Raspberry-Rhubarb Quick Bread

Raspberry-Rhubarb Quick Bread with Cream Cheese GlazeI’ve got a smidge of a problem with my freezer.  You see, I put things in but they never come out.

That is, until they fall on my head as I’m trying to shove something else in there.

But after being assaulted by an almost year-old bag of frozen rhubarb, I decided it was time to take control of the situation.  Theoretically, rhubarb should be back in season within a month, so it would be silly to hang on to the bag I froze last spring.  Digging deeper, I discovered there were several bags of forgotten raspberries, as well.  Let’s put this frozen fruit to work and make a loaf of quick bread.

I love quick breads.  Who doesn’t?  There’s easy.  Forgiving.  You don’t have to break out the stand mixer.  Deliciously moist.  Hold up well for a few days.  I baked this loaf on Friday and I’m still, happily, eating it on Tuesday as I write this.

But, enough of my jibber-jabber.  This is supposed to be quick bread.  Let’s get it done.

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Baked Risotto with Chicken, Lemon & Scallions

Baked Risotto with Chicken Thighs, Lemon & Scallions

When you spend your life working in a restaurant and blogging about what you cook at home, it’s easy to overcomplicate food.  Every dinner has to be the best.  30 minute meals?  Save ’em for Rachael Ray.  1 skillet suppers?  I’m not about to sacrifice flavor for a couple fewer dishes at the end of the night. Chicken and rice for dinner?  Sounds boring, like what I give my dog when he’s sick.

But easy can be delicious and simple flavors can be supremely satisfying.  And if both of those are true, washing just 1 pan after dinner is the icing on the cake.

Thankfully, that’s the case with this recipe.  It’s something I tried it on a whim.  I had a bit of a tummy ache and wanted something soothing.  Plus, I was feeling a tad lazy so I decided to just toss everything in my cast-iron skillet, throw it in the oven, and call it a day.  To my surprise, it was way good.  The rice turned into risotto, without me standing by its side, stirring.  The chicken was moist and tender, with crispy skin.  Score!  Lemons, scallions, and garlic livened things up and a dusting of Parmesan sealed the deal; this was good enough to make again a couple of days later to share with you.

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Lamb Bolognese Sauce with Peas & Mint

Lamb Bolognese with Peas & Mint

I’ve been trying so hard to think spring and be optimistic, but spring in Minnesota is really just an extension of winter.  I’m enjoying the fact that it’s staying light past 7 pm.  That is awesome.  I’ve been able to find baby artichokes and good asparagus at the grocery store.  Excellent, I can taste spring, even if I can’t see it.  I bought a new sundress in anticipation of better weather.  I finally spotted my first robin of the season.  Who cares if it was perched on a nasty, gray pile of snow?  Positive thoughts, think positive thoughts.

Enter, Lamb Bolognese Sauce with Peas & Mint.  It’s the perfect way to celebrate spring flavors in a realistic, still-cooped-up-in-the-house-and-freezing-my-behind-off kind of way.

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Almond Butter, Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies

Almond Joy CookiesThe way I see it, there are 2 ways to deal with rainy snowy days.  You can order a pizza, put on your jammies and watch an old movie or you can bake cookies.

Today I’m going the cookie route.

When it’s gloomy out and you might be feeling a little gloomy yourself, you don’t want crazy, fancy cookies.  Save the macarons, cutesy cut-outs, and sandwich cookies for another occasion.  We’re looking for classic: crisp, crackly exterior with a chewy center.  Chocolate?  Good idea.  Peanut butter?  Maybe if I had some…let’s try almond butter instead.  Chocolate and almonds. Might as well toss in some coconut and go for an Almond Joy sort of thing.

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Chèvre Chaud Salad with Roasted Asparagus

Chèvre Chaud Salad with Roasted Asparagus 2
When you get home from a vacation, you inevitably think about everything you should have done differently.  You should have stayed in a more charming part of town, found a cheaper hotel, taken more hikes, bought a couple of souvenirs, splurged on better restaurants.  You should have made more of an attempt to learn the local history or speak the language.  You should have branched out, tried new things, eaten more adventurously.  Like maybe, when I went to France for the first time, I should have eaten something other than a warm chèvre salad for lunch every day.

Or maybe not.

Of the many traveling regrets I’ve had, my week of eating chèvre chaud salads is not one of them.  Warm, creamy goat cheese smeared on assaultingly crunchy baguette croutons and a pile of lightly dressed greens; could there be a more perfect lunch or a more satisfying salad?  I think not.

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