Tag Archives: onion

Sweet Summer Salsa

16 Aug

Summer fruits are bursting with flavors and colors. This season gives us sweet treats with fresh aromatic melon, berries bursting with sweet juice, and gorgeous succulent ripe peaches. But we are rounding the corner to the summers end and need a new way to enjoy summer fruit. How about a yummy salsa?

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This fruit salsa is delicious with meat and seafood. Or try serving it along side a grilled pork tenderloin for a nice pop of flavor and color. Spoon it onto flavorful chicken thighs. Oh…you want it for an appetizer? You can do that too. This salsa is just as great with crisp yellow corn chips.  Or maybe try it alongside some brie cheese and crackers. The possibilities are endless!

As you will see there is so much flexibility with one simple recipe. It has bold flavor and is packed with nutrients.   It is a snap to make and easily customizable to suit your own personal preferences.  I make this fruit salsa with cilantro for a little kick, but I would use basil in place of cilantro it if my mom was going to eat it.  She doesn’t like cilantro.

That is the beauty of a recipe like this.  It is packed with flavor, has good nutrients, and is very colso easy to alter to please your crowd!  Here it is.  But remember…I consider recipes a “jumping off point” if you will.  Recipes that I develop, like this one, can be changed to suit changing taste, available ingredients,  or budgets as often as your like!

Fresh Summer Salsa:

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cantaloupe
  • 1 cup chopped honey dew melon
  • 2 freestone peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepperIMG_3399

Mix everything except the lime together. Stir. Squeeze the fresh lime over the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Give the salsa another good stir and there you have it.  This is best if it sits for a few hours in the fridge before serving.  Go for it!  Grab up some fresh summer fruits and make a delicious salsa of your own!

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Time for soup!

12 Oct

Ah yes.  The calendar says its October.  We may still be having some warm days, but make no mistake.  It is fall.  Soup is on!

Let’s have a brief history of soup.  Many historians believe that soup is as old as the history of cooking.  Soup is an ancient food.  It was the perfect food for rich and poor, all cultures, healthy people and invalids.  In other words, it was an ideal food for everybody.  Most everyone had access to a pot and fire  Not only that, anything can go into soup.  So it is easy to understand how it dates back hundreds of years.

The art of tossing things into a pot for a one dish meal started out as a rustic meal, and has come a long way.  Soup is nutritious, flexible with ingredients, warm and nourishing.  It can be as simple or as sophisticated as desired.   My number one reason for loving soup, though, is that it can be made on any budget.  Another bonus…soup can easily feed a crowd.

I am not the only one craving comfort food at the moment.   I went out to lunch with some folks from the office.  They invited me to “go out for soup”.  Sure, I thought.  When I inquired as to where we were going for soup, the answer confused me.  Donna, a coworker,  said “Oh, to a Mexican restaurant down the street”. Umm, what?  A mexican place?  But always one for a culinary adventure, off I went with the office crowd.  I need not have questioned the rationale.

The soup and quesadilla lunch special was about 6 bucks.  It was easy on the budget, but more than that, it was fantastic!  Who knew that you could get delicious soup at a place that I relate more closely with a cheesy, spicy, rice and tortilla meal.   This lunch outing really got me jazzed yet again for soup season.  Its time for some fun.   After all, it is fall!

The soup and quesadilla lunch special.  Delish!

The soup and quesadilla lunch special. Delish!

Just look at that chunky soup filled with veggies, avocado, and chicken.

Just look at that chunky soup filled with veggies, avocado (a favorite superfood of mine), and chicken.

Grilled Salsa. Yum.

3 Sep

I stopped at a farm stand to take advantage of the (boohoo!) ending peach season.  Luckily they still had some yummy peaches left, but they had to be eaten quickly.  They were ripe and ready!  There were more peaches than we could eat, and I was not able to can the peaches and put them up.  I had to get creative. Time to dig thru the pantry and the fridge for more inspiration.

Ah yes, onions.  Sweet summer Vidalia onions were in a basket in my pantry.  And chicken was in the fridge ready to grill.  What could be better. Luckily, there was also leftover pesto pasta in the fridge too.  So here we go.

I fired up the grill.  But the chicken would go on second.  What to grill first?  Why, the peaches and the onions, of course!  I sliced the 2 onions about 1/4 inch thick.  I sliced the peaches in half and removed the pit.  Next, I laid them on a cutting board and sprayed them with a bit of vegetable oil.

