Roasted Garlic and Herb Butter

Fresh herbs and roasted garlic

Fresh herbs and roasted garlic

Wednesday was week 13 of our CSA at Ryder Farm and I think it was the first week we did not get garlic in our batch.  We did receive garlic chive blossoms and that will have to be a whole other post when I can figure out what to do with those beautiful things.  In the spring we would get lots of garlic scapes and I would fry them up with eggs or veggies.  Then we started getting whole heads of garlic about week 4 or 5.  They are never those gigantic ones you see in the store but they are absolutely delicious.  Never bitter and they last forever. Now that we are getting towards the end of the season, I had an entire draw full of about 20 heads of garlic.*  Believe me it wasn’t because I refrained from putting garlic in everything either.  I decided to roast them and make a garlic and herb butter thanks to my sister’s suggestion.

I froze my butter so I am ready to season my Thanksgiving turkey.


  • 10 to 20 heads of garlic (depending on size)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter softened
  • herbs (I used a combination of rosemary, thyme and sage)

Cut off the tips of the heads of garlic, place on a stone or roasting pan and bake in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove the garlic, let cool and then squeeze out the garlic into a mixing bowl.  Mix the garlic paste into the softened butter and finely chopped herbs. Roll the butter into a log and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the butter to use within the week or freeze for a later time.

Roasted garlic and herb butter log.

Roasted garlic and herb butter log.

*TIP: Never store garlic in the refrigerator.  Always store in a dark, cool place like a drawer, cabinet or pantry to prevent mold.




This has been a great year for tomatoes at the farm.  We have received cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, grape tomatoes, yellow tomatoes and even striped green tomatoes.  My favorites were the purplish green cherry tomatoes.  I even got a giant bag of big ugly red tomatoes from the neighbor next door.  They were great cooked with zucchini and peppers.

Last week we got tomatillos in our basket.  They look like green tomatoes with a husk on the outside that looks almost like an onion skin.  The best use for these tomotillos is to make a salsa verde.  I didn’t have any herbs left so I just made a roasted tomatillo marinade for steak.  It was so simple and fresh.  I added a green hot chili pepper because it was what I had on hand from the CSA.  You can use a jalapeno for more heat or leave it out completely


  • 1 lb tomatillos
  • 1 large green hot chili pepper
  • juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper


  • heat oven to 400 degrees
  • peel outer husk off tomatillos
  • cut tomatillos and pepper in half and place on stone or roasting pan
  • roast for 10 to 12 minutes until skin starts to brown
  • place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until all ingredients are combined.

Most recipes call for cilantro but I left it out.

I grilled a London Broil, sliced it into thin strips and then marinated the strips in the salsa verde for an hour.  I used the steak for burritos for dinner with rice, beans, lettuce and sour cream on flour tortillas.  It gave the meat a fresh flavor without having to add any store bought sauce or dressing.

Slice steak in a tomatillo marinade.

Slice steak in a tomatillo marinade.

CSA Pickup Day 1

First CSA pick up of the season

First CSA pick up of the season

It’s finally that time!  The time of year when we pick up our weekly share from Ryder Farm.  Our pick up is every Wednesday anytime after noon.  Since the farm is over 20 minutes away from us we make a day out of it and walk around the farm.  We get to see the progress of the crops, we visit the chicken coup (my little one’s favorite part of the visit) and we get exercise.  We sometimes even stay long enough for a picnic.

For those of you not familiar with how a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) works,  I will go over how our specific share works.  We have been a part of the Ryder Farm CSA since 2010.  We pay for the the full 16 weeks in February.  We pay the farm up front and share in the risk or reward.  I can tell you that we have not been disappointed. This is because we make do with whatever crops are in abundance.  A few years ago I had more peppers than I knew what to do with but missed out on tomatoes due to the rain.

Some CSA programs require participants to volunteer a small amount of time either in the field or with sales help at a farmers market or store.  Our CSA does not require this.  Good thing because they don’t want me anywhere near their crops other than to admire or cook them.

