Cool as a Cucumber

           We’ve all done enough of that these past few weeks. This is when I say, bring out the cucumbers and start chopping. They’re tasty, low in calorie and can be diced and sliced and thrown into a salad, sandwich or even used as a main course.
           There are three main types of cucumber, slicing, pickling and English. Slicing cucumbers are the most popular and have a dark green skin. Most slicing cucumbers are waxed to extend their shelf life. I always recommend washing the skin to remove the wax. The pickling cucumber (sometimes called a gherkin) is small and crisp and has a bumpy skin. The English cucumber is long, narrow and almost always seedless. English cucumbers are wrapped in cellophane to extend shelf life. Cucumbers should be refrigerated and you shouldn’t wash them until you’re ready to use them.
         There are two really good techniques for making cucumbers “decorative”. The fist is to scrape the length of the cucumber with the tines of a fork before you slice it. The second is to use a zester the same way. The zester (a tool used for removing the colored part of fruit rind) makes a deeper groove in the cucumber. You can also use a melon baller to remove the seeds before slicing. Just cut the cucumber in half, start at one end and scoop away.

The recipes below are a mixture of easy appetizers, salads and main course. Some include herbs and spices. Whenever possible I suggest you use fresh. Fresh herbs enhance the taste of cucumbers and makes the flavors pop.

GREEK SALAD (dairy)

1 small to medium red onion or sweet onion
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
3 to 4 large Kirby cucumbers or 2 medium regular cucumbers
1 large, ripe tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small cubes
8 kalamata olives, pitted and quartered, lengthwise

Cut the onion into very thin rings. If using a regular (not sweet) onion, put it in a shallow bowl with 2/3 cup vinegar and marinate 1/2 hour, tossing a few times. Meanwhile, trim cucumbers, halve lengthwise and cut into half moon shapes, about 3/8-inch thick. Put into a mixing bowl. Core tomato, halve, then cut into wedges. Halve wedges and add to the cucumber. Drain and add the onions. Put olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining vinegar in a small mixing bowl or large cup. Mix and add to vegetables. Toss well and let sit, covered, 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.  Add feta and olives. Toss. Check for seasoning. Serves 6.

CUCUMBER SOUP (dairy)

4 green onions, trimmed
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
Salt and white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fried onions (I like Durkees)

Detach the green part of the green onions and mince about 3 tablespoons. Set aside. Put white part of the green onions and cucumbers in a food processor or blender and puree. Add the buttermilk, dill and salt and pepper.Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least an hour. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Sprinkle the green onion tops and fried onions on top. Serves 4.

ASIAN CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

4 large cucumbers; cut in slices
5 green onions white part only, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves (you can substitute flat leaf parsley)
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (I like to use honey roasted)

Put the sliced cucumbers into a bowl with the shallots and sprinkle over the vinegar. Add the sweet chili sauce and soy sauce and toss the salad. Just before serving add the coriander leaves and peanuts and toss again. Serve at once. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

CHEESEAND CUCUMBER SLICES (dairy)

1 large cucumber
1/2 oz. Swiss or Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1/4 tsp. dill weed
1 tablespoon whipped cream cheese
Dash each salt and white pepper

Cut off ends of cucumber. Using tines of a fork, score peel of cucumber. Cut cucumber in half crosswise and using a melon baller or small spoon, remove and discard seeds from both halves; set aside. In small mixing bowl thoroughly combine remaining ingredients. Spoon half of the cheese mixture into cored section of each cucumber half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. To serve, remove plastic wrap and carefully slice each cucumber half into 6 equal slices. Makes 2 servings, 6 slices each.

CUCUMBER DILL SAUCE(dairy/fish)

Wonderful with fish or as a vegetable dip

2 cups sour cream or pareve substitute
2 med. size cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and chopped fine
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill OR 2 tablespoons dried dill weed
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons milk or non dairy substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
For garnish: 1 jar (2 oz.) red lumpfish caviar, dill sprig

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, spoon caviar around edges of sauce; place dill sprig in middle. Makes 3 1/2 cups. 

