Chicken Enchilada Dip with Corn

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I will pull up a chair to a bowl of dip. I will flat-out embarrass myself. I just love it—all kinds, really. I once had a dip party, where we played board games and everyone brought a dip and dippers, and now I’m wondering why that was just a one-time thing. Anyway, although I love all kinds of dips (salsa! French onion! hummus! guac! spinach-artichoke!), I especially love one that’s warm, gooey, and cheesy. Here’s a dip that hits all those notes, and it incorporates chicken for heartiness and corn for that special crisp-sweet goodness. If you happen to end up with any left over, it makes a pretty great filling for jalapeño poppers—maybe sprinkled with a little bacon. Just sayin’.

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Yield: Serves 10 (serving size: about 1/4 cup)

Chicken Enchilada Dip with Corn

prep time: 10 minscook time: 23 minstotal time: 33 mins

This warm, creamy dip is a real crowd pleaser. It’s a little indulgent. I’m not claiming it’s light—but I do include the nutrition info so you know what you’re getting into (it’s not that bad). The little corn kernels offer a sweet, crunchy pop in every bite—that is, if you use fresh corn (frozen won’t be quite as crisp). As always, please shred your own cheese. The preshredded stuff is coated with starch to prevent it from clumping, and it won’t melt as creamy as cheese you prep yourself. Serve the dip with tortilla chips, pita chips, and/or assorted crudités.

ingredients:

  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced and divided
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen, thawed corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup green chile enchilada sauce (I used Frontera)
  • 1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (4 oz.)
  • 4 oz. pepper Jack cheese, shredded and divided (about 1 cup)
  • Sliced green onions, sliced jalapeño, and extra corn kernels for garnish (optional)

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Separate the bottom white part of onions from the green onion tops. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add white onion bottoms and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in green onion tops, enchilada sauce, cream cheese, and salt. Cook until cream cheese melts, stirring frequently. Stir in mayonnaise. Gently fold in chicken and half of pepper Jack.
  3. Spoon mixture into an oven-safe 3-cup baking dish. Top evenly with remaining pepper Jack. Bake at 400°F until bubbly around the edges and cheese on top melts, about 15 minutes.

NOTES:

Calories 159; Fat 12g (sat 5g); Protein 6g; Carb 6g; Fiber 0g; Sugars 2g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 303mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Chickpea Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

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Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: 2 cups pasta and 1 Tbsp. cheese)

Chickpea Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

prep time: 10 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 30 mins

This is one of those fallback recipes you can count on when you have little time to cook but want something really good, really comforting, and really easy. My hubs said it felt creamy and indulgent, but it’s actually quite light at only about 400 calories. The serving size is large, too (2 cups!), and all that fiber (13 grams!) will fill you right on up. A good bit of the fiber comes from the chickpea pasta, which I adore; if you sub traditional pasta, the fiber will go down considerably. I love the bite of broccoli rabe—and, luckily, so do my kids—but if you’re not a fan of its bitter edge, you can sub broccolini or broccoli.

ingredients:

  • Cooking spray

  • 8 oz. sweet Italian sausage

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup vertically sliced white or yellow onion

  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

  • 1 lb. broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed

  • 8 oz. uncooked chickpea pasta—rigatoni, penne, cavatappi, or rotini

  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste

  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)


instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water (such as a Dutch oven or small stockpot) to a boil. 

  2. While water comes to a boil, heat a large skillet (not nonstick) over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage; cook, stirring frequently to crumble, until browned and cooked through (about 6 minutes). Remove sausage from pan, reserving drippings. 

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add oil to drippings in pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and red pepper to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft (about 10 minutes).

  4. Meanwhile, add broccoli rabe to boiling water; cook 2 minutes. Remove from water with tongs (reserving boiling water), place in a colander, and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain well; cut into 2-inch pieces. Add pasta to boiling water; cook until al dente (about 8 minutes). Be careful not to overcook, as chickpea pasta falls apart when cooked too long. Reserve 1 1/4 cups pasta water; drain pasta.

  5. Add garlic to onion mixture in pan; cook 2 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 cup pasta water and salt. Add pasta, sausage, and broccoli rabe; stir very gently to combine. Stir in additional pasta water as needed to form the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

NOTES:

Calories 409; Fat 17g (sat 6g); Protein 30g; Carb 41g; Fiber 13g; Sugars 7g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 654mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Shrimp and Vegetable Curry with Cauliflower Rice

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Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup cauliflower rice, 4 oz. shrimp, & 3/4 cup sauce)

Shrimp and Vegetable Curry with Cauliflower Rice

prep time: 8 minscook time: 12 minstotal time: 20 mins

How about a 20-minute dinner that tastes like it took an hour? That's loaded with vegetables, too? This recipe delivers all that and is mild enough—and creamy enough—to satisfy everyone at the table. My kids hugged me after eating this, and I'll take that as pretty darn high praise! Do take note that it's a bit of a splurge. Though the calories are low (under 400 calories), the saturated fat is on the high side; try to balance out the rest of your day with food that's lower in sat fat. I do think it's worth it to go full fat with the coconut milk here for the most satisfying, creamy texture. Just think of it as a splurge, something to enjoy every now and then. Or hell, maybe once a week! And don't forget to squeeze on a little lime juice before tucking in; it's the perfect finishing touch, brightening the whole bowl.

ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup vertically sliced yellow onion
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1 Tbsp. red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 (13.6-oz.) can coconut milk (full-fat)
  • 1 lb. raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • 1 lb. riced cauliflower (I used fresh, not frozen)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • Thinly sliced Fresno or red jalapeño peppers (optional)
  • Lime wedges

instructions:

  1. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add onion and zucchini; sauté 3 minutes. Add half of garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add curry paste; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar, fish sauce, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer.
  2. Add shrimp; cover and cook until shrimp are almost done, about 2 minutes. Add spinach; cover and cook until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Meanwhile, heat another large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add cauliflower and remaining half of garlic; sauté until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro. Divide cauliflower rice evenly among 4 bowls; top evenly with shrimp and sauce. Top with Fresno/jalapeño slices and additional cilantro, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

NOTES:

Calories 376; Fat 21g (sat 13g); Protein 33g; Carb 14g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 9g (added sugars 1g); Sodium 766mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Dijon Beef Stew

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This stew is basically the love child of two of my favorite recipes: Cooking Light’s Beef Daube Provençal and The New York Times’s Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew. It will make your house smell heavenly and have your family singing your praises. It’s a very easy recipe, too, and cooks hands-free for a few hours so you can tend to other things. This makes it great for a dinner party, as you can get the table set and the sides—I like to serve it with mashed potatoes and a bright, bracing salad—pulled together, not to mention yourself.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Dijon Beef Stew

prep time: 30 minscook time: 2 hour and 30 minstotal time: 2 hours and 60 mins

This is one of those cozy, comforting stews that will take the chill of any winter night. It's beefy, absurdly savory, and full of long-cooked flavor. I like to serve it over mashed potatoes (as shown); it's also fantastic ladled over polenta, egg noodles, grilled sourdough bread, or a baked potato. You can make this in a slow cooker—starting with step 4 and cooking on LOW for about 6 hours—but I promise this tastes better when you cook it in the oven. I don't know why, but it's true! The slow cooker version is still pretty darn good, but just know that the oven version is even better.

ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 lb. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup unsalted beef stock
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered (or halved if they're small)
  • 5 large thyme sprigs
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of beef; cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove beef from pan; repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining beef. 
  3. Add onion and carrots to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly until vegetables are coated. Add wine; cook until wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in beef, stock, mustard, salt, pepper, mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaves. 
  4. Cover and bake at 300°F until beef is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Garnish stew with parsley, if desired.

NOTES:

Calories 313; Fat 16g (sat 6g); Protein 23g; Carb 9g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 3g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 516mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

White Chicken Chili with Poblanos

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A big pot of chili just screams comfort and goodness. But you don’t always have hours to devote to one, y’know? This chicken chili, with a broth that’s both, well, brothy and slightly creamy, takes only a little more than a half-hour to make. It’s deeply savory and full of flavor, thanks to a few well chosen ingredients. The broth gets its body from pureed beans (it’s not thickened with flour), so it’s gluten free. You’ll be happy you made it whether it’s a cold, damp night or a warm evening—it’s an all-weather chili!

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)

White Chicken Chili with Poblanos

prep time: 10 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 35 mins

This hearty pot of chili comes together from start to finish in only 35 minutes, thanks to a trifecta of smart convenience products: rotisserie chicken, canned beans, and bottled tomatillo salsa. The salsa gives the broth loads of flavor, and all you have to do is twist open the lid. Know that poblano peppers can be tricky: Sometimes they’re as mild as bell peppers, and other times they’re hotter than jalapeños. If yours is particularly spicy (be brave and touch a piece to your tongue), use just one pepper—or go for it with two if you’re a hothead.

ingredients:

2          Tbsp. canola oil

2          cups chopped white onion

2          poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

6          large garlic cloves, minced

2          tsp. ground cumin

1          tsp. dried oregano

4          cups unsalted chicken stock (I used Swanson), divided

1          cup bottled tomatillo salsa (I used Frontera)

1          tsp. kosher salt

1          tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3          (15-oz.) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided

4          cups shredded boneless, skinless rotisserie chicken, white and dark meat (about 1 lb., 1 small rotisserie chicken)

3/4      cup thinly sliced radishes

1/2      cup thinly sliced green onions

2          ripe peeled avocados, thinly sliced or chopped

1          jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

instructions:

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and poblanos; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Stir in cumin and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

 

2. Stir in 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, salsa, salt, black pepper, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. 

 

3. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup stock and 1 can of beans (about 1 1/2 cups) in a blender; process until smooth. Stir bean puree and remaining 2 cans of beans into pan; return to a simmer. Add chicken; simmer 5 minutes. 

 

4. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups chili into each of 8 bowls; top servings evenly with radishes, green onions, avocados, and jalapeño, if desired.

NOTES:

Calories 357; Fat 12g (sat 2g); Protein 30g; Carb 35g; Fiber 11g; Sugars 2g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 653mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Lime Shortbread with Cardamom Glaze

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Well, this post is short, sweet, and simple. No step-by-step photos or instruction needed! The cookies are easy to make and pretty hefty in size; one is plenty big to satisfy a sweet craving.

Yield: 24 cookies

Lime Shortbread with Cardamom Glaze

prep time: 2 hourcook time: 22 minstotal time: 2 hours and 22 mins

This simple slice-and-bake cookie gets all gussied up for the holidays with red and green accents from pomegranate and pistachios. The pomegranate is completely optional and will shorten the shelf life of the cookies, but boy is it pretty! I love kosher salt for these cookies. It gives you delicious little pockets of salty goodness throughout—because a one-note sweet treat without a little salt for balance is, well, flat and boring. Please note that there is no egg in this dough; that's not a mistake. This gives the cookies the most wonderful "short" texture that's absolutely irresistible.

ingredients:

Cookies:
  • 9 oz. whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest (from 1 lime)
Glaze and Toppings:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. meringue powder (this helps the glaze set up firmly; find it at craft stores)
  • 1/4 to 3/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 4 tsp. water (FYI: I tried this with lime juice and it was just too much)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate arils (optional)

instructions:

