This is a great month to take advantage of some of the early spring crops that are coming to market. Broccoli, Cauliflower, all types of greens, beets and strawberries are some of the best choices. And, if you are lucky to have a friend who likes to garden, like me, you can reap some of the harvest. See the photo below for what I was treated to from his garden.
This recipe goes well with sautéed cabbage. See recipe below.
6 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup jarred, mild salsa
1 cup frozen cauliflower rice, defrosted, or regular cooked rice
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
Cut the tops off the peppers. Reserve the top and remove the stem. Dice the tops and set aside.
Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers. Wash and set on a paper towel, upside down, to drain.
Heat a skillet and add the oil. Brown the ground beef until you no longer see any pink color.
Push the beef to the side of the pan and add the onion, bell pepper tops and garlic. Saute until tender.
Add the Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, stir, and remove the pan from the heat. Let cool.
Stir in defrosted cauliflower rice, salsa and ½ cup cheese. Fill the peppers to the top and place them in a baking dish just large enough to hold the peppers upright.
I used some foil to support them and keep them from falling out.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 -40 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and top each pepper with some of the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for five minutes to melt the cheese topping.
Sautéed Cabbage In Brown Butter
One head of savoy cabbage
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Remove the large leaves from the cabbage for stuffing, Cut the rest of the cabbage head in half. Set aside one half for coleslaw or another recipe.
Thinly slice the remaining half of the cabbage.
Heat the butter in a medium skillet and cook until the butter turns a light brown, Add the onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes to tenderize the onions.
Add the sliced cabbage and cook until very soft and tender, about ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the stuffed peppers.
Oven BBQ Pork Roast and Vegetables
1 top loin pork roast, bone-in, about 3 pounds
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
8 oz carrots, thinly sliced
Half a sweet onion, cubed
1 ½ cups bottled or homemade BBQ sauce, see recipe below
Half a head of cauliflower cut into large florets
Heat the oven to 325 F.
Oil a roasting pan with foil and place the mushrooms, carrots, celery and onion on the bottom of the pan.
Place the roast on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower florets on two sides of the roast.
Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork.
Roast the pork for 30 minutes per pound, or until it registers at least 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
Baste the pork roast with the barbecue sauce several times during the roasting time.
Let the roast rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
Homemade BBQ Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
Two 6 oz cans tomato paste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion or powder
3/4 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer on low, uncovered, for about an hour.
Make sure to stir frequently, about once every 10 to 15 minutes, while the BBQ sauce is cooking.
This will help better incorporate the flavors and ensure that the sauce is evenly cooked throughout.
Let the sauce cool before transferring to a storage container.
Oven Roasted Salmon and Broccoli
1/4 lb broccoli florets (about 2 floret tops)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Two 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced into rings, seeds removed if desired
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (scallions)
1 mini red bell pepper, minced
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon oil in a baking dish; season with salt and pepper.
Roast broccoli, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 10 minutes.
Combine the jalapeño slices, vinegar, scallions, bell pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt in small bowl.
Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Push broccoli to the edges of the baking dish and place salmon in the center.
Evenly distribute the jalapeno mixture over the salmon and broccoli.
Roast until salmon is cooked throughout and the broccoli is tender, 15 minutes. Serve with Cucumber Salad
Cucumbers In Tzatziki Sauce
1 large or 2 medium cucumbers
Half of a large cucumber
3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (not low-fat)
2 scallions (green onion), minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Peel and seed the half cucumber. Grate the half cucumber on a box grater onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.
Peel the large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and cut into thin half-moon slices.
Place the yogurt in a medium bowl.Add grated cucumber to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients, except the sliced cucumber and stir well.
Fold in the cucumber slices.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator before serving.
In the mood for an Asian flavored dish? This shrimp stir-fry recipe is easy to do if you assemble all the ingredients ahead of time. You can even mix the sauce ingredients early in the day and refrigerate until cooking time. You can also do the same with the shrimp preparation. I usually prepare the vegetables early and let them sit in my colander. Dinner is on the table in no time at all.
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20 shrimp per pound), peeled and deveined
1 egg white
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut oil
8 oz package of fresh bean sprouts
8 oz snow peas, ends trimmed and strings removed
1 cup shredded carrots
8 mini bell peppers (a mix of orange, red and yellow), seeded and quartered lengthwise
2 large scallions, sliced on the diagonal
For the sauce:
In a mixing bowl or large measuring cup whisk together all the ingredients for the garlic-ginger sauce and set aside.
For the shrimp:
Whisk together the egg white, cornstarch, salt and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix well and add the shrimp.Thoroughly coat in the batter.
In a large wok or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until they turn pick on both sides – 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove to a plate and set aside.
For the stir-fry:
Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and add all the vegetables except the scallions. Stir the vegetables until tender about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic-ginger sauce and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Add the shrimp. Toss and stir until well coated.
Stir in the sliced scallions and serve with rice or my recipe for Asian Flavored Cauliflower Rice.
These fritters are also delicious with a sunny-side egg on top for a great lunch.
