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Healthy Winter Meals Made EasyGetting healthy winter meals on the table in time becomes increasingly challenging as days get shorter and shorter, and we struggle to accomplish more with shrinking energy. And with temperatures dropping, grilling outside becomes less attractive by the day.

Heavier meals are also on the menu in order to help maintain body temperature and keep the energy flowing. But cooking hearty food traditionally requires a considerable amount of elbow grease and plenty of cleanup.

Thankfully, nowadays you make it easier on yourself by putting some little sous-chefs to work. And since we all crave comfort food at that time of year, cooking with an electric cooker sounds like the perfect small appliance to get the job done.

But did you know that these little marvels can also take care of dessert? 😉

Instant Pot Dinners

Instant Pot DinnersIt is only fitting that we start with the multi cooker that stands head and shoulders above the competition due to its versatility and reliability: the Instant Pot multi use pressure cooker.

The Instant Pot is what multitasking is all about. Apart from pressure cooking and of course keeping everything warm till you’re good and ready, this one pot wonder will also sear/sauté/roast, steam, slow cook, bake, and – are you ready for this – even sous vide, depending on the model you choose. WOW!!!

As you can see, Instant Pot uses are so varied that it is deemed a miracle worker. Designed for busy people, this one pot wonder can handle any task thrown at it. Judge for yourself…

Bear in mind that the following only scratches the surface in terms of the variety of dishes the Instant Pot can handle.

True, one-pot dishes are its mainstay: Honey Sesame Chicken, Thai curry, Cheesy Chicken, Beef Stroganoff, Tex-Mex Taco Pie, Chicken Cacciatore, Fried Chicken; Mac ‘n Cheese, lasagna, quiche, stuffing, pasta sauces and so much more.

But note that it also does double duty, simultaneously cooking two totally different components to perfection:
.One Pot Chili AND Cornbread
.Soy Ginger Pork and Rice
.Southern Shrimp and Grits
.Ratatouille with Quinoa
.Shrimp & Pea Risotto

Instant Pot steamed vegetables such as a Vegetable Medley can be cooked as a main dish, or simply added to already pressure cooked meat or fish. How about Sunday Pot Roast with Carrots and Mashed Potatoes, or Soy-Ginger Salmon with Broccoli?

Or perhaps some Instant Pot vegetarian dishes might be up your alley:
.Homemade Marinara Sauce
.Roasted Garlic Hummus
.Spicy Lentils
.Breakfast Quinoa
.Coconut Butternut Squash
.Vegetable Lo Mein with Rice Vermicelli
.Wild Rice Pilaf
.Broccoli and Rice
.Deviled Eggs

You can also make soup in the Instant Pot (French Onion, Chicken Noodle, Broccoli Cheddar, Clam chowder, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato bisque) …and even pasta: Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, Asiago Shrimp Risotto, Honey BBQ or Chinese Chicken wings, Bourbon-Glazed Meatballs, Whole “Roast” Chicken and Gravy.

Hunkering for something different? Why not try Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri, Pork Vindaloo, Naan, Turmeric Pork Curry, Chicken Sangria, Pad Thai Stir-Fry, Butter Chicken or perhaps French Cider & Mustard-Braised Chicken.

But why stop here when this Over Achiever can also make breakfast, as in Breakfast Burritos, Superfood Porridge or Ginger Almond Oatmeal – and even bake:
.Cakes like Streudel or Blueberry Cinnamon Coffee Cake; Chocolate Fudge, Pineapple Upside Down, Mango with Cardamom; Mini Mochaccinos or Chocolate cheese cake;
.Peach cobbler, Bread or Rich Chocolate pudding; Cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, Lava cakes or Lemon Curd tart;
.Southern Sweet Potato or Brioche Rum custard, Flan, Dulce de Leche!

And finally, the Sous vide function allows you to flawlessly cook such varied dishes as Turkey Club sandwiches, Rosemary Leg of Lamb with Roasted Root Vegetables, Buttery Lobster Tails, Strip Steaks with Chives & Garlic, Perfect In-the-Shell Eggs, Pork Shoulder Quesadillas, Limoncello, Hoisin-Glazed Spare Ribs, Creme Brulee, Avocado Toast with Poached Egg, Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal, and a whole lot more.

Can you see why IP is the undisputed Top Chef in my kitchen? 😉

Slow Cooker/Crockpot Dishes

Slow Cooker/Crockpot DishesThough the Crock-Pot started as a simple bean cooker, it has evolved into a multi-fasceted slow cooker that can handle a broad range of dishes.

Sure, slow cookers can easily produce main dishes such as Mac ‘n Cheese, Meatballs, Sloppy Joes, Red Beans and Rice, Pork Loin & Potatoes, Chicken Marsala, Burritos, Chicken Divan, Pulled Pork, Meatloaf, Spaghetti Sauce, Chicken Penne, Lasagna, Stuffed Peppers, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Ham and a whole lot more.

But crockpots can also make great soups and stews: Vietnamese Pho (Beef Noodle Soup), New England Clam Chowder, French Onion Soup, Carrot Coconut Soup, Curried Butternut Squash Soup; Chili, Gumbo, Black Been Chipotle, Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Stews, etc. Appetizers? Not a problem: Cheese Fondue, Chicken Wings, Nachos, Corn Bread & Queso, Corn on the Cob, dips and spreads.

Put your slow cooker to work last thing at night and wake up to a lovely breakfast: Applesauce Flapjacks, Oatmeal with Maple-Glazed Apples and Cranberries, Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats… and even Green Apple, Quince and Cardamom Jelly!

Dessert hasn’t been left out either: Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars, French Toast Casserole, Mini Salted Caramel Mocha Cheesecakes; muffins, cobblers and brownies; all sorts of puddings including rice or bread pudding; and it can turn apples into apple sauce, apple butter and even apple pie.

One the most appealing benefits of slow cookers is the ability to make hot drinks like punch, cocoa, latte, and mulled cider or wine. Not only do they handle the job beautifully, but I can’t think of a better way to welcome guests than with the warm scent of mulled cider…

Pretty impressive for a single small appliance, but the question is: can you make healthy slow cooker meals?

That is where the easy slow cooker process becomes an issue. Because slow cookers simmer, i.e. cook at a lower temperature and for longer periods than other cookers, some flavor as well as nutrients can be lost.

Also, if you love eating beans, you MUST take extra precautions. Boiling destroys some toxins contained in raw kidney beans as well as other beans (broad, fava, etc.). The problem is, slow cookers never reach the boiling point. So raw beans need to be pre-cooked if you are using a slow cooker!

Cooking with a Rice Cooker

Cooking with a Rice CookerCooking rice in a crock pot is not ideal, as slow cookers are designed to cook at low temperatures over an extensive period of time. On the other hand, you can cook perfect rice in a rice cooker in no time, as these appliances work to quickly bring your ingredients to a boil, producing the steam needed for light, fluffy rice.

If rice is a staple in your diet, a rice cooker is a definite must. Though most will warm rice, model settings will determine which kinds of rice the unit can cook (white, long grain, brown, mixed, wild) as well as whether or not it will steam food, make porridge, quinoa, or even bake cakes.

So whether you are dreaming of simple, perfect jasmine white rice or sushi, bear in mind that part of the preparation might well involve your stove or other appliances.

Now that you have been warned, here are some healthy rice cooker ideas you may want to try: Tofu Jasmine Fragrant Rice, Brown Rice Tabbouleh, Brown Rice and Turkey Sloppy Joes, Chicken Vindaloo, Rice Alfredo, Japanese Beef curry, Paella, Caprese Rice Salad, Niçoise Brown Rice salad, Quinoa and Chicken salad, Wild Rice salad, Gumbo Bowl, Jambalaya Buttered Lobster Rice…

But what can you make in a rice cooker other than rice? More sophisticated models can make breakfast for you: perhaps Creamy Oatmeal Brûlée or Steel Cut Oatmeal rice cooker porridge. Or you may want to try some rice cooker desserts like Cheese Cake, Lemon Cake, Black Sesame Cake, Chocolate & Fig Cake, or Ice Rice Gelato!

One Pot Cooker: Good or Bad Idea?

Minimal effort for maximum results…

It’s easy to see why everyone needs a one pot cooker (or two), specially when fall arrives and it starts getting chilly. You’ll probably find yourself using it year round for its practicality, and also because your kitchen will stay cool in the summer even if you cook in it all day long.

While crock pot cooking quickly gained in popularity, many have since turned to pressure cooking for truly tasty, healthy meals – and safe sailing with today’s built-in safety features!

Don’t worry about what to make for dinner, or your next barbecue or potluck: the comfort food ideas above are just a small sample of the recipes you can find directly on manufacturers’ websites.

Cranberry Tequila Margaritas

Cranberry Tequila MargaritasTraditionally considered a warm weather drink, margaritas have gained in popularity and are now enjoyed all year long. This holiday-friendly version simply requires a fun garnish to complement its appropriately seasonal splash of color.

Yield: 1 margarita
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
3 oz tequila
2 oz Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
2 oz cranberry juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Garnish:
fresh rosemary sprigs, bottom leaves removed, approximately 2-3” long
fresh cranberries
fresh lime wedges

Directions:

To make cranberry sprig garnish, carefully thread 3 fresh cranberries onto tough rosemary stems. Set aside.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice and add tequila, Cointreau, and both juices. Shake well and strain into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and lime wedges, if desired.

Serve immediately.

Cranberry Vodka Moscow Mule

Cranberry Vodka Moscow MuleIf you ever wondered what is in a Moscow Mule, ginger beer and vodka with a twist of lime juice are the basic components. All the better made with The Great Jamaican Ginger Beer if you can find it, as it adds an extra kick of ginger flavor.

A splash of cranberry juice lends a touch of seasonal color to this classic cocktail and is sure to make it a new holiday favorite.

Yield: 1 cocktail
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
3 oz premium vodka
1 oz 100% cranberry juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
8 oz ginger beer

Garnish (optional):
Fresh cranberries, lime wedges and/or rosemary sprigs (2-3”L), bottom leaves removed

Directions:

To make cranberry sprig garnish, carefully thread 3 fresh cranberries onto the bottom of each rosemary stem.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add vodka, cranberry juice and lime juice. Shake well and pour into ice-filled copper mugs. Top off mug with ginger beer and stir to combine.

Garnish with rosemary sprigs and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Homemade Eggnog

Homemade EggnogReady-made eggnog ingredients typically include eggs, sugar, milk variations and spicing. This cooked version is for those of you who love the rich, creamy taste of classic eggnog, but dislike the idea of using raw eggs.

For a spiked version, you can combine eggnog with rum, bourbon or cognac to taste.

Servings: 12
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus time to chill)

Ingredients:
12 eggs
1¼ cup sugar
4 cups whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups evaporated milk
2 cups half and half

Directions:

Whisk eggs and sugar in a medium glass bowl until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a saucepan and stir in whole milk, vanilla extract and ground nutmeg.

In a separate glass bowl, stir evaporated milk and half and half until combined.

Heat egg mixture over medium-low heat while stirring constantly to prevent the milk from scorching. When mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer, remove from heat and slowly whisk in evaporated milk mixture.

Cool slightly before tasting. Add more sugar or nutmeg if desired before transferring to an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight or until thoroughly chilled. Serve in mugs and garnish with whipped cream, cinnamon sticks or a dash of nutmeg.

Peppermint Martinis

Peppermint MartinisLooking for festive vodka Christmas drinks? Peppermint Martinis combine chocolate and peppermint flavors AND sport an appropriate seasonal crushed candy cane rim – what more could you possibly want?

Just make sure you use the WHITE crème de cacao, as the dark version works well in terms of taste but will spoil the look.

TIP: Make sure you use the white crème de cacao for this recipe. Though the taste of the dark crème de cacao works well, it won’t give you the crisp look you are after.

Yield: 1 cocktail
Time to Prepare: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
2 oz vanilla vodka, chilled
1 oz white crème de cacao, chilled
1 oz Peppermint schnapps, chilled

Rim:
3 oz peppermint candy, crushed
¼ fresh lime

Optional garnish:
Small candy canes

Directions:

Place peppermint candy in a plastic bag and cover with a towel. Pound bag with a meat mallet or rolling pin until candy is crushed into very small pieces. Transfer to a flat plate.

Run a small wedge of lime around the rim of a martini glass till very well moistened. Turn the martini glass upside down and place moistened rim onto the plate of crushed peppermint. Turn gently to ensure the entire rim is evenly coated.

Fill cocktail shaker with ice and add vodka, crème de cacao, and peppermint schnapps. Shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. Strain chilled liquid into a prepared martini glass and add a small candy cane. Serve immediately.

