Warm Butternut & Farro Spinach Salad

Butternut Squash & Farro Spinach Salad

Happy New Year! What are your resolutions, goals, or intentions for the year ahead?

I hate the idea of resolutions, but I love the idea of having intentions. This year, I am intent to:

  1. Be a better listener. Sometimes I find I ask someone a question and then get distracted even before they finish telling me the answer! Hope to work on that this year. I also want to be better at resting.
  2. Rest better. It’s ok if the dishwasher hasn’t been unloaded and the laundry is still in the dryer 10 minutes after it’s finished running. These things will eventually get done, and I don’t need to feel like I have to check all 36 things off of my to-do list before I can sit down and breathe.

 

Many of you will probably have health goals as well, which is why I wanted to bring this recipe to you today! The new year is a great opportunity to start fresh in your eating and exercise goals, but remember to give yourself some grace and set yourself up for success by NOT expecting to be perfect. “Perfect” eating, in my book, means indulging sometimes, overeating sometimes, and cutting back when your body is telling you it’s had a few too many buckeyes.

I made this salad this past weekend when my parents and sister/bro-in-law were visiting for the holiday. We served it with steaks from Ben’s dad’s company, and black-eyed peas from my sister (because apparently they symbolize good luck?). All were delicious, and the smoke eventually cleared out of our house after pan-searing the steaks because our grill was out of gas…

This salad has all the flavorful reminders of the holidays while also being packed with protein, vitamins, and ruffage to reset your system! I love how the farro sticks to the squash and cauliflower to bulk it up a little bit. And the sunflower seeds provide a little extra crunch! I used a simple vinaigrette of citrus and balsamic vinegar, but you could really play around with it to your liking.

Happy eating!

Butternut Squash & Farro Spinach Salad

Warm Butternut & Farro Spinach Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Starting a new year doesn’t need to be painful when it comes to eating better. Ring in your year of good intentions and health goals with this delicious, vegetarian and protein-packed salad!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 16 oz spring mix or spinach
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup feta
  • For dressing:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Prepare farro according to package directions, until al dente. Remove from pot and cool for at least 10 minutes. (I used my rice cooker for this- comes out perfect every time!)
  3. While farro is cooking, shake all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar.
  4. Combine 3 tbsp oil, squash, cauliflower, cranberries, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on prepared cookie sheet and roast 30 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  5. In a large bowl, drizzle about half of vinaigrette onto spring mix and toss.
  6. Add farro, roasted vegetables, feta, and remaining vinaigrette. Toss gently.
  7. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and additional feta or if desired.

 

Cranberry Barley Risotto Stuffed Squash

Happy Turkey Week! How was your weekend?

This weekend we celebrated Turkey Day a few days early with our Durham friends. Friendsgivings are the BEST! So many different dishes to try, people to meet, toddlers to chase… but I had the hardest time deciding what to make!

Last year I made these sweet potato empanadas, but for some reason I just didn’t feel like putting them together this year! I was inspired a few weeks ago by this post from fANNEtastic Food, a creative alternative to traditional stuffing. I made a few tweaks and also stuffed some butternut squash since I tend to like the sweetness of butternut a little more than acorn. But if you serve these on their own, the acorn halves make a perfectly portioned serving!

Stuffed Squash w/ Cranberry Barley Risotto and Pepitas

Stuffed Squash w/ Cranberry Barley Risotto and Pepitas

Ben caught me in action, slaving away in the kitchen. Post workout, no makeup, sweaty mess I am… #reallife

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These are actually pretty simple to make… and depending on how many mouths you want to feed, you could easily do it all on just one big cookie sheet and one big saucepan.

Stuffed Squash w/ Cranberry Barley Risotto and Pepitas
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Side
Cuisine: Thanksgiving, Fall
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
Looking for a fun way to lighten up your usual Thanksgiving stuffing? These little stuffed squashes taste as pretty as they look!
Ingredients
  • 2-3 acorn squash, halved (I sliced off the bottom of each half so they would lie flat in the pan!)
  • 2 medium butternut squash, halved
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp each fresh sage and parsley
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • crumbled bacon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • extra pepitas (optional)
  • honey for drizzling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Scoop out seeds from squash.
  3. Place squash halves skin side down on a large baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake 30 min or until tender. Remove from oven.
  4. In a large saucepan, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil on medium-high. Add celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, sage, and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender- 5 or 6 minutes or so!
  5. Add barley and cranberries and give it all a stir. Add cider, water/stock, and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 15-20 min until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in pepitas.
  6. Scoop filling into center of squash (I had to scoop a little extra out of the long part of the butternut squash to make room).
  7. Top with goat cheese, bacon crumbles, extra pepitas (if desired), and a drizzle of honey. Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes until heated through.
Prepping ingredients.

