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: Banana Bread Waffles with Bourbon Pecan Maple Syrup

When I go grocery shopping, I always buy two bunches of bananas -- one for the kids to snack on and one to just sit and go nearly black with brown-sugary overripeness.  That way, we're always ready to make our favorite banana bread on demand (recipe HERE).  

A few weeks ago, the family was in a waffle mood, so I grabbed one of my on-the-verge-of-decay bananas and set to work on creating a banana bread inspired waffle.  A few Sunday breakfast's worth of tinkering proved a success.  Here is my recipe for light, crispy, banana-bready waffles with a delicious pecan syrup to gild the lily.  Enjoy!

Banana Bread Waffles(makes approximately 12 individual Belgians)
1 large egg, separated1/4 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup granulated sugar1 overripe banana3/4 cup cake flourpinch of salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon baking powdera pinch of ground cinnamon1 Tablespoon brown sugar1/4 cup buttermilk
Step 1:  Whip egg white to medium peak and set aside.
Step 2:  With an electric mixer, cream to…

Recipe: The Best, Foolproof Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin

This recipe is a favorite of my culinary students.  It is so easy, and makes the perfect, quintessential, creamy, cheesy potato casserole of American comfort-food fame.
True scalloped potatoes consist primarily of thinly cut potatoes in a white cream sauce, whereas potatoes au gratin feature buttery potatoes beneath a cheese and/or breadcrumb crust.  Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin is a hybrid -- the best of both worlds.  It is what many of us in the U.S. grew up with and knew as Potatoes O' Gratin.
So, without further ado, here is the easiest and most delicious recipe I think you'll find for the creamy, cheesy, golden, bubbly potato dish of legend:

Scalloped Potatoes Au Gratin Prep Time: 15 minutes
Baking Time: 45-55 minutes 
1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick (approx. 2 large) 3 Tablespoons butter, plus 1 Tablespoon for buttering the pan 2 Tablespoons diced sweet yellow onion 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 teaspoons kosher salt ¼ teaspoon…

Recipe: Spicy Avocado Crab on Wonton Chips

Here's a little recipe I came up with over the holidays while brainstorming quick, easy and delicious appetizers to teach at my Holiday Appetizers Workshop.  I was inspired by classic California Roll Sushi that features crab, avocado and cucumber.  Instead of cucumber, I used fresh chives for just a hint of onion to offset the sweet crab and avocado.

The crab salad comes together in just a few minutes and can be portioned on top of crispy wonton chips or served in a bowl as a self-serve dip.

Spicy Avocado Crab on Wonton Chips
8 oz. package imitation Crab, flake style*1 small avocado, peeled and cubed 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil 3-4 Tablespoons Sriracha mayonnaise**A squeeze of fresh lime 1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish 1/2 package round wonton wrappers (or square wrappers trimmed with a circle cookie cutter) black sesame seeds for garnish 
Step 1: In a food processor, pulse crab until fine (approx. 15 seconds).  Do not process into a paste. 

Step 2: In a medium …

Free Kids Superhero Valentines -- Stuck on You

I have four kids, which, come Valentine's Day, means bucketloads of candy and junk find their way home from school. *sigh*
To help cut down on cavities and landfill, I decided to come up with a fun, but sneakily practical valentine for the kids to give to all their classmates last year.

These Marvel superhero bandaids came from the Dollar Tree, so they were very budget-friendly.
The kids loved them because they're superhero-themed and they sure beat the icky old skin colored bandaids that we grew up with.
My parent-friends appreciated them, because they were one of the few things their kids got that they didn't toss in the trash as soon as the novelty of the Valentines Day haul had worn off (around 10 minutes). Win * Win

Here's how you can make your own: Stuck on You Bandaid Valentines
FREE hang tag (Download HERE)Cardstock or Photo PaperPlain cellophane treat bags (4x6)**Bandaids (3 per valentine)*ScissorsStapler
Step 1:  Download free hang tag and print on heavy paper.  Cut out hang tags …

My Family's Favorite Soup: Chicken Corn Chowder with Wild Rice

Soupety, Soup, Soup Soup! It's a comfort food for all seasons. This soup is a cozy sweater,
a warm blanket,
a hug.

This soup is what happens when 
mom's homemade chicken pot pie
kicks off its crusty exterior
and gets comfortable in a bowl.
Make it!

Chicken Corn Chowder with Wild Rice Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 6-8 servings

1/2 Tablespoon Onion powder
1/2 Tablespoon Garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Dried thyme
1/2 Tablespoon Dried parsley
1/2 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt (like Lawry's or Penzey's)
Pinch of Smoked Paprika
1/2 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup long grain rice
1/3 cup wild rice
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ¼” dice
10 Tablespoons salted butter 1 cup peeled and diced (¼”) carrot
1 cup diced (¼”) celery
1 cup diced (¼”) onion 1 can (approx. 15 oz.) corn, drained
3 cups whole milk

Step 1: In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, parsley, seasoning salt, smok…

Recipe: How to Make Your Own Citrus Cured #Salmon

Hello there, friends!
I know, I know. It's been a while.
My job as a high school  Culinary Arts instructor has kept me very busy. Best Job Ever!
But I do missing sharing my recipes and creative endeavors here.

Yesterday I branched out from teaching high school students and taught a 5-hour Holiday Appetizer Class in my classroom through our local Adult School.  I'm happy to announce that over the next two weeks, I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes!

I'm starting with one of my all-time favorite recipes:  Citrus Cured Salmon.  I love smoked salmon, lox and gravlax, but it' so expensive.  Last year I started experimenting with making my own house-cured salmon.  I started with a recipe from Martha Stewart by way of Michael Ruhlman.  Over time I've adapted the recipe and have come up with a formula that comes out amazing every time.
This cured salmon takes just two days to complete and is a million times better than the store bought stuff.  You end up with a lot of salmon…

Recipe: Kawasaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps #GlutenFree #Sriracha

Light, healthy,and absolutely delicious -- our Kawasaki Chicken Lettuce wraps were inspired by a sushi specialty at one of our favorite (now defunct) Japanese restaurants in Carmel, CA.  The Kawasaki roll featured a tempura fried prawn with sushi rice, fresh avocado and spicy mayo, wrapped in a butter lettuce leaf.  
Our version features a crispy, oven baked chicken strip with an almond meal crust -- lots of protein, no gluten.  It's become a family favorite that we've enjoyed weekly over the summer.  We serve it up taco-bar style:  all the components plated separately so everyone can build their own to their liking.

Kawasaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1/2" strips (approx. 16)1/4 cup mayonnaise1/2 Tablespoon sriracha1  1/4 cups almond meal2 teaspoons kosher salt1 teaspoon garlic powdera few cranks of freshly ground pepper3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese2 Tablespoons olive oil 2 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced2 green onions (…

How to Host a Family Camp-In {Making Memories with #DarkForDinner} #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dixie for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
Lights off
Phones exiled
You, me,
Talk, listen, Be

Camp Out
Camp In?

Fire Crackling
Candles Flicker
Faces light up

Time moves slowly
No expense
High Yield Investment
Family Time

This past Sunday, July 5, my family fulfilled their promise to go #DarkForDinner with Dixie. We didn't spend a dime. Our labors amounted to moving the coffee table off to the side of our living room and firing up the BBQ. Sounds simple, right? Yet this Sunday dinner turned out to be a really big deal. A new summer family tradition was born -- The Camp-In.

As I anticipated, there were moans and groans when I presented four kids, ages 10-18 with the idea of turning off the lights and all electronics for dinner. But something sort of magical happened once we powered off -- The tuned-out suddenly became tuned-in. Without pa…

Family Camp-In Recipe: S'more Kisses For the Dixie
#DarkForDinner Movement #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dixie for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Last weekend, my youngest daughter and I spent some one-on-one time in the kitchen coming up with a new cookie recipe inspired by the classic summer camping treat -- S'mores.

There is nothing in this world more important to me than family time.

How about you?

It's summertime, and we hear a lot about grand summer road trips, traveling by air or by sea to explore other lands and cultures, and lazy days on a river or lake followed by nights under the stars in inside a tent. These summer family getaways are no doubt memorable, but not always within our grasp. Fortunately, it doesn't take a lot of money, a week off of work, or even a tank of gas to make special family memories with those you love most. All it takes is a little imagination, and that's why on Sunday, July 6, we're going #DarkForDinner with an indoor camp-out -- a Camp-In.

On Sunday, June 14, Dixie launched a w…

Recipe: The Perfect Peach Cobbler

Continuing along on my peach-fueled trajectory... I bring you one of my all-time favorite desserts:  Peach Cobbler!
Forget pie.  That's right.  You heard me.  Forget pie.  This cobbler is so buttery, crispy-crumby, cakey, ooey-gooey and profoundly peachy that you can forget about that old Plain Jane.
Just try it.  Thank me later.

Perfect Peach Cobbler
For the peaches

4 cups fresh, ripe peaches (peeled, sliced and diced)1/2 cup granulated sugar3 Tablespoons cornstarch
For the cobbler topping

1 cup unsalted butter (that's 2 sticks), softened (plus a TB butter for buttering the pan)2 cups granulated sugar2 large eggs2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 cups all-purpose flour2.5 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon2 Tablespoons raw or organic sugar (slightly larger grain that regular)Vanilla bean ice cream 
Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter a 9"x9" baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss peaches with the 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch.  T…

Recipe: Heavenly Fresh Peach Fritters

Well, isn't this peachy? Finally -- a post that's not a throwback project or made from squid!  Right?
Summer is definitely my favorite time of year for fruit.  In a word, PEACHES!  I'd be hard-pressed to find anything more ambrosial than a perfect summer peach.  When the peaches are at the peak of their season, I become a sticky-fingered, nectar-chinned, peach-perfumed glutton.  Those few fuzzy Venus of botanica that make it past my greedy grasp are reborn in cobblers, pies and cocktails.  This year, on National Doughnut Day, I decided to pay homage to the fairest of fruits by making peach fritters.
These fritters are ethereally light.  The nectar of the peaches intensifies inside the pillow of cinnamon kissed dough as it develops a golden, crispy exterior in the hot oil.  The warm fritters are blanketed in a buttery glaze that will have you lusting after a second before finishing your first.
Heavenly Peach Fritters(Yield 8-10) (adapted from
2 large eggs1/2 teaspoon …