Grilled Autumn Salad – Rustic Radicchio, Apple and Fennel

Ahhh….grilling outdoors in the fall – crisp air, swirling leaves, football and bonfires. Our instincts are telling us to braise and slow cook and hunker down now, but a charcoal fire on a cool fall afternoon will heighten your experience of the change of seasons without abandoning summer entirely.  A lovely thought, isn’t it?

The charcoal grill touches our most fundamental desires when it comes to food, I think. Smoke on our food bridges the history of mankind from hunter-gatherer to the backyard grills we know and love today. And while we are most often focused on meat over fire, magic happens when we expose deliciously seasonal vegetables and fruits to smoldering wood and smoke.




The art of the grill is in the temperature and cooking zones you create with the embers. If cooking meat, you want the sear of the fire at it’s hottest, yet when the bark and the crust begin to set up on the outside, you want to move to a more subtle flame for cooking the inside. This, of course, varies with the cut of meat, but the principles apply regardless.

Vegetables respond to a slower, more subtle area of the charcoal grill, allowing time for the soft caramelization to occur while cooking without burning and charring. The smoke has a chance to infuse the foods while cooking and maintaining the moisture and texture of the veggies.




Grilled apples – Sublime.

Grilled Fennel – Complex.

Grilled Radicchio – Smoky.




Brush the individual elements of the salad with olive oil as you shuffle and turn the vegetables to achieve the perfect intact softness. Then spritz with fresh orange juice and dust with salt and pepper as you remove from the grill to seal in the intense flavors from the cooking process. The salad can be prepared in advance up to this point well before serving.

When ready to serve, I layer the radicchio, fennel and the apple rings atop a simple bed of red leaf lettuce. If serving a group or buffet (it’s perfect for a fall harvest potluck!) – arrange on a platter. The salad makes beautiful individual plates for table setting as well. Either presentation, the smoky, crunchy intense elements come together perfectly accompanied by the salty-sweet orange champagne vinaigrette and light dusting of parmigiano reggiano.




As you transition from the season of grilling and enjoying light meals outdoors in the warm, summer evenings, take a baby step into fall with wood fired cooking.  Don’t put that grill away just yet!


Grilled Autumn Salad – Rustic Radicchio, Apple and Fennel



  • Walnuts
  • parmigiano reggiano


  • 1 Radicchio (Cut in half)
  • 1 Apple (Cored and Sliced in Rings)
  • 1 Fennel (Halved, stems removed and cored, then sliced.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Orange Slices to Squeeze On Grill


  • 1/2 cup Walnut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Orange Juice (fresh squeezed, if possible.)
  • 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • salt and pepper


Prepare the grill and assemble and cut the vegetables. for grilling.
Brush the vegetables with olive oil and place on the grill. Grill on medium to slow, turning and rotating as necessary.
As you turn the veggies, brush with additional olive oil, the before you remove them from the grill, spritz with a fresh orange wedge and season with salt and pepper. Hold until ready to assemble.
Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar or container and shake to combine.
Place a bed of red leaf lettuce on your platter or plate. Layer the radicchio, fennel, then apple. As you serve, drizzle with the dressing. Top the salad with shaved parmesan cheese and chopped walnuts.
Sweet Potato, Apple and Leek Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Apples and Leeks

This autumn twist on the potato pancake is simple, seasonal and sophisticated. A great side dish for the fall, this potato pancake can be served alongside a simple sausage, or a bean dish for a vegetarian meal.


Apple – Leek – Sweet Potato Pancakes


  • 2-3 Medium Granny Smith Apples (peeled and chopped.)
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed over the apples.)
  • 1-2 Medium Sweet Potatoes (peeled, diced and steamed.)
  • 1 Medium Leek (white part, carefully cleaned, halved and sliced.)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Meal
  • 2 tablespoons Flax Seed (finely ground.)
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg (freshly ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fresh Sage (finely chopped.)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Almond Meal (for dredging)
  • Apple Butter (for topping)
  • Fried Sage Leaves (for garnish)
  • kosher salt and white pepper


Peel and coarsely chop the granny smith apples and squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on the fruit.
Peel and dice the sweet potato, place in your steamer basket and steam until just tender (not mushy).
Clean and prepare the leek and saute in 1 TBSP coconut oil on low heat until tender and translucent - about 10 minutes.
Combine the potato, apple and leeks and cook together over medium - low heat until apples begin to become tender. Season at this time with a bit of salt and white pepper.
Continue cooking and when the mixture is tender and beginning to caramelize a bit, transfer to a bowl and mash with a potato masher.
Add remaining ingredients to this mixture and stir to combine and allow to cool. Check the mixture for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Heat remaining TBSP coconut oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Shape the mixture into pancakes and lightly dredge them in almond meal.
Add potato-apple pancakes to the skillet and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, until a nice golden crust is achieved.
A dollop of apple butter will provide a nice complement to the subtly sweet yet savory, crispy pancakes. Enjoy!