 
CUCUMBER ORANGE AND POMEGRANET SALAD (pareve)
2 hothouse cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large naval oranges, zest and pith removed, halved and thinly sliced
8 ounces young spinach leaves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

In a large bowl combine the cucumbers, fennel, onion, oranges and spinach in large shallow bowl. Whisk together vinegar, orange juice, honey and olive oil. Toss with salad. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.  Serves 8

SWEET AND SOUR CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

3 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers
11/2 cups thinly sliced sweet onions
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon dried dill weed

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl toss together cucumbers, onions and carrot; set aside. In a liquid measuring cup combine oil,vinegar, sugar, dill 2 tablespoons water, salt and black pepper. Pour over cucumber mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top serve immediately. If you want to make this ahead of time cover and refrigerate and don’t sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top until ready to serve. Serves 6.

MINI CUCUMBER SANDWICHES (dairy/fish)

1 medium cucumber
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf sliced whole grain bread
 paprika

Score cucumber lengthwise with fork (for looks) and slice thin. In medium bowl, combine vinegar and water, add cucumber slices; let stand at room temp. at least 30 min. Drain WELL. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, mayo, garlic powder, onion salt and Worcestershire. Cut bread slices into rounds (or any shape you want, with a cookie cutter) and spread with cream cheese mixture. Top each with a slice of cucumber. Shortly before serving top with olive slice or paprika, or both. You can also add a little dab of cream cheese/mayo and top with a baby shrimp.

Makes about 48 round tea sandwiches.

To make these the night before, cover with SLIGHTLY damp paper towels, then cover the whole plate with foil. Keep in fridge and they’ll be just great.

APPLECUCUMBER AND WALNUT SALAD (dairy)

For the dressing:
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about ½ large lemon)
2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup chopped cucumber (well drained)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint or parsley
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For the salad:
1 head red leaf of bib lettuce, trimmed, washed, and dried
1 cucumber, peeled if you want, diced large
1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, cored and diced large
1/3 cup dark raisins
2/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and olive oil. Add lemon juice, honey, cucumber, coriander, min and salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, apple, and raisins. Stir in 2/3’s of the dressing well, add just enough to moisten the ingredients, and toss to coat.

Place on a serving platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the walnuts and the pomegranate seeds if you have them, and serve.

TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

2 cucumbers, sliced thin

sea or kosher salt for sprinkling
6 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, sliced
3 to 4 radishes, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and finely diced
1/3 cup minced parsley
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kalamata, black or nicoise olives for garnish

In a serving bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onions, parsley, lemon zest, olive oil, lemon juice. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Garnish with olives and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

CUCUMBER MUSTARD AND DILL SAUCE(dairy)

Great with fish or with vegetables

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup peeled, coarsely chopped cucumber
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of finely ground white pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to serve.Serve cold. May be kept up to 2 days in refrigerator.

ROASTED PEPPERS AND CUCUMBER SALAD (pareve)

1 large green bell pepper
3 6-to 8-ounce tomatoes, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
3/4 cup black olives, pitted, quartered
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Char pepper over gas flame or in broiler until blackened.Enclose in plastic bag 15 minutes. Peel, seed, and cut pepper into 1/3-inch cubes. Place in large bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onion, and parsley. Whisk oil and lemon juice in small bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper, then mix into vegetables. Let vegetables marinate at least 15 minutes before serving. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Serves 6.

Modified recipe from epicurious.com

CUCUMBER AND PINEAPPLESALAD (pareve)

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (2-inch-long) fresh serrano or jalapeno chili, minced, including seeds
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups fresh pineapple, cored, peeled,  and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 to 3 medium tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

In a large salad bowl whisk together lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved, then whisk in the oil, garlic, chili, and soy sauce (to taste). Add the cucumber, pineapple cilantro mint and tomato. Toss to coat and then season with salt. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour for the flavors to blend. Serves 6 to 8.

