What’s in Season? Winter Fruits and Vegetables

Seasonal EatingKeep your menu plan fresh with seasonal fruits and vegetables — even in wintertime! We’ve got a recipe roundup for you, plus two new recipes at the end; one for pineapple pear crisp and the other for balsamic and bacon Brussels sprouts. Tune in to Studio 5 on Monday to see Live Well Utah Editor Marta Nielsen demonstrate these new recipes with Brooke Walker.


Eating in season is something we think about in the summertime when our gardens are bursting with raspberries, tomatoes, peaches and zucchini, but you can eat in season all year long! Stores may carry out-of-season foods in the winter, but you’ll usually find lower prices and higher quality produce when you shop in season.

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It’s easy to keep winter-season fruits like apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and pears on your counter for healthy snacking. Pineapple and pomegranate are also in season, and can be purchased already prepped and ready to eat, or you you can save on costs and do your own prep-work and keep the ready-to-eat fruit in the fridge. If you have healthy food options visible and accessible, you’re more likely to make healthy choices!

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There are also many vegetables that are in season in the winter, such as avocados, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squash. These veggies work perfectly for those warm-me-up foods we love to eat in the winter like soup, or oven-roasted veggies.

Try these recipes that use winter fruits and vegetables:

Snacks and Treats:

Salads and Sides:

Main Dishes:

Pineapple Pear Crisp

This gingery crisp is a little bit tropical, but still a warm-the-belly kind of dessert that is perfect for colder months. This recipe maximizes the sweetness and flavor of the fruit with minimal added sugar and oil, and uses hearty whole grains in the topping. Serve it topped with frozen yogurt for added decadence. Serves 6 people.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe pears*
  • 2 c ripe pineapple (about ½ a pineapple)
  • ¼ t cinnamon
  • 2 T brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1 t freshly grated ginger (or ¼ t ground ginger)

For the topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t fresh grated ginger (or ¼ t ground ginger)
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • 3 T melted butter (or coconut oil for added tropical flavor)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Chop pineapple into ½-inch pieces and set aside in a medium-sized mixing bowl (be sure to get all the pineapple juice left from cutting and chopping into the bowl). Peel, core and chop pears into ½-inch pieces, and mix with pineapple. Add cinnamon, brown sugar (or honey) and fresh ginger to the fruit, and stir so that it is coated evenly. Transfer fruit to a 9×9 baking dish.

To prepare topping, mix dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well combined. Add melted butter, and stir until mix loosely holds together. Spoon crumble mix evenly over fruit, and bake for 30 minutes. Cover crumble with foil, to prevent over-browning, and bake an additional 5 minutes (or until pears are tender).

*Be sure to use ripe pears. Unripe pears will not soften sufficiently when baked. Bosc and D’anjou pears work nicely in this recipe.

Bacon and Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

This out-of-this-world Brussels sprouts recipe will convert even the most skeptical taste testers.The Brussels sprouts are are roasted, tossed with a zesty balsamic vinaigrette, and topped with bacon crumbles and pomegranate arils—what’s not to love? Recipe serves 4 generously.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (approximately 1 small pomegranate)

Balsamic Dressing:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • ½ t maple syrup
  • ½ t prepared mustard (Dijon or whole grain)
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place bacon on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until crispy. When bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from baking sheet and set aside. Brush around rendered bacon fat to evenly coat lined baking sheet, and drain off any excess (this will enhance the flavor of the Brussels sprouts as they roast).

Meanwhile, prepare Brussels Sprouts by trimming the ends and cutting in half. Toss Brussels sprouts with oil, salt and pepper. Next, evenly arrange Brussels sprouts, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet used to cook the bacon. Roast for 20 minutes, or until sprouts are easily pierced with a fork. For smaller Brussels sprouts, 20 minutes will yield sprouts cooked soft all the way through. If you prefer a little crunch left in your vegetables, check doneness at 15 minutes.

While Brussels sprouts roast, crumble the cooked bacon and prepare the dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring. If you are seeding your own pomegranate, versus buying the arils alone, you can also do this while the Brussels sprouts roast.

