Stuff It! Summer Vegetables With A Twist (August 2012)
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Fresh Vegetables? Stuff 'em!

"I never knew vegetables could taste so good!" That's a common reaction when we put our talents toward making great vegetable dishes. After all, the more plants on the table the better!  

 

IN THIS ISSUE, we're taking advantage of the fresh harvest of vegetables found at farmers' markets, in our gardens, and at roadside stands. We stuff peppers, tomatoes, and roll up leafy chard and share some great tips for cleaning and freezing the harvest. Plus, you'll finally be able to answer the question, "What's a fruit, and what's a vegetable?"

COMING THIS FALL! We've found a great location in Marlton, New Jersey on Route 73 at the Marlton Square Shopping Center. Our new store will be next to Pottery Barn and near Trader Joe's. Stay tuned for more info regarding our GRAND OPENING.

like it to win it
Stuffed Peppers, Tomatoes & Chard
Eat Colorfully!
Why Eat Veggies?
RECIPE: Stuffed Poblanos in Chipotle Sauce
Poblano Peppers
Make a Double Batch
Cleaning and Storing
Prepping Produce with Chef'n
Palm Brush

PALM VEGETABLE BRUSH

Scrub dirt away from produce with this easy to use vegetable brush from Chef'n.

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Palm Peeler

PALM PEELER

The ergonomic Chef'n Palm Peeler will have you peeling bushels of veggies with ease!

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Salad Spinner

SALAD SPINNER

Always wash and dry your greens before use. Dry greens won't dilute your dressing.

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Keeping It Fresh
Extra Life

KEEP VEGGIES & FRUIT FRESHER LONGER

Add Extra Life to your fridge's storage drawers and your fruits and veggies will stay fresher a lot longer.

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Veggie Bags

ORGANIZE & STORE FRUIT
& VEGGIES EASILY

This Flip & Tumble set of 5 reusable produce bags lets you easily store and organize your fruits and veggies!

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OXO Storage

SEAL IN FRESHNESS-
STORAGE BY OXO

Store prepped foods, left-overs and more with a simple push and a click with OXO Lock Tops Storage Containers.

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Shopping at Farmer's Markets
Shopping at Farmers' Market
RECIPE: Baked Plum Tomatoes with Herbed Rice Stuffing
Stuffing and Baking Vegetables
Baking Dish

EMILE HENRY
BAKING (LASAGNA) DISH

A great dish. Made to move from stove, to table, to refrigerator, to freezer, to microwave. Versatility plus!

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Baking Dish

LE CREUSET 2-PIECE
BAKER SET

We love the petite sizes of this 2-pc baking set (1 qt. & 1/2 qt.) They're just right for freezing one or two servings.

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Trivet

VERSATILE BLOSSOM SILICONE TRIVET

Practical and decorative, this trivet expands according to the need; Made of heat-tolerant silicone; easy to clean.

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Freezing the Harvest
Freezing the Harvest
Freezing the Harvest
Freezing the Harvest
RECIPE: Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls
Hurom Slow Juicer
Cookbook Review
Fast Fresh & Green

FAST, FRESH & GREEN
Fresh & Green Table

FRESH & GREEN TABLE
Raw Food

RAW FOOD - LIQUID RAW

Experience the full range of colorful foods available at this time of the year!

From all of us at Kitchen Kapers

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It’s Produce Season – Fresh Ways with Veggies!

It’s fresh produce season – so much to experience, so little time! You’ll love our ideas for stuffing summer vegetables in our latest newsletter.

Stuffed peppers, tomatoes and chard – great ways with summer’s best harvest in our latest newsletter.

