Beet Salad with Arugula, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

It’s Sunday! I enjoyed some coconut yogurt with blueberries, topped with homemade granola for breakfast. My sister Angela made me a bag of granola for Christmas and then I also scored my Mom’s bag because she left without hers!! Woot!! Travis and the dogs when for a little ride on the skiff while I took a shower. Soon we are headed to Cape Henry Lighthouse to take advantage of the beautiful 60+ degree December weather before it rains later today. Tonight will be a shows and movies lazy night and I can’t wait!

I was prompted by my sister Zandria to get on my blog and share a recipe that I made for Thanksgiving…and have made many times before. She asked me for the recipe (because it’s so awesome!) and made it for her husbands family for Christmas.

Sometimes I make this salad with golden beets, regular red beets or a mix of both. These beets can easily be found at Whole Foods any time of year. I wash and cook the beet greens too. They are awesome with a little red wine vinegar. I’ve also had candy cane beets and white beets from the farmers market but of course they are only available seasonally.  They are worth the time to make them ahead of time before serving so that they can have a chance to chill.

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

  • 2 bunches of beets (3-5 beets per bunch)
  • baby arugula or mixed baby greens
  • walnuts
  • crumbled blue cheese
  • Newman’s Own Oil and Vinegar dressing

for the Beets: 

I shop at Whole Foods and their beets come 3-5 beets to a bundle (depending on size) and include the greens. First chop the beet stems off at the top of the beet, cut the long skinny end off of the root end (if any) and cut the beet in half or quarters depending on their size. No need to peel the beets. Put them in a pot and fill with water at least an inch over the beets (they cook for way longer than potatoes and you don’t want to water to evaporate before they are cooked…this has happened to me before!).
Test done-ness with a fork. When done drain into a colander and let cool for about 15 minutes. When they are cool enough to touch you can peel them by just pushing the skins off with your fingers. Then I put them in a container to cool completely in the fridge because I think they taste better cold. They can be made the day before.
to assemble Salad:
In a large salad bowl add baby arugula, beets, chopped walnuts and either crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese. I have made my own dressing before (lemon or a balsamic vinaigrette) but on Thanksgiving I used Newman’s Own Oil and Vinegar dressing. Toss salad and serve! Serves 3-4 people.

Thanksgiving Menu 2014

It’s almost here!

Eatwhateveryouwantday…I mean Thanksgiving.

So who’s coming? My 2 sisters and their husbands. My 2 nephews. My 2 brothers (one is bringing a girlfriend I haven’t met!). My Mom. My fiance and son. I can’t wait to see everyone! The only partial bummer is that we have to wait to have Thanksgiving until Friday because my sister Angela has a fire-fighter husband 🙂

The not bummer at all is that my new house has a second fridge. It’s SO frivolously wonderful not have one fridge sopackedthatyoucantshutthedoor! We’re living the good life I tell you!!


Veggie Tray with ranch dip. This is a must in our family. We eat on this ALL afternoon.

Thyme and Garlic baked Camembert. To be served with misc crackers and pita.


Baked ham.

Roasted turkey. Butter under the skin (lots!). Rosemary, thyme, garlic and onion stuffed.

Arugula salad with beets, blue cheese, walnuts and shallots. Oil/vin dressing.

Mashed potatoes. Whole milk, butter…the norm.

Stuffing. Whole Foods organic in the bag kind. Dressed up with celery, onion, fennel and shiitake mushrooms.

My sister Angela’s fab 5 cheese mac-n-cheese.

Mom is bringing sweet potato casserole, collard greens and maybe something else.


Candied Pecans.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Oat Pecan Crust. Whipped cream!

My sister Angela and my Mom will both bring surprise desserts to share.

I’ll take some follow up pics so you can see how awesomely amazing everything turned out!!!

Weekly Eats

Prior to the menu I posted last week we had been on vacation in Key West, Florida for 2 weeks so I was going out for almost every meal. We stayed in a house with a full fridge and grill but… it WAS vaca after all!

My Vitamix went on vacation with us and I made smoothies every morning. I used a ton of different fruits: blueberries, cherries, strawberries, bananas and oranges. Then I add my standard unsweetened almond milk/ vanilla protein powder/ some-sort-of-nut-butter that makes the best breakfast smoothie ever. A few times I made brunch or lunch at home by combining leftovers from restaurants the night before with a fried egg and some sauteed spinach. I think we made dinner a total of 3 nights: hamburgers one night, fresh snapper and asparagus on the grill another night and finally grilled key west pink shrimp with a veg.

