27 Aug Tips for Okra and Garlic Okra

Tips:

Look for smooth, unblemished pods. Green okra should be bright green with a bit of fresh, even dewy fuzz on its surface. Purple or red okra should similarly look fresh. The brighter and greener the ends are, the fresher the okra is. Avoid pods with significant brown spots, dry looking ends, or any shriveled bits

Most okra is harvested when the pods are between 1 and 4 inches long. Pods longer than 4 inches tend to get into the tough category, which can be fine for stewing and gumbos but not ideal for quicker cooking.

Okra is best fresh. Eat okra within a few days of buying it. Store okra loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator

Okra contains a clear, somewhat thick liquid that is how it stores water in the hot climates where it thrives. Leaving okra whole and quick cooking methods – sautéeing, grilling, frying – bring out the crunchy, rather than the slimy, side of okra. Cooking okra with plenty of acid – vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes – is another way to keep its slippery nature in check.

Garlic Okra

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Okra
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 2 tsp. Canola Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste

Directions:

1.  Trim, rinse, and pat Okra dry. Set aside. Peel Garlic Clove, cut in half lengthwise, and slice as thinly as possible.

2. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until it shimmers, about 30 seconds. Add Garlic and let sizzle until just starting to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add Okra, stir to combine, and cover. Cook, shaking pan frequently, until Okra is starting to brown on the edges and tender to the bite, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with Salt to taste and serve.

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20 Aug Cantaloupe Salad with Basil, Fresh Mozzarella & Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Cantaloupe, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 10-20 leaves of sliced Basil, (reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
  • 10 Green Olives, sliced
  • 1/4 Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh Mozzarella Balls, sliced into quarters
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice, from 1 Lime
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, toss the Cantaloupe, Basil Strips, Olives, Red Onions and Mozzarella Balls together. Lightly dress the salad with a long pour of Olive Oil and even longer drizzle of Red Wine Vinegar. Toss with the Lime Juice. Generously Salt and Pepper the salad and taste.

2.  This Salad is great straight away but even better chilled for a few hours before serving, to allow the flavors to really meld.

 

Choosing a Cantaloupe:

Look for a fruit that is light tan with green lines across it. Avoid melons with mostly green or white underlying color. The melon should be heavy for its size, and firm but not rock hard.

Sniff the spot where the melon was severed from its stem. The melon should smell fresh and fragrant with a hint of sweetness. If you can’t smell anything, it’s under ripe. An unpleasant smell means it’s no longer good to eat. Push your fingers on the round section where the vine was attached. It should be slightly soft.

Shake the cantaloupe next to your ear. If you hear seed rattling about inside, it’s ready to eat.

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14 Aug Watermelon Cooler

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups (1/2-inch) watermelon cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (6-oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate

Directions:

1.  Place watermelon cubes in a single layer in an extra-large zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

2.  Process half each of watermelon, ginger ale, water, and limeade concentrate in a blender until smooth; pour mixture into a pitcher. Repeat procedure with remaining half of ingredients; stir into pitcher, and serve immediately.

 

How to Choose a Watermelon

Look for uniform shape. Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon free from bruises, cuts or dents. If the watermelon has any lumps or bumps, this may mean that it received irregular amounts of sunshine or water during growing, causing dryness or inconsistency

Lift it up.The watermelon should be heavy for its size, as this indicates that it is full of water and therefore nice and ripe.

Look for the field spot. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot, known as the field spot. This is where the melon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, so the darker it is the better.

Inspect the color. A perfect, ripe watermelon should be dark green in color and dull in appearance, rather than shiny. A shiny watermelon will usually be under ripe.

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30 Jul Heirloom Tomato and Onion Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 15 – ounce package (1 crust) rolled refrigerated Unbaked Piecrust
  • 12 ounces assorted Garden Heirloom Tomatoes (Cherokee Purple and/or Brandywine) or regular Tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped Onion (1 medium)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3/4 cup Half-and-Half, Light Cream or Milk
  • 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon snipped Fresh Basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard, Paprika
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and/or Havarti cheese (4 ounces)

Directions:

  1. Let Piecrust stand at room temperature according to package directions. Unroll Piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edge as desired. Line unpricked Pastry with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 425 degrees oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until Pastry is set and dry. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, place Tomato Slices on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. In a small skillet, melt Butter over medium heat. Add Onion. Cook until Onion is tender but not brown, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together Eggs, Half-and-Half, Flour, Basil, Salt, Dry Mustard and Black Pepper.
  3. To assemble, sprinkle Cheese onto bottom of the hot, baked Pastry Shell. Spoon Onion mixture over Cheese. Arrange a single layer of Tomato Slices over Cheese, overlapping slightly. Slowly pour Egg mixture over Tomatoes. Sprinkle Paprika over Egg mixture.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until Egg mixture is set in center. If necessary, cover edge of pie with foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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23 Jul Baked Chicken with Peaches

Ingredients:

  • 8 skinless, boneless Chicken Breast Halves
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 Fresh Peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

2.  Place chicken in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Place peach slices over chicken, then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, ginger, cloves, and lemon juice.

