Monday, September 15, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs: Two Ways

Our fall schedule is in full swing - preschool, carpools, soccer practice, and everything in between. Our days are packed tight and come dinner time we are all overtired and hungry. A few weeks ago I experimented with a dump a lot of stuff in the cast iron skillet and throw chicken thighs on top of it recipe and, because it worked so well, that method is now our go to weekday dinner. I

f you're not a chicken eater it's worth making these recipes and simply omitting the chicken. The underlying vegetables, grains, and beans are my favorite parts. Here are our two top combinations:

Chicken Thighs with Chard, Barley & Zucchini:
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup barley
1 cup chicken stock (sub vegetable stock if you'd like)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch swiss chard, leaves removed from stems and torn into small pieces
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise then sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 springs fresh thyme,
Kosher salt and black pepper

Fist, preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the olive oil to a cast iron skillet and pour in the barley, chicken stock, tomatoes, chard, zucchini, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss well with your hands and mash the whole tomatoes up as you go. Crank on some pepper.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss in the thyme. Roast for 35-45 minutes. If you like extra crisp skin, put the pan under the broiler for the last few minutes.


Chicken Thighs with White Beans, Kale & Tomatoes:
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 15-ounces cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (leave out for kids)
1 bunch kale, leaves remove from stems and torn into small pieces
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 springs fresh thyme
1/2 a lemon, sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper


First, preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the olive oil to a cast iron skillet and pour in the beans, tomatoes, garlic, crushed red pepper, kale, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Crank on some pepper. Toss with your hands.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss in the thyme and lemon slices. Roast for 35-45 minutes. If you like extra crisp skin, put the pan under the broiler for the last few minutes.


Friday, September 12, 2014

September Gentle Food Cleanse

Join us for September's Gentle Food Cleanse! A few lovely notes from last month's cleanse participants:

"I feel so much better, so in control and the best part is: 13 pounds lighter thus far. I am eternally grateful to you for showing me the way."

"I look better, leaner and my skin is awesome!!!"

"I feel like I am cooking more then ever and learning about new foods which is pretty cool."


21 Day Gentle Food Cleanse 

Length: 21 days

Cost: $200

When: September 22nd - October 12th (must enroll by September 17th in order to get properly set up)

Where: From wherever you are 

Goal: Over the 21 days you will slowly remove unwanted foods from your diet (like alcohol and processed foods) as you focus on supportive foods (like green vegetables and healthy fats). Every three days you will receive important information on the health benefits of these supportive foods and simple but exciting recipes to go along with them. You will have a personal calendar to keep you organized and prepared. This is an intense program but those who commit to it learn a lot about their bodies and see real results in terms of weight loss and increased energy.

Your program includes...

  • e-mail exchange every 3 days plus support in between
  • recipes that are healthy and simple to prepare
  • coaching and support to help you make dietary and lifestyle changes
  • simple but informative handouts that will increase your nutrition knowledge
  • personalized 21 day calendar outlining the removal and focus phases
Sound interesting? If you'd like to sign up or learn more email me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beach Plum Jelly

This recipe comes from my mother in law and it is one that she has been making (according to Nick) every summer for his whole life. Maybe I was too pregnant to waddle down the bushy paths last summer but this year the beach plums seem to be going crazy. I have always been intimated by making jelly at home but his recipe is straight forward and has three decades of family testing behind it.



Beach Plum Jelly
Makes 6 8-ounce jars

First Step is to make juice:
10 cups whole beach plums
2 cups water
Place the beach plums in a large saucepan, crush, and add water.  Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until soft. While they cook, crush the fruit with a potato masher periodically and stir to keep from sticking.




Filter the juice through jelly bag or strainer lined with cheese cloth. Hang your straining system over a bowl and let it drip overnight. DON'T SQUEEZE, no matter how tempted you are to get more juice.  Jelly will be cloudy if you squeeze.

Yield:  3 1/2 cups beach plum juice




Second step is to make jelly:
3 1/2 cups beach plum juice
6 cups sugar
3 ounces liquid pectin (1 pouch)
Place all the above ingredients in large saucepan and mix well. Bring to boil over high heat and boil hard for  1 minute - stirring constantly. Remove from heat - skim off foam with the back of a spoon.
Pour into the prepared jars (note below). Cover jars, seal, and let stand until set.  Jar lids will pop when sealed.


Note: Sterilize the jars by placing them in a large pot, cover with water, and boil for 10 minutes. Place the lids and rings in a separate pot, bring to a bowl, then lower to keep warm.




Sunday, September 7, 2014

Farro Kale Salad

We felt pressure this weekend to pack in as many last minute summer festivities as possible (just put out the s'mores fire!) while prepping for the start of a new school year tomorrow. I wonder how long this winter is right around the corner better go swimming again!! feeling is going to last. Today's epic back to school grocery trip made me realize how the new fall schedule means a lot of eating on the go. In a perfect world, I'd always have a bowl of this Farro Kale Salad in the fridge to pick at. Samples of it were passed out at the farmer's market a few weeks ago and everyone around me was oohing and awing. So delicious.


Farro Kale Salad 
From Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers

5-6 cups kale leaves, stripped off of stalks and torn or chopped into small pieces (1 small bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small red onion, minced (or in my case sliced thin)
1 cup of farro
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1 tart apple, diced, or 1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries (or any combination)
4 ounces feta cheese

Dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper


1. Wash and spin dry the kale. Chop into small pieces. Add to a large bowl, lightly salt and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Vigorously toss and massage the salt and oil into the kale until well coated.

2. Place farro in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Farro has a similar texture to barley when cooked, and has a nice toothy texture. Drain well, and combine with the kale. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.


3. Chop the onion, dill and parsley, and add to the kale and farro along with the pomegranate seeds, and apple or dried fruit, if using.

4. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and gently toss. Place in a serving bowl or platter and top with the feta cheese.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Potato, Leek & Zucchini Tart

I have decided September is not only my favorite weather month but is also my favorite food month. Both the temperature and food is right on the edge of summer and fall. The morning starts off cozy but gives way to a hot summer day. The warm weather produce is still everywhere (tomatoes, berries, and summer squashes) but I'm less terrified to turn my oven on at dinner time. Is there a place where it is September every day? If so, I'm interested in moving there.

Around the corner from Dylan's favorite afternoon swimming pond is a farm stand that we frequent. Maybe it is these chilly nights and final (1 day!!) count down to school but I'm crying over savoring the final moments of our summer routine.


Potato, Leek & Zucchini Tart
makes 2 tarts
Adapted from Real Simple Magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise and rinsed well
2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 ounces Feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 red potatoes, sliced into thin rounds
1 lemon, cut into wedges (for serving)
2 pie crusts (recipe below)

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup cold water


First, make the pie crusts:

In a food processor, combine flour and salt then pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time). To help ensure a flaky crust, do not overprocess.

Transfer half of dough (still crumbly) onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form dough into a disk 3/4 inch thick; wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days). Repeat with remaining dough. (Disks can be frozen, tightly wrapped, up to 3 months. Thaw before using.) Makes 2 disks. 


To make the tarts:

Heat oven to 375. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, zucchini, potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, about 10 minutes (you want all the liquid to evaporate so the tart is not soggy). Fold in the feta and dill. 

Roll the two rounds of crust dough into 12-inch circles and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture onto the two crust rounds, leaving 2-inch borders. Fold the borders of the crust over the filling. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and serve with lemon wedges.





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Roasted Sweet Cherry Fool

I trace my love for meringues and whipped cream back to Angel Pie. If you've never heard of it, Angel Pie first appeared in the 1950s Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and is a meringue crusted pie filled with soft custard, curd, or chocolate and topped with whipped cream. As a kid, Angel Pie was a staple at all of our family events - birthday parties, Thanksgiving, and Easter. There is just something about the chewy meringue and fluffy cream that is completely comforting and addictive. So when I was flipping through The Nourished Kitchen and spotted Roasted Sweet Cherry Fool I knew it was next on my list.

A fool is essentially a deconstructed and mashed up Angle Pie. Every bite has a bit of fruit, cream, and meringue. This was my first experience roasting cherries and man oh man I'll do it again. The smell is incredible and the little fruits just leak blood red juice.

Roasted Sweet Cherry Fool
serves 4 to 6
From The Nourished Kitchen

2 pounds sweet cherries, such as Bing
1 tablespoon unrefined cane sugar
Pinch finely group unrefined sea salt
1 tablespoon kirsch
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 meringues, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Remove the pits from the cherries, and, as you do, drop the cherries into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and kirsch, then toss the cherries until evenly coated. Transfer the cherries to a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and spread them into a single layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once, until they release their fragrance. Allow the cherries to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Pour the cream into a bowl and add the vanilla. Whip with a whisk until the cream holds soft peaks. Stir the cherries and their juice into the whipped cream and fold in the chopped meringues. Serve in individual glasses or bowls.

The Fair grounds are officially deserted but Dylan picked up his ribbons this week and is seriously psyched on them. His fair entries included: a scarecrow, crayon Titanic drawing, and zucchini bread. I love how those three items perfectly sum him up. It'll be fun to see how his fair entries change over the next few years.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwiches

Last summer when Dylan would ask me when his baby brother was going to be born I would always answer "after the fair". It's a huge annual mark for everyone here - telling us that it is soon back to school and the end of another summer. This year, the excitement started early. We would be driving someplace and out of nowhere I'd hear from the back seat "first I'm going to go on that motorcycle ride then in the ball pit".

