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…

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…

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Heirloom Tomato SaladFamily Heirloom
Tomatoes are kind of a thing with my family. Every summer my mother waits with baited breath for home grown tomatoes so that she can have her favorite tomato sandwich. My husband likes to eat them sliced thick with a pinch of salt. My grandmother was also a huge fan of summer tomatoes though her favorite way to serve them has become a family joke. We call it Gammy salad.

During the summer, when her tomatoes were super tasty, Gam would frequently serve her tomato salad at Sunday dinner. The “salad” consisted of sliced tomatoes and avocados artfully arranged on a platter with a large dollop of mayonnaise in the middle. That’s it. Sometimes she would get wild and sprinkle a little Italian dressing on top but for the most part, it was tomatoes and mayo.

Now I fully admit to being a food snob and maybe it was a generational thing. But, I have always thought that the tomato/mayo combination was just, well, weird or maybe it was just her age. People of her generation ate some things that we wouldn’t think of eating today…for a number of reasons. (Heart attack prevention would be one.) My grandfather liked butter on his ham sandwich which I guess isn’t too strange when you consider my great grandfather liked bacon grease sandwiches. (Yeah. Think about that for a minute.)

So, I always put the Gammy salad in the older folks like weird stuff category but I have to admit my favorite means of eating tomatoes isn’t that much of a jump from hers.

I, too, like to slice my tomatoes thick and arrange them on a plate. But, I opt for freshly-made blue cheese dressing instead of the mayonnaise. Nothing looks prettier on a plate than some thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes with a drizzle of tangy blue cheese dressing.

Making your own dressing is pretty easy. Though, I have to say the freshly made dressing we have in our cheese department is even easier…..

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home by Ina Garten Read more…

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Platter Salad

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Platter Salad Life On A Platter
If you are someone who likes to cook, chances are you have a relatively extensive collection of pieces with which to cook or serve your creations. Some of us, it could be said, have way more than they need. (Guilty). Within my culinary collection though there are those few pieces that are my workhorses—the things I reach for day in and day out. One of those pieces, for me, is a white rectangular platter I bought at Target for twenty bucks.

I use this platter for everything from grilled meats, to cheese platters, to sliced fruits, or dim sum. It is perfect. It is the perfect size, the perfect color, the perfect everything. If it ever breaks I don’t know what I will do.

Lately I have been using it for one of my favorite summertime dinner options, platter salads. Platter salads can be anything from sliced heirloom tomatoes to a family style cobb salad. Platter salad is one of my go to’s when it’s hot and I am feeling lazy.

Recently I came across this recipe in the NY Times that has since become part of my platter salad rotation. It is the perfect blend of all things summer: corn, tomatoes, and avocado. Plus, it has cumin in it and in my world everything is better with cumin.

I like to serve this salad with something grilled on top whether it’s chicken, skirt steak or even some shrimp (though it is just as good on its own). Whatever your preference, the leftovers will make a great lunch for the next day.

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Platter Salad
Read more…