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Posts tagged ‘Melissa’s Produce’

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If there’s one thing I love this time of year, it’s grilled corn, especially white corn. I eat it straight off the cob but I also frequently shear off the kernels and turn them into a salad. It’s super easy and a nice way to still have the same great vegetable without getting butter and salt all over your hands. While I’ve added the corn to cob and taco salads, there’s one thing I’d never thought of doing: adding fruit to the corn for a delicious side.

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Last week I was at Melissa’s Produce and got to meet Patricia Greenberg who came up with this fabulous idea. Known as the Fitness Gourmet, Greenberg is a working wife and mother who has 30 years of experience as a Nutritionist, Chef, and Wellness educator. In other words, she knows a thing or two about health and nutrition. She’s very big on healthy, foods and healthy snacks for everyone from children to adults. But just because her meals are healthy doesn’t mean they’re flavorless.

Patricia

Greenberg and her daughter, Gabriella Grunfeld, have been making delicious meals for some time and they finally decided to put all their recipes into a book for the masses. Some of them are as simple wheat bread with peanut butter and bananas while others are a little more complex like the Mediterranean Frittata Sandwich. But they’re all delicious and not one is over 550 calories.

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Since I’m such a big corn and blueberry fan I knew I had to try the salad they created. Greenberg’s version uses canned corn, but since we’re right in the middle of corn season, I wanted to grab a few ears and grill them up. The canned corn makes this a delicious side dish year ’round, but grilling fresh corn means you can make it right now. Plus grilling gives the corn a nice smokey flavor that adds depth to the overall dish and doesn’t add one calorie. But the best thing about this salad is the flavor. The sweet corn combined with the sweet blueberries feels very summery and tastes amazing. It’s fresh, and light and goes perfectly with everything from steak to fish.

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So, before corn season ends in the fall, grab a few ears of corn and a pint or two of blueberries and mix up this salad. And if you like this dish as much as I do, go out and grab Greenburg and Grunfeld’s Scrumptious Sandwiches Salads and Snacks. This salad is just a taste of all the wonderful recipes inside this awesome cookbook.

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Grilled Corn & Blueberry Salad (adapted from Scrumptious Sandwiches Salads and Snacks)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to 300°F. Grill the corn until lightly charred on the outside, about 6 or 7 minutes. Let cool until you can handle the corn. Peel the husks off and cut off the kernels into a bowl.
  2. Add the blueberries and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving add the basil and toss again. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the cookbook for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.

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If there are two fruits I look forward to all year it’s rhubarb and raspberries. While it’s true that you can get raspberries year-round, they’re at their freshest during the summer months. That’s when they’re sweetest and perfect for fruit salads, bars or cakes. The timing is perfect because it’s also when rhubarb is in season. It’s because these two fruits are available at the same time that I chose to make some muffins with them.

Now, I know that strawberries are usually the fruit chosen to go with rhubarb because their sweetness compliments the tartness from the rhubarb perfectly. But a few weeks ago I was at Melissa’s Produce meeting and learning from Deborah Madison. In her newest cookbook, In My Kitchen, Madison has a recipe for a Rhubarb-Raspebrry Compote. I know, raspberries. She said that while strawberries are the obvious choice, she liked the combination of raspberries and rhubarb because it’s not quite as sweet. I tasted that compote at Melissa’s and it was deeeee-licious! It was that compote that made me want to add raspberries to these basic rhubarb muffins, and as expected, the final product? Awesome!

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I’d been wanting to make these rhubarb muffins for a couple months now, but I had to wait for the rhubarb to come into season. Well, when the season got here, I unfortunately discovered that the vendor I get it from at the farmer’s market may not have any this year because of all the rain we got. As you might guess, I was very upset. How could I make these muffins if I couldn’t get rhubarb? Melissa’s came to my rescue. They had a ton! So, of course I grabbed a bunch, and since I know that Melissa’s will have rhubarb through September, I can make these muffins all summer long!

What makes these muffins a nice alternative to your standard blueberry is that they’re not as sweet. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a sweetness thanks to the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled-tops, but the diced rhubarb keeps that sweetness in check. It’s that spectrum of flavors that makes these muffins the perfect breakfast choice. They’re so good, you can eat them all by themselves, toasted with a little butter or as part of a bigger brunch spread. And if, after the first batch disappears, you find yourself craving another muffin or two, don’t worry; with raspberries and rhubarb being so readily available throughout the summer, you can easily make these pastries all season long.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Muffins (adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a muffin tin with baking cups.
  2. Sift together the flour, a half cup of sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the sour cream, melted butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Fold the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Gently stir in the rhubarb and raspberries until mixed.
  4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups so the batter mounds slightly higher than the tops of the muffin cups.
  5. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the top of each muffin.
  6. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean, 20 – 25 minutes. Let the muffins cool on a rack in the pan for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool another 5 – 10 minutes and serve.

labeled kumquats

Now that we’re getting into spring and summer, that means more time outside. And more time outside means more picnics and family barbecues. But then we come to the question about what to serve for those events. Fried chicken is a good choice as are burgers and fruit salads. But those are all main courses or side dishes. What do you serve when the party is just getting started? Appetizers of course and there’s no better appetizer than the kind that you can pick up and pop in your mouth. These Boursin-stuffed Kumquats are just that kind of appetizer.

I learned about these awesome little appetizers when Cathy Thomas, a food columnist for the Orange County Register and Orange Coast Magazine came to Melissa’s Produce to talk about the three cookbooks she wrote for Melissa’s: Melissa’s Great Book of Produce, Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce and 50 Best Plants on the Planet, which focuses on the fifty most nutrient dense fruits and vegetables that grow on earth. All three are great books and provide a lot of wonderful recipes. But this little gem is something that Thomas told us about when she was describing different ways to serve fruits and vegetables.

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Kumquats are a citrus so they’re usually available starting around November and going through early to mid spring. But Melissa’s has them through July which means you can start serving this appetizer in January, serve it on Mother’s Day and continue serving it all the way through the 4th. Here’s the thing about kumquats, though, they’re unlike any other kind of citrus out there. See, most citrus, especially oranges, have a bitter, sour peel and a wonderfully sweet flesh. But the kumquat is different. Its peel is sweet and tart while the insides are sour and bitter.

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I’ve never been a big fan of the kumquat because the insides are so sour. But scraping the flesh out and filling it with a savory cheese means you’re left with the best part of the kumquat and have a delicious creamy, herby cheese to compliment the sweet exterior. Even better, since the kumquats are so small they’re the best kind of finger foods. You can pick one up, pop it in your mouth and go back for seconds. But beware, these little bites are so addictive those seconds could easily become thirds, fourths or even fifths.

There’s just one problem with these awesome little apps. They definitely take some time to make. You need the smallest melon-baller you can find to scoop out all the flesh. Then take another small spoon and stuff the inside with the cheese. It’s a cinch to do, but does take awhile. While I used spoons to stuff the kumquats, next time I’d definitely use a piping bag. But once you’re done, these stuffed kumquats don’t just look beautiful, they taste amazing and will definitely be a hit at your next party.

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Boursin-Stuffed Kumquats

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of kumquats
  • 1 package of Boursin cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of chives or Italian parsley, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry all the kumquats. Slice the tops off each piece of fruit. Slice a tiny piece off the bottom so each kumquat will stand flat on your serving try.
  2. Take your tiny mellon baller and scoop out all the flesh from inside the fruit. Repeat with the remaining kumquats.
  3. Place the Boursin in a piping bag. Pipe the soft cheese into each piece of hollowed out fruit. and place on a serving tray. Repeat with remaining kumquats, until all are stuffed. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.

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I’m a huge meat eater. I love chicken, beef, lamb… If it flies, walks or swims, I’m in. But every so often I want to take a break from the chicken and beef and eat a vegetable or two. It’s on those nights that I usually make a pasta dish or a dinner salad. While throwing together a quick salad or spaghetti is pretty easy, it also can get stale. I mean, how many times a month can one eat spaghetti marinara or a spinach salad? There just have to be other veggie options that are quick to whip up and don’t require dirtying an entire kitchen.

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Carla Snyder had the same thoughts. She knew there were plenty of people out there who were vegetarians or ominvores and wanted to consume more vegetables without all the fuss. So, when she saw how successful her book, One Pan, Two Plates: More than 70 Complete Weeknight Meals for Two was, she decided to make a veggie version; only this time everything in the book would be made with vegetables or grains. The idea behind One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers was simple: make delicious, versatile vegetarian dishes that weren’t complicated, didn’t take a lot of time, but were still full of flavor.

