Kitchen Tips

Spring Produce

It’s the first day of spring and to celebrate I have a very special post, a new feature per say, focusing on the seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

I am a firm believer that you should eat “seasonally,” or include foods in your meals that are grown at the same time of the year you eat them. For example, that means strawberries in the spring and summer, and pears in the fall. Eating seasonally is important, and carries benefits to your health and your wallet.

At first glance, eating seasonally may seem simple—you eat foods that are in season, or being grown and harvested at the time of the year when you buy them. But there’s more to it than just being a trendy food movement. There are real benefits to eating foods that are available at their peak right now.

Perhaps the biggest tangible benefit of eating seasonally is that you’ll save money at the grocery store and farmer’s markets. When you buy what’s in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store. It may seem like common sense, but it’s one of those things many of us ignore when we’re shopping.

However, the best consequence of eating seasonally is that you get the best tasting, healthiest produce available. The same reasons that keep the cost of seasonal food down also drive its quality up: The food is grown closer to you so it doesn’t spoil on its trip, it’s harvested at the peak of its season, and sold during its season, before it spoils. Ideally, this means you’re getting fruits and vegetables that haven’t had time to lose their flavor or their health benefits by sitting in a shipping container for a trip across the ocean.

Please feel free to print this little “cheat sheet” and post in on the fridge as a reminder of what to look for at the grocery store this spring.

Sources: Life Hacker and United States Department of Agriculture

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Dinners

Recipe—Busy Mom’s Beef Wellington

Traditional beef wellington has got to be one of the most glamorous meals ever prepared. It is so rich and attractive but certainly not something you want to be making Monday–Friday. It is a wonderful dish but it is a lot of work! Certainly not in the regular rotation for this busy momma! I saw this recipe the other day for a beef wellington made from ground beef and had to give it a try. It was absolutely delicious! It was relatively easy to throw together and the flavors were very close to that of traditional wellington, just with some added veggies, which are always welcome in our house. This will most certainly be a go to recipe for me from here on out.

Note: Try to dice your veggies so that they are all about the same size. This will help them to cook evenly. This will make two wellington “logs”. Each log will feed 2–3 people. If you don’t think you will eat both, place one prepared and uncooked “log” on a wax paper lined baking sheet and freeze for 2–3 hours. Transfer to an airtight bag or seal o’ meal pouch and freeze for a future dinner. (See Steps below for cooking a frozen one.)

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 potato, cubed
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 portobello mushroom or 5 baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp thyme
1 lb ground beef
salt and pepper
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
flour for dusting and rolling
1 egg

STEPS

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, carrot, potato, garlic, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet and sauté until your vegetables are fork tender and onions are translucent, about 8–10 minutes.
  • Transfer your cooked veggies to a bowl and place in the freezer for 10–15 minutes to cool.
  • While your veggies cool preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Remove the veggies from the freezer and add in the ground beef, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix everything together until well combined. (I recommend just getting in there and using your hands.)
  • Set your meat mixture to the side.
  • Dust a large cutting board with flour and unfold your pastry. Dust the side of the dough facing up with additional flour and roll out to 1/4″ thickness.
  • Divide your meat mixture into two portions and shape one of those portions into a log in the center of the dough.
  • Wrap the dough around the meat “log” like you would a burrito, making sure to tuck in both ends.
  • Place seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl whisk the egg until broken up.
  • Brush the egg wash over the entire outside of the prepared wellington.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes until it is a nice golden brown.
  • Transfer the baked wellington to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Jaime Oliver.

Kitchen Tips

Kitchen Tip—Produce Storage Chart

One of the biggest kitchen blunders I see is the improper storage of fruits and veggies. I frequently see tomatoes in the refrigerator and apples on the counter. These are big no-nos! Refrigeration is the enemy of tomatoes. It not only changes the flavor, but it turns the flesh mealy. By not storing your fruits and veggies correctly you are impacting their flavor, texture, and color. They also may not be lasting as long as they could.  I have compiled this little cheat sheet to help eliminate the guesswork. Feel free to print this out and hang it on the refrigerator or inside one of the kitchen cabinets. Hopefully, by properly storing your produce it will last longer and you will be tossing out less at the end of each week. Happy eating!

Produce Storage Chart