summer shepherd’s pie

lovely shepherd's pie

When you think of a comfort food dish like Shepherd’s Pie, usually you think of it as cold weather fare. But when you have a nice heapin’ helpin of garlic scape mashed potatoes as leftovers and you also have a pound of local, organic ground beef thawed and ready to goin your fridge, the two just cry out in unison, “Shepherd’s Pie, please!” And with all the great early summer veggies out there to throw into the mix, if the day isnt too hot to turn on the oven, how can you resist?

Summer Shepherd’s Pie
serves 4-6
3 cups mashed potatoes
1 lb organic ground beef
2-3 garlic scapes
2 whole green onions
3 mushrooms
2 small carrots, diced into pea-size chunks
1/3 cup peas
tsp butter
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onio powder
½ tsp paprika
2 Tblspn flour
2 Tblspn tomato paste
¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp balsalmic vinegar (optional)
1 cup organic beef broth

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. While the oven is warming, brown your pound of meat over medium-high heat in a large frying pan.

lovely shepherd's pie

3. While meat is browning, put mushrooms, onions, and garlic scapes in your food processor or dice very fine (note: you can also slice your mushrooms thick and enjoy their taste and texture in the meal, but my husband doesnt like mushrooms so I ‘sneak’ them in this way).

lovely shepherd's pie

4. When meat is browned but not overly done, remove from pan and set aside. Return pan to medium heat, melt your tsp of butter and saute your mushroom, onion, and scape mixture until soft and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.

lovely shepherd's pie

5. Add your peas and carrots. Saute, stirring often, for three minutes.

6. Return browned meat to the pan, and add all of the dry seasonings. Stir very well, and cook for three minutes.

7. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar, and stir well. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the contents of the pan and stir very well.

lovely shepherd's pie

8. Add your up of broth, bring contents just to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on low heat. Simmer 15 minutes, allowing the meat to tenderize and the sauce to reduce.

9. While the sauce is reducing, warm your left over mashed potatoes in a large saucepan with just a dash of milk to make them spreadable but not liquidy.

lovely shepherd's pie

10. After 15 minutes, place the meat mixture into a medium casserole dish. Scoop or, if you are really fancy, pipe warmed mashed potatoes on top. Sprinkle with paprika and melted butter if you wish and bake for 30 minutes.

lovely shepherd's pie

11. Note: I have yet to make the “perfect” shepherd’s pie where the sauce did not bubble up over the mashed potatoes at some point. I find if I put in any less liquid than the amount listed above, the mixture gets dried out and isn’t tender and tasty. But we don’t mind, because it still tastes great!

lovely shepherd's pie

This meal takes a little effort, but it is well-worth it, friends. Serve this with some crusty bread and a side salad, or a dish of fresh, local strawberries from your loft box and you have a fabulous summer meal. Bon Apetite!

-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife

photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller

garlic scape mashed potatoes

lovely garlic scape potatoes

This if my first year working with garlic scapes. I have been intimidated by them when I’ve seen them at farmers markets in year’s past, but as I received some in my local box this year I felt challenged to learn how to use these perfectly edible (and as it turns out perfectly delicious!) early summer vegetable. Teamed with some green onion, butter and sour cream, you’ve got the makings of some very tasty mashed potatoes!

Garlic Scape Mashed Potatoes
makes 2-3, easily doubled

10 new red potatoes
3 garlic scrapes
2 large green onions (whites and greens both)
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. Scrub, but do not peel, your potatoes. Cover with salted water in a large pot and boil until tender but not mushy.

lovely garlic scape potatoes
lovely garlic scape potatoes

2. While potatoes are boiling, dice fine your garlic scrapes and green onion (in fact, after I made this recipe I wish I had put them in the food processor, but a fine dice works nice, too).

lovely garlic scape potatoes

3. In a medium sauce pan, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat and saute the scrapes and onions until nice and tender, about 10 minutes.

lovely garlic scape potatoes

4. When your scrapes are tender, remove the pan from heat, and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan to allow it to melt.

5. When the potatoes are tender, drain and put them in a large mixing bowl. Pour the scrapes/melted butter combination over the potatoes.

6. Add sour cream, and, using your electric mixer, whip the potatoes well. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste, and mix again.

lovely garlic scape potatoes

I served these with baked chicken and Strawberry Salad on the side- a delicious early summer meal! I hope you have an opportunity to cook with garlic scrapes soon, including this great potato recipe. Enjoy!

-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife

photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller

strawberry salad

lovely strawberry salad

Sometimes I feel a little silly listing salad ingredients for a recipe, but I also think its good to remind people who might not think of it that you can put all kinds of delicious, seasonal ingredients, year-round, in a bowl with some lettuce and other salad staples and have a great meal or side dish. Salads do not have to remain in the boring old domain of iceburg lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, the kind of thing you often get served at restaurants. And with the growing season in full swing and so many great, fresh veggies in our local box, maybe this recipe will help you think “inside the box”, as it were, and make a delicious summer salad!

