spinach fennel salad with blood orange and herbed gouda

spring has sprung! And with spring, we have spring veggies popping up everywhere! 

( my local farmers’ market starts up again this Saturday and I’m giddy with excitement! ) 

Today’s dish is a combo of sweet and savory, crunchy and tart. 

Spinach fennel salad with blood orange and herbed Gouda 

1 fennel bulb

1 small blood orange 

Small handful of pecans 

Small block of Gouda cheese ( I found one with cinnamon notes, use what you like ) , chopped 

Handful of baby spinach 

Extra virgin olive oil ( for the dressing ) 


Start by cutting top of of fennel bulb, reserving some frawns for garnish.  Cut bulb in half, remove outer tough leaves and cut a V in the base to remove tough bulb 


Slice thinly. 

Using a grater, grate some on the orange zest and place in small jar for dressing.  Juice half of the orange into the same jar. Add equal amount of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Place top on jar and set aside until ready to serve. 

Toast pecans in dry skillet over medium heat, watching carefully so that they don’t burn. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.

Peek skin off of remaining blood orange half and separate into sections. 

Start by adding spinach to a serving bowl and surround the edges woth the slivered fennel. 

Scatter orange wedges, cheese, and nuts on top. Sprinkle frawns on top. 


When ready to serve, shake dressing in jar, drizzle atop salad and toss to serve! 

I’m looking forward to many fun salads this season ! 


More salad recipes

Sweet pea salad with goat cheese 

 Strawberry- balsamic chicken salad

Roasted beet and goat cheese salad

Prosciutto cantelope salad with mint  

buying and storing bulk foods

Good morning 😉

Since moving to Colorado, I’ve found that I have much more access to buying foods in bulk ( beans, nuts, dried fruit,rices, spices) <—  made a little rhyme for ya 😉


Not that I didn’t back in Plymouth ( most health food stores have bulk bins and for the most part, they are far more affordable than buying pre- packaged.

So you grab your plastic bag, scoop your ingredients , place a tag with the PLU of ingredient in the bag and write it on the tag

( I know you know how to do this…  but I have something cool to share that I just figured out yesterday .. grab a cup of tea and stay tuned)


bulk itemshere is Saturday’s haul

Yellow peas

White beans

Pistachios ( they were on sale)

Himalayan sea salt

Brown Lentils

Peanuts ( SOOO much cheaper than buying a jar! )

Golden raisins ( used in the kale salad that I made to go with this and that I’m making this

Slivered almonds


I have a huge infatuation with ball jars. It’s the inner 1950’s housewife in me.  I also love to reuse interesting jars from pre-packaged food.

I have actually purchased items in the past based on the fact that I loved the packaging and would re use the jar for years to come


strawberry-basil vinegarsee the jar that I used to store  Strawberry-basil home- made vinegar … that was a salad dressing bottle  ( I make my own most of the time ) but I seriously loved the jar and knew It would become part of my collection!


here’s my new Tip..  I usually try to empty the bags of goods the same way that I scooped it in, through the big wide opening.

Which is WAY bigger the the mouth of the ball jar, and most of the time ends with lentils and chick peas rolling all over the kitchen floor.

Until… I thought of this bulk itemsusing kitchen shears, cut a small triangle int the bottom of the bag. Place the hole into the mouth of your storage jar and it acts like a funnel and will filter down into your jar with no runaways!


The only thing that it didn’t work on were the raisins. They were tactile enough that they stuck to the inside of the bag. For those I just cut the bag down the center and using clean hands, scooped them into the jars.

ball jars storage

I’m really lucky to have an open shelving area in my kitchen; But this is not necessary. In my old house I had a bookshelf that I re- purposed to be my grains & beans shelf.beans and grains


so no recipe today, just a little tip that I figured out this weekend and i wanted to share.


speaking of sharing… allow me to share this amazing Colorado sunset with you!


colorado sunsetnamaste, friends 🙂

banish boring salads

well… maybe not banish but know that there are options out there.

You know how when you got to a restaurant and some of the fancier salads look sooo good… but you have a hard  time shelling out 13 bucks for a salad..

yeah  me too.  Here’s the thing.. you can make these at home!!  Now I know some of you are like, “duh? is she going to seriously walk us through salad making 101?”

yes. Because I have a few friends whose diets have changed and they need to add more fruits and veggies into their diet & want to show the amazing amount options that are out there. If you already know all of this.. I apologize…. just scroll to the bottom to help answer a question about my next giveaway.

WHOA!!! wait.. YOU!… get back up here.. I’m not done yet.

