Friday, June 26, 2009

Untraditional Pesto

I received garlic scapes in my CSA basket from "Cooper's Farm" this week, along with bunches of fresh spinach, and a variety of other springtime veggies. Since scapes have such a short season (much like fiddleheads), I wanted to use them in a manner that we can enjoy them all summer long. So when you're given spinach and scapes, you make pesto (in my books anyway!!) This is lovely on pasta, used in place of hot mustard for sausages, on top of burgers, mixed into sour cream and mayonnaise to make a vegetable or tortilla chip dip, or even with steaks or pork chops...basically anywhere you'd use traditional basil-based pesto!


2 cups spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt & pepper

  • Place spinach, garlic scapes and cheese in a food processor. Pulse until chunky.

  • With machine running, pour in EVOO in a steady stream.

  • Process until smooth.

  • Add butter and salt and pepper (to taste), and continue processing until really smooth.

  • Enjoy on your favourite pasta, pizza, grilled meats, or in dips!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mushrooms and Pasta!!

At our local "Vince's" grocery store they often have mushrooms on sale that are still in great condition. The other day I purchased oyster, cremini and white button mushrooms at $1.50 a bag each...but hadn't done anything with them as of this morning. Since our schedule for soccer tends to be a little crazy and doesn't leave much room for making and eating dinner, I prepare casseroles in advance. Today I made two different pasta-based casseroles so that I could use my lovely mushrooms up!


500g penne
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
200g mushrooms (whatever type you prefer), chopped
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained
200 mL 5% cream
salt & pepper

  • Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  • Saute onion and garlic in EVOO until softened, in a large skillet. Add the bacon and mushrooms and cook till bacon is crisp.

  • Add the cream and stir well and simmer.

  • Add the spinach and season with salt & pepper. Stir well.

  • Toss with the pasta and serve.

  • ENJOY!


4 hot Italian sausages
796 mL can of chopped tomatoes, undrained
4 tbsp EVOO, divided
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped & loosely packed
1 small onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated carrot
salt & pepper
2 cups oyster mushrooms, sliced
3 cups of farfalle pasta
Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Simmer sausages in water for approx. 5 minutes (or until just cooked). Let cool.

  • In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp EVOO. Add basil, onion, garlic and carrots; saute until soft. Season with salt & pepper. Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes, or until fairly thick.

  • Cut sausages diagonally into thin slices. In a small skillet, saute sausages in remaining 2 tbsp EVOO until lightly browned (make sure that the oil is very hot or the sausage will fall apart). Add mushrooms and saute until tender. Add mushrooms and sausages to tomato sauce; simmer 5 mins.

  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and return to saucepan. Add sauce and toss. Serve with grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

  • ENJOY!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quick & Easy Spanokopita

This is a recipe that I got from "Martha Stewart Living" magazine. When the spinach is readily available in our crop share basket, we eat this like it's going out of style! Paired with the lemon-roasted potatoes (see my "go-to potatoes" post on May 4th, 2009), it is a wonderful meal, add a salad or steamed asparagus (also ripe for the picking at the same time as spinach!), and this is a nice lunch.



3 tbsp EVOO
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb baby spinach leaves
1 large farm-fresh egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled (or as much as you fancy!!)
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
10 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350F

  • Heat EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute until softened and fragrant - approx. 8 mins.

  • Gradually add spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted - approx. 5 mins.

  • Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and stir in egg, herbs, feta, salt and pepper.

  • Lay 1 sheet of phyllo pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet (cover remaining sheets with a damp towel to prevent them drying out), and brush lightly with butter. Repeat twice.

  • Spread spinach mixture in centre, leaving approx. 1" border.

  • Top with three more butter sheets of phyllo pastry. Fold in sides to make a rectangular package.

  • Lightly crumple remaining 4 sheets of phyllo pastry and place on top of spanokopita. Lightly brush with butter.

  • Bake until dark golden, approx. 40 minutes

  • ENJOY!

Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad with Pears and Candied Pecans!!!

