How To Freeze Kale

Kale is an awesome superfood that freezes really well for use all year-round. Kale has been dubbed the world’s healthiest food because it is super high in vitamins, K, A, and C and easy to eat in smoothies or soup. Below, I’ve included the steps I go through when freezing my annual kale crop.

How to Freeze Kale | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I’ve been in seasonal denial for the past 2 weeks, but there is no mistaking it, Fall has made an appearance in Chicago. The end of summer is always a bittersweet time of year because, as the gardening season comes to an end, I begin to can, pickle, dehydrate, and freeze everything I can get my hands on in preparation for the colder months ahead. 

This summer, I may have gone a little overboard by planting three kale plants instead of one because at the moment we’re swimming in kale! I don’t mind though because kale freezes really well and I love to add it to smoothies and winter soups. I was so sad when I used the last of our garden fresh kale last year that I was determined to plant enough to sustain us well into the winter. Hopefully, I have succeeded.

Every year, we plant Lacinato kale (also known as Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale), but this method will work with any kale variety you have producing in your garden. I do not blanch my kale before freezing, but there are many tutorials out there that claim you should. Last year, I was using unblanched, frozen kale until March and didn’t notice a significant drop in flavor, texture, or color.

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Dehydrated Beet Greens

Dehydrated beet greens can be added to smoothies, soups, pasta sauces, or casseroles for an added punch of nutrition. This method of preserving can be used for any green including collard greens, kale, chard, and radish greens. 

Dehydrated beet greens can be added to smoothies, soups, pasta sauces, or casseroles for an added punch of nutrition. | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

I LOVE beets. Love them. Seriously, I can’t resist a beet. I like ‘em roasted, raw, pickled, in salads, as a side dish, and mixed with ginger in smoothies (try it!). In fact, when I was working in IT several years ago, I used to keep a can of beets in my desk for a midday snack. True story.

Naturally, when we built our raised garden beds, one of the first seed packets I ordered were Chiggoia beets. Beets grow very well in early spring and fall weather conditions making them ideal for growing in an area like Chicago. 

Dehydrated beet greens can be added to smoothies, soups, pasta sauces, or casseroles for an added punch of nutrition. | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

As much as I love beets, I am not too fond of beet greens. I’ve tried sautéing them in absurd amounts of garlic, adding them to soup, and baking them into casseroles, but there is an underlying aftertaste that I just do not care for.

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3 Ways to Freeze (and Use!) Strawberries

Strawberries are one of my favorite summer fruits. This year, I am freezing fresh strawberries to use throughout the year. Frozen strawberries are not limited to smoothies, although that is a delicious way to use frozen fruit. Below are 3 ways to freeze and use frozen strawberries.

3 Ways to Freeze and Use Strawberries | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Since strawberries are no longer in season (tear!), this will most likely be the last fresh strawberry post you see until next summer. Every so often I get a hankering for strawberries mid-winter and drop $5 for a pint only to be disappointed. No matter how red and juicy they look, the taste of a winter strawberry cannot compete with a summer strawberry. Unless you live in a warm-weather climate like southern California where you can get strawberries year-round, strawberries are a staple of summer. I am so jealous of all of my warm-weather readers!

3 Ways to Freeze and Use Strawberries | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Two weeks ago, strawberries went on sale at my local grocery store for .99 cents a pound. I bought four pounds and frozen them 3 different ways because I intend to use them in a variety of ways throughout the year. Freezing strawberries is quick and easy so get your berries while they’re here and freeze ‘em up! You can freeze strawberries whole, in ice cube trays, or as a purée.

Below are the steps for each method along with some recipe ideas for each.

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12 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer + Raw Kale & Strawberry Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Salad is not just a sidekick to lunch or dinner anymore. With a breakfast salad, you get a serving of fruit and vegetables into your diet before you finish your morning coffee. I like breakfast salads topped with a runny fried egg, but you could add any protein of your choice.

Kale and Strawberry Breakfast Salad | 10 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer | cucinakristina.com

My kale plants have been doing wonderfully this summer mainly because we haven’t had a summer. I am in total denial about having to return to work this week because the last few months have felt like an extended spring.

Kale thrives in fall-like weather and can even survive for a few weeks under snow and frost, but usually my kale plants do not start booming until the middle of September. I’ve been harvesting and freezing massive amounts of kale every week, but my tomato and pepper plants have been producing very little if any fruit. The plight of home gardening! 

My favorite thing to eat for breakfast in the summer is a garden fresh omelette with fresh peppers, tomatoes, and arugula, but since the weather and garden is giving me kale, I created a raw kale and strawberry salad and paired it with an easy lemon vinaigrette. I’ve also rounded up 11 additional salads that you could enjoy for breakfast. So, if you are bored with your usual breakfast, try one (or all!) of the breakfast salads below!

12 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer

12 Breakfast Salads to Enjoy this Summer! | cucinakristina.com

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Short Film Friday: What Sharks Eat in France

Short Film Friday aims to pass along short films that I find on the web. I have a massive appreciation for cinema, especially short films and documentaries. Want to play along? Share your short films with me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shortfilmfri.

Short Film Friday. Play along #shortfilmfri

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week begins this Sunday. Who’s excited?! Growing up in California allowed me to develop an immense respect for the ocean and marine life. Since moving to Chicago, I’ve found that a lot of people have a fear of sharks. It’s as if they think they will be eaten by a shark if they so much as look at the ocean.

In truth, shark attacks do not happen very often. From 2006-2010, there were 179 total shark attacks in the U.S. and only 3 of them were fatal. That number poses a very small risk for me, but if the idea of being bitten by a shark has you worried, today’s film should ease some of those fears. 

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Strawberry Pico de Gallo with Baked Tortilla Chips

Add strawberries to traditional pico de gallo for a sweet summer salsa. Paired with baked tortilla chips, this is a healthy, low-calorie swap for traditional chips and dip!

Strawberry Pico de Gallo Salsa | cucinakristina.com | Add strawberries to traditional Mexican pico de gallo for a sweet and spicy combo!

Fresh pico de gallo is one of my favorite condiments in the world. I realize that is a bold statement, but I love eating it with chips, adding it to salads, spreading it across my scrambled eggs, and nestling it inside a soft taco shell. It is easy to make at home and in the summer when my tomato plants are producing like crazy, I have a bowl of pico de gallo in my refrigerator waiting to be eaten at any given moment. It makes a great snack because it is low in calories and made 100% from fresh ingredients. 

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Homemade Nutella Milk & $500 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Happy Monday! Read on before you start to scowl at me for celebrating the start of the work week because I have two exciting things to share with you this morning. The first is that I’ve gotten together with some of my blogger friends to give away a $500 Amazon gift card to two of our lucky readers and the second is my recipe for delicious Homemade Nutella Milk!

Homemade Nutella Milk | cucinakristina.com | Raw homemade chocolate hazelnut milk

To make Homemade Nutella Milk, you’ll need a high-speed blender and a nut milk bag. If you don’t have either of those, you could purchase both of those items if you win and still have enough money left to buy a pound of hazelnuts; but if you win, you can use the gift card for anything you want. That’s the beauty of Amazon! You can buy just about anything your heart desires with the click of a mouse.

Enter to Win One of Two 500 Amazon Gift Cards. Here’s How to Enter:

$500 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Image via Unsplash

Prizes: (2) $500 Amazon gift cards

Rules & How to Enter:

  • Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. You can enter once or daily between now and September 4. 
  • Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. 
  • Giveaway ends 9/4 and is open worldwide.

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Short Film Friday: Food

Short Film Friday aims to pass along short films that I find on the web. I have a massive appreciation for cinema, especially short films and documentaries. Want to play along? Share your short films with me on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #shortfilmfri.

Short Film Friday. Play along #shortfilmfri

I came across this stop-motion flick and was impressed with it’s creativity. In this short film, a culinary cast of characters is personified and given a chance to express its feelings towards food and health. I can’t decide if I like cheeseburger or the crab best. It’s a close call. Watch the film below and leave a comment letting me know which is your favorite!

Synopsis: Ordinary table food showcase their personalities in this stop-motion film dedicated to food. (more…)

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day: July 2014

It’s been awhile since I have participated in a Foodie Pen Pal exchange. I have really missed connecting with fellow foodies so I thought I would start up with the program again this month. I was hoping my garden would be producing an excess of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, and tomatoes to send to my match, but no such luck. Maybe next month! :)

This month I was paired up with Betsy over at Betsy Between the Miles. She sent me a box of homemade and local items along with some Trader Joe’s favorites. Being from California, I love, love, love Trader Joe’s so I am always happy to find new items they stock. One of the first things I Googled when I moved to Chicago was Trader Joe’s. I honestly do not think I would have made the cross-country move if TJ’s didn’t have a Chicago store.

What Was in the Box?

July Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day | cucinakristina.com | #foodiepenpals

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Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

Capture the essence of spring with these quick pickled sugar snap peas. Unlike some pickled products, these pickle in as little as 4 hours. Serve them for lunch in place of traditional Kosher pickles or add them to a meat and cheese platter at your next party and watch them disappear so quickly you’ll wish you doubled the recipe!

Capture the essence of spring with these quick pickled sugar snap peas. Unlike some pickled products, these pickle in as little as 4 hours. | cucinakristina.com

We have an abundance of peas on our hands! Pea season is typically long gone by this time in July, but the weather this summer has been on the cool side and it seems to be extending the life of our spring produce. We’re swimming in peas and lettuce and yearning for tomatoes and peppers

I’ve been trying to freeze our produce in small batches as it ripens so that I am not overwhelmed come September and have to spend my entire weekend blanching, freezing, canning, and pickling.  (more…)

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