GARLIC CUCUMBER CHICKEN (meat)
1lb boneless chicken breasts, skinned
1lb cucumber
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 green onions sliced
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white wine
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and set aside.  Peel the cucumber, halve it and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Then cut it into 1 inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and put the cucumber into a colander to drain for 20 minutes. (This removes the excess moisture from the cucumber). Next rinse the cucumber cubes in running cold water and blot them dry with kitchen paper. Heat a wok or large frying pan until very hot.  Add the oil and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the chicken cubes and stir-fry them for a few seconds.  Add all the other ingredients except the cucumber and continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
 Now add the cucumber cubes and keep stir-frying the entire mixture for another 3 minutes. Serve at once. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

SUPER EASY GOURMET CUCUMBER CHICKEN SALAD (meat)

1 lb. cooked chicken, diced (leftovers are great for this)
1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
3/4 mayonnaise or salad dressing

In a salad bowl combine the chicken, grapes, pecans, celery, cucumber, oranges and salad dressing. Toss to coat and serve. Makes 6 servings

 

Advertisements

Deliciously Simple Steak (Beef) Salads

            Every now and then (at least 2 days a week) I want EASY for dinner. No I am not talking about the swing by the favorite kosher take out place or fresh from the freezer kind of easy. I’m talking about the how I can make it in less than 20 minutes and still feel like I’m serving something nutritious and delicious and not selling my culinary soul to expediency kind of easy. Since I always have salad stuff on hand I know that adding a protein like beef or chicken or fish to the mix is the best way to round out the “quickie” meal. While chicken is usually the meat of choice I have been using more and more beef.

            Beef? Did she say beef?  Hasn’t beef been a food non gratis for the past couple of years? Why would she say beef?

            Relax, I promise not to steer you wrong (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) Beef, in moderation, is actually very good for you. Beef today is much leaner than in the past due to advances in breeding, cattle feed and the way supermarkets prepare it. Yes, beef contains fat, including saturated fat, and cholesterol, but we all need some fat in our diets. What most people don’t know is that lean, and the key word here lean, beef has eight times more vitamin B12, six times more zinc and three times more iron than a skinless chicken breast. Chicken has its good points but it’s time to add just a little more variety to our meals.

            The following salads all combine fun combinations of beef, greens and or pasta as well as amazing dressing that will have your family asking you to do beef and easy more often.

NOTE; While I use the generic term steak in most recipes know that I am referring to any cut of beef that can be grilled or broiled and does not need to be extensively marinated to make it tender.

NOTE: You can always substitute bison steak for beef steak if you want an even leaner cut of meat.

 

TEX MEX TACO SALAD
This Tex-Mex version of a chef’s salad is really a meal all by itself.

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups water
2-3 cups tortilla chips
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced
1 cup dressing*

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup salsa

Make the dressing: In a bowl combine the mayonnaise and salsa. Mix to combine, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a skillet saute the beef and garlic together until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the flour, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add the water and simmer uncovered over low heat until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, arrange the tortilla chips on a large serving platter or Individual plates and place the lettuce on top.  Add the beef mixture followed by the onion, tomato, avocado, black olives and jalapeno peppers. Serve the dressing on the side.  Serves 4 to 6.

ASIAN BEEF SALAD

1 lb. steak

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lime, juice

2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

4 teaspoon minced ginger, root

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Asian chili paste

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

8 cup torn red leaf lettuce

2 cup snow peas

1 sweet red pepper, thinly, sliced

1/2 small English cucumber

1 cup beans, sprouts

1 tablespoon balsamic or rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoon olive oil

