or Treat- Baked Apples!


We couldn’t resist sharing a delicious Halloween treat, Mulled Cider Baked Apples!  So sweet and perfect for the fall and beautiful to share, we are eating these tonight…


First HOW TO CORE AN APPLE, we had to google it but you can just review the above tools and method below to get you going all on one page:

  1. Wash the apples prior to coring them. Remove all surface dirt from the apples  and place them onto the cutting board.
  2. Insert the tip of the paring knife approximately 3/8-inch to one side of the  center stem of the apple. Push the tip of the knife into the apple and rotate it  around to cut out an even circle around the stem of the  apple.
  3. Push the knife into the apple and angle it under the stem to remove the  entire stem from the top of the apple.
  4. Insert the tip of the spoon into the hole in the center of the apple. Dig out  the core of the apple, including the seeds, with the spoon and discard these  pieces. Continue digging until you remove the entire core area of the  apple.
  5. Dig with the spoon until you reach approximately 1/2-inch from the bottom of  the apple. Do not cut all the way through the entire apple—leave this 1/2-inch  of apple at the bottom to contain the brown sugar and other fillings you will  add to the empty core area. Make the hole in the center of the apple  approximately 3/4-inch wide


4 medium baking apples- Roma recommended

2 cups Apple Cider

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 whole cloves

Zest of 1 orange

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 cinnamon sticks

Core apples, place in the bottom of a medium size saucepan with a lid.  Add in the cider, honey, syrup, cloves, zests and juice then place 1 stick in the cored center of each apple.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until tender but not falling apart 15-20 minutes.  Remove apples from pan to a serving plate and set aside covered to keep warm.

Increase the heat under your pan to medium/ high and boil to reduce the cider mixture, uncovered, stir occasionally until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 cup of liquid.  Strain the mixture through a mesh sieve reserving the liquid, toss the solid and drizzle of each apple to serve.


Trick! Chop it Up


It Halloween and I know these carrots aren’t the treats you are looking for- BUT they are another example of great ways to save on your groceries each and every week.  This one seems so obvious but not as many people as you’d expect chop their own snack veggies. Maybe you buy a veggie tray in a rush or just grab a bag of baby carrots or pre cut apple slices at the store. A bag of actual whole vegetables and fruit is always the better deal- and it tastes so much better! So grab a bag of carrots and peel away the savings, enjoy the healthy snacks and have a fun and safe Halloween out there!

Bulk Bins= BIG savings

Another great way to save!

These are your best friends; you can get just about everything from these ” bulk bins”- grains, dried beans, lentils, rice, seeds, snacks, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate covered goodies, every spice on earth, for very cheap prices.  You pack it, you label it, they weigh it- you save 80% because you aren’t paying for a label, a jar, packaging processes etc. etc.  Whole Foods has the most comprehensive selection, even though the rest of the store is not affordable.  Learn what you use most often:

Do you find yourself buying rice from a box that only lasts you one meal?  Snack a lot on nuts and pay $10 for a small bag of em? Or do you just need 1 cup of some crazy new grain that you want to try out before buying a larger prepacked bag?  It’s a great way to get just what you need, or stock up on things you use frequently.


We have canisters for rice and flours that we stock up from the bulk bins.  We use whole wheat pastry flour in all baked goods for the extra protien and fiber, brown rice, barley, grains, and spices ( below)

20121030-102835.jpg20121030-102846.jpgWe got some jars with lids at $1.00 a piece at Bed Bath and Beyond, or we refill existing containers ( McCormick etc.) and we store extra bags of bulk bin product in sealed containers.  Keep everything labeled and you have saved yourself plenty of extra cash.

This is how we do it… Smarter Grocery Shopping on a Budget

“It’s Friday Night and we feel alright” you know the song!  Anyhow, each post we hint at ways that we save and what to make seasonally to save money as well.  The other day I shared with a friend that we are budgeting $50 a week for groceries, which then led to this question ” how do you do that- share please!”  This week we will share some tried and true ways that we save money and eat meals that are better than you can get at a restaurant.  This post will go into our entire process of navigating a weekly meal plan, creating a list and how to shop the best deal at the store.

20121029-163017.jpgStep 1.  Look at your week ahead, how many meals will you be making at home, when will you be out-of-town, is there a special holiday or friend’s get together the plan around or plan for?  Determine how many meals you need to get you through your week.  We make a dinner each night that always has 1 set of leftovers that each of us can enjoy for lunch.  If a recipe makes more than 4 servings, we plan on a leftover night at dinnertime.  This week, we will need to make 4 dinners, one of which has 6 servings, so we have all weekday  lunches and one night from leftovers.  We are also making two make ahead breakfasts and 2 desserts that will go 4 nights with leftovers.


Make a list, go through your pantry- what do you already have on hand that you can use this week for your meals?



