Sunday, March 28, 2010

Organic Harvest Box, March 26, 2010

Here is our Life Organic Harvest Box for the week . . .

Strawberries! Although not locally grown in Ottawa at this time of year, it is always delightful to see a box of bright red strawberries in our harvest box. I came across a few interesting strawberry recipes you might want to try this week. Although I have not tried anything quite like this before, I am anxious to give this Strawberry, Pistachio, and Goat Cheese Pizza a go - I mean, really, how fantastic does that sound? If you're feeling ready to get in touch with the real chef within, serve up these Gorgonzol0-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Strawberry Gastrique and you will undoubtedly impress those you serve it to. I also like the mix of simple flavours in this Strawberry-Avocado Salsa - lovely served over chicken or pork tenderloin.

While on the look out for interesting recipes that use green onions, I stumbled upon a great new blog with lots of tasty recipes - Farmgirl Fare. I'll admit that it was the pictures that really sold me - check out this Sour Cream and Onion Dip and these Savory Cheese and Scallion Scones. Yeah, I know, impossible to resist. I also found this Three Onion and Three Cheese Pizza, but I wasn't able to actually find the green onions in it. Oh well - it looks divine and she includes a super recipe for home-made pizza dough. I'll definitely be trying it out. And lastly, if you've got a hankering to toss those green onions into a quiche, try this Shrimp, Shiitake Mushroom, and Green Onion Quiche for a rich and flavourful weeknight meal.

Farmgirl also shares a classic recipe for Super Spinach Soup, which is a great place to start with this week's fresh spinach. Or why not try this easy and very healthy Spinach Pilaf as a side dish? I also see this Swiss Chard and Artichoke White Pizza (sub swiss chard for spinach) in my future . . . I just love being able to incorporate veggies of all types into pizzas because I can usually get the kids to gobble them up.

My children are huge carrot lovers. They snack on carrot sticks at least twice a day, so I tend to get in the habit of not cooking with carrots and just serving them raw. My new goal is to try to make something once a week that incorporates carrots in a meal. And while I'm not convinced my husband and three kids will love this Hearty Lentil Soup with Carrots, Tomatoes and Smoked Sausage, I think I'm going to try it anyway! Perhaps these Carrot and Potato Latkes will be more there style.

What are your favourite carrot recipes? I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment and let us know!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

4 cups chicken stock
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup light cream (10%)

In a large pot, combine stock, squash, apples, onions, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove from heat and stir in cream. Allow soup to cool slightly.

In a food processor or blender, puree soup in batches until smooth, transferring each batch to a saucepan. Bring to a boil before serving.

Voila! A rich and tasty, healthy soup for all to enjoy. My family absolutely loves this.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Organic Harvest Box for March 19

This week's Organic Harvest Box is full of beautiful rich yellow and green colours!! Take a peek inside:

Wondering what a Kabocha Squash is? I found some great info on Kabocha Squash for you to take a look at. Kabocha Squash is healthy, delicious, and can be stored safely for a long time. Like so many from the squash family, Kabocha Squash is tastiest when simply roasted. Oven Roasted Kabocha Squash is both easy to make and yummy, and this Sweet and Spicy Roasted Kabocha Squash looks like a great choice for those taste buds with a little more flare! I also found this Simmered Kabocha Squash recipe and think it's another great idea for a side dish.

Some weeks when I receive a mango in my harvest box, I really hack it up and do a poor job of peeling it. It ends up being a jumbled mess and is difficult to cut and slice. Thankfully I stumbled upon a great technique for how to peel and eat a mango - it's really helpful. It's also worthwhile to read up on a brief history of the mango and the multiple health benefits of mangoes. After much searching I found a few new mango recipes this week that definitely caught my eye. I love the sound of these Ginger Mango Shrimp Kebobs, especially since we have fired up our barbecue a few times in the past couple weeks. This Mango Baked Squash also looks great, as well as this Indian-inspired Mango Curry. And without a doubt I'm going to try these Blackened Tuna Steaks With Mango Salsa - it got a fabulous rating on All and that is usually good news for those cooking.

I've mentioned before how good these Cajun Parsnip Fries are - they can't be beat and kids love them too! Well, these Butter Fried Parsnips might give my fries a run for their money. And I'm thinking I might be able to get my three kids to eat these Parsnip Patties - it's not hard to trick them into eating anything in "patty" form. I guess if it walks like a duck . . .
And a last couple of recipes to consider for your parsnips - a scrumptious Roasted Parsnip and Cauliflower Soup and a savory and tasty Roasted Vegetable Medley. Take your pick - you can't go wrong.

