In the November issue of Bon Appetite, Anna Jones shares a few “healthy-ish holiday survival” recipes. If you’re not familiar with Anna Jones this is what the magazine has to say about her: “The former food stylist to Jamie Oliver, Jones has a refreshing food sensibility that we can’t get enough of. Her recipes are practical yet creative, and they’re packed with feel-good ingredients that make the finished dishes more-not less-delicious. And guess what? They’re all vegetarian.”

Anna suggests making this Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale & Goat Cheese for dinner on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. That’s some good advice although we enjoyed it very much as a Sunday dinner last weekend. The recipe is highly adaptable. Try it with Swiss chard or spinach in place of kale. Any squash or root vegetable will work in place of the butternut.

We also made a tray of her Seedy Oat Crackers or “the guiltless cracker” which can be made ahead of the holiday craziness (they’ll keep for up to ten days). Seedy Oat Crackers are gluten-free, and have very little fat. Packed with nutrient-dense seeds and oats, these special crackers leave you feeling satisfied.


Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale & Goat Cheese from Bon Appetite November 2016

Serves 4 to 6

3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.) peeled, cut into 3/4″ pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise

2 large eggs, beaten to blend

3 ounces Parmesan, grated

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

8 ounces frozen phyllo pastry, thawed

4 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled



Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400 F. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 8-10 minutes. Mix in thyme and red pepper flakes and transfer to a medium bowl; let cool. Wipe out and reserve skillet.

Add kale, eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest to squash mixture and gently mix to combine; season with salt and pepper. Layer phyllo sheets inside reserved skillet. Spoon kale-and-squash mixture into phyllo and dot top with goat cheese. Brush edges of phyllo lightly with oil and fold over filling, overlapping slightly, leaving center exposed.

Cook pie over medium heat until bottom of pastry is just golden (carefully lift up on side with a heatproof rubber spatula so that you can take a peek), about 3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake pie until kale is wilted and tender and phyllo is golden brown and crispy, 20-25 minutes. Let pie cool in skillet at least 15 minutes before slicing into wedges.

Do Ahead: Pie can be baked 6 hours ahead. Let cool; store uncovered at room temperature.




Seedy Oat Crackers “the guiltless cracker” from Bon Appetite November 2016

Makes 8 servings

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

3 tablespoons chia seeds

3 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup



Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl to combine. In a separate bowl, stir oil, maple syrup, and 3/4 cup room-temperature water together. Pour over oat mixture; toss until soaked. Let sit 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. From into a ball. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, press another sheet of parchment on top, and roll out to 1/8″ thick (the shape doesn’t matter). Remove top layer of parchment. Bake cracker until golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn over cracker; remove parchment. Bake cracker on same sheet until firm and the other side is golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet, then break into pieces.



So we are in our second week of school and it has shaken up our dinner routine. Some days I feel like I have more time to cook a fun dinner (only 1 boy underfoot, not 2) and other days our schedule (having gone from 0 to 60) brings us home at 6 pm, tired and lazy. My dinner expectations and aspirations are having to adjust to our new routine.  Very simple dinners, pulled from the pantry, are happening now more than ever. Oatmeal is one of those pantry dinners. We usually top it with maple syrup, berries, and nuts but the other night I just wasn’t in the mood for a sweet meal. Then a light bulb went off – why not savory oatmeal? Oats are just a grain like rice and rice makes creamy risotto so…..Green Oatmeal was born. Yes, there were a few bowls of sweet oatmeal on the table but my savory heart is psyched on this new discovery.

The family member with the sweetest of sweet tooths (who clearly opted for the maple syrup topping) has been helping me test new fall recipes. It’s strange to cook fall food full of spice, cranberries, and root vegetables when the September sun is pounding 80-degrees into our kitchen window. But hey, a bubbling fall dessert, even eaten in just underpants, tastes pretty good anytime.



Green Oatmeal

serves 4

2 cups water

2 cups whole milk

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 pound baby spinach (or any green you like)

1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for serving

Kosher salt

Red pepper flakes

goat cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 lemon, sliced


First, get the steel cut oats cooking. Bring the water and milk to a boil. Slowly stir in the oats. After 5 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.



While the oats are cooking saute the spinach and olive oil over medium heat to just wilt the leaves. Sprinkle in some salt.

Serve creamy oats topped with crumbled goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, spinach, fresh lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.



Our fall schedule is in full swing – preschool, carpools, soccer practice, and everything in between. Our days are packed tight and come dinner time we are all overtired and hungry. A few weeks ago I experimented with a dump a lot of stuff in the cast iron skillet and throw chicken thighs on top of it recipe and, because it worked so well, that method is now our go to weekday dinner. I

f you’re not a chicken eater it’s worth making these recipes and simply omitting the chicken. The underlying vegetables, grains, and beans are my favorite parts. Here are our two top combinations:

Chicken Thighs with Chard, Barley & Zucchini:
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup barley
1 cup chicken stock (sub vegetable stock if you’d like)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch swiss chard, leaves removed from stems and torn into small pieces
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise then sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 springs fresh thyme,
Kosher salt and black pepper

Fist, preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the olive oil to a cast iron skillet and pour in the barley, chicken stock, tomatoes, chard, zucchini, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Toss well with your hands and mash the whole tomatoes up as you go. Crank on some pepper.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss in the thyme. Roast for 35-45 minutes. If you like extra crisp skin, put the pan under the broiler for the last few minutes.

Chicken Thighs with White Beans, Kale & Tomatoes:
serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 15-ounces cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (leave out for kids)
1 bunch kale, leaves remove from stems and torn into small pieces
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 springs fresh thyme
1/2 a lemon, sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper

First, preheat the oven to 425 F. Add the olive oil to a cast iron skillet and pour in the beans, tomatoes, garlic, crushed red pepper, kale, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Crank on some pepper. Toss with your hands.

Arrange the chicken thighs on top of the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and toss in the thyme and lemon slices. Roast for 35-45 minutes. If you like extra crisp skin, put the pan under the broiler for the last few minutes.


So this is awesome news. I discovered the best way to make the most delicious barbecued vegetables. This is adaptable, simple, no fuss, perfect summer eating. The secret is wrapping individual heaping piles of vegetables in tin foil with herbs, butter or olive oil, salt, and pepper then tossing them on the grill.


This technique is great for using up vegetables that are living an uninspired life on the counter. I used a gas grill, heated to high, and it worked great. If you use a charcoal grill you can either lay the veggie packages on the grate or toss them right into the coals. I like the sound of adding them in with the coals for an extra smokey flavor.


The Best Barbecued Vegetables 

10 babyish carrots
2 red onions
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 big bunch swiss chard
fresh thyme
fresh rosemary
olive oil
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Gas grill heated to high or a charcoal grill preheated
Aluminum foil


1. Wash all produce well and preheat grill
2.  Prepare packages

Carrots: Slice in half then into 2″ sticks. Bundle in foil with a knob of butter, thyme, salt, and   pepper. Seal tight.

Red Onions: Slice top off then cut almost all the way through in both directions. Squish in a knob of butter, rosemary, salt and pepper. Wrap individually, seal tight.

Tomatoes: Mold a foil bowl, pour in tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Seal tight.

Swiss Chard: Mold two foil bowls. Divide the chard between the two. Drizzle with olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and salt. Seal tight.


Place all the individually wrapped vegetables packages on the hot grill.

General cooking times: Depending on the heat of your grill, size of your vegetables, and how you like to eat them. If you cook them directly on the coals I’d check a little sooner.

Onions: 15-20 minutes
Carrots: 10-15 minutes
Tomatoes: 5-10 minutes
Chard: 5-10 minutes


When ready to serve, carefully unwrap packages and pile vegetables on a large platter. Include the juices as they have a lot of amazing flavor. I served the veggies with grilled bread (brushed with garlic olive oil), and fresh feta cheese. The crowd was pleased.