Lettuce, kale, garlic, scallions, dill, taragon

Lettuce, kale, garlic, scallions, dill, tarragon

We got an abundance of greens in our bag today.  Lettuce, kale, pac choy, chard, spring garlic, scallions, dill and tarragon.  I have red and green lettuce for my daily salad and grilled chicken but today I was excited to get lots of these greens into a delicious soup.  My girls will eat anything when it is in soup.  Also because of my Crohn’s disease for some reason my body digests vegetables better when they are cooked a while in a soup.   I added some cooked diced potatoes to their bowls and lots of grated Romano cheese.  Some homemade croutons added an extra special touch too.



  • 1/2 pound of diced chicken
  • 1 head of spring garlic chopped
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 bunch of pac choy
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • diced carrots
  • 2 tbs chopped tarragon


In a heavy saucepan, saute garlic and chicken pieces just until chicken starts to brown.  Add scallions and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add washed and chopped pac choy and chard and wilt for about another 2 minutes.  Add stock and any other veggies (I added some frozen carrots) and simmer with a lid on for about 1/2 hour.

Serve just as it is or you can pour over cooked potatoes rice or pasta that has been cooked separately.  As you can see my girls were very happy!

"Lots of grated cheese please."

“Lots of grated cheese please.”

"More chicken please"

“More chicken please”

There may be some room left for a share at Ryder Farm.  You get download their form at 

There are many CSA programs to choose from in Westchester and the Hudson Valley but here are some that I know of in addition to Ryder Farm:     

(Hudson Milk delivers my milk, chicken and dairy but I do believe they participate in a CSA program with local farmers.)

Ryder Farm

The Diet

It’s been 7 weeks since I have posted anything here.  That is because I have been on a diet and have not been too inspired to cook recently.  As many of you know, I have Crohn’s Disease so dieting is extra challenging for me but luckily my gastroenterologist is guiding me every step of the way.  My diet is high protein and liquid based so my body is able to absorb vitamins, something that I usually have a hard time with due to my Crohn’s.  I was not happy about going on this diet but I had no choice.  I have severe joint pain due to Crohn’s inflammation and my doctor wanted to avoid more steroids.  We figure if I carry less weight, that will at least help my joint pain a bit.

I have lost 25 pounds so far in 7 weeks.  Yes that sounds like a lot but that has only officially gotten me out of the “obese” category on the BMI chart in the doctor’s office.  Another 25 to go and I will only be overweight.  Who makes these stupid charts anyway?

I do get one meal a day that consists of a portion of veggies, preferable leafy greens and 8 ounces of a lean meat.  Salad with grilled chicken gets old really fast so I have been obsessed with coming up with meals that I can really enjoy since it’s my one meal a day. I make a lot of kale, spinach, asparagus and zucchini.  My protein is usually chicken either grilled, baked or poached.  I sometimes splurge and get fresh tuna or flounder.  In a pinch I have to have a can of tuna.  I sometimes cheat and have an omelette.  I miss my morning eggs more than anything else.

Some things I have learned while being on this diet….

  • My kids really do eat junk because I am not allowed to have anything they eat.  This diet has forced me to notice even more than before how much processed food we actually eat.  Even things that are labeled “natural” or “healthy” are still not REAL FOOD!
  • Cutting sugar out of my diet COMPLETELY is a big deal.  In this diet I have also cut out natural sugar including fruit.  I can’t tell you the crazy roller coaster a body goes on when sugar is cut out.  Good thing my diet allows caffeine or else I might have turned into the Hulk!  I am going to try to keep sugar out of this house as much as possible.  Yeah, that might be impossible with all these birthdays coming up but we can try.  Oh and I still prefer sugar over those fake sweeteners.
  • Drinking water is the best thing for you.  I drink so much water on this diet.  One because my doctor tells me its so important and two because I can’t eat anything.  I notice that if I feel tired or in a slump, a giant glass of water really does pick me up.
  • I REALLY love cheese!  First thing I am eating after this diet is over.

