Tag Archives: homemade

Raspberry Chicken with Homemade Rice Pilaf

Raspberry Chicken with Homemade Rice Pilaf - In Her Chucks

Fresh fruit.  It’s one of my weaknesses.  I can’t won’t go a day without it.  In fact, I love it so much, I do my best to incorporate it into every meal of the day.  Breakfast…Homemade crepes topped with fresh berries.  For a snack…Apples slices with cheese.   Lunch…Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken.   A meal isn’t complete without a piece of fruit in the mix.

But when it comes to dinner, some people might find incorporating a piece of seasonal fruit into their meal prep a bit of a challenge.  Sure, you can enjoy a piece of fruit as a healthy dessert but I’m talking about throwing sweet and delicious fruits right into your savory dishes.  I tend to have a habit of it (Braised Pork with Fuyu Persimmons, Sole with Grapefruit-Thyme Butter, Citrus Crusted Tilapia with Blood Orange Salsa, and the list goes on and on) but this is the dish that started it all.

My mom has been making Raspberry Chicken for us as long as I can remember.  It’s one of my most requested dishes when I go to visit.  Not only is it absolutely delicious but it is the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of one of my favorite summer fruits…raspberries!

And because this meal wouldn’t be complete without a side of homemade rice pilaf, I have included that recipe for you too :)

Raspberry Chicken

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup onion, chopped

4 tbsp raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp canned crushed tomatoes

1 cup fresh raspberries, plus more for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation

1.  Melt butter in the skillet.  Season chicken breasts with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.

2.  Add the onions to the skillet and cook covered over low heat until tender (about 15 minutes)

3.  Add the vinegar to the skillet with the onions and raise the heat cooking uncovered (stirring occasionally) until vinegar is reduced to a syrupy spoonful.

4.  Whisk in the chicken stock, cream and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 1 minute.  Return the chicken breasts to the skillet and gently simmer in the sauce basting often.  Cook until the chicken is done and sauce is reduced and thickened (about 5 minutes).

5.  Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and keep warm.   Add the raspberries to the sauce and cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Do not stir the berries with the spoon, just swirl them in the sauce.

6.  Serve the chicken on a plate with the sauce along with the rice pilaf (recipe below).  Garnish with flat leaf parsley.

Recipe slightly adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook

Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, minced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 cups of chicken broth

3/4 cup basmati rice

1/4 cup spaghetti sticks, broken into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preparation

Heat oil and butter together in a large skillet.  Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute, stirring frequently.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add rice and spaghetti, stirring to combine with garlic and onions.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until rice and pasta begin to lightly brown.  Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Once the liquid is boiling, turn heat down to simmer and cover, cooking for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed.  Fluff the cooked rice mixture and add chopped parsley.

What I love most about this meal is how simple and easy it is to make.  However, the complex flavors and beautiful presentation are sure to impress both your family or favorite dinner guests.

So hurry out to your local farmer’s market and pick up a pint (or two) of raspberries and get cooking.  Your taste buds will be sure to thank you :)

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What’s in the Box? Recipe Roundup #14

What's in the Box?

This summer has been all about traveling.  Whether we were moving, or jet-setting across the Atlantic, it seems like we are always on the go.  And we still have a few more weeks to go until we are home.  But Harper and I are having a blast and enjoying each and every minute of it (minus missing Daddy…that part really sucks).

After coming home from Branson last week, we decided to hop up to Santa Barbara to visit some of our close friends.  Santa Barbara is a special place for us.  It is where we lived for the last 3 years before Freddie took his new job up north.  It is where we found out we were pregnant and where Harper was born.  And most importantly, it is where we have created lifelong friendships with some very special folks.  We are so grateful for the memories that we have in this beautiful town, and it feels good to be “home”, even for just a little while.

Here is a glimpse at what we have been up to in our favorite coastal city…

Greek Festival

For such a small town, Santa Barbara is famous for their summer festivals. This past weekend, we enjoyed the food, the fun and the music of the Greek Festival.