 

Sliced onions and peaches getting ready to grill.

Sliced onions and peaches getting ready to grill.

Onto the grill they went.  The heat was good and high to get a quick char and that desired carmelization that only the grill can provide.  I wanted those sugars in the peaches to get to work!  And they did not disappoint!

The onion slices and peaches went onto that hot grill.

The onion slices and peaches went onto that hot grill.  The beginning of some great grill marks!

The scent that wafted from the grill was absolutely mouth watering!  It certainly produced one of those culinary “moanable moments”.  When that happens, your eyes close, your head falls back a bit, and a deep breath in is amazingly delightful.  Those sizzled on the grill for about 3 minutes per side, then they came off the heat.

The peaches and onions grilled up beautifully!

The peaches and onions grilled up beautifully!

Next, I let the onions and peaches sit.  While the peaches and onions were cooling, I grilled the chicken.  I went light on the seasoning because I wanted the flavor of the salsa to stand out.

When they were cool to the touch, I coarsely chopped the onions.  They were soft and sweetly  fragrant.  On to the peaches.  The fuzzy outside jacket of the peaches slipped right off.  I chopped up that sweet peachy flesh and mixed the two together in a bowl.  I added about a 1/2 of a chopped jalapeño (I should have grilled that too…Rats!).  I also stirred in a little bit of cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and just a dash of vinegar.  A little salt and pepper completed the fresh salsa.  The resulting salsa was fantastic! It was not my “prettiest” salsa ever, but it was really tasty!

This was fantastic piled on top of grilled chicken.  It was a healthy low fat option packed with nutrients and flavor!

This was fantastic piled on top of grilled chicken. It was a healthy low fat option packed with nutrients and flavor!

Dinner consisted of a crisp salad, leftover pesto pasta, and flavor packed grilled chicken slathered in peach onion salsa.  It was a hit.  So delicious and a fun way to use fresh ripe reaches.  Cleanup was a breeze because I grilled most of dinner.  Gotta love that!

I am certainly going to try some more grilled salsa recipes.  Tomatoes are at the end of the season, but there is surely enough time to get creative  and grill those up next!  Grilled tomatoes with perhaps some creamy diced avocados.  Maybe roasted garlic too.  Oh yeah, can’t wait for that one!

 

Salsa. Its not just for vegetables anymore!

21 Jul

That’s right.  I said it.  Hey, I love salsa and chips as much as the next guy, but with the bounty of beautiful summer fresh fruits, I just have to take my salsa recipe and change the ingredients from veggies to fruit.  I do this every summer.  My fresh fruit salsa is now a requested summer staple.  A salsa of any kind is usually raw cut or chopped vegetables or fruits.  Typically a salsa is used as a condiment.  It can also be used with corn chips as an appetizer or snack.

This fruit salsa is delicious with meats, but it is just great with corn chips too!  It has bold flavor, so a little goes a long way.  A flavorful salsa is easy to make, and extremely versatile.  It is easily customizable to suit your own personal flavors.  I make this fruit salsa with cilantro for a little kick, but I would substitute it if my mom was going to eat it.  She doesn’t like cilantro.  But that is the beauty of a recipe like this.  It is packed with flavor, has good nutrients, and is very colorful.  And so easy to alter to please your crowd!  Here it is.  But remember…I consider recipes a “jumping off point” if you will.  Recipes that I develop, like this one, can be changed to suit changing taste, available ingredients,  or budgets as often as your like!

Fresh Summer Salsa:

  • 1 cup chopped cantaloupe
  • 1 cup chopped honey dew melon
  • 2 freestone peaches, chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 lime cut in half
  • pinch of salt

Mix everything except the lime together. Stir. Squeeze the fresh lime over the top.  Give the salsa another good stir  This is best if it sits for a few hours in the fridge before serving.  I have used this as a topping for grilled pork tenderloin and with low fat corn chips as a starter.  Go for it!  Grab up some fresh summer fruits and make a delicious salsa of your own!

Chop up some melons.  About a cup of each should do!

Chop up some melons. About a cup of each should do!

Next, chop up 2 peaches, mix with the melons and add the black berries.

Next, chop up 2 peaches, mix with the melons and add the black berries.

Toss in some diced red onion and some cilantro.

Toss in some diced red onion and some cilantro.

Give everything a good mix.  Then squeeze the fresh lime over it.  Give it another good stir and into the fridge it goes!