Being on a diet and cooking for the kids is probably the most difficult thing.  The only way to see if the pasta is done is to taste it right?

Well good news is the weight is melting away.  The bad news is the joints still hurt as bad as before.  Dieting is not easy but eating healthy, real food is.  I am trying to teach my family (and myself) to enjoy good healthy food and leave all the junk, especially sugar, alone.  Luckily I get to pick up my first batch of food tomorrow from my CSA at Ryder Farm.  The recipes should get interesting again.




White Bean and Asparagus Soup

White Bean and Asparagus Soup

White Bean and Asparagus Soup

It’s that time of year when fresh spring vegetables are coming in to season yet it’s still cold enough to have a nice bowl of soup for dinner.  Asparagus is a vegetable that can be found year round but it is in abundance and extremely affordable in the spring.   I like to use my white beans for dips or with pasta but today I decided to make a soup with the left over ham bone from Easter. This soup can be made with or without the ham bone however.   I typically make pea soup or lentils with a ham bone but wanted something to go with asparagus.  I think the white beans and the asparagus went great together.  The result was a creamy soup that was full of flavor.  It is low fat and full of vitamins.


  • 1 lb of dry white (great northern) beans
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 6 cups of water or stock (I used a mixture of chicken and asparagus stock*)
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus
  • salt and pepper (if using water instead of stock)

Dry beans need to be prepared.  They can be soaked overnight in 8 cups of cold water for at least 8 hours.  OR do what I do and add 8 cups of hot water, boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour.  Either way, drain and rinse the beans before adding them to your cooking liquid.  I know it’s a lot of work but dry beans are only pennies per portion.

In a large stock pot saute onions and garlic in olive oil until they are softened.  Add the prepared beans and stock then simmer on low with the lid on for about 1 hour.  I added a ham bone as well but this is optional.  Cut the asparagus into small pieces and add during the last 20 minutes of cooking.  Remove some of the asparagus tips for garnish.  Let the soup cool a bit and blend in a blender or use an emulsifying wand.

Great Northern Beans

Great Northern Beans

White Beans and Asparagus before blended.

White Beans and Asparagus before blended.










Whenever I cook asparagus, I save the tough bottoms to make a stock.  Just simmer the stems with onions, celery and garlic in water for at least an hour.  Add a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Strain the stock and discard the rest of the ingredients.  I freeze the stock to use in soups or to cook rice.

Freeze small portions of asparagus stock.

Freeze small portions of asparagus stock.

Surprise Spring Break Picnic

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day off with the girls than at the park!

Last week was spring break in our school district.  Yes, we actually got a few days off unlike other districts in the area who were extremely affected by hurricane Sandy and a number of snow storms.  We only lost one day so we got an entire week off.  All of my children’s activities this week were also on break so we truly had an entire week off.  We filled it with family visits, sleep overs and LOTS of cooking.  We made our traditional Easter pie with my family and we also hosted Easter dinner with my husband’s family.  Vacation was full of running around and traveling, so I am glad that we had one day in the middle of the week where we did nothing but play.

The girls enjoying a picnic lunch.

The girls enjoying a picnic lunch.

I had to make a quick run over to Ridgefield, CT which is about a 30 minute drive from our house.  I thought we would just go and come right back and maybe just play at our local park or ride bikes in the back yard.  On our way to Ridgefield we drove past the coolest looking park in Lewisboro and both kids were begging to go there.  I thought, why not?  Other than the the fact that there was a sign stating the park was for residents only, there was no reason why we couldn’t go. We didn’t have to be anywhere for the rest of the day.

I found the cutest market called Nature’s Temptations.

Fresh fruit, hummus, cheese, bread and pretzels.

