Monday, December 29, 2014

Chicken and Vegetable Pho

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We both took time off from work to spend time with family and friends, going to church, exchanging presents, eating too many Christmas cookies and then walking them off.  It was good to rest.

Today, we thought you might need a break from all the rich holiday food.  This chicken and vegetable pho is the perfect anecdote.  Bright, clean, fresh and as spicy as you like it, it’s a delicious contrast to what we’ve been eating the rest of this month.  If you haven’t had chicken pho, is basically a beautiful aromatic chicken broth that you fill with rice noodles (we like brown rice noodles), mung bean sprouts, fresh herbs, spicy peppers and other savory garnishes. We also add lots of vegetables to the broth, for obvious reasons.  It’s chicken soup with an attitude. 

And, if you still have house guests, this recipe is perfect. Make a big pot of the broth and then set out bowls of garnishes, so everyone can build their own version of the perfect pho.

We hope you enjoy this chicken and vegetable pho during these last few days of 2014, especially with those you love!

Chicken Pho

Adapted from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 6

For the broth

2 unpeeled yellow onions, quartered
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of unpeeled fresh ginger, smashed
4 quarts cold water
One 5-pound chicken
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed
Stems from one bunch of cilantro
3 star anise
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
8 cloves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
2 small dried chile peppers
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

vegetables of your choice (eg, 1 red pepper, sliced & 1 bunch broccolini)
1 pound dried brown rice noodles


1 large scallion, thinly sliced
1 pound mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, Thai basil if you can find it
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 jalapeƱos, thinly sliced
Garlic hot sauce, like Sriracha

First, char the onions and the ginger.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the onions and ginger on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.

Next, make the broth.  Place the chicken in a large stockpot and cover it with the water.  Add the roasted onions and ginger, salt, sugar, lemongrass, cilantro stems, spices and chile peppers.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through. 

Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let it cool.  Remove the meat from the bones and refrigerate. Return the skin and bones to the stockpot and simmer for 2 hours longer. Strain the chicken broth into a large soup pot and stir in the fish sauce.  Bring the broth back to a low simmer and add the vegetables, letting them simmer in the broth until just done.  

When you’re ready to serve, prepare the noodles.  In a large bowl of warm water, soak the noodles until pliable, about 20 minutes. You can also prepare the noodles according to the package instructions, if they differ. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drain the noodles, then add them to the saucepan and boil over high heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Divide the noodles between 6 large bowls and sprinkle with the scallion.

To serve the soup, add the reserved chicken to the broth and simmer until heated through. Ladle the broth and chicken over the noodles. Serve the soup with bowls of the garnishes, so everyone can make their own perfect version of the pho.

Note:  The broth can be made ahead and refrigerated for two days, a great way to divide up this recipe.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Homemade Lavender Body Scrub

In my Outlook calendar, I have my various tasks color-coded. It’s my goal each week to have a nice balance of work-related colors and play-related colors. Purple means “personal activities” like going out for dinner with friends, getting a manicure, or a even catching up on my favorite TV shows with Evan.

December has had a lot of purple activities, and it's been so nice.

This past weekend, each night was filled with some holiday orientated activity in which I wanted to take the hostess a homemade gift. While it’s no secret that I love to bake, I wanted to change it up a bit for my gifts this year. 

Lavender Body Scrub: about $5-$7 per jar to make these, which is a steal compared to store bought varieties!

Over the past few months, I’ve been paying particularly close attention to the things I put on my skin, like makeup, lotion, and cleaning products. That’s why I was inspired to make this Lavender Body Scrub.

Here’s the formula.

Lavender Body Scrub

It costs about $5-$7 per jar to make these, which is a steal compared to store bought varieties. You can experiment with any oils or fragrance you like, too!

Lavender Body Scrub: about $5-$7 per jar to make these, which is a steal compared to store bought varieties!

Makes 1 jar

1 jar (I like this small one from Cost Plus World Market)
1 ½ cups of Epsom salts
3 tablespoons almond oil
3 tablespoons apricot oil (or other light, fragrance free oil)
5 drops of lavender essential oil (or another fragrance you like)


Combine all ingredients in a jar. Stir until well mixed. 

Lavender Body Scrub: about $5-$7 per jar to make these, which is a steal compared to store bought varieties!

Share with those you love!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

{Recipe Redux} Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Fennel, Pomegranate Seeds and Meyer Lemon Dressing

I am in love with the Recipe Redux challenge for this month.  In honor of the Recipe Redux’s 42 month anniversary, they challenged their bloggers to grab their favorite cookbook and remake the recipe from page 42 or 142.  How fun!  I am a cookbook hoarder, with a kitchen library filled with our favorite titles.  But how often do I just crawl into bed at night to read the cookbook and admire the beautiful photos, but never actually cook from the book?

