by Ingrid Ansell
When Jill asked me for a springtime recipe contribution, I immediately thought of asparagus and strawberries, which seem to be in abundance in late spring to early summer. I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with sheet pan dinners, as they are quick, easy, and often include a protein, starch and vegetable all in one dish. I’m sharing one of my favorite sheet pan recipes, and with it, also sharing one of my favorite cooking websites, halfbakedharvest.com. I’ve probably made 25 of HBH’s recipes and haven’t had a ‘flop’ yet! The only changes I make to her recipes involve leaving out a few ingredients as she is generous with flavors, so leaving out a few reduces unnecessary cost, still produces a delicious dish, and doesn’t leave me with a ton of ¼ used ingredients that I’ve had to purchase. She also loves a ton of heat in her recipes, so I vastly reduce or leave out her tablespoon quantities of chili flakes and hot peppers of various kinds! I don’t substitute anything, though, and I don’t change her instructions–they are correct!
I love the theme for May, “How We Bloom”. It immediately made me think of a conversation I had with my mom about 25 years ago. We had recently moved to Rochester from South Africa for Steve to do some training in oncology, and we didn’t expect to remain here for all this time. Her advice to me resonated, and changed my outlook for our stint in Rochester. “Bloom where you are planted, Ingrid,” she said. She assured me that despite the fact that the Lord had opened the door for us to come here for Steve’s work, the Lord had also brought me here for a purpose, and would give me something to do for Him. She encouraged me to look for opportunities to serve and invest in people, despite the fact that we were probably going to be temporary Rochester residents. We had come over with a 6 month old baby, and didn’t know a soul. It was fun and exciting, but I also missed my family and their support while raising our firstborn on our own. Little did I know that as I prayed about this and we joined Calvary, and I began attending a Bible study for wives of medical residents, the Lord would quickly provide me with friends that were in the same boat – many had moved to Rochester, didn’t know anyone here, were also far from family, and most had a young child or two in tow. We soon became each other’s helpers, babysitters, and encouragers. This is the miracle of God’s design for community. You can move halfway across the world, meet total strangers who can quickly become fast friends when you find out they too love Jesus and want to walk with Him, and shine His light in our small corners of the world. The common ground that He provided was amazing to me. Although our efforts are far from perfect, and seem inadequate most of the time, God can do amazing things in and through all of us.
“Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.”
Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
STRAWBERRY VINAIGRETTE RECIPE
Taste of Home
8 oz (1/2 punnet) fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or balsamic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon poppy seeds
1. Place strawberries in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Add lemon juice and sugar.
2. While processing, gradually add vinegar and oil in a steady stream. Process until thickened.
3. Add salt. Stir in poppy seeds. Transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator.
My notes: I serve this over mixed greens, sliced strawberries, feta cheese, and toasted sliced almonds.
SHEET PAN HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN AND POTATOES
Half Baked Harvest
1 lb baby potatoes, halved
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 skinless chicken thighs or breasts
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tsp dried mixed herbs or thyme
2 tsp smoked or regular paprika
Chili flakes (to taste)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
1 ½ cups mixed fresh parsley, basil or thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 425 deg F.
2. On a large baking sheet, toss potatoes with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Roast for 15-20 mins, or until tender.
3. In a bowl, toss together 2 Tbsp olive oil, the chicken, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, honey, dried herbs, paprika, garlic, sesame seeds, salt, pepper & chili flakes.
4. Remove potatoes from oven. Nestle chicken around the potatoes. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper. 5. Return pan to the oven for 20-25 mins more, until chicken is cooked through, keep an eye on the asparagus.
5. To make dressing, combine 1/8 cup olive oil, 1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and herbs.
6. Remove chicken from oven. Add dressing.
My notes: You can serve this dish over some rice for bigger appetites. I also make a salad. She also has an option of sprinkling feta cheese over the dish when serving, and adding ¾ cup sliced green olives to the dressing.
Ingrid Ansell was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and moved here with her husband, Steve 27 years ago. They have two adult kids – Kerryn, who is married to Scott and they live in Madison, Wisconsin, and Bradley who lives here in Rochester. Since she couldn’t work due to visa restrictions for 8 years, she dove into volunteering, and found herself loving ministry work the best. These things brighten her day – playing guitar or piano, working with the women’s ministry team, pickleball, cross-country skiing, hiking, trying new ideas for church community engagement, coffee with a friend, travel with Steve, reading, cooking and visiting family in S.A.!