Place steak in large shallow dish. In a bowl combine the soy sauce, lime juice, hoisin sauce, ginger, sherry, garlic, chili paste and sesame oil. Whisk to combine and then pour the mixture over the meat, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but you can do this before work in the morning and it will be ready to go when you get home. When ready to prepare the salad place lettuce in large salad bowl. In saucepan of boiling water, cook snow peas for 2 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain and chill under cold running water; drain again and pat dry. Add the snow peas to salad bowl. Add the red pepper. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise; slice thinly crosswise and add to bowl. Add bean sprouts. Reserving the marinade, place the steak on foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, 6 inches from heat, turning once, for about 10 minutes or until medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and tent it with foil; let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, bring reserved marinade to boil; boil gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in vinegar and sugar; gradually whisk in olive oil. Let dressing cool slightly. Slice meat diagonally across the grain into thin slices; add to the salad bowl. Pour the dressing over top; toss gently to coat lightly and serve. Serves 4

THAI BEEF SALAD

Just a hint of peanut flavor combined with the chilies makes this salad really special.
 

1 pound steak
scant oil for frying
bag of fancy salad greens
4 green onions, finely sliced on the diagonal

For the dressing
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated root ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoon oil
2 red or green chillies, sliced into rings and deseeded
1 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint leaves
 

English cucumber for garnish

Lime juice for garnish

Pepper for garnish

Heat a film of oil in a small frying pan and fry the fillet for 4–5 minutes each side until it is well browned on the outside and medium rare in the middle. Cook for slightly longer if you prefer it well done. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Place the salad greens in a salad bowl and set it aside. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well. Slice the beef into thin strips and place them in a bowl, pour half of the dressing over the meat. Toss to coat and set aside. Pour the rest of the dressing over the salad greens and toss to coat. Arrange the salad on 4 individual plates. Lay the strips of beef on top of the greens and sprinkle the sliced green onions over the top. Serve with a cucumber ribbon salad made by slicing a cucumber lengthways with a potato peeler into long, wide strips.  Drizzle with a little extra lime juice, salt and black pepper. Serves 3 to 4

BEEF SALAD WITH POTATO CRISPS

1 medium potato

Nonstick spray coating

Garlic salt, onion salt, or salt

3 tablespoons apricot preserves; or orange marmalade

2 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 cups torn mixed greens

6 ounces sliced cooked beef cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips (about 1 cup) (you can use deli meat)

2 medium carrots, cut into julienne strips (1 cup), or 1 cup jicama cut into julienne strips

2   green onions, sliced (1/4 cup), or 2 tablespoons chopped onion

 For potato crisps: Preheat oven to 450. Cut potato into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick coating. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet and lightly sprinkle them with garlic salt, onion salt or salt. Bake in a 450 for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from baking sheet. Cool 10 minutes. For the dressing: in a small mixing bowl stir together the apricot preserves or orange marmalade, oil, vinegar, water; and pepper. Mix to combine and let stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes.

 Divide mixed greens evenly among 2 individual plates. Arrange the slices of beef on the plates on top of the greens and then decorate with the potato crisps, carrot or jicama strips, and onion. Stir the dressing and drizzle it over the salads. Makes 2 servings. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

GINGER BEEF SALAD

Beef and slaw combination is really different and really crunchy

Dressing:

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

pepper, to taste

Salad:

8 ounces rare cooked steak or roast beef, thinly sliced

4 ounces cooked/drained vermicelli or spaghetti pasta, broken into 3″ pieces,

1 cup pea pods, halved

1 cup shredded cabbage, red

1/2 cup carrot slices, sliced very thin

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 can (8oz) water chestnuts, sliced, drained

In a bowl combine the oil, cider vinegar, sugar, grated ginger and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a salad bowl combine the Combine the steak pasta, pea pods, cabbage, carrots, green onions and water chestnuts. Pour the dressing over salad and toss lightly. Chill for at least an hour before serving.
Serves 4.