The Yellow Table by Anna Watson Carl tops my list of my favorite new cookbooks of the year.  Not only are the recipes simple, beautiful and perfect for home entertaining, but Anna’s story is inspiring.  A Nashville native who is now food writer and private chef in New York City, Anna decided to act upon her lifelong dream of publishing a cookbook.  Through her blog (also called The Yellow Table) she started on a journey to self-publish the cookbook, creating a series called The Cookbook Diaries that set her intention into focus and culminated in a cross-country road trip to help fund her Kickstarter campaign and raise the funds for publishing.  The Yellow Table cookbook is the result. 

Anna proves that when you set an intention and put passion and hard work behind it, dreams can come true.

Even better, The Yellow Table cookbook is really good!  As I flip through the pages, I find myself bookmarking recipe after recipe.  On page 142, she shares her recipe for a Shaved Brussels Sprout & Endive Salad, a simple and fresh salad that would convert even the staunchest brussels sprouts hater.  Brussels sprouts salads are also great make-ahead salads, making them perfect for dinner parties.

Here is my version of Anna’s salad.  I substituted the endive for thinly shaved fennel and added toasted pecans and sweet-tart pomegranate seeds to make a beautiful red and green salad in honor of the Christmas season.  I also love meyer lemons at this time of year, so those make an appearance in the dressing. 

I hope you enjoy this tribute to Anna’s The Yellow Table Cookbook, and that you enjoy it with someone you love!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Fennel, Pomegranate Seeds and Meyer Lemon Dressing

Anna notes in her cookbook that you can cut the greens several hours in advance and cover them with moist paper towels and store in the refrigerator.  Before serving, just add the dressing and toss and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Serves 8

1 bunch Brussels sprouts (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 fennel bulb
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Zest and juice from one Meyer lemon
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 few grinds of black pepper
1 pinch of red pepper flakes

Wash the Brussels sprouts and trim them, cutting off the bottom stem and peeling off any dry outer leaves.  Cut the sprouts in half through the stem and then very thinly slice them.  Alternatively, if you have a mandolin, you can leave them whole and slice them on the mandolin.  Place the shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Cut the tops off of the fennel bulb.  You can freeze the tops in a freezer bag for the next time you make chicken or vegetable stock.  Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the core.  Very thinly slice the fennel.  Alternatively, if you have a mandolin, you can leave the fennel whole and slice it on the mandolin.  Add the fennel to the bowl with the Brussels and then add the pomegranate seeds and the toasted pecans.  Toss everything together.

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the Meyer lemon juice and zest, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and pepper flakes.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together.  You can prepare the salad up to a few hours before serving.  The salad will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for about two days.          

Friday, December 19, 2014

Raspberry Lavender Scones

When Lisa and I first started Nourish, I was spending a lot of time in Bellingham. It was a period dedicated to new beginnings, dreaming, planning, being brave, and scones. Marionberry scones from Mount Bakery to be exact.

And although we’re no longer at the beginning stages of Nourish, it’s still nice to spend afternoons dreaming and planning for what may lie ahead in 2015.

These Raspberry Lavender Scones combine our two worlds –
lavender from California and frozen raspberries from Whatcom county, or raspberry country.  They’re not too sweet. They’re just right. And they’re even better served with a hot cup of comforting tea.

We hope you enjoy them.

Makes 6 scones

1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1 tablespoon lavender sugar (sugar with crushed lavender buds)
1 large egg (plus extra for egg wash)
¼  cup milk (*see directions)
3 tablespoons cold butter
¼ cup frozen raspberries

1.     Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2.     Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Mix in lavender sugar and salt.
3.     Rub the cold butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4.     Mix in the frozen raspberries.
5.     In a measuring cup, crack the egg and then fill to just over the 1/4 cup mark with cold milk. Whisk together.
6.     Add the milky egg mixture to the flour mixture and very gently stir until just combined.
7.     Gently pat the dough down on a floured surface until it is about 1-1.5" in height.
8.     Dust a round cookie cutter (or thin rimmed glass) with flour and cut out scones as close together as possible. Gently gather remaining dough, re-pat and cut.
9.     Transfer to lined cookie sheet, brush with egg wash, and bake for about 12 minutes until golden on top and smelling delicious.

Additional Scone Baking Tips:
*Best eaten fresh out of the oven or within a few hours.
*Scones that are not to be eaten the same day are best frozen and baked when needed. Bake from frozen.
*Like biscuits, you don't want to "over handle" the dough or it will be tough.
*If you have time, let the cut scones chill in the fridge before baking.

Enjoy, preferably with those you love.

Disclaimer: While we are the consulting dietitians for the National Processed Raspberry Council,  we’re sharing this recipe simply because we love it.