Roasted Vegetable and candied bacon salad

One day on our honeymoon, we had been hiking all day in the cold, pouring rain and after visiting several of the orchards on the Fruit Loop, petting some very cute alpacas and checking out a glass-blowing shop, we had nothing left to do that day before dinner.

Roasted Vegetable and candied bacon salad

The cabins we were staying at were a long and treacherous drive away and since I was the designated driver, I didn’t want to deal with driving back to the cabins for an hour or two and then back into town. You see, we were staying in Washington and dinner was in Oregon, and so we had to go over this really really really really scary little metal bridge to get from one to the other. The bridge probably wouldn’t be so scary in broad daylight on a nice clear day, but we had neither weather or sun in our favor on this occasion.

And so Nate and I headed early to dinner and played Letterpress (a highly addicting word game) against each other in the car for an hour while we waited for it to be late enough for us to legitimately arrive for our dinner reservation. We had plans to eat at this delicious restaurant in the Hood River Valley called Nora’s Table, as per Nate’s father’s recommendation.

Roasted Vegetable and candied bacon salad

The restaurant is small and cozy and I believe they vary their menu based on the season. On that particular day, there was something on the menu that was cold roasted veggies in a balsamic dressing on top of arugula, with candied bacon. I can’t remember the exact combo of veggies but I know there was definitely butternut squash and beets…and i remember there being some other squash or root veggie.

I had meant to recreate this recipe because the candied bacon was the most delicious thing either Nate or I had ever eaten….but I just never got around to it. Then a couple weeks ago, Shannon posted a recipe for bacon candy, and I knew it was a sign from the food blog gods that I really needed to get on this recipe recreation, STAT. It was also because after telling Shannon about said meal, she threatened my life if I didn’t begged me to immediately make this recipe and share it with her.

Roasted Vegetable and candied bacon salad

And so I took this threat request very seriously. Plus I now had a recipe for the most delicious part of the recipe (bacon candy!), courtesy of her. So I came up with a little something that I think gives Nora’s Table a run for their money. I hope you enjoy it.

*Just a note/warning: I tried using yellow beets for this recipe to maintain a yellow/orange color theme. However, I unfortunately learned that yellow beets oxidize to an ugly blackish color when left in the fridge overnight. Since these veggies need to be made the day before (or earlier in the day to cool to room temp), I recommend using red beets. If you were going to make the veggies same-day and serve room temp, then yellow would probably work.

Roasted Vegetable and candied bacon salad

Roasted Balsamic Squash & Root Vegetable Salad with Candied Bacon

Print this recipe!

Serves 4-6 large servings

1 bunch red beets* (see note above recipe)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
olive oil
5 oz. arugula
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Candied Bacon (recipe to follow)

*It’s best to roast the vegetables the day before you want to eat this so you can serve them cold, or room temperature

Preheat oven to 400

Thoroughly wash beets, trim off greens leaving 1 inch (you can saute the greens for a yummy side dish!). Wrap beets individually with a bit of olive oil in a piece of foil and wrap tightly. Put on a baking sheet in case of leaking. Roast for an hour or until beets are easily pierced with a knife. Let cool until easy to handle and rub skin off under running water. Pat dry and cut into 1″ thick slices.

Toss squash and carrots with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and some pepper. Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add to oven after beets have been cooking for 15 min. Roast for 45 min total or until slightly browned, tossing halfway through.

Cool veggies to room temp or refrigerate over night.

When ready to serve, combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss all veggies with about half of dressing, or however much you like.

Toss arugula with more dressing. There will probably be a little extra, depending on how much you like.

Put arugula on plate, top with mound of veggies and a couple slices of the halved candied bacon.

Candied Bacon
adapted from Shannon’s blog

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 teaspoons chili powder
6 slices thick-cut bacon

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a lipped baking sheet with heavy duty foil, completely covering.

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and chile powder with a fork until evenly distributed and all brown sugar lumps are out. Press bacon into brown sugar mixture, heavily coating both sides.

Spoon excess brown sugar mixture onto the bacon.

While your bacon is baking, get out a metal cooling rack, overtop some paper towels.

Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes, checking at the 15-minute mark and watching like a hawk from that point on. Watch for your bacon to turn a deep red color towards the center and darker at the edges. Take it out when it is almost crisp and the sugar is caramelized. DO NOT BURN.

