Archive for the ‘fresh from the…’ Category

31 Fresh Recipes for Often Unloved Thanksgiving Vegetables

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

I love the farmers market in the summer, with the mountains of fragrant peaches and berries as far as the eye can see. But you just can’t beat the excitement of the market on the weekend before Thanksgiving, when shoppers pick up their happily-raised turkeys from favorite meat producers and load down market bags with all the locally-grown sweet potatoes and squash they can carry. It always makes me happy to see other vegetables getting their due, too — parsnips, turnips and Brussels sprouts, to name a few — veggies that often get a bad rap but are really so delicious if you just know how to prepare them. To that end, I put out a call to food blogging friends to share their recipes for these occasionally unloved vegetables. By the bounty of Brussels sprouts recipes I received, I think it may be a stretch to call them an unloved vegetable — but I’m always game to try a new variation and maybe one of these will help you coax a sprout-fearer at your Thanksgiving to give them a chance.

best thanksgiving vegetable recipes |



brussels sprouts

green beans




I’m still adding to this collection over on Pinterest, so head on over for even more recipe inspiration!

Follow Colleen | FoodieTots’s board Farmers Market Thanksgiving on Pinterest.

Do you have a go-to Thanksgiving vegetable recipe? We’d love to hear about it!

Cheesy Pumpkin Fondue

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Happy November! We’re enjoying some beautiful fall weather right now which is making it slightly easier to cope with the time change. In an effort to soak up every drop of sunshine that we can, we made another post-Halloween farm trip to Wayside Farm Fun in Berryville with good friends last weekend. It’s just not fall until you’ve been buried in a corn crib, after all!

Wayside Farm Fall Festival |

Or watched pumpkins dropped from the sky!

Wayside Farm Festival |

Hopefully you’ve spared a pumpkin from jack o’lantern carving to cook with — if not, it’s not too late to find one at the farmers market. These amazingly pastel heirloom pumpkins were actually spotted at Whole Foods, grown at another foodietots-favorite, Wegmeyer Farms in Hamilton, VA.

heirloom pumpkins wegmeyer farms |

As the weather turns colder, meals with gooey melted cheese seems to fall into heavier rotation in our weekly meal plan. We’re calling this one healthy though since it’s served in a vegetable! Pumpkin fondue cooked right in a carved out pumpkin makes for a fun presentation. I blanch broccoli spears and slice red peppers for dipping, along with cubed bread. And remember to scoop out the pumpkin flesh, too — save any leftovers to spread on toast the next morning.

Pumpkin Fondue |

Recipe: Pumpkin Fondue

Makes: 4-6 servings


  • 1 small pie pumpkin
  • 1 cup cubed wheat bread
  • 8 ounces Asiago cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Cubed bread, meat and/or vegetables for dipping


1. Cut top off of pumpkin and scoop out seeds and stringy interior. (Reserve seeds for roasting.) Place hollowed pumpkin in a shallow baking dish.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3. In a saucepan over medium low heat, whisk together the cream, stock and cornstarch. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture just begins to simmer. Then stir in nutmeg and add cheese, a little at a time, whisking until all the cheese is melted. Remove from heat.

4. Spread bread cubes in the bottom of the pumpkin. Pour cheese sauce over the bread and bake for about 45 minutes, until cheese sauce is bubbly and slightly golden brown. Pumpkin should be tender when pricked with a fork.

5. Serve with additional cubed bread and other desired dippers.

Note: Use caution when serving — the pumpkin will be hot! Be sure to use long-handled fondue forks, or skewers if you don’t have fondue forks. You can also spoon out some of the cheese sauce onto plates for younger children.

This recipe was originally created for Applegate.

Have you made your own pumpkin puree before? See how easy it is here. And then bake up some of these:

What are you excited to make now that cooler weather is here?

A note: I was recently interviewed by Foody Direct as part of their Expert Interview program. Click here to read the interview and let me know what you think!

Best Berry Picking Farms & Festivals

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the DC area, and the foodie tots tend to eat through our weekly market haul of berries well before I get a chance to cook with them. So a trip to the pick-your-own farm is essential for stocking up!

Here are a few favorite places to get out and pick your own berries in Northern Virginia:

strawberry patch at wegmeyer farms

  1. Great Country Farms: Bluemont, Va. (note: GCF charges admission, but is basically a farm adventure land for the kids. Check the website to see about special events.)
  2. Hollin Farms: Delaplane, Va.
  3. Wegmeyer Farms: Hamilton, Va. (see comments below)
  4. Butler’s Orchard: Germantown, Md.
  5. Shlagel Farms: Waldorf, Md.
  6. Westmoreland Berry Farms Oak Grove, Va. (on the Northern Neck, they serve barbecue fare and ice cream/strawberry shortcake in season)

foodie tots at Wegmeyer Farms, Va.

A few things to note for a successful berry picking trip:

  • Go early and ALWAYS call ahead to check picking conditions. The farms around here tend to get picked out quickly on nice summer days, and this weekend is sure to be busy.
  • Dress the kids in dark colors (or red) to avoid stains and wear appropriate footwear (e.g., not the flip flops my toddler refused to change out of. They were new, after all, and a girl can’t be separated from her new shoes.).
  • Bug spray and sunscreen/sun hats are a must.
  • You can’t plop a toddler down in a field of the freshest berries she’s ever seen and not expect her to nibble — so be courteous and round up your tab at check-out to cover any excessive in-field consumption.* And if you hope to have enough leftover for jam, you might want to buy twice what you think you’ll need.

