willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Lightened Up Winter Recipes

I love cooking with the seasons. That is just one of the aspects that makes me thankful for living in an area where we experience each and every season. Being that it is winter, a heartier fare is often what we feel the need to cook at the end of a day. This year though, we have made a slight change in that we are trying to utilize the abundance of fresh produce that is so readily available and cook from scratch more often. It takes some planning and some extra time but so far the results have been well worth it. In this post, I’m not elaborating with extra words but rather I decided to just present the recipes that have become favorites of ours and have been put into our rotation. We hope they make it into yours!

Sea Bass with Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, and Salsa Rustica

  • 2 sweet potatoes (1 pound total), scrubbed and cut crosswise 1/8 inch thick (about 4 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch spinach, tough stems removed (6 ounces; 6 lightly packed cups) (we have used kale, stemmed removed, instead of spinach)
  • 4 skinless sea-bass fillets (each 6 ounces), patted dry (we have used tilapia as well)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. While oven is preheating, mix sweet potatoes, garlic, and shallot with 2 tablespoons oil. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and drizzle spinach with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; layer spinach over sweet-potato mixture. On another plate, season fish with salt and pepper, placing on top of spinach once seasoned. Drizzle fish lightly with oil; roast until opaque and flaky, about 12 minutes. While fish is roasting, mix together parsley, capers, remaining 3 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. To service, drizzle mixture over fish and vegetables. Enjoy!

Active time: 20 min; total time: 55 min; Serves 4

Source: Martha Stewart Living

*You can substitute basil for the parsley in the salsa rustica.

Salmon with Walnut-Avocado Guacamole

  • 4 (6 ounces) skin-on salmon fillets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • Olive Oil cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, divided
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 peeled ripe avocado
  • 5 cups baby arugula
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
  1. Heat a sauté pan medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat sauté pan with Olive Oil cooking spray. Cook salmon, skin side down, in pan for 5 minutes. Flip salmon to skin side down and cook 3 minutes for medium-rare or longer based on desired level of doneness.
  2. In a food processor or small blender, combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 cup walnuts, 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, juice, and avocado. Pulse until nearly smooth. Little tip: put liquid ingredients into food processor small blender first.
  3. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, arugula, and radishes. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; toss. To serve, spread guacamole on one side of plate and top with salmon. On the other side of the plate, arrange salad. Chop remaining walnuts, and sprinkle over top.

Active time: 17 min; total time: 17 min; Serves 4

Source: Cooking Light

Greek Chicken Meatloaf with Spinach and Feta

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons oregano or parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash (we skipped this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and place in an oil standard loaf pan. Place loaf pan on a cookie sheet before putting in oven.
  3. Bake at 350 for 45-55 min. Allow to rest for 10 min after baking.

Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 80 minutes; serves 6

Source: Lemony Thyme

Mediterranean Chicken and Couscous Bowls

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked whole-wheat Israeli couscous (we used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend which included Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa)
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (we used non-fat Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons whole buttermilk (we left this out and the dressing was just as delish)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided (we keep fresh dill frozen to use all year round)
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken (white and dark meat), shredded (about 3 cups) (we used leftover panko and breadcrumb chicken breast from the night before)
  • 1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup of arugula (we added this on the side for some greens)
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add couscous and cook 3 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add 2 1/4 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 14 minutes or until done. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain.
  2. Combine Greek yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon dill. Divide cooked couscous evenly among 4 bowls. Arrange chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, feta and arugula evenly over couscous. Top each serving with about 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt mixture/dressing; sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons dill.

Active time: 20 min; total time: 40 min; serves 4

Source: Cooking Light

I really do love to cook. It is often finding the time at the end of a long day that makes it difficult. Can you all relate? I have found though that it feels much better at the end of that long day to have something planned out to eat that does not involve take out or eat out. With a little forethought, it can be done! Unfortunately, my photography skills are lacking and because that time at the end of the day is often crunch time to get the food on the table, taking photos of it is often scoffed at by my crew and the food is eaten before we can capture it! It really isn’t about the photos so I hope you enjoy the recipes and please do share any of your favorites!

Happy seasonal eating!

xo Meg

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  1. Barbara cadge says:

    Thank you for these wonderful recipes. They look and sound delicious! I’m looking forward to trying them.
    Here’s to happy and healthy eating,

    • Meg Veno says:

      You are quite welcome Barbara! I hope you enjoy them and please do let me know how you like them!
      Happy Sunday!

  2. JULIE W POWERS says:

    How lucky that I planned on salmon for our family Sunday night dinner. I’m going to try out your recipe. Sound delicious – thanks for being my inspiration!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Julie!

      How did you like the salmon recipe? I hope that you all enjoyed it!

      Thanks for reading… I appreciate it!


  3. Barbara Geltosky says:

    We were just saying we need to cut back back on the comfort food and these recipes look like they will point us in the right direction!
    Also we happened to drive through Yellow Springs the other night-looks like somethings brewing there?

    • Meg Veno says:

      Hi Barbara!

      I hope that they do! They are warm and comforting but without being heavy. I hope that you enjoy them!
      Yes… we have a little project brewing in Yellow Springs! We will be announcing soon but it has something to do with opening up a location for Life’s Patina out there along with some yummy nibbles! 😉
      Thanks for reading!


  4. heather gallagher says:

    Dear Meg,
    Thank you for inviting me to slow down, savor and enjoy beauty….that which derives from nature as well as beauty cultivated by artistic creativity. You do it in a manner which does not invite envy, but rather hope. Hope that I, too, can create a home which nurtures the body and spirit. I will be making the mediterranean chicken cous cous bowls this evening as the snow falls down and blankets a quiet sunday. Blessings!!! Heather Gallagher

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Heather,
      You are quite welcome! I am so very glad that you enjoyed the recipes and the blog posts. Cooking healthy meals has been one of my biggest challenges with a busy schedule but if we make the effort up front, it can happen! Thanks for your beautiful comments Heather and blessings to you as well!


  5. Jeannine Gondy says:

    Meg, thank you for your time, sharing and transparency. That’s what makes your writing so appealing–you’re real and we can all relate!

    • Meg Veno says:

      Dear Jeannine,
      Thank YOU for commenting! I know that many of you can relate, which is why I want to share so some of us don’t feel alone in our challenges. I hope that you and your beautiful family are well!