Archive of ‘Recipe’ category

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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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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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…)

Crock Pot Bone Broth

This recipe for Crock Pot Bone Broth couldn’t be any easier because your slow cooker does all of the work for you! In addition to being incredibly easy to make, homemade bone broth is rich in nutrients and minerals giving it tremendous health benefits. 

Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) Bone Broth | cucinakristina.com

One of my favorite the kitchen tricks is making my own vegetable broth from kitchen scraps. I keep a gallon sized Ziploc bag in my freezer and throw any vegetable peelings, trimmings, and ends from my food prep in it. When the bag gets full, I dump it into a large pot of water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for roughly 4 hours. 

Last weekend, I picked up a pound of soup bones from my butcher for $2.19. I planned on making bone broth on Sunday, but it was 85˚ and the thought of having a pot of bone broth simmering away in my air conditionerless kitchen was unbearable. So, I got out my trusty Crock Pot and put it to work.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make this on your stovetop using a large pot. The downside is that you’ll have to stick around your house until it’s done which can take 24-36 hours. Since most people don’t feel comfortable sleeping, going to work, or running a quick errand with a pot of bone broth simmering on the stovetop, a slow cooker is ideal for this recipe.

The flavor of homemade broth is deep and rich and a thousand and one times better than any store-bought brand or bullion cube on the market. Plus, it is good for you, easy to store, and versatile. 

Health Benefits of Bone Broth

The health benefits associated with incorporating bone broth into your daily diet are plenty, but my top 3 favorites are: 

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Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad

This recipe for Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad is ideal for picnics and BBQ’s because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It only uses 5 ingredients and can be served warm or chilled. Dill and parsley are my herb of choice, but you could use any fresh herb your garden is producing at the time.

Mayonnaise Free Potato Salad | cucinakristina.com

Pssst… listen up. I’m about to give you a secret recipe. A recipe that I never thought about posting because it is so simple to make, it doesn’t make me feel like I am cooking. Yet, every time I bring it to a cookout or serve it at a dinner, people rave about it and ask for the recipe. When I tell them how I made it, they look at me curiously like I am intentionally withholding an ingredient or two so they won’t be able to recreate it at home. I promise that isn’t the case. Here’s the secret…

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Strawberry Habanero Jam

Capture the taste of summer with this Strawberry Habanero Jam. You could eat this right away, but I would advise you to save it for a rainy day when you need a gentle reminder that warmer weather is around the corner. The heat is subtle which makes it a perfect topping for vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Habanero Jam

I grew up in Orange County, California which is located about 40 miles south of Los Angeles. Orange County was named for the extensive orange groves that used to line the hillsides. In my hometown, there was a stretch of land leading to the freeway that was thickly lined with orange trees and, as kids, we would often play in the groves, climb the trees, and pick oranges, which I don’t think you were supposed to do, but it was the 80’s and things were much less regulated than they are now. Sadly, those trees have since been removed, but I think there may be a few left on the perimeter of the community college at the intersection where this photo was taken.

Orange Groves in Orange County, California

At the end of that stretch leading to the freeway was a produce stand that used to sell the biggest, most luscious strawberries. They would set them out in these huge boxes and since the weather in California is always warm, you could pretty much buy strawberries from that stand year-round. There are only a few occasions that I can remember driving by and seeing the stand closed. 

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