Category Archives: Salads

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Buttercup Squash and Cranberries with Toasted Breadcrumbs

We were lucky enough in Vermont to escape the wrath of Hurricane Sandy; however, my heart goes out to all of those affected by the superstorm. Having grown up on the Connecticut shoreline, family members and friends have been in my thoughts constantly.  My parents fared well, but if you’ve met my dad, you know they were ready. Others in my hometown were not so lucky. The day after the storm, on my way to work, I saw a rainbow. I stopped to snap a pic and sent it to my mom, with the caption “a good omen.” Peoples support for one another this past week has been astounding, and has shown what the human spirit is truly capable of.
On another non-related note… Mark and I filed for domestic partnership and it was approved by the state of Vermont this week. Oh to be financially interdependent! How romantic!
Saturday night we met Mark’s parents for dinner at the Home Hill Inn.
It’s an old inn on the Connecticut river, with a restaurant that focuses on the use of local ingredients. Mark’s parents brought gifts: cheesy kielbasa for Mark and a stalk of brussels sprouts, from their garden, for me. Thanks for the dinner and gifts!
Naturally I had to find something to do with the brussels sprouts, so for lunch yesterday I had brussels sprouts with buttercup squash, cranberries and toasted breadcrumbs. Buttercup squash was new to me; I’ve been seeing it at the store and finally gave it a try. It’s a sweet, dry squash, with orange flesh and green skin. It tastes kind of like a sweet potato.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Buttercup Squash and Cranberries with Toasted Breadcrumbs 
1/2 lb of brussels sprouts
1 buttercup squash, peeled and cubed (you could sub any other winter squash
1/4 cup of cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of mustard
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
Black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons of whole wheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs
Cooking spray or oil for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients through red pepper flakes, tossing to coat. Spread out evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Once browned and cooked through, add cranberries and divide evenly between 4 ramekins. Divide bread crumbs evenly over the top of the ramekins and spray with a little cooking spray or drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Return to oven for 5 minutes, turning the broiler on for the last minute to brown the breadcrumbs. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

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Cabbage and Apple Slaw

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month… So I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all the women and men who have been affected by breast cancer. Breast cancer runs in my family, my mom, my maternal grandmother and my maternal great aunt all had it. This puts me at a much higher risk, so becoming aware, getting check-ups, eating healthy and exercising have been a crucial part of my life.

My mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer the summer before I entered 7th grade. After a rough year of treatment, she went into remission and has been cancer free for a just about a decade! Four years ago my grandmother passed away from breast cancer and last year my great aunt passed away from it, as well.

When I was 16, my mom and I walked 60 miles in 3 days to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation. It was one of the best weekends of my life. It was such a supportive community and I learned a lot about breast cancer!

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 80% of cancer cases are preventable and the number one preventative measure is maintaining a healthy lifestyle (source). Recent studies, including one out of Harvard University, have shown that a vegan diet can reduce the risk of many types of cancer (source). My mom was part of study at Yale that demonstrated that exercise can help prevent cancer or reduce the risk of its reoccurrence (source)   Another recent study has linked eating cruciferous vegetables with the prevention of breast cancer (source). A Chinese study found a correlation between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and an increased survival rate of those battling breast cancer (source).  I’ll eat loads of whatever veggies are linked to prevention, I mean loads.

Cruciferous vegetables include : Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, watercress, and wasabi


So I made a healthy cabbage and apple slaw in honor of breast cancer awareness month… so load up a big bowl of this salad and chow down for the sake of your breasts.

Speaking of my strong and brave mother, she and my dad came to visit this weekend. Though the weather was less than ideal, we were still able to sneak in a 15 mile bike ride along the lake and a walk along the bike path in Stowe to admire the foliage through the mist.

We had dinner at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill on Saturday and lunch in Stowe on Sunday. My parents also bought us a jar of maple walnut peanut butter from the Vermont Peanut Butter Co… I’m afraid to open it because it might disappear too quickly.

Cabbage and Apple Slaw

2 large servings
1/2 a head of green cabbage shredded
1 apple, julienned
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of almonds, sliced slivered (I used tamari roasted almonds for more flavor)
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of mustard
black pepper

Whisk together cider vinegar, mustard and black pepper in the bottom of a large bowl, add in the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.

You can eat the whole bowl… it’s helping prevent cancer!


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Spicy Kebabs over Farro Salad

Summer is starting to wind down… I woke up this morning and it was COLD. Nights of leaving the windows wide open might soon be put on hiatus. One might think that would mean that grilling should start to wind down as well, but I love grilling into the fall (and winter). I’ve been known to grill in knee deep snow.

We are at that time in the year when summer veggies are still around but fall veggies are starting to emerge as well. It’s the best time of year for a veggie lover like me!

These kebabs are smothered in a spicy, creamy, belly warming sauce that bridges the gap between summer and fall foods. I served it over a hearty yet light farro salad.

Spicy Kebabs

makes 6 kebabs

1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

4-6 large white button mushrooms, sliced 1/3 inch thick, and cut in half to keep them similar in size to the other veggies

2 zucchini, sliced 1/3 inch thick

4 tablespoons of spicy hummus, I used Cedars Spicy Pepper

4 tablespoons of kefir, Greek yogurt sour cream (use non-dairy if you like, if using yogurt or sour cream you might need a tablespoon or 2 of water to thin it out)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 hot cherry pepper, minced super fine

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

Black pepper to taste

6 kebab skewers, I used bamboo

First soak the skewers in water for at least an hour, but preferably longer, so they don’t catch on fire

Preheat your grill. Slice up the veggies and place them on the skewers, I put mine on in a repeating pattern.

In a large shallow dish, combine the remaining ingredients with a whisk, add a bit of water if it’s too thick. Then roll the kebabs in the marinade. Place the kebabs on the grill, 2-4 minutes on each side.

Farro Salad

1/2 cup of farro

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups of spinach, shredded

1/4 cup of fresh basil, chifonaded

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1/2 tablespoon of olive oil

Black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line an 8×8 pan with foil. Place the tomatoes halves in the pan and top with the balsamic, oil, pepper, and Italian seasoning, toss to coat and place in the oven. Turn them occasionally and bake for about 20 minutes.

Then bring a pot of water to a boil, then add in the the red pepper flakes. Once boiling, add in farro and cook for 20-25 minutes or until al denete. Place the spinach in the bottom of a colander. Pour the farro into the colander and the hot water will wilt the spinach. In a large bowl, combine fresh basil, tomatoes (making sure to scrape all the yummy goodness from the tinfoil into the bowl), farro and spinach. Add in more black pepper or balsamic vinegar is you want.

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Roasted Vegetable and Farro Salad

Mark and I have exciting news… We built a Kegerator! A kegerator is a device that dispenses draft beer in your home. Ours is comprised of a chest freezer that has been set to refrigerator temperatures, with a tap coming out of the top. We also have a CO2 tank that keeps the beer from going flat. It only took a peruse of the internet and a few trips to Lowe’s to get our rig up and running. And let me just say, it was quite the engineering feat… Luckily engineering is in my blood, my dad is an engineer.  Our first keg is Harpoon IPA (one of my favs!) Mark is beyond excited, he has been dreaming of building one for years… and now we have the space. He drank out of a 4oz glass last night just so he could keep using the tap.

Fun Fact: Mark and I met 4 years ago, this weekend, at our freshman orientation at Hobart and William Smith. I also met my best friend from college, Tracy, that same weekend. Little did I know that I was meeting two of the most important people in my life. I’d be lost without them!


Tracy and Me, Sept 2008,

Don’t ask what I was wearing, I think I was trying to change out of that dress. We have no normal pictures together…

Mark might be excited about beer, but I have been excited about farro, (I know, I’m weird). Farro is an ancient grain, thought to be the first grain cultivated by humans. It is rustic, hearty and nutty. It looks kind of like a puffy brown rice grain. It’s great because in one serving (1/4 uncooked) there are 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Topped with roasted veggies and some balsamic vinegar, it is delicious and it feels hearty yet light on a summer night.

I used edamame, corn, tomatoes, onion and kale, but you can use whatever veggies you’d like. I found farro in the bulk section at the local co-op (for cheap!)

Roasted Veggie and Farro Salad

1/2 cup of farro

2/3 cup of corn kernels

2/3 cup of deshelled edamame

12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 a medium onion sliced

1 hot cherry pepper (optional. but we have hot peppers growing out of control)

1/2 cup of kale, shredded

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, divided

1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

1 clove of garlic, smashed

Black pepper to taste

3 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, divided

1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place the edamame, corn and tomatoes and cherry pepper on the baking sheet, top with 1.5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil, Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and black pepper. Toss the veggies around to coat. Place in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add in onions and let sauté for 10 minutes, only moving them around occasionally. Back to the farro, once the water is boiling, add in the farro and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Let the farro cook for about 20 minutes, it should still have an al dente bite when done, and there should still be water reaming in the pot. Back to the onions, after 10 minutes, lean back and add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Do not keep your face over the pan when you do this. Stir it, add some black pepper, and let it cook for another 5ish minutes, until the balsamic vinegar reduces and becomes sticky.

For the kale, I covered mine with a little water and microwaved it for 45 seconds to wilt it. You could steam it if you’d like. Place the kale in the bottom of a large bowl. Top with onions, and roasted veggies (the veggies are done when they are browned a bit on all sides and make sure you try to scrape the reduced balsamic vinegar off the pan and into the bowl). For the cherry pepper, run it under cool water for 30 seconds and remove the skin, it should come off rather easily. Then mince it finely and add it to the bowl. When the farro is done, pour it into a colander, run cool water over it for 30 seconds to stop the cooking process and add it to the bowl. Toss everything around to distribute everything evenly and enjoy

This dish is a good potluck or picnic dish because it can be served warm, cold or room temp, the flavors meld the longer it sits, and it looks pretty fancy.


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Tex-Mex Salad with Chipotle Crema Dressing

After spending a week in the land of no cell phones or computers, the North Woods of Maine, I think a post is very overdue.

Mark and I headed up to his cabin in Maine for 7 days of hiking, running, kayaking, and just plain relaxing. The cabin, aka Red Camp, an hour from the nearest town, is right on a lake. In its rustic charm, it lacks electricity and running water. Everything, the fridge, lights, stove, runs on propane. We hiked the tops of 3 different mountains, went on 3 long runs, one kayak trip through some big waves and had 5 moose sightings.

Almost every night, we grilled outside over an open flame and passed the dark hours playing board games. Over the fire, I made traditional grill food 3 nights, chili and corn bread, avocado lime rice, and tacos.

Then we headed to Mark’s house for one night before we moved into our new apartment in Burlington, VT. That’s right; we are now Vermonters, living in a restored Victorian from the 1800’s… classy, right. So we’ve been spending the last few days getting settled in.

I made this simple salad and dressing the night before the big move. (More to come on our new apartment soon). The dressing is a Mexican “crema”. Traditionally, crema is a product similar to sour cream, with less tang and more milk fat. However, I swapped in fat free Greek yogurt for the same effect and flavor but with less fat. Adjust the chipotle peppers to your desired spice level

Tex-Mex Salad with Chipotle Crema Dressing


3 0z plain, fat free Greek yogurt

1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced very fine, it will become almost like a wet paste.

1-3 teaspoons of adobo sauce

1-3 teaspoons of water, to thin the dressing out to desired consistence, it will vary depending on the water content in your yogurt.

black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl

Salad, makes 2

4 cups of spinach

1 ear of corn, cut off the cob, we grilled ours because Mark was making sausage on the grill, or you can boil it or use frozen corn, but I like the flavor and char the corn gets from the grill

1/3 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tomato chopped

1/2 an avocado, diced

Divided all ingredients evenly between 2 plates. Top with desired amount of crema dressing.