1 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 large eggs
2 medium scallions, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Olive Oil for frying
Chop the zucchini into very small pieces. For this dish, I prefer chopped zucchini as opposed to grated for a better taste.
Put the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the teaspoon of salt.
Mix the zucchini gently to distribute the salt and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Turn the zucchini out onto paper towels.
Squeeze the zucchini in the paper towels to rid them of moisture and place into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Add the eggs and scallion to the zucchini and mix together.
In a small bowl, add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir together. Add them to the zucchini and mix thoroughly.
Heat a medium to large pan over medium – high heat. Pour in enough oil to completely cover the bottom surface of the pan.
When little bubbles appear, the oil is hot enough.
Stir the zucchini mixture again and use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up the batter and then level it off.
Pour the batter into the pan and gently push it into a flat pancake shape with the back of a metal spatula.
Cook for three minutes adjusting the heat up or down as needed, then turn, cooking for another three minutes.
Add more oil to the pan as needed to prevent sticking. Drain the zucchini fritters on a paper towel before serving.
Roasted Fennel and Leeks
This side goes so well with oven baked or grilled fish or chicken. Fennel bulb, which looks like a cross between an onion and the base of a celery bunch, has a sweet, anise-like flavor which mellows when roasted.
2 fennel bulbs, sliced into eighths, fronds reserved
2 large leeks, light green and white part only, cut into thin rounds
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Zest of one lemon and 1 teaspoon juice
Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine the fennel, leek, garlic, oil, salt and pepper to taste in a shallow roasting pan; toss to coat fennel evenly.
Roast the fennel mixture, stirring midway through cooking, until softened, nicely browned and caramelized, about 40 minutes.
Add lemon zest and juice; toss to coat. Place in a serving dish; garnish with a few fennel fronds.
Jicama French Fries
Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is an edible root vegetable native to Mexico that many people describe as being a cross between an apple and a turnip. Low in calories but rich in fiber, jicama is considered a superfood along with kale, acai berries and quinoa.
Servings 4 people
1 medium jicama
1/2 teaspoon salt for boiling
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 tablespoons peanut oil or oil of choice, plus more if frying
Combine the spices and seasonings in a small bowl.
Peel the jicama and slice into french fry pieces.
Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sea salt into a wide deep skillet of water. Bring to a boil.
Add the jicama and when the water returns to a boil, cook the jicama fries for 10 minutes.
Drain in a colander. Place the fries on paper towels to dry.
You can prepare these in either of two ways.
Pour oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat until hot and add the jicama fries.
As each side turns brown, turn the fries until they are brown on all sides. Remove to paper towels to drain.
Turn the oven to 425°F and when the temperature is reached, place the jicama fries in a large shallow dish.
Coat with the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and then with the spice mixture.
Spread the fries onto an oiled baking pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning halfway through baking time, until the fries are crisp.
Tzatziki Cucumber Salad
This salad goes very well with grilled lamb chops or grilled fish.
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
¼ of a sweet onion, finely chopped
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Cut the peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Cut each half into ½ inch thick slices (half moons). Place in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently to evenly distribute the salt.
Let the cucumbers drain while you make the dressing.
Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a storage bowl with a cover.
Place the salted cucumbers on several thicknesses of paper towels and squeeze gently to rid them of extra moisture.
Add them to the dressing and mix well. Cover the bowl and chill several hours before serving.
To make really good tasting chicken soup, you need a rich tasting broth. I usually start with the remains of a whole 4 lb chicken that I have either cooked on the grill or in the oven. Remove as much meat as you can, reserve 2-3 cups for the soup and use the remainder of the chicken meat for other dishes. To make the broth even richer, roast the chicken bones in the oven.
Place an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Spread the bones in a large roasting pan and place the pan in the oven on the lower rack and roast the bones until deeply brown, 45-60 minutes. Transfer the bones to a Dutch Oven or soup pot. Spoon the fat from the juices in the roasting pan and discard. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. When browned bits begin to sizzle, pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into the pot with the roasted bones.
Add the following:
2 scrubbed carrots, cut in half
1 onion quartered or 1 bunch of scallions
2 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf
Add these ingredients to the stockpot with the roasted bones and add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours.
Remove and discard the large bones and vegetable pieces. Strain the stock in a fine mesh colander lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
Discard the vegetables and bones. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the souppot.
You can add more seasoning later depending on how you will use the stock. You now have a clear, flavorful stock to make some great soups.
Below are recipes for some of my favorite chicken soups:
Mexican Chicken and Vegetable Soup
3 medium poblano peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
1 cup sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
14 oz container chopped tomatoes, no sugar or salt added
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
2 cups okra, trimmed and sliced into ½ inch rounds
3 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken
Toasted tortilla strips (see recipe below) and cheddar cheese for garnish
Roast the poblano peppers over a grill or under the broiler. Cool and remove the skin. Chop and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven and add the garlic, celery, onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper.
Cook over low heat until tender.
Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well. Add the chicken broth and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
Add the green beans,okra, plum tomatoes and diced poblano peppers.
Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked chicken and heat.
Serve with toasted tortilla strips and cheddar cheese as a topping for the soup.
Baked Tortilla Strips
8 corn tortillas (6 inch)
Heat the oven to 450°F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Cut each tortilla into thin strips; place in a single layer on cookie sheets. Bake about 6 minutes or until crisp but not brown; cool and use to add to the soup.
Chicken Vegetable Soup
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
7 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch diagonal slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
6 cup homemade chicken broth, recipe above
2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup cooked noodles, optional
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)
Add the oil to the soup pot and heat over low heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and parsley.
Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more or until the carrots and celery are almost softened.
Add the broth and chicken mixture to the vegetables in the soup pot.
Taste for seasoning and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add cooked noodles, if using and extra cooked chicken, if desired.
Italian Escarole Bean Soup
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups dried white beans (cannellini), soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
16 cups chicken broth, recipe above
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 heads of escarole, washed and cut into small pieces
1 cup diced, cooked spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven and add the onions, celery and garlic. Cook until tender.
Add the Italian seasoning, the drained cannellini beans and the chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cooked the beans for 30 minutes. Add the sausage, salt and escarole.
Let simmer until the escarole wilts. Ladle into soup bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups water
4 cups homemade chicken broth, recipe above
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
6 oz fresh spinach or any seasonal greens
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
Remove stems and wilted leaves on the greens. Wash well in several changes of cold water and chop.
In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the water, broth, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese rind and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the tortellini until al dente, about 4 minutes for fresh or 12 minutes for frozen. Drain.
Add the spinach to the soup and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked tortellini.
Serve the soup sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
Eggs are one of my favorite foods. I like them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are also many ways to prepare them, so don’t get stuck in the scrambled or sunny-side up preparation. Below are some of my innovative and tasty ways to make eggs. And, if you are adventuresome, give them a try.
Tomato & Egg Breakfast Skillet
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 large (3 small) plum tomatoes, chopped
4 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, slivered
Fresh ground pepper
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes).
Add chopped tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until they the juice has cooked off–about 4-5 minutes.
Make 4 wells in the tomato mixture with a spoon and pour a cracked egg into each well. Add a grind or two of fresh pepper.
Cover the pan with a glass lid, and simmer until the egg whites are firm and the yolks are starting to set (about 2 minutes).
Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese, and cover again until the cheese melts. Sprinkle with fresh basil and spoon on to individual plates.
Spinach Egg Muffins
6 large eggs
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
10 oz package frozen spinach, defrosted
3 thin scallions, white and light green sections, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar/Monterey cheese mix
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Squeeze the spinach to remove the water.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together until frothy. Add in the cheese.
Add the spinach, scallions and bacon and mix until combined.
Divide the mixture evenly among the 6 jumbo muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Bake for 40 minutes until muffins are firm and golden.
Baked Avocado Egg Cups
Ingredients for each serving:
Half an Avocados
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings – chopped tomato or chopped onion and bell peppers
Cut the avocados in half. Take out the seed.
Scoop out about a 1 teaspoon of the flesh from each avocado half where the pit had been.
Season with salt and pepper. Place each avocado half in a small baking dish.
Crack an egg into the avocado opening and season with more salt and pepper.
Bake at 425-degrees for 10 minutes and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the egg.
Continue to bake for 18-20 minutes until the egg is done to your liking.
Sprinkle with additional toppings, if desired.
I remember my years living up north and the wonderful Asian restaurants we had in our area. Missing those dishes, I have been tinkering with recipes and sauces to create some of the tastes I remember. This recipe turned out with the taste I was looking for, especially with the combo of grilled meat and deliciously seasoned vegetables and noodles. Give it a try. It has great flavor.
Asian Grilled Pork Kebabs
4 servings. This recipe may be doubled.
1 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Sambal owlet chili paste
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a glass dish.
Add the pork and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to grill, thread the pork onto two 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Reserve the marinade in the dish.
Spray both sides of the meat generously with vegetable oil spray.
Turn all grill burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high and turn off the other burners.
Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill and cook the pork until well charred, 3 minutes.
Turn the skewers, brush with the reserved marinade mixture, and continue to grill until the second side is well charred and the meat registers 140 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer, 3 minutes longer.
Transfer the pork to a platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while the stir fry vegetables are prepared
Stir Fry Sauce
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Combine ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Asian Stir Fried Vegetables and Noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups Chinese fresh noodles
Stir Fry Sauce, recipe above
2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
12 oz broccoli florets, cut into smaller florets
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
3 scallions, sliced
Place the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit in the hot water until ready to add to the stir fry.
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger followed by the broccoli.
Stir fry until the broccoli florets are tender. Add the shredded carrots and stir for a minute or two.
Remove the skillet from the heat.
Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet. Stir in the stir fry sauce and water.
Return to the heat, gently toss for 1 minute to heat through the noodles and for the sauce to thicken. Add the scallions. Stir.
Pour onto a serving platter and top with the grilled pork to serve.