Sparkling Pomegranate Cocktail

Sparkling Pomegranate CocktailCombine pomegranate juice with fizzy sparkling water, and what have you got? Christmas cheer in a glass!

Yield: 2 cocktails
Total Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
4 oz citrus-flavored vodka, chilled
6 oz 100% pomegranate juice, chilled
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 oz cold sparkling water

Optional garnish:
Lime wedges
Fresh pomegranate arils

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes; add vodka, pomegranate and lime juice. Shake to combine thoroughly. Strain liquid mixture evenly into two champagne glasses and top with sparkling water. Serve immediately.

But wait a minute – we still need something to nibble on! Go take a look at our mouthwatering holiday party appetizers

Holiday Finger FoodsStill wondering what holiday party food to serve that will wow your guests? Fret no more: we’ve come up with yummy holiday finger foods that should inspire you to get in the kitchen and start cooking up a storm!

While it’s true that some recipes are easier than others, keep on the lookout for components like our orange-cranberry relish that can be made ahead of time. And by the way, these recipes would make great Christmas party finger foods too!

Dark Cherry & Brie Puff Pastry Bites

Dark Cherry & Brie Puff Pastry BitesNeed a super easy appetizer for your next holiday gathering? If so, you’ll definitely want to give these bite-sized phyllo cups a try. The flavors of warm, melted Brie and sweet dark cherries are enhanced with a slight hint of maple syrup. For a more complex and savory flavor combination, add some fresh thyme leaves to each cup prior to baking.

Yield: 30 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
8oz Brie, rind removed, cut into 30 small cubes
6 ounces frozen dark cherries, thawed and cut into small pieces (reserve juice)
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
30 frozen phyllo cups

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place phyllo cups on sheet and add one piece of Brie to each cup. Top off each cup with an equal amount of chopped cherries and reserved juice.

Drizzle a little maple syrup over each up and place in preheated oven for 7–9 minutes or until Brie is completely melted. Watch carefully to ensure the phyllo cups do not burn.

Remove from oven and serve warm.

Orange Cranberry Brie Crostini Appetizers

Orange Cranberry Brie Crostini AppetizersMaking crostini toppings does not have to be complicated. This orange-cranberry relish is best made a day or two in advance in order to give the flavors a chance to mingle. Just allow your relish to reach room temperature or heat it up briefly in the microwave (about 20 seconds) which will help melt the Brie even more.

BONUS: The orange-cranberry relish stores well and can be served on its own as a tasty side dish, so no need to worry about leftovers – another reason why these crostini make such great holiday party appetizers!

Yield: 30 crostini approximately
Total Prep Time: 20–25 minutes

Ingredients:
Cranberry relish:
12oz bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
3/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange zest

Crostini:
1 long, thin baguette, cut into 1/3” slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8oz Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into thin slices

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, orange juice, ginger, cinnamon and orange zest in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat and cool completely. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Arrange bread slices on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush tops with melted butter. Bake until bread turns golden brown, approximately 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and place one slice of Brie on top of each slice while it is still warm. Top with cranberry relish and serve immediately.

Prosciutto Baskets with Whipped Goat Cheese Filling

Prosciutto Baskets with Whipped Goat Cheese FillingThese elegant appetizers look a lot more complicated than they actually are. The trick is to have your prosciutto sliced thin enough to manipulate, but not so thin that it will fall apart as you work with it.

TIP: If possible, have your prosciutto sliced by your grocery store’s meat department instead of buying already sliced packaged prosciutto.

Servings: 24 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

12 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced
4 oz goat cheese, softened
4 oz ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut prosciutto slices in half lengthwise to create 24 long, thin strips.

Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin tin with non-cook cooking spray. Take one thin strip of prosciutto and place is across an empty cup, with the middle of the strip over the mid-point of the cup.

Press the center of the prosciutto strip into the bottom of the cup. Carefully fold and wrap one end of the prosciutto around one interior side of the cup until it overlaps the prosciutto on the opposite side. Repeat with the opposite side of the prosciutto so that the exposed muffin cup is covered to form a basket shape.

Repeat this process with the remaining 23 muffin cups.

Place muffin tin in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them while they bake so they don’t overcook. The edges of the prosciutto will start to brown when ready.

Remove pan from oven and cool for a couple minutes before transferring each basket to paper towels to remove excess grease. Flip each basket after several minutes. Once all excess oil has been removed, transfer baskets to a large plate.

In a small glass bowl, combine goat cheese, ricotta cheese, heavy cream and thyme leaves. Stir or whisk until thoroughly combined.

Once prosciutto baskets are cool to the touch, transfer cheese mixture to a plastic sandwich bag. Cut a small tip off one corner and pipe cheese mixture into each prosciutto basket. Top each cheese-filled basket with chopped pistachios.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Logs

Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese LogsThese super easy holiday appetizers make a great addition to any holiday party menu. They offer amazing versatility just when you need it most! Serve the logs on their own with an assortment of your favorite crackers and vegetable crudités, or thinly sliced over your favorite mixed green salad.

Let your imagination run wild: these logs are just the thing to help spruce up a simple dish: add a slice or two on top of a pile of hot veggies or sliced chicken, and get ready to smile…

Servings: 1 4” goat cheese log
Total Prep Time: 10 minutes

TIP #1: In order to avoid awkward squished log shapes, use dental floss (just not the mint-flavored variety!) rather than a regular kitchen knife to achieve uniform round slices.

TIP #2: Save time and money by purchasing a larger 11-ounce goat cheese log instead and cutting it into three logs. Use your imagination to vary the toppings: toasted walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, or pistachios instead of pecans.

Or forego nuts entirely and use fresh herbs, edible flowers or dried fruits (cranberries, apricots or figs) instead. For a truly decadent treat, try coating a goat cheese log in a semi-sweet chocolate ganache topped with chopped peanuts.

Ingredients:
1 4-ounce goat cheese log, chilled
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
Assorted crackers and crudités for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread pecans on rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove halfway through and flip pecans with a spatula to toast evenly. Remove from oven and cool completely before chopping.

Remove goat cheese log from package and drizzle with honey. Gently spread honey with your fingers until the entire surface is evenly covered.

Pour chopped pecans onto a small clean plate. Gently roll the honey-coated goat cheese log in the nuts until entire surface is coated. Apply gentle pressure with your fingers to fill in any open spaces.

Transfer to serving plate and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator until 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers and crudités.

Savory Puff Pastry Bites

Savory Puff Pastry BitesThese savory puff pastry bites hit all the right notes with sweet caramelized onions, marinated Portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked cheddar cheese, plus a hint of fresh thyme. Although there are several steps required to assemble these tasty morsels, the results are well worth the effort!

It takes some time to caramelize the onions, so this recipe is designed to give you plenty of leftovers for your efforts. What you don’t use in this recipe can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week, or can be frozen for later use. Caramelizes onions are great to have on hand, because they are absolutely delicious on sandwiches, in soups, or on top of your favorite pizza.

Yield: 64 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 package frozen puff pastry
2 eggs, beaten
Flour for rolling

Caramelized Onions:
4 large yellow onions
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Marinated Mushrooms:
8 oz sliced baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and patted dry
¼ cup Marsala wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz applewood-smoked cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only

TIP: Freezing your cheddar cheese for 10 minutes will make it easier to grate.

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator.

In a medium glass bowl, combine mushrooms and Marsala wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature. Drain excess moisture before cooking.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add marinated mushrooms and sauté until browned and tender, approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To caramelize onions, slice off both ends and remove outer layers. First cut onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half across the middle to form four sections. Finally, cut each section lengthwise into strips.

TIP: Don’t cut the onions too thin, or they may burn while cooking.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large skillet with high sides; for best results, avoid using a non-stick pan. Add onions and stir with a wooden spoon until coated with butter.

Cook onions over medium heat for approximately 45–50 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to ensure they cook evenly and don’t stick to the pan. The exact cooking time will vary based on several factors, including the age of the onions and how many you cook at one time.

Once the onions reach the desired depth of color, add white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add more liquid if necessary to scrape up all the brown bits, and then salt and pepper the onions to taste. Remove from heat and let cool in pan until ready to use. Once cool, transfer any unused onions to an airtight container for future use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut thawed puff pastry dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut puff pastry sheet into 32 equally sized rectangles. Transfer puff pastry pieces to a prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Repeat the above steps for the other half of the puff pastry.

Remove baking sheets from freezer and let sit for a couple of minutes before brushing each piece with the beaten egg.

Carefully arrange equal amounts of grated cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms on each piece of puff pastry. Sprinkle each with fresh thyme leaves.

Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes before rotating each baking sheet to ensure the pastry bites cook evenly. Continue cooking until the pastry is golden brown, approximately 8-10 minutes.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Prosciutto-Wrapped AsparagusSimple flavor combinations are often the most delicious. These elegant party appetizers require just a few ingredients, but deliver incredible results in just a few minutes.

For thickness consistency, have your prosciutto sliced in your grocer’s meat department and request very thin slices that do not fall apart when you handle them. If your slices are too thick, they will not remain neatly wrapped around the asparagus spears, and your appetizers will taste too salty.

Yield: 30 appetizers
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
30 asparagus spears, washed, tough ends removed
15 slices of prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat broiler to high. Line a large, rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut each strip of prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap each trimmed asparagus spear with a strip of prosciutto, starting just below the tip and wrapping toward the bottom. You should end up with the entire spear covered except for the tip.

Arrange wrapped asparagus spears on lined baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between the spears. Use a second pan or work in batches if necessary. Brush each spear with olive oil and season with freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

TIP: No extra salt is needed, as prosciutto is naturally salty.

Place baking sheet under broiler and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from oven and carefully turn each spear before placing back under the broiler. Broil for another 2-3 minutes or until prosciutto is crispy and the asparagus is tender.

Remove spears from baking sheet and place on a wire cooling rack to allow excess grease to drain. Dab lightly with a paper towel if you wish. Transfer spears to a serving tray and serve immediately.

Seasoned Mixed Nuts

Seasoned Mixed NutsIn a rush and looking for easy holiday treats? These sweet and savory mixed nuts are sure to be a hit at your next holiday party. Plus they make a perfect last-minute hostess gift as you make your rounds this holiday season.

Yield: 4 cups
Total Prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

4 cups unsalted mixed nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pistachios)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss until nuts are completely coated and all seasonings evenly distributed.

Spread nuts into a single layer on lined baking sheet. Bake for 8–10 minutes before stirring nuts to ensure they are evenly toasting. Continue baking for another 8–10 minutes or until they reach a nice golden brown. Watch closely during final minutes to ensure the nuts do not overcook.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional sea salt or other seasonings if you wish. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container once cooled.

Mini-Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Salted-Caramel Crunch Topping

Mini-Pumpkin CheesecakesThese little mini-pumpkin cheesecakes are a crowd favorite because they look almost as good as they taste! Sprinkle each cheesecake with some pre-made salted-caramel crunch for that special extra touch.

Another option is to top with your favorite caramel sauce and maybe some chopped nuts before serving, or simply sprinkle a little pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon on top of the whipped cream.

Yield: 24 mini cheesecakes
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Whipped Cream:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Crust:
1 ½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies (approximately 25-30 cookies)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pumpkin Cheesecake:
8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves

Optional garnishes:
Salted Caramel Crunch
Caramel sauce
Chopped nuts

Directions:

In a large glass bowl, use a hand or immersion blender to blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until mixture is light and fluffy. Set aside or place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Put cookies in a large heavy-duty freezer bag and cover with a towel, then pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until cookies are uniformly crushed into very small pieces… or simply use a food processor.

Transfer crushed cookies to a glass bowl and add melted butter. Stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Note: Add a little more melted butter to hold cookie crumb mixture together if necessary, being careful not to add too much which would cause the butter to compete with the flavor of the gingersnap crust.

Divide cookie crumb mixture into 24 equal parts and press into the bottom of each muffin cup firmly with your fingers to form a crust. Bake in preheated oven for 8–10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, brown sugar and salt with a hand held mixer. Add pumpkin puree and Greek yogurt to cream cheese mixture and continue beating until combined.

Crack egg in a separate bowl before adding to the cream cheese mixture. Then blend in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Continue blending until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated into the batter.

Divide pumpkin cream cheese mixture evenly between the 24 muffin tin cups and place on top of the pre-baked cookie crust. Fill each cup slightly higher than the edge of the pan.

Place muffin tin on center rack of oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and the pumpkin mixture has set. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing mini cheesecakes from tin. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

To serve, top with whipped cream and salted-caramel crunch or your favorite caramel sauce. If using homemade whipped cream, spoon it into a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small corner off one bottom side. Pipe onto individual mini-cheesecakes for greater control.

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint BarkPeppermint bark is one of those favorite seasonal holiday sweets that everyone seems to enjoy. If you’ve never made it before, you are in for a very pleasant surprise. This super easy recipe assembles quickly with minimal fuss.

Not surprisingly, the secret to outstanding peppermint bark is to use your choice of high quality all-dark or all-white chocolate.

Yield: 2 pounds
Total Prep Time: 2 hours (including refrigeration)

Ingredients:
16 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
16 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup crushed peppermint candy

Directions:

Place peppermint candy in a heavy-duty freezer bag and cover with a towel. Pound bag with a meat mallet or rolling pin until finely crushed, and set aside… or simply use a food processor.

Line a small, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. If necessary, dampen the bottom of the outer edges of the parchment paper to hold it in place.

In a double broiler, melt the dark chocolate until smooth. Transfer to parchment paper while warm and spread with a plastic spatula until uniformly thick.

Thoroughly clean double broiler before melting the white chocolate. Once smooth, stir in the crushed peppermint pieces until evenly distributed. Pour the white chocolate mixture on top of the dark chocolate layer. Spread over the dark chocolate layer until evenly distributed.

Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Once hardened, break peppermint bark into pieces before serving or storing.

A Toast to Pumpkin Drinks!It may surprise you to hear that next to apple, pumpkin drinks are some of the most popular fall alcoholic drinks. Not surprising, as they rely heavily on pumpkin spice spices, a winning combination of flavors which can be found in many seasonal comfort foods.

Mix together cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves (and maybe allspice for that added je ne sais quoi), and somehow you end up with the perfect blend of what North American autumns should taste like if only you could taste them!

Here are four ways to introduce that spice combo into some autumn drinks and turn them into bewitching fall party drinks…

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Punch

Did you know that you can buy ready-made, fall-flavored caramel or pumpkin spice vodka?

Start with 3 shots of plain or fancy vodka. Add 3 ounces of cream soda and 2 ounces of pumpkin ice cream. Stir well and sprinkle with a pinch of pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin Spice Vodka Cocktail

Fall coffee drinks have been gaining in popularity, so it’s only natural that pumpkin spice eventually sneaked its way in.

Start by chilling 56 ounces of coffee till almost frozen. Add 1 ounce of Kahlua and 1 ounce of vodka.

Top with ¾ cups of whipping cream and finish with a sprinkle of pumpkin spice.

Banana Pumpkin Whip

Banana and pumpkin pair well together. Add pumpkin spice for a perfect seasonal drink.

Simple to make though not for the faint of heart, stir together 1 ounce of chilled banana liqueur, 2 ounces of chilled pumpkin liqueur and 1 ounce of whipping cream. Add a pinch of pumpkin spice and stir.

Pumpkin Spice White Russian

For a fall variation of the White Russian, combine 1½ cups of whole milk, ½ cup of vodka, ½ cup of good quality coffee liquor, and add ½ teaspoon of pumpkin spice.

For a dairy-free alternative, simply substitute almond milk.

Find lip-smacking fall food ideas and recipes to serve with these fabulous drinks.

Fall apple drinksWhile fall automatically brings to mind apple cider, there are numerous other apple drinks you can make yourself in no time, from a simple harvest punch to all sorts of fall alcoholic drinks that are perfect for a fall dinner party.

Apple Fall Punch

The easiest of the bunch, this drink only requires four ingredients: a bottle of apple juice (32oz), a can of frozen berry juice, 1 cup of orange juice, and about a liter of sparkling soda water for a little festive kick.

Worried about calories? Simply use a lighter version of the apple juice which will also reduce the sugar content.

Want to kick it up a notch for a harvest party? Add alcohol to your apple drinks for an instant holiday boost.

Apple Cider Punch

Also simple to make with only four ingredients, this fall alcoholic punch is guaranteed to impress your guest.

Into a large pitcher, pour 4 cups of apple cider, 2 cups of pear nectar and 3 cups of ginger ale. Add a thinly sliced apple and spike with vodka to your taste.

Honey Apple Ryder

Apple flavored liquor is highly popular, and the next drink is highly likely to earn you kudos as a savvy host.

Start by infusing some gin with apples which is simple enough to do: put a sliced apple in a mason jar, fill with gin and let it infuse for three to four days. Once it has turned yellowish, it is ready to be strained.

Mix your apple gin with an equal amount of vodka. Add a half ounce of Lillet Blanc and shake with ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon and serve.

Hot Spiced Apple Drink

As temperatures plummet, warm fall drinks increase in popularity. Cut 3-4 regular size cored apples into chunks and blend them with 4 cups of water and 3-4 tablespoons of honey till it reaches applesauce consistency.

Strain, then simmer remaining liquid. Add spices: ¼ teaspoon anise powder, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon clove powder and ½ teaspoon cardamom.

Pour into glasses and add a pinch of cinnamon to each glass if you wish.

Spicy Crockpot Cider

Spicy Crockpot CiderThis warm, spicy concoction is a delicious treat on a crisp autumn day. Take a minute or two to add the ingredients to your one pot cooker and before you know it, you’ll be serving up a special treat for everyone to enjoy.

Added bonus: your kitchen will be filled with the welcoming aroma of warm spices!

Ingredients:
I gallon apple cider
1 orange, washed thoroughly and sliced
1 small handful whole cloves
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on lowest setting for 3-4 hours. Strain and serve hot.

Best DIY Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Irish Pumpkin CoffeePumpkin pie spice is one of the quintessential flavors of fall. Did you know that it only takes a couple minutes to whip up your own version with ingredients you probably already have on hand? Use what you need and store the rest in an airtight container. With enough willpower, it should last for several weeks… 😉

And if you’re wondering how to make pumpkin spice coffee, wonder no more. Once you’ve got your DIY pumpkin spice powder mixed, you are good to go. what better way to make use of that goodness than in a spicy coffee topped with whipped cream!

This particular rendition of an Irish coffee combines hot coffee, Irish Cream plus delicious whipped cream and is sure to satisfy the most demanding pumpkin spice tooth.

Ingredients:
Pumpkin Spice Powder:
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cloves

Homemade Whipped Cream (or substitute store-bought whipped cream):
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Coffee:
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
16 oz freshly brewed hot coffee
8 oz Irish Crème
Additional pumpkin pie spice to sprinkle on top

Directions:

In a large glass bowl, blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with a hand or immersion blender until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then, drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until the mixture is light and fluffy. Set aside.

Before brewing, sprinkle fresh coffee grounds with pumpkin pie spice and gently shake to evenly combine the mixture. Brew spiced coffee grounds as usual.

Pour 2 oz. Irish Cream into each cup and top with 4 oz. of freshly brewed coffee. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice before serving.

How’s that for an easy Irish coffee?

Amazing how some simple seasonal twists make these drinks perfect accompaniments for some of our tasty fall food dishes

Thanksgiving leftoversWith Thanksgiving over and the mess cleaned up, you find yourself with a refrigerator full of Thanksgiving leftovers. Sure, you can serve up the traditional holiday dinner once or twice, but by then, you’re ready for something different.

The good news is that you won’t have to cook for a week or so. But you still have to come up with some healthy meal ideas in order to transform those leftovers into something different and appealing.

Grilled Thanksgiving Sandwich

Mix together an equal amount of mayonnaise and mustard (Maille’s Dijon mustard with Honey is sensational) and spread on two slices of bread. Layer each with a slice of cheese (Monterey Jack, Gruyere, Brie).

Add thinly sliced turkey dipped in leftover gravy. Fry in butter over moderate heat till the cheese melts. or make a healthier version with a non-stick panini press.

Healthy Sweet Potato Soup

Find yourself with leftover sweet potatoes? Here’s an easy-peasy way to give them new life and spice up those leftovers. Add a small amount of water and oil to a shallow pan and bring to boil. Add your leftover sweet potato pieces and cook till warm.

Add chili powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper and blend for 1-2 minutes on High. Pour into a soup bowl and garnish with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a sprig of parsley. Sauté some diced jalapenos and sprinkle on top for added heat if you wish.

Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing Chili

When it comes to getting rid of Thanksgiving leftovers, stuffing is in a category of its own since it is already a complete dish. As it turns out, beans are the perfect complement.

Simply boil beans till they’re half cooked, then add celery, onions, plus green or red peppers. Once the beans are soft enough to mash between your fingers, stir in pieces of turkey and bits of stuffing. Season with chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.

You’re done … a healthy Thanksgiving stuffing chili dinner ready in no time!

Healthy Thanksgiving food ideasHave you been racking your brain trying to come up with healthy Thanksgiving food ideas with nothing to show for it?

Here are a few options to get you started so you can conjure up your own tweaks and make this holiday healthier for everyone.

Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild and create your own masterpieces.

Healthy Sides Alternatives for Thanksgiving

Even Thanksgiving has been touched by the increasing tendency of people striving to eat healthier and get better nutrition. Where better to start than with healthy Thanksgiving sides, since this holiday boasts such a variety of them.

Instead of serving fried potatoes with the inherent fat and salt, use Basil Parmesan carrot fries instead. Preheat your oven to 450 Fahrenheit. Cut your carrots into thin fries, rub with olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. When they are slightly crispy (15-20 minutes), remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt, minced basil and grated parmesan cheese.

You could do something similar with green beans. Toss your oiled beans in some garlic if you wish, and when they are cooked, sprinkle with salt, pepper and grated parmesan.

And finally, another popular dish that can easily be made healthier is the potato soup. For a low fat version, simply replace the butter with olive oil, and the sour cream with yogurt. Mash your boiled potatoes and add olive oil and yogurt until you are satisfied with the texture. Season with salt and pepper, add some minced green onion, and even minced garlic if you wish.

Going Low Carb at Thanksgiving

If you consider all the bread, pasta and baked goods consumed during a single Thanksgiving dinner, you realize how quickly carbs can add up. This is important to people who are trying to lose weight, so you might want to add some low-carb Thanksgiving dinner alternatives – one more thing for them to be thankful for!

Thanksgiving Broccoli soup for example can easily turn low-carb by simply substituting xanthan gum for flour. You’ll be surprised at what a minute amount (less than half a teaspoon) can achieve. Big chain restaurants have proven that combining cheese with broccoli is a clear winner, so why not follow their lead and add a little cheddar for another layer of flavor and great texture.

Other Thanksgiving dinner dishes that can easily be made low carb are side dishes. Instead of following tradition and using bread for your stuffing, substitute sausage instead. Chop it up into small pieces and add to your medley of chopped vegetables (onions, peppers, celery, etc.) together with your eggs, garlic, salt and pepper. Then cook in your oven till browned.

Cauliflower is a healthy choice and has gained popularity as a substitute for potatoes if you’re on a low-carb diet. First pan fry garlic and rosemary for about 3 minutes on low while you boil your cauliflower. Drain and mash your cauliflower, stir in some butter or cream, add salt and pepper, and finally your garlic and rosemary mixture.

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey DinnerIf you find yourself hosting your first family Thanksgiving meal this year, no doubt you’re feeling under pressure. No need to worry: a quick look at our Thanksgiving dinner recipes, and you’ll start decompressing.

Why? Because they’re full of time-tested tricks that enable you to accomplish the most with minimal effort – including three Thanksgiving casserole ideas you’re sure to be thankful for. You’re welcome!

Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey

Let’s face it, come dinner time, all eyes will be on one focal point – the turkey. That sounds intimidating, but it need not be if you follow this one simple trick: instead of spending the afternoon glued to the oven constantly basting the beasty, use a roasting bag! Your turkey will be just as crispy, moist and tasty – and you’ll be cool as a cucumber!

Utensils needed:
Roasting bag
Roasting pan

Ingredients:
1 thawed turkey
1-2 tablespoons flour
Salt
Pepper
Thyme, sage, rosemary to taste

Directions:

Remove neck and giblets from the turkey and wash the turkey under cold running water. Pat dry. Place the flour inside the roasting bag and give it a good shake, coating the inside of the bag. Season turkey with salt, pepper and your choice of spices. Place the turkey inside your roasting bag and tie it closed.

Bake according to roasting bag instructions – no need to baste.

Remove your turkey when the internal temperature has reached a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it rest for about 15 minutes which allows it to cool down and makes it easier to carve.

Cut open the roasting bag and place the turkey on a serving platter.

… AND a Thanksgiving Ham!

True, cooking a ham is not a necessity, but it’s like the cherry on the cake: it sort of completes the typical Thanksgiving dinner menu – and a much prettier picture it makes with all the pineapple gilding! Plus you’re left with more handy leftovers which means very little cooking for a while.

Utensils needed:
Roasting bag
Roasting pan

Ingredients:
1 ham
1-2 tablespoons flour
Brown sugar (optional)
Pineapple slices (optional)

Directions:

Place 1-2 tablespoons of flour in the roasting bag and shake well. The flour coating the bag will prevent sticking.

