Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago

I’m watching Ever After as I work on this post. See?

Photo editing is fun. But photo editing whilst watching the beautiful Drew Barrymore play a strong-minded, philosophical, introspective Cinderella in a period piece set in France? WAY fun.

The library scene. And the scene when she shows up in that sparkling, white gown with the translucent butterfly wings? I die. And then… oh gosh, just go & watch.

So… back to pasta. And pesto.

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago | Pumpkin Honey

I promised a pesto recipe! And here it is!

It’s a versatile recipe so make it your own.

You could substitute goat’s cheese & the veggies of your choice. Kale would be an excellent substitute.

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago | Pumpkin Honey

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago | Pumpkin Honey

This pasta was yummmmy.
The lemon gives it a WHAM of brightness.
The peas add little POPs of sweetness.
And the cheese provides a savory KAPOW of saltiness.
So basically what I’m saying is this pesto pasta is the equivalent of a comic book superhero.

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago | Pumpkin Honey

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach, and Asiago

1 Pound Fusilli Pasta
1 Cup Garlic Scape Basil Pesto (or to taste)
1 Cup Peas, fresh or frozen
1 Cup Cooked Spinach
1/2 Cup Grated & Sliced Asiago Cheese
2 Tablespoons Toasted Pine Nuts
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of 1/2 to 1 Lemon, according to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, a dash of salt, & a drizzle of olive oil to the boiling water. Cook pasta according to directions. Add the peas 3 minutes before pasta is finished. If the spinach is frozen, add to the boiling water 1 minute before pasta is finished. Strain the pasta & peas and return to hot pot.

 Add pesto, grated cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir thoroughly to coat all of the pasta. I like to do a stir/toss combo.

Stir spinach in now if freshly cooked. Top with pine nuts.

Eat by the heaping spoonful.

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Peas, Spinach and Asiago | Pumpkin Honey

Pairs well with Lemonade or Iced Mint Tea.

So tell me, what do you like to do with your pesto??

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey

How wonderful is seasonal produce? It’s fresh, vibrant, and you can find it locally. The basil in this pesto came from the farmer’s market this morning. And the garlic scapes came in an organic box from Washington Green Grocer. WGG is like an interesting spin on the CSA (community supported agriculture). While not all of their produce is organic or local (or even national), a large portion is and you can order a local or organic box. And they deliver it to your door. Plus they’re very flexible about swaps and they offer a lot of add-ons. It’s really an excellent service that provides excellent products. For most, I definitely advocate using a traditional CSA that comes from an organic farm nearby and buying from local, producers-only farmer’s markets. However, if this is not an option (i.e. if it’s the middle of the season, no farms nearby, no sustainably grown produce, etc.) a group like Washington Green Grocer is a great alternative. They also have an excellent web design that’s easy to use and have a blog with recipe suggestions! I also hear Hometown Harvest is a good organization in the MD area with a similar model.

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey

This pesto is everything you want in your pesto.

There’s the traditional basil, the fun of garlic scapes, and the flavor enhancers: red pepper flakes for a kick & red wine vinegar for a tiny little punch.

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey

 Key is high quality produce. You could smell this basil across the kitchen. And the scapes were nice and firm.

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey


Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto

1 Large Bunch Basil (About 2 Cups Loosely Packed)
5 Large Garlic Scapes
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1/4 Cup Walnuts
1/4 – 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tsp Red Wine Vinegar
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Tsp Salt (To Taste)

Chop the thick end and the seed head off of the garlic scapes and throw in the food processor. Puree until coarsely ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and purée until smooth. Adjust to taste, adding more olive oil/salt/vinegar/cheese if you desire.

Spread on sandwiches or pizza, stir into pasta, or nosh with a spoon. However you eat it, you’ll love it.

And you’ll see what I do with it soon!

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto | Pumpkin Honey

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bars (no bake)

{No Bake} Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bars | Pumpkin Honey

Raw and no-bake desserts can be totally hit or miss. Some are absolutely incredible and some taste like cardboard or flavorless mush. These Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bars are seriously good. They taste just like oatmeal raisin cookie dough. I’m serious. No, really. They’re delicious. SERIOUSLY. And they are pretty healthy as well. Plus, they’re easy as pie to make! One food processor, one pan and voilà – you’ve made the equivalent of oatmeal raisin cookie dough. Could that be more wonderful? So, please, go ahead – make them and eat them.

