Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad


Let me preface this post by saying I am honestly not much of a salad person. Don’t get me wrong, I will eat them, order them at restaurants, but I rarely make them myself. This is for a few reasons: 1. I always seem to forget about the greens in my fridge and they turn to black sludge. 2. There are millions of others types of foods I would rather try making. 3. Salads never fill me up. 4. I’d rather make salad from during fresh from the garden season, not the grocery store.

I recently went to the Des Moines Art Center’s cafe – Baru at the Art Center – for lunch with family and a salad on the menu piqued my interest.  I liked it so much that I actually thought about it a few times since then, and decided to make my own version of it, tweaking it slightly.  I made it last week for a dinner with friends and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  It is one I will make again once the farm-fresh home-grown produce comes in.

This recipe can be done in stages.  I roasted the beets the previous day, so they could chill in the fridge before combining them with the rest of the salad makings. I did not specify exact amounts with the goat cheese, lettuce, and pecans, as I figured these are a matter of taste.  I did use a standard-sized box of mixed greens from the grocery store, for my recipe.

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and dice 2-3 medium beets into 1-inch chunks. Spread into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once.

2. Once beets are cooked, remove from pan and chill.

3. To prepare salad, combine in a large bowl: mixed greens, 1/4 – 1/2 of small red onion, thinly sliced, and roasted beets.

4. Top with crumbled goat cheesepecan halves, and honey balsamic vinegar dressing (see below).

Honey Balsamic Vinegar Dressing 

1. Combine in a jar: 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1-2 teaspoons honey, ground black pepper.  Place lid on jar, shake thoroughly.

Quinoa, Roasted Veggies & Sardine Toast

As I head into the third trimester, I can’t say that I have boundless energy for much aside from the essentials.  However, I have been trying to avoid simply eating the first thing I happen come across and instead, eat well-rounded meals that include lots of veggies. I know how important it is to eat a variety if healthy foods while baby boy is still in the womb. I have to start developing that palate now!

This simple veggie, grain, and fish meal was one I made earlier this week. For the veggies, I simply tossed yellow onion, carrots, and asparagus in olive oil and then roasted them in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, I cooked some multi colored quinoa on the stove while the veggies were roasting. Side note: I’m really excited for gardening this year – my mom is going to try growing quinoa this year and I am looking forward to seeing this experiment through.

Lastly, I spread some sardines on sliced pumpernickel bread and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top. I toasted these savory delights in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes. There you have it – an easy, quick and healthy weeknight meal.

Iowa update: my first Iowa daffodils started blooming today. It’s been getting into the high 60s with a sprinkling of days in the 70s.  I was driving the other day and kept wondering what was so different. Finally I realized the grass was relatively green!  I felt giddy with the simple thought of green grass. After the winter we’ve had, who wouldn’t be thrilled by this simple revelation?

The weather also just makes Greta so happy.  It’s impossible to get her to eat dinner or get ready for bed – she just wants to be outside all the time now. Here she’s doing her yoga in the grass because, “Mommy, it’s warm out! No coat!”
In other news, we finally made our Ikea run for Greta’s big girl bed. We successfully moved her into a new room, in preparation for baby boy. More on those two rooms at a later date.

Black Bean & Carrot Veggie Burgers

I first made these vegetarian and gluten-free burgers back in January when we had some friends over for dinner, and forgot about them until now.  I decided to make them again, according to my scribbled notes, I was pleasantly surprised at their end result.  It is a recipe I originally made up as I went – not always the best idea when company is coming over.  However, I did have some frozen veggie burgers on hand, as a back-up plan.
The second time I made these burgers, I mixed everything the night before and popped it all in the fridge overnight before cooking them.  This recipe is so easy to whip up – it will no doubt become my go-to veggie burger recipe this summer.  I can’t wait to try it on the grill!  

I used the trusty Baby Bullet to puree half the beans, half the carrot mixture, the scallions, and eggs.  If you wanted to make this recipe egg-free, you could replace the 3 eggs with 3 tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water, or just simply increase the amount of panko as a binder.

Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side, or till done.

They should be a nice golden-brown and firm all the way through.

This photo shows a buried veggie burger – just the way I like them – covered in mustard, spinach, and on a big crusty bun.  This just so happened to by a lunch at work one noon hour.  The orange dotted thing is one of those nifty reusable sandwich bags.

Black Bean & Carrot Veggie Burgers

1. In a small bowl combine: 2 grated carrots, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a food processor or blender puree: 1/2 can of black beans, 4 tablespoons chopped scallions, 1/2 the carrot mixture, and 3 eggs.

3.  Transfer puree to a medium mixing bowl.  Combine with puree: remaining 1/2 can of black beans, 1 tablespoon chia seeds1 cup gluten-free or regular panko, and remaining carrot mixture.

4. Fry on griddle or pan over medium heat, 3-5 minutes per side or till done.  Serve with toppings and bun of choice.

Coconut Red Curry & Veggies

This simple and pleasing curried vegetable classic comes from a spurt of energy due to an Iowa warn-up.  Last week we actually had a a couple balmy, sunny days.  It was enough to give me hope for spring!

It actually warmed up enough to melt almost all of the snow and go without jackets a few times.

It was even nice enough to sit on the porch while we had dinner!  I can’t wait to get my summer-cabin themed porch done just right this summer.  I know we will be using it daily.  Anyway, after happy hour or chips & salsa and NA beer, I decided to make something fresh and springy to fit the mood of the afternoon.

I started by throwing a bunch of veggies into a glass 8″ baking dish – 1/2 a red onion, sliced, 3 medium carrots peeled and sliced, 1 – 2 cups of corn, and a bunch of asparagus stalks, sliced.  I tossed these veggies with sesame oil and then baked these in the oven at 425º for 15 – 20 minutes, or till softened.  If you wanted to make things faster and not use your oven, pop ’em in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, prepare the curry sauce.  Combine 1-1/2 cups coconut milk, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or honey, and 2 tablespoons red curry paste in a saucepan.  Stir and cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, about 15 minutes.

Pour cooked sauce over tops of cooked veggies.  Stir. Serve over warm cooked rice.

I was feeling so in the mood to cook on this warm spring evening that I even whipped up a batch of cherry crisp from canned cherries from last summer‘s crop.  I will share this classic recipe at a later date, because usually when I make this, I just throw it together without measuring – that’s what happens when you make a certain recipe often enough.

Coconut Red Curry & Veggies –
makes about 4 servings

1. In a glass 8″ baking dish combine: 1/2 a red onion, sliced3 medium carrots peeled and sliced, 1 – 2 cups of corn, and a bunch of asparagus stalks, sliced.  Toss veggies with sesame oil and then baked in a 425º oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or till softened.  (If you wanted to make things faster and not use your oven, pop ’em in the microwave for 5 to 6 minutes, or till softened.)

2.  While the veggies are cooking, prepare the curry sauce.  In a small saucepan combine: 1-1/2 cups coconut milk, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or honey, and 2 tablespoons red curry paste.  Stir until well combined and cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, about 15 minutes.

3. Pour cooked sauce over tops of cooked veggies and stir. Serve over warm, cooked rice.