Week 4:: Supper Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard

How's the weather been in your neck of the woods? Here it's starting to warm up...again. When the weather (not cold, not hot) is like this, comfort food is always...well, comforting. One of my favorite comfort foods is chicken pot pie. love it. I've never made one though.
So you already know that Smitten Kitchen is my new favorite cookbook, right? Well, there is a pot pie recipe in the cookbook. yay. Now I don't think I've ever used swiss chard before and I've never used or had Pancetta, but they sounded good and worth a try. Okay this recipe was, by my standard, labor intensive! Actually, since I was fighting a cold, it took 3 days to make. One day I made the filling, the next day I made the dough, and the day after that I assembled the pot pies and baked them.
These pot pies are divine. Seriously, they're in a league of its own and worth the effort (although I probably won't make them again until Fall.) Here are a few pics from the process and the end result.
Since I posted a recipe last week from the cookbook, I didn't feel right posting another recipe from the book. However, you can check your local library for a copy or pick up one at local (independent) bookstore.

xo, jen

Confession No. 1

I said I wasn't gonna, but I did! My racing retirement is over. I signed up for a 5k next weekend and a 5k color run in May. Have you ever done one of these? It looks like so much fun. Oh, and I will be signing up for a 1/2 marathon in June. I know, I know, but I just couldn't help myself. Someone once told me if you start running and doing races, it's hard to quit. Guess, she's right!

all of our running shoes lined up and ready

xo, jen

Week 3 :: Supper Mushroom Bourguignon

This week's recipe comes from my new favorite cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen. Love, love, love it. The recipes are so easy to follow and the photographs are beautiful. Back in the day, I used to visit Smitten Kitchen blog, but at the time I wasn't that into cooking. Fast forward a few years and I'm all about food.
So I've wanted to try beef bourguignon ever since I saw Julie & Julia, but felt a little intimidated by the process. you saw the movie, right? Well, Smitten Kitchen's less intimidating, you can make it on a weeknight version was appealing and needed to be made by me. This dish not only looked beautiful, it was savory and rich without being too heavy. Another one to add to my recipe file.

Smitten Kitchen's Mushroom Bourguignon 
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter, softened
2 lbs portobello mushrooms
1 c. pearl onions
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small onion finely diced
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. red wine
2 tbs tomato paste
2c beef or vegetable stock
1.5 tbs all purpose flour
egg noodles
sour cream and chopped chives (optional)

Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.

since I'm cooking for two, I only used half of the ingredient amounts and we actually had enough for the dinner and one lunch.

xo, jen

Mon{date} :: Playa del Rey

Mondays can be hard for many of us being that it's usually the start of the work week. Since my husband and I are off on Mondays (we do work most Saturdays), we decided to start planning our dates on Mondays. We think this will be pretty nice since the places we'll go to will be less crowded. Our dates will begin early afternoon and end sometime after rush hour traffic (this is LA.) This way we get to spend time just hanging out, exploring, or doing whatever, then hit a happy hour for dinner & "A" drink. Afterwards, (we should still get home at a pretty early hour) we can just relax together. Sounds good right? Hopefully, we make this a priority and don't let life get in the way. Here's a few pics from our first day Mon{date}:

xo jen

Book 1 :: Seraphina

Yay, I finished reading my first book of the year. almost didn't make it. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman was the book I chose after reading a tremendous amount of positive reviews. I must say that the book lived up to hype. The story was complex, in a good way, and so compelling that you don't have a choice but to get wrapped up in Seraphina's world. Seraphina herself is a well rounded, smart, believable, and likeable character. If you would like to read some reviews, check out Good Reads.

Week 2 :: SUPPER Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken

One of my favorite food shows to watch was Barefoot Contessa. I say was because now I don't have "real" cable. Her voice is so soothing and she always seems to be so relaxed while she prepares her meals. A couple of months ago we got Ina Garten's latest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, at my local library, yay. After being on the wait list, I finally got it and it is WONDERFUL! I own her Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook and it also is a gem. It was challenging trying to decide which recipe to try first, but I did manage to chose the crispy mustard-roasted chicken. YUM YUM YUM!!! Again this is a cookbook where the recipes are totally doable and is filled with great tips and ideas for menu planning and successful execution.

Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken slightly adapted
4 garlic cloves
1tablespoon minced fresh thyme (didn't use), kosher salt, & freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I only had salted)
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine 
1 chicken (3.5-4lbs) cut in eighths (I used one pound of boneless, skinless thighs)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Place garlic, thyme, 2 tsp salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil, and butter and pulse a few times to moisten the bread flakes. Pour mixture onto a large plate. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the mustard and wine.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Dip each piece in the mustard mixture to coat on all sides, and then place skin-side down only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on a sheet pan crumb-side up. Press the remaining crumbs on the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

side note:
I didn't use thyme because I didn't have any. I did use herbs de provence since it's a blend that includes thyme. The chicken I used was thighs and didn't have skin, but still turned out great. Also, since I was cooking for two people, I just cut the recipe in half. 

xo, jen


So to keep me accountable with a new years resolution: cooking one new meal a year- a week, I'm starting a weekly series here called Suppers, even though I may try new breakfast recipes as well. Each Monday I'll post the new recipe tried along with a couple of pictures of the adventure. Cooking is fun and most of the time rewarding, but life can get so busy that cooking a good meal or trying new recipes fall to the wayside. In my house we love food...we love homecooked food. Who doesn't love a good home cooked meal? My husband is loving this resolution. Here's the new recipe for week one:

#1--Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
recipe from the kitchn with a few adaptions
2 teaspoons oil or ghee (I used olive oil)
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger, from a 3-inch piece (didn't use)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional) (used cayenne pepper) 
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 pound baby spinach
14-ounce can coconut milk (used light coconut milk)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
To serve:
Whole roasted sweet potatoes
(didn't use)
Cilantro leaves, to garnish (didn't use)
Toasted unsweetened coconut, to garnish (didn't use)
Heat the oil or ghee in a large, deep Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and red pepper, if using. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes or until the chickpeas are beginning to turn golden and they are coated with the onion and garlic mixture.
Toss in the spinach, one handful at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir in a handful or two and wait for it to wilt down and make room in the pot before adding the next handful. When all the spinach has been stirred in, pour in the coconut milk and stir in the salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the chickpeas are warm through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary. I added a teaspoon of brown sugar here.
Serve hot over roasted sweet potatoes, with cilantro leaves and toasted unsweetened coconut to garnish. I served over organic brown rice.
This dish was delicious and will be made again and again!!! xo, jen

Thursday Throwback

A couple weeks ago a friend and I got to spend some time together. We had a great time walking and sharing bits and pieces of our lives. A cool thing we did when we got back to her house was to pray together. While she was praying, she mentioned God's kindness. On my way back home all I thought about was God's kindness and it reminded me of the song Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant. Listen to the lyrics, it too may remind you of God or someone special. Enjoy. xo, jen

2013 Resolutions

Crazy, 2012 flew by! Today is officially 2013. As we get older, time seems to slip past us without us being aware that it's happening. For at least the past two years (maybe three), I've made a conscious decision not to set New Year's Resolutions. Mostly because I didn't want to be accountable to anything or anyone. Mixed in with a little fear, fear of not being able to accomplish what I said I would. However, 2013 will be different because I truly want and need to come up with some resolutions. The need comes from wanting to grow as a person. Not that I feel like I'm in a bad place, I just don't want to become complacent in life. If I'm not working on any goals/ resolutions, I'm not growing and if I'm not growing, I'm dying. I've been thinking about this and have come up with a short list. To help keep me accountable, I decided to post them here. So here goes:

xo, jen