Yogurt Tarragon Grilled Chicken

Today’s recipe is a perfect example of mistakes made better!  Maybe not so perfect as the one where the guy inadvertently dipped a piece of chocolate into peanut butter and gave us Reese’s, but it is a good lesson in kitchen improvisation. And, I’m sharing this one with you because, well, it worked.

I was chatting with Sam the Butcher (not his real name, but it brings out the Alice in me to call him that) at Central Market a couple of  weekends ago.  I asked if they had any pre-made chicken kabobs to toss on the grill.  Of course not, who wants to grill out when the temps are hovering around freezing? Husband.  But Sam tells me he can easily cut up anything I want, so I ask him to cube some chicken meat for kabobs.  About eight pieces he asks? Sure, that’ll be fine.

Later, back in the kitchen, I pull out the wooden skewers to soak before we grill the kabobs.  I thought I’d go ahead and rinse and season the chicken, too.  Instead of finding eight pieces of cubed chicken breast, I had an entire skin-on, bone-in chicken cut into eight parts – breasts, thighs, wings and legs.  Hmmm…not quite what I was expecting.

I shifted gears, pulled some ingredients out of the fridge, and voila Yogurt Tarragon Grilled Chicken was born!  I’ve made this recipe three times in the last two weeks.  It definitely gets six (out of six) thumbs up at The Cafe.  Here’s what I had on hand:

Yogurt Tarragon Grilled Chicken

2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, wings, and drumsticks bone-in, skin-on

1/3 cup Fage Yogurt 0%

1 TBS red onion, finely minced

juice from 1 lemon

1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBS brown sugar

1 TBS tarragon, dried

Salt & Pepper to taste

Rinse and pat dry chicken pieces.  Set aside.  Add the rest of the ingredients to a zip lock bag and mix well.

Add chicken pieces to bag, gently shake and mix marinade to coat.  Let marinade in fridge for at least 2 hours.  Toss on grill and cook until chicken is done.

Husband likes the wings best, and the Littles grab up all the drumsticks.  I’m happy with whatever is left, but I always save a wing for good measure!


Overnight Oatmeal

I don’t know about you, but breakfast isn’t always our most important meal of the day.  Trying to feed four, sleepy Littles breakfast at 6:30 am before they rush out the door to school puts a damper on the whole make-breakfast-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day theory.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the foods we are eating and how I can do a better job fueling the Littles with nutrient-rich choices to help power them through the day.  I thought I’d share with you some of the experiments I’m trying and pass along those that rate at least two (out of four) thumbs up!

Overnight Oatmeal was an instant success.  Three out of the four Littles love this breakfast, so it has permanently found a place on our morning rotation.  The best part? You make it the night before!

Overnight Oatmeal

2 cups oatmeal (not instant)

2 cups almond milk

2 Tbs flaxseed (optional)

Mix almond milk, oatmeal, and flaxseed in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  My Littles like the chill taken off their oatmeal, so I microwave the entire bowl for a minute or two, then dish into 4 bowls and let them pick their toppings.

Topping Options:

banana slices


fresh berries



mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand which are dairy, soy & gluten free)

Maybe your eyebrows raised a bit at Almond Milk?

Well, it’s all part of my experimentation.  I’ve mentioned before that at least one of the Littles may have a dairy intolerance.  It’s not a full-blown allergy, but it definitely merits monitoring our dairy intake.  Husband & I have almost completely eliminated dairy from our diets (well, since Christmas anyway) and so I’m trying out options to see what passes muster.  So far Almond Milk is tolerated.  Not straight out of the glass, but definitely in Overnight Oatmeal.

Have fun experimenting with the toppings and please, please share with us any favorite breakfasts you have!

*** Gluten-Free Update: We now use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free oats for this weekly staple at The Schell Cafe. And, we love our Almond Milk!

Shrove Tuesday: A Pancake Feast!

ORIGINALLY POSTED: February 24, 2009

Ahhh…Mardi Gras.  Here you are again.  I knew it was coming when beads started popping up on the store aisles last week and king cakes were positioned front and center at the bakeries.  Needless to say there will be lots of revelry taking place tonight as the world seems to embrace this now secular mini-holiday.

We’ll be preparing our hearts for the Lenten season tonight with Mardi Gras’ lesser known cousin, Shrove Tuesday.  I’m going to share with you a letter that our amazing kindergarten teacher sent home explaining how the children will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday today.  Her words are far better than mine and I’m certainly not a believer in recreating the wheel:

We will be spending a bit more time than normal on “Chapel” topics this week since this is the beginning of Lent.  The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday.  The word “Shrove” comes from an ancient word “shriving” which, means “confession.”  On Shrove Tuesday, we confess our sins and prepare our hearts for the beginning of Lent.  On Shrove Tuesday, we prepare our homes for Lent as well.  In some traditions and families, Lent is a time of strict fasting – a time when no meat, eggs or sweets are eaten.  During ancient times, families would cook cakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up those things that were “forbidden” during Lent and that would not last until the Easter celebrations begin.  Eggs, butter, and sugar syrup were on the list of things that needed to be used up.  Thus, the tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up (not waste) certain foods began.  We will cook pancakes during lunch time on Tuesday.  Please send in “sides” for your child to have WITH his/her pancakes…or pack a regular lunch if your child would prefer not to have pancakes for lunch.

