Monthly Archives: November 2014

Holiday Salad

My beautiful friend Vicki was in town last week from Colorado.  What an absolute joy to laugh and catch-up on each others lives, and eat awesome root vegetables together . . . which I know seems perhaps an odd thing to say, but I don’t know anyone else who gets goosebumps of joy like I do while eating parsnips and turnips!

She posed a question to mom and I . . .  “What is your favorite time of day?”  Not, time as in 10am.  Rather, time when you are doing something.  Perhaps supper time, for instance, when you’re gathered around the table with family.  Hmmm . . . . I kind of forgot.  NOT totally forgot.  More like forgot because things can become so routine forgot.  My days are filled with moments that really mean a lot to me . . .  but oh-my-gosh it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life.  I loved the opportunity that Vicki’s question offered to pause and say them out loud.  It made them all special again.  Like taking Mick to school every morning . . . . sacred time for sure, and sharing soup with PK after a long day, and early morning walks with my dog Koda.  Not sure, but I think I broke the rules . . . . I have many favorites!

I was going to call this recipe Christmas Salad because it’s so Christmas-y looking, all red and green and full of texture!  But that sounded limiting and a salad this simple and delicious needs to be shared ALL season long!  The original recipe called for arugula only, though in cooking class we discovered that due to it’s spicy flavor, many preferred the salad with a mix of greens.  We used mixed spring greens and arugula – pretty much a 50/50 mix.

Overall, this salad is a wonderful combination of earthy/spicy flavors and sweetness – and honestly could easily be tossed with feta (original recipe) or goat cheese in place of the blue cheese.  The Brussels Sprouts and Vinaigrette can both be prepared in advance leaving only a few minutes of dicing and tossing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

DSCN4219Holiday Salad
1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and quartered
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 cups Soft Mixed Greens (Arugula, Spinach, Spring Mix)
1 Apple (Fugi, Braeburn, Gala), diced
1 cup Red Seedless Grapes, halved
1/2 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

1.   Prepare Vinaigrette and set aside.  See recipe below. 
2.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean and quarter the Brussels Sprouts and place them on a foil lined pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil and season gently with kosher salt and pepper.  Toss lightly.  Roast the Brussels Sprouts until they are tender – about 25-30 minutes.  Set aside to cool or refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
3.   Combine mixed greens, apple, grapes and blue cheese in a large bowl.  Add the Brussels Sprouts  and toss with vinaigrette.

Recipe Adapted From:, Brussels Sprouts Salad, Jamie Deen

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
11/2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine vinegar & shallot and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in mustard. Slowly add the oil, whisking constantly until combined. Stir in kosher salt and pepper.

Dressing Adapted From:
The Sonoma Diet, Dr. Connie Guttersen, RD., PH.D.





Black Bean Taco’s

I’m always excited to find a recipe with minimal ingredients and big flavor.  Something that weaves a few of the basics (items already in my pantry/refrigerator) together in a fun and tasty way!  I found this recipe on the way home from Pittsburgh this weekend and couldn’t wait to try it.  And, I had a hunch Mick might enjoy it too – lots of beans and no meat!  For those of you looking for something for meatless Monday (or meatless any day) these taco’s are sure to hit the spot and they’re quick!

So this weekend in Pittsburgh, at a cancer survivor celebration event, I was reminded how beautiful things often come from some of our darkest journey’s.  Kindness, compassion, hope, friendship . . .  the miraculous that comes from the mess.  Surrounded by ribbons of all colors, smiling faces and people shouting “victory”, my heart was filled with gratitude . . .  and I got to thinking about Thanksgiving and the gathering season we are entering . . .  and how important it is for us to come together around our tables and share stories and life (and nourishing food).  And mostly, how all moments, are treasured moments.  Stepping out of one busy week and into another, I’m holding on to the treasured moments . . . . like the sunset Saturday night from my window seat in the airplane.  Breathtaking.  Like God sending the Closing Ceremonies to a perfect day!

DSCN4197 DSCN4200

Black Bean Taco’s
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 TBSP olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 (15oz) can black beans, with liquid
avocado slices
1 carrot shredded (or shredded cabbage)
1 lime
cheddar cheese, shredded
whole grain tortilla’s (or corn per preference)

1.   Over medium heat, saute onion in the olive oil until translucent (about 3-5 minutes).
2.   Stir in the garlic and saute for one more minute – then add the chili powder, cumin and the black beans (with liquid) and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
3.   Spoon into tortilla’s and top with avocado slices, shredded carrot (or cabbage) and fresh lime juice.  Top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese.

Prep Notes:
The original recipe called for topping taco’s off with guacamole and cabbage.  I didn’t have cabbage so I used shredded carrots.  I also changed it up a bit with the avocado “slices” and added a sprinkle of English White Cheddar!

Recipe Inspired By:
Nutrition Action Health Letter
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Recipe of the Month, November 2014





Lentil Soup

It’s not always easy finding new ideas that will make all our taste buds happy but I definitely got it right with this Brown Lentil Soup!  It’s almost stew-like really.  It’s not a “beautiful” dish, vibrant in color like a Summer Salad or an Autumn Squash, but wow, dig into a bowl after a long day and it’s sure to please.  I especially like that it offers up an ample supply of protein to help satiate my now teenage vegetarian kid!

After mentioning that he didn’t think it looked all that pretty (not his words exactly), Mick quickly inhaled a bowl.  A big bowl!   For sure I’ll be making this again, perhaps even filling a few freezer containers for when the vortex hits and we’re all frozen to our toes.  Not that I’m anticipating an unseasonably cold Winter (whatever that means in Chicago) but just for the record, it snowed last week.  As my sister would say, “I’m not saying, I’m just saying . . . .”

This recipe’s quick to assemble, it just needs a little time to simmer allowing the flavors to come together and the lentils to get tender!



Lentil Soup
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Onion, finely chopped
1/2 Cup Carrots, chopped
1/2 Cup Celery, chopped
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 pound lentils, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes
2 quarts Vegetable Broth
1/2 tsp ground Coriander
1/2 tsp ground Cumin

1.   In a large pot, saute the onions, carrots, celery and salt in the olive oil until the onions are transparent and the vegetables begin to soften – about 6 minutes.
2.   Add the lentils, tomatoes (with juices), vegetable broth, coriander and cumin and stir to combine.
3.   Increase the heat and bring just to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 40 minutes.
4.   Remove about one-third of the soup and whirl in a blender until smooth and return to the pot.  OR, use a stick blender.  Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted From,
Lentil Soup Recipe, Alton Brown