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Listings of what's available at the farmers' markets and how to use the produce available.
July 16
A Four B Salad Bursting with Flavor

​Mid summer fills the farmers market with all kinds of richly colored fruits and vegetables.  This past week it was beets and blueberries.  Full of nutrition and beautiful color, it got me to thinking about using these together in a salad.  Then came the other Bs of blue cheese and balsamic viniagrette.  Sweet, earthy, salty and tangy - what could be a better mix?

Four B Salad web.jpg
Beets are an overlooked addition to a salad but add such a great color and earthy, sweet flavor.  Simply wash the beets and trim off the tops.  Place in a square of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Wrap up with the foil and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or so depending on the size, until they are tender to a fork.  Let cool and then peel and chop.  This is my favorite way to cook beets.  The sweet blueberries make a perfect companion and are offset with the tangy vinaigrette and salty blue cheese on top of romaine lettuce.

Give this salad a try for a stunningly beautiful first course filled with nutrition from the darkly colored beets and blueberries.  It was a hit with my family and I bet it will be with yours as well!

Four B Salad

4 cups romaine lettuce

Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

2 -3 beets, roasted, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup blueberries

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Toss lettuce with enough dressing to coat and divide onto four salad plates.  Top with beets and blueberries.  Drizzle with just a little more vinaigrette over the beets and blueberries and sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles.


July 06
Pasta Salad with a Twist

​Intern, Jazmin Esquivel, shares a favorite family recipe that is perfect for a summer lunch or side to a grilled meat.

Jazmin Esquivels Pineapple Pasta Salad web.jpg 

 

This salad never fails to make an appearance at family get togethers or birthday parties. I have grown up with this recipe but it never gets old. It is fresh and definitely brings out the summertime fun with the pineapple chunks in it. It is a filling dish but it can also be eaten as a side with another main dish. It does have to be kept cool especially on hot summer days so we always keep an ice tray underneath it for food safety reasons. It may be something many may have never eaten before so give it a try. It has many ingredients we eat often just put together in a different way. It will make for a fresh, delicious meal or side dish.


Pineapple Pasta Salad

1/2 pound of elbow pasta

Salt

1 (20 oz.) can of pineapple, drained

1 (15 oz.) can of corn, drained

2 cups of shredded lettuce

1 (9 oz.) bag of sandwich ham, cut in squares

Reduced fat olive oil or / light mayonnaise

3/4 cup of Mexican cream

1 package of tostadas or saltine crackers

 

Cook pasta in salted water until just tender.  Drain and let cool slightly.  Add pineapple, corn, lettuce and ham.  Mix in enough mayonnaise to cover the pasta salad and then add the Mexican cream. Serve on tostadas or eat with saltine crackers.​ 


July 06
Wrap It Up with Tuna

​Intern, Jazmin Esquivel, brings us a summery wrap sandwich full of tuna with vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.

Jazmin Esquivels Tuna Wraps web.jpg 

 

I enjoy this recipe because it is quick and easy to make. It requires no stove or pans. It is a fresh dish that is perfect for summer that uses ingredients that are top peak for the month of July. I first made this recipe one day when I was very hungry and just kept looking through our pantry of different things we had. I had seen wrap recipes before and we just started throwing things together. It came out really delicious and we enjoyed it. It is great for summer days because it is full of vegetables and a splash of tanginess and even spiciness if you choose.  

Tuna Wraps

2 (5oz.) cans of tuna in water, drained

1 (15oz.) can of corn, drained

1 -2 diced tomatoes

1 diced cucumber

1 cup shredded lettuce

1 avocado, diced

Reduced fat olive oil/light mayonnaise (optional)

1 lime (optional)

Any hot sauce (optional - to make it a spicy tuna wrap)

A bag of high fiber, low carb wraps


Place drained tuna and corn in a bowl with tomato, cucumber, and lettuce. If you choose to use, mix in mayonnaise and a squeeze of lime and hot sauce. Finish by warming up your tortillas if you want to, and spreading mixture on wrap and rolling up, tucking in the sides.


July 06
Quinoa - A Superfood for a Supersalad

​Intern, Jazmin Esquivel, brings us a great salad to use as a new side dish addition to your backyard barbeques this summer. Featuring quinoa, this salad is colorful and flavorful.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that originated in South America.  It is used as a grain food but actually grows on a plant related to leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.  It has a nutty flavor and a popping like texture that makes it really interesting in salads, as a side dish and in soups.  You can find it with the rice and other grains in the grocery store.

Gluten-free, quinoa is known for its high protein content and the fact that it’s a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids in adequate quantity to make it a high quality protein (like meats).  It is also high in fiber like a whole grain and several other nutrients and therefore is often considered a superfood. 

