Dinner, Menu Planning

Saturday Shopping List // Halloween Detox

Happy Saturday Sunday!  Yesterday we had a day full of Halloween shenanigans and a little girl who didn’t nap, so the shopping list was put on the back burner.  Sorry about that.

This week I picked a slew of crazy healthy recipes to help you detox from your Halloween weekend.  Yesterday, after eating 4-5 pieces of candy (which I normally never eat) I started feeling grouchy and depressed.  It was convincing to me that all the negative hubbub about sugar lately is legit.  I hope this menu helps you to come down from your sugar buzz. And then on Friday, to celebrate a healthy week, some hearty, creamy pasta (with some earthy, roasted beets in there to continue the healthy vibe).

There’s a creamy squash soup, hearty autumn salad, and eggplant meatballs. So in other words, a healthy menu with no compromise of deliciousness and comfort.

Keep me updated on how your week is going or what recipes you enjoy by tagging your photos on Instagram with #keepingwillow. Leave me a comment below telling me what you didn’t like, how much your groceries cost or what your kids really liked.

You can download your shopping list below.  Many of the things on the list you will already have.  Just check off the the things you need.  There is space below each category to add any other things you need to buy for the week.

You can find all of the recipes for this week in one place by following my “Saturday Shopping List” board on Pinterest here.

Total cost (for all groceries I bought for the week, including other food): $110

Shopping List (download)

M E N U //

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This is a dreamy, green-less salad by Pinch of Yum is screaming everything autumn.  Add a can of chickpeas to add some heartiness.  (GF + V) RECIPE

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Roasted brussel sprouts are one of my favorites.  This recipe by Naturally Ella is going to fulfill my brussel sprout dreams.  If you’re looking for a creamier polenta, add 4 oz of goat cheese. (GF + sub vegan butter alternative) RECIPE

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It’s all the decadence of risotto and yet it’s not.  This creative recipe from Sanisbury Magazine is loaded with tender greens and mushrooms galore.  (GF + sub butter for coconut oil + vegan parm or nutritional yeast for parmesan, if vegan) RECIPE

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By spicy, it means full of spices not necessary “hot” per se.  Cookie + Kate makes this “Chorizo” inspired soup from the cookbook “The Year of Cozy” by Adrianna Adarme. Super simple and squash has so much nutritional value.  (GF + V) RECIPE

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I literally cannot wait until Wednesday so that I can eat these amazing “meat”balls by The First Mess.  Satiable and hearty but seriously healthy. Can you say kale pesto? (sub GF bread if GF + V) RECIPE

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I am obsessed with tahini dressings.  They make salad so creamy and earthy.  I can’t wait to try Minimalist Baker’s version with Kale and some butter beans. (Use GF croutons if GF + already V) RECIPE

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The thing about Half Baked Harvest recipes, is that they are extremely creative and interesting.  Yes, this is a pasta dish on a detox menu.  Cut yourself some slack.  And come on, there are beets in here. (if you’re GF use GF pasta or maybe stir the ingredients into a risotto. If vegan, skip the manchengo or substitute with vegan parm.  Use 1/2 cup cashew cream mixed with salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast to substitute the brie) RECIPE


Happy Saturday…er…Sunday!!




Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

I’m not really a fan of crock pot meals. I’m kind of a snob about it. I don’t know, maybe it just reminisces too much with the casserole trend of the 90’s.  And/or, let’s be honest here, I find that although the crock pot is very convenient, the flavor of something slow cooked in the crock pot compared to the slow cooking of the oven or stove, simply does not compare.

All that being said, I am posting a recipe for the crock pot. Yes, I am a hypocrite. You see, I have this recipe for a Moroccan vegetable tagine that I love. I want to eat it all the time but it takes 3 hours to slowly simmer into a mouth watering, flavor rich stew. Raise your hand if you have 3 hours to spend on dinner in the middle of the week.  So I made it in a crock pot. And while, yes, it’s not as amazing as the traditional version, I came up with a couple tricks to make it almost as good.

It’s sneaky, I know, but sautéing the onions and eggplant with spices before putting them in the crock pot, and then cooking the whole stew for 30 minutes to reduce the liquid after it’s cooked all day gives it that, “I haven’t left the kitchen all day” flavor.

A tagine is a traditional north African stew, mainly Moroccan, that is cooked in beautiful cone shaped earthen wear.  Beef, lamb, chicken or vegetables are slowly stewed all day long over slow burning coals.  Here is a photo I borrowed from the interwebs.

This dish is crazy healthy, loaded with flavor, and uses September fresh veggies. It’s great with both fluffy couscous or quinoa. This tomatoey, cinnamon scented stew, topped with some fresh herbs, ripe olives and toasted almonds has some crazy wow factor for entertaining but takes so little time you’ll want to eat it on your busiest day of the week.

If you make this recipe, let me know what you think!  Leave a comment.  If you post a picture on Instagram, make sure to use the hashtag #keepingwillow so I can see it!  I always love your pictures.

Love as always



Moroccan Vegetable Tagine [crock pot edition]
serves 4-6

1 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ras el hanout or recipe here
1 tsp paprika
1 small eggplant, diced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 acorn or small butternut squash, skinned a diced into half inch cubes
1 can or 1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 quart vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro
Kalamata or Manzanilla olives

1. In a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, on medium high heat, sauté the eggplant in half the olive oil until edges are slightly brown and eggplant is just starting to soften. Add eggplant to crock pot.
2.  In the same pan, soften the sliced onions in the remaining olive oil. Give them a good seasoning of salt. When the onions are nice and soft, add the spices and sauté one minute to give them a good toast.
3. Place onions, squash, tomatoes, chick peas and then enough stock to barely come to the top of all the veggies. Season generously with salt and pepper, stir and set on low for 5-6 hours. You can also do all the prep the night before, put the crock pot in the fridge and plug it in the morning.
4. Half an hour before you’re ready to serve, put the stew into a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and add the raisins. Turn it down a little bit so it’s still kind of boiling but not vigorously. Allow to boil for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
5. While the stew is reducing, toast the almonds in a sauté pan on medium heat until just barely golden. Keep an eye on these, they can burn easily.
6. Serve with couscous or quinoa. Garnish with cilantro, olives and toasted almonds.  There is plenty to share or save for lunch the next day.

Dinner, Lunch, Recipes

10 Ingredient Vegan BLT Salad

We bought this sourdough.  Like crazy delicious, I could eat half this loaf right now, locally baked sourdough bread.  And Jazz really wanted BLT’s.  And that’s good.  That’s fine.  I mean, if you’re Jazz.  And everything you eat turns into solid muscle (I mean seriously….c’mon!).  Recently, I have been very mindful of what I eat.  I’ve upped the protein, upped the vegetables and started doing some strength training.  All of this has made me more aware of my hunger signals and more importantly aware of the difference I feel in my energy when I am putting good food in my body on a regular basis (like the difference between flopping on the couch after work from exhaustion and making dinner, cleaning the house, and writing a blog post after work and then feeling like I could go for a run).  And while a delicious crispy tempeh bacon BLT, a little mayo and some ripe organic tomatoes on the sourdough from heaven would have been divine, I knew it would throw a wrench in how well I’ve been feeling.  So I compromised (at least so I thought).  I made a salad version of the sandwich love affair I was hoping to have.

And then it was so good.

Ok, let’s be straight.  A salad…will never….be as good as a sandwich.  Just like froyo will never be as good as ice cream.  But you, guys, there is some seriously good froyo out there.  And it’s better for you. So, tit for tat and all that.

It’s quick.

It’s easy.

It’s like annoyingly healthy.

It’s crammed with flavor.

And I felt great afterwards rather than weighed down and fraught with guilt.

The tahini lemon dressing that goes with this is so simple.  You only need one bowl so clean up is a breeze.  I love using kale in this salad because it balances out the tempeh and tomatoes so well. And I didn’t even mention the pièce de résistance, the FRESH BASIL. Don’t worry, I didn’t deny myself entirely.  I took half a slice of the dreamy sourdough and made mother crunching croutons with it!  So [insert profanity] good!

I hope you like it.  And I hope it makes you feel really good about yourself.  Because that’s what I’m here to do.  And if not that, then hopefully my acting like an imbecile will help you realize that things could be worse.


Vegan “BLT” Salad
serves 1-2

2 cups kale, washed, destemed, and torn into bite size pieces
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp tahini
1/2 a clove of garlic, finely grated
6-7 slices tempeh bacon, crisped up in a cast iron or sauté pan
1/4 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup cucumber, diced
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
1 slice of sourdough (or bread of choice)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium size bowl, combine the kale, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  With clean hands (I know this sounds funny, but trust me it works) massage the kale for about 30 seconds.  Get rough with it.  This will really soften up the raw kale and make it a little easier to eat.  The lemon juice will make it nice and tender.

2. Let the kale sit while you prep the rest of your salad.  Put a little bit of butter on either side of your sourdough.  Cut into cubes and place on a small baking dish, like a cake pan.  Place in the oven and allow to cook 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.  While the croutons are baking, chop your veggies and basil.

3. Pour the tahini over the greens.  Grate in a little garlic.  If you don’t like a strong garlic flavor just use a little.  Toss in the tomato, cucumber and basil and toss to coat.  Place in a salad bowl and top with diced bacon and crunchy croutons.  Eat now!


Indian Tofu Curry with Roasted Eggplant

Happy Wednesday folks! Just a few more days until one of the most celebrated days of the year.  Friday the 13th! (this is funny– cuz I hate Valentine’s Day …ahem). But seriously, I am very much looking forward to this particular Friday the 13th because little Willow is getting shipped off to spend some QT with her grandparents– FOR THREE DAYS!!!!! And let me tell you what we’re going to do now that we’re going to have a bedroom all to ourselves for 3 whole nights.

Sleep in!

And then we’ll eat left overs from this amazing curry dish and start watching a new TV series that will consume our lives for another month.  No really, we have some amazing things planned.  We’ll keep you updated on how the weekend goes.  Well, most of it ;).

Now onto curry.

Have you ever watched “The Mind of a Chef“?  It is a show created by PBS and produced and narrated by Anthony Bourdain that focuses on the work and inspiration of a single chef for an entire season.  Not just any chef.  The cutting edge, leading the way kind of chefs of America. First of all, if you are even remotely interested in food you must watch this show.  Second of all, isn’t public broadcasting the best?  Third of all, when I watch that show I come to life.  It’s actually kind of bizarre.  I watch this show and afterwards I feel like I am floating on air.  Something about experimenting with textures, colors and flavors of food that was so lovingly grown in the ground and cultivated at the perfect moment is almost a spiritual experience for me.  It invigorates something very deep inside of me and all I want to do is create and share.  If only I didn’t hate the environment of the commercial kitchen so much… This is part of the reason I am constantly sharing recipes on Keeping Willow.  It is an aspect of life that I am very passionate about, sharing beautiful food with people I love.

Most of these recipes are born out of love.  They are things that I make at home for my family.  I experiment with some things and share what I think is really delicious.   This curry recipe is one of those dishes.  It is some serious comfort food, but not in the super rich and heavy way that mac and cheese and chocolate cake are comfort foods.  This dish is loaded with flavor from the fresh ingredients and fragrant spices but it is creamy and satisfying.  The crispy tofu gives that decadence that helps this dish cross the threshold into a filling weekend feast.  I served it with some quinoa, full-fat greek yogurt and fresh cilantro sprigs.

Jazz doesn’t really like eggplant for it’s tendency to sometimes be a little chewy, so I roasted it in the oven to give it a softer texture but also to add some caramelized flavor.  Also, to add some crispiness to the tofu, I tossed it in a little cornstarch and shallow pan fried it in some pure olive oil, dusting it with a light dose of sea salt (for you gluten free people, this corn starch trick is a keeper when it comes to breading things).  Overall, this dish is warm, fragrant, bright, creamy and rich.  I hope you try it.  And then try it again the next day.  Curry leftovers are always the best.

Give it a try and leave a comment letting me know what you think.  Do you guys have any plans for V-Day (the Vagina Monologues anyone)?  Friday the 13th? Which ever it is, make sure you find some time to be with people you love.


Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping WillowIndian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping WillowIndian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping WillowIndian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping WillowIndian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping WillowIndian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping WillowIndian Roasted Eggplant and Tofu Curry // Keeping Willow


Indian Tofu Curry with Roasted Eggplant
serves 4-6 people

1 medium eggplant, cut into this slices
1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
1 small onion, julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup half and half
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For tofu|
1 package firm tofu cut into large pieces
1 cup corn starch
pure olive oil or other mild oil for frying

