Country Spoon

Garden to Table in Cayuga County

Category: Appetizers

Southwest Tostadas & Avocado Crema

Beat the long winter and cabin fever with these festive and lively rolled tostadas. Loaded with chicken, black beans and a little heat… pair the tostadas with a light and cool avocado crema for dipping.  Perfect as a meal or a fun game day appetizer – Let’s GO Syracuse!

Southwest Tostadas & Avocado Crema:

12 small flour tortillas

1 large chicken breast – thinly sliced

1 t. salt

1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper

1 T. olive oil

1 c. frozen corn

1 c. black beans – drained

3/4 c. roasted red peppers – chopped

1/4 t. cumin

1/2 t. hot Mexican style chili powder

1 t. chili pepper paste

2 c. shredded Mexican style cheese

olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 425. Prepare chicken and season with 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. black pepper. In a large skillet heat 1 T. olive oil, add chicken and brown on all sides.  Add corn, black beans and roasted red pepper to skillet.  Stir in cumin, chili powder and chili pepper paste.  Let simmer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds or until warm and soft.  Spoon about a 1/4 of a cup of chicken mixture on each tortillas, top with a sprinkling of Mexican cheese mix.  Fold the bottom up and then roll each side in.  Place fold side down on cookie sheet.  Brush each roll with olive oil and bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Serve immediately with avocado crema.

Avocado Crema:

1 ripe avocado – pitted and removed from peel

1/2 c. sour cream

2 T. fresh lemon juice

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. black pepper

In a food processor combine the above ingredients and pulse until smooth.


Cheesy Chard Dip

There is nothing like hot bubbly cheese on crackers…This dip makes for the perfect dish to pass for any party or celebration, especially a surprise party. My older brother is turning 30 and as a dairy farmer, I could not skimp on the cheese, but he is still eating greens!  Happy 30th Luke!

Cheesy Chard Dip:

1 bunch of tender green swiss chard

4 large garlic cloves – minced

2 T. butter + more for baking dish

1 c. light sour cream

1/2 c. mayo

1/2 lemon – freshly juiced

1  1/2 c. extra sharp cheddar cheese – shredded

1/2 c. pecorino romano cheese – finely shredded

1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 c. panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. In a skillet over low heat, melt 1 T. butter.  Once melted, add minced garlic and saute 3-4 minutes until fragrant and slightly golden.  Set aside to cool.  In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayo, lemon juice, cheeses, toasted garlic from skillet, black pepper and red pepper. Chop swiss chard into fine pieces, you will have roughly 3-4 cups. This will make it much easier to scoop!

Mix chopped swiss chard into cheese mixture and pour into a buttered baking dish. Return skillet to medium heat and melt 1 T. butter. Once melted, add panko bread crumbs.  Stir, while scrapping garlic bits from bottom of skillet for about 1 minute.  Top chard and cheese mixture with panko and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, uncovered.  Enjoy warm out of the oven with pitas, toasted bread or crackers. 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Now that the temperature has cooled down a bit… turn on the heat in your oven! Tomatoes, garlic and onions truly come to the perfect melody of flavors roasting at high heat.  Sprinkle with some fresh basil and serve with warm crusty bread and devour the last taste of summer! This recipe is a great way to use up some of your crop and it will freeze well too. 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes:

10 – 15 plum tomatoes (I prefer San Marzanos)

2 small yellow onions – thinly sliced

4 -5 large garlic cloves – smashed

1/2 t. sea salt

1/4 t. freshly cracked black pepper

good olive oil

fresh basil


Preheat oven to 500.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Slice onions and smash garlic – set aside.  Half or quarter tomatoes, depending on size, and lay on lined cookie sheet. Add onions and garlic to tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil – Just a light coating will do Sprinkle tomatoes, onions and garlic with salt and pepper.  Roast in preheated oven for about 1 hour, turning once or twice.  The edges will begin to brown.  Remove tomato mixture from oven.  Let cool slightly and top with freshly torn basil to taste.  Serve with warm crusty bread, hot fresh pasta or enjoy with some grilled chicken. 