Optional: spread a few spoonfuls of brown sugar on top of the ham and place several slices of pineapple on top of the ham, secured with wooden toothpicks.

Place the ham inside the roasting bag, secured with a tie. Bake at the temperature recommended from the roasting bag instructions. Remove ham from the oven when the internal temperature is a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Allow the ham to rest for about 15 minutes as it will continue baking when removed from the oven.

Cut open the roasting bag and place the ham on a serving platter.

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing

Homemade turkey stuffing does not need to be labour intensive if you simply forego stuffing the bird. Here’s where our first Thanksgiving casserole comes into play. This simple recipe allows you to prepare the stuffing ahead of time and bake it at the last minute. It also beats the boxed variety by a country mile!

Ingredients:
Yield: 6 servings
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup onion (chopped to desired consistency)
1/2 cup celery (chopped to desired consistency)
3 cups dried bread cubes
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add celery and cook until soft.

Add remaining ingredients and mix. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes.

Easy Turkey Gravy

This gravy complements not only the turkey but adds rich flavor to Thanksgiving sides as well.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup turkey drippings
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups water*
Salt and pepper to taste
* Add a little Knorr chicken bouillon concentrate for extra flavor if you wish.

Directions

Pour your turkey drippings into a large measuring cup, then return 1/4 cup of the drippings to the pan. Stir in all-purpose flour.

Cook over medium heat while constantly stirring. Keep stirring while adding water until gravy boils.

Add salt (less if you use Knorr) and pepper to taste.

Easy Sweet Potatoes

The second of our quick and easy casseroles features sweet potatoes, since they complement both turkey and ham so wonderfully. No need to be intimidated if you have never cooked with them before. Super easy to prepare with even easier cleanup, this dish is a must!

Ingredients:
6 sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups hot water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the sweet potatoes in 1/2″-thick slices. Place in a baking dish.

Combine the remaining ingredients and add to the baking dish.

Cover and bake for about 40 minutes.

Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.

Easy Mashed Potatoes

Another one of our easy Thanksgiving side dishes that can quickly be dispatched: simply use an electric hand mixer to beat and whip the potatoes until they are smooth and creamy.

Ingredients:
8 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter
Salt
Pepper
Yield: 6 servings

Directions:

Place potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. Cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.

Drain and transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Add milk and butter. Whip potatoes with an electric hand mixer till smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Easy Green Bean Casserole

The third of our simple, easy one-dish casseroles is reserved for green beans, another Thanksgiving dinner classic. Be prepared for second servings – no one will guess you didn’t spend hours making it!

Ingredients:
1 10oz can Cream of Mushroom soup
4 cups cut green beans, already cooked (or 2 16oz cans)
1 1/3 cups French-fried onions
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Yield: 6 servings

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine Cream of Mushroom soup, green beans, milk, soy sauce, pepper and 2/3 cup of the onions in a casserole dish. Stir well.

Bake the mixture for about 25 minutes or until it is bubbling and hot. Remove from oven, stir and sprinkle the remaining onions on top.

Bake for about 5 more minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

No Thanksgiving meal is complete without yummy cranberry sauce? Making cranberry sauce seems like such a chore, but it doesn’t have to be, and it can also be made ahead of time.

Ingredients:
12 ounces fresh cranberries
3/4 cup orange juice
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup white, granulated sugar
2 ounces gold rum (optional)
Yield: 2 cups

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. On medium-high heat, cook for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone. Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat. Transfer the sauce into a bowl and serve.

Easy Thanksgiving Rolls

Dinner rolls are not a necessity, but they round up the meal so well – and absolutely no kneading required! You might just want to make an extra batch or two…

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit)
2 tablespoons shortening
1 large egg
Yield: 12 dinner rolls

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease 12 muffin cups.

Mix sugar, salt, yeast and 1 1/4 cups of flour together in a bowl. Add warm water, shortening and egg to the mix. Stir vigorously with a spoon until mixture is smooth. Add the rest of the flour and stir until smooth.

Use your spoon to scrape all of the batter away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size (a warm area works best).

Once doubled in size, stir the batter again about 25 times. Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Let rise for about 30 minutes or until batter is rounded on top.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

Easy Pumpkin Pie

A pumpkin pie dessert is the perfect dish to end a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and this too can be ready in record time.

Ingredients:
1 9″ unbaked pastry crust
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 14oz can sweetened, condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Yield: 8 servings

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until blended. Pour batter into unbaked crust and bake for about 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 40 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool and serve.

Click here to find more easy fall recipes and ideas to explore.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Sausage Stuffed MushroomsA guaranteed hit whether you’re hosting a lavish party or a simple lunch with the girls, but why not elevate dinner and surprise everyone with this super tasty appetizer?

For best results, select mushrooms with small to medium-sized caps. A mixture of baby Portobello and white mushrooms looks particularly attractive. Just know that Portobello caps will add their own distinctive flavor while the more delicately flavored white mushrooms will allow the filling to stand out a tad more.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup Marsala (or dry white) wine, divided
8oz package of baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned
8oz package of white mushrooms, cleaned
12oz bulk spicy Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
4 fresh sage leaves, washed and julienned
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings (optional):
3 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Carefully remove stems from cleaned mushrooms by grabbing them as close to the cap as possible and gently twisting. Roughly chop removed stems and reserve in a separate bowl, while placing caps in a larger non-reactive bowl.

Add olive oil and 3 tablespoons wine to bowl containing mushroom caps and toss gently to evenly coat. Set aside.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat until thoroughly browned. Break apart all chunks with a spatula or wooden spoon as it cooks. Once browned, drain excess fat before proceeding.

Add chopped mushroom stems and garlic to the pan and cook until mushrooms are soft and start to release liquid. Add fresh sage and remaining wine and scrap up any brown bits of sausage from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a couple minutes until excess liquid evaporates.

Remove from heat and add softened cream cheese and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until thoroughly combined and cheese is completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly.

Add one rounded spoonful of sausage mixture to each marinated mushroom cap and arrange stuffing side up in a 13 x 9” glass baking dish. If desired, sprinkle each stuffed mushroom cap with Panko breadcrumbs, freshly grated Parmesan cheese or a combination of both before baking.

Place glass dish in pre-heated oven on center rack and bake for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and filling is browned on top. For a crispier topping, place baking dish under the broiler for a couple minutes when done cooking. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Savory Brie and Pear Puff Pastries

Brie and Pear Puff PastriesFrozen puff pastry may be one of the most versatile convenience items on the market. When you have a package in your freezer, you can whip up rich savory appetizers, elegant main dishes, and evendelicious buttery desserts in no time.

The perfect combination of sweet and savory ingredients adds versatility to this dish: either serve as a decadent dessert or a rich appetizer by playing up either the savory or sweet elements.

NOTE: Since this recipe only uses half a package of frozen puff pastry, you will have to use the remaining half within a day for another recipe – or simply double this one.

Ingredients:
1/2 package frozen puff pastry
1 medium pear ripe but firm, cut into thin slices
2 oz Brie cheese, cut into thin slices with rind removed
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Position rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Open thawed puff pastry and carefully unfold, taking care not to crack it. Place puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll pastry into a large rectangle with a floured rolling pin. Cut in half with a sharp knife and carefully wrap one portion in plastic before returning to the refrigerator.

Place the remaining rectangle on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. To create a picture frame effect, cut around the perimeter of the sheet with a sharp knife about 1/2” from the outside edge, but do not cut all the way through.

Dock the pastry inside the cut you just made with a fork just like you would a pie crust. Add the Brie in a single layer on top of the interior portion. Top with pear slices, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Brush top with maple syrup to evenly coat.

Create an egg wash by whisking one tablespoon of water with one egg yolk. Brush mixture over the outside exposed portion of the puff pastry before placing in oven.

Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until the pastry “picture frame” puffs up and turns golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Salted-Caramel Apple Dip Appetizer

Salted-Caramel Apple Dip AppetizerSure, you can choose the easy way and just buy a ready-made sauce full of high-fructose corn syrup and all sorts of other artificial flavorings and preservatives, but is that what you really want to serve your guests?

It’s well worth the effort to take a few extra minutes and make this dip from scratch. Just make sure you pay careful attention: if allowed to cook too long, this sauce will turn too dark and develop an unpleasant burnt taste…

Ingredients:
Crisp green and red apples, cut into wedges to serve
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 8-oz block cream cheese, softened
Salted caramel sauce
2/3 cup pecans, chopped

Salted Caramel Sauce:
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to lowest setting.

In a glass bowl, toss sliced apple wedges with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.

To prepare the salted caramel sauce, warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. (All you want to do is slightly warm the cream, as cold dairy products can curdle when added to hot liquids).

Add sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe saucepan. Stir to combine. Set spoon aside so you’re not tempted to stir the sugar mixture again!

Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan, gently brush them back down with a moistened silicon baking brush.

Continue boiling until the mixture turns a nice amber color. If a dark spot forms on one side due to uneven heating, lift the pan and gently swirl until the color is even again. Return pan to the burner and reduce heat.

Slowly whisk in the warmed cream until thoroughly incorporated. Be very careful while doing so because the extremely hot sugar mixture will bubble up when the cooler cream is added.

Remove from heat; add butter and salt. Stir with a clean spoon until butter is fully incorporated into the mixture.

WARNING: Do not reuse the same spoon from earlier, as reintroducing sugar crystals to the pan can cause your caramel sauce to crystalize as it cools.

Place saucepan into pre-heated oven until ready to use.

To assemble the dip, place block of softened cream cheese on a serving plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with chopped pecans. Serve with crispy sliced apples and additional caramel sauce for dipping.

For a more decorative presentation, shape the block of cream cheese into a circle before topping with a liberal amount of caramel sauce. Cover caramel-coated cream cheese circle entirely with chopped pecans, then arrange apple wedges around the cheese to form an edible “flower.” The excess caramel sauce on the plate will help hold the apple slices in place.

White Bean Dip with Seasoned Pita Chips

White Bean Dip with Seasoned Pita ChipsQuick and easy to make, this delicious white bean dip is a great addition to any party menu. Perfect with freshly baked fall vegetable chips, mildly seasoned pita chips or vegetable crudités, the subtle balance of flavors packed into each bite are sure to have your guests coming back for more.

Tip: A tiny bit of fresh sage goes a long way – start with a small amount if you aren’t familiar with that herb and adjust if needed.

A drizzle of a top quality olive oil right before serving will add an extra “pop” of flavor.

Yield: 6 servings
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
Seasoned Pita Chips:
6 pitas
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

White Bean Dip:
1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 large fresh sage leaves, chopped
1/3 cup regular extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon high-quality extra virgin olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each pita into 8 equal-sized wedges. Lightly brush pita wedges with olive oil on both sides and place on lined baking sheet.

Season pita with salt and pepper before placing in oven. Bake for 5-6 minutes before turning each wedge to toast the opposite side. Return to oven and continue baking for another 5 or 6 minutes, or until pita wedges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Add cannellini beans, fresh garlic, lemon juice, sage leaves and olive oil to a food processor bowl or blender and blend until smooth.

Pour bean mixture into a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, add a dash of cayenne pepper and a drizzle of some high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with seasoned pita chips or vegetable crudités.

Parmesan Party Cheese Dip

Easy to make, this dip can be used for chips, veggies or even wings. Make it a few hours ahead of time in order to give the flavors time to blend and develop.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Directions:

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Easy, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic BreadPerfect as appetizer for dipping into a spicy marina sauce, this easy, cheesy garlic bread is the perfect sidekick to hearty pasta dishes like lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, or rigatoni with chunky meat sauce.

Simply use traditional shredded mozzarella instead of Gruyere if you prefer.

Ingredients:
1 loaf ciabatta bread
¼ cup butter, unsalted
4 gloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons oregano, dried
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut ciabatta loaf in half lengthwise. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, melt unsalted butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is soft. Remove from heat.

In a small glass bowl, combine melted butter, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. Stir to combine thoroughly. Brush each half of the ciabatta bread with the olive oil mixture, making sure the entire surface is covered.

Grate Parmesan cheese over the surface of both bread halves and top with shredded Gruyere cheese. Sprinkle each half with salt and pepper to taste.

Place in oven and bake for approximately 8-10 minutes or until cheese is completely melted and starting to brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Easy Cinnamon Apple Tarts

Easy Cinnamon Apple Tarts

Ingredients:
1 pack frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pint heavy whipped cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:

Defrost puff pastry in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

In a large glass bowl, blend 1 pint of heavy whipping cream with a hand or immersion blender until it doubles in size and changes texture. Then, drizzle maple syrup into the bowl and continue blending until the mixture is light and fluffy. Set aside.