{No Bake} Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bars | Pumpkin Honey

These bars make an excellent breakfast or snack. And dare I say it? They’d even make an excellent dessert… that you can feel good about afterward.

{No Bake} Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bars | Pumpkin Honey

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bar

1 1/2 Cups Oats (Quick or Regular)

1/2  Cup Walnuts

3 Tbsp Coconut Oil

1 1/4 Cup Dates

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Cold Water

1/4 Cup Raisins

1 – 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon (optional)

Blend the oats & walnut in your food processor until they turn into a coarse meal. Add dates, coconut oil, water, vanilla & salt and blend until the dough comes together. It should be slightly sticky. Add the raisins and pulse a couple of times to incorporate.

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Press the dough firmly into the lined pan. Drizzle the maple syrup over the top evenly. This gives the bars a light, sweet, maple flavor that really sends them over the edge. Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours before eating. Refrigeration helps the bars stay together better, cut more easily & they taste great cold! Like cookie dough straight from the fridge : )


{No Bake} Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bars | Pumpkin Honey

Thoughts of a Hopi Farmer: Seeds, Sustainability, Stewardship & Sovereingty

My final semester in graduate school at American University, I participated in a practicum regarding the U.S. Farm Bill and additional agricultural policies. I worked on a particularly moving and significant case of seed sovereignty amongst the Hopi. For anyone unfamiliar, the Hopi Reservation is completely surrounded by the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona. The Hopi,  whose ancient seeds make most heirlooms look brand spanking new, also descend from one of the earliest inhabitants of North America. For my final project, I created and produced a documentary short in which Hopi Farmer Michael Kotutwa Johnson discusses seeds, sustainability, stewardship and sovereignty in Hopi.

The Case of Hopi Seed Sovereignty

Seed Sovereignty is the right of every farmer to use, save, adapt, and share their seeds freely in the commons.

The Hopi, descendants of the ancient Pueblo Peoples, have inhabited what is now the American Southwest for more than 2,000 years during which time they have cultivated unique varieties of corn, beans, melons, and squash. These ancient crops are truly resilient, having adapted to the arid, high elevation climate in which the Hopi reside.

The Problem: Hopi seeds, like many heirloom seeds, are threatened by the modern, industrial agricultural practices such as the monoculture cropping of hybrid and genetically modified crops and the extension of intellectual property rights to plant genetic material.

Robust policies and programs are needed at the Federal and local levels to protect these seeds, the cultural heritage they represent and the food as well as spiritual security they provide to the Hopi people.

In March, I had the amazing opportunity to visit what is now the Hopi Reservation in modern-day Arizona with a fellow student and one of our professors. While there we learned what Hopi Farmer Michael Kotutwa Johnson is doing to promote traditional farming practices and preserve these seeds.

To the Hopi, these seeds are life.

Meet Beluga

Last summer Stephen & I interned on an organic produce farm called Jade Family Farm in Central Pennsylvania. But more on that later.

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

In May, during my first month on the farm, Lucy (the most beautiful black farm cat) had a 3 kitten litter. All of the kittens were ladies and we named them Totoro, Thomas, and Beluga. The first one we found  in Lucy’s kitten hiding spot (a large pile of scrap wood) was a tiny little gray ball of fluff. I immediately fell in love with her. After about 4 weeks of thought and consideration, we decided to adopt her. Eventually, she moved inside with us, met her first vet, and started sleeping between our heads.

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

She goes by several nicknames: Belu, Begu, Bear, Little Bear, Pigeon, Plum, Monkey, Tiny, or whatever else I feel like calling her. I’m a copious nickname giver. Just ask Stephen. I mean Rabbit 😉

Beluga Kitten | Pumpkin Honey

My Grandmother’s Ma’amoul


My grandmother passed away on March 1st last year.

She was a beautiful and brilliant woman who made our family what it is.

She was also a fantastic cook who made especially delicious traditional Maryland/Southern dishes. And traditional Syrian & Lebanese dishes from my grandfather’s family.

