Weekend Blueberry Corn Cakes

IMG_1532

Blueberry Corn Cakes

As we climb out of the winter here in New England, I’m starting to get really excited about the warm weather and delicious foods that are awaiting me throughout the months ahead – strawberries, sweet corn, apples, blueberries, and the list goes on and on. I love to make pancakes on the weekends for my wife, but I recently decided to try something a little different to change things up. I developed a recipe for blueberry corn cakes that tasted amazing, was easy to make, and that had us going back for second helpings with pure maple syrup on them.

The flavors in this recipe make you feel as though the warm days of summer have finally arrived, which makes it particularly good for those days that may be a bit on the chilly side once you step out the door. Just be sure to have a nice cup of coffee standing by to make your morning complete. (NOTE: The recipe makes about a dozen pancakes, which gives you some to freeze for a quick weekday breakfast.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups corn meal (I prefer yellow)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons blueberry jam (NOT jelly)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup blueberries, frozen (thawed) or fresh

Directions:

  • Heat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and set aside a sheet pan.
  • Whisk the flour, corn meal, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk the jam, eggs, milk, and butter together.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix them until just combined. Fold the blueberries into the mixture, making sure not to over mix. Let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat a nonstick griddle to just under 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Once heated, spoon the mixture in 1/3 cup increments onto the griddle. When bubbles begin to appear and pop in the middle (the bottom will also be golden brown), flip the cakes over and finish cooking for another few minutes, until golden brown.
  • Keep finished cakes on the sheet pan in the warm oven until you’re ready to enjoy them.
  • Serve the finished cakes with butter and pure maple syrup (only use fresh, not the fake stuff – even better if it’s from New England.)
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Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

JH

Me and my beautiful wife out for a walk in warmer weather.

It’s been a while since I had a chance to sit down and write on this blog. It’s not due to a lack of ideas or ambition, but just from a lack of time. It’s that idea of time that really inspired me as I looked at the calendar on my office wall and prepared to take it down to make room for 2016. From a very early age I can remember my mother saying the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun.” I never thought anything of it until later in life and it rings true when looking back at 2015. I say that because this year has been fun and it’s flown by!

This has been an amazing year for me and my family. We celebrated our one year anniversary as Massachusetts residents and began to discuss plans for the future. I celebrated landing my dream job and have been doing a bit more traveling than I’ve been able to do in the past. We celebrated friendships gained and looked sadly at friendships that have faded with time. We stepped into new opportunities and looked back at what we’ve learned from the past. The year moved quickly, but the life we lived through the days on the calendar still brings a smile to my face.

I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring for us. We’re already planning to go to Paris, visit friends and relatives throughout the United States, and explore our New England home even more. We’ll be developing and testing new recipes, trying new restaurants, and introducing ourselves to foods that have yet to cross our radar screens (and our palates). I’m even going to be looking back on some of the things I did in 2015, but didn’t blog about at the time. Along the way, I’m going to be sharing a lot more of these experiences with each of you. That’s how we can each become better travelers and foodies who aren’t afraid to explore the world and the many people and cultures who call it home.

I wrote a recent blog post for work about hope (A Season of Hope) and I commented in it that I have a firm belief that hope is something we’re all born with. I also feel that we never truly lose hope, but just lose sight of it sometimes. There’s always a spark there that’s waiting to be stoked into a roaring fire of joy and optimism. As we enter 2016, make sure to push aside all of the harsh moments that 2015 has put in your path. This is a new year and a time to look with hope to a year filled with exciting travels (even if it’s to the next town over), delicious food (even if it’s your corner restaurant that’s been a staple for years), and moments that take you out of your comfort zone to meet people and do things you’ve never dreamed of.

Have a great New Year’s Eve and I’ll see you in 2016!

 

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The Simple Things – Homemade Vanilla Extract

IMG_0021Time has flown by since my last blog post and I feel as though I’ve neglected each of you. It’s been an extremely busy first half of summer with a new job and lots of errands courtesy of my wife. But all of that’s given me time to think lately about the simple things that we take for granted in the kitchen. Each of us is guilty of going through life at a faster pace than we really should, but the “short cuts/conveniences” that we sometime utilize in the kitchen come at a very high price. We could take matters into our own hands, save some money (we all like that), and get a much higher quality outcome.

This is the first part of a series that I will be adding to on an ongoing basis, as items come to my attention. The first post has to do with one of my favorite things to have come across: homemade vanilla extract. The prices charged in stores for pure (why would you ever buy artificial!?) is ridiculous, particularly for those of us who bake and make hot chocolate very often. Several years ago, I was speaking with an associate at one of my favorite stores in the world – World Spice Merchants (www.worldspice.com) – to find out if they offered vanilla extract. Their spice selection is amazing and I just assumed that they would have fantastic vanilla extract.

The associate informed me that they didn’t carry the extract, but that he could tell me how to make my own. I had never thought of doing this, but the idea intrigued me. That was in 2012 and I have never purchased another bottle of vanilla extract from a grocery store. This recipe (I shouldn’t even call it one because of how simple it is) will give you some of the best extract you’ve ever had. You just have to exercise patience during the process.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients;

  • 750 ml plain vodka (I prefer Smirnoff, but it’s your choice)
  • 5-6 vanilla beans (get high quality beans from a wholesaler – like World Spice Merchants –  because the outcome is worth it and the price will be much less than beans in the grocery store)

Directions:

  • Split the vanilla pods in half with a sharp knife.
  • Toss the split pods into the bottle of vodka.
  • Let the bottle sit in a dark spot of the cabinet for 45 days.
  • When time is up, enjoy the extract!

Like I said, it’s that simple. I hope you enjoy the end product!

 

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Creamy Asparagus Pasta with Lemon

It’s always fun to find new and delicious recipes to try. One that I found was for pasta with asparagus puree & lemony ricotta posted on The Rustic Plate. The original recipe is delicious, but I have a habit of always wanting to make a recipe my own. I reworked the recipe into something that I think will be easy to put together for a weeknight meal or as a sneaky way to get vegetables into your kids’ diet.

An added bonus is the absence of meat, which makes this perfect for a Meat Free Monday dinner. The great thing is that this dish packs a lot of flavor and nutrition for very little money. As Jacques Pépin always says, “happy cooking!”

Creamy Asparagus Pasta with Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches (about 2 pounds) of thin asparagus, trimmed of the woody parts
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced or grated using a microplane (depending on your taste for garlic)
  • 16 oz whole milk ricotta
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus more for garnishing)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds of penne pasta (amount depends on how much sauce you like with your pasta)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  • Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for 4-5 minutes or until just passed al dente.
  • When the asparagus is cooked, remove it from the cooking water and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Place the asparagus into a food processor with the ricotta, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blitz everything until a smooth sauce has formed. Set the mixture aside.
  • Drop the pasta into the water and set the timer for it to cook until it’s al dente.
  • Take the sauce mixture and put it into a large pot with the butter. Heat the mixture on a medium to medium-low flame as you wait for the pasta to finish.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain it (save some of the water, just in case you need it to thin the sauce) and toss it into the pot with the sauce. Toss the mixture to coat. Add the lemon zest and some additional salt and pepper.
  • Serve the pasta in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Categories: Food, Recipe | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Even More To Do In Salem, MA

Back in September 2014, I wrote about some of the places that my wife and I have come to love in Salem since we moved here in the spring of that same year (Salem, MA…It’s More Than Witch Trials). I had mentioned at the end of the posting that I would be providing updates on new favorites and other things that make Salem one of the best places to visit on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

As you may have heard, it’s been tough in Salem (and all of New England) during this past winter. Snow was clogging the streets, a parking spot became more precious than the art at the Peabody Essex Museum, and there seemed to be nobody moving around town other than the snow plow drivers. Like many other areas that were inundated by massive amounts of snow this year, the businesses in Salem suffered from a lack of business, which put their futures in jeopardy. Now, the snow is (nearly) melted and Salem has come back to life. My wife and I recently went walking around town on one of the first warm days we’ve seen in months and it seemed like everyone was out enjoying the warmth and sunshine – many of us were even wearing shorts.

As we move toward summer and those important weekend and long-term getaways, I wanted to tell you about a few more places to visit and things to do in Salem.

Attractions

IMG_9737Salem Trolley – Website (8 Central Street, Salem, MA) 

When you live in Salem, you get used to seeing the red and green trolleys traveling the streets during the warmer months of the year. Don’t get me wrong, the trolleys are a touristy thing to do in Salem and I’m not usually a “touristy” kind of person. However, this is one touristy thing that you have to do when you visit Salem. The tours are very informative and a lot of fun. The tour guides are extremely knowledgable about the history of Salem and some of its more well-known citizens. For residents, the tours are free as long as you get your passes from their main office at 8 Central Street in Salem. For visitors, tickets are available at a number of locations listed on their website or online. The great part is that you can get on and off of the trolley throughout the day for the one-time cost. It’s a great tour and well worth the money to really get to know Salem and its history.

Shops

IMG_9738Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company – Website (122 Derby Street, Salem, MA)

If you love chocolate, this is the place for you. From the moment you walk in, you feel like you’re entering one of those old-fashioned candy shops your grandparents told you about with candy in jars, selection as far as the eye can see, and chocolate that takes your taste buds to another level. Granted, they have a secondary location in North Andover, MA, but this is the original. This business, though not in the hands of the same family, dates all the way back to early 19th century. They’re known for their turtles (thanks to a lady named Oprah) and their “Salem Gibralters,” but my wife and I have two different favorites. My wife swears by their caramels and I am a big fan of their “peanut butter pillows” with toasted coconut on top. Whatever you like, just know that everything there is delicious.

IMG_9722Wicked Good Books – Website (215 Essex Street, Salem, MA)

It seems like those big box bookstores are everywhere, but there’s nothing like a locally owned bookstore. Wicked Good Books is one of these stores. Their selection is amazing for such a small location and they’re always willing to help you find (or order) what you’re looking for. I get a kick out of the fact that they not only sell new books, but used ones as well. They also feature a great selection of books specifically about Salem and the rest of the Massachusetts North Shore. Keep in mind that they don’t have a coffee shop or free wifi, but if you’re looking for an honest-to-goodness local bookstore, this is your place and you will not be disappointed.

Restaurants

IMG_9739Ziggys & Sons Donuts – Website (Facebook) (2 Essex Street, Salem, MA)

This place is an institution in Salem and on the North Shore. They’ve been around for nearly half a century and they’re still making some of the most delicious donuts that I have ever tasted. I know that there’s another donut company that claims to have the donut business wrapped up in Massachusetts, but they aren’t even close to Ziggy’s. They have an alternate location in Peabody, MA, but the original is a must. The shop is tiny and there’s a counter with a few stools to sit at. It’s run by one of the best family teams that I’ve ever met. The donuts are kept in an old wood and glass display case until you place your order. They also make other treats like bismarks and other delicious items. Word to the wise: get here as early as you can. The shop opens early and they sell items very quickly. Hours can be found on their Facebook page.

IMG_9740Turner’s Seafood – Website (43 Church Street, Salem, MA)

There are three Turner’s locations, but I don’t consider them to be a chain because they specifically local to the North Shore of Massachusetts. The Salem location, which is my favorite, is found inside of the historic Lyceum Hall. The seafood is some of the best that I’ve ever had, which says a lot because I grew up surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. Along with the outstanding quality and flavors, their prices are also very notable. They are one of the least expensive seafood restaurants to be found in the area, which explains why the wait can be a bit lengthy during the summer and October seasons. Do yourself a favor and try two of my favorite dishes offered on their menu: the raw oysters and their tuna chili. They also offer great items for those who may not be drawn to the fruits de mer.

IMG_9735Bella Verona – Website (107 Essex Street, Salem, MA)

This is the restaurant that will teach you about what Italian food can truly be and why Italians always have smiles on their faces. This was one of the first restaurants that my wife and I dined in when we visited Salem to house hunt. It sits directly across from the historic Hawthorne Hotel and only has a handful of seats. Keeping this in mind, make sure to make reservations before you visit. The interior makes you feel as though you’ve been transported to a small tratoria in a tiny Italian village. They have a core menu, but their specials change with each evening. The wait staff is exceptional and they welcome you to your table with delicious fresh bread and a homemade olive spread that is out of this world. As you would hope with an Italian restaurant, their wine selection is also exceptional and reasonably priced. I can honestly say that you cannot make a bad selection from their menu. Every item is freshly made and the flavors sing with each bite you take. This restaurant is our go-to location for special dinners or just a bit of a “fancy” date night. There is no charge for the romantic atmosphere – it’s free.

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How Did I Catch The Travel Bug? – Part 3

Me and my mother on the water in Massachusetts.

Me and my mom on the water in Massachusetts.

I was going through some of the blog drafts that I have sitting around and it occurred to me that I still had one last part of this series to publish. I’ve already told you about my grandfather and father, both of whom did a great deal to instill a thirst for adventure and travel in me. The last person that I want to speak about is very important to me. She was two parents to me and made sure that I grew up to be the person that I am today. This person is my mom.

My mother raised me alone after my father passed away and I think that she deserves a medal for the job that she did. Many of my friends who have sons will tell you that they are so much more difficult to raise than daughters, and my mother had to be both parents. Thankfully, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, she had help from the wonderful family that surrounded us throughout my life.

I wasn’t the typical boy growing up. I wasn’t into all of the things everyone else did, like fishing, camping, hunting, or playing sports. Instead, I loved to travel and to see new things. My mother encouraged this by taking me on trips all across the United States or by letting me travel with my grandparents in their green 1970’s camper. She raised me to not be afraid to climb that rock to see what was on the other side or to try the weird thing on the plate in front of me. Those experiences were, for the most part, amazing moments that were life-changing moments that have stuck with me to this day. With all of these experiences there was also a lesson that she was teaching me. My mother taught me to never be afraid to get out of my comfort zone and to always be willing to experience everything that life has to offer. Most of the time experiences are fun and exciting, but sometimes they’re hard or hurt. In the end, all of those experiences build you into the person that you are at this moment.

When I graduated high school my mother took me to Boston for nearly two weeks to walk the Freedom Trail, eat some Boston baked beans at Cheers, and to have one last family vacation before I started college. I had vacationed in New England many times throughout my life and I loved it, but at the end of that trip something in me had changed. I had always seen myself living my whole life with the rest of my family in Delaware, but now I wanted something different. I remember looking at my mother during the drive home and telling her that I was going to move to Massachusetts someday. She smiled and told me that I could do anything I dreamed of and that if moving to Massachusetts was my dream, that I should pursue it. It took nearly 15 years, but my dream finally came true.

My mother is an amazing woman who has taught me so many lessons in life. She has worked to instill a love of the arts, travel, adventure, and hope within me. My life, like many of you, has been filled with good times and difficult times. Thanks to the lessons my mother taught me throughout the years, the difficult times don’t last and hope returns brighter and stronger than ever before.

This is the last part of this series. I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to look back on some of the people who have influenced me and my love of travel. Travel, whether it’s an hour away or around the world, serves to bring joy and wonder to us. Don’t neglect the precious time you can spend with friends and family taking a vacation. It doesn’t have to be an expensive trip. The only thing that matters is getting out there and experiencing everything that this wonderful world has to offer. Also, make sure to truly appreciate and enjoy your trip by disconnecting from technology. I know that our digital toys can make traveling a bit easier, but they can be more of a negative when you spend the trip online worrying about social media instead of focusing on relaxing and recharging. I’ve been lucky to learn these lessons early and I hope you have now, too.

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Easy & Delicious Scones Anyone Will Love

My wife outside of Huffkins in Cheltenham.

My wife outside of Huffkins in Cheltenham.

Baked goods are delicious pieces of heaven. With the wide variety of textures and flavors to choose from the world’s cultures, it’s hard to find a favorite. One of my all-time favorites has to be the traditional British scone. They don’t have to be fancy (although it doesn’t hurt), but they have to be done right (they’d better be for the calories that they bring to the table).

The British have perfected these beautifully baked jewels. It makes me a little sad to think that many people will live their whole lives without ever tasting a real scone. Instead, they think that a good scone is one that can be found at the local gas station or in the grocery store. The last time my wife and I were in the UK, we were lucky enough to find Huffkins, a small, local chain of tea rooms in the Cotswolds. If you’re ever in the area, do yourself a favor and check them out. They are a fantastic place to enjoy delicious tea, outstanding baked treats (their scones are great), and a true taste of what it must be to be lucky enough to live in that beautiful part of the UK.

