Weeknight Clam Chowder

For years when I was growing up, my dream had been to someday live in Maine.  There is something absolutely magical about Maine, and whenever I have traveled there my heart feels alive and happy.  I love the rugged beauty of the New England coast, the quiet rolling mountains, the distinct charm of the quaint villages and towns.  There’s wild blueberry picking, and lobster rolls and clam chowder abounding at every restaurant and roadside stand.  We had a family trip planned for this past summer and it was going to be our first time sharing this place with our children.  Plans were suddenly changed when we found out about my grandmother, and our trip to Maine turned into a trip to Hong Kong (which was also special, but just different).  As a consolation, we cuddled up and read Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine while dreaming of being on the shore, and I made a big pot of chowder.

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Caponata with Grilled Rosemary Chicken

Our last of summer CSA shares have been brimming with tomatoes, eggplants, and onions, and I thought a sicilian caponata would be perfect for this time of year when such produce is still in abundance.  Today I’m over at Bethany Douglass’ Cloistered Away sharing the recipe for this flavorful caponata to go along with a simple grilled rosemary chicken.   Bethany’s inspiring blog focuses on simple, purposeful living, and she has a gift of being able to capture beauty in the everyday.  She has just started a new series “In the Kitchen” to introduce a variety of perspectives on how families connect around food and life in the kitchen.  For those of you wondering about some of the behind the scenes of the recipes you find here, I offer a glimpse into our kitchen and how I approach working with my children to prepare meals as part of her new series.  I hope you will join me there.

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Peanut Pretzel Bars

Now that school is back in session, I’m back to grocery shopping by myself and it feels like such a luxury.  Among all of the many activities that I love doing with my children, grocery shopping is not one of them.  Because shopping with them is bit tricky, I try hard to stay organized with my list and I make the outings as quick as I can.  I celebrated my first grocery shopping trip sans-children by meandering slowly through the aisles while basking in the quietness of it all.  The snack aisle is my weakness, and there were these peanut pretzel bars that caught my eye.  I slipped the box into my cart and managed to wait until I got into the car to break into one.  It was the perfect balance of sweet and salty, and peanut butter along with dark chocolate is always a winning combination.  Within two days I had my own version- a crispy, chewy no-bake bar filled with peanuts, pretzels, oats, and  brown rice crisps.  It’s bound together with peanut butter and brown rice syrup, and finished off with a quick dip in melted dark chocolate.  For the longest time I’d resisted brown rice syrup, not wanting to buy yet another variety of sweetener, and instead sticking with the more common honey or maple syrup.  My curiosity got the best of me and I finally tried brown rice syrup.  And it really does make a better snacking bar.  It lends to a perfect chewy texture, has a much more mild flavor than the more pronounced honey and maple syrup, and is completely worth the extra storage space in the pantry.  Hope you enjoy.  xo

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