Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill

Chicken Noodle Soup with LeeksMiracle Cure
It’s kinda blowing my mind that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. My kids are still in the process of sorting and swapping their Halloween candy, for cryin’ out loud. And now I gotta think turkey? It’s time to hit the ground running and start planning—but I am in denial.

To add another layer of difficulty to the season, 3/5 of my household is sick. And, I don’t mean some coughing and a few sneezes. I mean full-on hacking cough, fever, multiple days home from school, sinus pressure…you gotta be kidding me sick.

As you can imagine, turkey is the last thing on our minds. We’re all about the soup.
I have been told that whatever this plague is, it is has been going around and a number of people I know are dropping like flies. We are just the latest casualties. And as such, we have been consuming a lot of chicken noodle soup.

What is it about chicken noodle soup that makes it the only food you want to consume when sick? Is it the heat? Is it the salty broth? Whatever the reason, chicken noodle soup is pretty much the only thing keeping us going. It is the miracle cure. Though, I will say I think I have had my fill. Thankfully, we seem to be turning a corner in the sick ward. The fact that I showered this morning is a major victory!

Since it is the holiday season, my one recommendation to you as you start your preparations is to make a big batch of this stuff and put it in the freezer. Making your own stock is key, which is why this is great. Making it ahead is essential so you will have it if you need it. And if you don’t, you have a quick and easy dinner when paired with a gooey grilled cheese.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill
Yields 4 servings

We definitely recommend making your own chicken stock, but if you really don’t have time, or are simply too sick, the next best thing is Kitchen Basics Soup Stock. Read more…

Persimmon, Asian Pear, and Toasted Almond Salad

Persimmon, Asian Pear, and Toasted Almond SaladForeign Fruit
Some fruits baffle me. Quince is one. Kumquats another. I am utterly at a loss as to what to do with either. My theory is that one’s comfort level with certain foods, without question, depends on whether you were exposed to them as a kid. I was exposed to neither…so here I am, in a perpetual state of fruity befuddlement.

I would add persimmons to that group except that I was exposed to them as a kid. Every Thanksgiving. They adorned the ritual persimmon salad that my grandmother made and nobody ate. I mean, it was a beautiful-looking salad and certainly fulfilled the “fall colors” requirement but, no. Just, no.

What I found out later was that there are two types of persimmons. There is the Hachiya persimmon which is teardrop shaped and has to be really soft and ripe to eat it. Eaten too early and you will regret it. These were the ones my grandmother used in her salad. As a kid, I thought they were gooey and gross. The other variety is the Fuyu persimmon. Now, this is a whole different experience altogether.

Fuyus can be eaten when they are still hard and they have a crunch like an apple. Strangely, given my profession, I really didn’t encounter Fuyu persimmons much until I was well into my 20s. Probably because I was scarred by previous persimmon encounters, I didn’t seek them out.

When we bought our current home we became the proud owners of a lovely 3 bedroom 2-½ bath ranch style home….and a Fuyu persimmon tree. The first year we didn’t get too many persimmons and I picked them too early ‘cause I didn’t know any better. Subsequent crops have been progressively larger. But, this year was ridiculous because we actually had rain. I think the kids pulled 300 plus persimmons off the tree. And, that doesn’t count the fruit that was sacrificed to the squirrel gods.

The hard part is knowing what to do with that many persimmons. Thankfully, I have a produce department and an open-minded manager. So, I saved some and unloaded the rest. The saved ones are destined for this Persimmon, Asian Pear, and Toasted Almond Salad below which, in my opinion, is a much less traumatizing version of the salad of my childhood.

Persimmon, Asian Pear, and Toasted Almond Salad
Adapted from My Recipes
Yields 4 Servings Read more…

Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches

Frittata Breakfast SandwichesFor The Times They Are A-Changin’
For the first time that I can remember, I find myself counting down the days until we fall back. Usually, it’s the other way around and I am trying to make a little bit more out of the Indian Summer daylight. This year? I feel like a 6-year-old waiting for Santa. I can’t wait to fall back ‘cause I just wanna sleep.

I have literally been counting down the days until November 5th. Trick or Treating? Please. I’ll take a pillowcase full of Zs thank you very much…. Am I the only one feeling this way?