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Chipotle Chili for Football Sunday Suppers

Chipotle Chili Sunday Football Supper

It’s that time of year! Enjoy this healthy version of Football Sunday Supper Chipotle Chili and make everyone happy!

Chipotle Chili for Football Sunday Suppers


  • 1/2 cup Sweet Onion (diced)
  • 1 Poblano Pepper (diced)
  • 1lb Chipotle Chicken Sausage (or any high quality chicken or pork chorizo-type sausage)
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Tomatoes (chopped fresh or canned.)
  • 1 can Pinto Beans (or cooked dried beans of choice.)
  • 1 cup Butternut Squash (cubed.)
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste.)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil


I make a summer chili and a winter chili and this one is the winter chili - the difference is the squash. I like to add vegetables to a pot of chili, and a winter squash such as butternut is perfect.  The chicken sausage can be substituted by a healthy meat protein of choice (I love the chicken chipotle sausage) or it can be prepared as a vegetarian chili.  Make a pot and have it for a packed lunch.


Saute diced onion and fresh poblano pepper in olive oil on medium-low heat until tender - about 10 minutes.
In a separate saute pan, brown the fresh sausage over medium heat. Transfer to a colander to drain any fat that renders away. Add drained, cooked sausage to the onions and peppers. Add a dash of salt and red pepper flakes at this time.
Add remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer on low heat for about an hour. Adjust seasonings to your tasted.
Serve the chili with diced, fresh sweet onion and dollop of plain greek yogurt (or sour cream) with a spritz of fresh lime juice.
preserve-tomatoes-tomato jam-6233-2015

Preserving Summer’s Bounty – Tomato Jam

I’ve been spending some quality time in the kitchen lately. Tomato Jam?  Really? I want to pinch myself I’m so excited to have made the time to preserve tomatoes, and especially tomato jam. My local farmer has her beautiful end of summer tomatoes available for U-Pick! You cannot believe what an amazing opportunity this presents!


Heirloom Tomatoes at the Farmer's Market


Tomato Jam is something really special.  It’s kind of a cross between sriracha preserves and gourmet ketchup – well, no – not really.  It’s difficult to describe except to say it is the best thing I have ever tasted. It’s a Southern thing, I guess, but I know anyone will love this.

As I plan how I will ration and savor my tomato jam with frugality, I have now already used two jars before I even stacked the beauties in the pantry.  It is irresistible.  If you have the time during the end of summer tomato glutton, I highly recommend a Saturday morning devoted to tomato jam.  I promise you won’t be sorry.


Gather heirloom tomatoes for making preserves


Gathering as many different kinds of heirloom tomatoes as you can find (think late summer farmer’s market) is a big part of the amazing experience of tomato jam.  At the end of the summer, those long awaited heirlooms are finally pouring in. They tend to be meaty and sweetly acidic and perfect for this Southern ketchup-esque condiment. My local farmer Irma has a u-pick from now until frost and the tomatoes are beautiful.  I am still bringing a few in from my little garden but not enough to preserve, so I am grateful to Irma.




Combined with curry-like seasonings, the added acidity of fresh lime juice, fresh ginger and the jalapeno pepper, this sweet-hot sauce is redolent of NOTHING.  Period. There is nothing else like it.


Tomato Jam added ingredients - ginger, lime, jalapeno


This is a great recipe for “small-batch” preserving.  I think I came up with 5 jars. I’ll have to make it again because it is already going fast.

It is a simple process. Chop the tomatoes and gather the other ingredients and combine in a heavy bottomed saucepan to simmer and break down and turn to jam.  Natural pectin takes care of the congealing as it gently bubbles on the stovetop.

You will know it is done when it begins to change color to a deep crimson. It’s glorious.  And the fragrance is UNBELIEVABLE!!!


preserving tomatoes at the end of the summer.


I hope I have time to make another batch or two, because I cannot imagine a more beautiful holiday gift or hostess gift.


tomato jam-6233-2015


I have used my tomato jam this season to make the most delicious pizza ever.  I made simple crostini with goat cheese topped with tomato jam. It was recently the sauce for a delicious grilled pork tenderloin that I served with a warm lentil salad.  I will be posting these dishes soon so you can share the recipes and ideas.  I know you’re going to love tomato jam as much as I do.

My sourdough adventures have been sooo much delicious fun.  Very rewarding.  The pizza below is sourdough crust, tomato jam, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions topped with arugula and grated parm out of the oven. May be the best pizza ever.




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End of Summer Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam is a super-easy, yet indulgent way to preserve the summer's bounty.


  • 1 1/2lb Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Fresh Jalapeno Pepper (finely diced)


Tomato Jam is a great way to preserve the summer's bounty and is perfect for small batch preserving techniques. This super easy and delicious condiment will put an exclamation point on any dish. Great as a pizza topping or on grilled meats and fish and many other uses. Recipe based on one by Mark Bittman/ NY Times.


Prepare all ingredients and combine in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until mixture thickens.
Spoon the thickened jam into canning jars and either store in the refrigerator or follow safe canning procedures to process.
Simple Supper of zucchini, fennel, smoked trout and pasta

Simple Suppers – Zucchini Ribbons with Shaved Fennel, Parmesan and Smoked Trout


I am sharing this recipe because I think it fits in perfectly with getting on track to honor the kind of food our bodies crave – simple suppers prepared around fresh, seasonal ingredients. I made this dish a few weeks ago and it was soooo good.  I posted a picture on Facebook and said I would put the recipe up on the blog. This was the perfect week to have this meal.

Labor Day weekend provided some pretty awesome indulgences – we gathered with friends for a sunset party overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains on Saturday with hand-made hard cider and beautiful cheeses and a potluck finger food meal. On Sunday, I invited my parents and a few others over for a casual gathering by the creek for bison burgers and music – guitars, harmonica and some out of tune Willie Nelson-ish sing-along fun. Beautiful fun time. However….

…when the new week began, I confided in my husband that I may have over-indulged, and this week we most definitely would turn our mealtimes back to simple suppers – prepared around fresh, seasonal ingredients – recovery and maintenance. Easy, right?

Monday was the official holiday, so I took advantage and visited my local farmer, Irma. I hope you have a wonderful farm and or a farmer’s market nearby to gather and plan your meals around. When I saw this beautiful golden zucchini again at the farm, I was so happy, because I knew that I wanted to have this meal again once more before the summer is completely gone for good, and I was afraid I had missed this beautiful summer squash. If you don’t catch it, or you want to make this dish anytime, just substitute regular zucchini and use sun-dried tomato – it’s going to be great.

Simple Suppers Golden Zucchini

Zucchini, fennel, cherry tomatoes. Wow, it’s a great combination of summer veggies. You can pick up all these ingredients at the grocery if you don’t happen to be near a farm.

Simple Suppers Shaved Fennel Bulb

If you don’t use fennel on a regular basis, go for it! It adds such a nice subtle complexity and a little bit of a surprise.  To prepare, simply cut away the green tops and cut it down the middle length. Trim out the core and slice into slivers about 1/2″ wide. Saute’ the vegetables in olive oil briefly over medium heat to tenderize, then add the roasted pobalano pepper strips and chicken stock and simmer gently for 3-4 more minutes.


The roasted red peppers are also a nice surprise.  They are so easy to blister under your oven’s broiler.  When blistered all over, transfer them to a paper bag and sweat to loosen the skin.  After about five minutes, it will slip right off the meat. Be sure to remove the seeds as you cut the beautiful meat into slices or dices for your dish.

Add chicken stock (either homemade or from a container) to the vegetables. You can see my “chicken stock ice cubes” below – one of the great ways to have the needed amount on hand with just a little planning.

Lastly, fold into this brothy vegetable medley your pasta shells, if using, and chunks of smoked trout or salmon, or chicken. It is equally delicious with either of these. I like to add a bit of fresh mint to this dish, along with a light dusting (light, I said) of good parmesan cheese.

Simple Supper of zucchini, fennel, smoked trout and pasta

Start to finish – this simple supper is ready in less than 30 minutes.  It is fresh, light, satisfying, and healthy. Prepare this meal for yourself, your family or for guests. They are going to love it!


Zucchini Ribbons with Shaved Fennel, Parmesan and Smoked Trout


  • 1 Medium Golden Zucchini or Green Zucchini (sliced lengthwise into ribbons - use a mandolin if you have one.)
  • 1 Medium Fennel Bulb, tops and core removed. (sliced into thin slices.)
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced.)
  • 1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Medium Poblano Pepper (roasted, peeled and sliced.)
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock (homemade if you have it.)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil (good quality)
  • Salt and White Pepper (season to taste.)
  • 1 tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Pepper Flakes (season to taste.)
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Mint (chopped into ribbons.)
  • 1/2lb Orechiette Pasta, or favorite other pasta (cooked al dente.)
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggianno Cheese (grated.)


Roast a whole poblano pepper under the oven broiler, turning occasionally to blacken on all sides. Remove to a paper bag to "sweat" while the other ingredients are prepped. When the wrinkled skin of the pepper has started to separate from the flesh - peel, deseed and slice into short, 1/2 inch wide ribbons.
Slice the zucchini lengthwise using a mandolin if you have one. Slices should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Trim and core the fennel and slice into slivers about the same thickness as the zucchini.
Peel and mince the garlic clove.
In a medium cast iron skillet, warm olive oil and add fennel and garlic to sweat over medium-low heat until translucent - about 3-4 minutes.
Add the zucchini ribbons and toss, turning the heat up just a bit under the skillet. Add the cherry tomatoes and the sliced and peeled poblano pepper and toss to combine with the other vegetables. Season the vegetables now with salt and white pepper.
When zucchini has started to soften and brown a bit, splash with white balsamic vinegar, then add the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add pasta. Toss to combine.
To serve, spoon zucchini pasta dish into heated bowls. Top with thinly shaved parmesan, chopped fresh mint leaves (optional) and crushed red pepper flakes.




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The Art of Fermentation – Pickles



This lovely season of summer in the Appalachian mountains feels like it is coming to a close. Those tale-tell signs – days are getting shorter, night air is cooler, the angle of the sun over the mountains is more noticeable. This summer has been a time of reconnecting with my home and family – and food that undoubtedly helped shaped my life’s direction. This year, with my husband, has been focused on restoring and nourishing my father after his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer.  When we heard of dad’s illness, we decided to move back to my home in North Carolina to be near him.  It has been a journey in love.  We have shared lots of days this year – driving in the mountains, woodworking projects in his shop, gardening and canning.  Both he and I have been nourished.  In a miraculous way, his cancer has gone in to remission and we are watching him grow strong again. Wow.




Traditional foodways were such an important part of my life growing up. This reality is tapping me on the shoulder in a big way right now as I spend this close time with my family. Knowing what I have learned through the years about healthy, whole foods eating, I think many of the traditional recipes and techniques stand the test and fall into the category of healthy eating. I continue to adjust and alter those that do not to weave them into an eating pattern that doesn’t abandon my beloved roots.  I find this very satisfying.




I recently decided to wash out these crocks and ferment some cucumbers.  We love pickles in our home and naturally fermented “kosher dills” are among the favorite.  We also love simple refrigerator pickles of all kinds…zucchini, banana peppers, gardiniere – a mixture of carrots, cauliflower, onions, peppers, (whatever is in the garden, basically).  They are so easy to small batch, and don’t test your patience, as they are ready in a few days!  But ferments – a term that just means naturally fermented from the wild yeast and bacteria present in your environs – they call upon your will to wait and prove their worthiness at the appropriate time.




I love them. For so many reasons. Tangy, subtle, salty, crunchy, traditional and HEALTHY!

Probiotics abound!

There is so much information that is coming to light in the medical and nutritional journals about the benefits of maintaining a healthy flora in the gut. It seems the body’s immune system is supported in a big way if the intestinal tract is functioning properly. Enjoying fermented foods is very supportive of gastro-intestinal health and health of the body overall.




I recently jarred up the “pickles” and plan to make sauerkraut next.  It should be ready in time for Octoberfest.




Did I just say Octoberfest?  Wow! Enjoy the harvest, ya’ll!


For more information about the health benefits of lacto-fermentation and probiotics in your diet, you may like to check these resources:

  • To read an article by Food and Nutrition, with history and cultural notes, click here.
  • For a global and fairly technical article by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, click here.
  • For recipes, visit Nourished Kitchen by clicking here.



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