Monday, November 14, 2016

Potatoes 101 and 8 Potatoes You Must Try

Perhaps America’s favorite vegetable, the potato goes far beyond the classic baked Russet we all know. With thousands of varieties worldwide, ranging from tiny fingerlings to a world-record setting 8-pound Kondor, there are many delicious potatoes to try. But, potatoes weren’t always known the cross-cultural staple that they are today.  Today the potato is a vital part of the world’s food supply, the fourth most eaten plant behind maize, wheat and rice.

A Visual Guide To Potatoes:



All About Potatoes: 

Potatoes are indigenous to the Andes Mountains in South America. In the vegetable kingdom, they are a part of the Nightshade Family, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, chiles and tobacco. It was the Conquistadors of the Spanish kingdom, though, that were responsible for bringing this New World crop back to Europe in the 16th Century. However, the potato was very slow to catch on outside of Spain and Ireland.

It wasn’t until the late 1700s, when the Frenchman Antoine-Augustin Parmentier wrote a treatise on the benefits of eating the tubers and launched the 18th Century equivalent of a viral marketing campaign for the lowly spuds, that potatoes finally began to gain popularity in France and other parts of Europe. Classic dishes, like a puréed potato-leek soup (Potage Parmentier) and simple cubed and peeled potatoes sautéed in butter (Pommes Parmentier), still bear his name today.

Today, people across continents enjoy potatoes. China, India, Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest potato growers, with the United States growing many potatoes as well, most notably in Idaho, which is known as “potato country.” There, in Magic Valley along the Snake River, Melissa’s grows a number of spuds, including purple potatoes, fingerlings, Ruby Golds® and Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes.


How To Store Potatoes


Potatoes should be kept in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. If you choose to store potatoes in a bag for more than a couple days make sure there is plenty of ventilation and that the bag is not sealed. Don’t store potatoes too close to onions, because each produce gases that increase the ripening rate of the other, causing them to spoil faster. In general, keep potatoes out of the refrigerator. Fingerlings are an exception, but they shouldn’t stay in the fridge for long—they’re best enjoyed soon after purchase. For more tips on how to keep Potatoes for longer storage click here.

The Best Way to Prepare Potatoes


Potatoes can be boiled, sautéed, fried, roasted, grilled, mashed, smashed, puréed, baked and more. Click here and here for basic knife cuts that are taught in Culinary Schools for a guide on cutting and using potatoes. Check out this Fine Cooking article to learn how to pick the best potato for your end use. Southern Food has some great tips on cooking Potatoes and check out this Huffington Post article on the best ways Potatoes can be prepared. Check out What's Cooking America for the perfect baked potato.


Featured Potato Recipes:



Garlic Smashed Potatoes











Thursday, October 6, 2016

8 Fun Ways to Use Apples With Your Kids

Sun Dried Apples

Photo: http://www.sofiaclara.com/

Ingredients
small apples, one for each child

Directions: 
  • Core the apples with an apple corer.
  • Thread string through the cored apples; tie knots.
  • Hang the apples from a central string or clothes line outside in the sun.
  • When the apples have dried, remove the strings and eat.

Note: Apples can be hung from an oven rack at a very low temperature, 150 degrees F., to dry.



Apple Sauce

Ingredients
6 Organic Ambrosia Apples peeled cored and quartered
1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Meyer Lemons juice freshly squeezed

Directions
Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are soft, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully place the apples in a food processor or blender and puree. If the mixture is too thick, pour in the residual liquid from the saucepan as needed.
Serve immediately for warm sauce or refrigerate for future use.

Note:
With most applesauce I like to add a little cinnamon but, these Ambrosia Apples have a great flavor all by themselves.




Stuffed Apples
Photo: ohsheglows.com

Ingredients
one apple per child; butter or margarine; brown sugar; raisins; dates; shredded coconut; chopped pecans or walnuts; whipped cream (optional).

Directions:
  • Core the apples with an apple corer; sprinkle the inside of the apple with some brown sugar.
  • Place the apples into a greased baking dish.
  • Stuff the apples with the dates, raisins, coconut, and nuts. (Allow child to choose their own stuffings.)
  • Pour in enough warm water to cover the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Baste the apples with juice from the dish twice during the baking.
  • Allow the apples to cool before eating.






Apple Butter
Photo: mybakingaddiction.com

Ingredients: 
ten apples; ½ cup water; sugar; 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
  • Peel and core the apples; slice thinly.
  • Place the apple slices into a saucepan.
  • Add the half cup of water.
  • Cook on medium heat until the apples are soft.
  • Mash the pulp with a potato masher or a fork.
  • Add one half cup of sugar for every cup of pulp.
  • Add one teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Cook on low until thick and dark.
  • Spread on bread or crackers.










