Monthly Archives: October 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushrooms

Yesterday I was eating lunch with my colleagues and one of them, after seeing the squash on my plate, exclaimed, “don’t you peel your squash?” I laughed and said that I am a lazy cook and that I never peel any of my squashes. Why bother? The skin is soft and turns crispy when you roast it. (I don’t peel any fruit or vegetable if I can help it!)

I make this recipe at least once a week in the fall. I crave it! It has umami, that 5th flavor that the shiitake mushrooms help to provide. The butternut squash provides extraordinary amounts of Vitamin A and fiber to help you feel full.


4 cups cubed unpeeled butternut or delicata squash

4 cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, halved

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place squash and mushrooms on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Add olive oil and use hands to coat the squash and mushrooms.
  4. Spread the squash and mushrooms evenly on the sheet.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt over everything.
  6. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then stir the squash and mushrooms and spread back over the sheet.
  7. Return to oven for another 10-20 minutes depending on how roasted you want your squash.
  8. Remove from oven and serve hot.


Fall Foraging

Walking my son up the driveway to meet the bus last week I was so appalled at what I saw….GARLIC MUSTARD. I won’t bore you with what this means for my little woodland – but in a nutshell garlic mustard is a very invasive, introduced plant that displaces good, native vegetation (think woodland wildflowers…threatened by a garlicky mustard monster!)

I couldn’t wait to tell my co-worker and fellow plant fanatic what I had found.  She chirpily replied “Well… at least you can eat it.”  Leave it Franny to look on the bright side, know more about plants than me and put humor into the morning.  I love her(:  “You can!?”  I replied.  Then after a few moments of thought – it made perfect sense: I love both garlic and mustard – how perfect!  Knowing this, I was much more motivated to deal with the small infestation in a more environmentally friendly way: pulling as opposed to using the highly “efficient” herbicides.

When I got home I spent 5 minutes pulling enough to add to a few salads.  I found the roots to be substantial, yet easy to pull.  The roots are also woody so once pulled need to be trimmed off.  After a total of 20 minutes pull time – I had removed every single plant and added nutrition to a week-worth of salads!  I love when I get eat “free greens” instead of buying the expensive organic packages in the grocery store.

Garlic Mustard: A terrestrial invasive=very bad for woodlands. BUT - very tasty in salads!

Garlic Mustard: A terrestrial invasive=very bad for woodlands. BUT – very tasty in salads!

The next day I tossed a combination of garlic mustard, kale and swiss chard for my salad.  I wouldn’t recommend a salad with straight garlic mustard because it does have a garlic-chive tone, that all alone could be overwhelming.

I added my favorite topping and was doubly satisfied knowing that I had helped my little woodland and was nourishing my body with wholesome – nutrient rich greens.

My very favorite salad contains:

3 Baby Kale, spinach, swiss chard, garlic mustard or any combination of them

Drizzle of Immune-Boosting Garlic Vinegrette

1-2 slices Grilled Eggplant

2 Fresh Button or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

6-8 Grape Tomatoes Sliced

Fresh cracked pepper and coarse ground sea salt

Garlic mustard add a great hints of garlic, chivy flavor to most any salad

Garlic mustard add a great hints of garlic, chivy flavor to most any salad

PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I have since I was a child.  I remember being infatuated with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and dipping the ears of my chocolate easter bunny into a spoon full of peanut butter never tiring of the play between nutty, bitter and sweet. HOWEVER – now I have grown, changed and learned about better choices that provide real, lasting energy – not the quick rev of the engine that crashes and burns 30 minutes after the peanut butter cup wrapper has hit the trash.

I created these simple cookies when I had a craving for my life-long favorite. It is based off of Tiffany’s Simple Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was very concerned they weren’t sweet enough, but after taking some to work last Friday I was encouraged that they were pleasantly sweet yet not cloying and had great flavor – hints of honey and vanilla!


1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (I used chunky and enjoy the texture of the peanut pieces)

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup spelt, barley or oat flour (You can easily make your own oat flour by processing rolled oats in your food processor until they are the texture of flour.  This is a great option for a gluten free version; just be sure you start with certified gluten free oats.)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder (Try to use aluminum free – it is available in the natural food section of large grocery stores and in natural food coops.)

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips of roughly chopped dark chocolate


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  (I love parchment paper so much, at first I considered it a wasteful expense – but it is so darn handy!  If it is not too sticky or dirty, I wipe it with a damp cloth, let it air dry and re-use it.  This makes my husband roll his eyes – but I think he is getting used to it.)

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine peanut butter and melted coconut oil.

Mix egg, honey and vanilla into the peanut butter and oil until combined well.

Mix flour mixture into wet ingredients.

Add oats; mix to combine.

Stir chocolate in by hand.

Scoop cookie dough by 1 tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes – rotating the pans half way through the baking time.

Cool these on a wire baking rack.  Store in air tight container at room temperature for a couple of days – or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

PBC Cookies

Dark chocolate, peanut butter, oats and honey make for a wholesome, satisfying, delicious cookie

These are a great energizing, satisfying, treat-like snack.  Enjoy!


Zing Zang Apples

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Fall is generally accepted as the best season of the year.  Weather is fresh and crisp, leaves are colorful and crunchy, gardens are bountiful… and apples are all of the above!  Apple orchards are everywhere in Minnesota… but apples are on the dirty dozen list, so if you want to pick your own, try looking up an organic apple orchard.  This link gives you a list of farmers that sell organic apples and this link will help you find farmers markets that may have some organic apples for sale.  Or maybe you are lucky enough to know someone with too many apples on their tree. has lots of people selling or giving away apples, too.  However you get your apples, you’ll probably get more than you really need and may be struggling to use them before they go bad.

If you are looking for a new, fun zing-zangy way of enjoying your apples, I recommend adding one more seasoning to your cupboard: Tajin.  This will certainly perk up your taste buds!  You can find it at some grocery stores, and of course, Amazon has it too and usually delivers within a couple days.

My mom introduced this idea to me when she made this as an appetizer for one of our traditional birthday dinners – I loved all of the intense flavors!  It can be challenging getting out the rut of making the usual greasy apps, but this is a refreshing substitute! The lime prevents it from turning brown.

Ingredients:2015-06-20 16.17.52

  1. Tajin Seasoning
  2. Apples
  3. Lime


  1. Slice apples
  2. Slice limes
  3. Squeeze lime on apples
  4. Sprinkle apples with Tajin seasoning

That’s it!

Anther idea… add the apples to your popcorn (try them with Cockcorn)!  My mom did this growing up.  It may sound weird, but it is such a fun, flavorful addition to popcorn (with or without the Tajin).  Try it!!


Puffball Pizza Crust


The Giant Puffball is an edible mushroom that is often the size of a soccer ball or even bigger!  It is easy to identify and when you find one, you have a lot of mushroom to consume and it is all of a sudden pizza time!  Puffballs make great pizza crusts that are 100% natural, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, fat-free… and if you found it on your own, it was totally free!

Puffballs need to be perfectly white inside, comparable to a marshmallow, in order to be safe to eat.  If it has started to yellow, please discard.  As with all wild mushrooms, make sure you are 1000% positive it is what you think it is.


  1. Puffball Mushroom
  2. Olive Oil

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Directions for crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cut puffball into 1″ thick slabs
  3. Remove outer skin
  4. Squish the mushroom down if you want to have a denser crust – optional since this sometimes causes the mushroom to break apart depending on freshness.
  5. Spray or rub both sides with olive oil
  6. Put crust on pizza pan and bake in oven for about 20 minutes (flip after 10 minutes), or until crust becomes golden brown.  You can also put directly on rack but that sometimes makes it hard to flip.  You can also try this on the grill.

Golden Brown Puffball Crust

Once the crust is done, place on pan with parchment paper so it doesn’t stick or drip into your oven as it cooks.  Go ahead and cover with your favorite healthy pizza toppings.  Go easy on the pizza sauce (or use pesto if you like) as it can soak into the crust making it a little soggy.  Cook until the toppings are cooked to your liking.  Sprinkle with your choice of seasoning, such as:  salt, pepper, red pepper, and/or garlic salt.

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Puffball Pizza with pesto, green olives, cherry tomatoes, and manchego cheese.


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

With the cooler temperatures of fall upon us I thought it would be appropriate to share one of my delectable warming hot toddy recipes.  Most hot toddies have a lot of sugar and fat, this one has none of the above.

I made these toddy’s for the Goldies on one of our annual cross-country ski retreats to the Hugo cabin in Grand Rapids, MN.  After coming in from a bust-ass ski at Sugar Hill’s, it was a perfect way to warm our bodies and our souls:)

Ingredients (per mug):

2 oz Dragon Berry Strawberry Bacardi Rum

Chocolate Tea (The Republic of Tea has a great one but any will do)

Warm water

Stevia to taste (could substitute  honey or other sweetener)


  1. Warm water on stove or in the microwave (enough to fill a coffee mug)
  2. Add all ingredients into a coffee mug and sip.

    Goldies on top of the world!

    Goldies on top of the world!

Raw Delicious Fudge

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Raw Fudge recipe on the Oh She Glows blog.

My mom loves this fudge. Really. Ever since I gave her a piece at my house about a year ago she has a stash of this in her freezer at all times.  Last summer my uncle Steve stayed at my parent’s place for almost a month; somehow he didn’t find out about her stash until the last week.  Cute story: I was staying the week up north on my annual shutdown (two weeks off) when, shortly before bed, I asked my mom if she had any raw fudge in the freezer.  Steve overheard our conversation about this glorious after dinner delight so we had to share (luckily there was just enough left to share).  Later that night after everyone had gone to bed Steve sent this text to my mom:



Easy to make and dang delicious!!


1/2 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Raw Almond Butter

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup honey*

1 tsp Vanilla

3/4 cup raw walnuts

dash sea salt.

*variation from Oh She Glows recipe

Method (from Oh She Glows)

1. With electric beaters, beat together the coconut oil and almond butter.

2. Sift in the cocoa powder and beat again until combined.

3. Pour in the maple syrup (or honey), vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth.

4. Stir in the walnuts.

5. Line a loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper. Scoop the chocolate mixture into the pan and spread out until even. I took another handful of walnuts, broke them up, and sprinkled over the top of the fudge for extra crunch and good looks.

6. Freeze uncovered for about 1 hour, or until solid. Slice into small squares and prepare to be seduced.

This post reminded me of summer vacation….I just have to share a few pictures:
Great summer vacation memory, drumming with Steve and Tristen<3

Great summer vacation memory, drumming with Steve and Tristen<3

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Burntside Lake Trout fishing! It doesn’t get any better!