January 29, 2015

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

If you read my newsletter last week you’ll know that I was taken down by the stomach flu and didn’t have the ability to type a sentence, let alone cook a speck of food. Luckily, that time is now behind me (seriously, thank god, because I never want to feel that awful again), and I’ve resumed naptime cooking and nourishing to the best of my ability. Over the weekend we had our first Nor’easter of the season which meant it was time for the slow cooker! And, given my recent recovery, I was excited to make something hearty and comforting for my crew.

January 28, 2015

How to Care for Copper Pans

How to Care for Copper | The Naptime Chef

Last year I was gifted some pretty copper pots by various family members. I love cooking with copper and could never afford to buy a set myself so it was a real treat! The pots themselves are heavier than my favorite stainless steel workhorses, but they conduct heat more evenly and are perfect for warming soups and stews. They even make my kitchen look a little fancier, like a French kitchen! Someday I hope to have a little copper collection that I can hang from the ceiling or on a pegboard like Julia Child. In the mean time, though, I need to the care for the pots I have to make sure they last a lifetime. So! Here is what I’ve learned so far about caring for copper:

Easy regular cleaning – Salt & Lemon:

My favorite easy natural cleaning solution is to cut a lemon in half, sprinkle a generous dose of kosher salt on top, and scrub the outside of the pot. This will instantly lift away grime by acting as a mild acidic abrasive. It doesn’t damage the pot at all and makes the whole kitchen smell heavenly.

Shining up – Vinegar:

When I want to wash off hand prints or marks from water droplets or sauces I use a rag dipped in white vinegar. It polishes the copper right up and makes it look shiny and new. Vinegar is also a good natural way to clean the inside of your pan. Pour about 1-inch worth of vinegar into the pan (doesn’t matter if the lining is tin or stainless steel), and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then rinse out with water and a sponge. This will lift any grime off the bottom of the pan and get the bottom nice and clean.

How to Care for Copper 2 | The Naptime Chef

Extreme Discoloration: Wright’s Copper Cleaner

Sometimes extreme discoloration happens if you hit the pan with a lot of high heat over a long period of time. Or, if you give it a nick or a dent by accident. It is no big deal. Just use the copper cleaner according to directions and it will all come off. If it doesn’t clear up entirely don’t worry, a little patina on the pan is pretty and adds character!

January 27, 2015

Grapefruit Dark Chocolate Shortbread

Grapefruit Dark Chocolate Cookies

The benefit of having in-law’s in Florida is that they regularly send citrus. Not just any citrus, the real deal Florida fresh citrus. We eat it non-stop, especially during snowstorms, to keep our spirits up. I also use it all the time for baking and cooking. Over the weekend I used one of our last grapefruits to make these sweet little shortbread cookies. I loved how the tangy grapefruit played with the dark chocolate, giving it the flavor of a dark chocolate covered orange peel. These simple cookies are the perfect sweet nibble to chase away the winter blues. Remember people, only 50 days left until spring!

January 20, 2015

Helicopter Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream | The Naptime Chef

Over the weekend we celebrated my son’s second birthday. I can’t quite believe time has flown so quickly. I remember when he was born so clearly it honestly feels like yesterday. We’ve transitioned from burp clothes and midnight feedings, to diggers and trampoline play dates in just minutes. Though he still has pretty apathetic about having an actual birthday there is no way I’d let the day pass without a delicious cake to celebrate. I let my daughter choose a cake she would love and asked her to help me style it for her baby brother.

January 15, 2015

How to Care for Rosemary Indoors

How to Care for Rosemary | The Naptime Chef

In the winter I freeze my herbs from the garden and bring whatever plants I can inside for the winter. This year my Meyer Lemon tree is wintering in our dining room along with this beautiful rosemary plant. Not all herbs tolerate being dragged from inside to outside for season after season, but rosemary is one of the few that can withstand the change. I love that it is so easy to care for and makes the whole house smell incredible whenever I pinch a few leaves. It also means we’ve got beautiful fragrant rosemary to cook with year-round! Here are a few tips for caring for your rosemary plant indoors:

Water: Rosemary likes to stay moist, but not saturated, all the time. Stick your finger 1-inch down into the dirt. If it is dry water it until the water comes through the bottom of the pot.

Sunlight: I’ve positioned our plant directly in front of a sunny window and it is so happy. Rosemary is a Mediteranean plant so it likes at least 6 hours of sun per day if you can manage it. The sunlight doesn’t have to be direct, but any kind of a sunny, airy room is ideal. An atrium is best.

How to Care for Rosemary | The Naptime Chef

In case of white: If the leaves and tips of the plant begin to turn white my mother has taught me to wrap the pot in plastic wrap so the dirt is covered and place the whole plant in the shower. Let is sit under a gently lukewarm shower for about 5 minutes so it gets thoroughly soaked. This should wash away any white mildew or mites. Repeat as necessary.

Clippings: With plenty of light and water in a warm house rosemary will continue to grow all winter long. Keep it trimmed and shaped by cutting off the green shoots every few weeks. They can be used for cooking. This will keep the plant from getting to lanky and unruly. It will also help it fill out and get bushy in the middle. Santa shopped at Food52 Provisions this year and brought me a gorgeous pair of Japanese garden scissors for this task, but any sharp pair of scissors will do.

How to Care for Rosemary | The Naptime Chef

With healthy rosemary indoors all winter you can use it for cooking, adding to tea, adding to champagne (crazy, but it is delicious!), and freshening up your house. If you harvest a lot that you want to save for later you can always freeze it!

January 13, 2015

Party Beverage Idea: DIY Dark & Stormy Bucket

The Dark & Stormy Bucket | The Naptime Chef

Here’s a great party idea I picked up over the holidays: the DIY Dark & Stormy bucket. Place a big bucket of ice on top of a table and fill it up with beers and ginger beers. Next to the bucket place a large bottle of dark rum and cups for mixing. If people just want a beer they can grab one and walk away. It is so nice not to have to wait for a bartender to give you a beer! Or, if they want a little something more they can mix themselves a few Dark & Stormy’s. Again, nobody needs the bartender to make one, they are so easy to make yourself. I am definitely planning to make a Dark & Stormy bucket for our next party. It would also be really fun and refreshing at a summer lawn party.

January 12, 2015

Lauren’s Lovely Salad

Lauren's Lovely Salad | The Naptime Chef

I don’t love the January fad of extreme diets and cleanses, but I do embrace the renewed commitment to healthier eating. I don’t mind giving up sugar and cutting back on gluten. I just don’t like replacing it all with salad. Only salad. Lettuce is delicious, but it doesn’t feel like real sustenance to me. It is not hearty enough and doesn’t fill me up, no matter how much I eat. That is why I am here to give you a new salad recipe that will steer you away from a leafy green-heavy plate but still keep you firmly in the healthy eating category. My friend Lauren made this in December when she had a few friends over for a ladies lunch. She paired it with my most delicious shrimp soup (recipe soon) and it made for a terrific, warm afternoon meal. (Not to mention, her table styling was spot on and her whole house looks like it bounced right off the pages of Domino magazine.)