Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

Recipe: "Dirty" Rice with Chicken and Andouille Sausage {a one-pot family favorite}

Aww geez, has it really been since December since I last posted?  Where has the time gone?  Well, school's out, which means that this teacher has a little more time on her hands.  I've been enjoying a little me-time, and in the process of sitting back and enjoying the silence, I realized how much I've missed connecting and sharing through my blog. So, over the summer, I'm hoping to share some of the recipes that I developed for my family and my students over the course of the school year.  

I'm starting with an absolute family and kids-of-all-ages-approved one-pot dinner:  "Dirty Rice and Chicken".  This dish ranks high on my list of ultimate comfort foods.  It is so delicious, so flavorful, and very easy to make.  We always make a double-batch in our oversized Bayou Classic cast iron pan (love this thing!!) so the kids can enjoy leftovers all week.  My kids enjoy it simply warmed up, but I've been know to shred the chicken and wrap it all up in a warm flour tortilla, top it with fried eggs for a quick breakfast hash, or fold into pasty rounds and deep fry for some out-of-this-world empanadas!

Well, enough talking.  Here's the recipe.  Try it.  If you like it spicier, add some cayenne, some hot sauce, some red pepper get the idea.  If you hate red pepper, go with green.  If you hate all bell peppers, go kiss an artichoke. 


Okay, busted.  You got me.  This isn't true "Dirty Rice", the cajun classic with giblets.  This recipe is giblet-free, okay?  Your kids will thank me.

Mo’s One Pot Chicken and Dirty Rice

(adapted from The Chunky Chef)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 5 servings*

Chicken Marinade
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (if you have it)
Juice of ½  a large lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
5 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, fat trimmed

Dirty Rice, Etc.
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1 link Andouille or Louisiana hot sausage, sliced into ¼” rounds
½ medium onion, diced
½ red or orange bell pepper, julienne cut (thin 1/4" strips)
1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 ¼ cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add chicken thighs and turn to coat. Set aside.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon  of olive oil to dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices, cooking till brown on both sides, then transfer sausage to a plate.
  3. Add chicken thighs to the now empty pan, skin side down, and sear for 2-3 minutes per side, to develop a crispy, golden brown skin.  The chicken should look cooked, even though it isn't. Transfer chicken to a separate bowl.
  4. Lower heat to medium-low and add in chopped onion and bell pepper to the now empty pan.  Saute for about 2-3 minutes, until softened.  
  5. Add rice and garlic and cook till the rice begins to toast slightly.
  6. Add chicken stock, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few cranks of black pepper; stir, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the cooked sausage.  Nestle the chicken thighs on top of the rice.  Pour the remaining oil and juices from the bowl back into the pan.  Return to a simmer, then cover.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (covered).  Remove cover and bake another 10-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed into the rice.  Allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.

*This recipe can be doubled and cooked in a large paella style pan.  When ready to cook, cover with foil.  Remove foil for the final 15 minutes. I recommend the Bayou Classic as the ultimate family-style all-purpose pan.

P.S. My students and kids call me "Mo".

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