Strawberry Summer Salad
(I do not typically list amounts for salad ingredients, as it depends on your preference and how many you are preparing your salad for)
Red leaf lettuce
Green leaf lettuce
Raw fresh snap peas
Cucumber
Carrot (admittedly not in season in early summer- optional!)
Tomatoes
Green onions (just the green parts)
Strawberries
Strawberry Cream Vinaigrette

1. Rinse all of your veggies well, and the strawberries, too (be gentle!).

lovely strawberry salad
lovely strawberry salad

2. Tear lettuce, shell peas, shred carrots, dice your onion greens, and slice your tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries.

lovely strawberry salad
lovely strawberry salad

3. Add the strawberry cream vinaigrette and toss gently just before serving.

lovely strawberry salad

I served this as a side dish, but it would make a fantastic meal served with some cooked chicken or chilled black or kidney beans and some bread and butter. Enjoy!

-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife

photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller

bok choy

lovely bok choy

I am no expert in Eastern cuisine, and I am sure there are some lovely, elaborate bok choy recipes out there, but this is one I came up with that was super easy and tasted great. This is definitely going to be a new favorite of mine to help make home-made Chinese food meals seem more like the restaurant experience.

Easy Bok Choy
serves 3-4 as a side dish

1 head of Bok Choy
2 green onions
2-3 tablspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons diced garlic
2 teaspoons dried ginger
1 tsp corn starch
1 tblsp soy sauce
1 tsp water

1. Remove the bottom core of the head of bok choy and give the stems a very good rinse, removing all the diry and sand that collects in the ribs and the greens.

lovely bok choy

2. Seperate the greens from the stems. Dice the stems into half-moons approximately ½ inch thick (see photo). There will be some greens still attached at the top portions of the stems- that is fine.

lovely bok choy

3. Dice your green onion, white and green parts, and garlic.

4. In a large saucepan, heat your sesame oil and saute your onion and garlic on medium heat for just a minute or two. Add the stem pieces of the bok choy, and sprinkle with your dried ginger. Saute, on medium heat, stirring frequently, about five minutes.

lovely bok choy

5. While the bok choy stems are sauteing, chop the greens but not too fine- they cook down quite a bit in the pan. After the stems have sauteed for five minutes, add the greens and stir in completely. I like to add about a tablespoon of water at this point just to help the greens wilt and not stick to the bottom of the pan.

6. While this greens and stems are cooking, in a small bowl combine your corn starch, soy sauce, and water, and stir until smooth.

7. Saute for about five more minutes until the stem portions are pretty tender, add your soy sauce mixture and stir well.

8. Saute on low heat for just a few minutes more, allowing the soy sauce to flavor the bok choy and the “sauce” it created to thicken just a bit.

lovely bok choy

As with many of these kinds of dishes, you could easily make this a one-pot meal by adding some protein like tofu or cooked chicken. Or serve this as a side dish the next time you are trying your hand at home-made Asian food. Enjoy!

-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife

photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller

early summer saute

lovely saute

What’s great about the growing season kicking into gear is that you get to just open up your fridge and pick from a great green bounty, chop stuff up, and saute it in a pan with a bit of fat, a bit of acid, and a bit of seasoning, and you’ve got a fabulous dish. If you want to make it a meal, just add a bit of protein into the mix. The following is one such dish I whipped up this week from goodies in my local box, and you could easily make this a one-pot meal by adding cooked chicken or cannalleni beans.

Early Summer Saute
serves two as a side dish

lovely saute

1 tblspn butter or olive oil
1 tsp diced garlic
3 green onions
4 asparagus spears
4 mushrooms
1 zucchini
1 tsp dried basil (or fresh basil would be even better!)
juice of ¼ of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese (optional)

lovely saute

1. Dice your green onion, white and green parts included. In a large saucepan, saute your garlic and green onion your butter on medium low heat until the white part of the onion starts to get a little glassy.

lovely saute

2. While your onions are sauteing, slice your other veggies into nice bite-size pieces (see above photo).

lovely saute

3. Add your the asparagus, mushrooms, and zucchini to the pan. Sprinkle your basil evenly over your veggies and stir. Saute on medium heat for five minutes.

4. Add lemon juice and continue cooking until the veggies are tender-crisp, no more than 10 minutes all together.

lovely saute

Salt and pepper to taste to finish this easy early summer side dish, and if you have some real Parmesan cheese to shave on top, even better! Bon Appetit!

-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife

photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller

last few things


Well I told you the cabbage was stressing me out and it remains in the fridge, untouched. Now I also have two weeks’ worth of beets in there. For some reason I’m not excited about the idea of eating beets lately, though I do love them. The good news is there’s one bunch of golden and one red, so they’ll make a beautiful dish of some kind when I get around to them. I refuse to let it any of it go to waste so I promise to have some ideas for you next week.

As for the rest, those gorgeous peppery radishes, crunchy carrots and green and yellow beans are tasting good just cut up with dip for lunches or to round out an easy supper.
If you try this dip here (which I’m going to make for a friend’s baby shower this weekend), you’ll also use up a couple of sweet potatoes. Super healthy, kid friendly, and yummy.

Speaking of sweet potatoes, I used a couple more of those — and that green onion bunch — making this recipe here. We had it with some marinated flank steak for dinner. Delish.

radish
green onion

– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.