Photo: Blog.KitchenAid.com

Spiralized Apple Walnut Basil Salad

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons roasted walnut oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium apples such as Honeycrisp, Fuji or SweeTango
2 tablespoons chopped, toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon fresh basil, julienned

Directions HERE





Apple Smile
  1. Core and slice an apple. Spread peanut butter on one side of each apple slice. 
  2. Place four tiny marshmallows on top of the peanut butter of one slice.  
  3. Top with another apple slice, peanut butter side down.  Gently squeeze together.  Enjoy!


Apple Carving (Funny Faces)
Materials: apples; apple corer; plastic knives; pipe cleaners; lemon juice; bowl; water.
Directions:
  • Peel and core the apples.
  • Use the plastic knife to make slits for the eyes and the mouth.  Cut a wedge nose and shape a chin and cheeks.
  • Fill a bowl half way with water.  Add two tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Soak the apples in the lemon water for twenty minutes.
  • Remove the apples. Thread a long pipe cleaner through the core and twist the ends together to make a hook.
  • Hang the apples in a warm, dry place for four days. Watch as the faces slowly shrink and change.



APPLE CUSTOMS

Long ago, in England, children played these games with apples at Halloween time.

Bob for Apples
In Bobbing for Apples, apples floated in a pan of water.  If a boy caught an apple with his teeth, it meant his girlfriend loved him.

Snap Apple Night
On Snap Apple Night boys tried to bit an apple that twirled from the end of a stick or branch.

Peel an Apple
Girls peeled an Apple then tossed the peel over their shoulder to see if it would form the first letter of their true love’s name.



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

15 Freaky Fruits to Hunt Down | #FreakyFruits


Show us your #FreakyFruits (on Instagram) for a chance to win an Exotic and Tropical Gift Basket



We all know that when it comes to Halloween, fresh produce rarely if ever enters the picture. Little boxes of raisins, those most despised of all trick-or-treat snacks, fall into treat bags with a disappointing thud. Celery sticks dipped in ranch dressing and disguised as “goblin fingers” continue to be, well, celery sticks, and split bananas with ghost faces drawn on are still just bananas. Not terribly exciting, at least not on Halloween.

Well, these Freaky Fruits™ are already pretty spectacular and it doesn't take much to decorate them. 


Here are 15 of the Freakiest Fruits to hunt down this Halloween!





Buddha's Hand

Cherimoya

Dragon Fruit

Durian

Finger Limes

Jackfruit

Kieffer Lime


Kiwano Melon

Loquat

Lychee

Mangosteen

Rambutan


Soursop

Starfruit

Watermelon Cucumber

Thursday, August 4, 2016

9 of Brazil’s Top Superfoods You Should Know About

How to Eat Like Professional Athletes With Brazil’s Best Superfoods

Acai Berries 
The acai berry is a small reddish-purple fruit that comes from the acai palm tree, a native plant to Central and South America. A fruit extremely rich in antioxidants, it is said to promote weight loss and is certainly considered a key part of any healthy Brazilian diet.

Coconut Water

Locals crack into Brazil’s bright green Anão coconuts daily for the hydrating health benefits of the fresh, vitamin-packed water within. While indisputably better when sipped on the sandy beaches of Ipanema, the country’s MVP elixir is available the world over, as brands like Pure Brazilian source their coconuts from the lush fields of Brazil. Low in calories and high in potassium, coconut water is a perfect drink for replenishing post-workout or combating the dehydrating effects of a steamy summer day. (Source)


Pequi
via Brazilian Fusion

I had actually never seen it like this! My grandma froze it so I could see it in its natural form, in its "case". This amazing yellow fruit has a strong flavor coming from it's pulp, characteristic of this central region of Brazil know as "Cerrado". .
A little background: It is a seasonal fruit (although treated more like a vegetable) and enjoyed in savory manner most of the time. It is very prominent in the north of #MinasGerais where my family is from. They freeze it for me (since I don't live in Brazil) if it's not in season so when I'm there I can enjoy it! .

It is cooked directly in the rice, as the taste it leaves behind is very notable and difficult to describe delicious and distinct flavor: tastes like a piece of home - #MontesClaros (my home town).
.
This fruit can raw or cooked, (usually cooked) and best enjoyed out of the hand, gently scraping the pulp off the pit carefully using your teeth. It typically accompanies other dishes such as #CarneDeSol, he preferred protein in this case. This is a piece if my culture!. .

Ask a Brazilian friend if they know what Pequi is. It they are from Minas Gerais or #Goias, chances are they will know👍!

Cupuacu

The so-called “pharmacy in a fruit” grows in a tropical rainforest tree much like that of the cacao. Commonly found all throughout the Amazon basin, this miracle fruit is grown in huge quantities in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and of course Brazil. The juicy fruit has a taste that one could describe as a mix between pear and banana… if you can imagine that.
Source : Haute Living
The fruit can be prepared in many ways such as in cupuacu cream, butter, smoothies, as well as eaten raw like a mango or used as a beauty product in skin moisturizers and hand creams.


Fruta Do Conde

Also known as Sugar-Apple or Custard Apple.
A more common variety available in the US is known as Cherimoya:


Yuca Root

Yuca root is a root that ranges from 6 to 12 inches in length and 2 to 3 inches in diameter. This crunchy tuber has a tough brown skin and a crisp, white flesh. Originally a native to South America, Yuca Root has become an important staple of Africa.

Although there are many varieties of Yuca Root, there are only 2 main categories: bitter & sweet. Used as a thickener in the making of tapioca, Yuca Root once grated & sun-dried is also called Yuca Root meal.

Yuca Root Benefits:

It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, which is especially beneficial for skin health, slowing down the aging process and reducing chances of heart disease and certain types of cancer. It also contains a great amount of dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin B. Yuca has been used to help relieve arthritis pain, improve heart and digestion health, and boost immunity.



Maracuja (aka Passion Fruit)

Have you ever seen one? This exotic fruit originated in Southern Brazil along with Paraguay area and typically grows in tropical countries and fair weathered areas such as California! That’s how we are able to get it here in the US, which I’m very thankful for. .

We call this fruit #Maracuja in Brazil🇧🇷 but it translates to “#PassionFruit” in English, and it is said that it was named by 16th century Spanish Catholic Missionaries in the Amazon region of Brazil who decided it its purple flower that resembled the five wounds of Christ. .


Passion fruit contains a tart and tangy pulp that complements sweets or fatty foods quite well! The inside looks quite unexpected from what you think it will look like when seeing the outer shell. It’s low calorie, rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and A. You should definitely look this one up if you haven’t! .





Papaya

Native to tropical regions, papayas can now be found growing in Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Florida, Southern California and Brazil. Considered to be the sweetest, most flavorful of all Papayas, the salmon-red to pink flesh of Melissa's Strawberry Papayas is fragrant and juicy, with a hint of fresh peaches and berries.

Delicious with a simple squeeze of fresh lime or added to smoothies and salads, cubes of Melissa's Strawberry Papaya can also be added to fresh pineapple, peppers, pearl onions, and teardrop tomatoes for a unique fruit kabob for the grill. Once soft to the touch, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the small black seeds from the center.

How to Choose Ripe Papaya

When selecting Melissa’s Papayas, choose those that are soft to the touch (similar to a ripe peach). Their color should be more yellow than green. Ripen firm Papayas at room temperature in a loosely closed plastic bag. Refrigerate ripe fruit in a plastic or paper bag for up to 3 days. Freezing is not recommended.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Know Your Mango: How to Cut, Eat, and Ripen

Did you know, Mangoes are the most popular fruit in the world


So, what's wrong with Americans?  
Answer: We don't know which variety to eat or how to tell when they are perfectly ripe.  Here's your go-to guide for Choosing, Ripening, Cutting, and Eating Mango

Ripening Mango process:

- Ripen the mango in a paper bag or newspaper. Leave the bag of mangoes on the kitchen counter overnight and check for ripeness in the morning. Mangoes wrapped in a paper bag will release ethylene, which is an odourless gas that speeds up the ripening process.

- Remove and use the mango when it gives off a fruity scent and yields to soft pressure, usually about a day (or less).

- When wrapping mangoes in a paper bag or newspaper, be sure not to close the bag completely. Some air and gas needs to escape or mold and mildew might start to form.

Pro Tip: Add an apple or banana to the bag to speed up the ripening even more. Adding more ethylene-emitting fruits will increase the ethylene in the bag, giving you an even juicier mango all the quicker.
Photo: Wiki How

Handling & Cutting Mangos

- Always use a clean knife and cutting board to cut a mango.
- If you have handled or cut any type of meat or seafood, ALWAYS sanitize your hands, work area, utensils and cutting board before handling or cutting any fruits or vegetables, including mangos.
- Always wash mangos before cutting.

So, what’s the best way to cut mangoes, you ask?!

