Pesto Bean Salad

July and August boast some of the hottest days of the year, and in the middle of it, we want something cool – cool temperatures and cool food. It may surprise some, but dry beans are not just for chili and soups. White beans, combined with pesto, make the perfect cool, healthy entree or side.

Pesto Bean Salad

Pesto Bean Salad

Beans are packed with folate and fiber. For this salad, I am using canned white beans – navy or white kidney (Cannellini) – but you may use any type of bean you would like.  Canned is convenient, but if you prefer, you may start from scratch and cook them yourself. Season to taste while cooking. Whether from scratch or canned, drain the beans and continue on with the recipe. Toss in canned stewed tomatoes, minced garlic, lemon juice, red onion and parmesan cheese. This salad could not be easier – not only is it cool, but it keeps the kitchen cool during the preparation. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Pesto: Pesto is one of the easiest complimentary foods to make and yet it adds a great flavor punch to so many other dishes –  especially to this cool salad.  Basically pesto is made with fresh herbs – I’m using basil, but try sorrel or other fresh herbs of your choice; parmesan cheese; pine nuts (which can be expensive) or walnuts; garlic; lemon juice keeps it fresh and adds a nice taste; salt and pepper, or course to taste; and olive oil. Blend everything together and that’s it.

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
A quick tip on fresh herbs: Even for seasoned herb growers, hot summers can cause havoc with fresh herbs – or at least I should say they do with mine. I slip away for a weekend and the basil has bolted! Bolting is when the plant creates a spike at the top and goes to seed. Once this happens the flavor changes and becomes bitter or less desirable. To prevent bolting, as much as possible, pinch off the forming flowers at the top. You can also buy fresh herbs at the store – I prefer the living plant.

Salad:

  • 2 cans (14-oz each) white beans, drained (i.e., navy, cannellini)
  • 1 can (14-oz sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 small red onion (for taste & garnish)
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley

Method:

Place pesto ingredients – basil leaves, walnuts, ¼-cup shredded cheese, 2-4 cloves minced garlic, 2-tablespoons lemon juice and 2-tablespoon olive oil in food processor or blender and blend to a coarse puree. Salt and pepper to taste. Add additional olive oil or a little juice from the canned tomatoes to create desired consistency. Note – Pesto may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.

Drain and rinse beans. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice (see instructions above). Peel and thinly slice onion. Toss together beans, tomatoes, garlic, part of the red onion, separate into rings (set aside some red onion slices for garnish), and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in serving bowl or on individual plates. Break apart, dice, or shred salmon and arrange on top of beans. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, garnish with red onion rings. Top salad with pesto and garnish with fresh parsley.

Pairs well with salmon, steak, chicken…serve meat/fish/chicken in salad or along side.

Salad serves 6

Photo Jul 14, 7 46 31 AM

-Becky Low

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A City Girl Visits a Dairy Farm

Smith Valley Dairy just started milking cows in Nevada, and Jamie, a born and raised city girl, joined Libby Lovig to take a tour and experience something new. Here’s Jamie’s account of her first-ever dairy farm experience:

Selfie with Cows

A quick selfie with the ladies

Every Tuesday around 9:30am, I head to the grocery store to buy groceries for the week. The one item I always buy is milk, but I never knew how much hard work goes into making that gallon of milk until two weeks ago when I was given the opportunity to visit a brand new dairy in Smith Valley, NV (aptly named the Smith Valley Dairy).  And boy was it an amazing experience!

Whenever I go to an unknown place, I’m always thinking about what it’s going to look like – trying to picture it so I have a visual. Having not been to a dairy before, I didn’t know what to expect, and I couldn’t visualize what I was about to see. As we turned down the long entrance to the dairy, I stop worrying about what it was going to be like, looked out the window, and took in the beauty of my surroundings. The view was breath taking – large green mountain tops, a light breeze rustling the trees…I pictured myself in a rocking chair with a glass of milk…sigh!  Smith Valley is definitely cowboy country.

Smith Valley Dairy View

The cow’s eye view

Upon entering the dairy, we were greeted warmly by one of the dairy’s employees. We stepped out of the car to say hello and snap a few photos, and I must admit that I was bracing for a not-so-good-smell. But, I was pleasantly surprised, it didn’t smell badly, rather it smelled like freshly-cut grass.

I was so excited to see all of the cows, and I was impressed by how much shade they had, and the ground they had to rest on seemed quite clean and fluffy. They looked really comfortable. The next thing that caught my eye were large blue plastic tubs, which I learned were basically large, self-filling water buckets for the cows. I was taking notes – a self-filling water dish for my animals would be pretty awesome!

water buckets for cows

A cow getting a drink

We walked casually through the corrals to the milk parlor where we met Mr. & Mrs. Vlot and their son DJ, owners of this remarkable dairy. We shook hands and talked for a few minutes before they invited us in to tour the barn.

As we opened the door and entered the facility, the first thing I noticed was two large metal cylinders (bigger then my Jeep) that had ladders on them and temperature gauges. I learned that these are the holding tanks where the milk is stored before it is picked up by the milk truck and transported to the processing plant.

milk tanks

To the left of these tanks is a long hallway that leads to the milking parlor, where they milk the cows. I could not believe that they can milk 100 cows at a time. Each side hold 50 cows. To me, quite surprisingly, the building smelled like honey dew melon.

After taking a tour of the building we headed over to where they keep all the feed at for the cows. I’m going to call it the “Feed Bungalow” where the loader was filling up the feed truck.

Smith family dairy feed wagon

Mr. Vlot explained to us why they had made their feed storage area larger than normal, Since Smith Valley Dairy is so far out of town it is better to have more then to run out.” said Mr. Vlot.

I will never forget the conversations I had with the Vlot Family and the passion they have for their family & farm. The way they talked about their dairy and showed us around the farm really demonstrated their family values and the relationship they share with one another. It is truly amazing. They are the soil that keeps this country alive. They are the hard working Americans that power and breathe life into our healthy food. Thank you Vlot Family for welcoming me into your dairy farm and for showing me what it takes to produce that gallon of milk I pick up at the store every Tuesday morning.

Farmers at work

Farmers at work

This was my favorite picture I took that day. I’m not sure what they are talking about, but it just felt like the farm.

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A Taste of Utah

A Becky Low original recipe…

Utah Cake Slice with milkI grew up in Utah, and I love the rich heritage of culture, history, agriculture, and food. I mean where else can you go where everyone knows what your talking about when you say, “fry sauce,” “funeral potatoes” or “green jello.” Sure, poke a little fun, but we’ve definitely got a bit of our own food culture here in Utah – Dutch oven cooking and rainbow trout….yum. With Pioneer Day coming up, I wanted to create  a recipe that reflected Utah – its heritage and tradition, and I thought sharing the “symbols” of Utah through the enjoyment of a cake would be fun, so here you go: Utah Honeycomb Cake.

What is Utah Honeycomb Cake?

This is a cake symbolizing Utah – here’s why:

  • Flour: Used in the puff pastry sheets, it salutes the stone grinding mills in our state
  • Cherries: Cherries are the official fruit of Utah – in fact, Utah is the only state in the Union that ranks in the top 5 for both sour and sweet cherry production, and you will find cherry orchards all along the Wasatch Front.
  • Milk & Cream: A symbol of Utah’s dairy industry. Second only to beef as our state’s largest agricultural product, dairy farmers and their cows were vital not only to Utah’s early development but are an essential part of today’s economic security. For every $1 a dairy farmer spends, $3 come back to the local economy, and each dairy cow returns $11,000 to the economy.
  • Sugar: In this recipe, sugar is used to make Dulce de Leche, and it reminds us of sugar beets, one of the early mainstay crops in Utah. In fact, Jordan High School’s mascot, the Beet Diggers, is a nod to this heritage as the school sits atop what used to be beet fields in Sandy, Utah.
  • English Toffee: A tribute to the many European ancestors who trekked west seeking religious and political freedom and why we now celebrate Pioneer Day every 24th of July.
  • Honeycomb: Cut a slice of this cake, and it looks like a honeycomb – a perfect symbol of our Beehive State and our pioneering spirit.
  • Chocolate: Well…nothing too symbolic here – I just really like chocolate!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (17oz) frozen puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
  • 1 can (14oz) tart red cherries, drained (not pie filling)
  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 can (13oz) Dulce de Leche* (see note at bottom about making your own)
  • 4 oz mini milk chocolate chips (or finely chopped chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup chopped English toffee

Method:

  • Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. While it is thawing, open cherries and drain in colander. Preheat oven to 400º. Cut 3 parchment sheet circles, and place in the bottom of 3 eight-inch round cake pans.
  • Place one sheet thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 10 x 15″ rectangle. Cut into 3 equal strips (about 3 x 15)
Utah Honeycomb cake step 1

Honecomb Cake – Step #1 – Make ropes of cherry filled puff pastry

Utah honeycomb cake with cherries

Adding the cherries

Utah honeycomb cake cherry ropes

Making Cherry Ropes

  • Roll cherries inside each strip (jelly roll fashion) to create 3 ropes of cherry-filled puff pastry. Repeat with remaining sheet of puff pastry and cherries.
Utah Cake Rope Spirals

Arranging the Cherry-filled Ropes

  • Loosely arrange two ropes in a spiral in the center of parchment-paper lined non-stick 8-inch round cake pan (seam side down and leaving 1/4 inch space between circles of the spirals). Repeat with remaining ropes, creating 3 pans of cherry-filled ropes. Bake at 400º for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Place dulce de lece in mixing bowl. Add ⅓-cup whipping cream, stir until blended; set aside.
  • Place ¼-cup cold water in small microwave safe bowl; sprinkle unflavored gelatin over water and let stand 1-2 minutes to soften. Microwave 10-15 seconds or until completely dissolved. Fold dissolved gelatin into dulce de leche and cream. Whip 1 ⅓-cups cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold together whipped cream and dulce de leche. Mixture should be the consistency of spreadable frosting – if needed, refrigerate to partially set to prevent filling from running.
  • Carefully remove one set of spirals from baking pan, remove parchment paper and center the spirals on serving plate. Place strips of foil under the edge of the first layer (to catch drips and make cleanup easier before serving). Spoon and carefully spread approximately ⅓ the dulce de leche filling over first layer and into spiral. Repeat with remaining 2 layers and dulce de leche. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to set.
  • Place chocolate in a small bowl. Bring remaining ⅓-cup cream to a simmer, pour over chocolate and let stand 3-4 minutes or until chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. Spoon chocolate over top of cake, gently spreading to the edges and allowing it to run off and down the sides. Sprinkle top with chopped toffee. Chill until chocolate is set. Carefully remove foil strips before serving.
  • Cake serves 10-12
Utah honeycomb cake

A slice of Utah

*Homemade Dulce de Leche (crockpot): Cans of commercial dulce de leche may be found in the baking aisle of the grocery store. Or, make your own using this easy and safe recipe. Open can of sweetened condensed milk, pour into clean glass canning jars with lids and rings. Place in crockpot and cover with at least 1-inch water. Cook on low, 8-10 hours. NOTE: Jars may seal when removed from crockpot but jars must still be stored in the refrigerator. May be store in refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

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8 Tips on Smarter Snacking for Kids

Yesterday wrapped up the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference – an amazing and overwhelming gathering of school nutrition professionals. The content of the meeting was awesome – ideas to inspire school-meal greatness. One particular subject addressed throughout meeting was snacking – specifically smarter snacking. Starting this year, snacks sold at school must meet specific guidelines to be considered a smart snack (Download the USDA Fact Sheet). Smart snacks include more nutrients per calorie, they emphasize whole grains and incorporate fruits and vegetables, and schools all over the nation have been working to change their snacks to fit these new guidelines.

USDA Smart Snacks Infographic

Healthy snacks are important to provide kids with the essential nutrients and energy they need. Not only are smart snacks important when your child is at school, but also at home. So here are 8 quick and easy tips to get you thinking smarter about snacking.  

  1. Make Snacking Fun.

    • Dip: My little two year old loves dipping. If we are having a tough time getting him to eat something, making it more fun with a dip sometimes yields success. Salsa, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, and hummus are all good options, and occasionally we even take a little fruit & veggie squeeze pack and squeeze some colorful yumminess onto sandwiches and other foods.
    • Fun Shapes: Instead of carrot sticks, try round carrot slices or long slices of banana instead of short round ones. Consider making banana sushi (recipe below) instead of a plan PB&J or PB& banana sandwich
  1. Have Smart Snacks Available.

    • When hunger hits, it’s easy to grab the first thing available in the pantry. If I’m hungry, I’ll eat the first thing in sight, whether it’s nutritious or not. Make it easy for your child to choose healthy snacks by making them readily available. Make fruits and veggies easily available. Create a snack drawer or a shelf on the pantry full of healthy options.
  2. Keep it balanced – carb + protein

    • A straight, carb-rich snack won’t keep that little tummy satisfied quite as long as a snack that packs a bit of protein. Pair graham crackers with some peanut butter or some pretzels with a cheese stick.
  3. Add color.

    • Be sure to have a mixture of different fruits and veggies available. The more colors you can offer your child the greater variety of nutrients.
    • Fruits and veggies don’t have to be fresh – freeze dried, traditional dried fruit, and frozen can be great options.

kids eating

  1. Have “on-the-go” options.

    • Life is busy and sometimes it is near impossible for your child take the time to sit down and eat a snack. Provide healthy on-the-go options by slicing up fruit and veggies and measuring out large bags into small snack size containers in advance. Purchase pre packaged snack size options like string cheese, individual yogurt containers, nuts, and whole grain crackers.
    • Shelf stable, single-serve milks are a great on-the-go protein source as are individual peanut butter packs.
  1. Grocery shop together.

    • When children help chose what they want, they are more likely to eat it. Makes since right? Go grocery shopping together and help your child to choose a variety of healthy, fun snacks.
  1. Provide proper portion sizes.

    • If a snack is too large it may end up taking the place of a meal. Use snack size bags and check portion sizes. Find ways to teach your child proper portions.
  1. Grab a healthy drink

    • Milk, chocolate milk, and juice are great options when time is limited. With more time you may try making a fruit smoothie. Blend milk or yogurt with your choice of fruit to make a fun tasty treat.

Kristi Spence & Kayli Cummings – Dairy Council Staff

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Fresh Utah Peach Pie

Utah has wonderful peaches, and peak peach season is just about a month away. In anticipation, we caught up with Shanna Gibbons – dairy farmer, master gardener, master canner, wonderful cook, artist, and mom-extradionaire who shared one of her favorite summer recipes with us. The pie crust is a family tradition – the fool-proof recipe is from her mother-in-law, and the pie can be adjusted to suit a variety of fresh summer fruit. We have included classic peach as well as a strawberry variation. Enjoy!

Fresh Peach Pie

Ingredients – Peach Pie:

  • 1 baked pie crust
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pkg unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup peaches, finely cut
  • 4-5 cups fresh peaches, sliced

Ingredients – Pie Crust:

Note: Makes 6-7 crusts. Can be halved.

  • 6 cups flour, not too rounded
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 lb lard
  • 1 egg
  • ~3/4 cup milk
traditional pie crust

Fresh, flaky crust

Method:

  1. For the Crust: Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together.  Add lard. Beat egg in measuring cup and add just enough milk to bring the measurement to 1 cup. Mix to form a dough. Spread into pie plate, poke with holes, cover with parchment and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake ~15 minutes, remove weights and parchment and continue cooking until slightly golden ~10 minutes more.
  2. For the Filling: Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Place in microwave for about 30 seconds – this willl help with spreading. Spread over bottom of cooled pie shell. Mix water, sugar, lemon juice, gelatin, cornstarch and 1/2 cup peaches. Cook on stove until clear and thick. Cool for a few minutes, then add 4-5 cups fresh peaches. Stir and pour into prepared pie shell. Top with fresh whipped cream.

Variation: This recipe is easily adjusted to make fresh strawberry pie.

For Fresh Strawberry Pie: Mix and cook 1 box of Danish dessert according to recipe on box. Cool. Add fresh strawberries and poor into pie shell. Enjoy with fresh whipped cream.

The Gibbons Family
Shanna Gibbons and her husband, Mark, are third generation dairy farmers in northern Utah. Raising their 3 sons on the farm and now sharing their farm and livlihood with their daughters-in-law and 11 beautiful grandchildren has been a true blessing. Active members of the industry and their community, Mark is currently the Utah State Director of the Farm Service Agency and USDA and Shanna is on the State Dairy Women’s Board. Shanna and her family believe that good nutrition comes from the farm.

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Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft sour cream sugar cookies

Ready to take on inspiration

Looking for a fun, yummy treat this holiday weekend? Dairy Farmer, Taunya Otten loves to bake, and she shared this recipe for “make your own sugar cookie pizzas” with us.

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting:

  • 1/2cup butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese (regular or Neufchatel)
  • About 1 ½ lbs confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp orange extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk, if needed

Toppings:

  • Various fruits like mandarin oranges, banana slices, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pineapple, coconut, etc. Use your imagination!

Method:

STEP 1: Mix

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add sour cream and extracts; mix well. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll.

IMG_0291

STEP 2 – Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350°. On a well-floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. (Note: If the dough is sticky, add more flour until it is soft and workable.) Cut with a round floured 3-in. cookie cutter. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Rolling the dough

Rolling the dough

Cooling soft sour cream sugar cookies

Cooling cookies

STEP 3: Frosting

  • For frosting, in a bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and extracts. Add enough confectioners’ sugar, to make the consistency of frosting you like. If it is too stiff, add enough milk to reach desired consistency. Spread over cookies.

Yield: about 3-1/2 dozen.

STEP 4: Be creative!

To make pizzas, put out bowls of the fruits and let everyone use a frosted cookie to make their own “combination fruit pizza” using whatever fruits they like!

Decorating sugar cookies with fruit

Have fun with fruit combos and designs

Taunya Otten and her husband, Russell, were both raised on small dairy farms in Sanpete County, Utah, and now they are raising their 6 children on a large, modern dairy farm in Clarion, Utah. Taunya’s hobbies include cows, traveling, baking bread and cookies, and driving her kids into town and back to the farm. Even though dairy farming has changed over her lifetime, Taunya still believes it is ALL ABOUT THE COWS!

Visit the farm on Instagram: @Barexdairyfamily

Note about the recipe: Sugar Cookie recipe originally published as Sour Cream Cutout Cookies in Taste of Home June/July 1994 but I have modified this recipe to fit my family’s tastes!

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What Happens When you Visit a Dairy Farm?

You may be surprised…

Q: Did anything surprise you about this experience?

Pleasantly surprised that we got such a close view of operations.”

“We have dairy farming in Utah!?”

“How nice the farmers were.”

How open, honest, and complete the tour was.”

Dairy Days Farm Tour Participants

Dairy Days Farm Tour - talking to farmers

Dairy Days Farm Tour – Talking to farmers

Last week as part of Thanksgiving Point’s annual Dairy Days, Utah dairy farmers sponsored free dairy farm tours.  Interested families signed up in advance and within just a couple days, we were quite surprised to find our 2 bus tours booked to capacity with a waiting list. We LOVE that people want to get out to the farm, meet farmers, pet cows, and learn more about how the journey milk takes to get to their fridge.

Dairy Days Farm Tour

Boarding the bus – let the fun begin!

Though we faced triple digit heat, it was a great day. A packed bus left the festivities of Thanksgiving Point and took families to Utah’s largest dairy farm. Currently milking 7,100 dairy cows, tour participants had the chance to meet farmers (4 brothers and their father), tour the milk barn, say hi to the milk truck driver, sit on a tractor, pet baby calves, see what the cows eat and where they live, and ask questions.

Dairy Days Farm Tour - Milk Barn

Watching the cows be milked

Dairy Days - what cows eat

Examining what cows eat

Dairy days farm tour - baby calf

Petting baby calves

Giving people an opportunity to see a working dairy farm is important to us. One tour participant shared that she had been looking for ways to introduce her kiddos to farming and explain how we get food. Our sentiments exactly! We will continue offering these tours for groups and the general public. Thanks for the support.

Q: What was your key take away from this experience?

“Cows really are important to communities.”

“My 5-year-old was the reason we came, and he absolutely loved it and wanted to learn more.”

“Our milk is good”

“I am more confident”

“The farmers and workers take good care of their cows – dairy farming is a complex operation and business. This was outstanding.”

– Dairy Days Farm Tour Participants

Dairy Days Farm Tour

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