Beer Battered Fried Squash Blossoms

Zucchini and summer squash season is just starting to pick up. If you can’t wait for the fruit – try the blossoms and kick off another great American holiday with these simple, freshly fried treats. Great for BBQs when a little extra beer can be spared for a light and fluffy batter – Happy 4th of July everyone!

Beer Battered Fried Squash Blossoms:

10 to 12 squash blossoms – stamens removed

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. beer of choice

1/2 t. salt

1/4 c. vegetable oil

freshly cracked black pepper

coarse sea salt

minced chives

Start by removing stamens from squash blossoms. It is easiest to reach inside with two fingers and pinch… keeping an eye open for ants and small bugs – a water cup nearby helps to handle them! In a heavy skillet heat oil over medium to high heat until hot and a tiny pinch of flour sizzles when sprinkled in. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, beer and salt. Dip squash blossoms in beer batter until lightly coated and place on a plate.

When oil is ready and hot, work in batches of 3 to 4 blossoms and fry battered squash blossoms until golden, turning once. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper, coarse sea salt and freshly minced chives and serve immediately. These are great served with a spicy homemade salsa…

Smashed Pea Crostini


Sweet, tender and bright – green peas are the ultimate springtime food. To make them even more irresistible – mash them with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil then spread over a warm crusty piece of stretch bread. This makes a great appetizer or side on a light meal and will leave your guests asking “what is that?” Peas!

Smashed Pea Crostini:

16 oz. fresh or frozen peas

1 garlic clove – quartered

1 T. olive oil + more for bread

pinch of table salt

freshly cracked black pepper

coarse sea salt for serving

1 loaf fresh stretch bread – sliced

In a medium sauce pan, combine 1/2 c. water with garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring mixture to a boil and add peas. Let simmer until peas are tender – about 4 minutes. Strain peas, while reserving the cooking liquid. Add cooked peas to a food processor. Pulse peas adding half of the reserved liquid until a semi smooth paste forms. Meanwhile, drizzle stretch bread with olive oil and broil until crisp and browned around the edges. Spread smashed peas over hot toasted bread and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Toasts to Spring!

Baked Artichoke Dip

Baked artichokes with asiago cheese – no game day party can go without this special treat and it is very easy to through together in a pinch.  Fresh lemon juice and basil brighten up this creamy dip.  Perfect with toasted pitas – Happy Super Bowl!

Baked Artichoke Dip:

1 c. finely shredded asiago cheese

3/4 c. mayo – I like to use olive oil mayo

2 cloves of garlic – minced

1 small yellow onion – finely chopped

2 c. drained and chopped artichoke hearts (in brine)

1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper

1 T. chopped fresh basil

1/2 c. butter crackers or panko bread crumbs

olive oil

cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a small crock or gratin baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine cheese, mayo, garlic and onion.  Add the artichokes, lemon juice, black pepper and basil.  Pour mixture into baking dish and top with crackers/bread crumbs and drizzle lightly with good olive oil.  Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden and bubbly.  Serve with toasted pita chips – Enjoy!



Christmas Olive Cheese Log

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, dishes to pass and grazing. Try this simple soft cheese spread packed with flavorful black olives, kalamata and Spanish manzanilla olives.  Easy to prepare and guaranteed to be a hit.  Merry celebrating!

Christmas Olive Cheese Log:

1  16 oz. container light cream cheese

1 c. crumbled blue cheese

1  6 oz. can pitted black olives – drained and chopped

1/2 c. Spanish manzanilla olives – drained and chopped

1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives – drained and chopped

1/4 c. sweet vadalia onion – finely chopped

In a stand mixer bowl, combine cream cheese and blue cheese. Cream together on low speed until blended. Drain and chop all of the olives and pat dry with some paper towels. Add olives to mixer bowl. Finely chop onion and add to olive cheese mixture and mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides of bowl when needed. Roll out wax paper on counter and add cheese mixture on top of paper. Fold up one side of the paper to flatten down and ball and press and roll into a log form. Chill in refrigerator for several hours.  Serve with crackers or toasted pitas.