Tag Archives: fall recipes

Cooking with Dawn Jackson Blatner – Fall Farro Salad

I had heard a lot about the cooking classes at The Chopping Block, but I just never seemed to get around to signing up for a class. Somehow I stumbled upon a class called 100% Nutritionist Approved Healthy Holiday Eats taught by renowned food and nutrition expert Dawn Jackson Blatner. If you haven’t heard of her check her out. Just a few fun facts about her. She is the nutritionist for the Chicago Cubs and the author of The Flexitarian Diet, a fabulous book about her philosophy to healthy eating. Her philosophy is basically this: pro-plant not anti-meat. She believes that wholesome, nourishing foods are magic for your body. For more about her visit her website, she has tons of fabulous recipes, tips, and articles she has written for major magazines.

I learned so much from her class and each recipe was so phenomenal that I think they really deserve a post of their own. First up is the….

Fall Farro Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

**Farro is an ancient relative of wheat. They look like popcorn kernels and are similar in texture to brown rice but they are round and have a nuttier flavor. Adding a grain to your salad makes it heartier and gives your dish a more fall/winter feel.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup uncooked farro, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoons pitted and quartered kalamata olives
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb
  • 2 cups arugala
  • 1/2 orange, zested – about 1/2 teaspoon (Tip: use a cheese grater to zest to get chunkier pieces)

Orange vinnaigrette

  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice, from zested orange above
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • S&P to taste


In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt and farro. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Add the olives, fennel, arugula and orange zest to the cooled farro and toss to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until combine. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Let the salad stand for at least 10-15 minutes at room temperature & serve.

NOTE: To intensify flavors, let salad marinate in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

One more thing. If you are in the Chicago area and are interested in learning to cook, I highly suggest you check out the Chopping Block. I had such a wonderful experience there, it is a very nice establishment and the staff were so gracious and helpful. I thought it was a little pricey at first but after leaving I can honestly say it was worth every penny. It’s a great place for a fun, interactive date or a night out with girls. If nothing else, go solo – that’s what I did and I met some really cool people. Definitely Dishin’ approved!


Pumpkin soup and other musings

I was in such a funk last week and I’m not sure why. Things at work are busy but not overly stressful. In all honesty I’d rather be busy than bored. I was physically feeling fine. And no major bad news (other than the constant stream of negative stories on the media) came my way. I was just off for no reason. Does that ever happen to you? It was so odd.

Anyway, to cure my blues I decided to test out some new recipes, most of them pumpkin. I thought it was fun doing something a little different with the Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes but sometimes going traditional is the way to go. I’m sure everyone has made or at least had a pumpkin soup in their life. I never realized how easy and tasty it was until I had the other night. I had planned to cut the recipe in half but forgot to I have been eating everyday for about three days now! Good news is, it hasn’t gotten old! Below is the recipe I chose. This one happens to be vegan but I added non-vegan substitutes if that’s how you roll. I’m not judging, to each his own 🙂

Pumpkin Soup (5-6 servings)

(P.S. I spy with my little eye Mr. Big on the couch in the ingredients pic, did you notice? That is his spot so keep a look out, he is there in a lot of those!)


  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 medium leek or two small leeks
  • 1 cup of chopped apple or pear
  • 2 15-oz cans of canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk (or your choice of low fat milk, skim, soy, etc.)
  • 1 15-oz can of veggie broth (or whatever broth you choose)
  • 2 cups of water (not pictured – came from sink)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil (broth works too)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons NuNaturals NuStevia (you can use sugar also)
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (not pictured)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • Cayenne to taste and as garnish (I used several shake-fulls to give it a little kick)


1. Heat olive oil or broth in a large pan and add chopped onion and garlic, cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat or until onion is translucent. Add the leek, apple, NuStevia, spices, and salt and cook, stirring constantly for another 2-3 minutes or until leek is softened. Add the veggie broth and water and bring mixture to a boil then turn down to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the apple pieces are soft, then turn heat off.

2. Slowly stir in the pumpkin puree, coconut milk and almond milk, stirring constantly. Working in small batches, puree the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth and return soup to pot. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until you reach the desired temperature. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

3. Pour soup into bowls and add a sprinkle of cayenne, swirl with spoon and serve.

Weekend Adventures

I had quite the weekend – sorry for just sharing now that we are halfway through the week haha! On Friday Corey and I went with a couple friends to see Corey’s favorite band play, Boyce Avenue. If you’ve never heard of them you should definitely check out their YouTube channel. They do some awesome covers of popular songs mixed in with some of their own.

Then on Saturday, drum roll please……we went to a roller derby! Has anyone else ever been to one? It’s crazy! They might be wearing pink but these chicks do not joke around!  There was some serious carnage on that track.

But they were all good sports about it and both teams joined in a cha-cha line at half time haha! I love the chick on the end being the “tail”

Random Photo

And today’s random photo for your viewing pleasure comes from one of my readers, his dog named Doug. Just look at that underbite! So cute, I just had to share!


1. Have you ever been to a roller derby, know anything about it, know someone who does it, ever curious about it?

2. Did you do anything fun this weekend?

3. If you checked Boyce Avenue out, what do you think? If you have any pics that you would like to send me for the random picture feature I just recently added, I’d love to post it!