Today I’m here to tell you that pumpkins aren’t only for carving!
Pre-halloween is the best time to find pumpkins at the grocery store and turn them into roasted pumpkin puree! The method outlined below works for any kind of pumpkin, although smaller pumpkins will be easier to manage. Don’t be afraid to take one home and try it yourself!
Roasting a pumpkin and turning it into all-purpose pumpkin puree is really, really easy and so much cheaper than the stuff you buy in a can. Roasted pumpkin can be used in oatmeal, soups, muffins, and in many, many more applications.
How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree:
- Cut the top off your pumpkin. I find a longer serrated knife to work best and I start by stabbing a hole about 2-3 inches from the stem and cutting a circle all the way around the stem. You can then grab the stem and pull the top out.
- Remove the seeds from your pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the slimy orange insides. You can save the seeds to roast.
- Roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 400F and cut your pumpkin into smaller pieces that are about the same height, this will allow for even cooking. Roast your pumpkin skin side up on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 1 hour. Check doneness every 15 minutes or so with a fork and flip; you also want the skin to blister a bit so that it is easier to remove.
- Peel and puree your pumpkin. Using a paring knife to help, peel off the pumpkin skin. Puree the pumpkin in your food processor until smooth.
- Store your pumpkin. Keep roasted pumpkin puree in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Late summer/early fall is my favourite time of year. There’s so much wonderful produce available and so many options to preserve it. Preserving some of the produce you come across at this time of year allows you to experience the freshness and flavours throughout the winter.
Today we’re sharing a quick way to keep those garden cucumbers hanging around just a little longer. This is a refrigerator pickle recipe which means we are not hot water canning it, it’s not shelf stable, and it MUST always be kept in the fridge. You can keep these in the fridge for up to two months, but I promise they won’t last that long.
Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles
This quick and easy refrigerator pickle recipe makes about one 2-cup mason jar of pickles.
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 tsp pickling spice
- Add sliced cucumbers to a sterilized 2-cup mason jar, set aside.
- Add brine ingredients to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
- Pour brine over cucumbers.
- Allow jar to cool for about 1 hour and then refrigerate for up to 2 months.
- These pickles will taste great right away but will become more flavourful the longer they sit in their brine.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
Nothing beats the fresh summer produce that we get fresh from the garden – zucchini, peppers, beans, peas, cucumbers, and not least of all tomatoes. Pretty soon, any avid gardener is going to have more tomatoes than they can shake a stick at!
Here is a great, super simple fresh salsa to answer the age-old question: what do I do with all these tomatoes?
Warm summer nights means it’s time to break out the BBQ for dinner!
Don’t be fooled into thinking the BBQ is only good for cooking meats, you can also grill an assortment of vegetables with great results. We’ve done asparagus, peppers, onions, potatoes, and zucchini – just to name a few! Take your BBQ skills to the next level and follow these easy steps to grill vegetables at home. You’ll become a master griller in no time!
How to Grill Vegetables
- Become familiar with your grill and have the tools you’ll need. Know how to turn it on and off (both the BBQ and the propane source) and how to clean it properly. Make sure you have a BBQ brush (or other cleaning device as well as metal tongs and a flipper.
- Set your BBQ to about medium heat. We like to turn the grill on, scrub it clean, then start cooking.
- Cut your vegetables. Make sure to cut them in even thicker strips – especially if you’re doing something like zucchini, eggplant, or peppers. You want them to cook evenly, not too quickly, and you don’t want them to be so small they fall through the grate.
- Season your vegetables. Add your vegetables to a bowl and coat with 1-2 tbsp canola oil and seasonings of your choice. Try salt, pepper, garlic powder, and italian seasoning.
- Cook your vegetables. Place veggies on the top rack across the grill and allow to cook on one side for 7-10 minutes. Flip them and cook for another 7-10 minutes. Depending on the heat of your BBQ or if your cooking other things at the same time the times could vary.
It’s important to never leave a BBQ unattended and know about your grill before you use it (i.e. read the manual or get a tutorial from a master griller).
Whenever we attend a potluck we like to come with a veggie-packed dish in hand and having a go-to potluck worthy salad in your repertoire is always a great idea. Not only can you prepare it in a pinch but if you always have the required ingredients in your kitchen, you can make it any time you need. This spinach salad with a raspberry dressing is packed with flavour and contains many ingredients that you may already have on hand in your kitchen.
