Cucumber Water

cucumberLooking for something refreshing to drink? How about some cool and refreshing cucumber water.

Ingredients

1 medium cucumber
2 quarts water

Directions

If desired, peel the cucumber with alternating bands of peeled and bare cucumber.

Cut off the ends and slice the cucumber 1/4 inch slices.

Combine the cucumber and water in a pitcher and let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator. Serve over ice.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

roaster brussel sproutsBrussels sprouts have a bad reputation, mainly because of horrible childhood experiences with the canned or frozen variety. Try this easy side dish using FRESH brussels sprouts that gives this underrated veggie a whole new, grown-up flavor!

Ingredients

brussel sprouts
1 lb. fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 t. black pepper, or to taste
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

brussels sproutsCut brussels sprouts in half (smaller ones can be kept whole). Place on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until sprouts are tender and a deep, golden brown.

Toss with parmesan cheese (if desired) and enjoy!

Spring Risotto with Asparagus & Peas

Risotto can seem like a daunting, complicated dish to prepare. It’s much easier than you’d think, once you master a few simple steps it becomes surprisingly simple. Be sure to gather the ingredients ahead of time, keep the pan at a medium temperature (simmer, don’t boil!) and constantly stir the dish once you get started. A risotto is an elegant meal that will make you look like a seasoned chef. Try this recipe at your next get-together and wow your friends with your culinary skills.

Spring Risotto

Ingredients

    spring-risotto-2
  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. sliced asparagus, one inch pieces (roughly 1 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 c. shelled peas
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 T. butter
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 2 c. short-grain rice (arborio rice is preferred)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided (quality counts here, use the best you can find)
  • 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Combine water and chicken stock in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then keep warm over low heat. (Do not boil.)

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice, cook for one minute.

spring-risotto-3Add white wine to rice pan. Stir constantly until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the water/broth mixture. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. 1/2 cup at a time, add the remaining broth to the rice mixture, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before the next addition. It is VERY important to keep stirring throughout this process and to keep the mixture at a slow simmer. This step should take around 30 minutes.

Once all of the liquid has been added to the rice dish, stir in the peas and asparagus and cook for two minutes. Remove the pan from heat and add the cream, 3/4 cup of the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve risotto in bowls with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

Rosemary Chicken Noodle Soup

One of the benefits of winter overstaying its welcome this year is the extension of comfort food season! One of the greatest meals for cool, dreary days is chicken noodle soup with warm bread or biscuits. This recipe is quick, easy and could be increased to feed an army! While the recipe calls for raw chicken that is poached in step two, leftover chicken can be used making it even easier to get dinner on the table. Enjoy our extended cool-weather vegetable growing season!

rosemary chicken noodle soup

Ingredients

  • 4 c. cooked whole wheat egg noodles
  • rosemary-chicken-noodle-soup-1-sm1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. salt, divided
  • 8 c. water
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 2 T. dried rosemary (great way to use last year’s harvest!)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast or thigh
  • 10 oz. shredded carrots
  • 6 oz. baby spinach (you can use any spring green you have in your garden!)
  • 1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/2 t. black pepper

Directions

Toss hot cooked noodles with oil and salt.

Combine water and the next five ingredients (through chicken) in a soup pot, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and cool slightly, reserving the cooking liquid. Shred the chicken using two forks.

Return cooking liquid to a simmer. Add shredded carrots and cook for 6 minutes, until carrots are softened. Add shredded chicken, parsley and spinach. Cook for 3 minutes or until spinach wilts.

Stir in noodles and lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for one minute.

Serve!

*Note- if you use pre-cooked chicken you can replace some or all of the water with chicken broth for extra flavor!*

Grilled Romaine with Herb Dressing

grilled romaine lettuceThe idea of grilling lettuce may seem strange but the flavor imparted on the greens is worth a few raised eyebrows! The leaves become slightly wilted and have a unique “grilled” flavor that partners well with a grilled chicken breast or a steak.

Ingredients

  • Two heads of Romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise and trimmed
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 c. loosely packed dill leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 T. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/3 c. chopped chives
  • 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/8-1/4 t. fresh ground pepper
  • Dash or two of hot sauce (if desired)

Directions

Brush the cut sides of the lettuce with olive oil. Grill on a preheated grill over medium-high heat for about two minutes. Cut each lettuce half again to make quarter wedges and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dressing:

Combine first five ingredients (through mayonnaise) in a bowl. Slowly add buttermilk, whisking constantly. Stir in vinegar, salt & pepper and the hot sauce. Taste the dressing and adjust seasonings to your preference.

Drizzle dressing over grilled lettuce quarters and a handful of cherry tomatoes.

*Dressing can be made in a food processor if desired.*

Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Candied Pecans

Jump into spring with an easy yet elegant spinach salad! This recipe is also great in the fall using pears and crumbled feta. Any leftover dressing can be refrigerated up to two weeks.

spinach salad with straweberries and candied pecans

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of spinach (spring mix will work too!)
  • 2 c. sliced strawberries
  • 1 1/2 c. candied pecans
For the dressing:
  • 2/3 c. cider vinegar
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 t. prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 t. poppy seeds

Directions

To candy the pecans:

Melt 3 T. butter in a non-stick pan. Add pecans and toast for two minutes. Add 3 T. brown sugar and a dash each of cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Stir until sugar dissolves into a syrup. Transfer nuts and syrup to wax paper to harden. Break apart once cooled if needed.

For the salad:

Combine spinach, strawberries and cooled candied pecans. Blend together dressing ingredients; drizzle desired amount over the top of the salad and serve.

Eggplant Fries

Eggplant Fries

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of ground red pepper
  • Dash of garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Season salt

Directions

Peel the eggplant and cut into “fries.” Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper and garlic salt in a paper or plastic bag, or a large bowl. Coat the eggplant “fries” in the flour mixture by shaking or rolling. Heat the oil to 365 to 375 degrees in a large skillet, wok or medium pot. Fry the eggplant until deep golden, working in batches if needed. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with season salt.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.