We got bananas, an apple, an avocado, hummus (made at the market), cheddar cheese, pretzels, bread and butter.  I grabbed a plastic knife at the market and we cut everything up as we ate it at the park.

We spent over two hours at the park that day.  It was a little cold for spring break weather but the kids never felt the cold because they were running around so much.  We all had such a nice time.  There was no pressure to be anywhere, no cooking for me, no rules.  Just fun!

Just hanging around Yeeha!

Coloring Easter Eggs with Food

Coloring Eggs with FoodColoring Eggs with Food

I can’t believe I am writing this post while there is 3 inches of snow on the ground, but it is that time of year to color eggs for Easter.  I am getting a head start because this year I wanted to try coloring my eggs with food items instead of the dye that is sold for coloring eggs.  I don’t think I really have to worry too much about the chemicals getting through the shells if I chose to use the typical dye used for coloring eggs but why not use natural food items if I can.  It was so easy and the food used was eaten for dinner tonight.

Some foods worked better than others and I was surprised with the colors I actually wound up with.  I probably didn’t let the eggs sit long enough but I was doing this with a two year old’s “help”.  For the most part, each egg sat for about 10 minutes.  I am sure the colors could have been darker if I put them in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight.

Boil your eggs in advance and add some vinegar to the water so the color sticks better.  I make hard boiled eggs by placing them in a pot of COLD water.  As soon as the eggs come to a boil, cover for ten minutes.  Immediately drain and cool in cold water.  Dry eggs completely before coloring.  I boiled my eggs the day before.

Onion Skins

Onion Skins = GOLD

Peel the outer layer of skins from a yellow onion and place in a glass bowl.  Pour boiling water over skins and wrap around egg in bowl and soak for 10 minutes.










Coffee = BROWN

Make a strong pot of coffee and soak the egg in the coffee.  Easy!!








Curry Powder


Curry Powder = YELLOW (speckled)

Pour boiling water over 2 tbs of curry powder.  Soak for at least ten minutes.







Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper Egg

Cayenne Pepper = ORANGE (speckled)

Pour boiling water over 2 tbs of cayenne pepper.  Soak for at least ten minutes.









Blueberry EggBlueberries = BLUE PURPLE SWIRL

This was my favorite!!!  Smash up 1/2 cup of blueberries, pour some boiling water to get the colors going.  Turn the egg around quite a bit.  Soak for at least 5 minutes.









Beets = PINK

Peel and slice fresh beets.  I used 3.  Use enough water to cover the beets.  Boil for about 10 minutes.  Pour the water out to a glass bowl and soak egg for at least 20 minutes.  This may need more time in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight.







Red Cabbage Egg


Red Cabbage = BLUE  (YES, That’s right!  BLUE!!!)

This one surprised me.

Slice up a head of red cabbage, add enough water to cover cabbage and boil for about 10 minutes.  Add vinegar during the last 2 minutes of boiling.  Pour water into glass bowl and soak for anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.  The eggs will be purple at first but will dry a powder blue.  Oh and cabbage makes a great side dish.  Don’t get rid of it.





Frozen Grape Juice

Grape Juice Egg

Frozen Grape Juice = PURPLE/BLUE

Soak egg in straight frozen grape juice concentrate.  I used about 1/2 of the container and used the rest to make juice.  You only need to soak the egg for about 5 minutes.  It’s a bit sticky when it dries.

Spinach Egg

Spinach = GREEN

This was a flop.  I used frozen spinach and I think I need to use fresh.  It was a little green however.  I boiled the spinach and soaked the egg in the water and spinach.









Coloring Easter EggsMy Assistant


I am doing this again next week with the 7 year old.  I would love to hear any suggestions anyone has.  My 7 year old was underwhelmed with the colors and wanted something a little more vibrant.  Hopefully she will have a bit more patience than my 2 year old and we will be able to let the eggs sit a little longer.

At least I have a head start on the eggs for my Easter Pie.

Happy Easter!