Keepin' It Fresh

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In Season: Basil

Posted by | Maria, Recipes, Seasonal | No Comments

Basil is my all-time favorite herb and I am so excited it is in season. There is nothing like fresh basil!

There are several species of basil, but the most common is sweet basil. It is often used for caprese salad, pesto, tomato sauces, and to liven up Italian dishes.

To harvest fresh basil, clip the stem where it extends from a two-leaf joint. A new stem and leaf will grow from this point. Continuing to clip and use the basil while it is young and tender keeps the leaves and stems from maturing and forming buds and blooms. If the plant flowers, the basil will have a slightly bitter taste so try to keep basil plants trimmed!

If you harvest more than you can use, you can place the basil in a jar of water and store it on the counter for a few days. You can also freeze basil! To prevent the basil from wilting and turning brown, blanch the basil first.  Chill and pat the basil dry and put the leaves in a blender or food processor and puree, adding enough extra-virgin olive oil to make a smooth paste. Freeze the basil in ice cube trays for easy use! You can also make batches of pesto to freeze.

If you are looking for ways to use up your summer basil, here are a few of my favorite basil recipes!

non alcoholic drinks refreshing - stephanie brubaker

Sparkling Black Currant Punch

Posted by | Recipes, Seasonal, Steph B | No Comments

I love to make special, non-alcoholic drinks for friends and family; not having a mini bar should not mean you are destined only to a glass of water all evening!  Start with pretty bottles (I purchased mine at IKEA; they are pictured above) and good ingredients and you’ll be on your way to a delightful evening.  Since black currant juice is a beautiful, deep color and boasts a tartness that cannot be beat, it’s a great base to this simple, but delicious drink.  Please note that each of these ingredients can be found at Trader Joe’s.  Enjoy!

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Spring Produce Pick: Asparagus

Posted by | Maria, News, Seasonal | No Comments

Asparagus is in season and that makes me very happy! I love asparagus and I am so happy it is back in the grocery stores. If you aren’t familiar with the popular spring vegetable, here are a few tips to help you enjoy asparagus this spring.

  • When picking out asparagus at the store, look for stems that are straight, firm, and deep green in color. The tips should be closed with no flowering. Make sure the asparagus spears aren’t dry or wilted. 
  • To help keep the asparagus spears fresh, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel or place in a jar of water. Place the asparagus in the refrigerator for no longer than 2-3 days before using.
  • Before cooking, cut off  the woody ends of the asparagus, about 1-2 inches from the bottom of the spears. Discard the tough ends.
  • You can cook asparagus in a variety of ways. It is good steamed, sautéed, roasted, and grilled.

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tropical refresher mocktail - stephanie brubaker : stephmodo

Warm Weather Mocktails: Tropical Refresher

Posted by | Recipes, Seasonal, Steph B | No Comments

Welcome to a three-week series on delicious “mocktails” you can easily make at home…no mixology experience required!  All you need are quality juices, fresh herbs and a few beautiful, glass bottles with pretty tops.  I purchased mine at IKEA (they are pictured above) and have been quite pleased so far (note: these recipes are made for this size bottle so use this as an excuse to stock up!).  Also, I recently discovered that many of the juices at Trader Joe’s are not only cost effective, but high quality as well.  The 100% pineapple juice can’t be beat, nor can the $2 orange juice; both found in the refrigerated section.  In fact, all of the ingredients in this recipe can be purchased at TJ’s, making it a one-stop shop.

One of my favorites in this series is this Tropical Refresher.  The mint adds a nice kick, which makes me crave Summertime.  This year, I would be a-okay with skipping Spring, in order to jump right into warm weather and cool drinks.  In the meantime, I will be making this again soon to tide myself over.  Enjoy!

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10 Must Make Cauliflower Recipes

Posted by | Maria, Recipes, Seasonal | No Comments

Cauliflower is all the rage right now. Cauliflower recipes are popping up everywhere! I am happy about that because cauliflower is one of my very favorite vegetables.

If you want to join the cauliflower club, you’ve come to the right place because today I am sharing 10 MUST MAKE cauliflower recipes. Cauliflower is so versatile, you can enjoy it in so many different ways!

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citrus-fruits

In Season: Citrus Fruits

Posted by | Maria, Seasonal | No Comments

Citrus fruits are in season and that makes me very happy! I love that there is a little bit of sunshine in the grocery store right now. It  is a great time to start tasting different kinds of citrus fruits. There are a lot of varieties to choose from, but here are a few of my personal favorites.

  • Blood Oranges-sweet and juicy with a deep red color
  • Pink Grapefruit-tart, tangy, and a little sweet
  • Tangerines-easy to peel with a strong sweet flavor
  • Cara Cara Oranges-medium in size, but mighty in flavor
  • Clementines-super sweet with very few seeds
  • Tangelos-mild, sweet, and juicy
  • Meyer Lemons-sweeter and less acidic than traditional lemons

So many varieties of citrus are available this time of year. The next time you are at the store make sure you try a new citrus fruit. Choose citrus fruits that feel firm and heavy for their size and avoid fruit that is misshapen or obviously damaged.

Don’t let citrus season pass you by! Pick up a variety of citrus fruits today and get tasting!