Elements of Baby, Elements of Food

Chicken, Leeks and Apples…Delicious for Mom, Dad and Baby!

Have I mentioned how much I love Real Simple? I do. I love the magazine, the cookbooks and the website. It’s my go to for simple, healthy meals. I honestly haven’t tried a recipe from it that I haven’t loved. The best part about their recipes is that they use very few ingredients and it’s always whole, healthy ingredients, so I can feel good about feeding them to my family. Marielle’s tastes (and appetite!) are growing, and evolving into loving the foods that my husband and I eat. Dark meat may not be the healthiest part of the chicken, but it’s incredibly tasty and reheats beautifully without getting dry. This recipe gives baby lots of new flavors (Rosemary and Leeks) along with familiar tastes (Chicken and Apples) Removing the chicken from the bone, adding the apples, leeks and some of the cooking liquid and either pureeing for younger babies, or mashing for older babies makes a delightful meal for your little one. And you!

Recipe courtesy of Real Simple (slightly adapted)


  • 4 small apples (I used Honeycrisp and Haralson for both sweet and tart flavors)
  • 2 leeks (white and light green parts), washed and chopped into 1/2 inch circles
  • 6 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken thighs


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. In a large roasting pan, toss the apples, leeks, rosemary, oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and nestle, skin-side up, among the vegetables.
  3. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the apples and leeks are tender, 40 to 45 minutes.
Elements of Food

Healthy Slow Cooking: Chicken with Cranberry Leek Sauce

I’m first going to start out by saying, that cream of (chicken, mushroom, etc) soups get a really bad reputation for no reason. I’ve seen more blogs and recipes stating that their recipe does NOT include them and how awful they are. Yeah, they are high in sodium, but so are most soups and processed foods you cook with. Moderation, moderation, moderation. I have a few recipes that use them, and I happen to really like them. It’s very down home comfort food cooking. However, using a slow cooker does not mean that you HAVE to use them. There are so many ways to use your slow cooker to create really healthy, homestyle meals. My husband and I do try to eat as healthy as we can, and that’s tough when you’re married to an entrepreneur with a crazy schedule! I have this fantastic cookbook full of healthy slow cooker meals. The following recipe is a new favorite. The recipe calls for a turkey breasts, but, 4 lb whole chickens were BOGO at Lunds (can’t resist) so I swapped the turkey for chicken and it turned out fabulous. The best part about this recipe is that I had almost all the ingredients in my house already.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3.5-4 lb whole chicken
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tsp dried Thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2.5-3 cups of chicken stock (depending the size of your chicken, you may need to add more broth to the slow cooker)
  • salt
  • 1 cup plain dried cranberries (not Craisins or any juice infused cranberries)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsely


  1. In a large slow cooker, place your whole chicken (or turkey breast) skin side up to the slow cooker stoneware.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the leeks. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and peppercorns and cook for another minute.
  3. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock to the pan, stirring until mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt if using, and add in the cranberries.
  4. Transfer the sauce to the slow cooker, covering the chicken with the sauce. It’s okay if the sauce doesn’t cover the chicken, just make sure there is a few inches of liquid on the bottom. You can add more chicken broth if you need.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high or 3-4 or until chicken is completely cooked through.
  6. To serve, transfer to a platter and serve with sauce. I served with mashed potatoes and green peas.

Elements of Food, Simple Tips

Simple Tip: Take Your Leeks for a Spin!

Leeks can add wonderfully mild flavor to a variety of dishes, soups, meats and many other foods. However, they can be a pain to deal with due to the prep work that is needed to get them squeaky clean. No one likes to bite down into a leek full of dirt… I cook with leeks a lot and the best way I have found to clean them is to put my salad spinner to use! Simply fill your salad spinner half full with water, place your chopped leeks in the water and give them a good spin! I spin them around for about 45 seconds, remove the basket, dump out the water, rinse, and place the basket with the leeks back in and spin them again to remove the excess water. Now they are ready for use!

Elements of Food, Elements of Home, Favorite Things

Risotto is Nothing to be Afraid Of…

Risotto seems to be one of those dishes that people are terrified of making…they are worried the texture will be off, the flavor will be bland or the whole dish will stick together into one gooey mess. In my opinion, risottos are one of the easiest, most flavorful and satisfying dishes you can make…and they are pretty quick as well! You can literally put anything you want into your risottos…mushrooms if you’re a mushroom lover, veggies, seafood, meat, literally open your cupboard and your fridge…the options are endless. There is one recipe that I have been making for a couple years and everyone I serve it to raves about it. It’s from Cooking Light (but certainly doesn’t taste like it…) It’s really simple too…I promise. it has these wonderful little pockets of melted cheese that are to die for. Yes, there is a technique to making a good textured risotto, but it’s not rocket science…and no, you don’t have to read Cook’s Illustrated to master it. Simply follow the recipe word for word…and you’ll be good to go!

Sage Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella and Prosciutto
-Cooking Light


  • 2  (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth. I always keep a little more available in case you need to alter the texture.
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  cup  finely chopped leek (for leek preparation, see How to Prepare Leeks
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4  cups  Arborio rice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1 1/2  to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) finely chopped fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2  ounces  prosciutto, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Sage sprigs (optional)


  • Prepare your broth: Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  • Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add leek and garlic; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.

That’s the easy part…now here’s where there is a little margin for error…but as long as you’ve kept your broth warm and continue to stir the rice while adding the liquid in small amounts…it will turn out perfectly.

  • Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total).
  • Stir in chopped sage, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in mozzarella. Spoon 1 cup risotto into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 1/2 tablespoons prosciutto. Sprinkle with black pepper. Garnish with sage sprigs, if desired.