Wegmeyer Farms is an easy under-60-minute drive from Arlington, and we love it for the younger kids in particular. The berry patch is a manageable size (and easy walking distance from parking) for younger kids. There are a couple picnic tables but unlike some of the larger farms (Great Country and Westmoreland have full-service concessions) you’ll have to pack your own lunch. {Update: Wegmeyer has three separate locations this year — Hamilton, Gilberts Corner and at Oaklands Plantation — visit their website for details.}

Hollin Farms is also an easy drive, off of I-66 at exit 23, and grows a variety of crops from berries to peaches, greens and even peanuts. They also practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) — while I’m not aware of any truly organic local pick-your-own farms, IPM farms typically use more natural/less synthetic pest control methods.

foodietots at delaplane strawberry festival

For more than just picking, two popular festivals take place this weekend, May 23 & 24 —

Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park, 10am to 5pm each day. Take a hay-ride, listen to live music, enjoy food and crafts, pony rides, games and more. Find our recap here.

& Great Country Farms Strawberry Jubilee, 9am to 6pm (but strawberry picking only from 9-11am) and next weekend, May 30-31. Features a Diaper Derby for crawling tots, a Strawberry Princess, strawberry shortcake and much more!

If my kids leave any, we’ll be making strawberry shortcake this weekend. You?

virginia grown strawberries

*The foodie tot heard the farmer say, “Go ahead and taste ’em,” and promptly shoveled three in her mouth.

Arcadia Farm Fallfest {Support School-to-Farm in Virginia}

Friday, October 4th, 2013

What’s even better than bringing farm-fresh foods to schools? Bringing school kids to the farm! The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is doing just that at its working farm on the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. The non-profit arm of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, produce grown at the Northern Virginia farm is sold via a converted school bus, the Mobile Market, which travels around DC providing access to fresh produce in under-served areas.

chickens on Arcadia Farm, Virginia | FoodieTots

I had the privilege of attending a summer dinner on the farm earlier this year, and toured the beautiful farm. Just take a look around the Children’s Garden:

Children’s Garden at Arcadia from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

Arcadia hosted kids farm camps over the summer, but now that school is in session they welcome schools to visit on field trips and offer family education programs on weekends. They’ve recently launched a brand new membership program to support all the good work they do. Members are given first dibs to sign up for culinary classes with master chefs and bakers from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and others in the local food scene. To see upcoming classes and join the cause, visit their website

Arcadia Farm Fallfest 2013

You can visit Arcadia Farm this Sunday, October 6, for their Farm Fallfest Family Frolic Funtacular. It will be held from 12 to 4pm at Woodlawn, 9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria.

Virginia Grown: Apple Picking at Stribling Orchards

Thursday, September 20th, 2012


We were recently in a small market in our neighborhood picking up one or two things, when the boy picked up a shiny red apple and tossed it in the basket. I admit I felt more than a little silly telling him to put it back — but we had a bag full of fresh, local apples at home. The last time we were in the same market, I let the kids buy two of the waxy, Grown in Washington labeled apples, only to have them take a few bites and toss the rest. My kids are apple junkies, but there’s no time like fall in Virginia to appreciate the difference between supermarket fruit and fresh, local varieties. There are a number of orchards within an hour or so drive from Washington, DC, but we tend to return to Stribling Orchard just off I-66 in Markham, Va.

picking apples at stribling orchard

Stribling has a couple perks that make it the ideal apple picking destination for the 5-and-under crowd:

  • You can pick up bags, but then drive into the area of the orchard where you want to pick.
  • Sticks. Sure, the small trees have plenty of fruit within easy grabbing reach, but these cool picking sticks can be used to reach the primo fruit up high. If you have boys, you know what a powerful draw this is!
  • Bathrooms. Actual running water bathrooms — for the essential hand washing before picnicking.
  • Food. On the weekends they set up a grill offering burgers and hot dogs, and sometimes full barbecue (ribs, chicken and pulled pork). There’s also the bakery and store where you can find fresh baked cider doughnuts, pies and preserves.

apple picking sticks at stribling

Of course, it can also be quite crowded on the weekends so try to arrive early and be prepared for lines at check out and those bathrooms. Here are a couple tips gleaned from our annual apple-picking adventures.

Tips for a Happy Apple-Picking Outing:

1. Hats and sunscreen are essential. Stribling, and many other local orchards, are on top of hills which offer gorgeous views — and full sunshine.

2. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting mucky and put kids in long pants. There’s a lot of spoiling fruit on the ground and the kids will be traipsing through tall grass and other brambly undergrowth.

3. Try to find the variety you most want first. Once kids get on a roll picking, there’s no slowing them down and they may fill their bag at the first tree.

favorite find at stribling orchard farm store

apple by nikki mcclureGIVEAWAY: So you’ve gone apple picking and now you’re wondering what to do with all those apples? I’ve started an Apple Fest board over on Pinterest. Pin your favorite apple recipe, then share a link in the comments here so I can repin it to the board — or tag your pin #foodietotsapplefest & I’ll find it!

Every apple recipe posted below or tagged on Pinterest will give you one chance to win a copy of the gorgeous book Apple by Nikki McClure. You can “like” FoodieTots on Facebook and leave an additional comment below for an extra entry (or note if you’re already a fan). Contest is open to US residents only and will close at 11:59pm Eastern on September 30. Good luck, and happy apple eating!

blue skies at stribling orchard