SHELL PASTA AND BEEF SALAD

1 pound Orzo, Small Shells or other small pasta shape, uncooked

2 cups roast beef from the deli, cubed

3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint (optional)

3 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon black pepper

Salt to taste  

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain again. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, beef, tomatoes, zucchini, parsley, onion and mint. In a small mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients; whisk well. Toss dressing with pasta mixture. Salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8

Orange You Glad 4 Orange Recipes

       This is not usually a season that we cruise the produce section of our favorite grocery and expect to find interesting fresh fruit and vegetables. We can find all the dried, canned and frozen stuff we want in other sections of the store.
      But, unless we want to pay a premium for stuff that’s been imported from Mexico, California or a third world country we’re stuck with apples and bananas and what ever doesn’t look like it’s been sitting around for a couple of months. It’s when I don’t think that I’ll ever see another piece of fruit that I’d like to bring home that the Clementine oranges and blood oranges come into season.
       There are three varieties of blood oranges, Moro, Tarroco, and Saguinelli and they are available from late December to early May. The name Blood orange comes from their deep pink or deep reddish color of the pulp. Blood oranges tend to be smaller than average oranges and their flavor has been likened to a combination of raspberry and strawberry crossed with an orange. Their rich red color makes for vivid dressings and sauces. I always buy extra and freeze the juice to use later.     
      Clementine oranges are much smaller than blood oranges are usually sold in a small crate. They are easily distinguished from other members of the mandarin orange family by their thin skin and lack of seeds. Clementine oranges are in peak season from November thru March
When choosing your Blood Oranges and Clementine oranges, look for thin-skinned fruit with smooth lightly textured skin. Avoid fruit with soft spots, dull and faded coloring or rough, grooved or wrinkled skin. Store them at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerate up to two weeks.
        Both these oranges are wonderful when eating all by themselves but they can both be used in any recipe that calls for oranges or citrus. They add a unique and piquant flavor to both savory and sweet dishes as well as make a colorful garnish, and add a decorative touch to a fruit bowl.

NOTE: One Blood Orange will make about 1/2 cup. To juice Blood Orange, first soften citrus by rolling on a firm surface, then slice in half and juice with orange juicer. 

RUBY ORANGE SALAD DRESSING

2 whole Blood Oranges
1/2 cup sour cream or mayonnaise

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 1/2 cup dressing

RED AND ORANGE THAI PEANUT SLAW

2 cups Napa Cabbage shredded
1 cup snow peas cut into 1 inch slivers
1 cup radishes, sliced thin
1 cup fresh bean sprouts or canned rinsed and drained
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced 1/4 inch
1 cup roasted peanuts salted (you can use honey roasted)

Vinaigrette

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Make the vinaigrette ahead of time and let it cool.

Slaw Vinaigrette:
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic; stir and keep on heat for 2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and pepper. Mix to combine and let cool.  The vinaigrette can be prepared up to 1 week ahead of time and refrigerated.

 In a large salad bowl combine the cabbage, snow peas, daikon, bean sprouts carrots and red pepper. Mix to combine and add the Vinaigrette. Toss gently and add the peanuts just before serving peanuts and toss just before serving.  Serves 4 to 6.

SUPER HONEY CITRUS SALSA

4 Clementine oranges, peeled, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey

In a bowl combine the Clementines, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix and set aside. In a bowl combine the lime juice, oil and honey and whisk to combine.  Stir the chopped Clementine into the dressing and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes 4 servings, about 1/3 cup each. 

SPINACH SALAD WITH PINE NUTS AND BLOOD ORANGES 

2 to 3 Clementines, segmented or sectioned
3 to 4 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese shredded
3 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted
4 cups packed (9 ounces) baby spinach

Lemon-Blood Orange Vinaigrette Dressing
1 peeled Blood Orange
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Arrange the Blood Orange segments, cheese and nuts over the baby spinach. Drizzle the dressing over salad or serve on the side. Makes 4 servings.  For the dressing, Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process to combine. Serves 4 to 6

CITRUS CIRCUS

2  navel oranges, peeled
2  blood oranges, peeled
2  Clementine, peeled
1  white grapefruit
1  pink grapefruit
1/2  cup  sugar
2  cups sweet white wine
Lime rind strips

Peel, section, and seed the oranges, Clementines, and grapefruits. Combine them in a bowl and set them aside.  Cut the rind of 1 of the oranges into thin strips. In a saucepan combine the orange rind strips, sugar, and wine and cook until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until the liquid is l thickened. Twist the lime rind strips into 6 individual compote glasses or bowl and divide the fruit between the 6 bowls. Pour the warm syrup over fruit and serve. Serves 6.

BEEF AND ORANGE SALAD

5 medium blood oranges, peeled, segmented and cut into pieces
4 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
3 cups roast beef strips or 1/2 pound deli roast beef cut into pieces
1 cup thinly sliced half-rings of red onion
3 avocados sliced

Citrus Dressing
1 blood orange
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon shredded orange peel
1 tablespoon chives
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut the orange into halves. Squeeze the juice; you should have about 1/3 cup. Combine the juice with the oil, lime juice, orange peel, chives, sugar and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously and set it aside.

Place the beef slices and orange pieces in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine then add the lettuce, bean sprouts and carrots and toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Spoon the salad onto 6 plates. Garnish plate each with avocado slices. Serves 6

BLOOD ORANGE CHEESE CAKE

6 large blood oranges
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 pound cottage cheese, small curd
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 325. Butter 9″ pie dish or spring form pan with some of the butter or margarine (1 to 2 tablespoons. Melt remaining butter and mix it thoroughly with the graham cracker crumbs. Press mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of dish or pan. Peel 5 of the blood oranges. removing all peels and with the white pith. Separate into extract wedges and arrange them evenly in two layers on top of the crust. Squeeze the juice from the 6th blood orange into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in the sugar and then the cottage cheese until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter over the blood oranges and bake for 35 minutes in a preheated oven or until firm. Increase heat to high and brown top of cake for a few seconds. Cool, then refrigerate overnight. Serves 10 to 12 

       This is not usually a season that we cruise the produce section of our favorite grocery and expect to find interesting fresh fruit and vegetables. We can find all the dried, canned and frozen stuff we want in other sections of the store.
      But, unless we want to pay a premium for stuff that’s been imported from Mexico, California or a third world country we’re stuck with apples and bananas and what ever doesn’t look like it’s been sitting around for a couple of months. It’s when I don’t think that I’ll ever see another piece of fruit that I’d like to bring home that the Clementine oranges and blood oranges come into season.
       There are three varieties of blood oranges, Moro, Tarroco, and Saguinelli and they are available from late December to early May. The name Blood orange comes from their deep pink or deep reddish color of the pulp. Blood oranges tend to be smaller than average oranges and their flavor has been likened to a combination of raspberry and strawberry crossed with an orange. Their rich red color makes for vivid dressings and sauces. I always buy extra and freeze the juice to use later.     
      Clementine oranges are much smaller than blood oranges are usually sold in a small crate. They are easily distinguished from other members of the mandarin orange family by their thin skin and lack of seeds. Clementine oranges are in peak season from November thru March
When choosing your Blood Oranges and Clementine oranges, look for thin-skinned fruit with smooth lightly textured skin. Avoid fruit with soft spots, dull and faded coloring or rough, grooved or wrinkled skin. Store them at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerate up to two weeks.
        Both these oranges are wonderful when eating all by themselves but they can both be used in any recipe that calls for oranges or citrus. They add a unique and piquant flavor to both savory and sweet dishes as well as make a colorful garnish, and add a decorative touch to a fruit bowl.

NOTE: One Blood Orange will make about 1/2 cup. To juice Blood Orange, first soften citrus by rolling on a firm surface, then slice in half and juice with orange juicer.

