Thick Rolled Oats with Dried Fruit

Ground Hog’s Day Breakfast

Are mornings for you as they are for me? We begin our days with familiar habits and routines – coffee the same way every morning – probably in the same cup. Check your email. Scan through facebook. Thoughts of gratitude. Checklists and mental notes. I don’t drive kids to school anymore, but other than that, it could seem a bit like the weatherman in the movie Ground Hogs Day (only the good parts)…

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I love, love, love the sweetness of the thick, whole rolled oats.

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I crave the walnuts and the fruit and the nuttiness of the ground flax seed.

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I love the creaminess of the added almond milk.

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I look forward to the fresh strawberries and blueberries coming in at the farmer’s market in the spring, but for now I can’t think of anything better than the intense sweetness of dried fruit.

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Great news today – it’s going to be an early spring!

Vegan tuscan white bean stew

Butternut Squash and Sage Tuscan White Bean Stew

Tuscan white bean stew

 

I’ve had a bit of a time getting myself organized to actually share recipes the past few weeks. Sometimes the world gets squarely and firmly planted between me and my camera. So annoying! BUT this does not mean I haven’t been cooking and eating, of course, and I am super focused on eating healthy. I am not in the midst of a cleanse or anything right now, but I know that I feel SO MUCH BETTER when my meals revolve around veggies with lots of colors! I know many of you are the same way and you may be actually committed to a cleanse diet right now.  If you are, this recipe will make you forget you are on a cleanse! It is totally in line with what you should be eating and it is amazing, if I do humbly say so myself!

There is a short list of ingredients here and the whole dish comes together in less than 45 minutes! One of the things I loved about this recipe is that it is truly “one-pot”.

 

Tuscan white bean stew with sun-dried tomatoes

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The veggies – onion, carrot, celery, and sun-dried tomato – are simply chopped and sauteed in olive oil for about 5 minutes. I like to add the seasonings next – sage, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.

Seasonings are added into the saute pan before adding the liquid.

Add the cannellini beans and butternut squash and broth. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Vegan Tuscan White Bean Stew

Add the chopped swiss chard near the end to retain it’s color.

Add the swiss chard at the very end of cooking.

 

I adjusted the seasonings and added a sprig of fresh thyme to the stew pot and then it was like magic as the flavors came together and a beautifully complex dish was ready to enjoy. The earthy and smokiness of the sun-dried tomatoes adds an amazing depth to the flavors. It’s scrumptious.

 

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Perfect when it’s cold outside…

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Butternut Squash and Sage Tuscan White Bean Stew
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cup Butternut Squash
  • ½ cup Sweet Onion
  • ½ cup Celery
  • ½ cup Carrot
  • ½ cup Sun-Dried Tomato
  • 1 can Cannelini Beans
  • 4 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 2 cup Swiss Chard
  • 2 teaspoon Rubbed Sage
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon White Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 small Sprig of Fresh Thyme
Instructions
  1. Saute mirepoix (onion, celery and carrot) and sund-dried tomatoes in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add sage, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes and stir to coat.
  3. Add the cannellini beans, butternut squash and vegetable stock and allow to simmer until squash is tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add swiss chard and a small sprig of fresh thyme to the pot and continue to simmer for about 10 -15 more minutes.
  5. Adjust the seasonings and serve.
Asian noodle salad with carrot ginger soup

Carrot Ginger Soup with Soba Noodle Salad

It seems I have a bit of a ying/yang situation going on with my food cravings during this time of year. I really look forward to the season that draws us close in to comfort foods and foods that are a celebration in and of themselves.  Thanksgiving with the roast bird, creamed vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie. We love these foods so much.

But to set them apart, it’s nice to balance the celebration with foods that nourish.

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Fresh Herbs and Juniper Berries

Apple Cider Turkey Brine

 

Try brining your turkey this year!!!

 

Fresh Herbs and Juniper Berries

 

In as little as 4 hours, you can add amazing flavor and moisture to the outcome of your turkey!

 

Simmer the herbs, juniper berries and apple cider.

 

I love including apples in my stuffing, so I decided to brine the turkey in apple cider, too!  I plan to smoke a turkey breast – using “apple wood” chips. I also plan to roast a turkey in the oven. We have 17 guests for Thanksgiving this year, so I think if there is to be leftover turkey for sandwiches, I’d better prepare the smoked turkey breast as well.

Did someone say Turkey Sandwiches??? Well, we have to have home-made bread!!

 

Clay Bread Cloche

 

My “new” old bread cloche! I’ll be making bread tomorrow for Turkey Sandwiches!!

Ok – not famous “YET”, but here is my little article from a few years ago in TIME MAGAZINE!! Thanksgiving Turkey Brine Recipe in Time MagazineCheck out this link to my full instructions for cooking a heritage turkey in parchment!

Apple Cider Turkey Brine
 
Ingredients
  • 2 imperial quart Apple Cider
  • 2 imperial quart Water
  • 1½ cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 3-4 sprig Fresh Parsley
  • 3 sprig Fresh Thyme
  • 1 large Sprig Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 tablespoon Juniper Berries
  • 1 tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 2-3 sprig Fresh Sage Leaves
Instructions
  1. Add 1 Quart water to a deep stockpot. Add the kosher salt and brown sugar and simmer, stirring, until both have dissolved in the water.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients - 1 quart of water, two quarts of apple cider and fresh herbs, peppercorns and juniper berries. Simmer for 15 minutes to
  3. Chill the brine in the refrigerator. This can be done in advance.
  4. The turkey should brine overnight. Add the chilled turkey to the chilled brine and refrigerate. The chill is important to prevent pathogens!!
  5. Remove the turkey from the brine and dry it with a kitchen towel. Rub the turkey skin with olive oil (or butter) and place in the roasting pan - ready for the stuffing and roasting process.
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Delicata Squash with Cranberry Bean Cassoulet

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This fall has been a beautiful season of appreciation for me – in the kitchen, out in nature and in my personal life. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am almost overwhelmed with gratitude this year. My husband and I were able to move to the mountains of North Carolina, back to my family home, to spend a dedicated time with family through the illness and passing of my father. I owe him a huge debt of thanks for the many profound life lessons he shared with me and for the very heightened appreciation of nature and the outdoors.

My emphasis on seasonal eating is very much wrapped up in how I was raised and the rhythm of life that was instilled in me through the way my family lived in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Our garden was a focal point of everyday life, and so it is for me still. What is in season is the predominant question I ask myself when thinking of food and nourishment.

This delicata squash and bean cassoulet, another dish from my love affair with the Rhubarb Restaurant of Asheville, NC, highlights the seasonality of the late summer and autumn garden. Having a stock pile of winter squashes in the pantry and jars of dried beans leads to endless possibilities in the kitchen.

 

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Grilled Calamari – Orange, Potato and Leek with Romesco Sauce

I have been almost fixated on grilling and smoking in recent weeks. I think it is my way of holding on to summer as the autumn unveils itself. The cooler morning and evening temperatures and the subtle change of leaves beckons me to indulge in the transition.

 

Grilled oranges are smoky sweet

 

I developed this recipe after recently having dinner with my husband at the AhhhMazing Rhubarb Restaurant in Asheville, NC. We have eaten there quite a few times and Chef John Fleer is one of my favorites of all time. Really, I mean that. His menus celebrate the seasons, he has a strong affiliation with a beautiful local farm for gorgeous vegetables that he highlights and celebrates. His team works around a wood-fired oven and there is an earthiness in his menu that cannot be ignored. It is perfection.

 

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