Give everything a good mix. Then squeeze the fresh lime over it. Give it another good stir and into the fridge it goes!

Burger Bonanza!

24 Mar

Variety is the spice of life.  And all things in moderation.  These are 2 rules I use when including red meat in my diet.  Red meat has health benefits, but I also understand and respect folks that abstain from it.  I have worked in clinical nutrition for well over a decade, and have loads of both cooking classes food science classes under my belt.  I respect all forms of healthful eating, morals of food choices, and religious dietary laws.  But I am of christian faith and do not have religious dietary restrictions on a day to day basis that restrict my dietary choices.  I eat, and in fact crave, a red meat every now and again.  Last night was one of those occasions.  I really wanted a burger, and luckily, so did Denis!

We decided that a good fresh burger on the grill was in order for dinner.  Being a foodie, grabbing preformed generic burgers at the grocer is just not acceptable.  Denis and I were making the burgers, and began discussing not only the burger, but the all important toppings.  Now I have picked many people’s brain about burgers and toppings.  A wide variety of folks, including food writers such as William Rice, local restauranteurs in the South, and even a highly esteemed chef from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Let me tell you, this is a hot topic!  But I digress.

Denis is a foodie just as passionate (read nutty, as most foodies attest to!) about food as I am.  You know that you are a foodie when you talk about a future meal while eating a current (and outstanding!) one.  So we were having this fantastic post workout protein fest in the morning, but needed more.  We had an intense workout and were craving a big burger.  A big naughty one!  A real flavor buster!  We decided to go to the butcher for some good fresh ground meat, and season the high quality meat with none other than garlic.  We wanted a real flavor pop.  We then started considering the critical tipping point of a great burger…the toppings.

Once again throwing caution to the wind in regards to our breath (after all, we were loading up our precooked burgers with garlic!), we decided that we would caramelize some onions and mushrooms to top our burger.  Yum!   But those can be a bit sloppy to pile onto a burger.  Solution?  A brilliant one!  It was one that we would have to experiment with, but if a foodie isn’t pushing the envelope a bit, then you just aren’t a true foodie!  (We are a snobby bunch in that regard!)  Denis pushed a little indentation in the middle of the burger leaving a little room to pile on the onions and mushrooms.

Here is the home made burger prior to cooking with a little indentation for the toppings.

Here is the home made burger prior to cooking with a little indentation for the toppings.

As Denis worked on the burgers, I set out carmelizing the onions.  I took sliced onions and put them into a piping hot cast iron skillet that had a little butter and olive oil bubbling away.  As the onions sautéed, I deglazed the pan with a few tablespoons of red wine.  That added a nice undertone of flavor to the onions.  When those were soft and translucent, I tossed in 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms.  I usually use an assortment of mushrooms, as now the grocery store carries them already conveniently sliced up and recipe ready.  The wonderful aromas filling the kitchen were amazing.

Delicious onions and mushrooms cooking for our burger topping!

Delicious onions and mushrooms cooking for our burger topping!

Burgers are not complete, in my book, without lettuce or some good greens piled on regardless of the other toppings.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again…I love a salad on my sandwich!  Anywhoooo…we went on to build our burgers.  And they were spectacular.  I eat red meat sparingly, so I like it to really count.  And count it did with these loaded burgers!  We had a fresh crisp romaine salad and oven baked potato wedges to round out our meal.  And our breath wasn’t bad at all!  Well, we didn’t think so.  The others around us might have had a different opinion!  But the “death breath” was sure worth it!  Garlic and onions have loads of health benefits, but thats a tale for another day!

Denis has named his new burger concoction the “Make Room For All The Good Stuff In Life” burger.  Love it!  What are you going to fit on your burger?

See?  The top of the bun fit on the burger just fine!  This burger was piled high with onions, mushrooms, and lettuce.

See? The top of the bun fit on the burger just fine! This burger was piled high with onions, mushrooms, and lettuce.

P.S.  We weren’t sure if the burger would cook evenly with the indent in it.  No worries.  It grilled up evenly and beautifully!  And also a word about cooking wine.  I use drinking wine when I cook.  Recipes usually call for very little wine, so use good wine.  Please…never buy  “cooking wine” in the grocery store.  Yes, it is labeled as such.  Use something that you would drink.  If I have some wine left in a bottle, I have frozen it in an ice cube tray to use at a later time.  It is the perfect amount to use in a sauce for deglazing a pan.