July 30, 2015

Ristorante Pizza on the Grill for Date Night In

Oetker Ristorante Pizza | The Naptime Chef

My husband and I love to go out to dinner, just the two of us, when time allows. Our weekdays are so busy and scattered it is rare that we have a lot of time together to chat and decompress. However, sometimes our usual date night agenda of dinner and a walk around town is thwarted by the lack of a babysitter or a sick child who needs our attention. On these nights, we throw ourselves date night at home. We get the kids to sleep, fire up the grill, and have a date on the back porch.

July 29, 2015

Steamed Summer Squash with Onion & Pepper

Steamed Squash & Onion | The Naptime Chef

This is one of those quick recipes that I learned from my Mom and eat on a regular basis. It is so simple it is hardly a recipe but I still want to share it in case you are looking for a new way to eat squash. The premise is simple: slice summer squash and vidalia onions very thin.  Set in a strainer over a pot of water and steam until cooked through and wilted. Stir in a thin sliver of butter, good sea salt and a grind of pepper, and enjoy.

July 28, 2015

4 Ways to Celebrate National Can-it-Forward Day + Giveaway

Can it Forward Day | The Naptime Chef

I love to wax poetic about the wonders of preserving. It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, it truly can be simple and fun. Every year I join my friends at Jarden Home Brands to celebrate National Can-it-Forward Day. This year it is on August 1st! The day is full of events featuring prominent home preservers sharing their tips and expertise. Luckily this day will coincide perfectly with my yearly trip to Cooperstown. It is the time of the year when I do a lot of preserving, mostly of seasonal fruits I find at the Farmer’s Market, and this year will be no different.

Jarden Home Brands recently released all sorts of new products for home preservers. These include cool lids and straws that can screw onto the top of a regular mouth jar to turn them into drinking vessels for children. They also came out with snazzy red and purple designer lids to fit on top of jars when you finish your canning. I love that canning is now so fashionable!

Here are four ways you too can celebrate National Can-it-Forward Day:

July 27, 2015

Grilled Romaine Salad with Roasted Garlic Ranch

Grilled Romaine Salad | The Naptime Chef

It has been a big grilling summer around these parts. We’ve been firing up the coals nearly every night and eating outside as much as possible. It is so much easier now that the kids are older and can play on the swing set while we mill around the yard! Naturally I’ve seized this opportunity to work on a few new grilling recipes, including things like vegetables and desserts.

One of our latest new favorites is this grilled romaine salad. Grilling romaine caramelizes the natural sugars in the lettuce and the resulting flavor is amazing. It is honestly so good you could just drizzle it with lemon juice and olive oil and have a great salad. But since I wanted to make it into a main course, I took a more in-depth approach and topped it with Hidden Valley® Roasted Garlic Ranch, one of Hidden Valley’s new flavors, and sprinkled freshly cooked bacon bits on top.

July 23, 2015

Squash Basil & Tomato Frittata

Squash Basil & Tomato Frittata

This summer I planted a TON of squash in our garden. I focused on that because we eat zucchini and summer squash all summer long, plus, we were getting a little tired of jalapeos. The other day I harvested three perfect squash and made it a goal to eat them at every meal. First up, breakfast.

Since our morning breakfast routine is usually pretty frazzled I like to make frittatas. They basically require nothing more than a quick saute and whisk, then they are popped in the oven and forgotten until ready. Easy peasy, and so perfect for those minutes I am running around the house making lunches and reminding kids to make their beds.

July 16, 2015

Tomato Bacon & Farro Salad

BLT Farro Salad | The Naptime Chef

When we were in Cooperstown over the Fourth of July my mother made this great Tomato Bacon & Farro salad. It was light and flavorful and perfect for serving room temperature with our coffee-rubbed steak. I want to share it with you today because it is a great one to have in your back pocket for summer entertaining. In fact, it would even be easy to take on the go with friends to a picnic or potluck. Pulling it together is very easy and I highly recommend giving it a try at least once this summer. You won’t be disappointed!

BLT Farro Salad | The Naptime Chef

July 14, 2015

The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet with April + Giveaway!

Gluten Free Cheat Sheet

My friend April Peveteaux of Gluten is My Bitch fame is one hard-working woman. Two years ago I featured her hilarious book chronicling her journey into a gluten-free life and today I am here to talk about her new book, The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet. As a fellow author I am in awe of her ability to write two books back-to-back, and they are both insanely awesome and helpful. Her latest tome features delicious recipes, personal anecdotes, and all sorts of tips regarding living a wholly satisfying gluten-free life. Earlier this month I had a fun chat with April and she shared some great stories with me:

1) You’ve been gluten-free for several years now and this book clearly comes from your experience going gluten-free. Do you find you’ve mastered being gluten-free now? Or is there still more to learn?

I am the master of all gluten in the land! JK, I’m regularly a mess.

While I do feel like I’m more than fully informed about gluten, hidden gluten, what gluten is and what gluten is not, the effects of gluten on those of us with medical issues, the backlash, the tricks and tips to be safe—I’m still learning lessons every day. Mostly lessons I have to learn repeatedly like to always ask about the cheese sauce on the nachos. Some people sneak flour in there, darn it. And that is the lesson we all need to tattoo on our heads: always ask what’s in your food, how it’s prepared and what other food it comes into contact with on its way to your table. There’s no getting around that one.

2) The recipes in this book are delectable! Besides from avoiding gluten, where does your recipe inspiration come from? Living in CA must be helpful in terms of the proximity of fresh foods!

I do love my CSA (community supported agriculture) box that is filled with fresh produce year-round. It does inspire me when it arrives every week to get creative and to increase my fruit and vegetable consumption. Additionally, my inspiration comes from my family. I have favorite recipes from my childhood that I’ve recreated to be gluten-free, and favorite meals I’ve learned to make along the way that please my kids as well as myself. Some I’ve had to completely remake some, and others are naturally gluten-free (like a great big filet mignon and baked potato, yummmmmm).

3) Let’s help Kelsey build a menu. I need the best ever gluten-free picnic dinner menu for summer in the Northeast:

I hope you’ve shucked your corn! That is truly one of the greatest seasonal foods up your way—Jersey corn. That, and heirloom tomatoes help make an amazoids picnic.

To celebrate the season I would make my BBQ Chicken Salad and add some heirloom tomatoes picked up from the farm stand. The combo of fresh greens, just cooked corn, avocados and a tortilla chip crunch is one great meal in a bowl. Add a side of strawberry lemonade and you’re in business. And I hope you’ve saved room for dessert because a chocolate beet cake would be the perfect way to finish your meal.

4) Your kids sound like good eaters. What is there favorite dish in here? There least favorite? What are your favorites? I love asking this because it is how we all get the inside track.

My kids beg for Huevos Rancheros every morning. Heck, I want it too but I also need to fit into my pants. My daughter makes it easy on me by also wanting the Melon Balls of Fun all the time. It’s taking a melon baller and going to town on your watermelon and friends. So that’s fab.

I do love that BBQ chicken salad. I find myself making it almost once a week. It’s a fantastic combo and I also feel like I’m loading up on my vegetables. I also love the Kung Pao pork and Sweet and Sour Chicken. I don’t get to eat Chinese food very often due to the soy sauce, so when I make it at home I kind of can’t control myself. It’s sooooo good. And the Bourbon Joe Cake is basically the world’s greatest cake. You heard it here first.

The one recipe my husband loved and my kids still talk about how much they hate is my chicken mole with rice. How can you hate mole??? I don’t get it.

5) What’s next for the Gluten-free world? Will you come out with a cookbook or, better yet, a cooking show!! I’m not gluten-free but I would watch it in a heartbeat!

I’m working on my third book wherein I tackle the 8 major allergens and the modern parent. The working title is “Bake Sales Are My Bitch” and I hope to not only explore all of our feelings about how in the world we’re supposed to feed our allergic kids safely as they head to school, sleepovers and soccer practice, and not go completely bonkers in the process.  For those that don’t have allergic kids, you know an allergic kid so this book is for any parent in the world who ever has to consider if the birthday cake has gluten/dairy/peanuts/treenuts/fish/shellfish/soy/eggs before sending it to school with their 4th grader. We’re all in this together, and we’re all annoyed at times. I’m here to help!

Thanks, April!

To enter to win a copy of The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet:

1) Share a personal anecdote about going gluten-free or something you want to learn about living gluten-free.

2) Contest runs from July 14th – July 21st. Winner will be announced in the July 24th newsletter. Thanks!