Fall Cobb Salad

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If you are like me and still have lots of apples in your fridge from your early fall apple picking days out in various farms and don’t quite know what to do with them anymore, then this recipe is for you. This Fall Cobb salad is a delicious healthy lunch and crowd pleaser to be shared with friends and loved ones and serves as a lighter meal in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. It makes a really impressive centerpiece and you don’t need to add anything more (except perhaps, some fresh bread and crisp white wine). You can play around and add different seasonal ingredients such as pear, apple, roast butternut squash, crunchy romaine lettuce or different nuts or seeds – whatever you might have in your pantry. The poppy seed dressing is tangy and creamy and adds a little pop to the taste of the salad. And any salad with bacon is a winner in my book!

Fall Cobb Salad

Serves 4

1 romaine lettuce, chopped
2 eggs, boiled and chopped
4 rashers bacon, cooked and sliced
1 chicken breast, sautéed until brown then cut into strips
10 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 apple (of your choice), diced
1 pear, diced
1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves
1/3 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
Optional extras: roasted cubed butternut squash, cubed avocado, , slices of roast portabello mushrooms, roasted sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk (almond or dairy)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup (to taste)
1 pinch sea salt
black pepper

  1. Place chopped romaine in a large salad bowl.
  2. Arrange other ingredients in rows: bacon, tomatoes, pear, apple, chicken, eggs.
  3. Make poppy seed dressing in a glass jar and give it a good shake
  4. Pour the dressing lightly over the whole salad.
  5. Serve right away.
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Spaghetti Squash Lasagne Boats

Lasagne Boats

We had a wonderful week in North Carolina for Thanksgiving and we fortunate to be able to stay in a beautiful lake house in Lake Norman (thanks, Allison and family!) which had a huge and fantastic chef’s kitchen. I absolutely love cooking for crowds so I was in my element all week long.

The night before Thanksgiving, I decided to try out this recipe. Many members of the family are on a low-carb diet and I always like to try something new. When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light magazine, I knew I had to try it. I have a bit of a thing for spaghetti squash right now! This is a low carb and low fat meal.

I love how everything is piled into the spaghetti squash “boats” so that you can exercise some portion control (although you may be tempted to steal a bit from your neighbor’s plate during the meal) and you can serve it with a light side salad. It does take some prep work but it can easily be prepared for the family as a weeknight meal. You can make them vegetarian by simply omitting the ground turkey and replacing with some portabello mushrooms or eggplant for extra texture. Here’s my take on the recipe. I’ll definitely be making this again this month!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small to medium spaghetti squash (one half for each person)
  • 1 pack lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms – preferably baby bella
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. (You can prepare the squash in advance if you’d like) Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds.
  3. Place squash halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands.
  4. Wrap strands on a clean dish towel and squeeze until barely moist. This is a necessary step or the spaghetti squash boats will be really watery. Place spaghetti squash halves (or “boats”) onto a baking sheet.
  5. Heat a large skillet/frying pan over medium-high heat. Make the spinach-mushroom topping. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add the spinach and cook briefly (1 minute) until it wilts.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach and mushrooms with the spaghetti squash strands, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper, and half of mozzarella cheese.
  7. Make the tomato sauce: add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the turkey and cook until browned. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds.  Add the can of tomatoes and oregano and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Increase oven temperature to 425°.
  9. Spoon tomato-turkey sauce evenly into the bottom of each squash half. Top evenly with squash-spinach-mushroom mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes.
  10. To brown the tops of the squash, broil/grill squash for 1-2 minutes under a high broiler/grill.

 

A Warm Butternut Squash, Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup For Chilly Days

ButtThe weather turned here this week. Last week, we were running around in huge piles of leaves in our T-Shirts. This week, we’re in wellies and big coats and I’m secretly thrilled. I love the colder weather and all the beautiful colors everywhere in the autumn. What better excuse than to pull out my crockpot and make more soup! This is one of those soups takes very little time and yet tastes very rich and delicious and leaves your kitchen smelling superb. It’s vegan and dairy free. The red lentils add extra protein and iron. The ingredients are simple and you don’t need to spend much on them. Simply chop and prepare all the ingredients and pop into your crockpot. And you’ll have a delicious lunch or simple supper ready for you just a few hours later.

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Pumpkin And Sweet Potato Fall Smoothie

Pumpkin and sweet potato smoothie
It’s a rainy day here so I’m sheltering from the rain on my front porch drinking this smoothie. Doesn’t the color look so beautiful and bright against the gray?

I love pumpkin at this time of the year and like to stock up my cupboards with handy cans of (organic) pureed pumpkin to pop into soups and smoothies. This is a really simple smoothie to make and is sweetened by adding half a banana. I added some sweet potato too since that’s what we had for dinner last night and it was already roasted and sitting in my fridge. You can play around with the ingredients to make it have more of a pumpkin or sweet potato flavor. This would make a delicious breakfast or lunch.

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Slow Cooker Light Chicken Pot Pie

We have a wonderful British pie shop in our town in a dangerous location since it’s on the road where I pick up my son from school. In the afternoons when they bake their pies, you can smell them all the way down the street. And they smell so good.

Occasionally on a Friday night when I don’t want to cook, I’ll walk to the shop and order a chicken tikka or chicken pot pie. I just love the way they use great quality chicken and a wonderful blend of spices.

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Warming Winter Chicken And Chorizo Stew

Warming Winter Chicken and Chorizo StewWell here we are at the end of February and there is still a foot of snow in my garden and I don’t think I’ve seen the grass for a whole month! It’s very beautiful but I’m tired of the subzero temperatures and am yearning for warming days.

Every cloud has a silver lining as they say and this winter I’ve really embraced my slow cooking and oven as I make lots of batches of soup and stews for the family. My Spanish friend brought over some wonderful chorizo for me to cook with and so I immediately got to work with this stew. It’s a type of stew that I had many times when I was living in Spain in my early 20s: tomatoes, beans, chicken, chorizo and spices. It’s simple but warms you up on any snowy winter’s day.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash With Wild Rice and Pomegranates

This fall, I’m officially in love with squash of all kinds. I love roasted rainbow slices of delicata squash, butternut squash soup and of course my old favorite acorn squash. Squash is such a versatile and easy fall vegetable and there is no reason to be intimated. In fact, you don’t need to peel squash at all when roasting. Just cut it in half, drizzle over some olive oil, add a pinch of salt and pepper and roast until soft. Roasting squash is kind of a miraculous event – you can’t even imagine that something so hard could turn into something so sweet and caramelized in the oven.

Even though I’m not vegetarian and look forward to my Thanksgiving turkey every year, I have many vegetarian friends and clients and they are always looking for an extra special dish for the holidays rather than being left with all the vegetable side dishes. Personally, I’m moving away from eating meat with every meal to having meat once in a while for a little extra flavor so this roasted acorn squash would be perfect for anyone – vegetarian or carnivore come Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. You can experiment your own spice mixture and add some holiday pizzazz with some cranberries or pomegranates too. Of course, you could add in a little ground pork or turkey into the stuffing mix but I think this is perfect just as it is.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Cranberries and Pomegranates (serves 2 or 1 hungry vegetarian)

1 medium acorn squash halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
8 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup mix of cooked wild rice and brown rice – preferably cooked in vegetable or chicken stock instead of water
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper – to taste
1 tablespoon cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side up on a roasting tray. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just a little soft for about 30 minutes.
  3. Saute the onion, scallions, mushrooms and celery in the butter. Stir occasionally and cook on low heat until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are soft for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the thyme and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Stir in the rice, chopped walnuts and cranberries.
  6. Remove the squash from the oven and add the rice filling to each half.
  7. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
  8. Place squash back in the oven and roast for a further 25 minutes until the squash is completely tender.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle the fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds over the top. Serve warm.