Apple and Honey Board

Photo of an Apple and Honey BoardBoard of Celebration
Yesterday I woke up and realized that we are basically halfway through September. And, I am not entirely sure how that happened. I do know that I have weather whiplash. Last week the pavement was melting and this week I need a sweater. I guess that means it’s fall now?

This weather has also got me craving fall foods. I consumed some pumpkin spice baked goods the other day without guilt since the temp outside was in the 70s. (My rule is no pumpkin spice when it’s 80 or above—no matter how much I love the flavor. Just on principle.) I also found myself eyeing the crockpot for something slow-cooked and hearty like a pot roast. That line of thought took me on a roasted meat journey that got me to a lovely brisket with plenty of “melted” onions. Then the brisket reminded me that Rosh Hashanah is coming up at the end of the month.

Full disclosure, I am not Jewish. But, I have a deep and consuming love for what most people consider to be Jewish food. My mother-in-law IS Jewish AND from New York. So, after 20-plus years in the family, I believe I know my way around a good bagel among other favorites. Even though we may not celebrate the Jewish holidays in our family, I do like to at least acknowledge the history and culture if only so my kids have some connection to their past. (I mean fair is fair. They must endure all things Viking from my Scandinavian family.)

Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday the 25th which is perfect as I tend to do what I call a “big dinner” on Sundays. This generally means that whatever we are having takes more than an hour to make. It’s an homage to the Sunday dinners we had at my grandmother’s growing up. Not sure what the main dish will be this year but I do know I will start things off with an Apples and Honey board.

The reasons are two-fold. One, the fall apples are starting to show up in the market and they are all crunchy goodness. (I’m looking at you Honeycrisp.) Second, I’ve kind of become a cheese board-obsessed maniac…so any excuse is a good excuse. And, since apples and honey are part of the tradition it’s a no-brainer…

There is no actual recipe for making an Apple and Honey Board. Just use your imagination. However, if you are doing one for Rosh Hashana remember no meats. And, since circles and rounds have significance for the holiday, try to incorporate them as much as possible. You can use cheese rounds like brie and round crackers. Or consider making this recipe for a classic cheeseball. Read more…

Amy’s Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Photo of Amy’s Teriyaki Chicken Thighs over rice with broccoliHot Competition
For a lot of people, the start of College Football is a non-event. For others, like the majority of my family, it’s kind of a big deal. This year is especially wacky because, with my kids and my nephew off to college, we now have three more teams to cheer for.

If there was one silver lining for the heat we’ve had over the pasts few days it is this, there was a perfectly reasonable justification for camping out on the couch all Saturday to watch the full lineup of games. True, it wasn’t 155 degrees on Saturday but it was still hot. Hot enough that the chicken wings I had planned to make (because what else do you eat while watching football?) didn’t happen. I couldn’t bring myself to turn on the oven. I did, however, fire up the grill.

In lieu of wings, I made my recipe for Amy’s Teriyaki Chicken Thighs using boneless skinless thighs—which are the workhorse of my food repertoire. I always have chicken thighs in the fridge or freezer. I also always have teriyaki on hand because no matter what’s going on during the day you can get dinner on the table quick with a 30-minute dunk in teriyaki before throwing it on the grill.

Add some steamed rice and some broccoli and BOOM. Dinner is served. I also always make more than I need—so I can throw some on a salad for lunch or even make a sandwich.

There are plenty of good teriyaki marinades out there. But, lately, I have turned away from the super sweet ones for two reasons. First, the older I get the less sweet I want my food to be. Second, sugar in the marinade will burn on the grill if you’re not careful. That caramelized flavor has its time and place but I would rather taste the other flavors.

This is the teriyaki I have been using lately—though it does take a little bit more time to marinade than the open-and-pour options. To me, it tastes more like the grilled chicken you get in Hawaii. It’s sweet but not corn syrup sweet. Feel free to add a little chili garlic paste if you want some heat.

Amy’s Teriyaki Chicken Thighs Recipe
Adapted from Favorite Family Recipes
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Amy’s Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm

Image of Amy's Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm with pastaMaybe Classic Chicken Parm
We all have those time-suck TV shows that you turn to because nothing else interesting is on. These are the shows that you tell yourself you will just watch for a little while and then 3 hours later (because it was a marathon) you’re still watching. I have a few go-to favorites. Big Bang Theory is one. The worst offender though is Beat Bobby Flay on Food Network. I found myself down that rabbit hole once again about a week or so ago and what’s worse is I haven’t been able to get one of the recipes out of my head.

That recipe? Chicken Parmesan.

I am a fan of crispy fried chicken in all forms. This particular version is a favorite because it adds melted mozzarella on top. I mean, what’s not to love? I will say that I definitely fall into the less sauce is more camp here which may not be traditional. I like some sauce on top. I don’t like so much sauce that my chicken is soggy but to each his or her own. You make it the way you want to make it.

What struck me about the way the chefs were preparing this dish during that episode is that Bobby was adding ground toasted fennel to the flour dredge for the chicken—because it was how his mother would make it. I had never heard of this. By doing some light research and asking a few friends, I have found that a number of Italian mothers and grandmothers will make chicken Parm this way. However, finding a published recipe that includes the fennel is difficult.

The first thing I think of when I think about the flavor of dried fennel is Italian sausage. I love Italian sausage. The idea of that Italian sausage flavor married with the Chicken Parm has had my mouth watering for days and I haven’t had the time to make it for dinner. It’s always crazy busy at the beginning of the school year…

I’m going to give it a go this weekend by adapting my favorite Chicken Parm recipe. I’m hoping for a win…

Amy’s Beat Bobby Flay Chicken Parm
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Apple Slab Pie

Image of the close up of a slice of Apple Slab Pie with whipped creamEnd of an Era
Yesterday my two sons played their last baseball game. Well, let’s just say it’s their last competitive baseball game. My guess is they will find their way to an intramural team or maybe an adult league somewhere at some point. But, the days of practice every day after school and watching the league standings to see if they make the NCS playoffs are over.

The two of them started playing thirteen years ago with t-ball. Along the way, we have experienced the highest of highs and some pretty low lows. Playing that long requires a lot of effort as well as a lot of time. There were vacation plans that had to be changed due to tournaments and plenty of split-duty weekends when plans just couldn’t be changed. Along the way, we made lifelong friends with the families of other players. The Cooperstown tournament, when they were twelve, will be an experience that the boys will never forget. And, they will be able to bore their kids with the telling of it well into their 80s. It was an experience my husband and I will also never forget—mostly because of the people involved with that team.

Six of the twelve players from that team continued playing together right up until the final out last night. This is no small feat considering how competitive it is to make the varsity team at their high school. We were all emotional, including the boys, but we did manage to get those six together for a picture.

Now the boys aren’t sure what they are going to do with this newfound free time. Our response was to get a job. So far one has managed that task. We’re crossing our fingers the other gets something soon.

It will be an adjustment for my husband and me as well. Suddenly our Tuesday and Thursday evenings have opened up. Guess we’ll just have to deal the old-fashioned way…Baseball (on TV), hot dogs, and apple pie…luckily, this recipe for Apple Slab Pie could feed the whole team!

Apple Slab Pie Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 12 to 18 servings

This Apple Slab Pie has a higher proportion of crust-to-filling than your standard 9-inch round double-crusted pie. And, the crusts of slab pies tend to puff into gorgeous flakes far more readily than standard pie crusts do. So, this recipe is perfect if you’re into crusts! Read more…