easy, colorful roasted veggies + potatoes

As we soak up these final end-of-summer days before the autumn sets in, I have found myself wanting to spend as much time as possible outside. Taking long walks, sipping tea out on the back porch, watching the sunset, breathing in the fresh air. I particularly love those late afternoons/early evenings, when dusk sets in and the light has a magical hazy quality that seems especially magical in this transitional period between seasons.

During late autumn and wintertime, I love to cozy up in my kitchen baking or cooking. But right now, I’m in the mood for easy, throw-together meals that are still healthy and nutritious.

Enter these roasted veggies + potatoes.

This recipe comes from my mama and could not be simpler. All you have to do is chop, toss, and bake. I love how customizable it is based on whatever your favorite veggies are, or what’s in season. Plus, it looks beautiful — definitely a dish you could make for company or for a potluck and feel proud about. I think I’m gonna cook up a batch for myself tonight!

roasted veggies

easy, colorful roasted veggies + potatoes

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • 1 small bag of little red potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1/2 red onion
  • any other veggies of your choosing!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Chop all the veggies and potatoes into relatively equal-sized pieces.

chopped veggies

3. Pour them into a large Ziplock bag and add olive oil.

olive oil in bag

4. Zip closed and shake well until all the goodies are lightly coated with olive oil.

coating veggies in oil

5. Spread the veggies and potatoes into an even layer onto a baking tray. Sprinkle generously with garlic powder {and/or other seasonings of your choosing.}

roasted veggies on tray

6. Roast veggies for 40-45 minutes. I recommend turning the veggies over with a spatula halfway through for even cooking.

7. When the potatoes are tender, everything is done! Remove from the oven and serve warm. Top with cheese if desired.

roasted veggies meal

if you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
oven roasted pumpkin seeds
springtime veggie pasta bake
easy sausage, veggie and potato bake

goals + recipes for the week of 2/8

Hi there, friends. It’s been a beautifully rainy weekend around here… always SO grateful for rain in our drought-stricken California! This weekend I spent some lovely hours reading, cozied up in my bed, listening to the rain patter outside. Right now I’m reading Molly Anterpol’s stunning short story collection The Un-Americans and I highly recommend it.

Something I was reminded of this past week was how much better all-around I feel when I fuel my body with real, whole foods. In the wake of Celine’s death, I really didn’t feel like eating much at all. When I did eat, it was a lot of bread and cookies and even one-too-many “screw it I’m sad” Starburst that gave me a canker sore.

Then, earlier this week, my body was practically screaming out for veggies. I didn’t know it was possible to experience an intense craving for spinach, but I felt it! So I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from tutoring and filled my hand-basket with cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, carrots, frozen berries… and, yes, a ginormous tub of organic spinach that it is now my mission to use up. I’ve been making scrambled eggs that are actually more spinach than eggs:

spinach eggs

I’ve also been throwing spinach into morning smoothies, and I’ve been having lots of fresh spinach salads. Plus I just can’t get enough raw veggies… plates of sliced up carrots, celery, cucumbers, and bell peppers have been my go-to snacks.

raw veggies

Anyway, this is all to say that I’ve been reminded, yet again, how much what I eat effects my mood, energy, and general sense of well-being. When terrible things happen, when I’m feeling down, when everything looks gloomy, it is even more important to feed my body good things. Bring on the veggies!

weekly goals

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 new pages
– compile tutoring worksheets
– finish reading The Un-Americans
– schedule doctor’s appointment
– begin process to renew passport
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
creamy zuppa tuscana soup via Two Happy Bellies
all of these Valentine’s Day desserts via Two Peas and Their Pod
get your greens salad via Two Peas and Their Pod
triple bean veggie burgers via Peas & Crayons & It’s Progression
dark chocolate double-coconut macaroons via The Pajama Chef
– my own red velvet crinkle cookies {perfect for Valentine’s Day!}

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over this week?
  • Do you have any Valentine’s Day plans? {Check out my post from last year with some thoughtful, simple gift ideas for the loved ones in your life!}

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

my weekend in a nutshell

Hi, friends! Hope your Monday is off to a great start! It is a beautifully drizzly day here today — here in California, we are thankful for EVERY drop of rain we receive! — and my grandma is making soup. I’m feeling cozy, warm, and so so grateful for what Mary Oliver refers to as this “one wild and precious life.”

What are you grateful for today?

I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post, but for now I wanted to share some scenes from my weekend…


My reading on Saturday as part of San Francisco’s LitQuake went really well! The folks at Arroyo Literary Review were so kind and welcoming. I was honored that they asked me to be one of the readers. I always get a little nervous beforehand, but the audience was super warm and attentive. We were all happy with the turn-out — standing room only, woot woot! I also loved listening to the three other talented readers: Keith Ekiss, Rachel Howard, and Mike Larkin. Here’s a pic that someone snapped of me while I was reading:

me reading arroyo

Alson on Saturday night, I had a super fun time with Allyn and his classmates at karaoke! It was a fundraiser for their humanitarian trip to Kenya, so it was a unique format called “dareaoke” — a person would place a bet for someone else to sing a specific song. If the person didn’t want to sing it, they could “up” the bet to get someone else to sing the song. It was a blast, and a great idea for a fundraiser! It was a big group and no one bet me to sing a song {for which I was grateful} but my sweetheart rocked a rendition of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song that had everyone cheering 🙂

Brownies! For half the batch I made pb cup brownies, for the other I tried a new recipe. I had a carton of strawberries in the fridge that were all ripening at the same time, so I decided to experiment and throw some chopped strawberries and chocolate chips into the batter. It was a success! Fudgy chocolate goodness with bursts of strawberry. I think the trick was to cut up the strawberries into very small pieces. I always love topping brownies with fresh strawberries, so these brownies were right up my alley.

brownies

As far as eats go, I can’t get enough veggie egg scrambles lately. I like to saute a panful of veggies with one or two eggs — I prefer my veggie-to-egg ratio to be very veg-heavy, egg-light. This one had zucchini + bell pepper + tomato + spinach. Serve it on top of a piece of whole-wheat toast for a delicious and healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner!

veggie scramble

My friend Dana just got two kittens! How adorable are these little fluffballs? Can’t wait to meet them in person!

dana's kittens

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap! I’m heading out to meet up with my sweetheart soon for a work session and a night in, making dinner and watching a movie. Enjoy the rest of your day!

fabulous friday #32

Happy Friday! We have a busy weekend in store around here — an end-of-summer pool party, a book-signing event for my dad’s book Wooden & Me, cheering on my Trojans, plus the usual errands and weekend catch-up activities!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My parents come home from Ireland today! I didn’t want to mention anything on here while they were gone, but I’ve been house-sitting/Murray-sitting for the past two weeks while they took a special anniversary vacation. From our brief email exchanges and Google Hangout chats, it sounds like they had an incredible trip and I can’t wait to hear all about their adventures and see their photos… and, of course, give them ginormous Welcome Home hugs!

lovebirds guinness

2. Early morning walks with Mr. Mur-dog! He is so excited about his walks, it warms my heart. His jaunty stroll down the sidewalk is so cute!

me and murray walk

I’m also loving my new running/walking shoes!

walking shoes

3. Big salads — I’ve been craving lots of veggies lately and these have been my go-tos for lunch and dinner lately. I’ve been throwing in some black beans and chickpeas for extra fiber and protein. Yum!

big salad

4. This fascinating article: “11 Things Humans Do that Dogs Hate.” I’ve definitely been guilty of a few of these {i.e. #2}… sorry, Mr. Mur! Now I know!

5. Just ordered this book on Amazon — HEADS YOU LOSE — and I’m really excited to delve into it this weekend! It’s a really neat twist on the murder mystery genre.

