Happy New Year! Let's make some food memories in 2017

Happy New Year!

I am forever excited about the possibilities a new year brings; in my mind each one is a blank journal, waiting to be filled with the events of the coming year.  2016's journal is now complete, tucked away for cherishing and remembering; hopefully yours contains some memories of food from Feast of Eden!  It thrills me to think that we will be making some food memories together this coming year, too, and it all starts with this month's edition.  Here's a quick preview of what's coming in the January Edition!

Multi-grain Banana Pancakes are truly special, and a great start to any day.  Pancakes made with anything other than white flour tend to be a bit heavy, but my special technique yields a fluffy, healthy version.  Give them a try this coming weekend!  (And of course, you can make them without the bananas.)

Several recipes from the cafe make for a great lunch experience!  Skinny Vegetable Soup is figure-friendly and delicious!  Chock-full of fresh veggies, it is a tasty way to satisfy hunger without a lot of calories. The Righteous Roast Beef Sandwich was a wildly popular special sandwich; try it once and you'll understand why! Serve some Roasted Sweet Potato Salad on the side, a unique salad with Latin flavors, and also very healthy.  Of course, my Favorite Lemon Bars would be the perfect lunch-ending treat; a little bite of summer in the dead of winter!

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence and Smashed Roasted Potatoes is simple to make, utterly delicious, and company-worthy.  The chicken roasts over the potatoes, infusing them with its herbs and juices, and then the potatoes are smashed and served on the side.  Since the pan juices are smashed into the potatoes, no gravy or sauce is needed!  Upscale Spinach Saute' would be great on the side, all dressed up with pine nuts and a splash of balsamic, it lends a bit of brightness to the meal. 

The dessert this month is an heirloom recipe from my childhood, and the state pie of Indiana!  Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie is decadent, and has a storied past, which I share in the video.  Be sure to check it out and give this amazing recipe a try.

Don't forget to utilize the member feature, "Ask the Chef" to get your personal cooking questions answered.  Of course, each week there will be an additional recipe available in the preview recipes, and members can look forward to a Farm Journal Cookbook heirloom recipe, as well.  I have so many ideas in the works; I can't go fast enough!  I am relieved that the holidays are behind us, with all of that added busyness.

Believing that 2017 will be awesome for all!  Please stay in touch; I love your comments and questions.  And if you're still just checking things out, it's time to take advantage of the two-week free trial.  There's also a new single-pay 12 month subscription that will help you save money.  Just click here to sign up!  Here's to all that lies ahead!


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Multi-grain Banana Pancakes

Multi-grain Banana Pancakes

Who doesn't love pancakes for a special breakfast?  They can be guilt-inducing, though, so here is a version that includes whole grains, yet are light and fluffy, like a great pancake should be!  This recipe makes at least 16 pancakes (depending on size), and can be cooled and frozen to enjoy later. (Of course, you don't want to add bananas to those!)  A perfect weekend treat!  (And these are equally good without the bananas.)

1 cup unbleached flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup brown rice flour

1/3 cup white corn meal

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup milk

2 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg whites

2-3 bananas, thinly sliced

Butter and maple syrup, for serving

Preheat the oven to 180-degrees.  Place a platter or baking sheet in the oven to place the cooked pancakes on and keep them warm.  Have a damp towel on hand to cover the pancakes while in the oven.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a one-quart measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, egg yolks, and vegetable oil and beat well. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until the mixture is pretty much smooth.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff with a hand-held mixer.  Fold the whites into the batter gently, using care not to deflate the whites, until no white streaks remain.

Lightly grease a non-stick griddle or large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the surface then drop 3-4 banana slices over the top.  Cook until the edges are dry and there are bubbles all over the top of the pancake.  Flip, and cook until the bottom is brown and the pancake feels firm in the center when gently pressed.

Transfer the cooked pancakes to the tray in the oven and cover; keep warm while cooking the remaining pancakes.

Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

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Skinny Garden Vegetable Soup

This soup was frequently on the menu at the cafe, and is a soup that I like to have just hanging out in the refrigerator for a healthy way to stop the munchies on those particularly "hungry days".  The health-conscious diners loved this soup, and I will say that the vegetables shine even brighter when combined in this soup.  It's hearty, and even has a little corn for sweetness, but easy on the waistline. It's quick and easy to put together, and stays delicious for several days in the 'fridge. It freezes surprisingly well, in case you want to make a really big batch and freeze some for later!  Perfect for those January resolutions! A great recipe to stick to those New Year's resolutions!

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely minced onion

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

5 stalks celery, including leaves, diced

1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic

2 medium zucchini, diced

2 medium yellow summer squash, diced

2 cups fresh green beans, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch lengths

1/2 cup frozen corn

8 cups diced canned tomatoes (use fresh when they are in season)

3 quarts vegetable broth

2 teaspoons all-purpose, salt-free, seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot, add the onion, carrots and celery and saute just until it starts to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients and bring it up to a boil.  Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the vegetables are just tender.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

This salad developed from a Mark Bittman recipe that I found years ago.  I adapted it, adding a few more Latin flavors.  The warm potatoes are tossed with a super-healthy dressing that includes fresh red pepper. The ingredients may sound odd, but all of the ingredients combine to create a well-balanced flavor profile.  It keeps for several days in the refrigerator, and can be served cold, at room temperature, or even slightly warm.  Be sure to let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the flavors to marry.

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 Tablespoon olive oil

Generous sprinkle of salt and pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 small red bell pepper, cleaned and cut into pieces (see Video)

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon grated orange zest

1/3 cup minced cilantro

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.  Spray a half-sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Toss the sweet potatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper together on the sheet pan, then spread into an even layer.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, turn over with a spatula, then roast for an additional 10 minutes, or until they are tender (but not soft or mushy).

While the potatoes roast, prepare the dressing:

In the jar of a blender add the red wine vinegar, red pepper, jalapeno pepper, cumin, olive oil, and orange peel.  Blend until very smooth.

Place the dressing in a bowl along with the cilantro, scallions, and dried cranberries.  When the sweet potatoes are done, add them to the bowl and toss everything together.  Let the mixture cool, then cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to marry.

Serve cold, at room temperature or slightly warm.

Serves 6


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Favorite Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars.jpg
I love all things lemon!  It is one of my favorite flavors, the tartness and bracing flavor is definitely preferred to chocolate for me.  This lemon bar has the perfect balance between sweet and tart, and the addition of sour cream is a surprise ingredients that adds so much. One of these bars with a cup of coffee or tea in the dead of winter is a little sliver of summer! 

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

5 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed


2/3 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sour cream

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup fresh lemon juice


Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.  Prepare a 9 X 13-inch baking pan by lining with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on each end to remove the bars.  Spray with non-stick spray.  (See Video for how to prep the pan).

Combine the flour, confectioners sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until it clumps together and only very small bits of butter remain.  (Alternately, pulse in a food processor to the same consistency.)  Spread evenly in the the bottom and about 1/2-inch up the side of the prepared pan, pat it down firmly.  Bake until it is a very light golden brown, 13-15 minutes.

While the crust bakes, place the flour in a medium bowl, then gradually beat in the sour cream until very smooth.  Add the sugar and beat well.  Add the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until completely smooth.  Pour the filling onto the prepared crust and bake until set, 25-30 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Runa knife around the outside of the parchment, then lift the whole thing out with the parchment overhangs onto a cutting board.  Cut into bars.  Just before serving, dust thickly with powdered sugar.


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Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence and Smashed Roasted Potatoes

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence sitting on the Roasted Potatoes that will soon be smashed for a delicious side to the chicken.

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Herbs de Provence sitting on the Roasted Potatoes that will soon be smashed for a delicious side to the chicken.

I love butterflying or "spatchcocking" a chicken for roasting.  It just means that the backbone is removed so that the body of the chicken can be flattened for more even cooking.  I also love one-dish meals, and after some experimentation came up with this dish, a blend of French flavors and hearty Midwestern simplicity.  After removing the backbone from the chicken, I smeared a compound butter flavored with herbs de provence under the skin.  I placed it on top of diced potatoes sprinkled with herbs de provence, surrounded by chicken stock and heavy cream and some butter.  During the roasting process, all of the drippings and flavor from the chicken flavors the potatoes, which are smashed together after roasting and served alongside the chicken.  Mashed potatoes and gravy all in one dish, oh my goodness!  This is delicious and satisfying with some richness, and very simply a fabulous dinner.  I consider it guest worthy, too.  Serve with Uptown Sauteed Spinach for a nice contrast of flavor.
Serves 4-6

Equipment needed:     Heavy-duty Kitchen shears  12-inch cast iron skillet     

Meat Thermometer   or  Instant-read Thermometer

1- 4 to 5 pound whole chicken, preferably organic or cage- and antibiotic-free, giblets & neck removed (Save the neck for chicken stock)

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus extra for mashing, if needed

3/4 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

Remove the backbone from the chicken by cutting down each side of it with poultry shears or heavy-duty kitchen shears.  (I save the backbone for chicken stock; I keep a large freezer bag in the freezer to collect chicken parts until there is enough to make stock-no waste!) Set aside.

Make a compound butter:  Combine 5 Tablespoons of the softened butter with the teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence, and black pepper. 

Starting at the neck end of the chicken, gently run your fingers under the skin of the breast of the chicken, loosening the skin from the meat, being careful not to tear it.  Continue loosening the skin all the way down into the thighs and legs, basically making a pocket between the skin and meat.  Now coat the chicken meat under the skin with the compound butter, a little at a time, until all but 1 Tablespoon of the butter is used and the whole chicken is lightly coated with the butter under the skin. Rub the remaining Tablespoon of compound butter all over the skin of the chicken, which will help it brown. Flip the chicken over and sprinkle the underside with kosher salt and black pepper.

Butter the skillet lightly, then place the potatoes in the pan. Pour the heavy cream and chicken stock into the skillet with the potatoes.  Sprinkle all with the salt and Herbs de Provence.  Dot with the remaining butter.

Place the chicken atop the potatoes, laying it as flat as possible.  Press it down a bit to snug into the potatoes.  Insert a meat thermometer (with a cable that can be read outside the oven while it roasts) into the thigh of the chicken, taking care not to touch the bone.  Set the temperature on the thermometer to 165-degrees.  (The thermometer will beep when the chicken reaches the proper temperature, eliminating the checking toward the end of the roasting time.)  Alternately, check the chicken with an instant read thermometer after 1 hour, then periodically until a temperature of 165-degrees is reached.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the chicken reaches 165-degrees.  Remove from the oven, place the chicken on a platter and tent with foil while preparing the potatoes.

Stir through the potatoes to loosen from the pan.  Using an old-fashioned potato masher, mash the potatoes in the skillet thoroughly with the masher, the whip with a whisk to smooth a bit.  (I like them a bit rustic, not totally smooth.)  Add a bit of additional cream or chicken stock if needed if they are too thick.)  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Cut up the chicken and serve with the potatoes on the side.

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Upscale Spinach Saute

I wanted a vegetable to accompany the Butterflied Roast Chicken and Smashed Roasted Potatoes that would complement and also contrast the richness of the dish.  This healthy vegetable is transformed with a few simple pantry ingredients into a side dish that boasts complex flavor and texture, as well as beautiful color.  And, it goes without saying, spinach is good for you!

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 pound frozen cut-leaf spinach (fresh can be used, if you have it on hand, just blanch and drain it before using)

1/3 cup dried sour cherries, very finely minced

3 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Salt & freshly-ground pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet; add onion and garlic and saute until beginning to soften.  Add the spinach and cherries, cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.  Stir in the pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

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Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

This pie has been the official state pie of Indiana since 2007.  Growing up in the heart of Indiana farm country, I remember it was on the dessert table at every church dinner, holiday celebration, and potluck that I can remember!  This pie's roots are in the Amish and Shaker communities, often referred to as a "desperation pie" because it could be made with just pantry ingredients and some cream in the dead of winter when there were no other pie options.  This pie can also be found in Pennsylvania Dutch areas and Quebec, but it is most well known as a "Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie".  Other aliases include "finger pie" (see the video for that explanation), sugar cream pie, cream pie, sugar pie, or Indiana cream pie.  (One thing you won't hear it called is "light"!  But those farmers who worked out in the cold all day needed all the calories they could get, and this filled the bill.)  Of course, it would not be so wildly popular if it didn't taste amazing. Take just one bite, and you will "get it"!

One unbaked 9-inch pie shell (Basic Pie Dough)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 ounce (2 T.) butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt thoroughly in a bowl.  Pour into the pie shell.  Stir the vanilla into the half-and-half and heavy cream in a pint measuring cup.  Pour the cream slowly into the pie shell with the dry ingredients.  With the bottoms of your fingers, gently rub and stir the cream into the dry ingredients until there are no lumps of the sugar mixture, using care not to puncture the shell at all. (Don't rush this process, be certain that all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.)  Dot the top with the butter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until it bubbles up in the center, and is lightly browned all over.  (If the pie browns too much before it bubbles up in the center, cover loosely with foil.  If the pie is under-cooked, it will not set up properly.)  Cool completely, then refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

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