BLOOD ORANGE SALAD DRESSING

2 whole Blood Oranges
1/2 cup sour cream or mayonnaise

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 1/2 cup dressing

BLOOD ORANGE PEANUT SLAW

2 cups Napa Cabbage shredded
1 cup snow peas cut into 1 inch slivers
1 cup radishes, sliced thin
1 cup fresh bean sprouts or canned rinsed and drained
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper diced 1/4 inch
1 cup roasted peanuts salted (you can use honey roasted)

Vinaigrette

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Make the vinaigrette ahead of time and let it cool.

Slaw Vinaigrette:
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic; stir and keep on heat for 2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice and pepper. Mix to combine and let cool.  The vinaigrette can be prepared up to 1 week ahead of time and refrigerated.

 

 In a large salad bowl combine the cabbage, snow peas, daikon, bean sprouts carrots and red pepper. Mix to combine and add the Vinaigrette. Toss gently and add the peanuts just before serving peanuts and toss just before serving.  Serves 4 to 6.

CITRUS SALSA

4 Clementine oranges, peeled, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey

In a bowl combine the Clementines, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix and set aside. In a bowl combine the lime juice, oil and honey and whisk to combine.  Stir the chopped Clementine into the dressing and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Makes 4 servings, about 1/3 cup each.

BLOOD ORANGE SPINACH SALAD WITH PINE NUTS

2 to 3 Clementines, segmented or sectioned
3 to 4 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese shredded
3 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted
4 cups packed (9 ounces) baby spinach

Lemon-Blood Orange Vinaigrette Dressing
1 peeled Blood Orange
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the spinach in a salad bowl. Arrange the Blood Orange segments, cheese and nuts over the baby spinach. Drizzle the dressing over salad or serve on the side. Makes 4 servings.  For the dressing, Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process to combine. Serves 4 to 6

CITRUS COMPOTE

2  navel oranges, peeled
2  blood oranges, peeled
2  Clementine, peeled
1  white grapefruit
1  pink grapefruit
1/2  cup  sugar
2  cups sweet white wine
Lime rind strips

Peel, section, and seed the oranges, Clementines, and grapefruits. Combine them in a bowl and set them aside.  Cut the rind of 1 of the oranges into thin strips. In a saucepan combine the orange rind strips, sugar, and wine and cook until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 15 minutes or until the liquid is l thickened. Twist the lime rind strips into 6 individual compote glasses or bowl and divide the fruit between the 6 bowls. Pour the warm syrup over fruit and serve. Serves 6.

ROAST BEEF AND BLOOD ORANGE SALAD

5 medium blood oranges, peeled, segmented and cut into pieces
4 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
3 cups roast beef strips or 1/2 pound deli roast beef cut into pieces
1 cup thinly sliced half-rings of red onion
3 avocados sliced

 

Citrus Dressing
1 blood orange
1/3 cup oil
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon shredded orange peel
1 tablespoon chives
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut the orange into halves. Squeeze the juice; you should have about 1/3 cup. Combine the juice with the oil, lime juice, orange peel, chives, sugar and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and shake vigorously and set it aside.

Place the beef slices and orange pieces in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine then add the lettuce, bean sprouts and carrots and toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat. Spoon the salad onto 6 plates. Garnish plate each with avocado slices. Serves 6

BLOOD ORANGE CHEESE CAKE

6 large blood oranges
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
1 pound cottage cheese, small curd
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 325. Butter 9″ pie dish or spring form pan with some of the butter or margarine (1 to 2 tablespoons. Melt remaining butter and mix it thoroughly with the graham cracker crumbs. Press mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of dish or pan. Peel 5 of the blood oranges. removing all peels and with the white pith. Separate into extract wedges and arrange them evenly in two layers on top of the crust. Squeeze the juice from the 6th blood orange into a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in the sugar and then the cottage cheese until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter over the blood oranges and bake for 35 minutes in a preheated oven or until firm. Increase heat to high and brown top of cake for a few seconds. Cool, then refrigerate overnight. Serves 10 to 12

Skinny Recipes for Spring or HELP I Need to Loose 30 lbs.

                                   SPRING HAS SPRUNG

             HEMS ARE ON THE RISE,

              WILL SOMEONE PLEASE, PLEASE

             TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO MY THIGHS

and hips and stomach and all the other parts of me that seem to have spread out so much over these last couple of months.

            It never fails, just say the words “cold weather” or big bulky wool sweaters to me and I start eating like a nuclear winter is just around the corner. My body seems to equate the changing into my winter wardrobe with putting on a few extra layers of blubber, (not unlike my cousin, the polar bear) to ward off all that cold cold icky snowy weather.

             I realize now that the warm weather is really here to stay that it may be too late for me to change my food “intake”. You know what I mean. If the food is “in” my house I “take” it and stuff it in my mouth. I’ve got to find a way to take off 30 pounds in the next 4 weeks before it’s officially time to pull out the tank tops and sunscreen . At this point, the odds of me buying a new swimsuit in this century are very slim (another word I’m not so fond of).

             Forget about all those New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, we’re out of time. Let’s concentrate on what we can accomplish in the next few months by taking the fat (and calories) out of our diet. (That’s diet as a Noun not as a Verb).

            To get us started here are a few fun and fast recipes that have been reduced to as few calories as I can manage without the taste being compromised. So try these “thin delights”, the only thing you have to lose is weight.

SKINNY SKINS

6 medium potatoes, baked

1 tablespoon melted margarine

1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt or low fat/no fat sour cream

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat to 375. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out the center and leave about 1/8 inch shell. Mix the butter, yogurt and basil, oregano thyme together and brush it generously on the potato skins. Sprinkle the skins with the sesame seeds. Place the skins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 min. or until they are crunchy and brown. Cut in half lengthwise and serve hot. Serves 6.

Submitted by Lois Rose Glenview IL

CHICKEN AND ORANGE SALAD

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon orange zest

3 green onions, sliced thin

3 cups cooked white meat of chicken, diced

2 medium oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

salad greens

salt/pepper are optional

chow mein or rice noodles

Place the chicken in a self closing plastic bag. Add the chicken broth, vinegar, orange peel and onions. Close and shake to mix. Mix in the water chestnuts and orange slices. Close and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Place the salad greens on a serving plate and spoon the chicken salad on top, making sure not to pour too much of the marinade over it. Sprinkle the chow mein or rice noodles on top. Serves 4.

MUSHROOM PITA PIZZA

4 pita breads

4 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced and separate into rings

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1/4 cup chopped red pepper

4 teaspoon dried basil

2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 425. Split each pita bread so that you have a total of 8 rounds. Place rounds, cut side up, on ungreased cookie sheet. Arrange mushrooms, peppers and onions on top. Sprinkle with basil and cheeses. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut each round into 6 pieces. Serves 4

SPICY VEGETABLE DIP

2 cup low fat, small curd cottage cheese

4 tablespoon skim milk

2 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoon curry powder

Place cottage cheese, milk and lemon juice into a blender or food processor. Process for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides process again until the mixture is smooth. Add the mustard, onion powder and curry powder. Cover and pulse for 30 seconds or until everything is combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 3 days. Serve with raw vegetables or pita triangles. Makes 2 cups

SPINACH AND RICE CASSEROLE

1 1/2 cups brown rice

3 cups chicken broth

1 lb. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained

2 red or green bell peppers, chopped

1 large onion, diced

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cup low fat milk

3 tablespoons flour

2 cup shredded low fat pepper Jack cheese, divided

1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels

4 ounces low fat cream cheese (or Neufchatel)

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Preheat oven to 375. In a saucepan bring the broth to a simmer. Add in the rice, spinach, bell peppers, onion, and salt. Cover and cook at a simmer 20 to 30 minutes.  Uncover a continue cooking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 more minutes. In another saucepan whisk together the milk and flour. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set the mixture aside.. When the rice is done, stir in the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole. Top with jalapeños. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8