In This Issue:

Eat Colorfully! (Fruit v. Vegetables) RECIPE: Stuffed Poblanos in Chipotle Sauce Cleaning & Storing Vegetables – (Dirty Dozen) Farmer’s Market Tips RECIPE: Baked Plum Tomatoes with Herbed Rice Stuffing Product: Stuffing and Baking Vegetables Freezing the Harvest RECIPE: Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls Cookbook Review: Power Foods

“I never knew vegetables could taste so good!” That’s a common reaction when we put our talents toward making great vegetable dishes. After all, the more plants on the table the better!IN THIS ISSUE, we’re taking advantage of the fresh harvest of vegetables at Farmer’s Markets, from our garden, and roadside stands. We stuff peppers, tomatoes, and roll-up leafy chard. You’ll finally be able to answer the question, “What’s a fruit, and what’s a vegetable?”

Eat Colorfully!

Many of us grew up on vegetables that were boiled to death, salted, then garnished with a pat of butter. Steaming vegetables became all the rage at one point, a nutritional improvement in cooking method, but again, some potentially bland results.

It’s time to reinvent our relationship with vegetables! With some experimentation and new ideas, delicious results can be found that can quickly become new mealtime favorites.

Why is eating vegetables so important?
  • Vegetables are packed with phytonutrients and anti-oxidants. These components are like little warriors in our bodies confronting toxins and chronic inflammation, and keeping us healthy with lowered blood pressures, and reduced risks for heart disease and cancer.
  • Vegetables are full of fiber, another dietary component that keeps our bodies functioning optimally.
  • Vegetables are calorically low-density foods. With their high-volume, they help to fill us up and decrease our hunger.
  • Vegetables are comprised of complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest helping to moderate our blood sugars
What is “a serving” of vegetables? Generally, 1/2 cup of vegetables is one serving. We’re encouraged to have 4-5 servings (2 - 2.5 cups) of vegetables, and 3-4 servings of fruits (1.5 - 2 cups) each day. These recommendations vary based on age and gender. The “Food Pyramid” was replaced last year with Choose My Plate as a more useful graphic to guide our choices. Half of our plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables at each meal.

Fruit or Vegetable?

Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers are fruits, and rhubarb is a vegetable! Huh? Botanically speaking, fruits are those foods containing a seed(s), while vegetables are leaves, roots, or stems. Cooks take a more traditional, cultural approach to the topic, and apply a sweetness expectation to the fruit moniker.

RECIPE: Stuffed Poblanos in Chipotle Sauce

The glossy deep, deep green of Poblano peppers always catches our eye. Poblanos have just a hint of heat – milder than jalapeńos, yet spicier than sweet bell peppers. Roasted and stuffed, they make an impressive presentation while delivering wonderful flavors. The peppers are baked in a very spicy sauce based on chipotles in adobo sauce.

Recipes from Power Foods from the Editors of Whole Living Magazine. Published Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, NY. Copyright 2010. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Recipe Note: Unlike some peppers with easily edible skin, most Poblano preparations improve when the skins are removed. It’s easy to roast peppers. Just place them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet in a hot oven for 15 minutes. The skin will blister and brown. Once removed from the oven and cooled, the skin will slip off. Of course, peppers may be roasted on a hot grill with some mindful turning

Recipe Note: Quinoa is a whole grain with ancient South American origins. (Pronounced KEEN-wah). It has the reputation of being the grain with the highest protein content, and an overall dense nutritive value. Quinoa cooks quickly! Bring water or broth to a boil, add the quinoa, return to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 15 minutes. Similar to rice, use a ratio of 1:2, quinoa to liquid. Quinoa is valuable in wheat-free, or gluten-free diets.

Do-Ahead: Make a double batch, freeze the second batch for another day before or after baking. Or, make a double batch of the stuffing, freeze, then use for stuffing portabella mushroom caps, or zucchini boats.