Cute Little Firefighters

The streets are officially safe with these two adorable firefighters on duty

Beach Fun

You can’t be staying a few blocks from the beach without taking a dip. Although Harper was clearly way more excited about the cold water than I was…

We are blessed to be able to visit such wonderful people in such a beautiful place.

But this post isn’t a paid advertisement for Santa Barbara (although it should be…), it’s about the goodness of veggies.  And although I still don’t have a box (but I got one coming next week), there’s more than enough produce at the party to go around.

Last week we had a total of 11 link ups.  And not only were there Fried Green Tomatoes and Buffalo Chicken Pizza, but there was homemade pie, and a collection of blueberry treats!  Man, are we spoiled :)  Thanks for sharing and linking up!  You continue to amaze me with your delicious and nutritious dishes.

As for me, I have been eating my weight in homegrown tomatoes, which is ironic considering I used to not be the biggest fan.  But after almost 3 years of CSA membership, and tons of great recipes linked to the party, I have collected enough scrumptious ideas to change my mind (although I still won’t snack on them for fun…have to draw the line somewhere…).

So in honor of my graduation to an “almost tomato lover”, here are my favorite recipes that utilize the abundance of CSA tomatoes this season…

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce

Chicken with Tomato Herb Pan Sauce - In Her Chucks

Cherry Tomato Pesto

Cherry Tomato Pesto - In Her Chucks

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Homemade Tomato Sauce - In Her Chucks

Your turn: What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate your CSA tomatoes into simple and delicious meals?  Looking forward to drooling over your ideas.  

Linking up for the first time?  Click here for more info…and Welcome!

PS:  Don’t forget to tell your readers about the party by linking back to this post and grabbing the official “What’s in the Box?” button at the bottom of my blog.  Thanks!

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Homemade Granola Bars & A Giveaway!

Homemade Granola Bars- In Her Chucks

I love a good, healthy, and hearty snack.  It curbs my hunger between meals and helps perk me up during a midday slump.  Unfortunately, many of the “healthy” snacks you find at the grocery store aren’t really healthy at all.  Instead, they are full of unnecessary ingredients such as corn syrup, preservatives, and artificial flavors.  You might as well make a beeline for the donuts (a personal weakness).  Or, to ensure that you are giving your body the fuel it needs to get through the day, make your favorite snacks at home.  And these Cranberry Almond Granola Bars are a great place to start.

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup ground flax-seed

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 1/2 ounces chopped dried cranberries

Preparation

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and ground flax seeds into a half-sheet pan.  Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook until the brown sugar as completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F.  Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine.  Turn the mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Recipe slightly adapted from FoodNetwork.com via Cupcakes and Cashmere

Not only are these bars super delicious, they are super simple to make!  In fact, I might even go as far as saying they will have you swearing off packaged foods forever (Unless of course you are starving and stranded at a gas station in the middle of nowhere without your homemade stash.  Then you might make an exception).  And like my homemade granola, the possibilities are endless.  So you will never get bored with all the combinations you can think up.

Hungry for more healthy snacking ideas?  Conscious Box is full of them!  In fact, they were the ones who introduced me to Amazing Grass which sparked my Fresh Start Challenge.  They are always inspiring me to live a healthier, happier, more sustainable life.

There are lots of exciting things happening over at ConsciousBox.com.  For starters, they have a brand new website.  One of my favorite features is that you can earn points for rating the samples in your box which can then be used towards some great discounts on your favorite products.

And in celebration of their new site launch, Conscious Box is giving away a 3 month subscription (a $59 value) to one lucky reader.  

Here’s how to enter…

1.  Head on over to ConsciousBox.com and create a profile (this is totally free) and leave a comment here telling me you have done so.

2.  “Like”  ConsciousBox and In Her Chucks on Facebook and post a comment on their wall telling them what you thought about their new site (ps: don’t forget to tell them “In Her Chucks” sent you!).

3.  “Share” Conscious Box’s new page with your FB friends and leave a comment telling me you have done so.