Adjust baking rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare an egg wash by beating one egg yolk with water until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Remove thawed puff pastry from refrigerator. Place pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a uniform square shape and cut into 4 equal-sized squares. Place squares on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dock (pierce with a fork) the center of each pastry square and place in the freezer while preparing the apple mixture.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add apple slices to pan and cook for several minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves to pan and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove prepared puff pastry from freezer and spoon ¼ of the apple mixture into the center of each square. Fold each corner toward the middle of the square to “close” the pastry, taking care to leave a couple of openings to vent.

Brush puff pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.

Place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven on the middle rack. Bake until pastry is light and puffy, approximately 25–30 minutes. When ready, the tart should be a rich golden brown. Actual cooking time will vary by individual oven, so keep a close eye on the pastries to avoid over-browning.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. To serve, top with maple whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.

Chewy Coconut Macaroons

5-Ingredient Chewy Coconut Macaroons

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes 8-10 macaroons

Ingredients:
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Place the top oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat® baking sheet and set aside.

Using a hand mixer, briskly beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the honey, vanilla, coconut and salt into the egg whites with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Do not overwork.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between to prevent overcrowding.

Transfer the baking sheet into the oven and bake until the cookies become golden brown on top and around the edges, around 12-14 minutes. Make sure you check after 10 minutes to prevent over-browning, as cooking time may vary slightly.

Remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Brie and Pear Puff Pastries

Savory Brie and Pear Puff Pastries

Frozen puff pastry may be one of the most versatile convenience items on the market. When you have a package in your freezer, you can whip up rich savory appetizers, elegant main dishes, and even delicious buttery desserts in no time.

The perfect combination of sweet and savory ingredients adds versatility to this dish: either serve as a decadent dessert or a rich appetizer by playing up either the savory or sweet elements.

NOTE: Since this recipe only uses half a package of frozen puff pastry, you will have to use the remaining half within a day for another recipe – or simply double this one.

Ingredients:
1/2 package frozen puff pastry
1 medium pear ripe but firm, cut into thin slices
2 oz Brie cheese, cut into thin slices with rind removed
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Position rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Open thawed puff pastry and carefully unfold, taking care not to crack it. Place puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll pastry into a large rectangle with a floured rolling pin. Cut in half with a sharp knife and carefully wrap one portion in plastic before returning to the refrigerator.

Place the remaining rectangle on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. To create a picture frame effect, cut around the perimeter of the sheet with a sharp knife about 1/2” from the outside edge, but do not cut all the way through.

Dock the pastry inside the cut you just made with a fork just like you would a pie crust. Add the Brie in a single layer on top of the interior portion. Top with pear slices, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Brush top with maple syrup to evenly coat.

Create an egg wash by whisking one tablespoon of water with one egg yolk. Brush mixture over the outside exposed portion of the puff pastry before placing in oven.

Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until the pastry “picture frame” puffs up and turns golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

If you’re looking for easy fall desserts, the next five recipes won’t disappoint!

Canned Pumpkin Pudding

TIP: This recipe can be made two days in advance.

Ingredients:
2 cups short grain rice
6 cups whole milk
1 cup white sugar
½ vanilla bean, split down the middle
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ cup orange juice (fresh if possible)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup dark brown sugar

Directions

Combine the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until thoroughly mixed, stirring often. Once mixed, reduce to a low heat and continue to cook until the rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat.

Remove the vanilla bean from the mix. Add in the pumpkin. Allow to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When re-warming to serve, add 1½ cups of milk and stir in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Serve warm with a sprinkle of dark sugar.

Lemon Pudding

TIP: This recipe can be made one day in advance.

Ingredients:
4 lemons
2¼ cups white sugar, divided
3½ cups thickened cream, divided
Pinch of salt

Directions

Peel the zest from the lemons and cut into thin 1-inch strips. Place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and return zest to saucepan.

Add to saucepan 1¼ cups of the sugar, 1¼ cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until syrup has reduced by a third. Use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the zest pieces and add them into the remaining sugar.

Add 3 cups of the cream to the lemon syrup in the saucepan and simmer until reduced by a third.

Juice your 4 lemons and add the juice and pinch of salt to the saucepan. Allow to cool slightly, then pour the mixture into pudding glasses or small bowls and chill in the refrigerator overnight until set. Serve with a dollop of the remaining cream and garnish with the zest pieces.

Choco Bread Pudding

Ingredients:
4 cups whole milk
4 medium sized eggs
½ cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter or margarine
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 loaf white bread, crusts removed
1 pint thickened cream, whipped till firm

Directions

Whisk the milk, eggs and sugar in a saucepan, then add butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Keep stirring until both butter and chocolate have melted. Add vanilla and remove from heat.

Lightly coat a 13″x9″ baking tray with oil. Arrange the bread slices in 3 layers and pour heated sauce mixture over the top.

Cover with plastic wrap and place a second baking tray on top to weight it down. Leave to sit for one hour. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove top baking tray. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Cheeky Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:
8 triangles of Swiss milk chocolate nougat bar
1½ cups thawed Cool Whip topping

Directions

Microwave chocolate in a microwaveable bowl on high for 1 minute. Allow to cool for 1 minute.
Add whipped topping, stirring with a whisk to allow to air.
Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Apple Wedges

Ingredients:
6 sweet firm apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup white sugar, divided
1/3 cup rum or ½ cup maple syrup
2 pints vanilla ice cream

Directions

Mix apple wedges with the lemon juice, butter, and sugar (leaving two tablespoons of sugar for later). Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake the apples at 356F until soft. Sprinkle remaining sugar over and continue baking until sugar melts.

Gently heat the rum or maple syrup in a saucepan.

Serve the apples with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with the heated sauce.

Pumpkin Spice Paleo Pancakes

Pumpkin Spice Paleo PancakesPrep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
6 large eggs
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 tablespoon honey
½ cup almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon coconut oil, divided

Toppings:
1 banana, sliced thin
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
Optional: real maple syrup

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin puree and honey until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the egg mixture and gently fold the two together until blended.

Heat one tablespoon coconut oil in a large griddle over medium heat. Once hot, add batter (2-3 tablespoons per pancake) and cook for 3 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Repeat this process with remaining coconut oil and pancake batter.

To serve, stack 2-3 pancakes per serving and top with sliced bananas, chopped pecans and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin Spice MuffinsTopped with coarse sugar for a decorative touch, these muffins are just as wonderful plain or with a cream cheese frosting.

Tip: Make sure you choose 100% pure pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling for this recipe, as you will be adding your own sugar and spices.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
15oz can pure pumpkin
3½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger

Topping:
½ cup coarse decorating sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin pan with 12 regular-sized cupcake liners.

Combine sugar, oil, water, eggs and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl and beat on low for 1 minute, taking care not to over mix.

Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger to a small bowl and stir to combine. Add dry mixture to pumpkin batter and beat on low just until all ingredients are moist.

Fill cupcake liners with batter until they are ¾ full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then remove from oven and sprinkle each muffin with coarse decorating sugar and return to oven to finish baking another 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make sure you don’t overcook: total cooking time should be 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes before moving muffins to wire baking rack to cool completely.

Easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

Slow cooker pumpkin butterWhether you spread it on toast, bagels, English muffins or croissants, you are guaranteed to fall in love with this pumpkin butter – and not just for the wonderful smell that will permeate your home!

An unusual mix of sweet and savory flavors you can use as a sandwich spread or even to top pancakes. Or simply add to Greek yogurt and homemade granola for a seasonal breakfast treat.

Ingredients:
1 29oz can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice*
1/2 cup real maple syrup
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

To make your own pumpkin pie spice, combine:
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cloves
Store excess in an airtight container.

Directions:

Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir until thoroughly combined. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours (adjust cooking time to achieve the thickness you want). For best results, stir occasionally while cooking.

Cool slightly before transferring to airtight glass containers. Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

Braised Beef Burgundy Stew

Braised Beef Burgundy StewPrep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3-3½ hours
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup frozen pearl onions
2 large carrots, sliced diagonally
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces white mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons almond flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups dry red wine
1½ cup beef broth
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Place top oven rack in the center position and pre-heat oven to 325°F. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally, approximately 4-5 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and blot off excess grease. Set aside.

Drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from Dutch oven. Add beef chunks and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook, until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally (approximately 4-5 minutes). Remove beef and transfer to the same plate with the bacon. Set aside.

Add red onion, pearl onions, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies become fragrant and translucent, approximately 4-5 minutes.

Add mushrooms and sprinkle with almond flour. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken.

Return bacon and beef to the Dutch oven. Add tomato paste, red wine, beef broth, bay leaves and fresh thyme. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste, and stir to combine.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover, and transfer Dutch oven into the pre-heated oven. Cook for 2½ to 3 hours, stirring every 40-50 minutes.

Remove from oven and discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Serve immediately topped with fresh chopped parsley.

White Chicken Slow Cooker Chili

White Chicken Slow Cooker ChiliPrep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours on High – 8 hours on Low
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
3 15oz cans Great Northern beans, divided
1/3 cup water
1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
½ small red onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 4-oz can mild green chilies
1 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
3 cups chicken broth, preferably organic
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1½ cup Mexican blend cheese finely shredded, divided

To serve (optional):
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small avocado, diced
1 medium jalapeño pepper, sliced
2 large limes cut into wedges

Directions:

Drain and rinse the beans to remove excess salt. Place half the beans in a blender or food processor with some water. Process until blended but still slightly chunky. Transfer the puréed beans to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, along with the remaining whole beans.

Add chicken, red onion, garlic, green chilies, cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano, coriander, chipotle pepper powder and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Season with salt and black pepper and stir to combine. Cover and set cook time to 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low.

When cook time is complete, remove lid and add 1 cup of the shredded cheese and stir to combine. Cover and allow cheese to melt for 1-2 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately with remaining Mexican cheese, fresh cilantro, avocado, jalapeño slices, and/or lime wedges.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Chili

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork ChiliPrep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 hours on High – 8 hours on Low
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
3-3½ lbs pork shoulder roast, trimmed
1 small red onion, diced
1 4-oz can mild green chilies
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 cup chicken broth, preferably organic

To serve:
Mexican cheese blend, finely shredded
Red onion, diced
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Combine garlic, cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and Mexican oregano in a small bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and stir to combine.

Rub pork roast with seasoning mixture on all sides and place in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker crock. Arrange remaining solid ingredients around the pork, then pour the liquid smoke and chicken broth on top. Stir the ingredients on each side of the pork with a fork to combine.

Cover and cook on High for 4 hours, or on Low for 8 hours. Do not remove lid while cooking.

When cook time is complete, remove lid and gently pull the pork apart with two forks. Allow the pulled pork to rest in the juices for 10-15 minutes to absorb more flavor if you wish. To serve, top with shredded Mexican cheese, chopped red onion and/or fresh cilantro.

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili

Slow Cooker ChiliUsing a combination of spicy and sweet pork sausage rather than plain ground beef infuses this slow cooker chili with extra flavor. Use all spicy sausage to turn up the heat even more.

TIP: It is easier to break up the sausage into more even pieces prior to browning if you first get rid of the casing first.

Ingredients:
1 pound spicy bulk pork sausage, crumbled
1 pound sweet bulk pork sausage, crumbled
½ cup chicken or vegetable stock, plus additional if needed
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, toughed ends removed and chopped into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
2 15oz-cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 15.5oz-cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 28 oz-cans tomato puree
1 6 oz-can tomato paste
1 28 oz-can petite-cut tomatoes, undrained
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon oregano, dried
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup black coffee (or water), if needed
Salt to taste

Garnish, (optional)
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup chopped red onion
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced

Directions

In a large skillet, brown pork sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain excess fat from pan. Transfer browned sausage to slow cooker crock.

Return skillet to burner over medium-high heat. Deglaze pan with chicken or vegetable stock, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.

Add olive oil, garlic and onion to pan and cook, stirring frequently, about 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add celery and carrot and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour skillet contents into slow cooker.

Add white beans, red beans, tomato puree, tomato paste, petite-cut tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper to slow cooker. Stir to combine all ingredients thoroughly. Add water or black coffee to thin mixture if you wish before cooking.

Cook on high for 4 hours – or low for 8 hours. When finished, stir and add salt to taste. Adjust other seasonings as desired.

Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheese, chopped onions and/or sliced jalapeno peppers. Serve immediately.

Freeze or refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Rustic Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom RisottoIt’s easy to be tempted to cheat and make risotto ‘the quick way’, the traditional “stand and stir” technique is well worth the effort for its resulting depths of flavors.

Do not use other types of rice than Arborio as they won’t deliver the coveted rich, creamy texture you’re after.