Cleaning and Storing Vegetables

To prep fresh vegetables and fruits, start with a good cleaning. Real food grows in the real world. Dirt, microbes, pesticides need to be removed prior to eating.
  • STORE fresh fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator, (or on the counter in the case of tomatoes), until ready to use. Dry brush excess dirt away, but do not wash; residual moisture will hasten the vegetables’ demise.
  • CLEAN fruits and vegetables just before using. Washing removes natural protective layers that help the fruits and vegetables retain moisture.
  • WASH fruits and vegetables under running water, scrubbing the surface to loosen any substances. A good scrubbing brush is a must.
  • BATHE leafy greens and complex veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower, in a bowl of water, then rinse.
  • DRY the vegetables with a towel, or by air-drying on the countertop. For leafy greens, a salad spinner works magic in removing excess water.
  • TRY a solution of 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water as a fruit and vegetable cleaning solution. This mixture further reduces the quantity of bacteria that may be present. Spray or dip in the solution, then rinse off.
  • RINSE vegetables such as carrots, squash, and potatoes, prior to peeling to avoid contamination of the inner edible portion by the knife, peeler, or cutting board.
  • SLICE, MINCE, and CHOP vegetables on a cutting surface that has not been in contact with raw meat; this avoids cross contamination.
Prepping Produce From Chef'n

Palm Vegetable Brush from Chef'n - Scrub dirt away from produce with this ergonomic brush. Rinses easily. Keep it handy!

Palm Vegetable Peeler from Chef'n - A sharp peeler makes quick work of prep steps. The flexible swivel adjusts to contours.

Salad Spinner - Always wash your greens for maximum safety. Spinning dry makes greens ready fast.

Tips for Shopping at Farmers’ Market Shopping at your local Farmers’ Market is different than running to the supermarket. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the experience to the max.
  • Be Open - You may have a list in hand as you go to market, but be open to what’s in season, what’s available that day from the growers, and what can be found at a good price. Once your finds are in hand, it will be easy to find delicious recipes.
  • Get Seasonally Wise – Learn what foods are in season and when. This will help you focus on delicious foods when they’re at their peak as you plan and shop.
  • Bring Small Bills – It’s a small point, but growers really appreciate exact change, or small bills when being paid for their produce.
  • Bring Your Own Bag or Basket – It’s good karma to tote your local produce in your own bag or basket instead of depending on the grower to provide you a bag.
  • Buying Bushels – While it’s easy to buy just the number of zucchini that you want, there may be an occasion when you want a bushel of pickling cucumbers, or a lot of something. Contact the grower ahead of time. They may be able to have your bushel ready for you or able to arrange for pick-up or delivery outside of market hours.
  • Talk to the Farmer – The grower is probably a wealth of information about the food you’re about to buy, ask your questions. (Be sensitive to how busy the stall is – if there are other customers waiting to pay, hold your question, or return to the stall when it’s not so busy).
  • Don’t Complain About the Prices – Growing food as a local producer is not a “get rich quick” strategy. It’s hard work and the prices are generally in line between the growers. If the price is not in your purchasing range, politely move on down the line; it’s usually not necessary to share pricing opinions with the grower.
  • Potential Bargains at the Close of Market – Fresh produce doesn’t last, growers are often motivated to move any leftover items at the end of the market. You won’t have your pick of the variety and quality, but the price may be right.
  • Relax, Enjoy the Experience – You’re outdoors, neighbors and community members are there, stop and talk, greet each other – it’s the next best thing to growing your own!
RECIPE: Baked Plum Tomatoes with Herbed Rice Stuffing

The kitchen wafted Mediterranean aromas as we prepared these stuffed and plumped tomatoes. The stuffing features whole grain brown rice, shallots and basil, and the tomatoes bake in a light tomato sauce fortified with white wine. Each stuffed tomato weighs in at only 50 calories each -- making them a very “calorically affordable” and satisfying side dish.

Recipes from Power Foods from the Editors of Whole Living Magazine. Published Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, NY. Copyright 2010. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Recipe Notes: Any tomato may be stuffed with success. Plum tomatoes have a reputation for having thicker walls and more flesh than other varieties; this makes them sturdy for stuffing and baking. For the same reason, plum tomatoes are a favorite for rich tomato sauces, too!

Do-Ahead: Brown rice is less processed than white rice, and always a healthier option. The potential downside of brown rice is the longer cooking time it requires. We solve this by cooking 2 cups of dry rice at a time, freezing the cooked rice in 1 cup quantities, packed flat. The cooked rice thaws quickly and is immediately ready for use. Or, presoak brown rice to reduce cooking time.

