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Its been raining at least once a day for the past two weeks, I’ve packed away my sandals and busted out my collection of opaque tights and have traded the glory of fresh tomatoes for apples and pumpkin everything. Fall has arrived.

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I love fall vegetables, almost as much as I love summer produce. Almost. I love the saturated colors and the caramelized sweetness you get when you roast them. This particular round of roasted veggies was inspired by a gorgeous romanesco cauliflower I found at the market. A perfect match to the beets, sweet potatoes and parsnips hanging out in my veggie drawer.

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I roasted each vegetable separately; tossing them first in olive oil, truffle salt, and freshly ground pepper before putting them into a 425 degree oven. I go to the trouble of cooking them separately because like my cauliflower to have a little crunch to it and my beets to keep their color to themselves, but you certainly could combine them all and add the cauliflower for the last 15 minutes or so. The result was a lovely rainbow of roasted vegetables…

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It’s funny that out of the handful of recipes I have on this blog, this is my second post about fish, because I’ve only cooked fish three times in my lifetime.

I had my parents over to our house last week for dinner and I wanted to make something easy, simple and delicious. Halibut is in season, and I always love fennel and orange. Usually in a beet salad, but for some reason I got this idea in my head of halibut, fennel and orange in parchment packets and I couldn’t shake it. Thus, a dinner menu was born. I served this with basmati rice and steamed bok choy. For dessert, we had amazing roasted rhubarb over vanilla ice cream. I am still dreaming of that rhubarb – if only the stalks would grow back overnight…

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You’ll need:

  • Fresh halibut for 4, divided into 4 pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb + fronds
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 orange
  • Butter
  • Salt + Pepper
  • 4 sheets parchment

Slice the fennel, roughly chop your parsley, and supreme the orange and set aside so you are ready to assemble. Keep the membranes from your orange, you’ll use their juice. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

On your first sheet of parchment, lay out a bed of fennel and place a piece of fish on top. Top with a pat of butter, and salt and pepper. Then assemble 1/4 of the orange slices, more of the fennel, parsley and fennel fronds on top. Squeeze a bit of the orange juice over the fish, and seal the parchment packet by folding the edges together. You’ll want the seam facing up while the fish is baking so the juices do not escape. Repeat for each piece of fish, and place your four packets on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

I just ate the most amazing salad – full of fresh corn, blueberries, basil and quinoa. Although I usually enjoy the result, I tend to cringe at the idea of putting delicious summer fruits into savory things. I’ll throw an apple into anything – but I’m a purist when it comes to farm fresh nectarines, peaches, apricots and berries. I made an exception for blueberries last night while concocting a quinoa salad to bring for my lunch – and the result was divine. Crunchy  corn and sweet blueberries, paired with a mild balsamic and olive oil dressing, laced with just picked basil and tossed with wholesome quinoa. So good.

To create:

  1. two ears of summer corn – cooked lightly (boil water, add corn, cook 5 minutes and drain) after your corn has cooled, cut from the cob
  2. one pint blueberries, washed
  3. 1 cup quinoa, rinsed (boil quinoa in 1 1/2 cups water, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. set aside)
  4. small bunch of basil, washed and chopped
  5. olive oil, sea salt, balsamic vinegar combined to make about 1 cup of dressing
  6. in a bowl, combine corn, blueberries and basil. toss with dressing. add cooked quinoa. enjoy!

Applying for grad school sucked up so much of my time and energy that I seemed to have settled into a rut eating out while I am at work, and giving in to sugary sweets in the afternoon. Gross. Now that the process is almost completely behind me, I’m committing to getting back on the wagon – making salads to bring for my lunches, going to yoga several times a week, and running (a lot or a little). Summer is on the horizon, and there is no room for winter layers in my wardrobe.

This amazing salad is based on the Emerald City Salad from the PCC deli ( a co-op in the Seattle area). I used to work near a PCC and eat it several times a week for lunch. I quickly learned that it was much more affordable to make it myself…

You will need:

Kale
Chard (I like to use rainbow)
Parsley
A fennel bulb
Red Bell Pepper
Yellow Bell Pepper
About 1 C wild rice

Olive Oil
Minced Garlic
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper

To Assemble:

Bring 2 C. water to a boil and add the wild rice. Bring to a boil again, lower the heat, cover, and allow to simmer for about an hour or until all of the water has been absorbed.

Finely chop the kale, parsley and chard into a large bowl. Chop the peppers and fennel and set aside.

Make a dressing using the minced garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice.