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, heated
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ medium onion, finely chopped
8 oz baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
8 oz white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed, leaves very finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat chicken or vegetable broth until hot.

Add olive oil, one tablespoon butter, and garlic to a cold saucepan. Turn heat to medium and sauté for approximately one minute, or until garlic becomes softened.

Add onion; sauté for 2 minutes before adding the sliced mushrooms. Cook mushrooms until they soften and release liquid, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

Return pan to heat and add remaining butter. Add Arborio rice and sauté until thoroughly coated, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add white wine and stir constantly until wine is completely absorbed.

Add one cup warm broth to pan and stir constantly until completely absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth, one cup at a time, until it is all incorporated and the rice has achieved a rich, creamy consistency. This process should take approximately 25-30 minutes. (If you want a creamier texture, add more broth until you achieve the results you desire).

Remove from heat and stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary. Add mushroom mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with additional fresh rosemary if desired. Serve immediately.

One-Pot Chunky Italian Meat Sauce

One-Pot Chunky Italian Meat SauceThis hearty triple meat sauce may take a little extra effort, but it is so worth it! This recipe makes a large amount of sauce, so be sure to use a large Dutch oven or pot (6-quart minimum).

Enjoy immediately or allow a day or two for the flavors to develop. This recipe also freezes up nicely for later use.

Save yourself some time and frustration and achieve a more even consistency by crumbling up the beef and sausage with your fingers prior to browning.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 cup white mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, cleaned and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cup dry red wine, divided
1¼ pound ground beef (85% lean)
1 pound bulk sweet pork sausage
1 pound bulk spicy pork sausage
2 28 oz-cans tomato puree
1 28 oz-can petite-cut tomatoes, undrained
2 6 oz-cans tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons sugar
3-4” Parmesan rind
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large (6 Qt) Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms to pan and cook until onions become soft and mushrooms begin to release liquids, about 4-5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and ½ cup wine and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.

Add crumbled beef and pork to pot and cook over medium heat until no longer pink inside. Remove from heat and carefully drain excess fat from pan.

Return to burner and add tomato puree, tomatoes, tomato paste, and remaining red wine to Dutch oven, along with oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sugar. Stir to combine. Drop in bay leaves and Parmesan rind and give a quick stir. Cover and simmer on low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. If sauce is too thick, add a little water to achieve the desired consistency. If it is too thin, continue cooking until it reaches the thickness you prefer.

Remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with your favorite cooked pasta and some cheesy garlic bread. Refrigerate or freeze unused portion within 2 hours.

Creamy Chicken Broccoli Fettuccine Alfredo

Chicken Broccoli Fettuccine AlfredoThe enduring appeal of classic Alfredo sauce lies in its simplicity. A luxurious blend of heavy cream, real butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, traditional Alfredo sauce delivers incredibly rich flavor – without a lot of fuss. 😉

This version builds upon the classic ingredients with the addition of rich cream cheese and fresh garlic. But not to worry, the traditional heavy cream is replaced with a lighter blend of half & half and chicken broth.

The results? A creamy, delicious and easy sauce that appears much more complicated than it really is. Guaranteed to become one of your new favorite fall pasta recipes!

TIP: To prevent curdling, remove half and half from refrigerator when starting this recipe so it is less cold when added to the hot ingredients.

Ingredients:
1 lb fettuccine noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 head fresh (or 1 12oz bag frozen) broccoli florets
2 tablespoons water

Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1¼ cup half & half (not low fat)
½ cup chicken broth
1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Directions:

Cook the fettuccine while preparing the sauce so the noodles are still warm when ready to toss with the other ingredients.

Prepare broccoli by placing florets in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on high until crisp-tender. Cooking time will vary depending on individual microwave ovens, so test after 2 minutes and adjust cooking times accordingly. When finished, drain to remove excess water and set aside.

Add garlic and butter to a saucepan and turn heat to medium. Sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes before adding cream cheese, half & half and chicken broth. Continue cooking while stirring constantly until cream cheese is completely melted.

Reduce heat to low and continue stirring for about 15 minutes or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add chicken, broccoli and cooked fettuccine noodles to a large serving bowl. Add the sauce to the bowl and gently toss until thoroughly combined. Top with chopped parsley and more freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Orange-Cranberry Chicken Breasts

Orange-Cranberry Chicken BreastsPrep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 lbs bone-in chicken breasts with skin
1½ teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons honey, preferably local
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Place top oven rack in the center position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt the coconut oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with sage and thyme. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Place seasoned chicken in hot skillet skin side down and cook until browned, approximately 4-5 minutes, or until it releases easily from the bottom of the pan. Turn the chicken and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes on the remaining side.

While the chicken is browning, add the cranberries, orange juice, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg to a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook until the cranberries pop open and the sauce becomes slightly thickened, around 4-5 minutes.

Pour the orange-cranberry sauce over the browned chicken and transfer the skillet into the preheated oven. Roast until the chicken is fully cooked through and the sauce is bubbly, around 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (internal temperature will continue to rise to 165°F as it rests).

Remove from oven and transfer chicken to a serving platter. Cover loosely and let rest for 5 minutes before serving topped with the warm orange-cranberry pan sauce and your choice of sides.

One-Skillet Lemon Chicken Orzo

One-Skillet Lemon Chicken OrzoQuick and easy to prepare and requiring minimal cleanup, this satisfying one-pan chicken dinner is perfect for those super busy weeknights. Who would have thought you can enjoy a hearty meal of bone-in chicken thighs with lemony orzo in just over half an hour?

Ingredients:
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 cup orzo pasta
3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ organic lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped (keep some whole sprigs for garnish)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Directions:

Pat chicken thighs with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet with deeps sides, heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. When garlic turns brown, remove chunks from pan and discard.

Place chicken skin side down in the heated pan and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn and repeat on the other side. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.

Pour off excess fat in pan, reserving approximately 2 tablespoons. Reduce heat to medium and add the orzo to pan. Stir until orzo is coated and slightly toasted. Add chicken broth to skillet and stir to scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Return chicken breasts to skillet along with lemon zest and slices. Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the orzo is tender. Keep an eye on it during this time to make sure there is enough liquid in skillet to keep orzo from sticking to the bottom. Stir occasionally.

Uncover and continue simmering until most of the excess liquid has been absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

One-Skillet White Bean and Spicy Sausage Stew

One-Skillet Lemon Chicken OrzoAnother dish that can be made in a single skillet for easy clean up, this soup is really delicious and as an added bonus, freezes well so you can make larger batches for more quick weekday meals.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, cleaned and finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 pound bulk spicy pork sausage, crumbled
3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 15oz-cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz-can cannellini beans, pureed with liquid from can
3 large kale leaves, tough stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese, shaved

Directions:

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onions, and garlic to pan and sauté until tender.

Add crumbled bulk pork sausage to skillet and cook until no longer pink inside. Carefully drain excess fat from the pan before adding chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add oregano, rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes.

Add whole as well as pureed white beans to skillet. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale and simmer another 15-20 minutes. If soup is too thick, add more stock to thin. If it is too thin, continue cooking until desired consistency is reached.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and shaved Parmesan cheese and serve with crusty Italian bread.

One-Skillet Honey Applesauce Pork Roast

One-Skillet Honey Applesauce Pork RoastPrep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar-free Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1½ lbs pork tenderloin
3 medium firm apples, cored and chopped

Directions:

Place oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine applesauce, honey, Dijon mustard, and rosemary leaves in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Generously season the pork roast with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until browned and evenly seared on all sides, about 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and spread half of the applesauce mixture all over the top and sides of the pork. Arrange the chopped apples around the sides of the pork and place in the preheated oven.

Roast for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and flip the pork. Brush with remaining applesauce mixture and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the pork is cooked through.

Remove from oven and cover loosely to rest for 5 minutes before serving

Rosemary Garlic Beef Tenderloin

Rosemary Garlic Beef TenderloinActual cooking time will vary depending on a number of factors, including the starting internal temperature of the beef. Therefore, allow the beef to rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before roasting and use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. For medium-rare, remove from oven at 140°F. The temperature will rise to 145°F as it rests.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
16 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 large shallots, sliced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
3lbs beef tenderloin roast
1 large red onion, sliced

Directions:

Place oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt one tablespoon coconut oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms and shallots develop a bit of color and soften, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

Melt the remaining coconut oil in a small bowl in a microwave. Add rosemary and garlic to the coconut oil and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Rub the rosemary-garlic mixture on top and along the sides of the beef.

Arrange the sliced red onion on the bottom of the same skillet and place the seasoned beef tenderloin on top of the onions.

Arrange the mushroom and shallot mixture around the sides of the beef and place in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes for medium-rare or longer for more well done results.

Remove from oven and rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Apple & Sausage Stuffed Butternut Squash

Stuffed Butternut SquashUnlike many stuffed winter squash recipes, this one is more savory than sweet thanks to the spicy sausage and fresh sage. The combination of sausage, meaty Portobello mushrooms, sweet apples and crunchy walnuts rounds out the flavor of this satisfying and healthy main course.

Variations:
For less heat, use ½ pound spicy and ½ pound mild Italian sausage. If you prefer a sweeter dish, simply add more brown sugar prior to baking.

Ingredients:
2 butternut squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb spicy Italian pork sausage
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ red onion, chopped
1 ½ cup baby Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, julienned
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 oz chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray two 13 x 9” glass baking dishes with non-stick cooking spray. Place butternut squash halves in glass dishes, cut side up. Brush exposed edges lightly with olive oil.

Place both dishes in oven on middle rack at 375 degrees. Bake until soft enough to scoop out interior with a spoon, approximately 45–50 minutes.

While the squash are baking, add sausage to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat. While the sausage is cooking, break it into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon or remove casings beforehand and break into small chunks.

After sausage is mostly browned, add garlic, red onion and chopped mushrooms to the skillet and cook over medium heat for several minutes until mushrooms are soft, stirring occasionally.

Add fresh sage, chopped apples and cinnamon to pan. Continue cooking over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until apples become soft, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and drain excess liquid from skilletif necessary. Stir in chopped walnuts and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

When squash is ready, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Remove squash one at a time from hot glass baking dish and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, trace a ½” inch border around the perimeter of each squash. Scoop out all of the squash inside the border and reserve the cooked flesh in a large bowl. Be careful not to puncture the exterior of the squash skin during this process.

Return each empty squash shell to the baking dish.

Cut cooked squash into bite-sized chunks and add to sausage mixture. Gently fold mixture together until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Spoon sausage mixture into empty squash cavities and top each with chunks of butter, brown sugar (if desired) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Place in 350-degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is nicely browned. Remove from oven and top with additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

5-Cheese Meat Lasagna

5-Cheese Meat LasagnaIt’s hard to imagine a classic lasagna recipe without lots of luscious cheese. Three of the most common types of cheese found in traditional lasagna recipes are mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan. This recipe builds on this delicious cheesy foundation with the addition of freshly grated Asiago and shredded Gruyere.

This recipe is easier to prepare if you have the meat sauce prepared ahead of time. If you don’t have time or the inclination to do so, use your favorite prepared pasta sauce instead.

Fortunately, the meat sauce recipe referred to below can be made in large batches that freeze beautifully for future use. For best results in this recipe, pulse 4 cups of the chunky meat sauce in a food processor prior to using.

TIP: The key to keeping lasagna from getting soupy is to make sure your noodles are thoroughly dried before assembling your lasagna.

After preparing noodles according to package instructions, arrange them in a single layer on large cookie sheets sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Gently pat noodles dry with a paper towel. Turn over and repeat. Allow to air dry until all excess moisture is gone.

Ingredients:
4 cups meat sauce (see One-Pot Chunky Italian Meat Sauce recipe above)
12 whole lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1 24oz container ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons Italian seasoning, divided
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 8-oz package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 8-oz package shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
¾ cup Asiago cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large glass bowl, combine ricotta cheese, beaten egg, 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning and fresh parsley. Stir to combine.

Spray a 13 x 9” glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add enough meat sauce to cover the bottom of the pan, then cover with 3 lasagna noodles. Top with an even layer of the ricotta cheese mixture, followed by a layer of shredded mozzarella and Gruyere cheese, using equal amounts of each. Finish with a layer of grated Parmesan and Asiago cheese, also in equal amounts.

Repeat this process three more times: meat, noodles, ricotta mixture, shredded cheeses and grated cheeses. Sprinkle the remaining Italian seasoning across the final layer.

Loosely tent dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Roasted Purple Potatoes and Golden Beets

Golden Beets and Purple PotatoesThe dark purple color of purple potatoes combines with the rich golden tones of the beets for a truly regal effect in celebration of our rich fall landscape. If you haven’t tried purple potatoes, you’re in for a real treat!