This salad is also incredibly versatile and can be made with any combination of veggies you might find in your fridge. The dressing we created for this salad is made using pureed raspberries, making it 400% fancier than any other dressing you could buy at the store! We always have frozen raspberries in our freezer and combined with a few other pantry staples you can create a restaurant worthy dressing in a split second!
Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing
- 225 g Baby Spinach
- 1/2 Red Onion, sliced thin
- 1 English Cucumber, diced
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
- 1/3 cup Pecans
- 1/2 cup Raspberries, thawed frozen or fresh
- 1/4 cup Canola Oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- pinch salt and pepper
- Mash up raspberries to form a puree. Combine in a mason jar with the other dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Shake up your dressing to ensure it's mixed and serve it with the finished spinach salad.
- You can add or substitute any of the vegetables in the salad for what you have available in your fridge.
- Feel free to roast the pecans before adding them to your salad.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
As spring slowly turns into summer, us avid gardeners are looking forward to harvesting our first lettuce, baby kale, swiss chard, and perhaps also spinach. That is, if we haven’t already made a fresh salad with the first cuttings!
This super simple sauteed spinach recipe takes about 10 minutes from start to finish, and can easily be modified to add other great, fresh vegetables if you want.
- 6 oz spinach
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, preferably fresh
- Heat canola oil in non-stick saute pan over medium heat.
- Peel garlic and crush with the side of the knife, so they are cracked open. Add to the pan and let them heat through until they become fragrant, about 30 sec-1 min.
- Add spinach to the pan and saute. The spinach will shrink down immensely; it will only take about 5 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice to the pan, put a lid on the pan and let the spinach steam for 1-2 minutes.
- This recipe is easily doubled. Feel free to double the amount of spinach, or add different greens to the mix. If you are adding kale or chard, it may take longer for the leaves to cook down.
- To make a variation, begin by sauteeing some diced onions,peppers, and spices. Add the spinach (or kale/chard) at the end with a shot of cooking wine or stock and let steam until tender.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
Do you have an over load of spinach in the house? Here are some of our best tips for storing leafy greens
It’s the season for rhubarb, are you ready?
Rhubarb may be a new vegetable for you (yes, it’s a vegetable!) or you may find yourself coming into a whole bunch of it thanks to a kind coworker or friend. Your next thought may be “what can I do with this stuff!” Never fear, we’re here to share how to freeze rhubarb so you’re able to enjoy it year round!
A few important things about rhubarb:
- The leaves are poisonous so make sure to cut them off (you can compost them)
- The stalks have a sweet and tart taste and are great in pies, crisps, and jam. You can also make stewed rhubarb to top your ice cream.
- It has been said that spring rhubarb is nicer to work with because it’s less woody. Why not take advantage while the pickings are plenty!
- You don’t need to do anything (i.e. blanch) to the rhubarb before you freeze it.
- Frozen rhubarb can be used in almost any way that fresh would be used in but be sure to check your recipes notes if you’re unsure.
How do Freeze Rhubarb:
1. Trim rhubarb stalks off the plant as close to the ground as you can.
2. Trim off the leaves (toss or use in your compost bin) and wash your stalks.
3. Chop into small pieces (0.5-1 cm in width).
4. Place in a freezer bag or container and freeze as is – I like to portion into 1-2 cups and label as such.
5. You can freeze them individually on a tray so that you can portion out what you like when you like. This way requires more space initially but can be more convenient for portioning in the long run.
Find more rhubarb facts from Getty Stewart here.
I don’t know about you, but too often I’ve bought a bag or container of spinach only to have half of it rot on me in the fridge. After learning few tips and tricks I’m able to better store my leafy greens to save money and extend their shelf life.
Today we’re going to share some of our favourite tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way for how to store leafy greens. When we use the term ‘leafy greens’ we’re talking about any leaf type produce, including: spinach, all types of lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, and beet tops. Whether from your own garden or the store, leafy greens should be stored properly to extend their shelf life and save you money!
We keep all of our leafy greens stored in the fridge. Warmer, room-temperatures are the perfect place for greens to start the rotting process. They are already very delicate and cooler fridge temperatures help them to last longer.
Another important thing to remember is air flow. Lots of air flow is necessary or the greens will start to rot in their packaging. There are a few ways you can increase air flow around your leafy greens:
- Using vegetable produce bags (Ziploc brand). They have small holes in the bag to allow the greens to breathe. Avoid adding overly wet vegetables to these or the liquid will come through (think: tomatoes).
- Keep greens in the bag they come in but cut the top off and ‘plump’ the bag to give the greens more room. Many of the bags you buy greens in are already breathable.
- Keep greens in the plastic box-type container they came in. These boxes also have holes that provide some airflow. Be sure the leaves don’t get packed in or they will begin to rot underneath.
Finally, controlling any excess moisture will help to extend the shelf life of your favourite greens. Excess moisture will collect on leaves and create a perfect place for them to start rotting. Adequate air flow helps eliminate moisture, but you can also adding a piece of paper towel to absorb any excess moisture or use a towel to dry off heartier leaves like kale or romaine lettuce. If you like to wash your greens before you put them in the fridge make sure they are dry before you store them!
With spring now upon us, we get to enjoy a whole new crop of vegetables. Leeks are a great spring vegetable which can be used in many different ways. Here, we have developed a very tasty quiche that you can use them in, as well as your leftover Easter ham.
Ham and Leek Quiche
Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and cut into dry mixture with pastry cutter or two knives. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, beat together egg, vinegar, and cold water. Add to the flour mixture and stir together roughly with a fork so it comes together. You don't want to work the pastry too much; it's okay if it looks a bit shaggy when you're finished bringing it together.
Flour your work surface and turn out the pastry. Cut in half and work with one half at a time. Roll until pastry is about 1/4 inch thick. Once the pastry is rolled out, carefully use the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Gently press the pastry into the edges of the plate and leave any extra around the edges until it has been filled. The pastry is quite resilient, so if it cracks it can easily be repaired simply by bringing the two edges together and pressing. The key is to move as quickly as possible - you don't want to leave the pastry on the counter for too long once it has been rolled.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Once the pastry is ready, prepare your leeks. Wash and trim the dark green leaves. Slice thinly, about 1/8" thick, and saute over medium low heat until softened. This may take about 10-15 minutes and you can add some salt to draw out excess moisture. This will reduce the chances of your quiche turning out soggy.
Prepare ham by trimming excess fat and chopping into 1/2" pieces. The bottom of the pastry should be well covered with ham.
Break eggs into a bowl and add milk. Whisk together very well. You don't want any little pieces of yolk visible in the mixture. Season with freshly ground pepper. You can trim the edge of the pastry now, if needed.
Once leeks are finished, add to the pie plate and pour egg mixture over top. Place pie plate onto a cookie sheet, just in case the quiche bubbles over. Slide into oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. The filling will be set, but not solid. It should be a light golden brown on top and the pastry will be golden around the edges.
The pastry recipe is good for 2-9-inch pie crusts. Any extra pie crust can be stored in the fridge (up to 1 week) or freezer (up to 1 month), until you are ready to use it.
Spring has sprung and so has the asparagus!
Asparagus is one of the first vegetables grown in Manitoba to actually be ready for harvest. It’s picked in the spring (typically May-June) and if you head over to your local grocery store in the spring months you may even find some from your local farms! It’s also during these spring months when asparagus is at its most reasonable price.
When buying asparagus I like to look for thinner stalks because they are often more tender and less woody. I also like to look for bunches of all the same or almost the same diameter so that they all cook in about the same time.
A note on frozen asparagus: as with most veggies we would recommend buying frozen when asparagus is out of season. Frozen varieties are just as healthy as fresh and also usually a better price, especially when asparagus is not in season. Always take a quick minute at the grocery store to compare prices!
Store asparagus upright in some water in the fridge. You may notice that this is how they’re actually kept in some grocery stores. The container in the photograph below is great, it’s tall and can hold more than one bunch if necessary. This particular one is from Ikea but any tall container, including wide mouth mason jars will work.
How to Prepare
Easy Steam or Boil Asparagus
- Remove about half an inch of the ends.
- Cut into small pieces, halves, or leave whole.
- Add to steamer or steamer basket with a few inches of water underneath, or directly into a pot of water.
- Steam or boil for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to over cook or your asparagus will be mushy!
- Toss with about 1 tsp canola oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Easy Roasted Asparagus
- Remove about half an inch of the ends.
- Toss asparagus with canola oil and a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Spread out onto a baking sheet and top with 2-3 slices of lemon.
- Roast at 375F for 10-15 minutes.