  1. To prepare cookies, combine flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium speed until creamy (about 1 minute). Add oil, granulated sugar, vanilla, and lime zest; beat on medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). 
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 5-inch-long log. Wrap dough logs separately in plastic wrap; chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  5. Remove dough logs from refrigerator, and remove plastic wrap. Cut each dough log into 12 slices (reshape log to keep round shape as needed). Arrange cookies on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325°F for 22 - 25 minutes or until cookies are set and barely starting to brown around the edges. Cool cookies completely on pans.
  6. To prepare the glaze, combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar, meringue powder, and cardamom in a small bowl. Add water, and stir until smooth (glaze will be thin). Spread glaze evenly over cookies; sprinkle evenly with pistachios and pomegranate arils, if desired. Let cookies stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 1 hour. 
  7. If you used pomegranate arils, store the cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you omitted the pomegranate, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

NOTES:

Calories 150; Fat 8g (sat 3g); Protein 1g; Carb 19g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 8g (added sugars 8g); Sodium 25mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

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I just love these spiced chocolate sugar cookies! They taste like Mexican chocolate, with cinnamon warming the sweet chocolate notes. I use just a little bit of cocoa for more of a milk chocolate flavor than a dark chocolate one. See the notes below the recipe card for ingredient/decorating tips.

Yield: 40 cookies (I got 45, but let's say 40 to be safe)

Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

prep time: 2 hourcook time: 20 minstotal time: 2 hours and 20 mins

Since no one in my family likes gingerbread cookies (except me), I decided to create some cookies that look like them and have a little bit of spice to jazz them up. The flavor is reminiscent of Mexican chocolate, with the zip of cinnamon perking up sweet chocolate notes (I use just a little bit of cocoa to create more of a milk chocolate vibe than a dark chocolate flavor).

ingredients:

Cookies
  • 9 oz. whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
Icing (This will make double of what you'll use to decorate the cookies, but you'll want extra to play with for coloring and playing around with.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp. meringue powder (see note below)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Food coloring (optional)

instructions:

  1. To prepare cookies, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy (about 2 minutes). Add oil; beat at medium speed until well combined. Add granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until fluffy (about 1 1/2 minutes). Beat in egg. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed until just combined.
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll each half between sheets of plastic wrap to a thickness between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch (dough will be soft). Place dough, still between plastic wrap, on a baking sheet, and place in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Remove dough from freezer. Remove plastic wrap from top of 1 dough half. Working quickly, cut dough with 2- to 3-inch cutters of desired shapes. Arrange cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat procedure with remaining dough half, placing on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Reroll scraps and refreeze to firm up dough. Cut out more shapes until you have 40 to 45 cookies. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until firm and starting to slightly darken around the edges. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies directly to wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  6. To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with a mixer on low speed until just moistened (about 20 seconds); beat on high speed until thick, bright white, and smooth (about 5 minutes). Beat in additional water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Stir in food coloring (see notes below) if desired. Spread or pipe icing evenly over cookies. Let stand at room temperature until icing is completely set (about 1 to 2 hours). Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

NOTES:

Calories 96; Fat 5g (sat 2g); Protein 1g; Carb 13g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 7g (added sugars 7g); Sodium 19mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

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Another critical ingredient for these cookies is meringue powder, which helps the icing set up hard so that you can stack and package the cookies with no worries of destroying your beautiful decorations. You can find it in the baking section of craft stores.

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One of my favorite ingredients ever is whole-wheat pastry flour. I’ve touted it before, and I’ll do so here again! Its fine texture works beautifully in all types of baking recipes, and it allows me to make 100% whole-grain treats with great texture. Here’s the kind I use (the house brand from Whole Foods).

Now for the fun part, the decorations. Piping is easy and goes quickly. You can use a piping bag with a #1 or #2 tip (which is what I did), or use a zip-top plastic bag and cut a tiny hole in one corner to pipe from. My piping skills are not very good, but the cookies still look pretty great!

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For the trees, I mixed up some natural food coloring (India Tree brand—shown in the photo on the right) to create a deep green color. Yellow + blue = green. To create colored icing, I simply spoon some of the white icing into a small bowl or ramekin and mix in the color with a butter knife. I then use the knife to spread the icing onto each cookie. You can pipe the icing, too, but the knife method works really well for me.

I then gathered up round sprinkles, tiny nonpareils, and edible silver dragées for the designs. You’ll want to spread the green icing over the entire surface of the cookie and then apply your toppings while the icing is still wet. You can apply in either in a random pattern or—my favorite—with tweezers to create strings of lights. Whether you’re a white lights person or a colored lights person, you can make your tree cookies reflect your style.

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For the reindeer, I used brown gel food coloring (not natural food coloring, sorry) to create a lighter doe-like color for the deer. I felt that the natural chocolate color was too dark. I spread the brown-tinted icing over the entire surface of the deer, and then each deer got a collar of either small nonpareils or larger round sprinkles, a blue nonpareil for the eye, and a red round sprinkle for a Rudolph nose.

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Finally, for the stockings, I started off in a hilarious way. I had some gorgeous fluffy purple glitter that made amazingly beautiful cookies. But then I realized that this purple glitter was not edible—it had been placed in the wrong crafting box! So that stunk… I then proceeded with new stockings. First, I decorated the cuff with white icing that I topped, when still wet, with white sparkling sugar. Once that dried, I covered the rest of the stocking with white icing and topped with red or green sparkling sugar. For the others, I let the white icing dry completely and then brushed on copper and silver luster dust. (I have some eyeshadow brushes that came free with purchase that are perfect for this. No, I never used them with cosmetics. They are for food only!)

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You can find all of the decorating supplies at craft stores. They’re a great investment that you can use year after year (I’ve had that luster dust for maybe five years.)

My last bits of advice when you’re decorating Christmas cookies:

  1. If you want to decorate with your kids, you have to let them do their own thing. Let go of your own expectations and let them have fun. (If you want gorgeous cookies for teacher gifts, maybe decorate by yourself after the kiddos go to bed.)

  2. Allow yourself plenty of time to decorate. If this needs to come together in an hour, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

  3. Make sure you have plenty of space to allow the cookies to dry. Once decorated, I place them on either sheet pans or these large plastic platters I have and move them out of reach of my big dog. He has helped himself to food on the table when I’ve turned my back.

  4. Get creative and have fun!

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Salted Pecan Streusel

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Cranberry-orange bread always feels like a holiday treat just bursting with winter fruit flavor. It’s a lovely treat to make for yourself or to offer as a gift to teachers, friends, and family. My version is healthier than many you’ll find, made with whole-grain flour and less sugar. See below for a few tips and how-to photos.

Yield: 12 servings

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Salted Pecan Streusel

prep time: 15 minscook time: 50 minstotal time: 65 mins

I adore cranberry-orange bread, but it's often swimming in sugar and made with refined white flour. I worked on this healthier version and absolutely love it. It's moist (sorry, but that's the best word for it!), full of citrus flavor and intermittent pops of cranberry tartness, and crowned with the most delicious salted pecan streusel. Here's the thing, though (yep, there's a thing): I love that streusel so much that I wanted there to be plenty on top of the bread. It's a little heavy, so it sinks down into the batter a bit and prevents the bread from doming. I tried the bread with less streusel and just wasn't as happy with it. So sunken streusel it is!

ingredients:

Bread:
  • 8 oz. whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest (from 1 large navel orange)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large navel orange)
  • 1/3 cup whole buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen, thawed cranberries (1 cup whole cranberries = about 1 cup chopped)
Streusel:
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (no need to pre-toast; they'll toast on top of the bread as it bakes)
  • 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 4–inch loaf pan with parchment paper (see tip below). 
  2. To prepare the bread, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk to combine.
  3. Combine granulated sugar, orange zest (it's easier to zest the orange while it's whole, before you cut it and squeeze out the juice), orange juice, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and egg in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk to combine. Add wet mixture to flour mixture; stir with a silicone spatula to combine. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. 
  4. To prepare streusel, combine oats, pecans, brown sugar, butter, and salt; stir well to combine. Sprinkle evenly over batter.
  5. Bake at 350°F until bread springs back when pressed in center and a wooden pick comes out clean, about 50 - 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan (with parchment paper) and cool on a wire rack.
  6. For mini loaves (I used 3 [6 x 2 1/2–inch] paper baking molds), spoon about 1 cup batter into each of 3 molds. Divide streusel evenly over loaves. Bake at 350°F until bread springs back when pressed in center and a wooden pick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in paper molds. 

NOTES:

Calories 209; Fat 7g (sat 2g); Protein 3g; Carb 33g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 16g (added sugars 14g); Sodium 144mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

When prepping the loaf pan, line it with parchment paper to make removal much easier. Place the paper down on a surface, place the pan in the middle, and make diagonal cuts from each corner of the paper to the corner of the pan.

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This makes it easier to fit the paper into the pan, firmly into the corners.

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Next, I call for whole-wheat pastry flour here. It’s an ingredient I absolutely love and use all the time. It’s finer in texture than whole-wheat flour or white-wheat flour, making it ideal for baking projects. Here’s the kind I use:

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Last little tidbit. Please take note of my words above about the streusel. There’s a good bit of it.

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And that gives you excellent coverage over the batter:

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Trust me, you wouldn’t want any less! The bread is delicious just as it is. It’s just a little less poofy, that’s all.

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Slow-Cooker Pork with White Beans and Kale

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Well, we’re officially in the busiest month of the year—or at least it’s the busiest for me and every other human I know. Among all the fun social commitments, errand-running, holiday shopping, cookie baking, and cramming in of end-of-year work that just has to get done, there’s little time for everyday cooking. And that’s where the good ol’ slow cooker comes in handy. To be completely honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the slow cooker … until life gets insane enough for me to admit that it really is pretty darn useful. Let it do the work for you, making this comforting, delicious, nutritious (check out that fiber!) meal that will feed you and your family for multiple nights. There’s very little prep involved, and then the slow cooker just does its thing while you go about doing your thing. The pork ends up meltingly tender, and the beans are the creamiest ever. If only everything in December could be this easy and this satisfying!

Yield: 12 (serving size: about 4 oz. pork and 2/3 cup bean mixture)

Slow-Cooker Pork with White Beans and Kale

prep time: 14 minscook time: 7 hour and 10 minstotal time: 7 hours and 24 mins

When your week is insanely busy, you need a meal that will cook itself while you're at work—and then feed you and your family another couple nights of delicious leftovers. This is that meal. It's dead simple, delivering supreme comfort with very little effort. The beans, which go into the slow cooker dry (because who can remember to soak them ahead?) absorb all the delicious porky flavors and cook up to an incredibly creamy texture. Enjoy leftovers as they are, or mash the beans with a little hot sauce and use as a tostada topping or taco filling with the pork; just add salsa to perk up the flavor.

ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 (4 1/2-lb.) bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt), trimmed (for me, the trimmed weight was 4 lb.)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 lb. dried Great Northern beans (no need to presoak)
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (1 [32-oz.) carton)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 oregano sprigs (or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried ancho chile, stemmed (optional)
  • 1 large bunch curly kale (about 12 oz.), stemmed and torn into pieces

instructions:

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Rub over all sides of pork. Add pork to pan; cook until well browned, turning occasionally to brown all sides, about 12 minutes. Place pork in a slow cooker. Add water to hot skillet, scraping bottom of pan to release browned bits. Pour water over pork.
  2. Arrange beans around pork in slow cooker. Pour chicken stock over beans. Add garlic, oregano, bay leaves, and chile, if using, to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until pork and beans are very tender, about 7 to 8 hours. Remove and discard bay leaves and oregano sprigs. (You can chop or mash the ancho and stir into the beans if desired.)
  3. Increase slow cooker heat to HIGH. Pile kale on top. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until kale wilts. (I like my kale a little chewy and still bright green; if you like it more tender, you'll need to cook it longer.) Sprinkle kale with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; gently stir to combine with beans. 

NOTES:

Calories 435; Fat 19g (sat 7g); Protein 38g; Carb 27g; Fiber 9g; Sugars 2g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 579mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe is so simple that there’s not much to show, step- or technique-wise. I do recommend buying a bone-in pork roast, as the bone always seems to add more flavor and helps to keep the pork moist. And please, please, please brown it before it goes into the slow cooker. That step builds deep, savory flavor and is more than worth the few minutes it takes. Remember, brown = flavor. I don’t add any oil to the skillet when I brown the roast (you really don’t need it).

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As for the beans, they go into the slow cooker dry. They cook to creamy perfection over the long, slow simmer, picking up all the yummy pork flavor, as well as that of the broth and the other flavorings:

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Well, I forgot to show the garlic, but garlic goes in with the beans, along with bay leaves, oregano sprigs (or dried oregano), and an optional ancho chile. I love what the ancho adds—no real heat but instead richness and depth, with a hint of bitterness. I fished it out before dishing this up for the kids. But I sort of mashed it into my serving. Delicious!

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That’s it! That’s all it takes to make a warm, comforting, hearty, big-batch meal that will pull you through the busiest December day.

Herby Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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Everyone needs a good recipe for great ranch dressing, right? This one is easy, fresh, and packed with flavor. It’s really good served very cold—either draped over crisp greens or as a dip for veggies. My current favorite way to have it is shown above: a simple iceberg (yes!) salad with sliced grape tomatoes and bacon. Simple can be so good.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 2 tablespoons)

Herby Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

prep time: 10 minscook time: total time: 10 mins

Confession: I like ranch dressing. Not the bottled stuff, which I think is pretty bland. No, I mean homemade buttermilk ranch. I like it loaded with fresh herbs and with a little bite from fresh garlic, which is what makes it so good. I also like it served very cold over equally cold crisp greens like romaine (when it's not being recalled), Little Gem lettuce, or iceberg lettuce, which I've recently rediscovered. The recipe here is for the dressing alone; the salad shown is just a serving suggestion. You might want to go ahead and double the recipe; it's a good thing to keep on hand.

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke's; I'm Southern...)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk until well combined. I like to chill mine until very cold before serving, about an hour or so.

NOTES:

Calories 111; Fat 12g (sat 2g); Protein 1g; Carb 1g; Fiber 0g; Sugars 1g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 183mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Creamy Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

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I certainly love a good red-sauce lasagna—but a creamy white-sauce version? Oh yeah, I’ll take that any day. My Creamy Sausage and Spinach Lasagna is rich and indulgent–tasting, yet clocks in at fewer than 400 calories per serving. The sauce uses a combo of flour-thickened milk and chicken stock to keep things light, and chicken Italian sausage pulls its weight, flavor-wise, without loading on calories and fat. (Scroll below recipe card for photo step-by-steps on layering.) Hooray for lasagna night!

Yield: 6 servings

Creamy Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

prep time: 35 minscook time: 42 minstotal time: 77 mins

How 'bout a plate of cheesy, starchy, creamy comfort ... that won't leave you feeling awful after you eat it? That's what this white lasagna offers. It hits all the high notes of comfort food goodness but keeps things a little lighter than the typical versions you'll see. You won't have to resign the rest of your night to recovering from lasagna, if you know what I mean. It's packed full of garlicky spinach, too, and the thin lasagna noodles do something really rather lovely—they don't soak up much sauce, so the lasagna stays creamy-wonderful. My husband, who typically doesn't like lasagna, asked to pack up leftovers to take to work the next day. But then the kids ate what would have been the leftovers. Teenagers...

ingredients:

  • 9 oz. raw chicken Italian sausage (with casings removed, about 3 links)
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 6 oz. shredded low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; cook until browned, stirring to crumble, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage from pan. (Do not wipe pan clean.)
  3. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add spinach, tossing with tongs until spinach wilts, about 3 minutes total. Spoon spinach mixture into a strainer; press with back of a spoon to remove excess moisture. (Do not squeeze spinach dry in a towel, as this will make it so dry that it absorbs all of the cheese sauce. Trust me; I found out the hard way.)
  4. Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour milk mixture and chicken stock into skillet; add bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently with a whisk. Simmer until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in pepper, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 
  5. Coat an 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of dish. Top with 2 noodles. Sprinkle one-third of sausage over noodles, then top with one-third of spinach. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella. Top with 1/2 cup sauce. Repeat layers twice (2 noodles, one-third of sausage, one-third of spinach, 1/3 cup mozzarella, and 1/2 cup sauce). Top final layer with remaining 2 noodles. Spread remaining sauce over noodles, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover pan with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. 
  6. Uncover pan. Heat broiler to HIGH. Broil lasagna until browned on top, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

NOTES:

Calories 376; Fat 16g (sat 7g); Protein 27g; Carb 33g; Fiber 4g; Sugars 4g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 720mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

This lasagna does involve a little bit of prep: browning the sausage, wilting the spinach, making the sauce, and shredding the mozzarella (seriously, please shred it yourself from a block; it’ll melt smoother and be creamier). Before you start layering, gather all the components together:

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And then rearrange them in order of the way you’ll layer them in the pan. Then spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of the baking dish…

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And top with two of the lasagna noodles.

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Then sprinkle over one-third of the cooked sausage.

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Top with one-third of the spinach.

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And then 1/3 cup of the mozzarella.

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Spread 1/2 cup sauce over all that.

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Repeat those layers twice, and then top with 2 more noodles and the rest of the sauce.

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And finish with the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Then cover the dish with foil and bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.

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At that point, the lasagna will be done, but just a little pale. See?

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But then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes (and top with parsley), and wow—hubba hubba!

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Kale Salad with Pears, Pomegranates, and Pickled Onions

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Every Thanksgiving table should include a big, fresh salad. With all the rich casseroles, gravy, and savory (and sometimes surprisingly sweet) sides, something fresh is a necessity. Whenever I bust up a big salad into the Turkey Day mix, I’m often met with jokes and gentle ribbing. But you know what? My salad always gets eaten. Every freaking leaf. This is a great one for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving because it can easily accommodate dietary needs and restrictions: It’s vegan and gluten-free, and if someone has a nut allergy, you can easily omit the pecans.

Yield: 8 (serving size: about 1½ cups)

Kale Salad with Pears, Pomegranates, and Pickled Onions

prep time: 35 minscook time: 5 minstotal time: 40 mins

I have a real problem with lame salads, those that feel like an afterthought. Salads, after all, are a great opportunity to play with texture, flavor, and color, bringing all those elements into harmonious balance. This one does just that, combining earthy-chewy lacinato kale, sweet-juicy pears, toasty-crunchy pecans, and tart-crisp pickled onions. I happened upon a bag of petite Seckel pears at my local Publix store, which I think makes this salad feel a little special—but any sweet pear will work beautifully here. You don’t have to cut them the way I did (using a mandoline); you can just quarter, core, and thinly wedge or slice them. See below for tips and technique photos.

ingredients:

  • 1 cup mirin (sweet rice wine—see photo below)
  • ½ cup natural rice vinegar
  • 1 medium red onion, vertically sliced

  • 2 (8-oz.) bunches lacinato kale
  • 3 Seckel pears or 1½ Bartlett or Anjou pears, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (about ½ large pomegranate)
  • ½ cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. natural rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

instructions:

  1. Combine mirin and ½ cup vinegar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Add onion; return to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes or until cooled to room temperature. You can make the pickled onions a week ahead; refrigerate in an airtight container. 

  2. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and discard. Tear leaves into pieces. Place kale in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage oil into kale leaves until leaves slightly wilt. Add pears, pomegranate, and pecans to kale; toss gently to combine. Remove half of onion from mirin mixture with a slotted spoon; add to salad. (Reserve remaining onion for another use) 

  3. Combine remaining 5 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar, syrup, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic in a jar; close with lid, and shake until emulsified. Drizzle over salad.

NOTES:

Calories 196; Fat 16g (sat 2g); Protein 3g; Carb 13g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 8g (added sugars 2g); Sodium 168mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

The first step for this salad is to make a batch of pickled onions. I have you make double what you need for the salad—because why not go ahead and use a whole onions?

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The leftover pickled onions will hold up well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and you can use them on tacos, other salads, grain bowls, and more. My easy two-ingredient method relies on two products from the Asian foods aisle: mirin and rice vinegar. These guys:

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You can find rice vinegar at any supermarket and mirin at most (I got mine at Target). The mirin is seasoned with salt and sugar plus has a pleasant, light wine flavor—so it takes the place of wine, salt, and sugar. The rice vinegar is softer than many other vinegars, which could make the pickled onions sharp and wince-inducing.

I love lacinato kale for its bumpy texture and earthy and faintly sweet flavor. If you can’t find it, you can use regular curly kale—just know that it’s a little tougher. No matter which you use, do take a minute or two to massage the leaves with a little oil first, to help break down the fibers and tenderize the leaves.

As for the pears, as I mentioned above, I lucked into some gorgeous Seckel pears at the Publix down the road. They come in a bag, like this:

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And they’re smaller than most pears. See?

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Now for the pomegranates. Look, I know that the arils you can buy in the little cups are very convenient. I’ve used them myself on more than one occasion. But they just don’t taste as good as ones you pull fresh from the whole fruit. I learned a trick that makes that process a little easier. First, cut about 1/4-inch off the top of the fruit, like so:

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One you take the “lid” off, you can see where the paper-thin membranes are. It’s a little tricky to see in the photo above, but look for the spoke-like thin white membranes that grow out from the core. You want to score the outer skin of the pomegranate where those membranes run, from the top to the bottom of the fruit, like this:

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Once the skin is scored, you can pull apart the fruit. It will break along those “fault lines” like so—

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Now you can just gently prod those arils out without having to pick through all the pith and membrane. I swear it’s worth the effort (and there’s not much effort to it).

This salad will fill a big ol’ bowl (meaning it makes a lot). But I predict it will all get happily eaten, with thanksgiving.

Cinnamon-Apple Snack Cake

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I’m trying to get ahead for Thanksgiving. My kids are out of school the entire week, and I’ll happily have a houseful of extended family, too. And that, of course, includes my dad, who suffers from celiac disease. I’m always looking for good gluten-free recipes for him—especially desserts, as he has quite a sweet tooth. I wanted a casual cake that I could have on hand for general snacking but that would also be good enough to put out with the holiday feast. And I got there with this recipe. I cannot even express how pleased I am with this cake; it’s one my favorite desserts I’ve ever created, gluten-free or not. My kids agree: They even asked to have it at their birthday party last week! (We ended up opting for something else, but still—they requested it!) Keep reading below the recipe card for some tips and process photos!

Yield: 12 servings

Cinnamon-Apple Snack Cake

prep time: 25 minscook time: 28 minstotal time: 53 mins

I am so happy with how this cake turned out! It comes together in one bowl, and it's moist, tender, and absolutely full of apple flavor. The key is to use Honeycrisp apples, which perfume the whole pan and work some real magic: The batter smells like fresh-pressed cider, and the whole cake tastes as if you somehow crammed the essence of 500 apples into it. My kids went bonkers for it. Connor, in all earnestness, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Mom. It's really, really good." I can't ask for more than that.

ingredients:

  • 7 oz. (about 2 cups) almond flour
  • 2 3/4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, shredded Honeycrisp apple (about 1 large [10-12 oz.] apple)
  • 4 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 6 oz. (about 1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cloves; stir well to combine. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, and crack eggs into the well. Stir eggs to lightly beat them, then stir in buttermilk, honey, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir mixture well to combine. Fold in shredded apple. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square metal baking pan coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 350°F for 28 minutes or until a few moist crumbs cling to a wooden pick inserted in center of cake. Cool cake, in pan, on a wire rack.
  4. Place cream cheese and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beating at low speed, gradually add powdered sugar; beat just until combined. Spread frosting over cooled cake.

NOTES:

Calories 261; Fat 12g (sat 2g); Protein 6g; Carb 35g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 27g (added sugars 23g); Sodium 133mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

As I mentioned above, I needed a gluten-free dessert for my dad—and I wanted one that everyone else would love, too. I was unwilling to settle for anything that folks would say was good for a gluten-free cake. That would not be good enough. Thankfully, after a little trial and error, I got there. This cake is just flat-out GOOD. It’s gluten-free, relying on almond flour and gluten-free all-purpose flour (also make sure your baking powder is gluten-free). This is the a-p flour I used:

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A little bit of this gluten-free a-p flour lightens the texture of the almond flour, giving the cake a moist, tender texture. (Almond flour alone would produce a dense cake.) Next, the apple variety you use is crucial. And I contend that the only choice is Honeycrisp. It gives a ton of concentrated apple-y flavor, much more than other varieties. I originally tried chopping the apple, but it remained a little too crunchy in the finished cake. So I switched to shredding the apple, and holy cow did that work well! The little apple shreds melt into the batter and distribute the flavor more thoroughly into every bite.

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After the cake bakes, make sure to allow it to cool completely. If it’s warm when you top with the icing, you may tear off the tender top layer of the cake as you try to spread, getting crumbs all in the icing. (You may still get a few crumbs in there with a cooled cake, but only a few.)

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Use a sharp, thin knife to cut the cake. It’s so tender that it’s a little tricky to cut—not a bad problem if you ask me! And one of the best things about a snack cake is that you can just keep it in the pan and serve straight from there. (Keep leftovers in the fridge since there’s dairy in the frosting.)

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Hearty Cabbage and Sausage Soup

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If you look out on the ol’ interwebs, you’ll find lots of recipes similar to this one (it’s a pretty classic soup). Many include potatoes (mine doesn’t) and lots more sausage than I choose to use. I keep an eye toward sodium and go with only 12 ounces of kielbasa. The Target near my house sells 12-ounce packages of it (I don’t remember the brand), and it’s more than plenty to flavor the whole big pot of soup.

Well, folks, this veggie-loaded soup is just so easy and straightforward that I don’t have any technique or process photos—none needed! All you need is the recipe card. And maybe a side of cornbread. Enjoy!

Yield: 8 (serving size: about 1 3/4 cups)

Hearty Cabbage and Sausage Soup

prep time: 20 minscook time: 41 minstotal time: 61 mins

This humble soup is always on repeat at the Pittman house. I almost thought that it might be too simple to post, but since we love it so much, I figured someone else might love it, too. It's perfect on a chilly night—piping hot and brothy, comforting and full of veggies. It doesn't hurt that the kids love it (and ask for reheated leftovers for school-day breakfasts!) and that the ingredients are pretty inexpensive. It makes almost a gallon, so use a large Dutch oven. The soup holds well for up to three days (and reheats beautifully), but I wouldn't recommend freezing it—the cabbage would get too mushy when the soup thawed. No step-by-step technique photos needed for this recipe: It's just that easy to make!

ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped white onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery (about 3 large stalks)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 12 oz. kielbasa or other smoked sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 1/2 lb.), cored and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh or 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 oz. fresh baby spinach

instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in carrots and kielbasa; sauté 4 minutes or until sausage begins to brown.
  2. Pile cabbage into pan. Pour chicken stock and enough water to mostly cover cabbage (3-4 cups) over cabbage. Gently stir in thyme and bay leaves, then stir in tomatoes, pepper, and salt. 
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Uncover and stir in spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts.

NOTES:

Calories 253; Fat 15g (sat 4g); Protein 10g; Carb 22g; Fiber 7g; Sugars 10g (added sugars 1g); Sodium 684mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Orange-Olive Salsa

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Yield: 4 (serving size: 1 fillet and 1/4 cup salsa)

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Orange-Olive Salsa

This slow, gentle roasting technique might just become your new favorite way to cook salmon. The low heat (only 250°F) keeps the flesh super-unctuous and oily-rich, and pretty much assures you won’t overcook the fish. The accompanying salsa is the perfect partner, with its bright pop of juicy citrus and meaty bits of buttery Castelvetrano olives (can we all just agree that they’re the best olives?).

prep time: 20 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 40 mins

ingredients

  • 4 (6-oz.) salmon fillets (I used skin-on, sustainable farmed salmon)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 navel oranges

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted Castelvetrano olives (about 16 olives)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. slivered shallot or red onion
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

instructions

  1. Let salmon fillets stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to take the chill off. Preheat oven to 250°F.

  2. Arrange fillets in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 3/8 tsp. salt and black pepper. Drizzle evenly with 1 tablespoon oil.
  3. Grate 1/2 teaspoon zest from one of the oranges; set zest aside. Remove peel and all pith from both oranges; slice between membranes to remove orange sections. Place sections in a medium bowl. Hold orange membranes over salmon in baking dish, and squeeze juice over fillets.
  4. Bake fillets at 250°F for 20 to 25 minutes, to desired degree of doneness. (Mine were to my liking right at 20 minutes.)
  5. Meanwhile, add olives, parsley, shallot, red pepper, orange zest, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to orange sections; toss gently to combine. Serve salsa with salmon.