These gorgeous culinary treasures are native to South America where they have long been cherished for their delicious flavor, disease resistance and ability to survive in harsh environments.

Purple potatoes also pack a powerful nutritional punch unlike most white-fleshed varieties. Packed with antioxidants, they are also higher in fiber.

Note that the exposed potato flesh turns brown while roasting. In order to maintain the visual appeal, slice the vegetables at least ½” thick and carefully remove the browned outer skins before serving.

Just don’t go and discard that delicious crispy browned layer! Just chop and sprinkle on top for an added layer of yummy. And you can still enjoy those vibrant purple hues that elevate this dish from basic to extraordinary!

Why not double the recipe? Perfect with our Marinated Strip Steak Salad in the Lunch section above, these stunning fall season foods can also add a bold splash of color as a side dish.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 purple potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” slices
2 large golden beets, peeled and cut into ½” slices
1 tablespoons citrus or kosher salt
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a glass bowl, toss the sliced potatoes and beets with the olive oil.

Arrange coated vegetable slices in a single layer, leaving space between them. Sprinkle with citrus (or kosher) salt and thyme leaves. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven and roast about 15 minutes before turning. Continue baking another 10-15 minutes or until beets and potatoes are fork tender.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before handling. Remove browned potato skins before serving to reveal the gorgeous color underneath.

Blackened Sauteed Broccoli

Blackened BroccoliSimple, quick and easy, this sauteed broccoli makes a delicious side dish perfect for mid-week meals. Lightly tossed with sesame oil, it pairs perfectly with Asian-inspired dishes like our Seared Sesame Tuna with Mixed Greens in our Lunch section.

It also marries well with everything from roasted chicken breasts to pan-seared pork chops.

Ingredients:

2 heads fresh broccoli, washed and florets removed or 2 12oz bags of frozen broccoli florets
2 tablespoons water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place fresh or frozen broccoli florets in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on high until crisp-tender. Cooking time will vary depending on individual microwaves, so test after 2 minutes and adjust cooking time accordingly. Do not overcook. Florets should be firm when finished.

Add one half of the chopped garlic to cold skillet with one tablespoon olive oil. Set heat to medium and add ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (if desired) and one tablespoon of butter.

Cook garlic over medium heat for approximately 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium-high and add ½ broccoli florets to pan. Stir broccoli constantly while searing the florets.

Once blackened, remove the broccoli from the skillet and place in a large glass bowl. Cover and keep warm. Repeat process with remaining garlic, olive oil, red pepper, butter and broccoli.

When second batch of broccoli is finished, add it to the bowl with the original batch. Drizzle with sesame oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash Rings

Acorn Squash RingsThese baked acorn squash rings can be served straight from the oven as an simple, yet delicious side dish or they can be dressed up for a much more elegant presentation.

For example, you could fill the center area of each ring with wild rice and mushrooms or a rustic rosemary risotto. You could also fill them with a mixture of dried cranberries and toasted pecans or a blend of pomegranate arils and goat cheese. Because acorn squash lends itself so well to whatever flavors you pair it with, the options are nearly endless.

Ingredients:

2 whole acorn squash, washed and cut into 1” rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To cut the squash in rings, start by cutting the bottom end (opposite the stem) off with a sharp, sturdy knife. Using that bottom edge as your guide, continue cutting up from that point in 1” sections toward the stem.

Cutting through the squash can be challenging, so go slow and make sure you are working on a stable cutting surface. The goal is to end up with uniformly thick rings (and all of your fingers!).

Once cut, remove the seeds and pulp from the center section of each ring using a round cookie cutter, if you have one. If not, use a round cup or glass as a template and cut around it with a small, sharp knife.

Place the acorn squash rings onto rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each ring with olive oil and melted butter. Turn over and brush the opposite side. Drizzle maple syrup over each ring and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onions & Beets

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onions & BeetsEasy yet elegant, this easy, eye-catching side dish will add rich autumn colors to your table while providing a healthy weeknight meal bursting with rich flavors.

Ingredients:

3 large red beets, cleaned, peeled, cut into uniformly thick slices
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, ends removed and cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon garlic powder, divided
1 red onion, outer skin removed and cut into uniformly thick slices, then quartered
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add sliced red beets and Brussels sprouts and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons garlic powder.

Arrange beets and Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer. Add red onion quarters, brush with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.

Add fresh thyme sprigs to baking sheet. Sprinkle vegetables with pink Himalayan sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper. Bake in pre-heated oven for 25 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are golden brown and other vegetables are tender.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving.

Apple Butternut Squash Casserole with Bacon-Pecan Topping

Apple Butternut Squash CasseroleThe bacon-pecan topping truly makes this butternut squash side dish an easy sell. Get ready for second helpings!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35-40 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
¼ cup coconut oil, melted, divided
3 cups butternut squash, cubed
2 medium firm apples, cubed
1 small red onion, chopped
1½ teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into ½-inch pieces
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9×13” baking dish with 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil. Set aside.

Combine butternut squash, apples and red onion with 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, sage, and thyme in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and toss to combine.

Transfer the butternut squash mixture onto the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Place in the preheated oven to roast just until the butternut squash is fork tender, around 25-30 minutes.

While the butternut squash mixture is roasting, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is cooked through and crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a small mixing bowl lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease. Blot off remaining grease on top and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Once cooled, discard the paper towels and add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil, chopped pecans, honey, cinnamon, and ground cloves. Season with salt and black pepper as desired, and toss to combine.

Remove squash from oven and top with the bacon-pecan mixture. Return to the oven until the topping is nicely browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Seared Sesame Tuna with Mixed Greens

Seared Sesame Tuna with Mixed GreensMixed salad greens thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. Perfect paired with a hearty portion of seared sesame tuna steaks, this healthy salad is easy to make yet substantial enough for a light main dish. Alternatively, it can accompany either Blackened Broccoli or a seasonal soup for a more filling meal.

Ingredients:

Asian Dressing:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
¼ cup grape seed oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, very finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Seared Tuna:
2 8-oz 2” thick tuna steaks, cut into 2” cubes
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ground ginger
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

To make dressing, add all ingredients to a glass bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended. Taste and add more lime juice to brighten the flavors, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Add sesame seeds and ground ginger to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add chunks of tuna to bowl and toss to coat. Press to make sure seeds adhere to tuna.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat. When hot, add coated tuna to pan and flash sear on all sides, approximately 30 seconds per side. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

To serve, add mixed greens to serving plates and top each plate with an equal portion of the seared tuna. Drizzle with dressing. (You can also toss mixed salad greens with dressing before plating, if desired). Serve with additional soy sauce and wasabi paste, if desired.

Marinated Strip Steak Salad with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

Marinated Strip Steak SaladSo pretty with its beautiful rich hues floating atop a bed of vibrant lime green, this hefty salad tastes every bit as wonderful as it looks! The homemade blue cheese dressing complements the flavorful steak and roasted root vegetables perfectly. Well worth the extra effort!

NOTE: This recipe incorporates our Roasted Golden Beets and Purple Potatoes recipe.

TIP: For best results, sprinkle steaks with kosher salt on both sides and place in refrigerator overnight.

Ingredients:

Strip Steak
2 10-oz strip steaks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 large garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and crushed

Salad
2 small heads Bibb lettuce, base removed, leaves washed and dried
12 oz roasted golden beets and purple potatoes, cut into equal-sized small chunks (LINK > VEG)
4 oz good quality blue cheese

Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing
¼ cup full fat sour cream
¼ cup The Ojai Cook Lemonaise (or mayonnaise plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice)
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ medium shallot, outer skin removed and very finely minced
2 oz chunky blue cheese
2-3 tablespoons half & half
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

Marinate
Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and rosemary in a non-reactive bowl large enough to hold both steaks. Add salted steaks to the bowl and turn to coat. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

TIP: Remove steaks from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking to allow them to reach room temperature to ensure they cook more evenly.

Cook Steaks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add remaining olive oil to a cast iron skillet and set burner temperature to high. Allow skillet to heat thoroughly, approximately 5 or 6 minutes, before adding steaks. Sear steaks in hot skillet approximately 2 or 3 minutes per side.

When steaks are evenly seared on all sides, place skillet in oven. Roast for 8-10 minutes or until an instant-read meat thermometer reads 125 degrees for medium rare. (Actual cook time will vary by individual oven and what level of ‘doneness’ you prefer, so adjust your cooking time accordingly).

When done, remove steaks from oven and transfer to a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes. Remove cover and allow to cool slightly before slicing. Set aside.

Make Dressing
Add the first 4 ingredients to a medium glass or non-reactive bowl and stir to combine. Add the blue cheese and incorporate the cheese into the mixture, using a fork to break up the chunks.

Add the half & half to the bowl one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Add more half & half if you prefer a less thick dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place Bibb lettuce on 4 plates and add 1/4 of the roasted beets, potatoes and blue cheese chunks to each plate. Add sliced steak to each plate and drizzle with creamy blue cheese dressing.

Serve immediately with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Apple Walnut Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Apple Walnut SaladA perfectly balanced combination of peppery arugula, seasoned walnuts, tart apples, sharp blue cheese and slightly sweet maple vinaigrette ensures this substantial salad is packed with flavor.

Spring and fall are perfect for growing arugula from seeds planted in your garden or even in containers.

Ingredients:
4 cup arugula, rinsed and patted dry
6 oz chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tart apples cut in half, core removed and cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 oz blue cheese crumbles
½ small red onion, cut into thin rings
Salt and pepper to taste

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To remove sharp taste from red onion, place the slices in a small glass bowl filled with cold water. Soak for 10-15 minutes. Remove from water and place on folded paper towels to dry.

In a small bowl, toss walnuts with sugar and cinnamon. Arrange walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and garlic in a small glass bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Adjust other flavors as desired.

Add sliced apples to large glass salad bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss with your hands until well coated. Add arugula, seasoned walnuts, and blue cheese to bowl and gently toss to combine all ingredients.

Drizzle salad with a little vinaigrette right before serving and toss to combine.

Arrange salad on individual plates and top each with 2–3 red onion slices. Serve with additional dressing on the side.

Grilled Peach Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Grilled Peach SaladDon’t miss the opportunity to turn on the grill one more time and enjoy this quick, healthy fall salad before winter puts a damper on outdoor cooking.

Just imagine a combination of rotisserie chicken, grilled peaches, crunchy pecans and rich, creamy goat cheese topped with the light tangy sweetness of a light champagne vinaigrette… a delightful, filling weeknight meal that can easily transition to a festive holiday table.

Just be prepared for repeated requests before the season ends!

Ingredients:
2 heads Romaine lettuce, base removed, washed and patted dry
3 medium ripe peaches, pits removed and cut into wedges
16 oz rotisserie chicken, preferably breast meat
4 oz pecans, chopped
4 oz goat cheese

Champagne Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons shallot, very finely minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the first 6 ingredients in a non-reactive glass bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Clean grill grates with a wire brush and spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Grill peach wedges over medium direct heat for approximately 3 minutes per side. For best results, flip wedges only once while grilling. Remove from heat and set aside.

Tear Romaine leaves into bite-sized chunks and place on 4 serving plates. Divide grilled peaches, chicken, pecans, and goat cheese evenly among the plates. Drizzle each plate with champagne vinaigrette and serve. Or toss the salad ingredients with the dressing in a large bowl prior to arranging on plates.

Halloween Party SnacksWith Halloween being the first occasion to kick off the harvest season, what better than easy Halloween snacks for that party you’re planning. Pumpkin soup and chili are all very nice, but Halloween finger food is much more fun and can be enjoyed whenever you’re feeling peckish.

String Cheese Broomsticks

You’ll be tempted to make these eyecatching savoury snacks a centerpiece on your buffet table. Cut your string cheese into 4 or 5 pieces, then make some parallel cuts into one end of each piece to simulate the flaring end of a broom. Press a pretzel stick into the top end of the cheese to form a broom handle. If you want to get fancy, you can tie a string of green onion around the top of the cheese for some cute witch broomsticks.

Creepy Mozzarella fingers

Everyone loves mozzarella cheese, it’s healthy and makes the perfect base for creepy fingers. Cut a stick of mozzarella into 2 or 3 pieces with rounded tips to simulate fingertips. Create knuckles by cutting shallow lines where appropriate. Make an indentation at the tip of each finger and use nut butter to glue on the nail – all the better if it oozes out – it’ll just add another level of creepiness. Use your imagination for the fingernails: slivers of nuts, olives or radishes maybe.

With all the candy associated with Halloween, it is not easy to produce sweet treats that are yummy and healthy at the same time without threatening the waistline. Halloween vegetables and fruit to the rescue!

Pumpkin Tangerines

Carefully take the peel of some tangerines, making sure to keep them whole. Cut small pieces off the core of a celery and stick them in the center to create a stem.

Fruity Ghosts

You can use either peeled small bananas cut in halves or hulled strawberries. Dip your fruit into melted white chocolate till fully covered and set on a tray lined with parchment paper. Use candy decoration such as Cinnamon Imperials or licorice for the eyes. Refrigerate the tray to speed up the hardening process.

Candy Corn Fruit Cups

Though candy corns would rank rather low on a list of healthy treats, this copycat is actually the healthiest of our quick and easy Halloween treats. Using small clear plastic cups, start with a layer of orange fruit, add a layer of yellow fruit, and top off with a little whipped cream.

For an adult party, add a few drops of orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier to your fruit for a touch of festivity.

Healthy Halloween Candy Apples

Halloween Treats for AdultsHalloween candy apples may be a popular seasonal treat, but that certainly doesn’t make them healthy. All that red candied sugar covering a 95-calorie green apple turns what started as a healthy fruit into a 300-calorie liability. Not good for your weight or your teeth!

But rather than covering the whole apple in some sugary goop, why not choose a healthier option for your candy apple treats? Simply drizzle apple slices with a caramel sauce instead – a healthier version than red sugar, and less of it too.

Green Grape Mop Heads

That same caramel can be warmed up and used as a dip for green grapes. Dip the tips of skewered grapes into the caramel and sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds. Set on parchment paper till the caramel cools.

Chopped Apple Salad

A quick and healthy snack that can be enjoyed as a dessert or for breakfast. Simply chop some green apples, add your favorite nuts, bits of pretzels, and drizzle caramel on top.

Caramel Pecan Baked Apples

Turn everyday baked apples into simple Halloween treats by simply baking apples sprinkled with cinnamon, and then adding chopped pecans and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Makes a healthy dessert, or enjoy any time you feel peckish.

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1″ ginger piece, peeled and minced
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
1 14oz can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups baby spinach
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large lime, cut into thin half round slices

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook, stirring often, until the breast develops a bit of color, around 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the garlic, ginger, coriander and red curry paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the spices become fragrant.

Add bell peppers and season with additional salt and black pepper if desired. Stir to combine and cook until peppers soften and develop a bit of color, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Add coconut milk and simmer until slightly thickened, approximately 4-5 minutes. Stir in spinach, lime juice and maple syrup. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately topped with fresh cilantro and lime slices.

Chunky Bacon Potato Soup

Chunky Bacon Potato Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40-50 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
8 oz thick-cut bacon, diced
½ small red onion, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4 cups chicken broth, preferably organic, divided
1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 lb red potatoes, cut into chunks
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
2 cups kale, chopped, tough stems discarded
8 oz cream cheese, cut into small chunks

Directions:

Add bacon to a large Dutch oven or soup pot set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until crispy (approximately 3-4 minutes). Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, blot off excess grease and set aside.

Carefully drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon of remaining bacon grease from pot. Add red onion, celery, and carrots, and sauté until the vegetables soften and develop a bit of color, approximately 3-4 minutes.

Add ½ cup of chicken broth to pan and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom with a spatula. Add remaining broth, chicken, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and red potatoes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and stir to combine.

Increase heat to high. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are fork tender.

Remove from heat and discard bay leaves. Add chopped kale and cream cheese and stir until the kale is wilted and the cheese is melted, approximately 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen corn
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add red onion and bell peppers. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies become soft and fragrant, around 4-5 minutes.

Add crushed red pepper, cumin, chili powder and dried oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spices become fragrant, approximately 1-2 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes, tomato paste, and black beans. Season with additional salt and black pepper if you wish, and stir to combine. Add vegetable broth and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

Stir in the corn, cilantro and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Cream of Carrot Ginger Soup

Cream of Carrot Ginger Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ lbs carrots, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
3 cups vegetable broth, preferably organic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup half & half at room temperature

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and bell pepper. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables become soft and translucent (approximately 5 minutes).

Add vegetable broth, minced ginger and thyme leaves, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until carrots are fork tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Stir once or twice while cooking.

Remove from heat and puree mixture until smooth with an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Return to medium heat and add half and half. Stir until barely combined and cook until heated through, approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 large carrots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
½ cup clam juice
2 cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 6.5oz cans minced clams, including juice
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon becomes crispy (around 4-5 minutes). Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Blot off excess grease and set aside.

Drain and discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from pot before adding onion, carrots and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and sauté until soft, around 4-5 minutes.

Sprinkle with chickpea flour and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.

Add the clam juice, milk and heavy cream, and whisk until combined. Add the potatoes, Old Bay seasoning, fresh thyme and 2/3 of the cooked bacon crumbles. Season with additional salt and black pepper if needed, and stir to combine.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, then immediately reduce heat to a medium-low. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, approximately 15 minutes.

Once potatoes are cooked, add clams and stir to combine. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, or until clams are heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with remaining bacon crumbles and fresh parsley.

Roasted Squash Pear Ginger Soup

Roasted Acorn Squash, Pear and Ginger Soup

Nothing says “fall” like a warm bowl of soup brimming with the classic seasonal flavors of oven-roasted squash and ripe pears. Add the spicy warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and you’ve got the perfect combination for a cool evening.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 acorn squash, skins removed and cut into 1” chunks
4 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
3–4 large cloves fresh garlic, unpeeled
1 32-oz container chicken broth
1 3” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large glass bowl, toss squash and pears in two tablespoons olive oil and spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add garlic cloves to baking sheet and place in oven. Roast for approximately one hour or until squash is tender, turning ingredients once or twice during this time.

Remove from heat and cool slightly. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves to remove skins, while reserving the roasted garlic inside.

Working in batches, add roasted squash, pears, and garlic to blender (> BLENDER) with broth and puree until smooth. Repeat with remaining batches until finished.

Transfer each batch of pureed ingredients to a large pot and add any remaining broth, along with the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and fresh thyme leaves.

Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots

This satisfying soup is something to look forward to when cooler weather returns. The potato gives it substance, while the leeks, garlic and thyme add additional layers of flavor. The addition of heavy cream adds a touch of decadence to this rich, creamy combination. Before serving, top each bowl off with crispy shallots for an attractive (and delicious!) presentation.

This soup tastes even better the next day, so make a nice big batch so you can enjoy leftovers with a crisp salad for lunch.

Ingredients:

Crispy Shallots:
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, outer skin removed and cut into thin slices
Kosher salt to taste

Soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 leeks, white and light green portion, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
¾ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Option Garnishes:
6 strips bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
3 green onion tops, sliced thin
¼ cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Directions:

Add olive oil and butter to a small pan and heat over medium-high until the butter melts. Reduce heat to medium and add sliced shallots to the pan. Cook shallots for approximately 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Remove shallots from pan with a fork or slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Gently blot with additional paper towels to absorb excess oil. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven or large pot, add olive oil, leeks and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until the leeks are soft, but not browned.

Add broth, potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil mixture for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Remove bay leaf and thyme stems before blending the remaining ingredients with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully transfer the potato leek mixture in batches to a blender.

TIP: Use caution when blending hot ingredients – don’t fill blender container more than halfway, and be sure to vent the lid so air can escape.

Once potato mixture is blended smooth, stir in heavy cream. If you prefer a thicker soup, return to low heat to cook off excess liquid. If too thick, add additional cream or broth to achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with crispy shallots. Other garnish options include crumbled bacon, green onions, chives or shredded cheese.

One Pot Beer Cheese Soup

One-Pot Beer Cheese Soup

Beer and cheese make for a great combination on cold, blustery days, and this Beer cheese soup takes it to the next level. It can be a bit tricky to make because if you’re not careful, it can turn into a gloppy mess. However, you can achieve perfect results if you follow the instructions carefully.

TIP: Take a “low and slow” approach while preparing this recipe. Most importantly, don’t allow the soup to boil after adding the cheese because it will cause it to separate.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz goat cheese, cut into chunks and softened
16 oz sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
8 oz mild-flavored beer
¼ cup chopped red onion, soaked in water (optional)

Directions:

Add unsalted butter to a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add carrot, celery, onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 8-10 minutes.

Add flour and stir until completely incorporated. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for approximately 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and blend mixture with an immersion blender until smooth or transfer the liquid to a blender and blend until completely smooth, working in batches if necessary.

Once smooth, return mixture to Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the heavy cream, goat cheese, and half the cheddar cheese. Stir continually until cheese is completely melted. Add the remaining cheddar cheese and stir until melted.

Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and beer and stir until blended. If soup is too thick at this point, add a little additional chicken or vegetable stock. Continuing simmering on medium-low heat another 5-10 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve immediately with soft pretzel rolls or crusty bread of your choice. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, red onion, and/or popcorn.

Roasted Fall Harvest Soup

Roasted Fall Harvest Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
3 cup butternut squash, cubed
3 large firm apples, cubed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
4-5 cups chicken broth, preferably organic, divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat® baking mat. Set aside.

Combine butternut squash, apples, red onion, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and melted coconut oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Toss to combine.

Spread seasoned butternut squash mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Place in pre-heated oven and roast until squash is fork tender, approximately 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly before transferring one quarter of the roasted veggie mixture to a high-powered blender. Add one cup of chicken broth to container and blend until smooth. If necessary, add a little more broth to reach desired consistency.

Transfer puree to a large soup pot and repeat process with remaining vegetables and chicken broth. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until soup is heated through, approximately 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and adjust seasonings, as desired, before serving.

Fall dishes recipesNothing says comfort better than welcoming warm fall dishes redolent of the rich flavors and aromas associated with autumn. As the days get colder, it is natural to want to spend more time indoors, so autumn is also the perfect time to seriously get into cooking.

And with summer activities being less distracting, gathering the family together to share a hot meal suddenly becomes a priority. All sorts of seasonal foods and aromas beckon. Guess it’s time for some home cooking! […]

Creating easy one dish mealsWhether you have a family to feed or are looking for great meal ideas for one, the following easy one dish meals are sure to come in handy: not only do they save you time, but they also provide multiple servings out of each dish.

Plus less dishes to clean is always a bonus.;)

The more often you cook these dishes, the more comfortable you will feel substituting ingredients and creating unique versions out of each of these meals.

Use a set-and-forget electric one pot cooker to create amazing one pot meals in no time (it’s almost like cheating), or let ceramic cookware do the job. Lodge and Le Creuset make marvelous Dutch ovens, and Anolon produces excellent PFOA-free, restaurant-quality non-stick casseroles.

Nutritious, filling and packed with flavor, Chili is the perfect crowd pleaser. It is also the ideal dish to prepare if you want to make an enormous batch you can enjoy throughout the week. Add meat or go vegetarian, increase spiciness with an extra pinch of chili powder, or an extra helping of garlic or onions for a little more kick.

A Taco Pie is the perfect choice if you’re in a rush. Simply fry your ground beef in a skillet together with taco seasoning. Make it healthier by adding vegetables (tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.). Pour into a premade pie crust, top with cheese and bake. Serve with helpings of guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

You can take a day off and make Lasagna from scratch, or cheat and use ready-made ingredients. Whether you choose to go vegetarian or the meaty version, using store-bought pasta and sauce saves a lot of time. Grate your own cheese, and let everyone assume what they will…

Sausage can be combined with just about any variety of vegetables to make a tasty dish which can be served either with rice or on top of your choice of pasta. Because they are made with a wide selection of meats as well as other ingredients like garlic, cheese, herbs and seasonings, it is easy to create umpteen variations of a basic recipe.

Everyone loves chicken, and it marries easily with all sorts of flavors and ingredients. So it’s no surprise that the following one dish chicken meals are always well received. Be prepared to serve second helpings!

Chicken Noodle Soup is always popular, specially when you’re feeling under the weather. There’s no denying that a big bowl of steaming chicken soup is always comforting, so why not make it into a full meal?

Simply make that meal richer by stuffing it with chicken, noodles and vegetables. You can even go slightly exotic and offer oriental variations such as Chinese Noodle soup or Vietnamese Pho Noodle soup.

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables is another dish that requires very little preparation, yet combining these two ingredients results in incredible flavor and aroma. The fat from the chicken enriches the veggies, while they in turn add layers of taste to the meat. All you need to do is roughly slice your vegetables and use them as a base for your seasoned chicken on top.

Chicken also marries very well with fruity flavors. When everyday fare just doesn’t cut it, how about a one pot Chicken dinner with Mango and Couscous? Simply saute your onions and chicken, add mango and tomatoes, then chicken broth and boil. Finally add your couscous, and ten minutes later, you have a delightful meal!

Let your imagination run wild, substitute ingredients, and you’ll soon find yourself having fun creating your own versions of healthy, easy one dish meals in no time.