Another fun part of our Shrove Tuesday celebration is having pancake races.  The pancake races come from a legend that long ago, in England, a woman was cooking pancakes for her family when she heard the church bell ring telling her that worship was beginning.  Afraid of being late, she took off running down the street wearing her apron and carrying her frying pan with the pancake still in it!  In many places today, pancake races are a SERIOUS tradition.  We’ll have our own, NOT SO SERIOUS, races Tuesday.  It will be lots of fun.

Sweet  Littlest Middlest went to school today, but she is smack dab in the middle of a 24 hour food allergy test and won’t be able to share in the pancake feast with her friends.  Her allergy test ends at 4pm today so I asked her to help me plan our own Pancake Feast for this evening.  We’ll start with Grandma’s Hot Cake recipe and then add special toppings.  Each of the Littles picked their special topping and guess what they came up with — marshmallows, frosting and sprinkles, strawberries and jelly beans.  Hmmm…I’m not sure how this will help prepare our hearts, but our bellies will clearly be up for a fast!

Look how they are passing right over those strawberries!

Here is Grandma Schell’s Hot Cake recipe in case you want to join in on the Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Hot Cakes (Her recipe also titles them Griddlecakes)

1 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (She uses buttermilk)

3 Tbs melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients; mix egg, milk and butter. Combine wet and dry mixes together.  Pour onto hot griddle.  Makes about 12 cakes.

Valentine Mice

If you have your own Littles running around the house, this Valentine’s Day treat will surely bring smiles to your house too.  These adorable, edible strawberry mice are a healthy and fun alternative to balance out all the chocolate and candy the Littles will end up scarfing at Valentine’s Day parties this week.

Valentine’s Day Mice

fresh strawberries

mini chocolate chips

sliced almonds

licorice pieces

Wash and hull the strawberries.  I sliced off the bottoms so they will lay nice and flat.  I put all the ingredients out on the table and let the Littles go to town making mice using the mini chocolate chips for the eyes and nose, the almonds for ears, and the licorice pieces for tails.

These fun Valentine’s Day treats have always been the hit of the party at The Schell Cafe.  I hope your Littles will enjoy them too!

Happy Valentine’s Day!



Emeril and The Saints

It’s Super Bowl Sunday.  I’m sandwiched between Husband and our soon-to-be ten year old son watching the pre-game commentary.  We are a united house and have our fleur-de-lis, #9 jersey, and NOLA mojo all goin’ on.

But really, you didn’t stop by The Cafe to talk about football, did you? In between the anticipated commercials I’ll fill you in on dinner with the Saints-loving, patron chef de New Orleans, Emeril Lagasse.

When the invitation came for the intimate dinner, I thought the night would never arrive.  Trust me, it was only momentarily embarrassing when Husband & I were the first to arrive at our friends home for the dinner.  As soon as I saw Emeril cooking in the kitchen I knew we were in for a treat.

I only took a few photos so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you the food was amazing.  Better than the food was the opportunity to just hang in the kitchen with Emeril.

I can’t believe I just said that!

Emeril was delightful.  He is an amazing storyteller and he regaled us with history and lore with each course he served.  Despite his fame and accolades, he’s very approachable and talked about family, fishing, and of course his beloved New Orleans and Saints!  The role Emeril has played in the rebuilding of New Orleans is truly remarkable and his Foundation is making a significant impact educating inner city children with culinary, gardening, and life skills.

But, back to the food…

The table was simply elegant.  Any hostess knows seating 14 people is well, odd.  But not so this evening.

And the flowers….

Hanging in the kitchen while Emeril plated up Oyster Bisque….

Husband’s menu…

Need a close up?

What was my favorite thing on the menu? Hands down the Oyster Bisque and the Confit Pork Cheek.  To my knowledge I’ve never had pork cheek and it was exceptional.  I told Emeril this was my favorite and he said he was glad to hear it as it was the only item on the menu that he and his team went back and forth on.  To which I responded  ‘always trust your instincts’.  Seriously?!?! I told Emeril Lagasse to trust his culinary instincts.  I politely hid out for rest of the evening in the powder room…

And just when we thought we couldn’t manage another bite the biggest surprise of the night arrived on our plates.  Emeril’s Signature Banana Cream Pie.  I have to be honest, I would not have ordered this off the menu given options that included chocolate.  And I’m so grateful I didn’t have a choice on this special evening.  Maybe because it was so unexpected or maybe just because it was so over-the-top divine, but it is now my personal quest to recreate Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie.  Think I can do it? It’s going to have to wait for an uber-occasion as it purportedly has 1575 calories per piece! Maybe for Husband’s birthday?

Speaking of Husband, here he is talking about fishing with Emeril and his Culinary Director, Chris Wilson…

And Husband & I with Emeril…

I never heard him say ‘BAM’, but he did leave us with his trademark signature…

And joyous memories for a lifetime.

Now, back to the Super Bowl…

Kickin’ it up a notch…

Last night was somewhat of a fairy tale for me…

I can’t wait to tell you all about our dream dinner with Emeril, but I have to digest it all first.  Oh, and get the Littles to school, go to bible study, do twelve loads of laundry, and hit the grocery store.  But, as soon as I finish my Cinderella chores, I’ll share the details of the fete with you.


Love, Kristin