Homemade Blueberry Soda

In less than two weeks, we will be back home in Haiti, with both a chattering toddler and tiny newborn in tow. On my bucket list of foods to enjoy before we leave are the delicious peak-of-summer blueberries that line our local farm stand. So this week I boiled up a batch of blueberry syrup to make into tall frosty glasses of Homemade Blueberry Soda; a thirst quencher on these steamy Indiana days. For more blueberry additions to your cooking, try: Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad, Blueberry Bay Leaf Quick JamHoosier Milk Tarts with Berries, and for a blue tinted breakfast, Blue Corn Griddle Cakes with Lime Butter.

Homemade Blueberry Soda

Marinated Tomato Mozzarella Salad

It has been a bit of a blur since Gideon's arrival, as we remember what it's like to go weeks without a full nights sleep. Little Gideon and Mom are both doing well, and so we are on track to returning to Haiti in early August. As we wrap up our last weeks here, stateside, we are relishing the tastes of North American summer: impossibly good sweet corn, tart local blueberries with a dash of cream, and fresh peak-of-summer tomatoes and herbs. This Marinated Tomato and Mozzarella Salad has been a frequent highlight on our table these last few weeks. It is ready in minutes, bursting with summer flavor, a balance of bright sweet tomatoes and creamy fresh mozzarella.

Marinated Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad

Gideon just crested his second week of life, and we are happily adjusting to the logistical maneuverings of being a newly minted family of four. We have tried to eat most meals together as a family with Madeline, and now little Gideon has been joining us. As Madeline holds court from her highchair, swinging her legs and filling her cheeks to capacity, her little brother sleeps soundly in middle of the table. Recently, I have found myself craving sandwiches, and their one-handed portability is especially great for multi-tasking with small kids. This week, with my father-in-law's delicious barbecue chicken and some classic Waldorf ingredients in the fridge, I decided to make my own non-traditional version of a Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad. I started with a classic base: chicken, celery, grapes, and apples. Fresh produce from a nearby farmstand inspired some summery additions; a smattering of blueberries, fresh sweet corn on the cob, and parsley. I cut the thick mayonnaise base of a traditional Waldorf dressing with greek yogurt and seasoned the salad before pouring over the dressing with extra lemon for brightness.

Summer Chicken Waldorf Salad
Paul Shetler Fast

Baby Gideon

It is with great relief and joy that we welcome the newest member to our family. Baby Gideon, a healthy baby boy, was born at 1pm yesterday in Goshen, Indiana. Both mama and baby are doing well now, and sleeping peacefully beside me as I type. Given the complications of the pregnancy, the risks of delivery in Haiti were simply too great; a painful reminder of how so many families lack access to good quality healthcare. We are overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness for our little boy, and all the people who helped he and Rebecca get through a difficult surgery and recovery.

Paul Shetler Fast
Baby Gideon

Rhubarb Strawberry Cake

Madeline is quite focused on her Papa these days. We hear her little voice calling out 'Papa' from her crib when she wakes up in the morning; she sits riveted in her highchair in the middle of the kitchen to watch Paul cook; she babbles on early morning walks with Paul, trying out her new words of the day; Madeline bangs on the door when Paul is working, shouting 'book... Papa;' and she maintains a steady chant of 'Papa....home,' as we drive home after an overnight at her grandparents. My favorite though, is her own made up game of Marco-Polo with her father. Throughout the day, Madeline will frequently interrupt her playing, eating or reading to say; 'Papa?' with a questioning lilt. Paul will respond 'Yes, Madeline.' and she will give a small nod of satisfaction, and go back to her play. 

This year our Father's Day celebrations will be spread over both this weekend and the next, as we plan to welcome our new baby next Friday. For me, celebrations bring to mind cakes, and given my dislike of baking, fool-proof is a requirement. This Rhubarb Strawberry Cake has a rustic moist vanilla base, with jammy pools of cooked strawberry and rhubarb dotted on top, and a sweet crunch of caramelized sugar.

Rhubarb Strawberry Cake

Mediterranean Beef Kebabs

"COOK!" "COOK!" .... "Mmmmmm!" Our 16-month-old daughter will proclaim as she urgently points to the stove around meal times. Our Madeline is both patient and persistent in her quest for food, and will next proceed to helpfully list all her favorite foods for us to cook, meat...blueberries...strawberries, with the ever present refrain; "COOK!" Yes, our daughter is a voracious carnivore who swings her little legs and claps her hands in delight when she gets meat for her meals. These Mediterranean Beef Kebabs are one in a long-line of meat dishes Paul has concocted for Madeline, and they are as delicious as they are simple to make! And if you give them a try, you might just find your guests swinging their legs in delight too.