We rode all the rides, ate the local food, won ribbons for baked goods and scarecrows, visited the new piglets, and watched the horse pull. There was a planned ride on the carousel with both boys and an unplanned ride on Dizzy Dragons with both boys. I don't have a single photograph from anything over the four days because, let me tell you, taking two kids to a summer fair solo is not a "let me wander with my camera" type of thing. I think we will all sleep well tonight.


So...sandwiches. It feels like sandwich weather here and this is a delicious and simple one. I hope you enjoy it.

Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwiches
serves 4 to 6
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

4 whole roasted peppers (either homemade or jarred)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers

For assembling
1 large ciabatta bread, halved horizontally
1 (11-ounce) goat cheese, at room temperature
2 cups baby arugula
3 thin slices red onion

Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Toss peppers and capers in, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom half of the loaf with the goat cheese. Add a layer of peppers and then a layer of separated onion rings. Sprinkle with arugula and top with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Edible Vineyard - Neapolitan Pizza


I had the pleasure of writing a cover piece on our homemade Neapolitan-style pizza for Edible Vineyard. Elizabeth Cecil took the amazing photographs. Story and links to all recipes below - enjoy!

My husband Nick and I owe a lot to pizza. Our own history began with a rubbery, off-tasting store-bought dough that we baked up in his Cape Cod kitchen on our first unofficial date almost a decade ago. That pie was nothing spectacular, but I can still picture the two of us, sunburned and giddy, drinking beers and rolling out dough together, both thinking this is nice. We spent the rest of the night watching back-to-back episodes of the original Japanese Iron Chef. Our shared appreciation for considered food and a mastered technique quickly became obvious, and that first pie just wasn’t going to cut it.

As we grew together, so did our pizza expertise. Nick is the perfectionist of the two of us, and when he gets hooked on a project, from building our kitchen addition to crafting our custom knife block, he executes it with obsessive planning and careful precision. Neapolitan pizza became his new thing, sparked by his beloved New York neighborhood pizza place, owned and run by a family from Naples. Nick began reading about classic techniques in bed before he fell asleep at night; researching the exact pizza stone to request for Christmas, Old Stone Oven; and scouring island grocers for the flour he needed, Caputo 00.

Over the past nine years, the two of us have researched the Neapolitan pizza methods of famous chefs, magazine editors, and food bloggers. The first winter that we lived on the Island, Nick’s free time was consumed by experimenting with the variables that factor into the ideal pie: the tomato’s build (fresh, canned, in sauce), the cheese (fresh versus firm mozzarella), and the technique (grill, flat top, oven, broiler). The seasonal toppings are my job—asparagus, kale, eggplant, Island sausage, and eggs have all been tossed onto our classic margherita base. It took us almost a decade, three states, six apartments, a wedding, two boys, and dozens of test pies later, but if we’ve mastered anything in our home kitchen, it’s pizza.

Now, as a young island family, we use our pizza to lure new friends, pre-school families, and off-Island cousins to our home. It’s a meal that’s simple, yet always festive. And, to this day, when I see Nick pull a bubbling pie out of our oven, I have the same thought I did back then—what a catch.

Full Story.
The Dough.
The Sauce.
Margherita Pizza.
Caramelized Onion, Herbed Ricotta & Arugula Pizza.
Summer Tomato & Pesto Pizza.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Frozen Raspberry Lemonade

Around this time every year I find myself reminded of the difference between the expectations of summer and the real life summer. Don't get me wrong, we are having a great time but it's odd to live someplace where people travel to, from all over the world, to celebrate the season. The calendar of events this August is massive and we'll probably only make it to a few. Almost everyone around us is on vacation and it feels like we are trying to be on vacation while living our normal life at the same time - this can be tricky.

Recently, we came home from a long beach morning and our energy was dragging. I knew we needed a fun and simple project to pull us out of hot and grumpy town. Luckily, we had everything on hand for Frozen Raspberry Lemonade so Dylan and I made two glasses for ourselves. It did the trick.


For a larger group you can easily double or triple this recipe. Also, if you like frozen lemonade more like slush simply increase the ice.

Frozen Raspberry Lemonade
makes 2 small glasses 

1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 1/2 lemons, juiced
6-8 ice cubes
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon agave nectar


Simply, blend everything together and enjoy right away. I don't worry about the seeds because we have a really powerful blender but if they are a concern to you then puree the raspberries first and work the fruit through a sieve or cheese cloth then continue along.

Can you tell I'm psyched about the surprise roses that popped up in our garden this week? Who knew.


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