Prepping ingredients.

Saute veggies, herbs and cranberries until tender.

Saute veggies, herbs and cranberries until tender.

Add barley and cook until liquid is absorbed.

Add barley and cook until liquid is absorbed.

Allow roasted squash to cool to the touch

Allow roasted squash to cool to the touch

Scoop filling into squash halves and return to oven to cook until heated through

Scoop filling into squash halves and return to oven to cook until heated through

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Twice-Baked & Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Happy Hump Day! Are you having a nice week? The weather here is warm again after a few really cold days last week… make up your mind, Durham! I guess there is a reason I never put away my summer OR winter clothes all year.

Anyone who knows me at all knows my obsession with sweet potatoes. My dentist actually asked me a few years ago if I ate a lot of them because the inside of my mouth was orange.

Umm… *sheepish smile*

Recently I came across the MOST LEGIT LIFE HACK EVER. Sweet potato toasts! You can actually slice a sweet potato and toast it in the toaster like bread! I obviously had to try it.

But let’s get to the point of this post. Twice-baked, stuffed sweet potatoes. Apparently I was in the mood for them after coming back from my weekend in Texas, where I was celebrating a dear friend’s bachelorette party.

But let’s be real. Anything sweet potato-related that is mixed with cream cheese, butter, and spices is craveable all year long. So here you have it! Twice-baked sweet potatoes, this time with ground turkey.

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Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

These have meat in them for all you hungry men like my husband out there, but you could easily make them vegetarian- just sub in lentils or leave it out completely! Goat cheese for topping is a must.

They can also be easily frozen to be reheated later on… perhaps for Thanksgiving? (OK that may be a bit TOO long… but in my mind the freezer stops time). Maybe try your next game day meal- your guests won’t be able to stop themselves!

Twice-Baked and Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Tex-Mex, Fall, Comfort Food
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Comforting and autumnal! They can also be easily frozen to be reheated later on… perhaps for Thanksgiving? (OK that may be a bit TOO long… but in my mind the freezer stops time).
Ingredients
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 package lean ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 oz. spinach
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each garlic powder, cumin, parsley
  • 1/8 tsp each nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • avocado slices
  • goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Microwave potatoes on high for 10 minutes, turning every few minutes, or until fork tender. Slice lengthwise.
  2. Using a spoon, scoop out inside of potato, leaving a little potato in the skins.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Cook ground turkey on medium high heat until done, about 6-8 min. Add sweet potato filling, spinach, butter, cream cheese, milk, and all spices. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until well incorporated.
  4. Gently scoop filling into potato skins, and top with avocado slices and goat cheese, plus more parsley if desired.
  5. Bake at 350 deg, covered, for 20 minutes, then 10 mins uncovered until goat cheese has melted.
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Hope you enjoy!

Happy National Salmon Day! Salmon w/ Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

Happy National Salmon Day!

Today Ben and I were supposed to go to Charlottesville, VA for our annual apple picking trip at Carter Mountain. Buttttt… then this thing happened called Hurricane Matthew. And the Carolinas looked like this:

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So as you might expect, Carter Mountain will have to wait. I told Ben that I WILL NOT TAINT my perfect memories of 4 years in a row of sunny, crisp autumn days where there are kids running around and long lines for apple cider doughnuts. Even last year was pushing it because all the Stayman apples were at the very tops of the trees. I just about gave Ben a heart attack because I insisted on climbing all the trees to get the good ones. Totally worth it for those apples.

I just hope that Matthew doesn’t drown all the ones that are left! We still have a month of apple season left!

I needed an outlet for my disappointment. So I spent my day making chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and celebrating National Salmon Day!

Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

National Salmon was completely not on my radar until a few weeks ago when I read it online somewhere. I immediately put it on my calendar. Then, when I saw this post from Anne a few days ago I knew I had to recreate it in celebration!

