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Colorado Fresh Peaches and the Perfect Jam

The Western Slope features some of the best tasting, juicy, tree ripe Colorado peaches in the United States brought fresh to you by Colorado fresh produce.

Working directly with the best orchards in Palisade, CO, peaches will be exceptionally early this year due to warm weather this spring.  Here are a few tips, and one of our favorite recipes we do every year:

Peaches can ripen by placing them in a box covered with a newspaper or in a box covered with a bag folded over.  The process should only take two to three days.  The maximum refrigerator storage time for peaches is three to four days.  Peaches don’t necessarily get a lot sweeter after being picked, but simply get softer and more edible.  To remove the skins, use a vegetable peeler (or a paring knife).  Lastly, remember to never cook peaches with the pit because it will impart a bitter taste to what you’re making.

Here is ‘s easy peach preserve:

I love to make small batches of “freeze” jam.  It’s so easy to make, and tastes fantastic!

  • 4 cups of sliced, pitted peaches
  • 3 tablespoons of Turbino sugar (natural sugar) or 4 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of absorbic/citric acid mix

Place the three items in a blender, puree.

Pour the puree into plastic freezer approved small containers, let cool, seal and freeze.

This can be used like any jelly or jam once thawed.  In fact, we’ll often go through about 6 ounces per week (as a family of 6).

(You can also substitute apricots for peaches following the same recipe).

Enjoy~

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The Best Pico de Gallo Recipe

Nothing says summer like a fresh made, authentic pico de gallo made from fresh picked, vine ripe Colorado tomatoes, fresh cilantro, a few chile peppers and some garlic and onion…all found in the farm fresh baskets delivered right to your door by Colorado fresh produce. 

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 jalapenos or hot banana peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon (and if you want, add a little lime juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove of fresh, minced garlic (or 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder)
  • Pinch of oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a bunch)

Dice the tomatoes, peppers and onions if you like a thicker, chunky pico de gallo.  For a smoother pico de gallo, put the tomatoes, jalapenos and onions in a food processor or blender for 20 seconds.  Then combine all other ingredients, get a bag of tortilla chips, or make a quesadilla or a fajita. 

Enjoy~

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You Like Tomato, and I Like “Tomahto”

The age -old question of whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable is a fruit or vegetable was actually settled in the Supreme Court in 1893 – when it was officially declared a vegetable.

 

However, botanically speaking, a juicy, fresh Colorado tomato is still a fruit as a member of the “nightshade” family (making it a relative to potatoes and eggplant).

Colorado fresh produce’s vine ripe tomatoes are low calorie, low sodium and a great source of Vitamins A and C.

If you’re going to cook with fresh Colorado tomatoes and need to peel them, place them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until the skins start to crack.  Remove them from the boiling water, and dip them immediately into cold water.  Slip the skins off, trim away any greens.

Fresh picked tomatoes will last longer if you store them stem side down. NEVER put a tomato in the refrigerator, and NEVER allow tomatoes to ripen in direct sunlight, or they will lose most of their Vitamin C.  It’s best to let them ripen at room temperature on the counter (and yes, you can put them in a paper bag if you want).

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Fall Means a Cornucopia of Squash

The term “summer” and “winter” squash are not really meant to confuse the consumer.  In fact, many traditional “winter” squashes become available in late summer, fall and into the winter.  The reality is, that it the term “winter” squash originally meant that a squash would store until December.  

Winter squash comes in many shapes and colors.  From round, elongated, pear shaped with flesh that ranges from gold, grey, green and orange.  Winter squash have hard, thick skins that are designed to be stored in a cool, dark, well ventilated area.  Winter squash varieties tend to develop a higher beta-carotene (precursor for vitamin A), and include some of the standards like:  acorn, banana squash, butternut, carnival, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, spaghetti, sweet dumpling and the turban squash.

Certainly one of the easiest ways to cook winter squash is to bake them whole. Washyour squash, slit a hole or two in it so the steam can escape, then bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for about an hour.  Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, top with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Mmmm…..

Acorn Squash – certainly one of the most common varieties, shaped similar to an acorn.  With distinct ribs that run the length of it’s hard blackish-dark green skin easily make it identifiable.

 

Banana Squash – easy to identify as a bright orange, finely textured squash nearly two feet in length and 6 inches in diameter shaped almost like a giant orange banana.  It has a sweeter taste.  (no photo)

Butternut Squash – readily found throughoutNorthern Colorado, the butternut has a beige color and shaped somewhat like an ob-long bell or vase.  It’s a bit more watery than most winter squash with a fine textured, orange flesh with a sweet, nutty flavor.   Typically, the oranger the squash, the riper the squash – meaning it will likely be drier and a little sweeter.

Carnival Squash – a cream colored smaller squash with orange spots or pale green with dark green spots in a vertical fashion.  The meat is a yellow color, and tastes similar to sweet potatoes and butternut. 

Delicata Squash (one of my personal favorites) – also known as the “sweet potato” squash, it’s roots are reported to be Bohemian.  It has a creamy pulp that tastes very similar to sweet potatoes.  A narrower squash, about 8 to 10 inches long, generally yellow with perhaps some green vertical stripes.  After research, the Delicata is an heirloom variety that was originally introduced into theUSand gained popularity from 1894 to the 1920’s, but is now making a huge come back in the culinary world as a revived favorite by chefs.      

Hubbard Squash – these are very large and irregularly shaped with a skin that almost appears to be “warted” and irregular.  The range from a blue / gray to a green.  Due to their size, the hubbard squash is often sold in cut pieces.  The flesh is yellow and tends to be moist.  This squash is generally peeled and boiled, cut up and roasted or cut small and steamed or sautéed.  The hubbard is perfect for pies.  One interesting fact, is that the hubbard, if in good condition, can be successfully stored for up to six months at 50 to 55 degrees.

Kabocha Squash (also another of my favorites) – a Japanese squash, dark green in color, about 4 inches tall and about 8 inches in diameter.  Kabocha may be cooked whole or split, with a rich sweet flavor and often dry and flaky.  I like to top this with some butter, cinnamon and a little brown sugar. 

Spaghetti Squash – a noodle squash, almost like a small, tan watermelon.  It has a golden rind with a mild, nut like flavor.  When cooked, the flesh separates in strands resembling spaghetti or angel hair pasta.  So, this squash is the exception and it would be best to top this one with butter and perhaps parmesan cheese, some garlic, or even spaghetti sauce.

Sweet Dumpling – this small squash resembles a miniature pumpkin with the top pushed in.  Golden yellow, with green vertical stripes, it weighs about a half a pound, and has a sweet, tender orange colored flesh that makes it ideal for roasting for individual servings or even stuffing.   (no photo)

Turban Squash – with a variety in colors ranging from bright orange, green and even white, it looks like a bulblike cap swollen up.  The shape and fantastic color makes the turban squash popular for fall centerpieces, with a golden yellow flesh that has a nutty flavor.  (no photo)

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Roasted Red Beets, Red Onion and Blue Cheese Salad

 

We’re home after the Fort Collins farmers’ market, taking time to put some chicken in the oven and ready to make a fantastic side of roasted red beets.  It’s like eating candy…

Roasted Red Beets, Red Onion and Blue Cheese Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

When you buy beets with the greens attached you are actually getting two veggies for the price of one. Beets (the roots) can be simmered in stews, roasted, steamed, boiled or braised.  They can also be used uncooked and shredded for salads or squeezed into juice. Their greens can be sauteed or cooked like any other green (ie. spinach) and are very nutritious.

This is another family favorite…where we LOVE roasted red beets. 

Roasted Beets, Red Onion and Blue Cheese Salad With a Balsamic Vinaigrette – Serves 6

For the dressing:

  •             3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •             1 teaspon Dijon  mustard
  •             1 teaspoon minced garlic
  •             ½ teaspoon salt
  •             ½ teaspoon large grind black pepper

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.  Whisk to blend. While continuing to whisk, slowly add olive oil. Set aside. 

For the beets:

  •             12 small beets (about 3 bunches)
  •             3 tablespoons olive oil
  •             1 teaspoon minced garlic
  •             ½ teaspoon salt
  •             ½ teaspoon large grind black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove greens and reserve those for cooking later. Wash beets well, peel with a paring knife.  In a medium baking dish, toss beets with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bake beets at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven, cool.

For the salad: 

  •              12 small beets, roasted and peeled
  •             ¾ cup red onion, chopped
  •             ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
  •             6 cups Spring mix greens

In a large salad bowl, combine beets red onion, blue cheese and greens. Drizzle with dressing, toss, and serve immediately. 

Shopping: Choose small, firm Colorado red beets with bright green leaves. Smaller beets tend to be more tender and sweeter.  Pass up beets that have scales or spots. To ensure even cooking, select beets that are uniform in size. 

Storing: Upon arriving home, trim the leaves 2 inches from the root. The leaves will suck moisture from the beets. Do not trim the tail. If you like, you can store the leaves in a separate plastic bag in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. Use these leaves within 2 days. When placed in plastic bags and stored in the crisper of your refrigerator, beets 3 weeks if kept dry.   

Washing and cooking:  Wash beets gently as their skin is fragile.  If the skin is not broken during the washing process or removed for cooking, beets will retain more nutrition and color.  The skin of beets will easily rub off under cold running water or when rubbed gently with a paper towel. Leave at least an inch of the leaf stem when you cook beets.  Remove the leaf stem before serving.   (personally, we usually peel before cooking, but you can do either).

Enjoy~

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Lemon Fresh Herbed Chicken

This recipe here is sure to make your mouth water just reading it, but wait until you taste what we came up with using our fresh herbs we plant every year working with our friend, Chef Eric – Executive Chef from Carter’s Creative Catering in Loveland, CO.

Lemon Fresh Herbed Chicken

.

  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh   rosemary
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 package boneless chicken (4 chicken breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, juiced, lemon halves reserved

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the fresh marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, garlic, and black pepper in a small dish; set aside.  Lightly brush the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with lemon juice, then sprinkle with 2/3 of the mixed herbs. Place chicken in baking dish, cover with foil.  Cut 3 half-inch slits in the top of the bag.  (Bake time will depend on the thickness of your chicken breasts – so check with a meat thermometer)

Enjoy~

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Fresh Colorado Spinach Salad with a Delicious Mustard Dressing

The following recipe is a quick family favorite of ours on a hot summer day when we get back from another Colorado farmers’ market:

Fresh Colorado Spinach Salad with a Delicious Mustard Dressing

Spinach Salad with a Mustard Dressing – Serves 6

FOR THE DRESSING

  •              2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  •             ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  •             5 tablespoons heavy cream
  •             1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  •             1 teaspoon minced garlic
  •             ½ teaspoon salt
  •             1 tablespoon large grind black pepper
  •             ¼ cup olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, red wine vinegar, heavy cream, Dijon mustard, garlic salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth.  While continuing to whisk, slowly add olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to toss with salad.

FOR THE SALAD

  •              1 bunch of spinach, rinsed, drained, and refrigerated until crisp
  •             ½ pound bacon, fried crisp, drained, and crumbled (yep, everything tastes better with bacon)                
  •             1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (or provolone)
  •             1 can (8-ounces) sliced water chestnuts
  •             ½ cup black olives, sliced
  •             ½ cup green onions or red onion, sliced

 In a large bowl, combine spinach, crumbled bacon, cheese, water chestnuts, black olives, and onions.  Toss, add mustard dressing, and toss again until ingredients are evenly coated.

Enjoy~

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Colorado Cherries – so sweet, so good~

Somehow, nothing says summer is almost here like a bowl of cherries.  Here’s some interesting facts about cherries I’ll bet you didn’t know:

Cherries were a favorite fruit of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese, originating in Asia Minor.  It is believe that birds brought the cherry pits to Europe, which were discovered then later planted.  As French Colonists brought cherries to America, they began to plant the pits along the Saint Lawerence River near the Great Lakes.  Now, they are grown in over 20 countries worldwide!

Cherries are best stored in the refrigerator with high humidity and placed in a plastic bag UNWASHED.  When you’re read to eat them, let them stand for about 30 minutes at room temperature to maximize flavor.  Generally speaking, cherries should last about 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  Lastly, if you freeze cherries, be sure to pit them and put them in a sealed, airtight plastic bag, or they will taste like almonds. 

Enjoy some fresh Colorado cherries brought to you by Colorado fresh produce!

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Is your farm organic or conventional?

farms has always used conventional farming, although we follow many organic and natural practices (such as the use of compost and natural fertilizers).  Below is a link to an article, written by Berkley University, explaining the difference between organic and conventional, and that organic isn’t necessarily what the public is lead to believe.  Regardless, always make sure you wash your produce.

http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~lhom/organictext.html