In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

There's an old saying that suggests that March is a month that comes in like a lion and out like a lamb -- or that we begin the month in what seems like the dead of winter and have found spring by the time the month is over. Well, whether or not that is the case this year, there is certainly something to be said for taking an opportunity to enjoy the foods of both seasons.

Now, in this day and age, you can find most any food during any part of the year. However, there are some tried and true favorites that simply call out for the best of a given time of year. Most people don't crave light and airy salads in the chilly months or lust after hot stews in the middle of the summer. So, in the spirit of the season ... or, rather, seasons, I'm offering a selection of recipes that allows us to bid a fond farewell to Old Man Winter and set a place at the table for Spring.

We begin, as is appropriate, with a couple of recipes that inspire you to cozy up with a blanket in front of the fire and enjoy them. These hearty recipes both prominently feature beef and would be perfectly accompanied by winter staples like mashed potatoes or roasted yams. Both take a while to cook, but also allow you to take advantage of long baking times or the day or so that the slow cooker recipe gives you to play with. Enjoy them in the spirit of all the good things that winter has offered us this year.

Confetti Meatloaf

This simple meatloaf gets added fiber and vitamins with the addition of diced and shredded vegetables. It's simple to make, freezes well and the addition of barbeque sauce makes it a real crowd-pleaser.
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrot
  • 1 c. toasted bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 c. barbeque sauce, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, pepper, onion, carrot, bread crumbs, egg, seasonings and 1/4 c. barbeque sauce using your hands. Once the mixture has been well mixed, form it into a loaf shape and carefully set it into a loaf pan. Spread the remaining barbeque sauce over the meatloaf and bake it for 40-50 minutes or until the meat is cooked and the barbeque sauce is bubbly.

  • Yields: 1 loaf (about 4 servings)
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

There's something about slow-cooked beef that makes one think about the winter months. And, as a nod to St. Patrick's Day, it only seems appropriate to use a slow cooker to prepare a tasty corned beef brisket.
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 carrots, cut into 3" pieces
  • 3 lb. corned beef brisket, trimmed
  • 1 c. apple juice
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
  • 2 T. prepared mustard

Place the onion and carrot in the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the beef over the vegetables.

Combine the apple juice, brown sugar, orange peel and mustard. Pour over the meat.

Cover and cook on the LOW setting for 8-10 hours or the HIGH setting for 4-5 hours. If desired, serve with sauteed cabbage.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: varies depending on method used
And before you know it, winter has loosened its hold on us and we're greeted with flowers poking out of the ground and robins chirping at us from the budding trees. It only seems right to welcome spring with fresh and lightly cooked vegetables that have been seasoned with perky ingredients like tangy vinegars and fresh lemon juice. Enjoy them as just a taste of what's to come in this season of fresh produce and sunshine!

Wheat Berry Salad

The chewy wheat berries in this salad give it an extra dose of fiber and a texture that's unusually pleasant. You can find wheat berries at specialty food stores and in the whole grains department of larger grocery stores.
  • 1 1/2 c. wheat berries, cooked until puffed & chewy
  • 1/2 c. apple juice
  • 1/3 c. raisins
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 c. thinly sliced spinach
  • 1 T. roasted sesame seeds
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Prepare wheat berries according to the package directions. Heat the apple juice to boiling and pour carefully over the raisins & allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then drain the apple juice and save for another use. Mix the raisins into the wheat berries.

Coat a small skillet with cooking spray. Saute the mushrooms, onion and red pepper until just tender. Add them to the wheat berries. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well blended. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Thai-Inspired Noodles with Broth

The broth in this spicy soup gets its kick from a combination of ginger, garlic and Thai curry. If you want a milder soup, simply omit the curry and add 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. Thai red curry paste
  • 5 oz. thin spaghetti
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. snap peas
  • 1 c. cooked chicken, sliced into strips
  • 2 T. sliced green onions
  • 2 tsp. black sesame seeds
  • Lemon juice

Combine the chicken broth, ginger, garlic and curry paste in a large saucepan over high heat. When the mixture begins to boil, cook the spaghetti in the broth until tender.

Meanwhile, in a wok, heat the cooking spray over high heat. Add the mushrooms, pepper, onion and snap peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 ounce of the broth and the cooked chicken to the wok, cover and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

To serve, spoon the noodles evenly between two bowls. Top the noodles with the vegetable-chicken mixture and ladle the broth over it all. Garnish with the green onions and sesame seeds and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over each bowl before serving.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes