Bean Avocado Salad

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Serves 6

  • 1 head of romaine or green leaf lettuce, shredded
  • ½ head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can black eyed peas
  • 1 avocado
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to tasted

After the craziness of Thanksgiving, I needed something simple and healthy to help reboot my system and give my stomach a break from all the sweets. This salad worked surprising well in jars. I just mashed up the avocado and added lime zest/juice and salt and pepper. Then mixed the beans and onion together, layered those on top, and put the lettuce, cabbage, and pepper after that.

Super fast and easy so I could spend the rest of Sunday sitting by my tree.

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Friendsgiving


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For the third year in a row we’ve expanded Third Thursday in November–taking the day off work and having a complete Thanksgiving meal with friends. It’s become custom to start the day at Rowster before heading to the store. Margo made a chart for what needed to be cooking when, and we had the turkeys (yup–we had two; a 20-pounder and a 15-pounder) basted and in the roaster ovens a little after 11am–a feat worthy of a toast (mimosas are also a welcomed Friendsgiving morning tradition).

This year we had 27 adults and 3 kiddos–so we had to expand down the street, cooking the stuffing in Becky’s oven. The turkeys were both done early, so we ended up making the gravy before everyone arrived, which worked well. Joe and Joshlyn graciously cut the birds, which meant we were able to finish up the potatoes and direct people to the wine and appetizer table without much chaos. By 6:30 or so everyone had arrived and we were all crammed around our giant patchwork table. Such a fun night!

All of the recipes were adapted to make enough food for 30 people. We had a few leftovers of everything, but overall the amounts were pretty accurate.

Turkey

  • 2 cup earth balance
  • 2 cup lemon juice
  • 8 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 8 Tbsp finely chopped green onions
  • 4 Tbsp rubbed sage
  • 4 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 35 lbs of turkey

In a small saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Place turkey in a shallow roasting pan or roaring oven; baste with mixture. Bake according to the time indicated on the

Stuffing

  • 3 cups earth balance
  • 4 pound GF bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 6 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 8 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 8 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups veggie broth, divided
  • 8 large eggs

Preheat oven to 250. Spray as many baking sheets as you need to scatter the bread in a single layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dried out, about an hour and a half. Let cool and transfer to (at least) two very large bowls.

Meanwhile, melt the earth balance in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions and celery. Stir often until just beginning to brown. Add to bowl with bread; stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Drizzle in 5 cups broth and toss gently. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk 5 cups broth and eggs in a small bowl. Add to bread mixture; fold gently until thoroughly combined. Transfer to two prepared 9×13 pans, cover with foil, and bake for about 40 minutes. If you make the stuffing ahead of time cook uncovered for 40-45 minutes (if chilled, add 10-15 minutes).

Adapted from this recipe.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 8 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lbs red skinned potatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cups earth balance
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Immerse the potatoes in water and bring to a boil. We used two pots so it took about 30 minutes for the potatoes to be fork-tender. When they are cooked, drain the water and add the remaining ingredients. Use a hand mixer to combine.

Herb Biscuits 

  • 3.75 cup coconut milk
  • 1.25 cup water
  • 5 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cup tapioca flour
  • 5 cup rice flour
  • 10 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.25 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 Tbsp dried basil
  • 5 tsp dried dill
  • 1 cup cold earth balance

Place earth balance in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 450.

Combine coconut milk, water, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium size bowl, add rice flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, dried basil and dried dill. Gently stir to combine.

Add the cold earth balance to the flour mixture and use a pastry cutter or two knives to incorporate. Don’t over mix or you will get hard biscuits. Pour in the coconut milk/apple cider mixture and stir until just combined.

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of batter at a time on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cook for 10 minutes.

Adapted from this recipe.

Cranberry-Pecan Kale Salad

  • 4 bunches kale, finely chopped
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Several handfuls of dried cranberries
  • 4 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 435 and toast the pecans for 6-10 minutes, until fragrant.

In a food processor, chop the garlic until and then add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until combined. Pour the dressing onto the kale and spinach.

Add the pecans into the food processor and process until they are in small chunks. Then add the nutritional yeast, oil, and a few pinches of salt and process again until it’s a coarse crumb. Be sure not to over-process. Sprinkle the pecan mixture on the salad with a few handfuls of dried cranberries. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to soften.

Adapted from this recipe.

Maple-Ginger Veggies

  • 3 cups pecans
  • 8 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large parsnips (1 pound), peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 425. Toast the pecans for 6-10 minutes, until fragrant.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, squash, and Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and nutmeg and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on three large-rimmed baking sheets or 9×13 pans and roast for 35 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Scatter the pecans and ginger over the vegetables and drizzle with the maple syrup—stir well. Continue to roast the vegetables for 25 minutes longer, until they are tender and golden. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.

Adapted from this recipe.

Green Beans

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 lbs green beans
  • 30 oz veggie broth
  • 1.5 tsp garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper

Spray a 5-7 quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. In a large skillet, sauté the onion and garlic on medium-low until they are tender. Add sautéed onion and garlic along with all other ingredients to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours.