Transfer roasted Brussels sprouts to a serving dish, and top with balsamic dressing. Stir until evenly distributed, and top with crumbled bacon and pomegranate arils.


marta-nielsen-web2Marta Nielsen is the editor of Live Well Utah. She did not attend Utah State University (she graduated from another university whose colors are red and white), but loves working for USU Extension. Marta loves to cook and eat, garden, craft, travel, and read. She makes specialty cakes for family and friends as a hobby, and has been talked into making a few wedding cakes in the past. She and her husband have two small children, and live in Salt Lake County.

See more contributor bios here.

 




Chicken Chili Verde Three Ways

Chicken Chile VerdeDid you know you can mix up your mealtimes while using your same favorite recipes? With small adjustments, one recipe can provide a variety of meals. Here’s an example of a delicious recipe and how it can be altered to provide you with several dinner ideas!


Chicken Chili Verde

  • 1 lb. chicken
  • 2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or olive)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (7 oz.) green chilies or ½ cup roasted chili peppers
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth

Make it a Burrito

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a medium saucepan, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining oil and flour. Stir constantly until flour browns. Stir in garlic, cumin, and salt. Mix in chilies and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender and sauce thickens, 30-45 minutes, adding more water to thin if necessary.

Serve in tortilla shells; top with cheese or other desired toppings.

You can also serve it over rice.

Make it a Soup

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a saucepan, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil.

In a separate medium saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon oil with the flour. Stir constantly until flour browns. Slowly add chicken broth or water, whisking until smooth. Stir in chicken, garlic, cumin, salt, and chilies. Add more liquid, as needed, to reach the desired consistency of soup broth. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender. If soup is too thin, simmer sauce until thickened. If soup is too thick, add more water.

Soup can be topped with cheese and sour cream if desired.

Make it a Salsa/Dip

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a medium saucepan, brown chicken in 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining oil and flour. Stir constantly until flour browns. Stir in garlic, cumin, and salt. Mix in chilies and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender. This is where personal preference comes in: if you like salsa/dip to be chunkier, simmer for a longer amount of time, until it has reached the desired thickness. If you like salsa/dip to be runnier, add more liquid as needed, simmering for less time until it has reached the desired thickness.

Serve with chips as a side dish.

 


This article was written by Kelsey Chappell, Family and Consumer Sciences Intern, and Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County




Garden Tomato Salsa

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Did you know Live Well Utah sends out a weekly newsletter? Each week we feature a list of quick tips, a recipe and an article — all sent directly to your inbox! Today we’re sharing a salsa recipe from a recent newsletter. If you like what you see, sign up to receive the newsletter here.


 

Summer is drawing to an end, but gardens are in full-swing production this time of year. If you find your countertops overflowing with red, ripe tomatoes, try this fresh salsa recipe to put them to good use. Don’t have your own garden tomatoes? Check out our Farmers Market Roundup to find local produce near you!

 

Garden Tomato Salsa

 

* 4-5 medium or large tomatoes

* 1/2 red onion

* 1 jalapeno

* 1 medium avocado

* 1 can corn

* 1 can black beans

* 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

* juice of 2-3 limes

* salt to taste

 Finely dice tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and avocado, and add to a large bowl. Omit jalapeno ribs and seeds for milder salsa. Drain and rinse corn and beans, and add to bowl. Chop cilantro and add to bowl, along with lime juice and salt, to taste. Expert tip: use scissors to quickly snip up cilantro. Enjoy with chips, as a topping on chicken or fish, or on a southwestern-style salad.


 




The Art of Pie Making

Easy as Pie! The Art of Pie Making | Live Well Utah

It’s that delicious time of year again! Squashes and in abundance, and apples never tasted so good. And, what better way to eat all that tasty food than in a pie? While we all love to eat pies, sometimes it is intimidating to actually make. Let us show you how to make a delicious pie for your family to enjoy.

Go download our pamphlet – The Art of Pie Making, Easy As Pie! The pamphlet contains all you will need to know about pie making basics, pie crust recipes, and plenty of tips.

What pie will you be making for Thanksgiving?




How to Make Homemade Applesauce

Author – Amanda Christensen

How to Make Homemade Applesauce | Live Well Utah

I have great memories of my grandmother’s tasty, home-canned applesauce. I even credit her tart, crisp apples for my love of sour candy! Over the years I’ve tried many store-bought varieties but nothing compares. I now have two apple trees in my backyard and guess what…they produce the most delicious, tart apples!

This time of year apples are ripe and ready for picking and preserving. Here’s a step-by-step guide for the safe home canning of applesauce.

First things first — make sure you have all the right equipment, including ingredients, BEFORE you start. Trust me, this can save you lots of pain and anguish.

Wash, core and quarter apples. Peeling apples is optional, as many of the nutrients are in the peel. I used an apple peeler for this batch because I wanted my applesauce to be as tart as possible.

How to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well UtahHow to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well Utah

Cook apples with a tiny bit of water in a saucepot until they are soft.

How to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well Utah

Puree apples using a food processer, food mill or blender. Add sugar (optional) and return the sauce to a large pot. Bring applesauce to a boil.

How to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well Utah

Fill hot jars with hot applesauce leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a spatula down each side of the jar. Place the lid on the jar and secure the rim.

How to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well Utah

Place jars in your boiling water bath canner. Be sure water is rapidly boiling before you start your timer. Water should cover the tops of the jars at least 1 inch. Process pints and quarts for 20 minutes.

How to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well Utah

Remove jars from canner after the 20-minute process time. Allow them to cool and seal on the countertop. Note: if some of your jars do not seal in a 24-hour time period, you can reprocess them but must do so immediately. Otherwise, refrigerate the jars that did not seal and use them first or freeze applesauce in freezer-safe containers. Label your jars and don’t forget the date. Store in a cool, dry place. Correctly canned foods are best if used within one year from the time you canned them. Flavor, color, texture and nutritional value will decline after this time period.

How to Make Homemade Apple Sauce | Live Well Utah

TIP: Remove the rims before storing to prevent rust and corrosion from moisture that may be trapped between the rim and the jar.

amanda-christensen

Amanda is an Extension assistant professor for Utah State University. She has a master’s degree in consumer sciences from USU and is proud to call herself an Aggie! Amanda loves teaching and enabling individuals and families to make smart money decisions.

Follow Me:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro




5 Fruit Freezing Steps

Author – Amanda Christensen

How To Freeze Fruit in 5 Easy Steps | Live Well Utah

Want to preserve your harvest without busting your budget? Don’t want to fork out a ton of your hard-earned dollars? Whether you haven’t invested in the equipment for home canning or you just don’t have the time, don’t let your harvest go to waste. Freezing fruit is a great option. Here are five simple steps to follow to freeze fruit. I will use nectarines in this example but these steps can be followed for any fruit.

STEP 1: Wash your fruit well. Cut in half and remove pits. If desired, peel skins from fruit. (I prefer the skins on since we use these nectarines for smoothies during the winter and the skins are full of nutrients).5 Fruit Freezing Steps - step 1

STEP 2: Spread fruit out in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Optional: treat fruit with citric acid, lemon juice or Fruit-Fresh to help prevent browning over time). Freezing fruit flat on a baking sheet helps fruit freeze without it sticking together in big clumps.5 Fruit Freezing Steps - step 2

STEP 3: Freeze 2-3 hours. Fruit might not be completely frozen but won’t stick together once you place it in freezer bags.5 Fruit Freezing Steps - step 3

STEP 4: While fruit is freezing, label gallon-sized freezer bags with the name and date of the fruit you are freezing.5 Fruit Freezing Steps - step 4

STEP 5: Fill freezer bags ¾ full with frozen fruit. Store fruit flat in a freezer. It is best if it is used within 6 months but will last up to 1 year.5 Fruit Freezing Steps - step 5

amanda-christensenAmanda is an Extension assistant professor for Utah State University. She has a master’s degree in consumer sciences from USU and is proud to call herself an Aggie! Amanda loves teaching and enabling individuals and families to make smart money decisions.

