Caprese Bites

Caprese Bites

As fall arrives, many of us are struggling with an overload and excess of tomatoes – many shapes and sizes.  Some beefsteaks and most likely some lovely sweet cherry tomatoes.  In my family, those cherry tomatoes are just as good as candy – we all pop them in our mouths, sometimes fresh off the plant!

This appetizer is a great way to use some of those tomatoes in a classic combination, in appetizer size – caprese salad bites.

 

 

Caprese Bites
Serves 5
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Ingredients
  1. 10 basil leaves
  2. 10 cherry tomatoes, various colours
  3. 10 mini bocconcini balls
  4. balsamic vinegar (optional)
  5. olive oil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pull out 10 longer sized toothpicks.
  2. On each toothpick, stack a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, and a cheese ball.
  3. Place or stack on serving plate of your choice.
Notes
  1. This recipe is very easy to scale up (or down) depending on your party size. If you are making it for yourself, then the sky is the limit!
  2. If you want to make it a bit more fancy, you could either drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top, or place it on the side for dipping. Both those flavours complement the cheese and tomatoes very well, making it a classic combination.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles

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

Small Batch Refrigerator Pickles
This quick and easy refrigerator pickle recipe makes about one 2-cup mason jar of pickles.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 lb cucumbers, sliced
Brine
  1. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  2. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  3. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  4. 1/2 cup water
  5. 1/2 cup vinegar
  6. 1 tsp pickling spice
Instructions
  1. Add sliced cucumbers to a sterilized 2-cup mason jar, set aside.
  2. Add brine ingredients to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Pour brine over cucumbers.
  4. Allow jar to cool for about 1 hour and then refrigerate for up to 2 months.
Notes
  1. 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/
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How to Grill Vegetables

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

How to Grill Vegetables

  1. 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.
  2. Set your BBQ to about medium heat. We like to turn the grill on, scrub it clean, then start cooking. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).

How to Grill Vegetables

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Sauteed Spinach

Sauteed Spinach

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.

Sauteed Spinach

Sauteed Spinach
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Ingredients
  1. 6 oz spinach
  2. 3 cloves of garlic
  3. 2 tbsp canola oil
  4. 1 tbsp lemon juice, preferably fresh
Instructions
  1. Heat canola oil in non-stick saute pan over medium heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Add spinach to the pan and saute. The spinach will shrink down immensely; it will only take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice to the pan, put a lid on the pan and let the spinach steam for 1-2 minutes.
Notes
  1. 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.
  2. 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!

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How to Freeze Rhubarb

How to Freeze Rhubarb

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.

How to Freeze Rhubarb

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.

How to Freeze Rhubarb

Find more rhubarb facts from Getty Stewart here.

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How to Store Leafy Greens

How to Store Leafy Greens

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!

Storage Temperature

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.

Air Flow

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.

How to Store Leafy Greens

Moisture Control

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!

How to Store Leafy Greens

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