This week's spinach comes from the province of Quebec and looks so fresh and tasty. Spinach is a fantastic way to pack a meal full of nutrients, and it you don't believe me, take a look at all these health benefits of spinach. It was the appetizing photo that turned me on to this recipe for Edamame Beans, Chickpeas, Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach - it looks truly first-class. Another barbecue-friendly meal is these Spinach Burgers with Mushroom Sauce, which you could serve with a side of Spinach, Avocado, and Mango Salad (which uses three items from your harvest box all in one meal!). I also found this Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricots & Baby Spinach and thought it would make a terrific lunch or light evening meal.

Until next week . . . happy munching!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Organic Harvest Box for March 12

Sadly, there is no Organic Harvest Box photo this week - we were out for dinner celebrating my six year old's birthday, got home late and I totally started putting the produce away instead of taking a picture. If you're not a regular customer of Life Organic, you'll just have to trust me when I say it looks FANTASTIC!

I know that pears are often a regular part of the Harvest Box, and we usually just gobble them up instead of cooking them, because they are so sweet and delicious, but I wanted to share a few pear recipes with you. I urge you to give them a try, pears add a rich, wonderful flavour to any meal. I've shared this before, but this Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta is a family favourite of ours, and not at all difficult to make. I also have my eye on this Pear Stuffed Chicken with Walnut Rice as a lovely meal incorporating pears.

With this warmer, spring-like weather we're having, why not fire up your barbecue and whip up some Grilled Bartlett Pears - they are totally delicious! Bartlett Pear Muffins are a great choice for the bakers out there, and this Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Bartlett Pears is a fantastic new twist on ham and cheese sandwiches.

I came across some great green bean recipes this week, but I have to be totally honest with you. I am not really a fan of adding green beans to a "dish" of any sort. I really enjoy green beans just slightly cooked (still crunchy!) and sauteed with olive oil and salt and pepper. These Sesame Green Beans are delicious and so fast and easy to throw together. For the more adventurous green bean lovers, take a look at this Fassoulia - Green Beans with Ground Beef, Lemon, Green Bean and Celery Salad and Country Green Beans. Be sure to let me know if you give any of these recipes a try!

Kale is another food I prefer to be just cooked simply, like this recipe for Sauteed Kale - easy and delicious! I also like the looks of this vegan Red Kale Pasta as well as this Rustic Red Kale and White Bean Soup. And I'm hoping to try this Braised Kale with Pancetta this week - to break out of my comfort zone.

I absolutely adore fresh Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes! They're so colourful and tasty. I often toss cherry tomatoes in pasta . . . like in this Penne with Fresh Ricotta and Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes or Egg Noodles with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes. They are also great chopped up as a salad - just toss with some olive oil, goat cheese, herbs and salt and pepper. I also found this
Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Fennel and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing - definitely more elaborate but well worth the effort!

Enjoy your week and be sure to check in next time . . .

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Organic Harvest Box for March 5, 2010

The sun that has been shining in Ottawa the past few days is certainly paving the way for springtime and fresh and local organic food from the Ottawa area. Here is a look inside our organic Harvest Box for this week:

Blueberries!! Blueberries are super healthy and full of nutrition. They are widely known for their antioxidant capabilities and are ranked highest of all fruits and veggies for their ability to destroy free radicals. I guess you could call them the "superhero" of fruits! One of the best features of blueberries is how easy they are to include in recipes - just throw them into a fruit salad, a smoothie, a muffin recipe, and you're good to go! No peeling, pitting, coring necessary. Just wash and eat.

The BC Blueberry Council (a blueberry council?? how cool would that job be???) offers a list of fabulous recipes for blueberries, and I particularly liked their list of breakfast recipes. The Blueberry Stuffed French Toast is on my radar for an amazing weekend breakfast!

Wondering what that big turnip-looking root vegetable is in your harvest box?

It is a Celery Root or Celeriac. Celery root is a kind of celery grown as a root vegetable that tastes like celery and has a potato-like consistency. It is often mashed up or can be used raw, and grated in salads. I came across a few inspiring recipes for you. I'm planning on either trying this Celery Root and Potato Mash or even the Herb Grilled Chicken with Celery Root Puree, if I am a little more adventurous. And also take a look at the Celery Root Remoulade and Celery Root Salad - both look tasty and are not too difficult to prepare.

Now take a look at those delicious brown mushrooms. Crimini mushrooms are coffee-coloured and richer in flavour and nutrients than white button mushrooms. Try these tasty little mushrooms in an appetizing Maui Chicken or perhaps Marsala Chicken with Sage and Crimini Mushrooms. And for the vegetarians on our list, try your hand at these Red Lentil Burgers - they are packed full of nutrients and taste delicious too!

And, last but not least, grab those crispy green snow peas and toss them in a ,Shrimp and Snow Pea Salad , add them to a Spring Minestrone or dabble your dinner plate with this Pork and Pepper Stir Fry.

Have a wonderful week!! Check back in next week for more recipes . . .