I’ve tried numerous times over the years to make scones, but I’ve never been very happy with the outcomes – too dry, not risen enough, etc. I’ve recently been on a mission to find a great scone recipe that I can make at home that will remind me of the scones that I enjoyed in the UK. Now, I think that I’ve finally found it (with some tweaks and changes made by me to make the recipe my own).

The original recipe that I’m working from was developed by Jane Hornby and can be found here. As I said before, I took her recipe and made some changes to make it work in my US kitchen and put my own spin on it. I hope you enjoy it, but just remember that there are two elements that are absolutely necessary when eating them: clotted cream and jam (flavor is your choice). My wife disagrees with me about the toppings – she feels that lemon curd is the best. I hope you enjoy them no matter what toppings you choose.

Classic Scones

Ingredients:

  • 350 grams AP flour + additional for dusting
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (I prefer sea salt)
  • 6 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar (vanilla sugar is great for this, if you have it)
  • 175 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 egg, beaten in a bowl

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F). Prepare a sheet pan by simply lining it with parchment paper.
  • Measure out the flour, baking powder, and salt. Place them into a bowl and add the butter, making sure to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs (You may have a flake or two of butter, which is fine). Now, mix in the lemon zest and sugar.
  • In a measuring cup, place the milk into a microwave and warm it for 30 seconds (just make sure it doesn’t get hot, only warm). After taking it out of the microwave, add in the lemon juice and vanilla. Stir this mixture and let it stand for about one minute.
  • Place the prepared tray in the oven to heat up while you finish working.
  • Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. This is when it might get a bit tricky. Mix the dough together with a fork until it’s combined. You want a dough that’s a bit on the wet side. If it’s too dry, add a bit more milk.
  • On a marble or other work surface, sprinkle flour and them turn out the dough onto it. Sprinkling a little flour on top (as well as a tiny bit of water if it’s too dry) and work the dough only until it smooths out a bit. Remember, it should still be a bit tacky.
  • Roll out the dough until it’s just over an inch thick. You can use a cutter, but I just use the ring from a pint jar (I have a ton of these things from all the canning we do), and now you want to cut the individual scones out, setting them aside until you’ve finished them all and reworking the dough pieces until you’ve used them all up. Beat the egg in a bowl and place it aside with a brush.
  • Carefully pull out the hot pan from the oven and place it within your reach. Take the scones and place them on the pan and brush them with the beaten egg and put them into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and risen.
  • When they have browned and risen, remove them from the oven and place them on a cooling rack for five minutes while you get the jam and clotted cream from the fridge.
  • Enjoy these scones now, or freeze them and reheat to enjoy later.
Categories: Food, Food Memories, Recipe, UK | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

My Own Personal Love Story

HJ2Love is a popular subject, particularly in February. We see every possible expression of love that is available for purchase during the lead up to Valentine’s Day. But for me, there’s another day that is infinitely more precious to me. On February 5, 2005, I married my best friend and the love that I have for her has grown with each day. In fact, today we’re celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.

We met thanks to the secret plans of a few friends, but that was just the start. That first meeting consisted of a lot of talking and my wife winning every game of pool that I challenged her to (at the time, I had no idea that her family had owned a pool table). A short time later, I was able to get her phone number and ask her out on a date. The rest, as the old saying goes, is history. It was after that first date that I made a faithful comment to a friend. He asked me how it had gone and I told him that it was, “great…I just went out with my future wife.”

You may find that hard to believe, but I knew it from that first date. She was the love of my life and I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. For a long time, she had no idea that I had purchased her engagement ring a few months later and had held onto it until the right moment (which took a while). But my wait was worth it and we have never looked back.

Over the years, we’ve taken every possible opportunity to make memories with each other that will last a lifetime, and I couldn’t think of another person who I want by my side through this journey. Our adventures have taken us across the US and over oceans. We’ve eaten croissants in Paris and seafood (just me on this one, she doesn’t like it) in Seattle. Through it all, we’ve relished the chance to share new memories with each other. That’s not to say that each day has been easy.

We’ve gone through our fair share of pain and heartache, but these aren’t experiences that I would wish away. They’ve strengthened the love we have for each other and have shaped who we are. I’ve come to think that the good times, like travel, are chances for resting and relaxing with each other, while the difficult times are there to show the true strength of a marriage. I wouldn’t want anyone else next to me as I go through the highs and lows of life.

As I said, she is my best friend. As I look back on our journey, I’m amazed by every step – from how we met to the adventures we’ve embarked on. The funny thing is that this is only our 10th wedding anniversary. Imagine the stories we’ll have on our 50th! Our journey has really just begun and I can’t wait to continue forward.

 

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Naan Pizza

IMG_9546Meat Free Mondays have been a mainstay in our home for a while and we’re always looking for new recipes to try, but sometimes we just create them ourselves. My wife made the suggestions that turned into this “pizza” and we were very happy with the results. It’s also much healthier than a traditional pizza and includes an entire bag of baby spinach. We love these types of recipes because we don’t feel as guilty enjoying them.

As I’ve said many times, please enjoy this recipe as it’s written or make it your own. Use the ingredients you prefer, but just try to keep it healthy. I would also suggest that, if you’ve never tried it, you give Meat Free Monday a try. It’s only one day a week, but every little change can make a big difference in the world we live in. Enjoy!

Meat Free Monday Naan Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of baby spinach, cleaned and dried
  • 1 red onion
  • A 2-pack of garlic naan bread
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1Tbsp. butter (unsalted)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • If you have a pizza stone, place it on the lower rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). If you don’t have a pizza stone, use an inverted sheet pan. You need a flat surface.
  • Remove the skin of the onion and cut it into half moons. Put 1 Tbsp. of butter and about 1-2 Tbsp. of EVOO into a nonstick pan and turn the heat to medium low. Once it’s heated, add the onion, as well as salt and pepper to taste, and cook it slowly for 15-20 minutes to caramelize them (DO NOT burn them). A few minutes before removing them from the heat, add the balsamic vinegar so that it sweetens up before the onions are taken off of the heat. When they are finished, use a slotted spoon (removes a good amount of the oil) and place them into a bowl to cool slightly.
  • In the same nonstick pan with the leftover oil, add in the spinach, as well as salt and pepper to taste, and cook until wilted (3-5 minutes). Once the spinach is wilted, use a slotted spoon (removes any liquid) and place it into a bowl to cool slightly.
  • Take the two naan breads and place them onto a sheet of parchment paper that is sitting on a pizza peel or inverted sheet pan. Spread the onion mixture onto the bread. Now, add the spinach and dot it evenly with the goat cheese. Drizzle a little EVOO over them and place them in the oven for 7 minutes to cook.
  • When finished, remove them from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before enjoying them.
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Mama Neville’s Lentil Soup

IMG_9487Hi, I’m Jason and I am not a soup eater. That’s right, even in the coldest months of the year I will usually avoid soup. I don’t know why, but there are very few that I can actually sit down to at dinner and enjoy. Some of them include my mother’s chicken noodle soup and my wife’s corn chowder, but there is another that really sends me back in time.

When I was very young, my mother had a good friend whose mother, Mama Neville, was a fantastic cook. One of her specialities was a very simple peasant soup that you’d probably find in any number of kitchens in Italy. Even at age five, I was hooked on her lentil soup. The flavors are simple, but very satisfying. It’s also meatless, which can come in very handy on when you’re trying to cut down on your grocery budget. The best part is that it is one of the easiest soups you can make. I guarantee that your family or guests will walk away with a smile on their faces when you serve this at your table.

Mama Neville’s Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of green lentils
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated to a paste
  • 1/2 package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water

Directions:

  • After sorting through the lentils, add them to a 3-4 quart pot (the kind you make soup in) and then fill it 3/4 full with fresh, cold water. Add the oregano, coriander and garlic. Stir everything together and bring it to a boil.
  • Once the mixture has reached a boil, partially cover it and lower the heat to a simmer for 50 minutes.
  • When 50 minutes have gone by, add in the spinach and partially cover to simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • When 10 minutes have gone by, turn off the heat and stir in salt and pepper to taste, as well as a splash of some good olive oil.
  • Serve the soup in bowls with an additional small splash of olive oil.
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