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!

fabulous friday #42

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a good one!

It’s a typical Friday for me… this morning I headed to one of my fave yoga classes, now I’m getting some work done on the computer, and later this afternoon I’m tutoring a few great kiddos.

We have been getting LOTS of rain here the past couple days… they say it’s one of the biggest storms we’ve had here in five years! Fortunately we are all safe and sound here. If it’s stormy and bad-weathered where you are, please be safe!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The Lucy Hale song “Mistletoe.” It’s been bopping around in my head off and on since I heard her sing it on the “CMA Country Christmas” TV program, and this week I finally went and ordered it on iTunes. Love it!

2. This interesting and thorough article Allyn sent me with tips for staying calm and managing stress {especially useful in this often-stressful holiday season}: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140805002649-50578967-how-successful-people-stay-calm

3. Speaking of the holidays, here are two socially impactful, beautiful gift ideas if you are doing some holiday shopping:

4. I’ve been craving veggies — carrots, celery, bell peppers, kale — even more than usual lately. For example: last night, I sliced up half a bell pepper as part of my dinner, and ended up going back to the fridge and polishing off the rest of the pepper later that night as a snack! I’ve never craved bell pepper before, but there you have it! I believe our bodies tell us what they need, so I’ve been riding the veg-tastic train all week. This is an interesting NPR article about how what you eat affects your mood: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/14/329529110/food-mood-connection-how-you-eat-can-amp-up-or-tamp-down-stress?

5. This quinoa veggie salad from Costco. Tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lentils, beans, quinoa — healthy, light and filling. It’s made a great quick lunch on a couple days this week when time got away from me and I was a little rushed to get out the door.

quinoa salad

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m gonna leave you with this beautiful John Gardner quote my brother sent me:

greg quote

Questions of the day:

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

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?

fabulous friday #25 + GIVEAWAY!!

Happy TGIF, friends! Coming at you with some Fabulous Friday action … and a little giveaway the end of this post, woo hoo!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My summer camp students. So adorable, hilarious and hard-working! It warms my heart to see how kind they are to each other. And they crack me up! Today when we were walking back to the classroom from recess, they all ran to beat me there and when I walked in, they were all hiding from me under their desks, giggling at their sneakiness. I wish I had taken a picture to share with y’all. Today was my last day teaching this particular group, and I will miss them!

2. The fresh fruits & veggies of summer. I have been a produce fiend all week, and I love how eating so many plants makes me feel vibrant and energetic. I don’t know about you, but the less sugar and processed food I eat, the less of it I crave. These days I am craving… watermelon! Mmm. To me, nothing says summer quite like a thick juicy slice of fresh watermelon.

watermelon

3. This beautiful and inspiring blog post by Nicole Antoinette: just start.

4. This quote, which I found in the pavement in Jack Keroac Alley outside of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco:

love hate quote

5. The release of this new book that I am very excited to be a contributor for: Chicken Soup for the Soul, Home Sweet Home! The story I wrote, titled “My Perfectly Decorated Apartment,” is featured in the book alongside 100 other inspiring, touching, sweet and funny stories about “hearth, happiness, and hard work.” And I am delighted that I have a signed copy to give to one of you!

CSS Home Sweet Home

The giveaway will stay open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, June 26. Good luck! And thanks for celebrating with me!

Click on this link to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Questions of the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Do you have any fun weekend plans?
  • What food says “summer” to you?

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!

shrimp + sausage stew

Before I leave for my new adventure up north, I asked my mom to teach me how to make one of my favorite dishes of hers: shrimp + sausage stew! This soup is healthy, hearty, veggie-filled, and light enough that it works as well for dinner in the summer as it does in the winter. And turns out it’s not as tough to make as I would have guessed! Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

my mom’s shrimp + sausage stew
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 lb potatoes {my mom uses Yukon golds}
– 3 carrots
– 2 tsp minced garlic
– 1 medium onion
– 1 pkg {approx. 4-5 links} Italian-style chicken sausage
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 2 tbsp flour
– 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
– 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
– 1/2 cup chopped parsley

1. Scrub the potatoes. Peel the carrots. Thinly slice the potatoes, carrots and onions. {According to my mom, this is the most intensive step of the entire recipe!}

2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute the minced garlic, potatoes, onions and carrots. Season with cayenne, salt and pepper to your own taste. {Side note: your kitchen will smell AMAZING!}

3. Cook potato mixture for 15-18 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp-tender. You might have to keep stirring fairly frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. {If needed, you can always add a little water or chicken broth to unstick.}

shrimp stew 1

4. In a separate pan, cook the sausage over medium heat, turning occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Once the sausage is fully cooked, remove from pan and allow to cool on a paper towel before slicing.

sausage

5. Sprinkle flour over potato-and-veggie mixture. Add chicken broth and sausage. Bring to a boil.

stew cooking

6. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 5-8 more minutes.

7. If needed, clean and de-vein the shrimp!

shrimp

8. Add shrimp, cover and simmer 3-4 more minutes, until the shrimp are pink. {Mom’s tip: be careful not to overcook the shrimp!}

stew finished

9. Top with chopped parsley and serve. Ta da!

Optional: In my house, we love to serve this stew with freshly baked corn muffins! Yum!

corn muffins

Hope your weekend is filled with rest, relaxation, sunshine, and of course delicious eats! 🙂

What do you have on tap for this weekend?

—-

if you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
potato, sausage & veggie bake
california white chicken chili & corn muffins
blended cauliflower and potato soup

year of kindness challenge: week 8

Happy Monday, friends!

I spent this past weekend in Louisville for a literature & culture conference at the University of Louisville. I presented a paper on Saturday morning, and then Mike and I stayed an extra day to take in the sights and have a mini “vacation.” We had so much fun! Louisville is only a few hours south of where we live in Indiana, but it felt very different there — warmer weather, lots of fun shops and new restaurants to explore, and that lovely Southern twang! If you’ve never been there, I would definitely recommend it as a great city to check out! We are already talking about going back sometime in the spring or summer.

Another novelty about the weekend? Both Mike and I left our computers at home and neither of us have smartphones, so we were Internet-free for two days. It was a nice break to be “off the grid” for a little bit! We both returned home feeling recharged. I don’t really think of myself as someone who wastes time online — usually when I’m online, I’m checking emails or reading blogs or looking up recipes or reading submissions for Sycamore Review, etc etc etc — but in the past few weeks I’ve found myself checking my email and going online perhaps more often than I need to. I think it’s easy to fall into “Internet autopilot” and feel like we must be constantly engaged with the web, staying updated, checking posts … and all of that can just be exhausting after a while, you know? It was such a relief to lie down on the hotel bed, crack open a good novel and not feel like there was anything else I was “supposed” to be doing. I think Mike and I are going to try to “unplug” more often as part of our weekend routine!

Now, on to the kindness! 🙂

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to drop off a donation of canned goods to a food pantry, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen. This idea came when I was thinking about how we often hear a number of opportunities to donate food to the hungry during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it seems donation efforts die down once the holiday season has come and gone.

My first step was to go through my cupboards and pantry and find a variety of nonperishable food items to donate. As you can see, a lot of tomato-based products made the list, since I have made a big effort the past few months to fully weed out tomatoes from our diet. {Nothing against tomatoes! But Mike is allergic.}

cans from pantry

Then I picked up some canned veggies at the grocery store to round out the donation, and put everything into a big bag! {Note to self: next time, use two smaller bags. Mike helped me carry carried this big bag to my car for me.}

food donation bag

A quick Internet search brought up multiple food pantries in Lafayette, including one just a five-minute drive from campus. I dropped Mike off at school and zoomed over to the food pantry before I had to teach my class. Like last week when I dropped off Valentines to the nursing home, this only took me a short time, but it brightened my whole day! The woman working at the food pantry was SO surprised and grateful for my drop-by donation. I definitely plan to go back and make more donations in the future. It was a drizzly, cold, gray day, but walking back to my car afterwards I swear the world seemed sunnier. Every week of this project just proves to me more and more how being kind to others brings so much kindness and joy into your own life.

A reader emailed me that instead of donating food this past week, they donated toiletries to a women’s shelter. I think that is such a great idea that I am officially making it the Week 8 Kindness Challenge: donate toiletries to a women’s shelter or homeless shelter. Are you someone who stocks up on those free hotel soaps and shampoos and lotions? Why not clean out your stash by donating it to those in need? Or pick up an extra bottle of your favorite shampoo/conditioner/body wash next time you’re at the store and bring it by a shelter in your area. I know it will be appreciated!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

—————————–

year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry

pumpkin pasta

Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m in a super happy mood because my brother Greg is arriving this evening for a long weekend visit! I’m leaving right after I finish teaching to go pick him up at the airport. I am sooooo excited to see him! 🙂

I have another new recipe to share with you today for pumpkin week! I made this last night after seeing a recipe on AllRecipes.com that compared this sauce to “inside-out pumpkin ravioli” … I’ve never had pumpkin ravioli but it sounds really delicious. So I thought I would give this pumpkin pasta sauce a whirl. And I’m so glad I did! It was even better than I expected.

I was starving when I got home from school this evening {a little later than usual because I had a meeting after class for Sycamore Review, the literary magazine I work for} so I discovered an added bonus of this recipe: it comes together pretty quickly! I made the sauce while the pasta was cooking, and the entire thing was ready to eat in about 15-20 minutes.

pumpkin pasta

– 1 package noodles of your choice {I used whole-wheat spaghetti; I think penne would also be delicious}
– 1 tbsp butter
– 1 tbsp flour
– 1 small onion, diced
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 1 zucchini, diced
– 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
– 1/2 cup skim milk
– 1 cup pumpkin puree
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
– salt & pepper to taste
– grated Parmesan cheese to taste

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

2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large pot and saute onion, garlic and zucchini. Add flour and stir to make a rue.

3. Add the chicken broth, milk, and pumpkin. Stir together until well blended.

4. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and pepper.

5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until sauce reaches desired thickness.

6. Drain the pasta. Add sauce to the drained pasta, and toss with the Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

I served mine with fresh baked French bread. It was the perfect complement to the pasta and I loved mopping up the sauce at the bottom of my bowl with the warm bread. {Something I wouldn’t do in a restaurant, but at home it seems okay!} 🙂

Hope your week is going great! Tomorrow, I’ll have a classic pumpkin recipe for you to wrap up the work week: pumpkin pie!

-Dallas

——————–

– Time: 20 mins
– Cost: about $8