Quinoa does have a bitter tasting coating so you will want to rinse it first, before cooking, although it is usually rinsed several times before packaging.

Jazmin Esquivels Quinoa Salad web.jpg

This quinoa salad is a recipe that is not only healthy but delicious as well. It is an easy and convenient recipe that provides a lot of your necessary nutrients.

So if you have never tasted quinoa before, give it a try it and see -  you may like it. Do not be discouraged to cook something you have never cooked before, the fun of cooking is trying new things. 


Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 small red pepper, chopped

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained

1 (15 oz.) can of corn, drained

Salt and black pepper to taste

¼ teaspoon garlic powder, optional

Small cucumber, chopped

1 avocado, sliced


Follow instructions on package to cook quinoa.  Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onion, red pepper, black beans and corn with salt, black pepper and garlic powder, if desired. Stir together cooked quinoa, sautéed mixture and cucumber.  Add slices of avocado on top and enjoy. 


June 12
Steak Fajitas

​So this is the third of our trilogy of steak recipes.  I guess I've been hungry for beef lately!  This is another hearty, fill you up meal with steak and vegetables.  When I made these for dinner the other day, I actually used half of the bonesless strip steak I bought for the fajitas and used the other half for the cheesesteaks (see post below).

Beef Fajitas web.jpg


Mexican/TexMex/Southwest foods have been a part of my family for years.  When living out west in Utah, my Dad went to New Mexico for a business trip and we flew down to meet him in Albuquerque for a week of vacation.  I remember the sopapillas on the tables with honey to fill the pockets - like chips and dip.  Southwest at it's best! Then when I was in high school my Dad would fill his suitcase with tortillas from San Antonio to bring back to Ohio in the 1980s.  Now we are fortunate to be able to get tortillas freshly made right here in Shelbyville.

So beef fajitas fit right into my menus.  A little marinade on the meat, cooked with peppers and onions and onto a flour tortilla topped with sour cream and cilantro.  Now that's a great steak dinner.  Of course, you can also use this same recipe with chicken breasts, sliced up or mix the two like the restaurants.

Either way, give these a try for a great summer beefy meal.

Beef Fajitas

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

12 ounces tender beef steak, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, cut in half and sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

8 flour tortillas

sour cream

chopped fresh cilantro


In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, corn syrup, hot pepper sauce and pepper.  Add the steak to a zip top bag and pour in half of the marinade mixture.  Place the peppers and onion in another bag and add the remaining half of the marinade.  Let marinate in the refrigerator a few hours or overnight.  Set a large non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil.  Drain the marinade from the vegetables and cook the onions and peppers for a few minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add the drained steak slices and cook just until cooked through, a couple of more minutes.  Transfer mixture to a serving platter.  Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave.  To eat, layer meat and vegetable mixture, sour cream and cilantro on a tortilla, fold up like a taco and eat.


June 12
Beefy Cheesesteaks

​Another great way to use steak is in a hearty, beefy, two fisted sandwich and beef cheesesteaks fit that description to a tee.  A great meal for eating outside on the patio or for a summer celebration like Father's Day.

Beef Cheesesteak web.jpg


The marinade for the meat comes from a blog called Carlsbad Cravings.  If you haven't seen this blog,  it is a must for big bold flavors and delicious meals.  Everything I have made from this blog has been great!  Just google Carlsbad Cravings and it will come up.

When I originally made these cheesesteaks, I marinated both the meat and the veggies but you really only need to do the meat since the marinade is absolutely packed with flavor.  Buttering the rolls and toasting them also adds to the pumped up flavor and add just a little crispness to the sandwich around the edges and softens the inside since kaiser rolls tend to be a little heartier and firmer. 

I used Monterrey Jack which is one of my favorite melting cheeses but you could use provolone or mozzarella or muenster just as well.

Peppers and onions abound in the summer.  I like using several colors of peppers but if you only have one color that is fine too.  If you want to pump up the heat, add some poblanos or to really pump it up add some jalapenos.

These are a filling and hearty sandwich when kids are hungry from swimming or playing outside and adults need some rejuvenation after working in the yard or being out at the kids ballfield.  Summer satisfaction! 


