Harvest Salad with Roasted Beets and Butternut Squash

Hearty and comforting, this harvest salad with quinoa, roasted beets and squash will balance heavier holiday eating. The recipe is loose, so you can alter it to fix your cravings or empty your fridge. This is really a choose-your-own-adventure style recipe. Want something even heartier? Bulk up the quinoa and make this a gluten-free grain bowl. 

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Vegetarian Polenta “Bolognese” with Garlic Flatbreads + Leftovers Mezze

Polenta with a little extra herbs and salty parmesan, a tomato sauce with lentils and sweet, soft garlic are the backbone of this dinner idea. These recipes are loose guides. Simply use what you have on hand for the sauce and follow your instincts, but add lentils for an easy, affordable meaty flavor. Then pair the leftover red sauce with another batch of garlic flatbreads, hummus, tahini sprinkled with za'atar, olives, raw fennel, radishes, or whatever crudités you have on hand, for a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern inspired Mezze.

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Socca: A Chickpea Flour Savory Pancake (aka a “Cromlet”) with Fennel Olive Salad & Yogurt Sauce

Crepe meets Omelette, get it? This savory, vegetarian pancake is perfect for small kitchen cooking, especially on weeknights, as it comes together quickly. Double the olive fennel salad, whip up some extra yogurt sauce, wilt some more greens, and throw it all on a lentil pasta the following night to stretch your weeknight meal planning.

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A Last Summer Hurrah: A Picnic at Lake Erie w/ a Vegan Zucchini Banh Mi & a Vietnamese Zoodle Salad

The creeping vine has begun to reveal a bright, blazing red. The blankets linger on the couch in the darkness of the mornings, tossed aside after cuddling in the evening’s chill. Soups and ciders have begun to be appealing again, and the bed has doubled with the thickness of comforters and quilts. It’s fall, but my mind keeps wandering back to the day I played hooky and soaked up the last bit of summer. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I think back to that day of lounging aimlessly on the shores of Lake Erie, my skin feels warmer. The intense sunlight renders my skin golden, and I brace myself for the stark contrast of the water, an instant chill surmounted only by a quick submersion. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

They say “when it rains, it pours,” but in my freelance world lately, “when it rains, it tsunamis” feels more accurate. The beginning of September was the equivalent of hiking to a cliff and seeing a vast, new territory of hurdles and challenges in the distance. As I stared into an overwhelming work load, I did a rare thing- I retreated. I took a day off, and I’ve been trying to channel a bit of that blessed hooky day ever since. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

Lake Erie had shamefully been unchecked on my summer bucket list for more than one season. Finally, with fall and work looming, I recruited my partner in bucket list adventures for a day of soft sand, intense sun, a picnic lunch, sneaky whiskey and the type of water antics that leave you coughing and snorting and feeling like a child who just plunged off the diving board. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

The picnic menu, like the day itself, was another attempt to soak up the end of summer and put a dent in the pile of harvested zucchinis. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

When I finally returned to that precipice, to face the looming projects and more intense work load on the horizon, I tried to embrace the work with gratitude. Though not always successful and definitely guilty of an ugly meltdown, I tried to enjoy the pouring rain of projects. In case I forgot and let my mind slip into stress/frenzy mode, I attached a sticky note reminder near my desk. “Commit to creating joyfully, not stressfully,” wise words from the ever strategic Marie Forleo.

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

It’d be great if my life included A LOT more beachy days with best friends and wholesome picnics, and part of me will strive for more of those, but more importantly, I’m striving to take that beach day’s in-the-moment-happy vibe with me in my work. I like what I do, and even if I’d like a little more space between projects, I’m still grateful for the spike. 

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Last Summer Hurrah at Lake Erie // www.WithTheGrains.com

Here’s to sharing summer recipes well into fall, to holding on tightly to hooky days, to picnics with friends and to creating joyfully because it really could be so much worse. 

Happy trails!

Quelcy Signature 


Vietnamese Zoodle Salad with Fragrant Herbs & Peanuts & Zucchini Bánh Mì

About These Recipes: Ideal for that end of summer zucchini pile, these recipes are loose and easily adaptable. Omit the fish sauce in the Zoodle Salad and a vegan mayo in the sandwich for a vegan picnic spread. 

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