 Gather your favorite cookbooks, and use the index to navigate what recipes include items you already have on hand. This recipe includes acorn squash, which we already have, and requires us to get apple cider, so we picked a dessert that also uses that apple cider since we will have some leftover!  Write down ingredients from each recipe on your list ( see below) and pick recipes that sound great to you and that includes the bext the season has to offer: Fall is apples, squash, fennel, pears think cinnamon and spice and warm hearty meals



Flag your chosen recipes, and make your list in groups based on your store and shopping flow : Produce, Dairy, Pantry, Meats, Frozen



Shop Smarter: read labels, not just on your food but on the price tags!

The store tells you what the best deal is, look at the price per oz/ gallon etc. below the actual price; see where is says ” $.100 per fl oz” and above “$.179 per oz”?  The better deal is obvious, and those incremental deals make a difference!

Ok, so that’s a grocery shopping day from start to finish!  It’s all about planning, using what you have, and enjoying the leftovers.

Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup

Last night was a little celebration here at the Richardson home, we hit our 2 month wedding anniversary!  Silly, we know, but it was a great night to reflect on our wedding, being happy and an excuse to cook something amazing and serve it on our wedding china= bonus!!  Jason has a little obsession with Jamie Oliver’s cookbook photography so we have a few of them.  This recipe was found in his “Jamie’s Kitchen” book, where he breaks down recipes by season, which we love. When you can cook in season, your groceries are cheaper and your food is fresher, better.  This soup packs a huge vitamin punch with swiss chard and cabbage… even though we’ve added bacon, bread and cheese ( YUM)  Jamie tends to cook very humbly, he says ” handful of this, a glob of that” it’s hard to navigate and some ingredients are just not available in most stores in the US.  Here we navigate this recipe adding in how we made it, the broth was so rich and hearty and just amazing- the flavors Jamie imparts with herbs is a serious talent.  We used the cheese we had on hand and the bread we had also… you can opt to look to the original!  This makes 8 servings, and it is filling, it could be called a casserole almost, but it has enough broth to bring it home.



Adapted from Jamie at Home

Makes 8 servings


  • 3 quarts, 96 oz, chicken stock ( not broth)
  • 1 green cabbage, outer leaves separated, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard ( or Kale), center hard stalk removed, leaves washed
  • and roughly chopped
  • About 12 slices stale bread, we used Sara Lee Honey Wheat
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, cut in 1/2
  • Olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped on 1″ lengths
  • 1 (4-ounce) can anchovy fillets, in oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • 4 ounces romano cheese, grated
  • 3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little for serving
  • 2 ounces white cheddar, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage, cavolo nero and/or kale. Cook for a few minutes until softened (you may have to do this in 2 batches). Remove the cabbage to a large bowl, leaving the stock in the pan.

Toast all but 4 of the bread slices in a toaster, then rub them on 1 side with the garlic halves right away while warm, and set aside.

Next, heat a large 4-inch-deep ovenproof casserole-type pan on the stove top, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, bacon and anchovies. When the bacon is golden brown and sizzling, add the rosemary sprigs and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens. Put the mixture and all the juices back into the large bowl.

Place 4 of the toasted slices in the casserole-type pan, in 1 layer. Spread over 1/2 of the cabbage leaves, sprinkle over a 1/3 of the grated cheeses and add a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat with another layer of toasted bread, cabbage mixture( pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl) and cheese.  End with a layer of the untoasted bread on top. Push down on the layers with your hands.

Pour the stock gently over the top until it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining 1/3 of cheese. Add a teaspoon of pepper and drizzle over some good-quality olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes, or until crispy and golden on top.

When the soup is ready, divide it between your bowls. Melt the butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they’re just crisp and the butter is lightly golden (not burned!). Spoon a bit of the flavored butter and sage leaves over the soup and add another grating of Parmesan if desired.

Food for thought… and Autumn Vegetable Curry


This morning was one of those amazing fall days in Chicago, the kind we all reflect back to when the snow and slush and icy winds start to bring us down.  After an admittedly challenging couple of weeks, there is so much change in the air, not only the seasons.  In times like these it’s important to remember that our lives are only as good as the choices we make, whether they are good choices, hard choices, wrong choices; they all shape who we are, who we will become and the life we will have.

Inspired by two friends today, I took a long break to get outside and bike+ run, not just to work out but to slow down, think, walk, and soak in the great day.  Everyone I passed was smiling, the sun was shining, the lake rippled in the wind and colorful leaves rustled along my path, the skyline gleamed in the contrast of the blue skies, it was as if everywhere I looked, a gorgeous photo presented itself.  It got me thinking about how charmed our lives are, if we can just take a moment to step back and enjoy it.  If the choices we make define who we are, we should make each one count; they should enrich our life, they should inspire us, they should make us happy- it’s our choice, right?  In lou of all the changes a new season brings, our family is faced with all kinds of challenges and choices, our near future of where we will end up is hovering within reach and it’s overwhelming.  It’s helpful to reflect, jot stuff down and just take a moment to put things in perspective.  This is life, it is glorious, we have the ability to make choices and that is pretty great.