Beef Cheesesteaks

2 tablespoons Dijon style mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/4 pounds boneless, tender beef steak (ribeye, strip, filet), thinly sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

4 kaiser rolls, split open

softened butter

1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, parsley, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Pour into a zip top bag and add the beef slices, turning to coat.  Place in refrigerator to marinate for several hours or overnight.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the peppers and onion and cook for a few minutes to slightly soften.  Drain the marinade from the meat and add the slices to the pan with the vegetables. Cook for just a minute until meat is cooked through.  Meanwhile, spread the cut sides of the rolls with butter and place under broiler until browned around the edges.  Divide half the cheese on the bottoms of the buns, top with meat and vegetable mixture and then sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Add the top bun and serve immediately.​


June 12
Beef Shish Kebabs for Father's Day

​Father's Day is just around the corner and what is better than breaking out the grill and cooking up some cubes of beef steak?  Grilling and summer go together like two peas in a pod and with all the delicious veggies coming in from the gardens, kebabs make a perfect grilling meal.

Beef Shish Kebabs web.jpg


I've always loved kebabs or as I call it "steak on a stick".  In fact, I often order beef kebabs in restaurants.  I like the variety of tastes of the vegetables and the little chunks of meat - it reminds me of fondue which is another favorite meal.

The flavor for shish kebabs comes from the marinade that soaks into the meat and vegetables and then helps to caramelize on the grill for that deep, rich flavor.  However, you do have to think ahead so that you marinate the meat and vegetables overnight (or at least several hours).

I like to marinate my meat and my vegetables seperately so that the raw meat juices don't soak into the vegetables.  Just put the veggies in one bag and the meat in another and add half the marinade to each.  If you want to use some of the marinade as a dipping sauce, use the extra drained from the vegetables.  Discard the meat marinade.

I also like to separate my meat and vegetables on the skewers.  I put the meat on skewers together.  Then on other skewers I place the hearty vegetables like squash, peppers, onions and mushrooms.  The last skewers are cherry tomatoes which cook very quickly.  Start the hearty vegetable skewers first on the grill which will take about 20-25 minutes over medium high heat.  After about 10 minutes, add the meat skewers and 5 minutes later the tomatoes.  That way everything is done at the same time.  Turn the skewers about halfway through the cooking.

Add a bed of rice pilaf and some garlic bread for a tasty feast from the grill!


Shish Kebabs

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup cola (Coke)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2" slices

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1" squares

1/2 onion, cut into 6 wedges

8 ounces mushrooms, cut in half if large

10 cherry tomatoes

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin steaks, cut into cubes


Whisk together vinegar, red wine, soda, brown sugar, water, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and bay leaves.  Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.  Place vegetables in a zip-top bag and pour in half the marinade.  Place the sirloin cubes in another zip-top bag with the other half of the marinade.  Marinate in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.  Remove vegetables and meat and place on skewers.  Grill until desired doneness.


June 06
Rainbow Fruit Salad

​Jazmin Esquivel is interning in our office this summer and she brings us a tasty and beautiful fruit salad using the rainbow as inspiration.Jazmin Esquivel Intern 2018.jpg



The month of June is full of very vibrant and delicious fruits and vegetables. It is the perfect time to make your rainbow filled fruit salad. Fruits and vegetables that are in peak season for the month of June/July are apricots, cantaloupe, blueberries, cherries, figs, honeydew, lemons, nectarines, oranges, peaches, plums, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, onion, peppers, potatoes, summer squash, sweet corn, and tomatoes. That is such a wide range variety to please any summer craving.

Rainbow Fruit Salad web.jpg

I love a great fruit salad because it is filled of all of my favorite fruits that are sweet and juicy and adding just a splash of lemon adds just the right amount of tanginess. It is great to eat as a snack while at home on your back porch or a great side to take on a hike or summer day picnic. It is set to please everyone in the family.

You could add as many fruits as you wanted but since there are so many fruits in top season for June/July those are the fruits I will focus on.


R- Red watermelon and strawberries    O- Orange cantaloupe     Y- yellow lemons

G- Green Honeydew

V- violet cherries                                I-Indigo plums               B- Blue blueberries


Like I said before, you have enough colors to make a rainbow salad. ROYGVIB is the acronym I was told to remember the colors of the rainbow and this month is just right for a fruit for each color of the rainbow.


Rainbow Fruit Salad

You want to first gather your fruits and wash them so that you have clean produce without any harmful bacteria or dirt that could be present.


Half of a whole seedless watermelon and/or 2 cups strawberries

Half of a whole cantaloupe

Half of a whole honeydew

1 cup blueberries

1 1/2 cups cherries

3 plums

One lemon

 

You then want to cut up all of your fruits

  • Cut the half watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew into smaller cubes and put them into a large bowl or container
  • Your strawberries can be cut in half if they are reasonably sized strawberries but if they are fairly large you can cut them into more pieces and then add to your bowl
  • Just throw in the cup of blueberries
  • Once you have removed the stems cut your cherries in half and remove pits and add them to your bowl
  • Cut the plums cut in half and remove the pit, then cut those halves in half and put into your bowl
Mix all of your ingredients gently with a spoon


Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over the fruit salad for a fresh tangy taste


This fruit salad is now ready to be enjoyed by you and everyone!