When collaborators Lutz and Hayward (former romantic partners) start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics, and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Think “Adaptation” crossed with “Weeds.” Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

heads you lose

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

melinda’s vegetable salad with apples, bacon & honey apple vinaigrette

My grandma taught me how to make a wonderful salad last week that is perfect for autumn! She got the recipe from her friend Melinda, who she plays bridge with at the senior center every week. 🙂 This salad makes a perfect side dish, but is also hearty enough for a main course. I brought the leftovers to my writing “office” {i.e. the local library} for lunch the next day and they were terrific!

melinda salad

for the salad:
– cauliflower*
– broccoli*
– brussels sprouts*
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 package baby spinach
– 1 apple {we used a granny smith}
– 4 slices bacon
– 1 cup chopped walnuts
– 1 cup dried cranberries
– 1/2 cup feta cheese
* Feel free to use a combination of your favorite vegetables, and the amounts can vary of each. We used an equal amount of cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, about 2-3 cups chopped of each.

for the dressing:
– 1/4 cup apple juice
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp honey

1. In the oven or on the stovetop, cook the bacon until it is very crispy. Set aside.

2. Finely chop the cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Thinly slice the apple.

3. Saute the minced garlic in a bit of olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped vegetables and cook 8-10 minutes, until tender.

4. Add the sliced apple and baby spinach and cook another 2-3 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Then remove the salad from heat.

5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients: apple juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and honey, until well combined.

6. Toss the salad with the dressing, crumbled bacon, walnuts, dried cranberries and feta cheese. Serve warm, with salt and pepper to taste.

Hope you enjoy!

springtime veggie pasta bake

Hi everyone! I have a simple, delicious and healthy recipe to share with you today. This meal is simple to make, easily adaptable to your preferences, and is bursting with fresh veggie flavors! Hope you enjoy!

springtime pasta bake

– 1/2 box whole-wheat pasta {I used rotini}
– 1 yellow squash
– 1 green bell pepper
– 2 roma tomatoes
– 1/2 sweet onion
– 1 cup fresh baby spinach
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– a drizzle of olive oil
– your sauce of choice {I used a combination of tomato sauce & pesto}
– 2 cups shredded cheese {I used an Italian blend}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.

3. Chop and dice the veggies. Toss them in olive oil and saute them in a large pan on medium heat, until onion and garlic are fragrant and spinach is wilted.

4. Drain the pasta and pour cooked noodles into a large casserole dish. Toss with sauce and veggies until everything is well mixed.

5. Top with shredded cheese.

6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve and savor! This is one of those recipes that makes terrific leftovers, too!

pasta bake

What are some of your favorite springtime recipes?

if you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
easy veggie, potato & sausage bake
cilantro-lime quinoa with chicken
tilapia with pineapple salsa

saving money & time by utilizing my freezer

One of my goals for this year is to put at least 10% of each paycheck into my savings. I’ve always been a saver — I was the kid who saved up my Chuck E. Cheese ticket winnings visit after visit to eventually spend on the coveted 1,000-Ticket Big Prize — but in the grown-up world saving isn’t always that easy. As a grad student, there are months it seems downright impossible to put aside any of my small paycheck for savings. Yet I know how important it is to save for the future, and I know how fortunate I am to have a job — after all, even a small paycheck is better than no paycheck.

With that mindset — that even small savings deposits are better than no savings! — I am aiming to discover little ways to save money throughout my daily living. Since I hate wasting food, I’ve gotten in the habit of buying small amounts of produce every week — even produce I really like and eat often — because I don’t want anything to go bad and go to waste. Sometimes this caused me to lose out on good weekly deals because, though I knew I would use up a lot of that specific fruit or vegetable, I wasn’t sure if I would eat it quickly enough. This also lead to some situations where it felt like I was racing against the clock to eat up all of the peaches or blackberries or celery before it went bad and into the trash.

freezing produce

Then I came across this post from my blogging buddy Andrea at Simple Organized Living about how she cuts up and freezes her fruits and veggies {and lots of other goodies, too!} … and it really inspired me! It seems so obvious, but it had never occurred to me that I could freeze my fruits and veggies and use them later. It was like a light-bulb went on in my brain!