Remove the bacon from the oven and transfer the pieces to the wire rack using tongs. Be careful as it will be VERY hot. Allow to cool, as it will and crisp up. Cut each piece in half.

courtesy Jodi Miller Photograpy

Well, I got my wedding photos back (you prob already got a sneak peek if you’re my fb friend) and they’re pretty much better than I ever imagined they’d be.

Jodi Miller Photography does SUCH an amazing job (you can see my engagement photos by her here). Not to mention, Jodi and her husband Kurt are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. They send all the clients they work with the most thoughtful and beautiful care packages and are just so great to work with. Anyway, you can click here to see the highlights of the wedding that they posted on their blog. There are SOOOO many more amazing pictures but I obviously can’t post them all. She did a pretty good job summing up the important parts in her blog post…but I can share some more when I go into detail with my wedding craft projects sometime in the near future.

Also, if you missed it in my prior post, check out Nate’s seriously amazing video he made for the wedding :)

courtesy Jodi Miller Photography

I thought once the wedding was done that I’d have more time for blog posts…but now instead of wedding crafts and stressing over my dress, I’m busy with thank you note-writing, cleaning the apartment (which is a mess between honeymoon unpacking and tons of wedding gifts), and the usual other million to-dos.

Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

I do have a lot of recipes stored up though. Even though I haven’t found the time for blog posting, I’ve still been doing a decent amount of cooking. I made this recipe when we went down to my mother-in-law’s house. She always cooks dinner for us when we’re there, but I was kind of in the mood to make something, so I found this recipe and it’s definitely a winner. Hopefully you guys aren’t too sick of pumpkin yet (actually i used butternut squash).

Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

I know I’m late on the brown butter band-wagon, since it’s been all over the food blogger world for months now, but the sage brown butter on this is amazing. It’s nutty and rich. So rich that a small portion of this meal is seriously satisfying. In fact, I think I made myself sick eating it.

Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

Pan-Seared Scallops with Pumpkin Risotto

Sightly adapted from Gourmet, October 2001

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

For risotto:
1 1/2 cups diced (1/4 inch) peeled seeded fresh pumpkin (preferably from sugar or cheese pumpkins) or butternut squash
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For scallops:
20 large sea scallops (1 1/2 lb), tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage
2 tablespoons white truffle oil (optional)

Cook diced pumpkin in a medium saucepan two-thirds full of simmering water until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Bring stock and wine to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a bare simmer. Cook onion in oil in a 2- to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total. (There may be broth left over.)

Remove from heat and stir in diced pumpkin, cheese, and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper and cover to keep warm.

Prepare scallops:

Pat scallops dry very well (especially if they were pre-frozen) and season with salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning once, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. If scallops are not cooked through, reduce heat to moderate and cook about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and discard any oil remaining in skillet (do not clean skillet).

Cook butter in same skillet over moderate heat until it foams and turns light brown. Add sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in truffle oil if using. Season with salt.


*Warning- photo overload in this post!

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

Well, our honeymoon was a blast! Due to hurricane Sandy, we actually got an extra day since our original flight was cancelled. I don’t think I actually told you guys where we were headed, but we spent 10 days in the Pacific Northwest. My first time, but not Nate’s.

We spent our first 2 days in Seattle, staying downtown at the Edgewater. It was a really cute room.

Seattle Edgewater

We managed to eat as much as we walked…stopping for some donuts in Pike’s Market plus a cookie later in the day. We had an amazing meal at The Pink Door for dinner one night, which I highly recommend for anyone visiting the area. We also took a tour of Theo Chocolate factory and ate a ton of samples- including a freshly roasted coffee bean.

Theo chocolates

But the highlight of the tour was the fact that Nate had to wear a facial hair net. There actually was another bearded guy on the tour so he wasn’t the only one.

beard net

We then headed NE of Seattle to a small town called Woodinville that’s known for its wineries. My parents’ friend’s sister owns a Winery there called Columbia Winery, and she VERY generously pulled a few strings and we got a free upgrade to the biggest, nicest suite we’d both every seen at Willows Lodge…complete with fireplace, 4 poster bed, huge bathtub…and some chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us!

She also sent over a bottle of champage and wine from her winery plus a coupon for a free tasting. We took her up on it the next morning. Unfortunately the well-known restaurant at Willows Lodge, the Barking Frog, was all booked due to restaurant week, so we headed into town to a place they recommended called Purple. They also had restaurant week so we lucked out and had huge portions of delicious food for a reasonable price!