 ​

May 08
Florentine Dishes for Spring

Stuffed Chicken Florentine with Creamy Wine Sauce web.jpg​Florentine dishes contain spinach and are a perfect match for a cool spring. One of the benefits of spinach is that it is so versatile. You can eat it raw or cooked, by itself or in dishes or fresh or frozen. Frozen spinach is a good way to use it year round and is fairly economical because it is already cooked down and "condensed". But in the cool seasons, fresh spinach can't be beat.

Usually spinach and strawberries come in about the same time and that makes for some delicious and beautiful salads with the bright red berries against the dark green of the spinach. When using raw spinach in salads, I try to use baby spinach which is more tender and less bitter in flavor.

My other favorite ways to use spinach are with eggs, as in quiche, and with pasta, as in lasagna - either with a tomato based sauce or an alfredo type white lasagna with chicken. These pairings are great for casual luncheons and dinners and are good for guests as well. Both quiche and lasagna can be made ahead for entertaining.

But the other day I used fresh spinach as a stuffing for chicken breasts. Cooked down with mushrooms and onions and stuffed into chicken breasts with melty cheese, it keeps the meat moist and adds unbeatable flavor. Top with another slice of cheese and a sauce of soup and wine and you have a company ready but easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner dish that will please all around. Simply add some rice and a salad or fruit and off you go. The recipe says cream of chicken soup but when making this I found a new product of cream of chickena and cream of mushroom soup mixed in one can, which I used and it was great. I often use a can of each when making big casseroles but when you only need one can total, this is a great option.

So take advantage of the fresh spinach and make some florentine dishes to spring up your meals before it gets too hot!

Stuffed Chicken Florentine with Creamy Wine Sauce

2 tablespoons butter 

1/2 large onion, chopped 

8 ounces mushrooms, chopped 

8 ounces fresh baby spinach 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

8 slices muenster cheese 

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can cream of chicken soup 

2 tablespoons dry sherry wine or chicken broth 

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add onion and mushrooms and sauté a few minutes.  Add the spinach, pepper and salt.  Sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Let cool slightly.  Meanwhile cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast, cutting up to but not through the other side to make a large opening.  Take a slice of cheese and break in half putting one half in the pocket.  Add one-fourth of the spinach mixture to the pocket and top with the other half of the slice of cheese.  Place the stuffed chicken breast in a greased casserole dish.  Continue with the other 3 breasts.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top of each breast and top with another slice of cheese on each.  Stir together the soup and wine and pour over the top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

March 06
Beef Up Your Soup

​I love a good bowl of soup when its rainy, blustery and cool outside and the past couple of weeks fit the bill.  So I made a pot of Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup to enjoy last week.

Barley Beef and Mushroom Soup web.jpg


Not only does this soup have beefy chunks of chuck roast in it but the broth is beefed up too with flavor.  

First of all, late winter/early spring is the perfect time for using those produce staples like onions, carrots, celery, peppers and mushrooms.  These vegetables make a perfect base for soups, adding layers of flavor to the broth. 

Another way to pump up the flavor is by adding just a little tomato paste while sauteing the vegetables (this wakes up the flavor of the paste) and then adding the broth.  It doesn't really make it taste like tomato but gives it depth.  

Adding an acid, like balsamic vinegar or red wine (or white wine in chicken broth) can bring up the flavor also. 

A fourth way to add depth of flavor is to add an earthy umami flavor through a little bit of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. 

The last way to enhance broth is through herbs and spices.  Chicken broth, simmered with a couple of star anise and a cinnamon stick, makes a rich broth with just a little something special.  Bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns are also good in flavoring broths.

So perk up your soup reperatoire with flavorful broths, interesting grains and tender meats for a pot full of comfort.


Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup

1 pound boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2" pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup sliced baby carrot
8 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
3 cups water
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup quick cooking barley

Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a plate.  If there is no fat left in the pot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add the onion, carrots and fresh mushrooms.  Season with a sprinkling of salt.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two.  Add the browned beef, beef broth, water and bay leaves.  Bring the soup to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the beef is tender, about 60-90 minutes.  Stir in the barley and simmer another 15 minutes until barley is puffed up and tender.  Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.


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 Links

 
 Photos
 UT Extension Bedford County Seasonal Eating Page
 Franklin Farmers Market
 Rutherford County Farmers Market
 Bedford County Farmers Market
 

 Favorite Seasonal Cookbooks

 

​Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton

Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse

Cooking through the Seasons by Cooking Light