Adapted from this recipe.

Pumpkin Bars

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 cup gluten free flour
  • 5 cups liquid sweetener (maple syrup, honey, agave)
  • 1 vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 15 oz cans pureed pumpkin
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 and 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 heaping cup of arrowroot

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine first seven ingredients and stir until well combined. Spread evenly into a two greased 9×13 pans.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients until smooth. Spread evenly over the oatmeal mixture in the pan.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a fork inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Chill in the fridge for an hour.

Adapted from this recipe.

We also made a 9×13 of apple crisp. Dessert was the one thing we probably had too much of–but we aren’t complaining. And the pumpkin dessert made a delightful breakfast.

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Crustless Mini Quiches

  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 cups of spinach
  • 2-3 small shallots diced
  • 5 oz of sliced white mushrooms
  • 5-6 mini bell peppers diced
  • 2 medium size tomaotes diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
  • A few turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break eggs into a bowl and whisk. Add veggies.  Mix well together. Grease well muffin tins with cooking spray (or use muffin tine liners). Pour about 1/4 a cup of egg/veggie mixture into each muffin tin. Make sure to keep stirring as you pour into muffin tins so all the veggies don’t sink to the bottom. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the eges to loosen. Eat warm or safe and reheat later. They are a great make ahead breakfast for a grab and go weekday breakfast.

Really any veggies or breakfast meat would go great in these!

Adapted from budgetpaleo.blogspot.com

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Third Thursday – October

Spaghetti Squash Bake

 Serves 6

 Veggie Version 

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 small can olives
  • 5 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 15oz can pizza sauce
  • 3 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 eggs, whisked

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and cook it for 30 minutes. While it’s cooking, sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes and then add the garlic. Add salt to taste. Add the green pepper and mushrooms. Once they’re at your desired crunchiness. Add the spinach and sauté until it’s wilted.

When the squash is cooked, scrape it out with a spoon and put it in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Add the sautéed veggies, pizza sauce, basil, salt, and pepper. Whisk the eggs and mix them in. Cook for an hour or until the edges start to brown.

Sausage Version

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 14 oz jar pizza sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 small tomatoes

Follow the instructions from above, browning the sausage and onion. Add the mushrooms, basil, oregano, and fennel seed. Cook until no pink in the sausage and it is broken up into pieces. Add the spinach and sauté until it’s wilted. Once everything is mixed in the baking dish, top with sliced tomatoes.

We both made these the night before, left them in the fridge, and then baked them on Thursday.

Adapted from this recipe.

Chocolate Cake

 Serves 8

  • 5 cups almond flour
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp whiskey

Preheat the oven to 325 and line a pie plate with parchment paper

In a bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and boiling water. Then add the olive oil and eggs and whisk to combine. Add almond flour, baking soda, sea salt, and whiskey.

Pour batter into the pie plate and bake for 45 minutes (or longer if you want more of a cake like texture).

Adapted from The Simply Real Health

We had eight lovely guests this month and plenty of wine. A nice fall salad with a maple-balsamic dressing rounded out our menu. We also had a fun tablecloth, thanks to a rush delivery from Chicago! Thanks, Betsy!

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Squash and Mushroom Pilaf

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As Amy mentioned this weekend was a gorgeous fall weekend- warm sunny days, vibrant leaves, and cool crisp nights. The weather that makes me crave all things fall. This recipe fills that craving butternut squash and hearty comfort food. Yet it was quick and easy to allow for plenty of time to soak up the gorgeous weather!

Serves 4

  • 1.5 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.5 cups winter squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small green or red pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice
  • 0.5 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp Tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup mixture of fresh sage and thyme, chopped
  • 1/8-1/4 cup sliced almonds

In a large sauce pan, saute the mushrooms, squash, onions, and green pepper in oil until crisp tender. Add garlic; saute 1 minute more. Stir in the rice, broth, tamari sauce, and fresh herbs. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Divide between ball jars and top with almonds. Makes 4 pint size ball jar servings.

Adapted from tasteofhome.com.

The fall colors

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Lentil Spinach Stew

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I rode my bike over sixty miles in two days and ate tacos Thursday, Friday (x2 since I had leftovers for breakfast), and Sunday. And the weather was amazing. So, basically this weekend couldn’t have been much better. Joe and I also checked out the Rumsy St. ArtPrize installations, ventured to Harmony Hall, and met Margs for an entertaining round of drinks amidst some of the most interesting soccer fans I’ve ever encountered. Understandably, a hearty, comfort-like food was the only option for my jars this week. Cheers to fall!

Serves 4

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 Serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Coriander to taste (I just added a few shakes)
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup lentils (I used green, but red would also work)
  • 5 ounces spinach

Heat the oil on medium high head in a large pot or Dutch oven. Sauté the onions until soft (about five minutes). Add the garlic, ginger, Serrano, cumin, garam masala, and coriander. Cook until fragrant, about two minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has reduced, about five minutes. Add the coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil, stir in the lentils, and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the lentils are tender, 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in the spinach and cook another three to four minutes. I served it over brown rice, but there are lots of options! Quinoa would be great.