Do-Ahead: Bake and freeze as many garden fresh tomatoes as you can while they’re in season! Tomatoes are never better than at this time of year!

Stuffing and Baking Vegetables

Emile Henry Baking Dish - A great dish make to move from stove, to table, to refrigerator, to freezer, to microwave. Versatility plus!

Le Creuset 2-Piece Baker Set - We love the petite sizes of this 2-pc baking set (1 qt & 1/2 quart). They’re just right for freezing one or two servings.

Blossom Trivet – Practical and decorative, this trivet expands according to the need; made of heat-tolerant silicone; easy to clean.

Freezing the Harvest

Buying in season and storing for later is a common sense strategy. Canning, dehydrating, and freezing are all good strategies to deploy this time of year. Here are a few tips on freezing produce:
  • START WITH GREAT PRODUCE – Choose fruits and vegetables that are fresh, without bruises, not wilted, and at their peak.
  • TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE – Prepare and freeze foods as quickly as possible once picked. Foods begin a natural demise once picked or past their peak that will affect their quality.
  • BLANCH QUICKLY – Blanching vegetables stops natural enzymatic activity and arrests further plant development that occurs even at freezing temperatures. This crucial step will improve the flavor, texture, and color of the vegetables while retaining their nutrients. Blanching involves dipping the vegetables into boiling water for a short time (varies by vegetable), then transferring to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
  • BLOCK or LOOSE – Freeze cooled vegetables as a block in their final packaging, or freeze quickly as individual pieces on a cookie sheet, then package. The later method takes more time, but offers the flexibility of withdrawing only the amount needed at any given time.
  • PACKAGE WELL – Use containers or packaging intended for freezing use. Pack blanched vegetables in a sealed, airtight manner to prevent moisture loss that leads to freezer burn. Don’t load your freezer with more than it can freeze within a 24 hour period.
  • LABEL AND DATE – Don’t forget this crucial step! Keep a permanent marker handy, or a label made with masking tape will also work in freezing conditions. Include the date and plan to use the item within the year. If you’re really organized, make and keep a list of what’s in your freezer checking off items as they’re used.
RECIPE: Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls

How brilliant to transform chard leaves into stuffed rolls! The large leaves proved cooperative and strong as they were blanched, stuffed and rolled. The earthy flavors of the chard were accentuated by the mushroom and quinoa stuffing. Accompanying the rolls was a light sauce made from the vegetables also in the stuffing. It’s hard to imagine any food more nutritious than this dish – and the best part, it’s all very, very delicious!

Recipes from Power Foods from the Editors of Whole Living Magazine. Published Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, NY. Copyright 2010. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Recipe Note: Chard is a leafy vegetable super-rich in anti-oxidant nutrients and a cousin with spinach and beets. If you haven’t experienced it before, it’s worth a try. The big green leaves often sport colorful stems in yellow or ruby red. While these bright colors fade during cooking, in their fresh form, they light up the produce basket and delight the eye.

Recipe Note: Depending on the maturity of your chard, it may be helpful to cut away the thicker portions of the stem after wilting and prior to rolling. A kitchen scissors is helpful for this task. Overlap the leafy portions prior to placing the stuffing on the layered leaves to avoid any gaps. Add the chopped stems to the stuffing mix.

COOKBOOK REVIEW:

Power Foods from the Editors of Whole Living Magazine. Published Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, NY.
Copyright 2010.

We found this book to be a true gem! The editors have identified 38 of the healthiest foods and created more than 150 combinations that boast not only powerhouse nutrition, but also amazing deliciousness. The book is organized according to menu categories – breakfast, appetizers, sandwiches & wraps, soups & stews, main dishes, side dishes and desserts – which makes it a lifestyle guide to eating (instead of a “diet”). Shifting a meal or two each week to recipes in this book would be a big step forward in accomplishing healthier eating. And, at this time of year, the excellent index allows us to take our market finds and translate them into a recipe that we know will taste great! Keep this book close by!

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