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Everything but the Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

We have less than 3 weeks until the Seneca 7. I’m getting a little jittery about the race… I’ve never run 11 miles before. However, training is going really well. Since I got my running app for my phone in the end of February, I’ve logged 100 miles, and that doesn’t include team runs or spring break.

I ran 5 miles 3 days in a row, followed by a speedy 5k yesterday (sub-8 pace). One of those 5-mile days, Mark and I had the team over for a run though Seneca Lake State Park (the finish line for the race) and a BBQ. We grilled up some burgers sausage and veggie burgers. We also made some guacamole, chipotle dip, a spinach salad and a pasta salad. The pasta salad is not your usual mayo-laden, heavy salad. A few summers ago, while in Maine, we were trying to use up all the veggies before we headed home… and this pasta salad was born. Its more veggies than pasta… just the way I like it. I made 2 pounds of pasta salad for the BBQ and the 7 of us ate it all.

You can put pretty much any veggies you like or any you have on hand… all veggie amounts are approximate, there’s really no need to measure

We also got our team t-shirts, courtesy of Mark’s brother, Matt… GO TEAM LAVA TIGERS!

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

1 lb whole wheat or quinoa penne

1/2 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed and cut into 1/2 inch segments

1 bell pepper, diced

2 cups of kale, shredded

1 1/2 cups of corn

1 cup of baby portabellas, wiped clean and quartered

1 medium onion

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size

1/4-1/2 cup of Italian dressing

2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning

Lots of black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium or large pot for the pasta. Once it is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to the box directions. While it boils, prep the veggies. In a medium sauté pan, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add in the onion and sauté for 4 minutes, and then add in the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. With 3 minutes left in the pasta cooking time, add the asparagus and bell pepper to the boiling water. Add the kale to the bottom of a colander and place it in the sink. Pour the pasta over the kale and add the corn to the colander. Transfer the ingredients from the colander, the ingredients from the sauté pan, and the tomatoes to a large bowl or casserole dish. Mix it together. Then add in 1/4 cup of the Italian dressing, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and black pepper. Mix it and give it a taste, adjusting it to your taste. You might need a bit more dressing or some more pepper… it’s up to you.

Also, look at the pretty Tulips Mark got me…

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Roasted Root Vegetables

I hope every one had a good holiday.

Mine was a cooks dream:

I got an immersion blender

It came with a wire whisk attachment, a chopping bowl that chops nuts, cheese, etc. and a blending jug to measure ingredients and make smoothies etc. I’m so excited for all of the Soup Sunday’s to come!


A 16 piece set of ceramic bakeware

(my aunt has the same set and I fell in love with at Thanksgiving)

A tripod for my trusty Canon

I think it makes him look like a robot. I shot this with my Dad’s Nikon D40X… maybe one day I’ll be able to afford a SLR like that. Not that I don’t love my Canon, he has 14x optical zoom, 14.1 megapixels and a manual setting

and… $100 to Wegman’s, our grocery store back in Geneva… yay free food!

Christmas dinner was great, I got to use all my new cooking gadgets and it was pretty tasty too.  I was responsible for veggies and salad. I roasted a bunch of root veggies in my new bakeware and threw together a fancy looking and sounding salad (but it was super easy to make). I also made some broccoli rabe, which  I though could have been better, it was a tad bitter. I blanched it, but I guess not long enough, I think part of the issue was that it wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked.

I’ll pass along the salad and roasted root veggies recipes and keep working on the broccoli rabe.

Roasted Root Vegetables

5 carrots, peeled and cubed (big carrots, not 5 baby carrots)

3 parsnips, peeled and cubed

2 turnips, peeled and cubed

4 red potatoes, cubed (not peeled)

1 medium onion, cut in half, ends removed and sliced thinly

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoons thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Placed prepared veggies on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish, top with oil, garlic and spices. Toss to coat, and bake in 400 degree oven for 30ish minutes, stirring occasionally,  until veggies are tender, and can be pierced though with a fork.

Spinach and Radicchio Salad with Pears and Parmesan

4 cups of spinach

1/2 head of radicchio, cored and sliced thinly

2 oz of parmesan, shaved (I used a vegetable peeler to do this)

1/2 a bosh pear cored and sliced thinly

Balsamic-Maple-Dijon Dressing

1 mason jar with lid (or other seal-able container)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

black pepper


Add all ingredients to mason jar, close lid and shake to combine. Shake each time before serving.

Stores in fridge or on counter for up to 2 weeks


For Dessert, we had Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls, cheesecake and my Aunt’s famous Chocolate Cake… check out that frosting

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Quinoa Salad

Move over cous cous, move over taboule… make room in your diet for quinoa. Quinoa (keen-wah) is basically a “super grain”, packed with tons of natural protein and vitamins. Referred to as “gold to the Incas”, quinoa is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids (and iron and magnesium). Its a great way to get more plant-based protein into your diet.

Recently I’ve been a little, ok a lot obsessed with the bulk section at my grocery store. The local chain up here, Wegmans, has an exceptional selection. I got spinach for a massive salad (about 4-6 cups worth) for $0.28, and that is not a joke. Comparable to $2-4 for the pre-packaged variety, not to mention, it never seems to last as long as I think it will. I’ve been stocking up on dried fruit, granola, and banana chips as cheap snack options and also to top some plain non-fat Greek yogurt with for breakfast. My most recent purchase was about 2 cup of dried quinoa for a whopping $0.76! I don’t think a box of quinoa can be that cheap, even on sale… and I even mixed the white and red varieties together for some added color.

I cooked up the quinoa and added some sautéed veggies and tempeh for a protein and fiber packed lunch to get me though the long work day. Paired with an apple, this lunch kept me full throughout the afternoon, and warded off that 4 o’clock low blood sugar slump. And boy did I need it; it was in the mid-90’s today. All that complaining about it being cold a few weeks ago… I take it back. On a side note, I did go swimming in Seneca Lake today… it was cold, yet refreshing, given I’d been out collecting water sample in the direct sun for 8 hours.

I picked up this great little Tupperware container a few weeks ago that is perfect for just about anything… it has the little compartment in the middle to hold sauce, dressing, or dips. I’ve used it for carrots and humus, apple slices and peanut butter, some left over corn and black bean salad and some salsa. Today I packed up my quinoa salad with some hummus.

Quinoa Salad

Serves 2

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups of spinach

½ of a bell pepper, diced

¼ of a small onion diced

½ cup of diced tempeh

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

Crumbled cheese, like feta (optional)

Prepare the quinoa as per the directions provided. It’s usually about 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. As the quinoa simmers away on low, chop the veggies. Heat a skillet to medium heat, add oil then peppers, onions and tempeh. Cook about 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add in the spinach, let it wilt, about 1 min. Then add in tomatoes and cheese. Transfer the veggies from the skillet into the cooked pot of quinoa, stir to incorporate the veggies. Eat warm or refrigerate and enjoy for lunch the next day.

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Pineapple Topped Veggie Burgers with a Corn and Black Bean Salad

On Sunday, Mark made his signature breakfast, “the Bagel Melt”. It consists of a bagel, his was jalapeno cheddar, with cream cheese, sautéed onions and cheese (a combo of pepper jack and Gouda). He has been on a bagel melt kick pretty much since I took him to my hometown bagel shop for breakfast 2 years ago. After that very filling breakfast, we headed out, rain jackets in hand, to Watkins Glen State Park. Brace yourself for another geo-nerd moment… the gorge was formed when the land began to rebound back up after the heavy glaciers, which had been pushing down on the land, receded out of NY at the end of the last ice age. As a result of the uplift, the river cut down into the bedrock and formed the gorge… ok done.