Now, to the food!  After all that thought, I bet you are ready to make a choice on what’s for dinner this fine fall evening.  We’ve been loving all the in season produce- fennel, pears, squash and sweet potatoes.  This recipe is another Ellie Krieger gem; we can’t go on enough about how much we love her.  It’s warm and hearty and full of big flavors and so many veggies, you would never guess it’s simplicity could be so good.  This recipe makes a big batch so you can enjoy leftovers over and over!  Enjoy,


1 large onion, coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1½ -inch long piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

¾ teaspoon salt plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ head of cauliflower, broken into 11/2 inch wide florets (about 3 cups)

1 pound sweet potatoes (garnet yams), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds

2 tomatoes, cored and chopped

Zest of 1 lime

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed

5 cups baby spinach leaves (5 ounces)

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Put the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder and cayenne pepper into the bowl of a food and process until combined. Add the oil and process until a smooth puree. Cook the curry puree in a large pot over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to darken, about 5 minutes more.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, cinnamon, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, tomatoes, salt and pepper and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Stir in the lime zest and juice, the garbanzo beans and the spinach and cook for 5 minutes more, until the spinach is wilted. Season with additional salt to taste.

Serve garnished with cilantro, over rice if desired.


Makes about 10 cups Serves 4


Per Serving: Calories 420; Total Fat 12 g; (Sat Fat 3.5 g, Mono Fat 4.6 g, Poly Fat 2.3 g) ; Protein 13 g; Carb TK g; Fiber 16 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 780 mg


Excellent source of: Copper, Fiber, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K Good source of: Calcium, Niacin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Thiamin, Zinc


Copyright 2011 Ellie Krieger. All Rights Reserved.

Pot Pies



So as you can tell by now, we hope, we tend to pick recipes that are healthy and crave worthy and we HEART Ellie Krieger.  She always does just this, and these pot pies are SO amazing, they’ve been a staple in our kitchen for a couple of years now.  We finally got actual mini pie dishes, thank you Katie and Aaron, off our wedding registry so here they are to flaunt all their goodness in gorgeous little pie plates.  We used to use 2 cup pirex glass bowls and they can easily be stored with their lids as left over lunch too.  The photo is just from the iPhone and we will be working on getting our in home studio up and running again, ahem.  She uses all green veggies in this- leeks, green beans, peas and parsley- not only are they amazing together, it looks gorgeous too.


Pot Pies, Serves 4

Recipe provided courtesy of Ellie Krieger. © 2008-2009 In Balance, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


  • 1-1⁄4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, bottom 4 inches only, trimmed, washed well, and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)
  • 2 medium white potatoes, left unpeeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1⁄2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1⁄2-inch pieces ( you can also use frozen= faster)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1-1⁄2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed ( 7 or 9 work well)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 4 individual-size baking dishes with cooking spray.
  2. Season the chicken with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown, about 2-1⁄2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil, the leeks, and celery to the pan and cook, stirring a few times, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, green beans, garlic, and the remaining 3⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring to combine everything. Add the milk. Stir the flour into the broth until dissolved and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, parsley, and thyme. Spoon the mixture into the baking dishes.
  4. Put the remaining 1-2⁄3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Unroll the phyllo dough and cut it into quarters. Place a quarter-sheet on top of each baking dish and brush with the oil. Repeat layering with all three layers. Tuck the edges of the phyllo into the dish rim. Sprinkle the top of each pie with the Parmesan.
  5. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.


Butternut Squash Barley Stew

This recipe is from Anne Burrell on FoodNetwork.com.
It is hearty and amazing!


1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
kosher salt
pinch crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped
1 28 oz can puréed tomatoes
2 pounds peeled, 1/4 inch diced butternut squash
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
bay leaf
1 1/2 cups quick cook barley
1 bunch chives, finely chopped

Coat a large sauce pan generously with EVOO. Add onions & bring to med-hi heat. Season with salt & add red pepper. Saute until the onions are translucent & very aromatic – about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Add tomatoes and fill can with water to add as well. Season with salt & pepper cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes, or until the water has reduced.

Add squash, stock, and bay leaf. Taste for seasonings & re-salt if needed. Cook until the squash is cooked thru and most of the liquid has absorbed, 20-30 minutes over medium heat partially covered.

In the mean time, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add barley & cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Strain and add to tomatoes & squash. Stir to incorporate. Add more stock or water if the mixture is dry and cook longer if it’s too soupy. It should have a stew-like consistency.

Stir in the chives.

This is even better left-over.

Spiced Red Wine-Poached Pears


2 cups dry red wine, such as cabernet or merlot
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
2 (1 by 3-inch) strip orange zest
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves, or 1/8 tsp ground cloves
4 firm, ripe pears


In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears. Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom. Gently place pears in poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm. Remove saucepan from flame, uncover and cool with pears upright in pan. Once cool, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally, if desired. Gently remove pears from liquid and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from flame and let liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and serve.