and radish salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar. So none of these fresh, tasty foods goes to waste, I made two Salads in a Jar to enjoy at work this Thursday and Friday.

These salads are so easy to make! You don’t have to use all the ingredients; however, it is very important to put the salad dressing on the bottom followed with a layer of hard, moisture-resistant vegetables to protect the remaining layers from getting soggy.

My salad includes:

  • Salad dressing (I used a vinaigrette)
  • Chopped cauliflower
  • Sliced radishes
  • Black beans (as a source of protein)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Lettuce

Here are the basic ingredients …

Continue reading

Cooking Local Foods – Week 1

 

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It’s that time of year again when fresh-from-the-farm foods are available at Farmers’ Markets and through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares.*

For most of the weeks from now until the end of September, I’ll share with you tips and recipes for preparing fresh, locally grown foods. Also, I’ll help you avoid wasting fresh fruits and vegetables through storage and freezing tips, plus give recipe suggestions that help you use every last leaf, stalk, ear, etc.! I’ll be using foods currently in season in Nebraska and provided in a CSA share courtesy of Pekarek’s Produce. 

Here’s how I’m using some of the produce from this week (shown in the top photo) in a salad. I will post more ideas and tips as I continue to enjoy my CSA share.

Last night, as an accompaniment to a pasta meal, I prepared a quick salad, using a technique learned on a recent trip to Spain. Here’s what I did:

  1. I washed and dried the lettuce in a salad spinner (helps remove the water and make salad dressing stick better, plus you can use less dressing AND add fewer calories). Also, I sliced a few of the red radishes.
  2. Each person at the table (last night, it was my husband and me) got a salad bowl with the lettuce and radishes.
  3. Next, each of us added a splash of vinegar followed by a couple of splashes of extra virgin olive oil. Use a ratio of about 1 part vinegar (such as balsamic, sherry, red wine or a fruit-flavored vinegar) to 3 parts olive oil. Eyeball it at about 1 teaspoon vinegar to 3 teaspoons olive oil per about 2 cups of salad. (NOTE: If desired, add a dash of salt at the beginning).
  4. Toss and enjoy!

The benefit of this easy recipe is you control the amount of ingredients plus you don’t have any of those aging bottles of salad dressing in your refrigerator that eventually get tossed! And … you don’t have to mix up a salad dressing in advance. Pretty cool!

If you’d like to take just a little more time and include a few more ingredients, prepare a salad dressing for the total salad using these steps for making an olive oil salad dressing.

Making your own salad dressing


 

*Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or “share-holders” of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.  Source: USDA National Agricultural Library

Freezing Peppers for Future Meals

How to freeze peppers for future meals.

An assortment of peppers available at a local farmers’ market.

(Reproduced from an article by Alice Henneman, MS, RDN at food.unl.edu)

Bell or Sweet Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple)

  1. Select crisp, tender peppers.

    How to tray freeze peppers for future meals.

    Tray freezing raw peppers

  2. Wash.
  3. Cut out stems and cut peppers in half.
  4. Remove seeds and membrane — save time by using a melon baller or the tip of a spoon to scrape out seeds and membrane.
  5. Cut peppers into strips, dice or slice, depending on how you plan to use them.
  6. Freeze peppers in a single layer on a cookie sheet with sides, about an hour or longer until frozen. This method is often referred to as “tray freezing.”
  7. Transfer to a “freezer” bag when frozen, excluding as much air as possible from the bag. The peppers will remain separated for ease of use in measuring out for recipes.
  8. Pour out the amount of frozen peppers needed, reseal the bag and return to the freezer.

Hot Peppers (including Jalapeno Peppers)

Wash and stem hot peppers. Package, leaving no headspace. Seal and freeze. It is not necessary to cut or chop hot peppers before freezing.

Caution: The National Center for Home Food Preservation warns, “Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.”

HOT TIP: If your mouth is burning from eating hot peppers, help put out the fire with milk and other dairy products.