I like to allow my rice to cool a bit, but not completely so that it wilts the greens a tiny bit. Then add the peppers, fennel and dress. Add salt, pepper and more lemon juice if necessary to taste.

self.comThis was really tasty and I’ve been meaning to post about it since I made it for dinner two weeks ago! Its a long story, but somehow I got stuck with a two year subscription to Self. No offense to Self or anything – but I have a list of magazines I’d rather have delivered to me for two years. Note to self (me, not magazine): be more careful with “three free issues!” offers. especially when debit card numbers are involved. However, last months issue came complete with a tasty dinner plan! Salmon Florentine with Quinoa Pilaf! Delicious. I’ve linked to their recipe, since you’re already reading this, I’ll tell you how I made it too.

  • Four salmon fillets (budget friendly trick – you can get frozen wild salmon at trader joe’s for a decent price, and since you’re putting the tasty florentine mix on top before you bake it, I really don’t think fresh salmon would make a huge difference)
  • One bunch spinach, chopped (Self calls for frozen spinach, which I find to be absurdly expensive. Fresh is where its at.)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped (these are pricy if you buy a whole jar of them – I live near a co-op and bought 6 from the bulk bin for less than a dollar! Soak them in hot water for 30 minutes before chopping and you’re good to go!)
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

If you’re using frozen salmon, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. Rinse and place in baking dish. Heat oven to 350. Saute spinach until wilted. Transfer to a colander and allow to drain. With olive oil, saute shallots and garlic. Add crushed red pepper, sun dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add drained spinach, and ricotta. Divide mixture and place on top of salmon fillets. Bake 15-20 minutes (until fish is cooked through).

While your salmon is cooking, prepare your quinoa pilaf! You’ll need:

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • olive oil

Bring broth and quinoa to a boil. Turn heat to low, and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Saute onion in olive oil. Transfer quinoa to a bowl and toss with onions, parsley, and toasted pine nuts.

Impress your mister with your fish baking skills! Enjoy!

A and I strolled through the farmers market after brunch on Sunday to find the tables piled high with the abundance of fall. The towers of peppers, winter squash, kale and chard were inspiration for meals to come. I’ve been especially aching for some dark leafy greens – sometimes salad greens just don’t cut it. Luckily, I stumbled upon this delicious recipe on Whitney’s blog inspired by Bon Appetit. I had picked up some quinoa spaghetti and was anxious to try it. I quickly made a note of the things I needed to pick up on my way home: lemon, kale, garlic and parmesan. How delightfully simple. Added bonus: I ran into my siiiiiiister in line at the grocery store! Its so fun living in the same neighborhood as your siblings! Post workout, we invited our friend L to stay for dinner, and the three of us chatted while I threw this together. I thought this was excellent (A and L liked it too!) and only found myself wishing there had been more delicious greens to balance out the pasta. Next time, I would double the kale.

  • 1 medium onion, diced (I had a half a large onion in the fridge, and used that instead)
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (quinoa spaghetti for gluten free!)
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped (more if  you fancy. I just noticed the bon appetit recipe calls for 8 – but I was making this on the fly)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 bunch kale (washed, drained, stems and ribs removed, cut crosswise)

In a large pot. Bring water to a boil. Add pasta. In a large skillet, saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, cook over low for 2 minutes. Add kale, cover and stir occasionally. I like my kale a little on the firm side, so I only allowed it to cook for about 7 minutes and then removed it from the heat. Check on pasta. This was my first time cooking with quinoa pasta, so I spent quite a bit of time testing it. When pasta is finally done, drain and return to pan with a little olive oil. Add kale and parmesan and toss well. Finish with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Picture 15Vegan? Gluten free? This book will change your life. If your name happens to be Erin, as mine is, you will be totally stoked because this vegan and gluten free baking genius is also named Erin. I feel like its a good baker omen or something.

I first tested out the book over at my parents house a couple of months ago. My mother and I occasionally like to pull a quick vegan switch on my dad to see if he notices. Its an interesting experiment – try it out on a loved one sometime. We made him the carrot cake cupcakes which are ammmmmmazing. He loved them of course – thinking they were filled with eggs, butter and delicious gluten. I’ve been trying trying to cut out wheat and dairy for allergen reasons for awhile now, and flour substitutes have been tough, often giving a gritty residue to textures that have no business being gritty. Babycakes had me at the first bite.

I promptly *borrowed* the book from my mother so I might try out the vegan, gluten free cornbread. Last fall I tried my own substitutions on a favorite cornbread recipe and failed miserably – producing a rubbery, polenta-like substance. There was nothing bread-like about it. Since I’ve declared this month Wheat Free October, I tested out the Babycakes cornbread this weekend. It was so delicious, I burnt my mouth sneaking a slice (or three) before it had cooled. This cornbread has a lovely crumb people! My only qualm is that I find it a little sweet — so I may try to experiment a little to see what sort of savory cornbread I end up with!