We’ll start with making a dressing….  yes.. making it is super simple.. and there are 17,000 combinations that you can create… just use a basic formula and add the flavors that you like!

you will need

1~ an acid.. either vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine….  1/8 cup

2~ an oil…. olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil.. coconut oil ( my new FAVORITE! ) 1/4 cup

3~mustard… again… SO many flavors out there… play with it! 1 tsp

4~ honey.. or maple syrup ( the real stuff) or agave…. 1 tsp

5~ (optional) herbs.. fresh or dried… or sesame seeds, or crushed garlic….. 1/2-1 tsp.. depending on how strong you would like ( always start with less then add more)

6~ sea salt and pepper…..  I have a slight salt obsession as well…..  we’ll chat about this later 🙂 remind me if I forget.

simply add everything to a small ball jars

   put the top on the jar and shake….

you just made dressing 🙂

trust me.. you can’t get that out of a bottle…. anywhere.

I don’t like overly dressed salads, so I usually use about a tablespoon per salad.. if you like more, then add more… I mix it with whichever greens I am using so that they are coated, then place in serving bowl… top with toppings…

like the quiche ‘recipe’  ( are you starting to get my method of cooking… it’s always a formula, then playing with ingredients… because I am a firm believer in  play!  <—- please read this post, it’s one of my favorites 🙂

so.. you will want

1~ green of choice… baby spinach, arugula, mesclun, romaine, butter lettuce..

2~ dressing of choice

3~ ( optional.. ) protein of choice… ( chicken, beans, salmon, beef, tofu, edamame.)

4~ other veggies.. just pile them on!

5~ (optional ) cheese

6~ (optional) something for crunch.. croutons, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sliver almonds

7~ (optional) dried cranberries or apricots or mandarin orange wedges

and  you, my dear have just made a killer salad worthy of any restaurant.

here’s your 13 buckaroos back 🙂

This salad  has

baby spinach

basic vinaigrette

topped with edamame ( I used trader Joe’s ).. about 1/2 cup

black beans .. about 1/4 cup

1/4 avocado, chopped

1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese ( if you are vegan, by choice or m=by force, eliminate it…  the avocado give the same mouthfeel… and you probably wont miss it)

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

finish with sea salt and pepper..

I ate this for lunch yesterday and it kept me full all afternoon!  ( and peeps ask me all the time where I get my protein from 🙂  )

so be brave…. look beyond iceburg, cukes and tomatoes ( not that there is anything with it, it’s the only way I can get my kids to eat a salad, so I still make it… ) and have fun!!!!


I have fallen in LOVE with Greek Yogurt. Have you tried it yet? I buy the non fat plain and it tastes just like sour cream. I sub it out for sour cream all the time.  It is also a perfect base to make granola parfait but also… to make some ‘creamy’ sauces!  like this

Chipotle cream sauce

I used about 1/2 the can of peppers.. if you like it more mild, use less

about a cup of the Greek Yogurt

half a lime

I put them all in the magic bullet looking thing and blended

if you don’t have one of these babies, you could use a blender, just keep scraping down the sides.. or use a food processor.

that’s it folks… does it get simpler than that? I think not.

The girls had this on their tacos last night & I topped my tostada with it.

the girls’ taco filling is made with lean ground chicken, then when I add the taco seasoning ( only half the package… it’s so loaded with sodium.. a little goes a long way.. you also can make your own, considerably knocking the sodium down, but I had it so I used it) and when I add the water I add a can of refried beans. They blend in perfectly… it stretches the filling and boosts the protein 🙂 I’ve been doing this for years..

It also freezes and defrosts well, so you can make double the amount and have it in the freezer for a super quick dinner…. If you need to cook for one, make a batch and freeze it into individual portions…  again.. quick dinner for one

*if you have dinner for one, please do me a favor and do it by candle light.. you are special and should have a nice dining experience.. if you want you can face time me and we can eat dinner together 😉 *

My filling was chopped mushrooms, sautéed  in oil, then  I mashed some back beans and lime juice in, seasoned with sea salt, cumin & chile powder

I placed it on a small flour tortilla that I heated in my cast iron skillet ( I CANNOT say enough how much I love  cast Iron to cook with)

top with cheese ( if vegan, try the daiya cheese shreds.. it’s very good, melts and stretches like cheese and can be frozen.. It is on the pricey side ( $5 a bag) but it does freeze, and I just pull out what I need when I need it )

the I added avocado.. fresh salsa.. Chipotle cream sauce and some plain Greek yogurt..  YUM!  ( and sooooooo easy )

As far as the rest of the chipotle peppers ( I’ve never had a recipe that I’ve used the whole can ) I take a freezer bag & label it… place in a jar

then press out the air & seal

Whenever I need some for a recipe, or a burst of flavor, I just break a piece off! No waste here.. yo!

so now that I’ve made you hungry… I have a question for all of you.

I have a fun company that has offered for me to give away one of their products.  I have the choice…

1~ 1 big gift for one lucky recipient…


2~ 10 small gifts ( of the same item) so that TEN of you can win….

so whatcha all think? 1 big winner or 10 smaller ones???

smooches friends!!  oxooxo

all in the family……

I have very fond memories of a cookie that my mom & grandmother would bake when I was a child. They seemed labor-intensive to me way back when..

my meme…..wasn’t she beautiful?

They only made them around Christmas time & it seemed to me like they took  forever ….

I have never made them or even asked for the recipe.. until last week. I called my mom & asked her if she would like to come to my house & teach me to make these special cookies 🙂

She & my stepdad came down for the day & my mom & I made

date-nut filled cookies…

she brought an old photo copy of my grandmother’s copy..

you will need

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

date filling :

2 cup finely chopped pitted dates

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Start by mixing shortening, ( yes, I actually bought it!) sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl. Slowly blend in flour, salt & baking soda.; wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour

(perhaps this long hour of waiting in my childs’ mind was all day to me?… remember as a kid just how loooooonnnnnggg December seemed?)

while the dough is chilling you can either jump in the car, get coffee & drive to pick up your children/ grandchildren from their perspective schools… (which we did ) 😉


you can make the filling ( which I had prepped while mom made the dough….)

Add dates, nuts, sugar & water to a saucepan & cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. ( if you want it even smoother, once it is thick you can use an immersion blender to make it smoother, just don’t completely puree it, you will want some texture to the filling)

When said kids are home & have had a snack, preheat oven to 400 degrees and begin to roll dough out on lightly floured board.  Roll dough to 1 /16 inch ( thin)

Using the bottom of a glass ( that’s the way my meme did it…. no fancy cookie cutters back then) cut 3 inch-ish circles from the dough.

Spoon 1 teaspoon of filling on 1/2 of the circle

fold edges over & press edges together.

Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet ( we used parchment paper… hey, I finally bought it!!

Brush the tops of the cookies with a bit of milk & sprinkle with sugar

we were so excited, we completely forgot this step… oops!

Bake 8-10 minutes or until very light brown. Remove from baking sheet & let cool ( filling will be really hot!)

One bite of these cookies & I was 7 years old again…

who am I kidding,  I’ve always been 7!!!

oxoxo enjoy!

Thanksgiving thoughts

Hi friends.. remember me?

it’s been awhile, I know.

Here we are, Thanksgiving week and I’m getting ready for what is usually my favorite time of the year. Although this year has been difficult, I am still enamored with everything Autumn.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Of course, as a child, Christmas was right up there ( who are we kidding, I was a kid) but Thanksgiving always meant one thing.

Spending time with my grandparents.

I remember on year being so excited worth the anticipation of The holiday, asking my mom why we had a Christmas Eve, but not a Thanksgiving Eve.  The excitement of the day before with my grandparents coming to visit just felt like a holiday for me.

Their arrival meant a big bowl of fresh fruits & nuts , which for whatever reason was so exciting to me.

perhaps became I am both fruity AND nutty?

Anyway… Years moved on,  my grandparents passed away far too soon , and somehow the magic of the holiday disappeared.

I mean. Thanksgiving was always there, but the ‘magical quality’ that I grew up remembering was not.

I was thinking back this morning, to when Scott & I had been married  for 7 or 8 years.

We were headed to do the whole ‘drive an hour to eat one Thanksgiving meal with one side of our family to then go to the other family’s house to have yet another meal’ Not that we didn’t enjoy going to visit our families, but 2 Thanksgiving meals in one day was just too much.

I remember thinking how sad I was that somehow Thanksgiving had become a chore. I actually cried. I remember having Scott drive & me stupidly crying along the way, not being able to explain what was bothering me so.

When I finally realized it, I decided to make a change. OUR thanksgiving would be born. It would incorporate traditions from both Scott’s family as well as mine.

I would re-create the magic of the days leading up to turkey day.

“big cooking day” was born.  That is the Wednesday before, the day that I remember looking out the window anxiously awaiting My memere & pepere’s car to pull up the driveway.


It now is a day of complete cooking from 5am on. with carols playing in the background and everyone having something to do with the up coming meal.

My very favorite day of the whole entire year.

Big cooking day smells like nothing else. I wish I could explain. It is truly unique.


In order for big cooking day to come to fruition, ‘big shopping day’  must happen.

No, I’m not talking about Black Friday. I’m talking about the Tuesday before the turkey.


I am armed with my lists, it is probably the one time of the year that I treat myself to a holiday beverage ( pumpkin chai latte or something of the sort) despite the ungodly amount of calories, and once I drop the kids off, I’m off to stock up the fridge & pantry.

This afternoon, Ali & I will head to Plato\’s Harvest Organic Farm to pick up our turkey that we have been watching Farmer Dave & Sasha raise for the last few months , as well as our Thanksgiving share of veggies. And say goodbye to the farm until the spring. (but not them, we’ll be visiting the winter Farmer’s market throughout the winter 😉


And then the cooking will begin.

I have many recipes to share. I know that I seem to be more going on with more  stories than about actual food, but really, every dish has a story… and I’d like to share the recipes & the stories.

If you like cranberry sauce ( not the canned stuff, the real deal) stay tuned for an easy, amazing recipe. So pick yourselves up a bag of cranberries, a Naval orange and make sure you have a bit of sugar.

I”ll post the recipe this afternoon & you’ll be good to go.


With that, my friends, I must wake those kids of mine & get moving…. It’s going to be a crazy, exciting, busy day!




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