Follow Me:
Twitter: @FamFinPro
Facebook: Fam Fin Pro
Instagram: @FamFinPro




Reminder of Home Canning No-No’s

Author – Kathy Riggs

Reminder of Home Canning No-No's | Live Well Utah

Tomatoes are ripening on a regular basis, corn is about ready to harvest and beets are ready to pick and process…yesterday. So, as home food preservation gets underway in force, there are a few reminders of how to avoid common canning mistakes and some of the limitations of home canning.

Major Canning Mistakes – Potentially Deadly

*Making up your own canning recipe. Without scientific testing, you will not know how long the product needs to be processed to be safe—this includes salsas.

*Adding EXTRA starch, flour or other thickener to recipe. This will slow the rate of heat penetration into the product and can result in under cooking.

*Adding EXTRA onions, chilies, bell peppers or other vegetables to salsas. The extra vegetables dilute the acidity and can result in botulism poisoning.

*Using an oven instead of water bath for processing. The product will be under processed since air is not as good a conductor of heat as water or steam. The jars also may break or explode.

*Not making altitude adjustments. Since boiling temperatures are lower at higher altitudes, the products will be under processed. Pressure canning requires adding more pounds of pressure while water bath canning requires more processing time.

*Not venting pressure canner. Lack of venting can result in air pockets (cold spots) which will not reach as high a temperature as needed.

*Failure to acidify canned tomatoes. Not all tomatoes have an adequate acid level (pH), especially if the vine is dead when tomatoes are harvested. This can result in botulism poisoning. Make certain to use bottled lemon juice, which has a standard 4.5 acid level. The acid level of fresh lemons can vary.

Minor Canning Mistakes – Economic Loss, But Results Not Deadly

*Use of mayonnaise jars. The thinner walls of the glass may break, especially if used in a pressure canner, and it may be more difficult to obtain a good seal. However, if it seals, it is safe to use.

*Use of paraffin on jams and jellies. Small air holes in the paraffin may allow mold to grow. Also, paraffin can catch on fire if overheated during preparation. If preserves do have mold growth, the recommendation is not to eat the product, but discard it.

*Cooling too slowly after removing from canner. (Example: stacked jars close together.) There is a group of harmless organisms called thermophiles that can survive canning. If bottles are held hot for long periods, they can produce acid (fermentation). This results in the defect known as “flatsour.” This is harmless, but produces an undesirable flavor.

Cautions Issued for Specific Foods

  • Butter — For now, canning butter using any method is not recommended. Some methods are dangerous at best; others are not backed by science.
  • Hydrated wheat kernels (berries) — Starch in wheat may interfere with the heat penetration during canning. Insufficient processing can result in botulism food poisoning. Wheat should be stored dry until used or refrigerated up to several days if hydrated for use in the near future.
  • Quick Breads (e.g., banana, zucchini, pumpkin) — Baking quick breads in canning jars and then placing a lid and ring on the jar to create a vacuum seal as it cools does not kill botulism-forming  organisms that grow in warm, moist, anaerobic conditions. These items should be either baked fresh and served or frozen.
  • Dried Beans (pinto, kidney, etc.) — To safely can dried beans, they must be hydrated first (usually 12 to 18 hours) and then brought to a boil for 30 min. Hot beans are then placed into hot jars for processing.

General Rules

  1. Always use up-to-date, scientifically tested canning recipes.
  2. Only use approved, up-to-date canning methods (boiling water bath or pressure).
  3. Follow canning directions exactly.

Of course there are more instructions for successful and safe home food preservation. For answers to specific questions, please contact your local USU Extension office or see the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/ which is a clearinghouse for USDA canning guidelines and recipes.


kathleen-riggs
Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. She loves yard/garden work, where  her favorite tasks are weeding and mowing the lawn. Her favorite appliance is the microwave oven, and her specialty is microwave caramels. She loves family time and occasions that bring everyone together from near or far.