There are some big leaves way over in Washington…

dino leaf

Unfortunately we only spent one night at Willows Lodge. Before we left though, we did happen to stumble upon the home of their truffle sniffing pig…what a cutie!

truffle sniffing pig

The next day we headed to a little resort NE of Mt Rainier called Suncadia. We thought we’d be close enough to Mt Rainier to hike there, but unfortunately the closest entrance was closed for the season, so instead we enjoyed the hikes near the resort.

Cooper River Trailhead

When we got to our room there, there was a bottle of champagne and chocolates waiting for us…and by mistake they brought us another bottle and more chocolates a few minutes after we got into our room!

Suncadia lodge

Then they gave us more special treatment with MORE champagne and chocolate covered strawberries when we got to dinner- we ate at one of their in-house restaurants since the town nearby was extremely small. On the last eve there, the chef prepared a special 5 course tasting menu. To say we left stuffed is an understatement.

outdoor fire pit Suncadia

Next it was on to Hood River. We stayed in an awesome little cabin at a place called Carson Ridge B&B on the Washington side of the river. We had our own porch :)

Carson Ridge Cabins

They had a tasty homemade breakfast daily. Aside from the rain every day until 5pm-ish, it was really nice. We hiked to a couple waterfalls- the very hidden Panther Creek Falls and the larger Tamanawa Falls- both were breathtaking. The hike to Tamanawa was very rainy and unfortunately my raincoat was sub-par, completely absorbing all the water that hit it. I wasn’t a happy camper.

Tamanawa Falls

We also managed to walk over a mile in the wrong direction due to poor signage. We arrived at the falls cold and wet (at least I was), but it was definitely worth it!

 Tamanawa Falls2

Finally, we headed over to Portland by way of Cannon Beach.

Cannon beach

Portland was the cutest little city. Our first stop was to Patagonia to buy me a new raincoat :) A very smart purchase given the weather for the rest of the trip. The fall foliage in Portland was gorgeous, and despite the rain we enjoyed ourselves. Again, we found some amazing little restaurants: Tasty ‘N Sons and The Original Diner. I highly recommend both. We made stops at Pittock mansion, The Rose Test Gardens, Voodoo Donuts…

(I have way more photos but wasn’t sure how many I could get away with posting since I haven’t given you a recipe in weeks!)

By the time we made it back to NY, I think I probably gained back the weight I lost in that last frantic week before the wedding…which is totally fine by me. But Nate and I were both sick of carbs and rich food and were craving a healthy, veggie-ful meal.

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

This one hit the spot. It was warm and comforting, perfect for these chilly days we’ve been having in NY. And I changed the original recipe to include even more vegetables! A perfect end to a perfect couple of weeks!

Squash Chickpea Raisin Stew with Couscous

P.S. Check out my beautiful new everyday dishes in the photos!

Chickpea, Squash and Veggie Stew with Raisins and Couscous

Adapted from Serious Eats

Print this recipe!

Serves 4-6

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine half rings
1- 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1- 15.5 oz can chickpeas,  rinsed and drained
1 red or orange pepper, in 1 inch pieces
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
2 heaped cups peeled, seeded pumpkin or butternut squash cut into 1-inch dice
3 tablespoons raisins
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp salt
5 oz. bagged kale (or kale with stems removed and torn in pieces)
2 cups couscous
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Combine the spices in a small cup and set aside.

Put the oil in a large saucepan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, put in the cinnamon stick. Stir for a few seconds and then add the onion. Stir and fry for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is medium brown and soft (about 10 min).

Stir in the cup of mixed spices; almost right away, add the tomatoes. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened.

Add the chickpeas, pumpkin or squash, peppers, mushrooms, raisins, stock, and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until the pumpkin is just tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Add the kale and stir in, simmering until wilted.

While the vegetables simmer, make the couscous. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. When it is about to boil, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium flame and toast the couscous in it for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the boiling water into the pot of couscous, add a teaspoon of salt, and stir once. Immediately cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook very gently for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit somewhere warm, still covered, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro. Fluff the couscous thoroughly with a fork. Put a mound of couscous on each plate. Make a well in the center and use a slotted spoon to fill it with solids from the stew. Dampen the couscous generously with the liquids.

Even without a reason to cook squash (like the #squashlove! bloghop I partook in over the weekend!), I can’t help but put one of those beautiful winter vegetables in my shopping cart every time I go food shopping in the fall. I honestly think I could eat them for the next two seasons without getting sick of them.

I think this is partially because there are so many things you can do with with them. Since my last recipe was a savory squash dish, I thought this next one could be a little sweeter.

