Winter Squash, Brussel Sprout, and Pomegranate Salad

The beauty of this salad is how surprisingly satisfying it is (not to mention packed with nutrient dense vegetables). Usually I start a meal with a salad before moving on to the main, but this stunning salad is just as filling as it is delicious. I also love how easily this can be a dairy free/vegan entree, simply omit the optional chèvre and you are ready to go.

 
Winter Squash, Brussel Sprout, and Pomegranate Salad
(Serves 3-4)

Ingredients:
1 lb. of Brussel Sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Acorn Squash, de-seeded and sliced
1-2 Pomegranates, seeds only
1 large Onion, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 lbs. of Arugula
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Toasted Walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup of fresh Chèvre  (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Recipe:
1. Preheat oven to 450′ F  (roughly 230′ C)
2. Toss Brussel Sprouts and acorn squash slices in 2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper. Spread evenly on baking sheet (or two), do not crowd. Roast both in oven until browned and tender.
3. Deseed pomegranates, remove any remaining pith, and set aside in a bowl. Click here for a step-by-step walkthrough an easy way to deseed a pomegranate.
4. Add remaining oil to a pan over medium heat, add onions and season with salt. Caramelize onions on the stove top, until tender, brown and sweet. (If you’re in a hurry, add a pinch of brown sugar and a few teaspoons of water as a “cheat” to speed up the caramelization process).
5. Once onions have been caramelized, quickly add arugula to the pan, tossing with the onions until slightly wilted but not soggy, remove immediately and plate.
6. Layer the salad with the arugula/onion mixture on the bottom, then add roasted squash, brussel sprouts, pomegranates and finally the goats cheese and walnuts (should you choose to use them). Serve immediately.

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A Right To Life: Baltimore.

My heart is heavy today. As I scroll through my Facebook feed I continuously see more and more evidence that the events occurring in Baltimore are somehow tearing our nation in half. Yes, Freddie Gray had a extensive drug record, but does that mean he didn’t deserve the same rights as any other citizen to receive immediate medical attention while in police custody? No. It absolutely does not. This man died in circumstances that could and should have been easily avoided. If it was the only example of this kind of behavior, I might accept it as a heartbreakingly tragic accident. But it’s not. If you sit down and take the time to look for credible sources and facts as opposed to emotionally charged and incredibly subjective news articles, you’ll see the numbers don’t line up. This isn’t anywhere close to being the first incident of its kind, and there is a rap sheet of police brutality in Baltimore that is exponentially longer than any drug offense list I’ve seen posted for the deceased.

On a more personal note, for all the friends, family, and colleagues I see regularly posting about how great our country is, how much they love the Lord, and the importance of living your faith out loud; I am disappointed to see that it’s many of those same people who are pointing to Gray’s flawed past as some sort of validation for what happened to him. As if having numerous drug charges somehow dictates that his life isn’t worth protesting or bringing to light because he is flawed, he’s imperfect. Where is the greatness of a country that works to protect some of its citizens while ignoring the basic civil rights of others? And where is God in that way of thinking? He calls us show love as he has loved us: unconditionally. If Jesus spent his time showing love to those cast down by society, do you not think he’d do the same for Freddie Gray? Or, in this case, do everything he could to at least provide timely medical assistance to a man whose spinal cord was partially severed while in his custody?

I see people march at “Right to Life” rallies to protect the lives of unborn children, and grew up at a school that participated in them. Now I keep finding myself wondering, at what point does that right end? When that child is born of another race? Or is it when that child grows up to be involved in drug trafficking, frequently as a means of survival in world most of us can’t begin to understand? When is a life not worth protecting anymore? I’m not arguing that he did not deserve jail time, or that he didn’t deserve to be in police custody; he did the crime and based on the rules of our nation, he deserved justice.  All I’m saying is that he didn’t deserve to die.

‪#‎ALLLIVESMATTER‬

Spring is in the Air

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” 
― Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

As someone who could very well be the poster child for seasonal affective disorder, I’ve been ready for spring since the day after Christmas. Unfortunately for me, and millions of other spring/summer-lovers, the past few months have been a roller coaster of seasonal weather. Every time I think the warmth has come to stay, it disappears just as quickly as it came, with freezing rain and snow picking up where the sun left off.

Now it’s not that I have anything against winter, I love the change of seasons and and the cold nights that leave me thankful for warm sweaters and a fully functioning heater. But as much as I love curling up in a blanket with a hot cup of tea, sitting by the fire and reading a good book, or experimenting with roasting all the root vegetables or winter squashes I can get my hands on, I’m officially ready for spring.

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I’m ready for fresh produce, for farmers markets, for hot, sweaty days in the garden that ensure a good nights sleep. Gardening, or anything that involves hard work and getting my hands dirty, has always been borderline therapeutic for me, and I can’t wait to get back in the swing of things. This year I’m even more excited than usual, with Liam almost to the age that he can start to “help me” outside (or at least have fun playing in the dirt) I honestly can’t wait to share so much of what I love with him this year.

So, with nothing but sun in the forecast for the next ten days, and temperatures well into the eighties, I’m a very happy lady. In the next week I’ll be able to plant all the seeds I’ve picked out so far, and finally get rid of the pile of organic potting soil bags that have been sitting on the back deck for weeks now, begging to be used.

2014 seeds

2014 seeds

As ready as I am to get started, we’re in a new location this year, and every new layout has its own set of challenges. This year it happens to be sunlight. Although I’m used to growing tomatoes and cucumbers, green beans and squash, I’m excited to embrace the challenge of my partial-shade porch garden. From heirloom salad greens to edible flowers, I’m experimenting a little more this year, I’ll just have to wait and see how it all turns out.

As for now, I’m going to sit out on the porch, sip a glass of iced tea, and soak in the last few minutes of sunlight.