Mediterranean Beef Kebabs

Simple Rhubarb Danishes

It is high rhubarb season here in Northern Indiana where Rebecca and I are spending these last weeks of her pregnancy. Since rhubarb is something we can't find in Haiti, Rebecca has been doubling down on it while we are here. We eat rhubarb strawberry jam on our toast, in yogurt, and as a topping for ice cream. We make batch upon batch of rhubarb strawberry jam bars, and of course many a rhubarb cream pie. These Simple Rhubarb Danishes are easy (for a pastry), delicious, and elegant -- great for a crowd, or in scaled down version for a weekend breakfast.

Simple Rhubarb Danishes

Honey Citrus Grilled Chicken

Three cheers for the Memorial Day weekend. This week has felt long with work during the day, and preterm labor most nights. While my appetite has been weak lately, I have had an odd hankering for sweet and sour flavors. With this craving in mind, Paul has been working on this delicious and simple Honey Citrus Grilled Chicken, and it is a knock-out win for me!

Honey Citrus Grilled Chicken

Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars

We made these Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars five times in the last two weeks. Each time we swore to ourselves it would be our last. But then another picnic would pop up on the calendar. Each time we turned to the jars of crimson hued roasted strawberry rhubarb jam perched in the fridge, tempting us. And so another batch of Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars would hit the oven, followed by much happy gobbling.

Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars

Spring Picnic Orzo Salad with Asparagus & Feta

We love outdoor eating, and as temperatures rise in Northern Indiana, we've been honing our pasta salad line-up for the picnic season. Spring Picnic Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Feta is an edgier alternative to the traditional picnic classic. In our pasta salad, we replaced the larger pasta with small rice shaped orzo, added crunchy asparagus, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, and tossed it with an assertive garlicky lemon vinaigrette, herbs and feta. Enjoy this early picnic season with Spring Picnic Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Feta.

For other grain based picnic ready salads try our Hearty Quinoa & Chickpea Salad, Spring Buckwheat Grouts Salad, Wild Rice & Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms & Asparagus.

Spring Picnic Orzo Salad with Asparagus & Feta

Henan Citrus Chicken Broth

Henan Citrus Chicken Broth is Paul's non-traditional adaptation of the famous aromatic Daokou chicken from Henan province, China, near the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Already a deft broth maker, Paul has honed his technique and varied his flavor profiles during my pregnancy, in empathic response to my near-daily nausea. I love this broth's bold citrus aroma and flavor, subtle honey sweetness, and rich background spices. Its a great broth on its own (Paul's favorite), or with fresh steamed veggies and rice (the way I like it best). This recipe is adapted from Carolyn Phillips' wonderful new Chinese cookbook All Under Heaven.

Henan Citrus Chicken Broth

Roasted Rhubarb Strawberry Oven Jam

Every year, in the hot months of summer, my Oma would make oven jam. My Opa would buy her bushels of fresh apricots and plums from the farmers markets, and she would slow roast the fruit until they caramelized and the juices thickened, creating silky fruit jams that she tucked into layers of her torte cakes for celebrations throughout the year. In the years since she died, I find myself craving the custardy texture, and caramelized fruit taste of her jams. I started experimenting with my own oven jams recently, and found them to be simple, fail-safe, and delicious. My favorite is this tangy spring rhubarb strawberry jam, with rhubarb fresh from a friend's garden.

Roasted Rhubarb Strawberry Oven Jam

Birthday Joy

I turned 31 today, ate cookies, watermelon pie, and ribs, and I had to change my clothes three times because our daughter's outdoor play got unusually messy! It was a great birthday. Two years ago on my birthday, Rebecca and I were living and working in Pittsburgh. Last year we were new parents, in a new country, in new jobs. And this year we are expectantly waiting. Rebecca is pregnant, and due to a complication in the pregnancy, we are both working remotely from the US during this last trimester. If all goes as well as it can, our baby will be joining us about a month ahead of schedule towards the end of June.

Birthday Joy

Maple Black Pepper Oven Spareribs

It's 80 degrees in northern Indiana today. The sky is blue, the trees are budding, and our daughter is happily smeared from head to toe in the mud she's dug out of the backyard. To kick off spring, I whipped up these Maple Black Pepper Oven Spareribs. These spareribs are easy to make, don't require a smoker or any complicated equipment, and are absolutely delicious! These ribs forgo the traditional tomato-based sauce, and bring to center stage the fresh maple syrup Rebecca was given a few weeks ago from a local Amish farmer. Celebrate the changing of the seasons with Maple Black Pepper Oven Spareribs. 