Serendipitously, this week at the grocery store, they were having a great sale on bell peppers, something I use often in my cooking. Normally I would have bought one, maybe two, and made sure to use them up in dishes this week. But now I knew exactly what to do to take full advantage of the sale: use my freezer!

I bought half a dozen bell peppers, used two in recipes this week just like I normally would have, and then took a few extra minutes to chop up the rest. Then all I had to do was put them into ziplock baggies and into the freezer!

bell peppers

I used one small bag per bell pepper, because typically my recipes use one bell pepper at a time. An extra bonus is that cooking with these frozen veggies will be easier than ever because the chopping is already done! Surprisingly, it seemed much faster to get in the zone and chop up four bell peppers in one go than it does chopping them up one at a time.

And I felt so proud putting these babies into the freezer. I pictured a harried, midterm version of my Future Self, hungry and desperate to get dinner on the table, and I thought, “This is my gift to you, Future Self.  You’re welcome!”

Do any of you use your freezer to stock up on produce? I’d love to hear your money-saving tips!

crock-pot chicken & veggie stew

Confession: I used to be afraid of crock pots.

It sounds silly, I know. I guess crock pots just sounded too good to be true! Throw a bunch of food in a crock pot, turn it on, go to work all day, then come home and dinner is ready? Are you sure there isn’t a catch?

I was worried about leaving something on all day in the kitchen without anyone being home. Isn’t that dangerous?

“No,” my mother told me. No, said the blogs and resources I scoured online.

“Why don’t you try it?” Mike encouraged me. He could tell I was wanting to make the leap into crock-pot cooking ever since I glimpsed the beautiful 4-quart brand-new crock pot his mom had bought him that he’d never taken out of the box.

A new era has dawned in our tiny apartment kitchen. Today I took that baby out of the box, rinsed the pot and lid with soap and water, and plugged it in. For my first crock-pot attempt, I tried something simple: chicken & veggie stew.

This recipe could not be easier or quicker. It took me ten minutes to prepare as I rushed to get ready and out the door for school this morning. Here is the recipe I used; you could easily substitute other veggies based on your preferences or what happens to be in your pantry.

crock-pot chicken & veggie stew

– 3 or 4 chicken breasts
– 1 medium-sized sweet potato
– 2 carrots
– 2 celery stalks
– 1 can corn, drained
– 1 can peas, drained
– 1 can green beans, drained
– 1 can chicken broth
– 1 tbsp garlic or onion powder
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tbsp parsley

1. Dice the potato. Peel and slice the carrots and slice the celery.

2. Dump veggies into the crock pot.

3. Add chicken breasts on top.

4. Pour chicken broth over everything.

5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

6. 30 minutes before serving, sprinkle chicken with garlic/onion powder, chili powder, and parsley.

All day long, I thought about dinner simmering at home in the crock pot. Whenever I worried about something catching fire and the apartment burning down, Mike reassured me it would all be okay. {If you haven’t guessed by now, I can be a bit of a worry-wort sometimes!}

When we returned home this evening and opened the front door, a delicious aroma greeted us. The stew turned out fantastic! Yummy, warm, healthy, hearty … and ready to eat as soon as we stepped inside. What a treat to have a homemade dinner waiting for us on the kitchen counter!

It’s official: I am a crock-pot convert. I can’t wait to try all sorts of new slow-cooker recipes and share them with you on this blog. Please chime in below if you have any recipes or links to share!

Here are some helpful slow-cooker tips that recently were shared on one of my favorite blogs, I’m an Organizing Junkie:

Do you use a slow cooker to prepare meals? What are some of your favorite crock-pot recipes? How do you save time when making dinner on a busy weeknight?

Have a wonderful day!
-Dallas