Pumpkin Spice Cookie Butter Cookies: chewy, sweet, pumpkin-spiced goodness that's about to be your newest fall obsession.

Pumpkin Spice Cookie Butter Oatmeal Cookies

If you’ve ever been in a Trader Joe’s during the fall, you may have noticed that there is quite the over-abundance of a certain squash, and squash-flavored things. Seriously, it’s a little absurd. They have Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Pumpkin Soup Crackers, and even Pumpkin Spice Body Butter. That last one is my favorite. Who decided that in addition to eating a lot of pumpkin in the fall, I should probably also smell like a pumpkin? They say the way to attract a man is through his stomach, so maybe this is just a whole new level; look out men of Chicago… just try and resist me as I walk by you smelling like a squash.

Jokes aside, I really do enjoy pumpkin, and pumpkin spice flavored things, but find the national obsession is a little confusing. Nevertheless, if it’s the only way to get these cookies, then by all means, bring on the squash butter.

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Roasted veggies and quinoa tossed with a tangy lemon dressing make the perfect hearty salad.

Roasted Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

This roasted veggie salad is the kind of salad that salad-haters will love. Is it even really a salad if it doesn’t have lettuce? I’m not sure, but we’re going to go with it, because the only other descriptor I have is “food in a bowl”. In fact, when people ask me what I make for dinner, “food in a bowl” is my most common answer. The whole separate protein, veggie, and grain thing just doesn’t fit my lifestyle (read: seems too complicated). Throwing it all in a bowl and calling it dinner always seems like a much better way to go. Then you don’t have to waste time taking individual bites of everything, right?

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Individual spinach artichoke pizzas are easy enough to be the perfect weeknight pizza: fast, full of veggies, and topped with plenty of cheese!

Spinach Artichoke Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

Ahh, the end of August. For many people that means it’s time to go back to school. For me, it usually means a little bit of a slow down in work – my clients and coworkers are on vacation, spending time with family, and just trying to soak up the last couple days of summer. A necessary reprieve before the end of the year rush hits. I’ve been packing everything I can into this past month, including hosting friends, checking out my favorite Chicago events, and just generally trying to be outside.

That also means I’ve been cooking less, so when I do make something, it has to fit into my summer schedule, and this sweet potato pizza fit the bill perfectly. First of all, it’s marginally healthier than regular pizza (think of all those vitamins in the sweet potato!), and second of all it’s super easy to make. Listen up, and I may just convert you to a potato-pizza eater.

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Simple Kale Salad with cranberries, pepitas and a fresh lemon dressing

The Simplest Kale Salad

Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Over the past month (where did the time go?!), I feel like I’ve been running around from place to place, so when I’ve been back home, simple is about all I can handle in the food department. Three ingredients and a quick homemade dressing are all you need to make this easy kale salad. It works as lunch, with maybe some grilled chicken on top, or just a side to whatever graces the dinner table.

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This smoothie tastes just like a blueberry muffin! It's the perfect summer breakfast.

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

Recently I’ve been all about turning all of my breakfast foods blueberry muffin flavored. That’s right – not just blueberry, but blueberry muffin! I was inspired by eating blueberry muffin overnight oats (which, by the way, if you haven’t discovered yet, you should probably run out and get yourself some mason jars ASAP, because they need to be in your life), and wanted to see what else I could apply the flavor to. So what’s the difference between regular ‘ole blueberry flavor, and blueberry muffin flavor? It’s all in the lemon zest!

Of all the gadgets that occupy my kitchen drawer (I use my strong skills of maintaining organized chaos to accomplish fitting everything I own into one drawer), my microplane is by far one of the ones I find the most useful. Being able to add lemon zest really brings something simple like a smoothie or oatmeal to a whole new level.  Read More

Eggplant stuffed with ground turkey, veggies, and covered in cheese!

Turkey & Veggie Stuffed Eggplant

You know what I think we should all do more often? Take a vacation in our home cities. For me, this is also known as “having visitors,” because they provide a great excuse to see the tourist sites, pick out special places to eat, and revisit old haunts. I got the best of both worlds when my Mom was in town for a visit recently; we did plenty of exploring and restaurant-hopping, but also got a chance to put together a few home-cooked goodies.

We made these stuffed eggplants for dinner one night, and we were both big fans! Of course, it’s not all that surprising that the two of us would gravitate to this dish given the chance. We never ate much eggplant growing up, as my dad likes to refer to it as “the evil purple fruit,” so with just the girls around, we could make as much eggplant as we wanted!

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BLTs made with Turkey Bacon, dressed up with avocado and honey mustard are super comforting, tasty lunch or dinner.

BLT, Dressed Up

Technically, I think this should be called a TBLTA (Turkey Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado), but that seemed like a bit of a mouthful, so I like to think of this as a regular old BLT, just dressed up a bit. There’s something super classic and comforting about a traditional BLT. I remember eating them as a kid, except I would request them with no lettuce – just good old bacon, tomato & mayo. Since my tastes have changed a bit since then, I thought I’d adapt this to be a bit more “grown up”. Don’t worry, grown up BLTs are just as delicious as their kid-friendly versions.

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Beet Hummus - slightly sweet, a little tangy, and such a gorgeous color!

Beet Hummus (and my favorite way to eat it!)

It’s no secret that turquoise is my favorite color. From my blog color scheme, to my apartment decor – it’s pretty hard to forget my affinity for a rather specific shade of blue. However, I will admit that there aren’t very many tasty looking turquoise foods (this is probably as close as we get). Instead, I usually turn to pink foods (see here, here, and here). This beet hummus is just next in line in my pink food fascination.

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Lentils are turned into a hearty vegetarian dinner with this Puttensca style sauce.

Lentils Puttenesca

I talk a lot about my Mom’s cooking – how she instilled a love of cooking in both my sister and I, how I aspire to have her repertoire of “on the fly” meals – but I sometimes forget that her origins of cooking love came from my Grandmother. Last week I was lucky enough to enjoy two of my Grandmother’s specialties, which inspired my lentil-based meal tonight. I’m not sure whether it’s the tapered candles that always adorn the table, the well-balanced meals, or the homey flavors, but there’s something truly comforting about a Grandmother-cooked meal. This lentil dish is the perfect way to bring that comfort with you wherever you are.

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Smashed chickpeas, sliced beets, and cucumber make the perfect crunchy, delicious lunchtime staple.

Smashed Chickpea and Veggie Sandwich

I wasn’t going to share this with you this week. I had all sorts of plans to make something truly special. The kind of recipe you pull out when you have company you want to impress, or just want something out of the ordinary. Well, as they say, the best laid plans are always foiled by a good sandwich. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a saying. Maybe you’ll believe me after you make this.  Read More