What’s truly scary is I have put way more thought into this than I should. For example, I think there should be a Daylight Savings advent calendar of sorts. There would be two versions, and they would both start 30 days before the change dates—one in the spring and one in the fall. The spring version would include new razors, (‘Cause reality people. If my legs are always in jeans I am not, shall we say, as diligent.), antihistamines, margaritas, and small tubes of self-tanner among other helpful items. The fall version would have a variety of fresh-roasted coffee beans, artisan beers, pumpkin spice scented whatever, cozy boot socks, and maybe some new flannel sheets. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So, with 25 days to go and no calendar to get me through, I’m dragging. The mornings are definitely the hardest. Just getting everyone out the door with everything they need is a challenge without also having to get them fed. Make ahead breakfasts have become essential. True, you can never go wrong with a muffin or box of cereal and some milk. But, that gets boring. And, it’s always good to have a little protein to start your day.

These Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches are great for when your morning routine gets away from you. They are easy to make in advance, have a lot of good protein, and are a nice change from cold cereal. Feel free to play around with the ingredients.

So if your sleep struggle (like mine) is real, try whipping up a batch of these babies. And, know that better times are only a few weeks away….

Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches
Yields 6 sandwiches

Read more…

Sheet Pan Chicken with Sourdough and Bacon

Sheet Pan Chicken with Sourdough and BaconDistracted Dining
I sat down to write about fun Halloween stuff…but I am finding it hard to be witty when the North Bay is on fire. I keep losing my focus. This is rather ridiculous because, other than the poor air quality, I have not been directly affected by the fires. But, my mind just can’t let it go.

Events like this are a reminder to keep things in perspective. Soccer practice has been canceled because of the smoke? Big whoop. I still have my home to hang out in and 1500 other families don’t. It’s heartbreaking and I can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu.

I was away at school when the Oakland Hills fire happened almost 26 years ago. (Did I really just put that in print?) I had to watch the destruction unfold on the television in the basement of my dorm, much like I have been doing since these fires flared up. (Well, without the dorm room.)

The Napa and Sonoma County fires have the same “what the heck is going on?” feel. That same blindsided shock—the darn high winds and the utter devastation left behind. It makes the idea of writing about what’s for dinner tonight seem trivial and unimportant.

We all have got to eat, though. So, with that in mind, I’m going for the holy trinity of comfort food: carbs, bacon, and butter. All of these things are thrown together on a sheet pan, topped with seasoned chicken and roasted in the oven. Serve it with a side vegetable (like roasted cauliflower), and you’ve got a complete meal.

So easy. And definitely tasty.

This Sheet Pan Chicken with Sourdough and Bacon recipe is the perfect one-pan family style meal to come together and enjoy while you count your blessings.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Sourdough and Bacon
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

Raspberry Oatmeal BarsBelly Up To The Bar
I am probably the least OCD person you could meet…and all you have to do is look at my office for proof. I am very much a visual learner. So, if I can’t see it, I forget about it. This means I have stacks of important stuff in various piles on my desk. I also have some similar stacks at home. It drives my very tidy husband bananas. If there is one area where I am a bit compulsive though, it would be school lunches.

I make my kids lunch every morning because the thought of them buying what passes for lunch at school makes me cringe. The good news is they would prefer to not buy their lunch. So, that battle is avoided. I have a strict formula. And, if I run out of one of the components, and am forced to send them without it, I develop a tick. I got issues, man.

The formula goes something like this:
There will always be a main component in either the form of a protein-filled sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner. (My daughter is the queen of leftovers.) There will always be a bottle of water and fresh fruit. A snack item is essential in the form of some pretzels, crackers or maybe some nuts. And, last but not least, lunch must always have a little something sweet at the end.

That last component serves two purposes. First, it’s a nice to get a little treat during the day. And second, I can use it as an excuse to randomly make yummy things. Why, as a mature adult, would I need an excuse you may ask? Because I can enjoy the occasional cookie—but my husband has no self-control. When it comes to home-baked goodness, he will eat them by the dozen. If I tell him that they are for lunches though, he is able to stifle his inner cookie monster. (Most of the time…sometimes I gotta sacrifice a handful to the cookie gods because, and I quote, “he is concerned that I may be poisoning the children and would sacrifice himself for their health and welfare”. Way to take one for the team, babe.)

I made these Raspberry Oatmeal Bars over the weekend “to put in the kid’s lunches”. The flavors really remind me of fall. The brightness of the raspberry jam will make you smile and I think we could all use a few more smiles these days…

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Makes 16 to 24 bars (depending on how you cut them) Read more…