We make a huge batch every year for Easter.

These cookies were made last year for Easter after her passing. It’s taken me that long to get around to posting them! But, hey, it was just Easter this past Sunday so at least they’re timely in that regard. And they’re delicious any time of year. So have at it.




My Grandmother’s Ma’amoul

makes A LOT of cookies

5 Cups Cream of Wheat (Farina)

5 Cups of Flour

3 Cups Butter, Melted

1 1/2 Packages Dry Yeast

2 Teaspoons Mahlab, ground

4 lb. Dates

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grind the dates in a food processor until a very thick paste forms. I like to add a bit of ground mahlab to the date filling as well.

“Mix cream of wheat and flour, mahlab and melted butter and let stand overnight.

In morning dissolve yeast in warm water (or warm milk). Add to dry ingredients with enough warm water (or warm milk, about 1 3/4 cups) to make dough.”

Spoon a walnut sized ball of dough into your hand. Using your thumb create a hole in the center and fill with a teaspoon of date filling. Close carefully, forming a sphere. They can also be made in a cigar shape by forming a flattened rectangle of dough, filling it with a thin, rolled out piece of date and then closing the dough around the date filling (Next time I’ll add photos).

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until just starting to change in color. The bottoms will be light brown.

Let cool before sticking in your mouth.

Syrian Date Cookies


These cookies are great with milk and coffee but especially great with hot tea.


In loving memory of Miss Jean.

Liege Waffles


Okay, so it’s been over a year since my last post on Pumpkin Honey. And a lot has happened. Not really, but a few things I suppose.

Stephen & I interned on a small, family-owned, organic farm in Central Pennsylvania called Jade Family Farm.

We also adopted a tiny little gray kitten, baby to the resident farm cat Lucy, named Beluga.

We’ve been living in Baltimore for the last year. And we’re about to move out.

I’m expecting to receive my MA in May.

My mom is taking me to Paris 2 days later (best mom ever).

And Stephen’s birthday was on the 4th.

Thus the Liege Waffles.

These waffles are not only beautiful. They are everything a waffle should be. Especially if you’ve ever been to Belgium, had a street waffle, and thus know exactly what a waffle should be. They’re dense and chewy but crispy and caramelized.



Then they were topped off with cinnamon whipped coconut cream & blueberry maple syrup.

ERMAHGERD. Incredible.


Liege Waffles

1/3 Cup Warmed Almond Milk (whole milk or water)

1/2 Tablespoon Yeast

1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

2 Large Eggs

9 Tablespoons Melted & Cooled, Salted Butter

2 Teaspoons Vanilla

2 Cups Flour (I used 1 Bread, 1 All Purpose)

2/3 Cup Pearl Sugar (I use Swedish)

Preheat waffle iron. Other recipes I’ve seen insist that a typical waffle iron is too hot for your classic Liege Waffle so I unplug it periodically while making them. Just keep an eye on the browning.

Dissolve brown sugar & yeast in lukewarm milk. Let stand 10 minutes. Vigorously beat two large eggs and vanilla into mixture. Add butter little by little, beating as you go. Gently beat in flour. Let rise for for about an hour or until doubled in size. Then mix in pearl sugar.

Form dough balls slightly smaller than a tennis ball and place on segment of the waffle iron. Mine makes two-segment waffles so I made two balls at a time. I know some make 4 and so forth. I don’t grease the pan – mine is non-stick and there’s TONS of butter in this dough so they shouldn’t stick. Unplug as needed to keep the waffle iron from overheating. Periodically check the waffles, cooking until deep golden brown.

The waffles are even crispier and caramelizedier if the dough is chilled first.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk – chilled, separated cream only

1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Whip cold, scraped off cream of the can of coconut cream until thick and fluffy. Fold in powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Blueberry Maple Syrup

1/2 Cup Blueberries – frozen or fresh

1/3 Cup Maple Syrup

In a small saucepan heat the blueberries over medium-low heat. Smash with a fork or potato masher until pulpy and juicy. Heat until hot and just about simmering. Add maple syrup.

Pour blueberry maple syrup atop waffles, add a giant dollop of cinnamon whipped coconut cream and NOSH.