I’ll vouch that this recipe will not disappoint. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, as I can’t stand measuring things and decided to use a little more dill and lemon juice. I also served it over a quinoa and farro blend with roasted eggplant, zucchini, and curried cauliflower on the side. I LOVED the lemon mustard dill sauce, though! Tangy but also creamy enough to use as a dressing for the veggies as well.

Hope you enjoy like I did!

Happy National Salmon Day! Salmon w/ Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Cuisine: National Salmon Day
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Happy National Salmon Day! How are you celebrating? This recipe was adapted from Anne Mauney at FANNetasticfood.com (http://www.fannetasticfood.com/2016/10/05/salmon-with-lemon-mustard-dill-sauce/) in honor of this special holiday! Enjoy!
Ingredients
  • For the Marinade:
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 4 small or 2 large salmon fillets
  • For the Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade, then dredge salmon fillets in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Combine ingredients for the lemon mustard sauce in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Place salmon in a foil-lined baking dish and bake 15-20 minutes (if from frozen), or 10-15 (if thawed), or until it flakes easily with a fork. (Mine took about 18 minutes!)
  5. Drizzle with sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grain and veggie of your choosing!

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Salmon with Lemon Mustard Dill Sauce

How are you celebrating National Salmon Day?

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Happy October! Even though it’s hard every year to see summer come to a close, I can’t help but feel a little excited thinking about the hustle and bustle of fall- back to school, turning the heat on for the first time, bubble baths, crisp evenings, and all things apples. Next week Ben and I are taking our annual apple picking trip to Carter Mountain– my favorite day of the year! Bring on the winesap, stayman, and apple cider doughnuts! Crossing my fingers for good weather up there!

This week, right on cue, I started craving roasted vegetables. For some reason I’ve been super into eggplant recently. Maybe because of it’s slightly meaty texture and the fact that you can customize it with just about any spice.

For this one, I went for an Indian curry profile, using garam masala (my favorite new spice blend- have you tried it in my Brown Butter Molasses Cookies yet?) and cumin to spice things up. I tossed on a can of chickpeas, as well as some red onion, tomato, sliced zucchini, and cauliflower.

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I could not stop eating this right off the sheet. #trueconfessions

You could do a lot with these roasted veggies alone, like put them in a stew, serve as a side dish for a beautiful autumnal salad, or do what I did and use them in a grain bowl! I had some cooked lentil and farro, so I tossed some of these on top of the grains with some spinach, then topped with a nice runny egg and some feta crumbles. I bet goat cheese would be excellent as well!

Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

(Side note: have you tried the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Hot Stuff Sauce at Whole Foods? I am obsessed. We are having a game night tonight and I may just have to make them.)

Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Recipe Type: Salad, Main Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Indian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Looking for a hearty but healthy salad to celebrate the beginning of autumn? Try this spicy and savory grain bowl with a nice big Indian kick!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into discs 1/4″ thick
  • 3-4 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 head cauliflower, brokein into florets
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • extra virgin olive oil (about 3-4 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala or other Indian spice blend
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional: cooked grain (I used lentils/farro), egg, feta or goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Line two large cookie sheets with silpat or cooking spray.
  3. Layer eggplant and zucchini on sheet so that they are slightly overlapping. Top with red onion and drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together all spices until combined. Sprinkle on about half of this mixture to the vegetables.
  5. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas, drizzle with remaining olive oil and spice blend.
  6. Bake at 400 deg for 50 minutes until chickpeas are crispy and cauliflower is golden-brown.
  7. Allow to cool, then remove from pan and use on top of your favorite grains for a satisfying and healthy side, or top with poached egg and crumbled feta to make it a meal!
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower

Peanut Butter Tahini Cookie Cake- Vegan and GF!

Why hellooooo peanut butter and chocolate gooeyness and deliciousness. You are exactly what I needed tonight.

Peanut Butter Tahini Cookie Cake

Peanut Butter Tahini Cookie Cake

Does this need any other introduction? I created this recipe based on one from Init4thelongrun, adapting it to make it gluten-free and based on ingredients I already had. The main swaps I made were natural Jif PB (yes, it is vegan- I did my research!), tahini to supplement the peanut butter, and stevia instead of coconut sugar. I also subbed out whole wheat flour for a gluten-free flour, since I was making these for small group and we have some dietary restrictions in our group!

