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Tired of Winter Cooking: Some Fresh Ideas

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

 

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

There will be a puppeh update today or tomorrow. Until then…

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Blood Oranges

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Tonight’s recipe exchange is going to be a quick one. It’s been a stressful week –  the little company I work with is downsizing (you can read about it here) and I’m busy helping them restructure. The weekend cannot come soon enough. Time to get out and ride and maybe do some gardening.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, it’s Blood Orange season and I thought I’d take advantage. I know we just did oranges, but that’s actually one of the reasons for tonight’s theme. I received an email question about using blood oranges instead of Clementine’s in the Orange Bread recipe. That reminded me to go looking for blood oranges. Usually I have a difficult time finding them, but a new Sprouts Market opened in my neighborhood and they have a great fresh produce section where I’ve been able to find all kinds of fun stuff. Including some beautiful and flavorful blood oranges.

If you haven’t ever had them, they are sweeter than navel oranges, a little bit of a raspberry flavor, I guess, to them. A nice mix of sweet and tart flavors. Here’s a bit of an explanation over at Sunkist. Really anything you do with oranges, you can do with blood oranges and get a really pretty display in the process.

So with that, I have three recipes for you and, sorry, no photos, it took all the energy I had left just to put together the recipes.

First up: Blood Orange Salad (click here)

Next: Blood Orange Coleslaw (click here)

What’s going on in your kitchen this weekend? Anything fun? Anyone firing up the grill yet?

And finally tonight’s featured recipe:

Blood Orange Glaze and Salsa

This was originally meant for a firm white fish, but it works well with chicken, salmon and pork. So I thought I’d give you the basics and you can experiment with how you use them.

If you can’t find blood oranges, you can substitute ruby red grapefruit, or use all navel oranges, maybe add some raspberries for a nice flavor.

Blood Orange Glaze

  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Warm honey and orange juice until the honey is completely melted. Stir in zest, pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Broil (set rack at second level from the top) or grill fish fillets, pounded chicken breasts or boneless pork chops,  basting with the sauce and turning frequently until cooked through and glaze is carmelized. Top with salsa (recipe below).

Blood Orange Salsa

  • 4 blood oranges, peeled, sectioned and chopped
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 naval orange, peeled, sectioned & chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

large bowl

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes.

Blood Orange Coleslaw

Continuing with the today’s theme, Blood Oranges.

If you miss the short season or can’t find any locally when they are in season, you can substitute half navel oranges and half ruby red grapefruit for a nice sweet-tang. Alternately you can use all navel oranges and it will work fine. Toss a few red raspberries in the mix and you’ll have a great flavor combo.

Here’s a recipe that I adapted from somewhere or other.  I substituted a lot of ingredients to match my flavor palette, you should feel free to do the same. The dressing would work well over spinach or other greens, as well as the cabbages listed.

Blood Orange Coleslaw

  • 6 tbsps fresh blood orange juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey (more as desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 finely sliced red onion (try using the mandoline or slicing blade on a box grater for a pretty effect)
  • 1 large head of savoy cabbage, finely sliced, or 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 blood orange, peeled, sectioned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (opt)

Prepare dressing in advance: Whisk juice, vinegar, and honey in bowl. Whisk in oil, then mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a covered glass container.

Toss onion, cabbages, bell pepper and oranges in large bowl. Just before serving, shake dressing well and pour over vegetables; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with pecans.  Serves 4-6

Blood Orange Salad

Blood oranges are in season so I thought I’d make it the focus of tonight’s recipe exchange. This was originally posted January 2009:

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Blood Orange Salad
  • 2 blood oranges**
  • 2 large navel oranges
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ small jicama, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp oregano, crushed
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • Bibb lettuce leaves

shallow serving bowl

Peel oranges, and slice them into thin circles (don’t section). Place oranges, onions & jicama in a bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar, oil, oregano & cumin, and toss gently. Let marinate 30 minutes at room temperature, serve on lettuce leaves.

**If you can’t find Blood Oranges, substitute pink grapefruit for some tang.