How To Guarantee Your Bread Will Rise | Baking 101

Author – Kathleen Riggs

Baking 101 | How To Guarantee Your Bread Will Rise | Live Well Utah

Unless you regularly bake bread, pastries or cookies, the leavening agents on your shelf (e.g., yeast, baking powder, baking soda) may not be fresh enough to make a high-quality baked product. While it is true these items don’t actually expire on the date indicated on the package, they do have a shelf life that needs to be taken into consideration.

It’s very satisfying to create yummy home-baked foods, and it only takes a minute to check to make sure leavening agents are fresh so you know your baking will be a success.

Leavening agents are used to cause a baked product to rise (increase in size). This happens when the leavening agent is combined with liquid to create carbon dioxide gas. It is the bubbles of gas trapped in the dough or batter that cause the baked product to rise or expand.

There are only a few of these agents used regularly in baking, and each basically works on the same principle. They all become activated with the addition of a warm liquid such as milk or water, or it may take mixing with a liquid acid such as vinegar, lemon juice, sour milk or buttermilk. Cream of tartar and tartaric acid (a key ingredient in baking powder) are examples of powdered acids.

In general, food storage experts say that baking soda will last up to 2 years on the shelf if stored in an air-tight container. Eighteen months is the storage time suggested for baking powder. Yeast, if kept dry and cool, generally stores for 1 year but it can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for up to an additional year.

However, the length of time these dry leavening agents will store depends on a few specific criteria such as freshness at time of purchase, temperature of storage space, type of container, humidity in the air and exposure to oxygen after opening.

On the package of baking powder and dry yeast, there will be a “best by” or “best if used by” date. Depending on the brand of baking soda purchased, it may have the same wording or it may actually indicate an expiration date. Remember that baking soda does not go “bad” overnight. It will have a gradual decline in performance just like the other leavening agents.

Cooler temperatures generally extend the shelf life of canned and packaged food goods. However, for leavening agents, if that location is in the basement, adjustments may need to be made to protect the leavening agents from humidity. If the basement generally smells musty, the leavening agents can be placed in air-tight jars, bags or containers for storage. The makers of Clabber Girl®, a company that manufactures baking powder, recommend that baking powder not be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. This is because condensation builds up in the can and may drop onto the baking powder, causing it to react and making it useless for baking. However, dry yeast can be stored in the freezer.

So, let’s say you look in the cupboard and all of the leavening agents you plan to use have passed the date recommended for use. How can you tell if they might still be usable? Here are some simple tests.

Baking powder is activated by a combination of heat and moisture. So to test it, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a glass bowl or dish with 1/3 cup of hot tap water. If the baking powder is still good to use for baking, the mixture will produce lots of bubbles. Be sure to use warm or hot water for the test since cold water will not produce the same results.

When it comes to baking soda, heat is not required for it to be activated; just the addition of an ingredient considered to be acidic. Placing as little as 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in a spoon or small dish and adding a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice should cause the baking soda to bubble vigorously. If the production of bubbles seems slow or not very active, it’s time to replace the box.

To test the freshness of dry yeast, the makers of RedStar® brand recommend using a 1-cup liquid measuring cup to dissolve 1 teaspoon of yeast in 1/2 cup warm tap water. It is recommended that a thermometer be used to make sure the water is between 110° F- 115° F. If you don’t have a thermometer, the tap water should be warm to the touch, not hot. In less than 4 minutes, the yeast mixture should have produced foam and raised to the 1-cup mark on the measuring cup and also have a rounded top – much like dough looks as it rises. If this happens, the yeast is considered very active. If the yeast did not rise to the 1-cup mark, the yeast has little or no activity and should be discarded.

kathleen-riggsKathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. She loves yard/garden work, where  her favorite tasks are weeding and mowing the lawn. Her favorite appliance is the microwave oven, and her specialty is microwave caramels. She  loves family time and occasions that bring everyone together from near or far.