I know many of you have had the opportunity to taste and enjoy this salad, but it wasn't until I looked through all the recipes that I have posted, that I realized I have never officially posted this recipe (although I have had written it out many time for friends and have included it on the recipe section of the "Cooper's CSA Farm & Maze" website that I am in charge of) here it is! I even included photos of the dressing and completed salad to whet your appetites!!
I had a similar salad at "Quigley's" in Toronto and enjoyed it so much that when I came home, I decided to experiment and try reproducing the flavours at home. The difference that I made was to create a red onion vinaigrette dressing as opposed to a sweeter one that was used at the restaurant.
Ingredients For Dressing:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 to 4 tbsp finely chopped red onions
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil (EVOO makes the dressing take on a greenier tone, but a vegetable or grain-based oil gives the dressing the bright pink colour you see in the picture above)
  • Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender (I use my mini-chopper), and blend well.
  • While running, add oil in a steady stream until the dressing becomes thick and smooth.

Ingredients For Candied Pecans:

1 cup pecan halves (or 1/2 cup pecans and 1/2 cup walnuts)

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmy packed

2 tbsp butter, melted

  • Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl and then spread on a lightly greased baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (which I prefer because it means less clean-up!)
  • Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even coating.
  • Let cool and set aside. Once the mixture is cool and looks like brittle, just crumble and put into a container with a lid. The nuts can be kept in a fridge for at least two weeks (although they don't last that long at our house!)


10 oz bag of baby spinach leaves

2 ripe pears, peeled and cut into chunks

Crumbled blue cheese (frankly I don't measure this - as much as you would like!)

Red Onion Vinaigrette

Candied Pecans

  • Combine the first three ingredients in a large salad bowl.
  • Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the candied pecans
  • ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crazy Couscous!

Since my children have been eating solids, I have been making this dish (sometimes as a side, and sometimes as a main!) While I was at the soccer field last night listening to the parents grumbling how hard it is to create a nutritious and quick meal for their kids before heading out to practice, I thought I should publish this recipe as India and Devon love it, it's quick, inexpensive and a fairly complete meal!

1 can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup of finely diced carrots
1/2 cup of finely diced zucchini (almost grated so it disappears when cooked!)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp EVOO
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Salt to taste
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/2 cup of raisins or craisins
  • Combine chickpeas, carrots, zucchini, onions and olive oil in a pot. Add the stock, parsley, paprika, chili flakes and craisins. Bring to a boil and sprinkle in the couscous.
  • Stir, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, uncover and stir again.
  • Taste and add salt to taste.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Sweet Pea Baby Shower!!!

This Sunday I hosted a baby shower for my girlfriend Michelle who is due with her third baby in only a couple of weeks! I decided that since it was going to be a springtime baby, the theme would be peas! The invitations featured a pea pod on the front and stated that "Sweet Pea #3" was on the way! As usual, I went over the top with the theme and decided that all the food had to feature peas - none of the recipes I had ever made before, but thought they sounded good, so went for it! I made a sign for the front door that I had cut out a pea pod and little baby peas from scrapbooking paper, and wrote "Peas Come In!". (There were also little green balloons with faces drawn on them tied to a post at the end of the drive that unfortunately blew away...)
The main colours of the shower were green and pale yellow (like the invitations) and I even wrapped the prizes for the games in green and yellow tissue paper, and the favours were all shades of green: a kiwi and green tea scented candle in a glass globe which I made a paper pea and stuck to the top, and then tied a poem on a bookmark from the new baby thanking everyone for celebrating with his/her Mom, and a green cosmetic bag filled with pedicure items and a card that said "Soon Michelle will see her feet...This is a little something for you to get your feet sandal ready!"

Lastly I baked my FIRST cake (as you may or may not know, Greg does all the baking because I don't enjoy it and am a little intimidated by baking!!) I created a cake which was a baby peeking out of a baby carriage, which I found in "Canadian Living" (along with most of the recipes for the menu!)

All in all it was a fantastic shower and a lot of fun! The food was great (if I do say so myself!) and the ladies asked me to post pictures and recipes for here goes!

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tub (8oz) onion and chive cream cheese spread

Assorted cut veggies

  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions until tender and browned (approx 10 to 15 mins)
  • Stir in parsley and cream cheese until smooth. Spoon into a serving dish (it looks great in a hollowed-out bell pepper!)
  • Serve warm or cold with crackers or vegetables!
  • ENJOY!!



1 can of crushed pineapple (8oz), well drained

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tsp finely grated lime zest

Assorted cut fruits

  • In a small bowl mix the first four ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Spoon dip into a serving bowl (it looks great in a hollowed-out pineapple halved lengthwise!) and place on a platter with the assorted fruit for dipping!



4 cups softened vanilla ice cream

4 cups softened lime sherbet

4 cups 2% milk

6 oz can of lemonade concentrate, thawed

6 oz can of limeade concentrate, thawed

2 cups of water

4 cups club soda

  • Stir ice cream, sherbet and milk in a large punch bowl.
  • In a pitcher, stir together the limeade and lemonade with the water. Pour over the ice cream.
  • Slowly add club soda and stir.
  • ENJOY!



1 pkg of soba noodles (8oz) - Japanese buckwheat noodles

1 tbsp each, of sesame & vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 oz (300g) of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

12 oz snow pea shoots (375g)

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/4 cup sodium-reduced soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp granulated sugar

  • In a large pot of boiling water, cook soba noodles until tender (5 mins). Stir gently and reduce heat because they tend to boil over. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • In a large skillet or wok, heat half of the sesame and vegetable oils over med-high heat; saute garlic until fragrant (15 seconds), add mushrooms and saute for another 4 mins, or until tender. Add to noodles.
  • In the skillet heat the remaining oils and stir-fry the pea shoots until wilted and tender (5 mins). Add to noodle mixture.
  • Whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Pour over noodles and stir well. Serve at room temperature, or cooled.



1 baguette

1/3 cup EVOO

1 cup fresh peas (or frozen)

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan Reggiano

3 tbsp packed fresh mint leaves

2 tsp lemon juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper

  • Cut the baguette into thin slices and arrange on a baking sheet. Brush with EVOO and broil until crispy and brown. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan of boiling salted water cook peas until tender. Drain and chill in ice water to preserve the bright green colour and to stop cooking process.
  • In a food processor, puree together the ricotta, remaining oilk grated Parmesan Reggiano, mint, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper. Pulse in peas until crushed but still chunky.
  • Top each crostini with some of the pea mixture and enjoy!



2 tbsp EVOO

1 bunch of green onions, coarsely chopped

10 cups chopped romaine lettuce (approx. 2 heads)

3 cups sodium-reduced chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups fresh or thawed peas

1 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper

1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream

  • In a large pot heat EVOO over medium heat. Cook onions until softened (2 mins) and add the lettuce. Cover and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, for 5 mins.
  • Stir in broth, 1/2 cup water, peas, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, recude heat and simmer covered for 10 mins.
  • In a blender (or using an immersion blender) puree soup until smooth. Strain into a large bowl, pressing on solids. Whisk in buttermilk, cover and refrigerate until cold.
  • Serve in bowls with fresh dill sprigs and crumbled goat cheese.



1 pkg (250g) cream cheese, softened

3 cups cold milk

2 pkgs of vanilla instant pudding (4 serving size)

2 1/2 cups thawed cool whip topping, divided

48 Nilla vanilla wafers

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, divided and cooled

2 squares of Baker's semi-sweet chocolate

1 cup of fresh raspberries

  • Beat cream cheese until creamy and then beat in milk and pudding mixes. Stir in 2 cups of Cool Whip.
  • Line 2 1/2L bowl with 24 Nilla wafers; drizzle with 1/4 cup of coffee. Top with half each of pudding and chocolate. Repeat all layers.
  • Top with remaining Cool Whip and raspberries. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

*You can substitute the coffee with chocolate milk!

The recipes for the dips came from a Betty Crocker appetizers book, the tiramisu from a Kraft Kitchens magazine, and the rest from Canadian Living!