Fennel Orange Salad with Avocado

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Because fresh fennel can be found nearly all year long this recipe makes the perfect salad choice either on its own or paired with pork, fish, or chicken. The combination of citrus, avocado, and rice wine vinegar softens, yet nicely complements, the licorice flavor of the fennel.

1 fennel bulb with fronds

4 medium oranges, pared and cut in half moon slices

1 small red onion

2 avocados

3 Tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 tsp honey

Pinch of salt

Pepper to taste

Remove top, outer layer, and core from the fennel bulb and slice in half. With a very sharp knife cut extra thin slices of fennel (a food processor or mandolin may also be used). Peel and remove seed from avocado and slice in wedges. In a medium-large serving bowl, combine fennel bulb, orange, avocado, onion, and about 3-4 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds.

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and salt. Toss well with salad ingredients and add fresh ground pepper to taste just before serving.

Serves 4-6

Prep time: 20 minutes

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Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula, & Garlic Yogurt

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The inviting scent of roasted chicken, leeks, and garlic have made this one of our new favorite dishes. Marinated for approximately 30 minutes at room temperature in a blend of olive oil, cumin, and harissa that imparts a smoky earthy flavor lending itself beautifully to the flavors of lemon zest and leeks.  Harissa is one of the basic flavoring ingredients used in Tunisian cuisine. Its versatility is evident in its use as a condiment for meat or fish, as a marinade, with roasted vegetables, and in soups or stews. Top your roasted chicken and potatoes with garlic yogurt and fresh arugula to create a unique combination of flavors and textures that is not only enjoyable to eat but tastes fabulous! I recommend doubling the recipe for leftovers during the week.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula, & Garlic Yogurt

1-1/2 lbs chicken thighs

1-1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, halved and cut into 2″ chunks

2-1/2 tsp Kosher Salt, divided

Pepper to taste

2 Tbsp harissa (another thick hot sauce such as Sriracha, may be subbed)

1/2 tsp cumin

4-1/2 Tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks, tender white and green parts only, halved and chopped in thin slices

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1/3 cup plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 big handfuls fresh arugula

1 Tbsp dried dill

Lemon juice, as needed

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Combine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together the harissa, olive oil, and cumin. Toss harissa mixture with the potatoes and chicken. Let the chicken and potatoes stand for 30 minutes at room temperature or 8 hours in the refrigerator.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine chopped leeks, lemon zest, 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and a pinch of salt.

Arrange the chicken and potatoes on a large baking sheet or roasting pan and roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Toss the potatoes lightly then sprinkle the leeks over the top. Return to the oven and continue roasting until chicken and potatoes are cooked through approximately 30 minutes more.

While chicken is cooking, combine yogurt, minced garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

When done, top with garlic yogurt, dill, and arugula. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil before serving.

Serves 4

Prep time: 25 minutes

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Easy Mid-Week Dinner: Zesty Chicken Soup

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The mid-week dilemma of planning something for dinner can be both challenging and frustrating. Rather than spending money on fast food or slamming together a PB and J. Try this very simple but extremely flavorful and healthy soup that can also be made in a crockpot (see crockpot notes below). I made this soup with medium salsa but you can use mild or hot depending on your tastes. In addition, you can add or vary the ingredients in this soup easily so use your imagination–sliced black olives, green onions, black beans, or stewed tomatoes are just some of the options. Sour cream, corn chips, and green onions would also make great toppings!

Zesty Chicken Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1” cubes

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz salsa

4 oz diced green chilli

16 oz cannellini beans

16 oz canned corn

8 oz tomato sauce

32 oz chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

2-3 big handfuls of fresh spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded cheddar or parmigiano for garnish

IMG_2767.JPGIn a large stock pot on medium heat, warm the olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add chicken and garlic and continue cooking until browned about four minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the spinach. Mix well and bring to a low boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for and hour or so. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, oregano, and cumin, if needed. Just before serving remove from heat and add the spinach. Top each serving with fresh grated cheese.

Crockpot instructions: Cut the chicken into thicker larger slices (approximately 2″). Add all ingredients except the spinach to the crockpot and set on low for 6-8 hours. Add the spinach just before serving.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6-8

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Cream of Sorrel Soup

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The uncommon but extremely flavorful Sorrel is excellent raw in a salad or as an ingredient in this very humble soup. Sorrel is not often seen in stores but worth attention nonetheless. A slender herbaceous perennial and member of the Polygonaceae family Sorrel has arrow shaped lime green leaves with a mild taste of citrus and kiwi.IMG_4937

Cream of Sorrel Soup

1 leek, chopped

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 large bunch of Sorrel

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk

Salt and pepper to taste

sorrelSaute the chopped leek in the melted unsalted butter until tender and translucent. Add the  chopped potatoes and sauté a few minutes longer. Add the stock and bring to a low boil then reduce heat and add Sorrel and garlic. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender.

Puree in a blender or food processor then return to pot on low heat and stir in cream. Continue until warm throughout but be careful not to overheat or the cream will break apart. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15-20 min

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Classic Deviled Eggs

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As springtime and egg hunts approach, the classic deviled egg is synonymous with this time of year.  This deviled egg recipe will make good use of your Easter eggs but will also remind you of days gone by and hunting eggs when you were a child yourself.

Often, hardboiled eggs are ruined by over or undercooking and there is nothing worse than a mushy underdone yolk or or one that is dry and green on the outside. The key to the perfect hardboiled egg is very easy, if you follow these easy steps–add eggs to a saucepan with just enough water to cover. On medium high heat bring to a boil then turn off the heat and allow eggs to remain in the water for five minutes. Pour out hot water and replaceIMG_2726 with cool tap water. Allow to cool in water for about 15 minutes before peeling (or dyeing). The result will be a creamy yellow yolk that is tender yet not overcooked or runny in any way.

Classic Deviled Eggs

6 hardboiled eggs

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp white vinegar

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp pepper

dash of red pepper sauce

Paprika

Slice hardboiled eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks. In a small mixing bowl add cooked yolks and remaining ingredients except the paprika. Combine well with a fork until most of the lumps are removed.  I find it easier to transfer the egg mixture to a small plastic sandwich bag and snip the corner for an impromptu pastry bag. Gently fill each of the eggs with the filling and garnish with paprika.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 eggs

 

Corned Beef & a Guiness

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and it’s time to cook the traditional corned beef. An easy way to slow cook your corned beef without any worry whatsoever is to use a crock pot. With theIMG_2716 addition of apple juice, the corned beef is guaranteed to come out perfectly tender and full of flavor every time.

Place the corned beef in a crock pot, sprinkle with the seasoning packet, and add just enough apple juice to cover. Cook on low for eight hours or high for four. When done you can transfer some of the liquid to a large pot on the stove to boil your cabbage, potatoes, and carrots but if your family is like mine they may prefer a corned beef sandwich on rye bread with a little sauerkraut, melted swiss,  and a touch of thousand island dressing. Don’t forget a crunchy pickle on the side!

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TGIF -Sparkling Raspberry Cocktail

Flavors of spring. Red raspberries, lemon zest, and bubbles of sparkling wine. Its Friday put your feet up and contemplate a relaxing weekend!

Sparkling wine

1 ounce raspberry simple syrupIMG_2662

1 lemon zest strip

Raspberries

Add 1 ounce raspberry simple syrup* to a flute then slowly fill with champagne. Garnish with lemon zest and a couple of fresh raspberries.  Enjoy!

*The key flavor ingredient in this cocktail is a very easy to make raspberry simple syrup.  Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup fresh raspberries in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then strain mixture into a jar or container and refrigerate until ready to use.