I love trying out new ways to bake things to appeal to larger groups, and I’ve found that whether you are vegan, gluten-free, or a cow-and-bread-lover, many recipes (especially desserts!) can appeal to a crowd!

Peanut Butter Tahini Cookie Cake

Peanut Butter Tahini Cookie Cake

Peanut Butter Tahini Cookie Cake- Vegan and GF!
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cookie, Cake
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Vegan and GF. This does not make it healthy. Just try it.
Ingredients
  • 1 flax egg (1 T flax meal + 3 T warm water)
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup stevia
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash of salt (about a quarter tsp)
  • 3/4 cup (or more) vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flax egg through stevia.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly sift into wet ingredients.
  4. Grease an 8″ circular pan and pour cookie dough into pan. Top with more chocolate chips if desired.
  5. Bake at 350 deg for 25 mins or until cooked through.
  6. Cool cake before slicing and devouring.

The other nice thing about this cookie cake is that it has minimal ingredients which means less clean-up. I dirtied two mixing bowls and used a dump-and-stir method to mix the wet and dry, then spread everything in a quiche pan since I didn’t feel like rolling these into cookies! This way, everyone can sliver off a slice of “pie” however large they’d like.

You can add more or less sugar or PB, based on how sweet or nutty you’d like it. I used 1/3 cup Truvia instead of a whole 3/4 cups coconut sugar, since I knew stevia is much sweeter, so this recipe is more on the nutty side than sickeningly sweet, but I feel like it works well! Totally up to you.

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Dig in! It’s Hump Day!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Happy Labor Day! I hope you enjoyed a day of parading, picnicking, and precious time with family, neighbors, and friends! I had the most incredible weekend visiting my friend Kate in NYC, followed by a brief trip to CT to see my parents. And after all the hype about Hermine, the weather could not have been more perfect!

Back in Durham now, and another gorgeous day. Ben and I went for a 5 mile walk with Samoa and it was one of those September afternoons that you wish you could just bottle up and take out in February just to remind yourself that IT WILL NOT BE WINTER FOREVER.

So I’m kind of at a cross-roads between summer and fall. Part of me wants to hang onto the summer with its breezy evenings, don’t-even-need-a-jacket type weather… but the other part of me is anticipating the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, and all things pumpkin spice. (Sidenote: Kate and I made pumpkin hummus this past weekend. It was epic on a piece of Ezekiel bread with half of a mashed banana and drizzle of maple syrup on top.) To marry the fresh flavors of summer produce with the warm fuzzy feeling of fall, I decided to create this salad.

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Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

And here you have it- the marriage of summer and fall. Packed with zucchini, roasted corn, vine tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tied together with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is one to definitely keep making all season. I used lentils to bulk it up a little bit, since I usually eat salads like this as my entree, but you could easily leave it out if you wanted a looser salad.

Recipe below. Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Summer, Fall, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
The marriage of summer and fall! Packed with zucchini, roasted corn, vine tomatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tied together with a light lemon vinaigrette, this is one to definitely keep making all season.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 cobs corn, husked
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • dash of salt, to taste
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 4 ripe on-the-vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • feta cheese, for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Roast corn on lower rack for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove and cool.
  2. Meanwhile, mix lentils and quinoa with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 minutes or until al dente, then drain.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes, red onion, 1 tbsp olive oil, garlic, paprika, and salt. Toss to combine.
  4. Spread potato mixture on a silicone-lined baking sheet, then roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender. Remove and cool.
  5. Zest lemon into large bowl and squeeze in half of its juice. Add zucchini and tomatoes.
  6. In a food processor, combine parsley, remaining lemon juice, 1 tbsp remaining oil, red wine vinegar, and honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until liquefied. Stir in chickpeas, then pulse for 3-4 pulses until chickpeas are just sliced a little (do NOT over-pulse here or you will end up with hummus!).
  7. Stir chickpea and parsley mixture into bowl with the zucchini and tomatoes. Stir in sweet potatoes, corn, and grains.
  8. Toss and serve with feta cheese. I also drizzled on a little balsamic vinegar!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Summer Veggie Salad w/ Chickpeas and Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette