macaronibeefI really wanted to call this "hamburglar soup". Remember him? Is there anyone younger than forty who remembers the hamburglar? I have no idea how long his legend lived on....ha-ha.

Anyway, soup weather has returned to the Pacific Northwest. It's like mother nature turned on a faucet and the rains have started again. We had one of the driest summer on was quite incredible. I had almost forgotten about the rain here. But it's back. Dense fog, cool temps, rain, rain, rain. It hasn't stopped. And I love it. It's Oregon and it is one of the reasons it's so beautifully green here.

So, in honor of the cold, damp weather, I had to make soup. In my awesome slow-cooker. Something hearty and warm. We have been working for weeks straight bringing in the wine grape harvest, light and delicate soups have no place here (at the moment). Hard-working bodies need protein and carbs and flavor!!

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quinoabreadQuinoa, an ancient South American grain, has multiple uses like breakfast cereal, a side dish, and even a quick bread. The best thing about Quinoa is its nutritional value: it is high in protein and fiber; it is perfect for those who maintain a gluten-free diet. This bread recipe uses gluten-free flour, making it suitable and highly enjoyable for this special diet. You can use any pre-mixed gluten-free flour like I did, or make your own mix. It should contain a few different flours like garbanzo, rice, or quinoa flour and starches like potato or tapioca.

Since banana bread is one of my favorite breads and also a favorite for many, I think this recipe is highly appealing to everyone and not just those on gluten-free diets. I mix in dried cranberries for a little tartness. You can add any dried fruits or nuts such as raisins, cherries, walnuts, or pecans. For a sweetener, I like to add a little honey, which lends a floral scent, and sugar rounds out the sweetness. Enjoy for breakfast with coffee or with an afternoon cup of tea.

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ImageSweet potatoes are having their moment—at least according to my favorite New York Times reporter, Kim Severson. It seems their new fame is largely due to the popularity of sweet potato fries.

These fries (mostly deep-fried like regular potato fries) have popped up on both upscale and chain restaurant menus all over the country in the past couple of years. I am one of those willing victims who eats these things; but more often I roast them at home in the oven using the recipe I created for Fast, Fresh & Green.

But I’ve long been a fan of sweet potatoes cooked many different ways—especially any method that allows them to caramelize a bit, like slow-sautéing. So I thought this week I’d make some slow-sautéed sweet potatoes and share that recipe here, in honor of the humble tuber’s new (but hopefully not fleeting) fame.

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kale.jpg It happens every week. As I'm selecting my Swiss chard, kale, or collards, someone inevitably sidles up to me and asks, "What do you do with that?" Then after I share a recipe idea, she usually follows up with, "To me, they're all the same."

No wonder people get confused. Every time you go to the supermarket all the winter greens are mixed together in one big, undivided, forest green section, with seemingly randomly placed signs and prices scattered above and below them.

It's like a game: Match the green on the left column with the correct name and price on the right column. Chances are you probably just select the green that your mom made when you were growing up because it's the one you actually know how to cook.

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meyerlemonpastaMy love for Meyer lemons continues this week with another dish using these amazingly flavorful citrus fruits. This time it's a pasta dish that's done in less than 15 minutes. It's meatless, so it's great for vegetarians. But the savory flavors of garlic and crushed red pepper will also appeal to the meat-and-potatoes guys. But what really lifts this dish is the Meyer lemons, which add a tantalizing zing that refreshes the palate.

As fast as you can boil pasta is as fast as you can make this recipe. The sauce is made with just the lemons and some pasta water. Then it's a matter of finishing it off with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Make this meal in minutes—it's perfect for the weeknight when you're lacking the time or creativity to make anything complex. And if you can't find Meyer lemons, use regular ones and get results that are just as great.

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