Now I’m back home and it’s winter…I’ll get over it when spring gets here…


Lunch: Salad bar at Whole Foods. That curry cauliflower with peas is amazing and you must try it!

Dinner: Wasabi Shrimp and a soba noodle stir fry with cauliflower, snap peas, green onions, cilantro and tossed with an Asian vinaigrette. I ate cauliflower twice today!

shrimp and soba noodles


Lunch: Leftover soba noodles and shrimp from Sunday night

Dinner: Beet salad  with arugula, cucumber, goat cheese, carrots (the beets were leftover from the batch I cooked last Friday for dinner) and seared yellow-fin tuna steaks marinated in a little soy sauce and ginger. Rare to medium-rare is best. Don’t overcook! Also, if you like to spice things up, make a little dry wasabi powder (you can buy it on the Thai/Asian ingredient isle of the grocery store) into a paste with water or sour cream and dip some of your bites of tuna in it!


Lunch: The last of the soba noodles with a fried egg on top!

Dinner: Caramelized chicken with lemons and olives and cheesy cauliflower soup.  I had a very large head of cauliflower that I used on Sunday for the soba noodles and I used less than half of it for that. I chopped it up in advance and saved the rest to make this soup.

2014-01-14 18.31.48


Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Beef…as suggested in the recipe I used coconut oil to sear the meat. I used my Dutch oven to sear and cook the meat until it was tender and falling apart (which took about 3 hours). I made cilantro lime quinoa to go with the beef and also made some iceberg lettuce “cups” to eat some of the meat with.


Lunch: Salad bar at Whole Foods

Dinner: Out to eat at Selba for dinner and jazz with friends!


Lunch: Arugula topped with leftover quinoa and grouper from my dinner the night before and a dallop of avocado mashed with lemon juice on the side. No pic because I was on hold with Anthem at the time…for well over an hour!!

Dinner: Filets on the grill. Served with sauteed patty-pan squash with onions and steamed spinach.


Lunch: Baked sweet potato fries and a half ham sandwich

Dinner: Going out to dinner at Julep’s for our friends birthday!

Weekly Eats

This might become a regular thing I do. I cook a lot but don’t always have a new recipe to share. Also sometimes I forget to take pictures but I still like to talk about what I eat. Next week I may also include the smoothies I eat for breakfast. Depends on if I feel like it!!


Dinner: Grilled bone-in pork chops seasoned with salt and pepper. Served with roasted brussel sprouts and pine nut couscous.


cheesy tortilla and guac

Lunch: cheesy corn tortilla topped with guacamole and a few sliced black olives on the side

Dinner: Spinach Stuffed Shells…similar to my Manicotti recipe but with extra garlic instead of mushrooms and large shells instead manicotti…duh!


Lunch: Out at Kenji (sushi and miso soup)

Dinner: Secret Sauce Chili (with ground beef instead of turkey this time)


Lunch: leftovers

Dinner: Seared salmon, sauteed beet greens and quinoa (cooked with chicken stock – after cooking I tossed in some chopped walnuts and parm cheese, then drizzled with EVOO and a splash of red wine vinegar)


banana cake

Lunch: smashed avocado on toast, cantaloupe, a few tortilla chips and a slice of banana cake! Travis’ grandfather turned 96 and I made the cake for him. Yes 96!!


Dinner: veal picatta, roasted brussel sprouts (twice in one week because they’re in season and SO good!) and leftover quinoa


Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: beet salad (arugula, goat cheese, walnuts, cucumber) and cornish game hen with whiskey, apricot and citrus glaze on top of grits. I modified this recipe to create an awesome masterpiece that I promise to post about soon.


Collards and fried eggs

Lunch: Collard greens with runny fried eggs. Um um um ummm!!

Dinner: We have plans to go to out to Heritage with friends later.

Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Feta

Tomatoes and watermelon are a match made in heaven. If you haven’t tried the combo before you should soon (like tomorrow!). I looked through several recipes before deciding how I wanted to put my salad together. Feta was usually always added but other than that there were tons a variations going on. I thought some diced up cucumber would be nice for crunch and also decided to add a little green with some arugula.

I got lucky while shopping yesterday and found nice sized tubs of pre-chopped organic watermelon at Ellwood Thompsons for only $1.50 a piece! I grabbed 2 of them 🙂

watermelon and tomato salad

Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Feta

  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed watermelon (make sure it is chilled)
  • 1/2 english cucumber, diced
  • 1 big handful arugula
  • crumbled feta cheese (I used about 1/2 of a block)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste


  • In a salad bowl combine the first 5 ingredients. In a separate small bowl whisk together the next 5 ingredients to make a vinegrette. Pour vinegrette over salad…toss…enjoy!

Have you ever

What I made for Christmas Eve Dinner

I had a huge dinner at my house on Christmas Eve. These are the dishes I made:

My Christmas tree

Clementine Cosmos from 5-Ingredient Fix. The clementine simple syrup was delish and was a beautiful orange color. We used organic cranberry juice and bottled lime juice. They were a hit with the ladies but the guys didn’t want anything to do with a pink colored cocktail.

Trader Joe’s Pear Cinnamon Cider. I went shopping on Christmas Eve-Eve at the very busy Trader Joe’s in Short Pump and they had this cider served warm as a sample in the back of the store. I served it warmed in a crock pot over low heat. Very good!

Good Eats Roast Turkey. I got wrapped up in conversation with my sister Zandria and my friend Lois and forgot all about brining the turkey the night before! How could I! I ended up only getting to brine it for 2-3 hours the next morning. I took a huge risk and didn’t rinse the brine off but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. It was tender and delicious… I will make this again.

My kitty under the tree

I made a variation of Roasted Beet Salad, except that I used clementines instead of navel oranges and goat cheese instead of pecorino romano. I also served it over a bed of arugula.

Mascarpone Chive Mashed Potatoes. Very creamy and a slightly different flavor from the normal mashed potatoes.

My mom brought several different desserts including a fruit cake and chocolate pie, collard greens, venison bbq and a crab dip. My sister Angela brought a 5 cheese mac-n-cheese and some oreo cookie balls and rolo cookies. My dad brought some marinated carrots that I have to get the recipe for! I have been snacking on the leftovers for 2 days now.

Below are my Dad, 7 week old nephew and my brother:

My dad, my nephew and brother

This is my sister Angela’s husband and their son, Ryder:

Troy and Ryder

Me getting ready to chop hazelnuts for the salad:

Elissa cooking

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Shrimp, Tarragon and Arugula Pasta

So I decided to test a recipe that I’ll be bringing to a friends house for a party on Friday. Instead of the bruschetta, I made some pasta as the base for the sauce but for the party I plan to make the bruschetta and serve it as an appetizer.

shrimp, tomatoes, shallots

The arugula wilts down but retains a good crunch. The sauce is creamy and filled with tomato/garlic/shallot/tarragon flavors. I will be chopping the shrimp up into smaller pieces when I make bruschetta. Can’t wait to show off this recipe for the party 🙂

Shrimp, arugula

Shrimp, Tarragon and Arugula Pasta/Bruschetta

From Giada DeLaurentiis

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 packed cup arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature


  • For the topping: In a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, to taste, and add them to the skillet. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to soften, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tarragon, arugula, mascarpone cheese, and chopped shrimp. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the toasts on serving plates and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.

Arugula and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Feta

I bought some locally made organic feta cheese from Night Sky Farm at a farmers market a few days ago and this salad seemed like the perfect use for it. The vinaigrette is amazing (I preferred double the lemon juice than the recipe called for). I also roasted a 28 ounce can of chickpeas because it’s what I already had in the pantry. The 2 tablespoons of oil was plenty…I would suggest to cut the oil back to 1 tablespoon if you only roast a 12 ounce can. I found myself snacking on the extra chickpeas after dinner. They are yummy!!

I want to make this salad again today!!

Arugula and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Feta

From Bon Appetit


  • 1 – 12 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 fresh mint leaves
  • 5 ounces arugula (I used an arugula and baby greens mix)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 of an english cucumber, diced (I had some in the fridge and just had to add them in!)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until chickpeas are golden and crispy, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
  • To make vinaigrette whisk remaining olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and a little fresh mint (I didn’t have any dried). Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add a little more lemon juice if desired.
  • Combine chickpeas, greens, onion, cucumber and fresh mint. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Plate salad and garnish with feta and more chickpeas if desired.