Having the opportunity to sample a few of Snyder’s vegetarian dishes at Melissa’s Produce a couple weeks ago, I’m here to tell you she definitely succeeded. Everything I tried was delicious from the Superfood Salad made with quinoa and blueberries to the Crunchy Black Bean Tacos. But the dishes didn’t just have me going back for seconds (and thirds), they’re so easy to make. Snyder actually whipped up the tacos for us in about 15 or 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. And the fact they they only take one pan, makes them even more enticing. I mean, if you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day is spend an extra hour in the kitchen cleaning up a sink full of dirty pots and pans after you’ve spent an hour (or more) making dinner.

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Now, I know it seems odd that you only need one pan to make a pasta dish, but seriously, that’s all I used. See, I boiled the pasta and the brussels sprouts in a large saucepan, drained them and then mixed everything together back in the same pot. The heat from the freshly boiled pasta melted the cheese and when combined with a little pasta water makes for a nice creamy sauce that coats everything. The recipe was so easy to follow I can’t wait to make it and several others in the book again.

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Bow Ties with Brussels Sprouts and Gorgonzola

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 8 ounces Bow Tie Pasta
  • 12-15 Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the pasta and cook about 7 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the pasta is al dente and the Brussels sprouts are tender; drain, reserving at least a half cup of the pasta water.
  2. Return the pasta and Brussels sprouts to the same hot pan. Mix in the cheese, butter, sunflower seeds, pepper, 1 tablespoon parsley and at least a quarter cup of the pasta water. Continue to stir until a creamy sauce forms. If the pasta is still too dry continue to add the pasta water until the sauce reaches the consistency you prefer.
  3. Mound the pasta on plates, sprinkel with remaining parsley and serve.

labeled trifle

We’re right in the middle of two of my favorite seasons: citrus and Girl Scout Cookie. Okay, I know Girl Scout Cookies aren’t necessarily a season, but they’re around for at least a month (and still available until March 12th) and that’s more than enough for me.

I’m a huge girl scout cookie fan. I’ve been eating them since I was a girl scout myself, many moons ago. As a matter of fact this year marks the 100th anniversary of girl scouts selling those awesome little cookies. Every time I get an email or text from my friends whose daughters are selling cookies, I immediately make my list of which ones I want. My favorites are the Samoas, Thin Mints and Do-si-dos (but there are several other flavors in case you want to pick some up). While I love munching on those three with a tall glass of milk, the Savannah Smiles are my go to when it comes to baking. It was actually this time last year that I made another recipe using the lemony Smiles thanks to Melissa’s Produce and the Girl Scouts of greater Los Angeles.

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I prefer to bake with the Smiles because they’re light little cookies that taste of sweet lemons. While they’re delicious on their own or with a cup of tea, I like them in my desserts because they add an extra burst of lemon flavor, which is why I knew these little cookies would be a great base for a trifle. I’d only used cake before in trifles because it’s already soft and moist, so I wasn’t sure how the cookies would fare. But they were wonderful. Yes, they got a little soggy from the two different curds, but they still retained a slight crunch and melded with the rest of the trifle wonderfully.

Trifles are often thought of as spring and summer desserts. But since we’re right in the middle of citrus season, this is the perfect opportunity to make a beautiful dessert that’s light and delicious. While lemon curd is a common curd of choice when it comes to trifles, I wanted to add a little something extra. So I didn’t just make a lemon curd, I also made a blood orange curd. Not only does it make for some great colored layers, both curds really smack you with that delightfully tart citrus flavor. When combined with the raspberries and those Savannah Smiles, you get one awesome trifle and a dessert definitely worthy of those amazing girls and all they stand for.

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Citrus Raspberry Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups butter, cubed and divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 7 eggs, divided
  • 8 egg yolks, divided
  • a couple drops pink food coloring (optional)
  • 5 pints of raspberries
  • 3 boxes of Savannah Smiles

Directions:

  1. Make the curds: Combine the lemon juice, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the juice mixture boils, whisk 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture into the juice mixture. Continue stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in the lemon zest and set aside to cool.
  4. Combine the orange juice, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the juice mixture boils, whisk 2 eggs and 6 egg yolks with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture into the juice mixture. Continue stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in the orange zest and the food coloring (if you’re using it) and set aside to cool.
  7. Build the trifle: Place one-third of the cookies on the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Spoon half the lemon curd over the cookies and spread to the sides of the bowl. Cover with one-third of the raspberries. Repeat with the remaining cookies, curd and raspberries, alternating between the orange curd and lemon curd as you go. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the Meyer Lemons and raspberries, and the Girl Scouts provided me with the Savannah Smiles for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.