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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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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A Cookbook Journey – Beet & Chèvre Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Greetings Friends,

After taking a brief hiatus I’m back and ready to start writing about much more than just food.  Though cooking and eating have and always will be my favorite topics, I wanted to include other interests such as gardening, handmade items, and basically anything interesting or funny that won’t kill you and makes your life easier.

Though I will focus on other topics besides food, I do have a specific goal for this blog and that is to complete a project I’ve been intermittently working on for quite a long time and that is to finish writing a cookbook originally started in 2004. The twists and turns of family, work, and everyday life have prevented me from getting to the cookbook finish line.  I have tons of recipes to test and determine whether they are cookbook worthy.

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To that end, it is my hope that this blog will be a fun and helpful experience for my readers as well as a motivator for me to finish the cookbook! So let’s get going! I have tested this first recipe many times and it is definitely cookbook worthy!  Beet and citrus salad with goat cheese is perfect in winter when many typical salad ingredients are scarce and the motivation to eat veggies is often waning.  I’ve made this salad with kale, beet greens, watercress, romaine, and radish and bean sprouts–it was all tasty so be creative! The addition of quinoa would make this salad into a healthy meal.

Beet & Chevre Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

1 bunch each of red and golden beets
2 oranges, pared and slice into chunks
1 medium shallot, halved and sliced thin                                                                                                 1 large bunch of your favorite greens
1⁄4 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds                                                                                                   1⁄2 cup Chevre (goat cheese), crumbled

Vinaigrette
Zest and juice of 1 blood orange*

1⁄4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp saltIMG_2321.JPG
Pepper to taste

Trim the ends of the beets and wash thoroughly. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add beets, and cook until tender. Drain and cool to room temperature.

Prepare the vinaigrette. In a small bowl or jar whisk/shake together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Set aside while preparing salad.

IMG_2342Gently peel the skins of the beets then slice into wedges. In a large serving bowl, add the greens, beets, oranges, shallot, chevre, and sunflower seeds. Toss with the vinaigrette, season with pepper to taste and garnish with more sunflower seeds, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

*The zest and juice of 1 navel orange, 2 lemons, or 2 limes maybe substituted for the blood orange