For garnishment|
full fat, plain greek yogurt
rice or quinoa

1. Preheat your oven to 350° F while you prep your veg.  Toss eggplant slices with 1 tbsp olive oil and some sea salt on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, flip and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, sauté your onion and bell pepper on medium high heat (in a larger skillet or sauté pan) until just starting to soften.  Add your garlic and spices and cook for one minute.  Pour in your diced tomatoes and sugar and bring up to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
3.  While the curry is simmering, start your rice/quinoa and fry your tofu.  Put your cornstarch into a medium size bowl.  Heat a medium size sauté pan on medium-high heat and add a half inch of oil. The oil is ready when you flick a little corn starch in and it bubbles immediately.  Once the oil is ready, toss 1/3 or your tofu in the cornstarch (this should be done in batches).  Don’t coat it ahead of time or you’ll end up with a messy 5th grade science experiment.  Crisp all sides of your tofu, take out and place on a cooling rack above a sheet pan, and season with salt immediately.
4. Once the eggplant is cooked and slightly golden, toss it with your curry.  Add your tofu immediately before serving to retain some crispiness.  Garnish as you please.  Enjoy!


Dinner, Lunch, Staples

Frugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash

It’s squash season!!!  Pumpkin baked goodies and butternut squash bisque and squash ravioli.  Mmmm.  Squash is delicious.

As we have been very mindful lately of how we spend our grocery budget, we have been turning to squash.  A lot.  We are currently paying $0.69 a lb at the grocery store for a variety of different winter squashes.  And a 3-4 lb squash has a large yield.  Not to mention the nutritional value of those vitamin dense, harvest season veggies.  To be short, it’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Growing up, my mom used to split an acorn squash and roast it with butter and brown sugar.  I was not a fan.  And (no offense to my mom) this is a lot of people’s experience with squash.  Just kind of boring mush.  While, now I like this boring mush, I have also learned how versatile a squash is.  Dont’ believe me?  Here look.

This is the 4 lb buttercup squash I bought at the store this weekend.  It has a deep yellow flesh with a rich, sweet flavor. We will use it for 2 meals this week, none of which will include mush, or most familiar squash dishes. Frugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping Willow

I preheated the oven to 350°F, cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, drizzled it with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I put the squash halves facedown on a foil lined sheet pan and baked them for 50 minutes.  I let them cool to room temperature.  I stored one in the fridge to put in the 3 bean chili we’re having for dinner later this week.  I kept the other one to make these black bean and squash burgers, which completely rocked.Frugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping Willow

I have made black bean burgers with sweet potatoes before but the squash worked just as well if not better.  This recipe makes enough for about 8 burgers.  Whatever we don’t eat gets frozen and saved for when we need a meal in a hurry.Frugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping WillowFrugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping WillowFrugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping Willow

Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean usually) veggie burger recipes turn out crumbly and fall apart.  But these hold together perfectly.  I served them on some fresh baked, whole wheat bread I baked yesterday with lettuce, tomato, avocado, goat cheese and Sriracha mayonnaise.  After I took some photos of this burger, I was cleaning up and turned around to find this little monster going to town.  Frugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping Willow

This should be enough proof that it’s really good.

I hope this inspires you to experiment a little with squash.  You know, do something crazy you’ve never tried before.  Like squash in a burrito, on your pizza (oh yum, with goat cheese, shitake mushrooms, walnuts and a chive, arugula pesto!!!) or in your oatmeal (with cinnamon and maple syrup).  And if you don’t like it, that’s ok because it literally cost you cents to buy. So happy, healthy, hedonistic and frugal eating to you all.  I hope you love these burgers!


Frugal Food Series | Tip 7: Squash // Keeping Willow


2 cups cooked black beans (1 can)
1/2 of a 3-4 lb squash (butternut, buttercup, kabocha, or acorn will all do) roasted and cooled (directions above)
1/2 small onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup packed, chopped cilantro
1 cup oatmeal (old fashioned)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (sub quinoa or millet if gluten free)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 Tbsp pure olive oil

1. Scoop the flesh out of the skin of your squash.  Sometimes the skin peels right off.  Combine the beans, squash, onion, garlic, cilantro, spices and salt and pepper in a medium size mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher.
2. In a food processor or blender, grind up the oatmeal until it has a similar consistency to breadcrumbs.  Make sure to use gluten free oatmeal if you are making a gluten free version. Combine the oatmeal and breadcrumbs (or gf grains) to the bean and squash mixture.
3. Portion out the burger patties into half cup portions.
4. Warm up some of the oil in a cast iron skillet or frying pan on medium heat.  Cook the burgers on either side until they are golden brown.  Serve immediately garnished with your favorite toppings.