Maple Black Pepper Oven Spareribs

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

Paul and I started dating 12 years ago, and quickly found that we had some pretty distinct food preferences. At the time, I professed to hate red meat, Paul loved it. I obsessed over salty briney flavors, which caused Paul to shudder. Time has made converts of us both. In fact, one of the first things I craved on a trip back to to North America from Haiti was a perfectly grilled steak. Paul's tastes have changed as well. Half a dozen years ago, when I first started making tangy sauce gribiche, I was on my own eating it. No longer. We like to make a big pile of asparagus and slather on this winning mustardy, eggy, French sauce gribiche. For the French cooking enthusiasts out there, I will note that this is my own, non-traditional version of the classic sauce gribiche.

Asparagus with Fresh Herb Sauce Gribiche

The Last Salad of Winter & A Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

Paul and I are nuts for winter fennel salads, and it turns out that our 14-month old daughter is a big fan as well... that is until we upped our game and added this amazing caramelized apple vinaigrette. Madeline ignored the salad completely and licked the vinaigrette off all the salad components, all the while loudly commenting "mmmmmm." We realize that a 14-month-old cannot be our barometer of good food, but darn it if we don't love this salad combination ourselves, and want to lick the vinaigrette off the bottom of our plates. The tart green apple, crisp fennel, sweet blood oranges and sweet and sour notes of this wonderful caramelized apple vinaigrette make this a winner.

The Last Salad of Winter & A Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette
Paul Shetler Fast

Easter Round-Up

The time of feasting will soon be upon us, and we've put together 12 of our favorite sweet and savory spring-ish dishes that we hope inspires your Easter and spring cooking:

Paul Shetler Fast
Easter Round-Up

Rosemary Lemon Roasted Potatoes

The smell of roasting potatoes makes my mouth water every time. These golden brown orbs of puffed potato deliciousness have been my dish of choice this past month. And I think the addition of rosemary and lemon makes the house smell like Sunday dinner. Happy roasting!

Rosemary Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Potato Crusted Quiche with Bacon & Caramelized Onions

Rebecca and I have been traveling a lot recently, often improvising, cooking in new kitchens and without access to our own pantry supplies. This Potato Crusted Quiche with Bacon and Caramelized Onions is a slam dunk for these situations. It is a reliable crowd-pleaser built on a simple shredded potato crust and easy pantry staples (milk, cream, eggs, onions, and bacon). The result is a sublime quiche with caramelized onions, a creamy custard, and smokey bacon. This recipe is also very adaptable...add cheese for extra richness....take out the bacon to make it vegetarian...or substitute your favorite topping.

Potato Crusted Quiche with Bacon & Caramelized Onions

Simple Lemon Butter Salmon

We've tried to expose Madeline to a wide taste palette, including some foods that kids find tough to love, like fish. In Haiti, her favorite fish dish is pan fried local Woz fish with a key lime butter sauce. While back in North America, we have adapted Madeline's favorite fish recipe, and make this Simple Lemon Butter Salmon. Madeline likes this Lemon Butter Salmon so much her hands shake with enthusiasm in between bites, and quite frankly, we adults aren't too far behind her! 

Simple Lemon Butter Salmon

Roasted Garlic & Buttermilk Potato Leek Soup

It’s a soup day here in Indiana Northern Indiana. While Madeline and I count down the weeks until we return to warmer weather and our home Haiti, we are eating for the cold weather with the toasty flavors of roasted garlic, tangy buttermilk and mellow nutty leeks. This Roasted Garlic & Buttermilk Potato and Leek Soup is a winter winner!

Roasted Garlic & Buttermilk Potato Leek Soup

Spiced Moroccan Carrot Salad

When the winter chills set in, this colorful tangerine hued salad, with its bright splashes of pomegranate, feta, and cilantro is a full flavored pick you up. This is a long-standing recipe in our repertoire, with a captivating citrus and spice vinaigrette. 

Spiced Moroccan Carrot Salad

6 Winter Salads

For us, a good meal involves contrast, vibrant vegetables and meatless mains, even in the coldest months. We’ve put together a collection of 6 of our most popular hearty winter salads to inspire your winter salading. 

1. Wild Rice & Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms & Asparagus

2. Kale Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

3. Roasted Vegetable Fattoush Salad

4. Crisp Apple Fennel Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

5. Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

6. Slow Cooker Lentil Salad with Roasted Squash

6 Winter Salads