Squashes have a natural sweetness that makes them pair really well with fruits. I keep seeing mashed sweet potato recipes coming up all over the food blogs lately (with Thanksgiving on the way), but I wanted a way to lighten up the typical dish.

While squash is a starchy vegetable, it has less calories than sweet potatoes, so I decided to mash it up and add sweetness with some apples too. Roasted squash and apples pair together really well.

In addition to the natural sweetness from the fruit and vegetables, I added some maple syrup (during the roasting) and orange juice, along with fresh ginger for a little spice and orange zest for flavor.

While this dish may not be very pretty, I hope that you’ll look past it’s disgusting exterior and trust me when I say that this may be one of my favorite side-dishes I’ve ever made.

Chunky Orange Maple Ginger Squash and Apples

Recipe by Me

Print this recipe!

Serves 6 


2 medium acorn squash, cut in half and then into 1/2″ thick slices (keep peel on)
3 small apples, cored and then cut into 1/8ths
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
zest and juice of 1 orange


Spread squash and apples on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Drizzle them with the olive oil thru salt and pepper.

Roast squash and apples at 425 for 25-30 min or until squash is soft.

Remove from oven. After cooling slightly, scoop squash meat from skin and put into a medium bowl. Add apples (I left skin on). Add ginger and orange zest/juice.

Mash squash mixture until it reaches desired consistency.  Add additional syrup if desired. Serve warm.

I recently discovered that dairy and I don’t get along, but have been having trouble figuring out what to cook that’s dairy free yet still tasty…especially since I don’t want to deprive Nate. I miss cheese but decided I’d make it my mission to make a tasty Valentine’s meal despite the limitations.

Last time I was at the grocery store I picked up a couple butternut squash and since they were laying around I figured I’d make some butternut squash ravioli. These typically have milk and cheese mixed into the filling but I used tofu as a substitute. I know it sounds unappealing, but I promise you can’t taste it! It simply adds a creamy texture. I also had some mushrooms and pears, so I made a simple sauce with sauteed mushrooms, shallots, walnuts and a bit of pear.

I also wanted something yummy as an appetizer to hold Nate over til I finished making dinner. Bruschetta is always easy so I contemplated the tasty combos and decided on adding fresh fig and prosciutto. Unfortunately, the store didn’t have any fresh figs, so I got some dried ones and took them home.

I looked around, still unhappy with the dried figs and came up with my Bruschetta with Prosciutto, Pear, and Chopped Figs with Honey Drizzle. And let me tell you…it was DELISH! All in all, a lovely Valentine’s dinner with my man.

I decided to enter this recipe in the The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition #10 – Things Are Heating Up! contest


Dairy-free Butternut Squash Ravioli with Creamy Almond, Mushroom, and Pear Sauce
Recipe by Me


1/2 butternut squash, cooked, and skin removed (prob about 3/4 cup total)
1 tsp fresh ginger
1/4 container of lite firm tofu
1/3 cup dairy-free milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of dried ginger
wonton skins
salt and pepper to taste


1 Tbsp olive oil
16 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sliced pear
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
2 Tbsp dairy-free milk
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp almond butter


Put butternut squash thru dried ginger in food processor and process til smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed.

Put 1 Tbsp filling on each wonton skin. Wet edges of skin with water and put another wet-edged wonton skin on top. Press edges well to seal. If needed, use a fork to press edges together.

Add ravioli to a pot of boiling water. Cook 2-3 minutes or until ravioli float. Remove to pan and toss with sauce.


Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in pan over med-hi heat. Add mushrooms and shallots and saute until soft. Add wine and scape brown bits off pan.

Stir in walnuts, pear, tarragon, milk and almond butter. Stir and cook down sauce til slightly thickened. Add ravioli and toss well. If necessary, add pasta water to spread sauce out.


Prosciutto, Pear, and Chopped Fig Bruschetta with Honey Drizzle
Recipe by Me, makes about a dozen

1/2 baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
olive oil
2 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced
1/4 ripe pear, thinly sliced
6 dried figs
2 Tbsp honey

Brush tops of bread slices with olive oil and bake on cookie sheet at 350 for 10 min or until slightly toasted.

While bread is toasting, put figs in a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Let figs soften for 10 min. Remove figs from water, pat dry, and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.

Top bread slices with a small piece of prosciutto, folded over. Top with 1 pear slice and 1 tsp chopped figs. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately.