Let citrus fruits spark your meals

It always seems that our taste buds are ready for some fresh, wake-us-up healthy foods after the holidays.

As I’ve said before, I think January should be National Citrus Month, and, by supermarket ads, it certainly looks like it could be.

I have been consuming Cutie Oranges since early December.

Often thought to be a tangerine variety or “baby” oranges, Cuties actually are two varieties of mandarin oranges: Clementine Mandarins and Murcott Mandarins.

The Clementines usually are available starting in November and go through January with the other variety picking up in February and going through April.

Purchased in either a bag or a box, they are perfect snacks in that they are sweet and yummy plus they’re easy to peel, seedless and nutritious.

Two of these darlings make one serving at 80 calories, so if I eat more a day, so what?

Navel oranges also are a favorite of citrus lovers and by looking at the end of one, you understand where the name came from.

I favor the Cara Cara orange (“Red Navel”), its dark red pulp and juice that adds a hint of cherry overtones.

The Moro blood orange, named for its very dark red, almost burgundy, pulp is unbelievably good.

Valencias are the No. 1 juice orange.

Then there’s tangerines. I especially love the Honey Tangerine.

And don’t forget grapefruit!

The deep red and pink varieties provide a mellower and sweet tart taste that has them joining other citrus as snacks, main dishes, side dishes and desserts.

Rio Star Cowboy Caviar

Courtesy Texas Sweet

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed Red Rio Star Grapefruit juice

2 teaspoons hot sauce

1½ teaspoons salad oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 firm, ripe avocado cubed

1 can each, black eyed peas and corn, drained and rinsed

2/3 cup each: sliced green onions, chopped cilantro

½ cup Red Rio Star grapefruit sections, roughly chopped

Optional: 1 finely minced jalapeno

Mix grapefruit juice, hot sauce, oil, garlic and pepper.

Add remaining ingredients — gently fold to coat.

Serve with chips, snack crackers, grilled steak or chicken.

Moro Orange Chicken Noodles

Courtesy Sunkist Moro Oranges

10 tablespoons freshly squeezed Sunkist Moro orange juice

10 ounce chicken breast, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon spicy chili oil

2 pounds cooked Chinese noodles

2 tablespoons fresh Sunkist Moro orange peel, finely grated

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

5-ounce can bamboo shoots, sliced, drained

4 ounces spinach leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

10 Sunkist Moro orange sections cut in half

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Place 1/2 cup Moro orange juice in plastic zip-top bag with chicken. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

Heat large wok or sauté pan over high heat; add spicy chili oil. When hot, add cooked noodles and orange peel; toss with hot oil to coat.

Stir-fry 3–4 minutes until lightly browned and crispy. Remove noodles to serving platter. Keep warm.

Add peanut oil to wok/ heat.

Remove chicken from marinade, drain; dust with 2 teaspoons cornstarch.

Add chicken, bamboo shoots, spinach to wok, stir-fry about 4 minutes. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons Moro orange juice, soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, salt, sugar, and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Blend until cornstarch is dissolved to make sauce.

Add sauce to wok, stir and cook additional 3–4 minutes, or until chickens done and sauce thickens. Add Moro orange sections, heat through.

Pour cooked chicken mixture over reserved noodles; sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.

Dixie note: When stir-frying at high temperatures, have all ingredients prepared and ready to go before starting.


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