We hiked all along the Gorge Trail and a bit of the Indian trail… it was absolutely amazing (even though I’ve been numerous times) and on the plus side the gorge kind of acted as a natural rain shield when it did start to rain.

On the way back we stopped off at Four Chimneys Winery, the oldest organic winery in America… we ended up with a bottle of dry, oaky, white wine, which was delicious… even beer drinking Mark enjoyed a small amount.

For dinner, Mark suggested grilled pineapple and veggie burgers. Then he suggested putting the pineapple on top of the veggie burgers… genius idea (I’ve taught him well). We picked up some Morning Star black bean burgers (my favorite veggie burgers), a pineapple and some fixing to make a corn and black bean salad. We found some beautiful tri-color cherry tomatoes (hydroponically grown in state) for the salad.

I might also add that during dinner Mark said, “I don’t think these would be as good with ‘real’ burgers.” Those are the words any vegetarian cook wants to hear! The combination of the sweet pineapple with the spicy cheese and the Mexican flavors of the veggie burgers are a really winning combination.

Pineapple Topped Veggie Burgers with a Corn and Black Bean Salad

Serves 2


2 Morning Star black bean burgers

2  ½ inch slices of pineapple

2 slices of pepper jack cheese

Buns if you so choose (Mark had one and I didn’t)


2 cup of corn kernels

1 cup of black beans

1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in quarters

¼ cup of feta cheese

Preheat the grill. Place burgers and pineapple slices on the grill, brown on both sides. Once flipped, add the cheese slices to the veggie burgers. Remove when browned and the cheese is melted.

For the salad combine all of the ingredients, toss gently and serve.

To assemble, prepare bun, layer the pineapple on top of the burger. The cheese kind of acts as a glue. We topped our burgers with a scoop of the salad, and also ate some salad on the side. I also brought outside some pineapple peach chipotle salsa, BBQ sauce and ketchup, just in case but none are necessary.


Here’s to another weekend soon with my favorite grilling partner… what a great weekend of hiking and eating!

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Spinach Salad with Apples and Dried Berries

Tonight I had just gotten back from a run (the rain held off all day!) and I wanted something light and quick for dinner. I decided on one of my favorite salads that has countless variations. I have made this salad for holiday dinners and brought it to bbq’s… and it is always a crowd pleaser. You can change up the ingredients based on what you have on hand  or what is fresh at the market.

It always starts with a base of washed baby spinach

Then fruit… either apples, pears or berries, sliced up. I used the diced cinnamon apples left over from this morning’s breakfast (see recipe here). My mom puts the apples and cinnamon in a gallon size zip top bag (left open an inch or two) and microwaves them for 30 seconds or so to save time.

Next comes the cheese… use a strong cheese like blue cheese, I used feta.

I tossed in some dried mixed berries for sweetness (cranberries and blueberries mostly. I ate all of the dried strawberries… oops)

Then I diced up some tomatoes as well and added them on top

Candied walnuts also go great with this salad… a few tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/4 cup walnuts… wrap in foil and put them in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 mins… you start to smell them when they are close to done. Keep an eye on them though, they go from golden to burnt in a matter of seconds

Then comes my favorite part… the dressing. I like to make mine in a glass mason jar. You add all of the ingredients and close the lid tight… then shake it until it’s mixed. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks; just shake it up each time before use.

Maple Balsamic Dressing

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons maple syrup

top salad with the shaken up dressing just before eating

Spinach Salad with Apples and Dried Berries

1 bag baby spinach

1/4 cup crumbled feta (more or less based on your preference)

2 apples diced and cooked with cinnamon

1/4 cup dried fruit

2 small tomatoes diced

1/4 candied walnuts (optional)

Maple Balsamic Dressing (see recipe above)

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl, top with dressing just before serving and enjoy!

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