NOTES:

Calories 397; Fat 27g (sat 5g); Protein 27g; Carb 11g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 8g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 538mg
Created using The Recipes Generator
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OK, so maybe you’re not sold yet on this idea. Let me try to get you there… Have you ever bought some beautiful salmon fillets, anticipating that oily, silky, fatty-in-all-the-good-ways texture, only to overcook the fish (even slightly) so that the texture falls flat? Yeah, that won’t happen with this slow-roasting method. It cooks the fish ever so gently so that it never loses that buttery silkiness you crave.

This recipe is pretty simple—not too much technique to explain. The hardest part is maybe sectioning the orange?? But even that isn’t hard. Just cut away all the peel and pith, and then cut between the membranes to extract the sections. Like this:

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After you’ve removed all the sections, don’t toss the membranes just yet. Hold on to these guys—

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And squeeze them over the fillets in the baking dish, like so:

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Then bake for a short 20ish minutes, and you’ll be delighted by the results. No. More. Overcooked. Salmon. I mean, just look at this texture!

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Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Pizza

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 slices)

Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Pizza

This pizza is my love letter to fall. All the best seasonal flavors converge here: sweet butternut squash, woodsy herbs, toasty hazelnuts, and pungent blue cheese. A bed of silky caramelized onions serves as the "sauce," a delicious change of pace. The butternut ribbons are beautiful and—bonus benefit—cook quickly in a super-hot oven (no par-cooking required). Serve with an arugula or kale salad for a dynamite pairing.

prep time: 38 minscook time: 10 minstotal time: 48 mins

ingredients

  • 12 oz. whole-wheat pizza dough (I used dough from Whole Foods)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups vertically sliced yellow onions (about 1 lb., 2 medium onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/8 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 8 oz. butternut squash, shaved into ribbons (about 3 cups ribbons; see tips below)
  • 2 oz. firm blue cheese, thinly sliced (I used Point Reyes)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper

instructions

  1. Let dough stand, covered, at room temperature to take the chill off.
  2. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500°F (leave pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it heats).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low (I went closer to low than medium), and stir in garlic. Cook 20 minutes or until onions are silky, very tender, and caramelized; stir in a tablespoon of water every now and then if the onions start to stick or burn. Remove from heat, and stir in thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Meanwhile, combine butternut ribbons, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine.
  5. Pat or roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Brush outside rim of dough with about 3/4 teaspoon oil. Top dough evenly with onions, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange butternut ribbons over onions. 
  6. Lift dough, on parchment, and place parchment and dough on hot pizza stone. Bake pizza at 500°F for 10 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp and butternut is browned in places (broil for a minute or two if the top isn't browned to your liking). Remove pizza from oven; brush outside rim of crust with remaining 3/4 teaspoon oil. Nestle cheese into butternut ribbons (note: residual heat will soften and melt the cheese). Sprinkle pizza with hazelnuts, sage, and pepper.

calories

418

fat (grams)

18

sat. fat (grams)

4

carbs (grams)

46

protein (grams)

10

sugar (grams)

5

Added sugar (in grams)

0

Fiber (in grams)

6

Sodium (in mg)

717

Added sugar (in grams)

0

Fiber (in grams)

6

Sodium (in mg)

717
Created using The Recipes Generator

There you go—recipe card up top, so you don’t have to scroll through lots of photos and words to get to what you want most. This is my first blog post (!!), so please forgive any errors or oddities. I’m learning as I go…

This pizza is nothing short of a knockout. It’s beautiful, delicious, healthy, easier than it looks, and meatless. Just keep in mind that the pizza is your entree, not your entire meal—so serve it with a side salad or some roasted veggies. Here are some helpful tips as you’re making it:

First, make sure you get the pizza dough out of the fridge. Let it stand at room temperature as the oven heats and you do all the prep work. Trust me, this is a crucial step. Room-temp dough is much easier to work with than cold dough. That cold dough will snap back and fight you as you try to roll or stretch it out. But room-temp dough? It’s much more well behaved.

For the onions, I recommend standard yellow onions—not sweet onions, which (with the butternut) would take the pizza in a too-sweet direction. Besides, the standard guys gain a little sweetness through the caramelization process. I call to vertically slice them, which helps them hold their shape better. It basically looks like this:

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As for caramelizing those onions, I encourage you to exercise patience. Don’t try to rush the process by turning up the heat; you won’t get the silky texture you’re after. Listen as the onions cook; if you hear too much sizzle, they may be sticking or scorching—at which point you should stir in a tablespoon of water. This is what they should look like when they’re ready (this is before I stirred in the thyme and salt):

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Now for the squash. Do the prep for this as the onions are cooking. Since you’re aiming for long ribbons, choose a squash with a long neck; this will make creating long ribbons much easier. Here’s the one I used:

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I peeled the entire neck with a vegetable peeler, then cut it off near the bulb. I then cut the neck in half vertically, then into a few one-inch thick slabs. Then I ran the vegetable peeler over the slabs to create ribbons; I found it easiest to start at the farther edge and pull the peeler toward me. You’ll have leftover squash, which is perfect for cubing and roasting for a side dish or to puree for a soup.

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Once you toss your squash with a little oil and salt, it's time to assemble the pizza. Stretch the dough into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. The paper allows you to lift the pizza, on the paper, and place everything (paper and all) on the hot pizza stone. You still get the crispy crust, and the whole process is much easier than trying to slide the dough from a pizza peel onto the hot stone. Once the dough is shaped, top with the onions.

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Now pile on the squash. It may seem like a lot, but it cooks down a good bit in the oven.

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Pop that guy in a 500°F oven for 10 or so minutes, then take it out and brush a little oil onto the outer rim of the crust; this adds sheen and flavor. Now top with cheese, sage, hazelnuts, and black pepper. (If you add the cheese before the pizza goes in the oven, it will turn into buttery goo; it’s delicious, but it just melts away to have a visual impact. The residual heath from the hot pizza will soften and slightly melt the cheese anyway.) That’s it! Enjoy!!

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