Adapted from this recipe.

Biking made me like my city just a little more!

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Veggie Stir Fry

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After my family headed home Saturday I had few hours to catch my breath before Margo, Jeff, and I headed to the Avett Brothers concert that night. It was cold and rainy but the venue was sweet and the show was worth it. But by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around I didn’t have much creative energy left. So my jars this week are a stir-fry consisting of whatever veggies I had on hand. Here’s the basic breakdown:

Serves 6

  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 3 zucchini, julienned
  • 2 yellow squash, julienned
  • Oil of choice
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp peanut sauce
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil over high heat. Stir-fry the onions for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute more. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes or until they are the crispness you prefer. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, peanut sauce, and salt and heat through.

I put the veggies over brown rice in our jars. Basically, you can use whatever you have in your refrigerator. At least that’s what I did!

And here’s to a fun night with fun friends!

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Cinnamon Pork with Salsa

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My brother calls me Mo. When I was younger, lots of people did—but now he’s the only one. There’s something so familiar about it—a depth of knowing that simultaneously feels comforting and strange. It sometimes still takes me by surprise.

He and his family stayed with me this weekend. Jaxon turned three on Saturday and we all rode the pumpkin train to celebrate. They got here on Friday and we walked around ArtPrize for a while before some of my friends came over for dinner. I love feeding people around my table. And the mix of friends and family resonated with the same strange familiarity of my brother’s nickname. Comfortable. Odd. Good.

Tucking Caitlin and Jaxon into bed in my room—a space so far removed from my family most of the time—had a similar sentiment. I wish I saw them more, yet I love where I am. For now I’ll live in the paradox and embrace the tension. And I’ll make pork and salsa and eat with people I care for deeply.

Serves 8

 For the pork:

  • 2.5-3 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1.5 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons salt

For the salsa:

  • 1-2 apples, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Mix the oil, garlic, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt and then coat the pork. Heat some oil on the stove and brown the meat for 2-3 minutes per side. Place the pork in a foil-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven and wrap it in the foil for ten more minutes before slicing. While the pork is cooking mix all the salsa ingredients together.

I served the pork and salsa separately and let people top their meat how they liked, but you could also serve it on one platter.

Adapted from this recipe.

Here we are on the train!

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Spaghetti Squash and Tomato Sauce

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The past couple of weeks have been a reminder that life is all-too fragile and does not always quite go as planned. My parents had planned this fabulous trip to Europe; unfortunately my mom’s body had a different agenda. My mom experienced a couple of bouts of chest pain. This led to a flurry of activity: a stress test, a heart catheterization, and ultimately a stent to open a 90% blockage in one of the main arteries of her heart. Although they were disappointed to miss their grand adventure, gratitude that the blockage was fixed before damage was done was the prevailing emotion of the weekend. Since they weren’t on their trip my parents (who live about 3 hours away) decided to visit.

I was also experiencing disappointment of my own. After spraining my ankle during a training run I was sidelined from running today’s Chicago Half Marathon. Rather than wallowing in our disappointment, we had a fun weekend enjoying the warm fall weather!

After making dinner last night and a big lunch today for my family my creativity and energy for making lunches was at an all-time low. I needed something easy, which this recipe is!

Serves 4

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 6.5 oz jar of artichokes
  • 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes (I used Italian style, slightly drained)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top and bottom off the spaghetti squash. Cut in half lengthwise then clean out the seed and guts. Rub olive oil over the inside of each half. Place on baking sheet flesh side down. Bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Take a fork to to the flesh to string out the squash.

Tomato Sauce: Place olive oil and garlic in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook until garlic is fragrant. Add artichokes, cherry tomatoes, basil, and canned tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are tender.

Divide tomatoes mixture evenly between 4 jars. Place 1-2 basil fresh basil leaves over tomato mixture in the jar. Divide spaghetti squash between four jars over the tomato mixture

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Squash Quinoa Bake

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I was supposed to be in Chicago this weekend cheering Margo on in her half marathon and riding through critical mass. But since she sprained her ankle, plans changed. Fall has been bragging in Michigan this week, though, so I didn’t mind substituting Oktoberfest, squash from the Farmers Market, a long bike ride, and a late-September Sunday at the beach.

It also gave me time to get my jars done. A definite plus heading into another busy week!

Serves 4 as a main dish; 6-8 as a side

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup cranberries, chopped (I used frozen)
  • 3/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2-3 tsp curry
  • 2-3 tsp Ginger
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Handful fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the quinoa and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or so until the quinoa is done. Combine the squash, cranberries, onions, garlic, maple syrup, curry, ginger, and salt in a 9×13 or other baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is how you like it.

When it’s done, mix in the quinoa, pecans, and parsley.

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This view. It just never gets old. Other things in life tend to get smaller when I go back to them—but the lake stays big.

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