Here is how we cut Mangoes…  

If you cut mangoes differently, please share your secrets!
Step 1. Hold the Mango straight up and down
Step 2. Take your knife and cut, about 1/2″, to the right and left of center.  This will remove the main flesh of the Mango, sometimes known as the “cheeks”
Step 3. Gently cut “Cross” marks in the Mango, being careful not to cut all the way through.
Step 4. Push the center of the Mango outward, raising the cut sections of the flesh, and remove them with your knife

Or, try this Mango Cutting Hack:


Know Your Mangoes

Here are the Top 5 Mango Varieties Available in the US:

Valencia Pride Mango


Keitt Mango


Kent Mango


Ataulfo Mango


Special Feature Australian Mangoes:

Available in the U.S. for the first time, three unique mango varieties from Australia’s summer harvest! KINGSTON PRIDE is the most commercially prevalent crop in the country. This mango has orange skin tinged with red blush when ripe; its fruit is golden, moderately fibrous with a sweet, tangy flavor. The R2E2 is almost perfectly round with an orange-red blush over a deep orange skin; this variety’s firm lemon-yellow fruit is mildly sweet compared to the Kingston Pride. The golden apricot-yellow colored HONEY GOLD is firm and juicy with a rich, sweet taste. The variety is fibreless, which makes it the perfect choice for salads and smoothies.

R2E2:



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Time is Money in the Kitchen : Cook with Smaller Vegetables

Making Cooking Easy with Ready- To-Cook Veggies 

Have you ever come home from a long day at work hoping for fresh veggies in your meal but you are too exhausted to prepare them? If you are anything like us, you answered yes to that question and may even think about resorting to fast food. There is no need to sacrifice fresh, healthy options with our prepackaged veggies.

Meet the new kids in the produce aisle! Our Ready-To-Cook Fresh Veggies come in convenient packaging that keep the veggies fresh and ready to enjoy at a moment’s notice.


Choose from a variety of fresh veggies, including Mixed Baby Squash, Green Summer Squash, Yellow Summer Squash, Baby Zucchini, Brussels Sprouts, Cubed Butternut Squash, Butternut Squash Noodles, French Beans, and Mixed Baby Carrots. We are all about healthy, convenient products for our consumers and we think these are the new addition your kitchen is waiting for.


This summer, we’re #MakingCookingEasy with Ready-To-Cook Fresh Veggies. So, what delicious meals are you going to create first? Take a look at some of our favorite recipes for inspiration below.







 Baby Summer Squash and Snow Pea Stir Fry:




Calabacitas (Baby Summer Squash): http://www.melissas.com/Articles.asp?ID=1113
Bruleed Cheddar Bacon Baby Zucchini: http://www.melissas.com/Articles.asp?ID=1084

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Thyme:


Swiss Chard and Brussels Sprouts Saute: http://www.melissas.com/Articles.asp?ID=2467

Glazed Chile- Spiced Baby Carrots: 





Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What is Jackfruit and How Do You Eat It

Jackfruit is the world's largest tree fruit, and is often described as "jurassic" for its huge size (ranging from 10-100 lbs!) and intimidating looks. What's inside, however, is sweet and delicious. In fact, jackfruit's flavor served as the inspiration for Juicy Fruit gum!

Enormous and prickly on the outside, jackfruit contains sweet pods of snackable, craveable fruit. The tutti-frutti, tropical flavor is sometimes described as a mix of mango, melon, apple and banana, but as with any food, you have to try it for yourself to truly understand. 

Fun Fact: Jackfruit belongs to the mulberry family and is native to Southern and Southeast Asia. 

As the fruit ripens, the skin turns to a yellow color and is very fragrant. The ripe yellow to orange fruit inside tastes fabulous as a snack or cooked, but this versatile fruit can also be used green in various recipes

Common uses for Jackfruit include:
  • Dessert
  • Vegan Meat Alternative (used as a stand-in for carnitas, pulled pork and other shredded meats)
  • Roasted Jackfruit Seeds (rich in protein, potassium, calcium and iron)
Aside from its delightful taste, jackfruit is also rich in important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, iron, riboflavin, magnesium and many other nutrients. 

According to an article from Tech Insider, besides fruit, a jackfruit tree provides some of the following to its native growing region:
  • The leaves provide food for goats and other farm animals
  • The orange-hued bark was traditionally used as a dye for monk's robes
  • The trees produce a sticky latex-like substance that can be used as glue

Watch how to cut open and segment a jackfruit:

Take a look inside!



So, how do you eat this crazy thing?

Before we talk about that, here are some things you will need to extract the edible portion of this fruit:
  1. Cutting board
  2. Plastic Wrap (to keep your board from getting sticky)
  3. Gloves (to keep your hands from getting sticky) 
  4. Oil (to oil your knife so it cuts through the fruit more easily)
  5. Sharp serrated knife