4.  Subscribe to this blog and leave a comment telling me you have done so.  If you already subscribe to my blog, then leave me a comment telling me that you are already subscribed (and thanks for the support!).

5.  Pin this giveaway and comment here with a link to your post.

The more entries you have, the better your chances are to win.  The giveaway will close at 12:01 am on March 11th.  A winner will be randomly selected and announced on March 12th.  Make sure to include your email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you win.

Good luck!

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Guest Post: November Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

The Lean Green Bean

As I mentioned in my original September Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Post, the Foodie Pen Pal Program is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. This month I was paired with a blog reader named Leigh Ann and was more than thrilled to pack up a box of goodies to send for her fourth Foodie Pen Pal experience. Since Leigh Ann doesn’t have a blog of her own to share her goodies on (although I LOVE her writing and encourage her to start one), she has offered to write a short guest post about what she received (and she even included a few pics!).

So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Leigh Ann Russo…

Each month I have my Foodie Pen Pal send my package to me at work, since I am usually there when the mailman delivers each day. However this month I was attending a workshop outside of work the day the package arrived. I work in a shop that gets deliveries almost everyday, so my associate opened the package thinking it was merchandise to check in and inventory. When she realized what it was, she sent me this text in the middle of the afternoon, “U have a package of goodies!” I was so excited…I knew my FPP package had arrived!
When I got to work the next day, I opened the package and was blown away. Heather had put together an amazing assortment of fall flavors as well as those that I had told her that I adore. The presentation was so colorful and creative!!! She had attached a hand written note on a colored paper fall leaf to each item…describing it and/or why she had chosen it for me. I could tell she had put in a tremendous amount of time and thought into putting this package together for me and I was truly touched.
Here are the contents of my package:
Homemade Cranberry Almond Granola Bars…these are incredible. I am eating one right now with a cup of tea. I only have 2 left so I am glad she included the recipe so I can enjoy them again and again.
Pumpkin Pie Bar Mix…you had me at “pumpkin”. I LOVE pumpkin and can’t wait to make these for a delicious treat for me and my honey.
Rob’s Really Good Swirling Mango Beverage, which I have never tried before, but I am super intrigued by. Mango is another flavor that I absolutely adore. They are so exotic and luscious.
Trader Joe’s (now who doesn’t like Trader Joe’s?) Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Mango Bites. I think I nearly passed out when I saw this. Three of my favorite flavors (other than pumpkin) together in one delicious treat? I think I have reached Nirvana!
Harvest Pasta…fun fall-leaf shaped pasta. I’m half-Italian so I can eat some pasta…yum yum give me some!
Apple Cinnamon and Herb Stuffing Mix. This sounds incredible…I think I might make some stufffed peppers this weekend!
I am truly grateful that Heather was my FPP this month. She really made me feel special and I can’t wait to try out all these fabulous items she selected.
Hands down, Heather is the best FPP a girl could ask for…lucky me :)
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Pumpkin Pancakes

As I mentioned before, my love affair with pumpkin expires this Thursday.  I hate to say goodbye to my favorite goard-like squash, but alas the flavors of Christmas are popping up everywhere.  However, before we move on to gingerbread, peppermint and egg nog, I thought I would squeeze in one last pumpkin recipe.  And this one will be perfect for Thanksgiving morning…

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

1 cup milk

6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 egg

Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat; pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side; serve with butter and syrup. Makes 8 to 10.

Preparation

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together wet ingredients.  Once combined, fold wet mixture into dry ingredients.  Heat  a small non-stick pan over medium heat.  Mist lightly with cooking spray.  Using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, pour batter into the center of the pan.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the center starts to bubble and the sides start to curl, then flip.  Cook for an additional 45 seconds – 1 minute or until pancake is heated through.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

These pancakes are simply divine.  I decided to whip these up on a whim last week and they have been on heavy rotation ever since.  What I love most about these pancakes is that the flavor isn’t too rich.  They have just enough pumpkin essence to make them festive and fun without being too over the top.  They are light, fluffy and taste delicious with a smidge of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Want to kick it up a notch?  Toss in a handful of some chopped walnuts or chocolate chips for some extra crunch.

Looking to stuff your face with more pumpkin treats before Turkey Day?  Check out these delicious and nutritious treats:

 

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What I Ate Wednesday #7

When I grow up I want to be a product tester.  I have mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating.  Especially since my entire day of eats today was inspired by some new grocery store finds.

Yesterday, as I was doing my daily Facebook check-in, I came across a post that made me drool…Non-fat Pumpkin Greek Yogurt?  Yes please!  So I did what any normal human being would do.  I jumped in my car and headed to Trader Joes and picked up a few cartons of this seasonal delight (along with $80 worth of groceries).  Ah, the power of social media.

So what other goodies did I happen to bring home in those sturdy paper bags?  (I know, shame on me for not bringing my reusable bags…).  Well, the highlights included a jar of Mango Butter, a can of Coconut Cream, Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Gran Bread and bananas (had to buy something familiar…).  I was on a roll yesterday.  I had my product tester hat on and I was determined to try a handful of new things.  The result?  Pretty darn delicious…

Breakfast:

3 egg whiles, scrambled

 2 slices of Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread with Mango Butter

1/2 grapefruit topped with 1 tbsp ground flaxseed

I am not normally a toast eater but between this gluten-free bread and mango butter, I could eat toast all day!  I love how surprisingly light this bread is and how the mango butter makes each bite seem like a mini vacation to Turks and Caicos (memories of my honeymoon…).  Even though the mango butter does have a tad bit of sugar in it, it’s a treat I am willing to cheat for :)

Snack #1:

2 lightly salted brown rice cakes topped with unsalted peanut butter and sliced banana

There is something about peanut butter and banana that just goes together.  It’s the perfect mid day treat.  I can remember my mom snacking on a banana smothered in peanut butter and sprinkled with granola as a kid.  She taught me so many healthy habits for which I am grateful.

Unexpected (but welcomed) Surprise!

1/2 of a Gluten Free Brownie

After music class today, the host offered everyone some gluten-free brownies.  Kind of hard to resist.  So I took half to munch on for the car ride home.  Chocolatey and delicious!

Lunch:

Homemade Persian Style Rice with 1/4 roasted chicken and mixed veggies

1 Dragon Fruit, sliced

I made a batch of this rice on Sunday.  I had been eyeing the recipe for a while now and was glad to finally give it a go.  It didn’t turn out as wonderfully as I had hoped it would (hence it’s not on the blog) but it’s good enough to incorporate in our daily meals.  Can’t go wrong with basmati rice and lentils.

I normally don’t buy produce at the grocery store because of my abundance of fresh fruit and veggies from my box, but after seeing some of this dragon fruit around the blogosphere I couldn’t help but pick one up on my recent visit to Whole Foods.  I only wished it tasted as wild and crazy as it looked.  A little underwhelming…

Dinner:

Mixed greens topped with short grain brown rice, carrots, feta cheese, tomato and guacamole and sautéed tofu with tahini dressing

Tuesdays is our night to eat out now that Harper has swimming in the evenings.  Tonight we enjoyed dinner with our good friends the Sewards.  We hopped on down to our favorite local restaurant for some healthy eats.  This salad was ginormous and definitely hit the spot :)

After Dinner Delight:

Homemade Vegan Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse topped with a handful of Chocolate Granola

The inspiration to pick up the coconut cream at Trader Joe’s yesterday came from a friend of mine who is also practicing clean eating.  She had recently posted a pic on Instagram with some Homemade Vegan Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse and I was intrigued enough to try making it on my own.  I am working on perfecting the recipe and look forward to sharing it with you soon.

So how am I doing with my “falling into good habits?”.  Overall, I continue to be proud of my efforts.  I find that having a plan for each day helps me to remain successful on my clean eating journey.  Also having a few different options to satisfy my naughty cravings keeps my sweet tooth in check.

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!  I will be busy counting down the days until my 30th birthday (eek!).

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!  You only have a few days left to get your entries in.  Remember to leave a comment on the original post letting me know that you have completed the tasks.  Your comment acts are your entry into the giveaway.  Good luck!  

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Homemade Crepes

Call me fancy, but I’ll take a plate of crepes for breakfast any day.  Light, fluffy and delicate, they practically melt in your mouth.  Growing up, my mom would always whip up a fresh batch of crepes on lazy weekend mornings.  Topped with mixed berries and dusted with powdered sugar, there was no better way to start the day.  Since moving out on my own, it is rare that I get to indulge in my favorite breakfast treat.  But thanks to Mikelle from Food. Fun. Life., weekend crepe breakfasts are back in business!

To be honest, this isn’t my first time making crepes.  I can remember back to my teenage days when I was in the mood for a yummy breakfast and was determined to satisfy my crepe craving.  Long story short…epic fail.  And one that included bodily injuries and lots of cuss words.  After such a traumatic experience, I had decided to leave the crepe making up to the professionals for a while.  But now that I am older and wiser, and a little more comfortable in the kitchen, I was ready to give it another shot.  And this time there was instant success :)

The key to a good crepe, is the initial pour.  Because crepes are so thin, and cook fast, getting the batter in the pan and shaped quickly is extremely important.  Mikelle’s step by step instructions are so simple and easy, anyone can be a crepe master!  I think it is also safe to say that having a good non-stick pan and a whole lot of butter can help to work wonders as well.

Ingredients

1 cup flour

pinch salt

1 1/4 cup skim milk

3 eggs

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

Dash of vanilla extract

Preparation

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.  Slowly whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you have a very thin, smooth batter.  (For a shortcut, just blend all ingredients in a blender.)

Heat a non-stick, 10 inch skillet over medium heat.  Grease pan with butter and pour 1/4 cup batter into the center, turning so the batter covers the bottom of the pan.

Cook until slightly bubbly and edges crispy.  Flip with a non-stick spatula and cook on other side for about a minute.  Stack cooked crepes on a plate.  Recipe yields about 10 crepes.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food. Fun. Life.

Crepes are great because they are super versatile.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner…they have you covered.  Make them savory or sweet, it’s totally up to you.  I happen to like my crepes sweet.  There was a crepe cafe in Santa Monica I used to visit that served crepes with Nutella and bananas.  Talk about a treat!  Simply sinful.

So now that I know how to make crepes, I guess you can call me the “In Her Chucks” House of Pancakes.  I currently serve Perfect Pancakes, Greek Yogurt Pancakes, Buttermilk Pancakes, and Hootenannies.  Where will my pancake journey take me next?

Your turn:  What is your favorite way to enjoy crepes?  Do you prefer them sweet or savory?  What are some of your “have to have” toppings?  Looking forward to reading your responses :)

PS:  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!  Only a few days left to get your entries in.  Remember to leave a comment on the original post letting me know that you have completed the tasks.  Your comment acts are your entry into the giveaway.  Good luck!  

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Homemade Granola

It finally happened.  After 8 months of writing my blog I am without words.  Writers block.  I have been sitting here staring at this delicious picture of granola for a good while now and still can’t seem to come up with a creative way to gush about my new favorite snack.  Don’t get me wrong, I have penned numerous introductions that were cute, clever and funny (some of which referenced my life as a “crunchy granola mom“…one of my favorites for sure), but after a few sentences I become stuck.  So instead of wrestling with it any longer, I decided to do what comes naturally to me…be honest.

*Sigh*…Now that I got that off my chest, let’s talk about this yummy, crunchy, salty, sweet concoction.

It was love at first bite.  I can’t say that I would call myself a granola lover (although I am in love with this granola…[scroll down to #10]), but there is something special about this homemade snack that has got me hooked.

Harper and I went swimming with a bunch of our mommy/baby friends a few weeks ago and a friend of mine had just made a fresh batch.  She offered some to the group and Harper and I took a small handful to share.  Well, let’s just say I went back for seconds, and thirds, and maybe fourths (don’t judge me…its amazing!).  I then begged her for the recipe.  The moment she sent it to me my oven was pre-heating and I began tossing my rolled oats in a bath of sugary goodness.


Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons of water

1/3 cup of pure maple syrup

Preparation
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl combine oats, brown sugar and salt and mix until combined.  In a small saucepan over medium heat combine oil, water, and syrup.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture.  Stir mixture to coat oats evenly.  Spread mixture onto baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.

Once the granola has cooled, you can mix in any of your favorite additions.  One cup of any of the following would be delicious:  raisins, dried cranberries, currents, flaked coconut, chocolate chips, almonds, cashews…the list goes on and on.  I threw some dry roasted pecans in there.  Feel free to make it your own :)

So what’s so great about this granola?   First of all the texture happens to be perfect.  The crunch meter weighs in at about 5, not too soft and not too “ouch this snack is ripping the inside of my mouth apart” rough.  It’s light and airy and almost reminds me of rice cereal (except maybe a few notches more on the crunch scale).  Secondly, it has a great balance of sweet and salty.  Adding nuts will help to kick up the salt factor a bit, which is a nice compliment to the maple syrup glaze.  Lastly, your options of how to enjoy it are endless.  Drowning in a bowl of almond milk?  Delish.  Sprinkled over a spoonful of yogurt?  Divine.  Shoveled into your mouth by the handful?  Why not?  And remember, with all of the add-ins, this snack can be transformed a million times over.

Need one last reason to stop what you are doing and get busy in the kitchen?  It might just be the easiest thing I have ever made.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some granola to tend to…it’s snack time :)

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Watercress Soup

A few years ago my mom attended Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland. My brother, Freddie and I got the opportunity to go out and visit her for a week. It was an amazing experience.

The Ballymaloe Cookery School is located in the middle of a 100 acre organic farm. Which means nearly everything they cook, from poultry to vegetables is raised on the property. This idea of farm fresh is what the school’s philosophy is based upon. They believe that the finest foods come from the freshest ingredients. And I would have to agree.

My mom has always been a wonderful cook, but prior to taking this course she was self-taught. Throughout her 12 week course, she learned everything she ever needed to know about food. From setting a table, to preparing a duck leg roast, and everything in-between, my mom came home with a slew of knowledge. My favorite part of her schooling was of course the amazing recipes she picked up along the way.

For Easter that year my mom made an incredible spread featuring the new recipes she had learned at school. This watercress soup was the first course. I had never had watercress before but I have to say I have been hooked ever since. When I saw the fresh bunch of watercress in my box yesterday I was pumped! I immediately emailed my mom for the recipe. And I am thrilled to share it all with you.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cups onion

1 cup potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

2 cups whole milk

1 large bunch or 1/2 lb watercress (coarse stalks removed)

Crème fraîche and sprig of herb for garnish

Preparation

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. When it begins to foam add the potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat on very low heat for about 10 minutes while you prepare the watercress.

2. Remove the lid, check if the onions and potatoes are almost soft but not colored, then add the stock and milk. Bring to a boil and cook until the onions and potatoes are tender.

3. Add the watercress and boil uncovered for about 4-5 minutes until watercress is cooked. Be careful not to overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green color.

4. Pour the soup into a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

5. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche and sprig of herb and serve.

Recipe slightly adapted from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook

Not only is this soup delicious but it is nutritious. Watercress is one of the most nourishing and medicinally powerful vegetables. It is packed with more calcium than milk, is a better source of Vitamin C than an orange and boasts a higher content of iron than spinach. It puts the super in superfood!

Fun fact: Legend has it that St. Brendan, one of the 12 Apostles of Ireland, lived to be 180 thanks to his daily diet of watercress. So if you want to live a long and healthy life, eat this soup. You can thank me later :)

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