Storage Time

To extend the time frozen foods maintain good quality, package foods in material intended for freezing and keep the temperature of the freezer at 0 degrees F or below. It is generally recommended frozen vegetables be eaten within about 8 months for best quality.

 

Orange Banana Frosty

This Orange Banana Frosty recipe is a perfect way to liven up your meals or snacks. It is not only nutritious, but it is quick and delicious.

Orange Banana Frosty

This blog was created by Cassie Augustine, a Dietetic and Nutrition Exercise Health Science double major at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. 

With summer right around the corner, are you looking for a refreshing way to excite your taste buds? Great, this recipe is a perfect way to liven up your meals or snacks. It is not only nutritious, but it is quick.

This banana orange frosty is the perfect way to perk up your day. With three simple ingredients you can make it for a breakfast on the go, a snack in between meals or even to compliment your meal.

Orange Banana Frosty is made with three common ingredients that can be found in your kitchen.

Orange Banana Frosty is made with three common ingredients that can be found in your kitchen.

Makes: 2 servings
Total Cost: $1.86
Serving Cost: $0.93

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • ½ cup low fat yogurt (plain)
  • ½ orange juice (prepared)

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix well.
  2. You can add more liquid if you want to make the smoothie thinner consistency.
  3. Put in a cup and enjoy (:

Recipe Source: http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/orange-banana-frosty

National Agriculture Week is March 15 to 21 – 2015

Ag Week

If you eat, thank a farmer! 

This week, during National Agriculture Week, let’s give thanks to the farmers who provide our food.

To help you enjoy the various agricultural products available in the United States, check Nebraska Extension’s links to the many resources about livestock and crops grown in Nebraska and throughout many of the other states in our nation.

Many of the links include an assortment of recipes for preparing United States agriculture foods. 

Sprinkle on Cheese for Added Nutrition and Taste

 

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Corn Chowder with Cheese


One of the staples I keep in my refrigerator is shredded cheese. Shredded cheese is a tasty way to add calcium to foods. An added bonus is it often adds an extra splash of color such as in this soup.

Other foods I enhance with a sprinkle of cheese include:

  • Salads
  • Omelets
  • Bean dishes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Nachos
  • Tacos
  • Casseroles
  • Pasta

Shredded cheese comes in several varieties and is available in both regular and reduced fat versions.

So … if you’re looking for an easy way to kick up the flavor, nutrition and color of foods, just SAY CHEESE!

(Note: Find the recipe for the Corn Chowder in “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl. It’s really quick and easy to make and is thickened by the addition of low-sodium cream style corn.) 

 

How Long Can You Store Commercially Canned Food?

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Commercially canned foods are convenient as they require no refrigeration to keep their contents safe. Their nutritional value is comparable to other forms of food such as frozen and fresh. In some cases, it may be higher.

The question that people often our Nebraska Extension office, is “how long can you keep canned food”? This article on “Shelf-Stable” Food Safety,” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture answers this question and more. For example:

  • Is it safe to use rusted cans?
  • Is it safe to use food from dented cans?
  • Is it safe to use cans that freeze accidentally?

So … the next time you wonder if you “can” use the food from that can, check out Shelf-Stable” Food Safety!

Versatile Coleslaw

slaw-final

This recipe will help you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Cabbage can be steamed, baked, or stuffed, as well as eaten raw.
Makes: 6 servings (approximately 1 cup, each)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 carrot (cleaned, peeled, and shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (or dry mustard seed)
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed (if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl add mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt. If using celery seed, add that too.
  3. Mix the cabbage and carrots well with the dressing.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Source: Available at www.usda.gov/whatscooking and adapted from food.com

Alice’s Notes: This is a very basic coleslaw recipe that can be made from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, especially the dressing ingredients. Possible alternative purchased salad dressings include: classic coleslaw dressing, ranch dressing and poppy seed dressing. Other ingredients you could add include:

  • Sliced or diced apples
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Diced green pepper
  • Raisins or dried cranberries
  • Green onions
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Pineapple