3.  Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven, basting often with juices, until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.  8 servings

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16 Jul Low Fat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar (not packed)
  • 1-1/8 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 large Egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Melted Butter
  • 1 cup Apple Sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups Shredded Zucchini (not packed)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 325°.

2.  Combine Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda, and Salt in a large bowl. Mix well.

3.  Add Chocolate Chips and gently mix to combine.

4.  In a medium bowl, mix Egg, Vanilla, Melted Butter, Apple Sauce and Zucchini. Add to the Flour mixture and stir until just blended.

5.  Pour batter into a large 9×5 inch loaf pan

6.  Bake at 325° for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let it cool before slicing.

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09 Jul Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato Tian

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Eggplant, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound Zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound large Beefsteak Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper, divided
  • 4 ounces French Bread Baguette
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh Thyme
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium Chicken Broth

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.

2.  Arrange Eggplant and Zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with Cooking Spray. Lightly coat Vegetables with Cooking Spray. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Arrange half of Eggplant in a single layer in an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with Cooking Spray. Top with half of Zucchini and half of Tomato. Drizzle 2 1/4 teaspoons oil evenly over Vegetables. Sprinkle Vegetables evenly with 1/8 teaspoon Salt and 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper.

3.  Place Bread in a food processor; process until coarse crumbs measure 2 cups. Add Cheese and next 4 ingredients (through Garlic) to processor; process until combined. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups Breadcrumb mixture evenly over Tomato. Repeat layers with remaining Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Oil, and Salt, Pepper, and Breadcrumb mixture. Pour Broth over top. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until Vegetables are tender and topping is browned.

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02 Jul Tomato Tart

Ingredients:

  • ½  (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 Garlic Bulb
  • ½  teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 ½  cups Shredded Fontina Cheese, divided
  • 4 large Tomatoes
  • ½  teaspoon Salt
  • ¼  teaspoon Pepper

Directions:

1.  Press refrigerated Piecrust on bottom and up sides of a square 9-inch tart pan. Bake at 450° for 9 minutes or until Piecrust is lightly browned; set aside.

2.  Cut off pointed end of Garlic Bulb; place Garlic on a piece of aluminum foil, and drizzle with Olive Oil. Fold foil to seal.

3.  Bake Garlic at 425° for 30 minutes; cool. Squeeze pulp from Garlic Cloves into bottom of baked Piecrust.

4.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup Fontina Cheese over the Garlic.

5.  Slice Tomatoes, and sprinkle evenly with Salt and Pepper. Place on folded paper towels, and let stand 10 minutes. Arrange Tomato Slices over Shredded Cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Cheese.

6.  Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until Tart is lightly browned.

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25 Jun Tips for Buying and Storing Blueberries, Peaches, Squash, and Tomatoes

Blueberries

Look for dark blue blueberries that have a slight white-silvery bloom on them. Avoid purplish or green. Refrigerate fresh blueberries, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container.   Do not rinse or wash blueberries until you’re ready to use them – the moisture will shorten their storage span considerably!

Peaches

Buy ripe or nearly ripe peaches. If they’re very hard, they are likely picked green and won’t develop the right taste or texture. A split or bruise means the peach will go bad quickly and ruin any peach it touches. Eat or preserve these right away. Peaches can be stored touching other peaches, but they shouldn’t touch other types of fruit.  Put the peaches until a paper bag until they are soft enough to eat. They should give to very gentle pressure. Remove from bag and store in the refrigerator.

Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes should have taught, shiny skin that is a uniform red color. The skin should give a little when squeezed, but not feel mushy.  Choose a tomato that is heavy in comparison both to its size and to other tomatoes.  Ripen at Room Temperature, do not refrigerate

Squash

Look for squash that are tender and well developed, firm, and fresh-appearing. You can identify a tender squash, because the skin is glossy instead of dull, and it is neither hard nor tough. Avoid stale or over mature squash, which will have a dull appearance and a hard, tough surface.  Also avoid squash with discolored or pitted areas.

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18 Jun Summer Tomato, Onion & Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly Ground Pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 medium Cucumbers
  • 4 medium Tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 Vidalia or other Sweet Onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Fresh Herbs, such as Flat-Leaf Parsley, Chives and/or Tarragon

Directions:  

1.  Whisk Vinegar, Oil, Honey, Salt and Pepper in a large shallow bowl.

2.  Remove alternating stripes of peel from the Cucumbers. Slice the Cucumbers into thin rounds. Add the Cucumber slices, Tomatoes and Onion to the dressing; gently toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

3.  Just before serving, add Herbs and toss again.

Makes: 6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each, 58 calories per serving

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