Tony and Sarah Nasello
Our son, Giovanni, turns 12 years old Wednesday. Over the years, we have watched him move from his early, omnivorous toddler days where he would eat anything — even kalamata olives and calamari — to his "picky eater" preschool days where he wouldn't eat anything other than chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, plain pasta and French fries.
Autumn is nearly upon us, my favorite time of year. But, with the onset of after-school activities, football games and the general business of life to attend to, finding time to properly feed my family can be a challenge. I just love it when I come across a recipe that allows me to cheat a bit, but tastes so good that no one will ever notice. Today's Easy Chicken Pot Pie is exactly that kind of recipe.
Two weeks ago, our son Giovanni officially became a middle schooler, and in just two more weeks he will enter his final year as a tween. Our skinny, knobby-kneed little boy is now filling out and changing before our very eyes as his body prepares for an imminent growth spurt. And as Gio's appetite grows right along with him, it has become a challenge to find a snack satisfying enough to hold him over until dinnertime. Thank goodness for monster cookies.
I just love the power of social media. Several years ago, thanks to Facebook, we reconnected with Susan Adie, a dear friend from our days working with Clipper Cruise Line, a small-ship cruise line with a focus on expedition travel. Susan was an expedition leader on many of our voyages, and we worked with her on a variety of ships and itineraries across the globe, from Norway's High Arctic realm of Svalbard, through the murky waters of the Brazilian Amazon and the crystal clear sea of the Caribbean, all the way down to the pristine wilderness of Antarctica.
There are few words more powerful in the food world than bacon — at least, among carnivores. Just saying the word out loud in a crowd can elicit a jumble of excitement, with necks craning and nostrils flaring, everyone wondering, "Where's the bacon?" This was a question we heard often earlier this month at North Dakota's Banquet in a Field, where we served Candied Bacon as one of the dozen or so appetizers inspired by North Dakota crops and livestock. This appetizer debuted at the 2015 banquet, and was so popular that the North Dakota Pork Council asked us to bring it back again this year.
A recent sighting of hot air balloons over Lake Melissa has reaffirmed to me that it is decidedly still summer, in spite of the fact that Fargo schools will be back in session next week. And, as our son (and only child) Giovanni transitions to middle school on Tuesday, I need every glimmer of sunshine I can get. Thank goodness it's tomato season!
Just over a week ago, a bit of magic filled the air in a special place called Prosper, N.D., as nearly 200 people gathered in the middle of a field to celebrate the third annual Banquet in a Field, hosted by CommonGround North Dakota at Peterson Farms Seed. Tony and I have had the privilege of participating in this event as guest chefs since its inception, and we never cease to be amazed by the wonderful things that can happen when we collaborate with the hard-working farmers, ranchers and agricultural educators who live and work right here in the Red River Valley.
Last Saturday, Tony paid a visit to his good buddy Jim Driscoll of Driscoll Farms at the Northern Plains Farmers Market, which takes place in the west parking lot at West Acres mall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Jim had an abundance of cauliflower on display at his stand, in a rainbow of vibrant colors beyond the standard white, including purple (Graffiti), gold (Cheddar), green (Susanna). Our son, Giovanni, noticed right away that there was enough color variety to satisfy fans of the Minnesota Vikings, North Dakota State Bison and even the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
Fresh Washington cherries are a signature summertime treat, and when they're in season I will often buy two bags at a time as they disappear quickly in our house. Last week, while shopping for dinner, I picked up a couple bags and thought about how to incorporate them into a main course. My mind went immediately to pork, as its tender white meat pairs so wonderfully with fresh fruit. The weather was hot and sunny that day, and I wanted whatever I was making to be quick and easy, so I decided to grill a whole pork tenderloin and serve it with a fresh cherry salsa.
When we think of our favorite summer treats, it's hard to imagine one that could rate higher than the classic campfire specialty, the all-American s'more. This signature sandwich treat combines graham crackers with toasted marshmallows and milk chocolate, and the result is a gooey, sticky-sweet bite of Americana that leaves many of us wanting some more.