Eat Seasonally Recipe Edition

Graphics Designer/Freelance Blog Copywriter: Shannon Bever

Author Bio:

Many of you know Shannon Bever as the RBI graphics designer extraordinaire! Shannon’s vision and artistic talents shine on the RBI blog and website and in the RBI brand.  What you may not know about Shannon is that she is a trained chef with over 10 years in the culinary arts field. We thought that was so unique, we are featuring her expertise in a recipe series of blog posts over the next several weeks! 

Eat Seasonally Recipe Edition

Eat Seasonally Recipe Edition

Graphics Designer/Freelance Blog Copywriter: Shannon Bever

Hello everyone! Hopefully you had a successful week! As promised in last week’s post about eating seasonally, I have put together a beautiful four course meal to celebrate Spring! There are many beautiful things that you might not think about being at their peak in Spring, and we’ll dive in together. Whether you make these courses together and serve a fancy meal for guests, or if you choose to make the recipes one at a time to refresh your monthly meal planning, I hope you will try these recipes and introduce more seasonal eating into your diet. Your health and pocket book will thank you.  (I have included the recipes as a downloadable PDF at the end of this post.)

Enjoy, and Bon Appètit!

The Courses Explained:

First we start with the appetizer course: mussels.

Mussels’ prime season is between October and March so this is the last month for great prices and I want to take advantage. Since I live in the desert, these mussels will likely be coming from California but they are still delicious. This dish is served with a side of grilled bread. I prefer grilled baguette and a lemon wedge. The mussels are steamed in a white wine beurre blanc, which makes a delightfully refreshing dish with a nice bit of heat from some red pepper flake. I prefer to use Sauvignon or Fumè Blanc for its grassy, citrus, herbal notes that add a bit more flavor to the dish but just about any white wine will do.

Second we go to the salad course: spinach citrus salad with goat cheese and a champagne vinaigrette.

I love this dish because you could turn it into a full meal with a nice piece of fish or some beautiful grilled chicken. There are also a lot of things that you can do with this recipe for a great springtime lunch as well. This dish contains several flavors that are fresh in March. The base of this salad is spinach, which is at its best in spring and fall, although it is available most of the year. Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges are in season December through April. If you have never had them, they are fairly sweet and have red or pink flesh which can be striking at first. Cara Cara oranges have a little zip to them and are usually lower in acidity than navel oranges. Ruby red grapefruit are in season October through April and have a deliciously sweet pink flesh. Heirloom Navel oranges are in season from December to March, although the typical navel orange can be purchased almost year-round. Strawberries are just starting to come into season this month and will get a bit better as the season progresses into August with their peak being in April to August.

Here’s a little guide to a few other seasonal foods for Spring!

My recipe calls for a raw thinly sliced red onion, but I don’t personally care for them. Leeks are not often used in salads but I substitute them anyways! Raw and thinly sliced! Leeks are in season October through May, and the best type to buy for this dish are the very small, thin, newer ones. Be sure to wash them thoroughly as they often contain little pebbles of dirt and maybe even a few bugs within the folds of the leaves which aren’t always easy to get to with just a quick rinse. The best way I have found to clean them is to slice them the way you intend to use them then put them in a mesh colander, rinse and then finally in a salad spinner with a bit of cheesecloth to ensure that they are well rinsed and dried. Then for additional depth and flavor, I like to add avocado and some of that fresh goat cheese or chèvre from the local creamery. These are totally optional but it makes this salad well rounded and the added fat from the avocado and goat cheese help to cut the acidity of the citrus. Avocados are typically in season year-round between California’s peak season from February to September and Mexico’s crops being consistent throughout the year. I also like to jazz this dish up a bit and make some sweet and spicy pecans to add to this dish. Pecans typically are not in season this month as their season is around November but if you have them leftover in your pantry this is a good dish to use them in.  Are you hungry yet?  I certainly am! 

Third (Main) course: hazelnut-crusted halibut with roasted root vegetables and asparagus (YUM!)

Again a few of the ingredients in this dish are leftover from the fall, such as hazelnuts, which are at their peak in the fall months. This year, halibut season will run from March to November with commercial fisheries’ typical season from June to September. Asparagus is in season from late February to June with April being the prime month. It is quite delicious roasted with a bit of fresh lemon on top. Roasted root vegetables are a nice change of pace from the typical potato or pasta side dish, and are sometimes overlooked their peak season is from fall through early spring. They are very easy to work with and when they are roasted the sweetness of the flesh comes out. This side dish pairs beautifully with the nuttiness of the hazelnut crusted halibut. Parsnips have somewhat of a cinnamon-y flavor and resemble large white carrots. Another great way to use them is to puree them with some potatoes to add a complexity to them. Turnips and rutabagas are subtle in flavor and are very versatile. Beets are a super-food and are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Carrots are probably one of the most popular root vegetables and I’m sure you already know how much better they taste when they are roasted.

Finally, we come to everyone’s favorite: dessert!

Strawberry Dessert

Our star tonight is almond shortbread moons with vanilla bean whip cream, strawberries, basil reduction and balsamic glaze. This light and delicious dessert will cleanse your palate and provide a great end to this seasonal meal. You should dig into your cellar for the almonds as their season is typically from August to October. For the vanilla beans, their season is typically in December through February, depending on where it comes from and how long it is cured. Basil grows just about year-round (especially indoors–hello, homegrown herb garden!) and when it is cooked down and strained to make this beautiful reduction, it adds a nice refreshing taste to this simple dessert. The complexity of the balsamic glaze will truly convert you from skeptic to believer. I know that at first glance this dish seems oddly paired but trust me once you try this dish you will be amazed how something so simple could be so complex and diverse in flavor.

The Recipes:

Spring Menu Recipes

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Life Hack: Eating Seasonally, Spring Edition

Graphics Designer/Freelance Blog Copywriter: Shannon Bever

Author Bio:

Many of you know Shannon Bever as the RBI graphics designer extraordinaire! Shannon’s vision and artistic talents shine on the RBI blog and website and in the RBI brand.  What you may not know about Shannon is that she is a trained chef with over 10 years in the culinary arts field. We thought that was so unique, we are featuring her expertise in a recipe series of blog posts over the next several weeks! 

Eating Seasonally

Graphics Designer/Freelance Blog Copywriter: Shannon Bever

It might be a no brainer to some that eating seasonally and locally will help you save money, but did you know it helps keep you in optimum health? When you buy what’s in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and it costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store. This creates a simple surplus in the supply, dropping the prices for the customer. Best of all, you can get wholesome fresh foods that are also at their optimum nutrient density (not the same thing as optimum freshness).

A whole new world

One of the great benefits of eating seasonally is that you get exposed to foods you may never see anywhere else! Farmer’s markets are my favorite place to get my hands on new ingredients and hidden gems. Many small farms and local purveyors bring their produce and goods to farmer’s markets, so you can find really unique specialty items. For example, here in Arizona there is a goat farm in the Pine/Strawberry area called Fossil Creek Creamery that has the best fresh made goat cheese and other artisanal products that I have ever had. They sometimes take

part in the farmer’s markets or festivals in the area–I would have never known about them had I not visited their stand at a local event!

Eating seasonally means supporting small business

Another great reason that I always seek out farmer’s markets, is that buying locally helps stimulate the local economy. When I buy locally, I know that I’m helping out my community, as well as getting the freshest produce and great local goods. And it’s not just vegetables, I have bought some of the best lotions at farmer’s markets.

A culinary tradition is born

Several years ago now, I was running my own restaurant kitchen in the Cleveland, Ohio area. My favorite part of the day was getting up early and visiting the farmer’s market. I would pick out the best fruits and vegetables that I could buy and create a dish based on those ingredients. It became a fun tradition at the restaurant, and one I continue today in my personal life.  You can join in! If you live in Arizona, you can visit this website by the Arizona Community Farmers Markets and find a market close to you! If you live in a different state, you can find a local market with a quick Google search.

Find your seasonal foods today!

While visiting farmer’s markets and eating seasonally and locally is very satisfying in and of itself, what do you do with the produce? Eat it, of course! To find seasonal foods in your area, you can visit Seasonal Food Guide and select your state and the current season. If you live in Arizona you can also use the Arizona Farm Bureau’s “Fill Your Plate” website. Next week I am going to talk about how to put together a beautiful meal around seasonal items that you might find in the Spring. From the appetizer to the main meal to a beautiful dessert for a finish, I hope you join me again next week!

Are you as excited as we are for these recipes? Talk about a Fun Friday for the whole family! Speaking of families, want to join the RBI family? Click here to get contracted today! Have questions? Call 1-800-997-3107 today and speak to one of our expert team!

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Celebrate Being Irish (or at least wanting to be!)

Celebrate being Irish

St. Patrick’s Day 2017

Let’s celebrate being Irish (or at least wanting to be!)

RBI Freelance Copywriter: Heidi

St. Patrick’s Day is here! Time to polish those shoe buckles, dig out Grandma’s famous corned beef and cabbage recipe, and tint the beer green! In honor of our favorite Irish holiday, we’ve rounded up an interesting collection of 17 random facts you probably didn’t know about Saint Patrick’s Day.

About the author:

Heidi  is our RBI freelance copywriter, and we are lucky to have her! She specializes in organizational/office shortcuts and tutorials for agents. Her zany sense of humor shows through in her Fun Friday contributions and her hilarious children are favorite visitors at the RBI headquarters.

— Image by © CORBIS

Number 1: March 17th, 461 A.D. is the date Saint Patrick died. St. Patrick’s Day is the Catholic celebration of his admission to heaven. In more recent years, it has been celebrated as a cultural holiday here in the United States. People of every background celebrate by claiming Irish ancestry for the day!

Number 2: Speaking of being Irish, Saint Patrick was not. He was actually born to Roman parents living in modern-day England. More specifically, Scotland or Wales (historians are still debating!)

Number 3: Saint Patrick is credited with driving all snakes out of Ireland. As legend goes, after being attacked by snakes during a 40-day fast, an angry (or perhaps “hangry?”) Saint Patrick chased the slithering serpents into the sea, forever ridding the land of their presence. Never mind the fact that there is zero fossil evidence to prove there ever were any snakes in Ireland- the climate is just too chilly. Most scholars consider “driving out the snakes” to be metaphorical. Regardless- no snakes! We think that sounds like a great place to visit!

Number 4: Why the booze? Saint Patrick’s Day originated as a celebratory feast. In his honor, most Christian churches lift the temporary dietary restrictions imposed by Lent. For that one day, it is permissible and encouraged to gorge and imbibe. And boy, do we ever…

Number 5: It is estimated that 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed worldwide on March 17th. Approximately $425 million is spent by patrons on alcohol each holiday… and that’s before tipping the bartender. That is a LOT of beer.

Number 6: Despite all the green, Saint Patrick had a different favorite color. Most historical illustrations from that period depict him wearing blue.

Number 7: We hate to break it to you, but your odds of finding a lucky four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.

Number 8: Cabbage, too! Corned beef and cabbage, anyone? Cabbage shipments spike 70% the week before Saint Patrick’s Day. Can’t find Grandma’s recipe? Try this one!

Number 9: Leprechauns are even stranger than you realized. In traditional Irish folklore, there is no such thing as female leprechauns, only males. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around this one…

Number 10: Shamrocks are not the official symbol of Ireland. Where did they come from? Saint Patrick used clovers as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity. They also grow all over the place in Ireland, contributing to the gorgeous green countryside.

Number 11: The harp is Ireland’s official symbol. It can be found on Irish currency, the presidential flag, state seals, uniforms and government documents.

Shamrock ShakeNumber 12: Still, marketers love shamrocks. Especially McDonald’s. Each season they bring back their famous Shamrock Shake. It has a cult following, with fan-created websites and mobile apps popping up to help you locate your nearest Shamrock Shake. We’re not kidding.

Number 13: So many calories. A large, 22-ounce McDonald’s Shamrock Shake contains 820 calories. That just about makes up for all the Lent fasting, right?

Number 14: Americans are a bit fanatical about Saint Patrick’s Day. Parades, parties, pub crawls, and green rivers. Yes, that’s right… the Plumbers Local 110 Union actually dyes the Chicago River Check out this incredible time lapse video of 2017’s dye job!

Number 15: Don’t worry, it’s harmless. Although the formula of the river dye is a closely-guarded secret, the formula has been thoroughly tested by independent chemists and has been proven safe for the environment. Phew!

The Plumbers Local 110 Union actually dyes the Chicago River green for St. Paddy’s Day!

Number 16: There are over 34.7 million Americans with Irish ancestry. That is nearly seven times the population of Ireland! You guessed it, Ireland is our nation’s second highest reported nation of origin, ranking only behind Germany.

Number 17: That probably helps explain why there are 16 US towns named after Ireland’s capitol, Dublin. Can’t afford an expensive transatlantic flight? Worry not! You can visit Dublin in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia!

What a journey! Thanks for sticking with us! As always, RB Insurance Group wishes you a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Love St. Paddy’s for the parties? RBI loves parties too! If you want to join in a special party at RB Insurance Group, you should check out our RBI Agent Social! Stop by the office and meet the team or get started contracting here!

A traditional Irish Pub, we’d love to be there on St. Patrick’s Day!

Kayakers enjoying the weather on St. Paddy’s Day.

A look at the beautiful countryside in Ireland.

Saint Patrick used clovers as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity.

Eat Seasonally Recipe Edition
Eat Seasonally Recipe Edition
Celebrate being Irish