Grilled Catfish with Warm Street Corn Salad

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*sponsored post*

I grew up eating catfish—have always loved it for its sweet, mild flavor and buttery texture. And so I’m thrilled to be working in partnership with The Catfish Institute to promote U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. Besides the fact that it’s always a guaranteed hit with my kids, I love U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish because it’s a sustainable choice I can feel good about: It gets a best choice/green designation from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. 

In the following recipe that I created for this partnership, I grill spice-rubbed catfish fillets to give them a robust, slightly smoky flavor. And I pair these moist fillets with a warm, grilled corn salad based on my love of elote (Mexican street corn). It’s a friendly combo of buttery-rich fish and crunchy-sweet corn that’s brought together under a bright, herby sauce that’s basically a simplified version of chimichurri. This is family-friendly cooking that’s just special enough for company, too.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 catfish fillet, about 1 1/4 cups salad, and 2 Tbsp. sauce)
Author:

Grilled Catfish with Warm Street Corn Salad

prep time: 20 Mcook time: 16 Mtotal time: 36 M
I love this dish! Grilled corn gets tossed with a little mayo (but not too much), lime juice, chili powder, scallions, and cotija cheese for my off-the-cob take on street corn. This warm, savory salad is then topped with a spice-rubbed grilled catfish fillet and a dollop of simplified chimichurri sauce. The textures are wonderful: tender fish, crunchy corn, and unctuous sauce. And the flavors? Oh my! Sweet corn, salty cheese, bright and herby sauce, and rich fish combine in beautiful harmony.

ingredients:

  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cilantro stems and leaves
  • 6 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lime zest, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
  • 4 large ears shucked corn
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 4 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled (can substitute feta or queso fresco)
  • Lime wedges (optional)

instructions:

How to cook Grilled Catfish with Warm Street Corn Salad

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. While grill heats, place garlic clove in a mini food processor; process until finely chopped. Add cilantro; process until finely chopped. With processor running, gradually add 1/4 cup oil until well blended. Add red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon lime zest, and 1 tablespoon lime juice; pulse until combined. Set aside.
  3. Brush corn with 1 tablespoon oil. Place corn on grill rack; grill until lightly charred on all sides, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. Remove from grill and cool slightly.
  4. Combine 3/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, garlic powder, and black pepper. Brush catfish fillets with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle evenly on both sides with spice mixture. Arrange catfish on oiled grill rack; grill until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from grill and keep warm.
  5. Cut corn kernels off the cobs and place in a large bowl. Combine corn, mayonnaise, chili powder, remaining 1 teaspoon lime zest and 2 tablespoons lime juice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in green onions and cheese. Serve corn salad with catfish and sauce. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.
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Cumin and Black Pepper Baked Chicken Wings

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I learned this awesome baking powder trick a few years ago (thank you, internet) for making baked chicken wings that you would swear were fried. The results are amazing—crispy skin with way less fuss and much easier cleanup. I’ve used this method at home for basic wings, plus these glazed wings I developed for a story I did for Southern Living. And last weekend, I tried making them with lots of toasty cumin flavor, borne from my love of cumin lamb. The results were, I must say, outstanding. The kids, the hubs, and I all went nuts for these wings. Scroll down below the recipe for tips and pointers. Oh, and I did not run nutrition analysis on these. Sorry, but when I’m having wings, I know I’m indulging. :-)

Yield: Serves 6 (serving size: about 6 wings)
Author:

Cumin and Black Pepper Baked Chicken Wings

prep time: 12 Mcook time: 40 Mtotal time: 52 M
This recipe is inspired by my love of cumin lamb—the Chinese restaurant dish that highlights the toasty goodness of that amazing spice. I use it here to season baked chicken wings, along with freshly ground black pepper. Both spices are toasted whole and then ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Believe me: It is beyond worth it to do this because the flavor is incomparable. This recipe also highlights a cool trick that produces baked wings that are crispy and taste as good as fried (but with far less mess)—tossing them with a little baking powder. It’s a trick I learned a few years ago and one that you won’t believe once you try it! This recipe comfortably serves six. Or, if your household is like mine, two reasonable adults and two hungry teenagers.

ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder (do not mistakenly use baking soda)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 lb. chicken wings, separated into drumettes and flats (about 30-32 pieces)

instructions:

How to cook Cumin and Black Pepper Baked Chicken Wings

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or with foil and then parchment paper if you don’t want to wash the pan).
  2. Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and peppercorns. Cook, shaking pan frequently, until very fragrant and toasted, about 1 minute. Immediately pour onto a plate or into a bowl (leaving them in the pan might burn them). Cool slightly. Place in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind. Pour into a small bowl. Stir in baking powder, salt, and garlic powder.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle spice mixture over chicken and toss well to coat. Arrange chicken on prepared pan with fatty side down. Bake at 450°F for 25 minutes. Turn chicken over; bake until well browned and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.
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First things first: You need to prepare your pan. These wings do best when baked on parchment paper (I tried them on foil, and they weren’t as good). I don’t know why, but I’m sure some smart folks out there will understand the reason. Anyway, when they bake on parchment paper, you don’t need to fuss with arranging them on a wire rack or anything like that (one fewer dish to wash). But parchment paper is a little permeable, so some of the chicken drippings will seep through. I am lazy and don’t want this to happen, so I line my pan with foil first and then parchment—so I don’t have to wash anything!

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Next, you need to toast and grind the cumin and peppercorns. I’m telling you—the flavor is so much better than if you start with pre-ground. Please trust me on this! Toast them in a hot skillet till they’re really fragrant. I wish you could smell these:

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Once they’re toasted, let them cool off a bit and then grind them in a spice grinder (I use an ancient coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle if you like to go unplugged. Here’s the ground mixture:

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Now, let’s talk about the chicken. I like to buy air-chilled chicken wings. One of the main benefits of air chilling is that the chicken does not take on excess water (as it would if it were brined), which means crispier skin. I found lots of big packs of air-chilled wings (maybe for football season?) at my local Whole Foods. The three-pound pack I bought cost $12.48. Seemed like a good price to me!

Anyway, even though the chicken is air-chilled, I still pat it dry with paper towels before tossing with spices. I just want the skin as dry as possible. I place it in a humongous bowl so that I can just shake the bowl to toss the chicken with the spices to coat.

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Once the chicken is coated with the spice (and baking powder) mix, you need to arrange it on the prepared baking sheet with the fattier side down. Like this:

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And this is what they look like when they’re done—super crispy with that incredible cumin flavor!

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They’re so good that you might just eat them right off the pan! If you can control your urges, though, they work beautifully on a Snack Dinner tray, which is perfect for game day.

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Simple Smoky Romano Beans

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This dish is so easy to make that it almost doesn't even warrant a written recipe. That said, it's nice to have a reference for how to prep ingredients like these Romano beans, a less-common variety of snap beans. If you can't find fresh Romano beans, you can sub in green beans; shorten the blanching time by a couple of minutes so they don't get overcooked. See notes below for Romano bean prep.

Yield: 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)
Author:

Simple Smoky Romano Beans

prep time: 5 Mcook time: 13 Mtotal time: 18 M
Oh yeah—this is the type of easy veggie dish I want (no, demand!) on repeat all summer long. It goes with anything and darn near steals the show despite its simplicity. It's quick to make, holds up well as leftovers, and seems to one-up regular green beans because of the meatier texture of Romano beans. (Of course, regular green beans will work beautifully here if you can't find Romano beans.) One simple spice addition gives it that type of can't-put-your-finger-on-it flavor oomph that makes a dish truly memorable.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lb. fresh Romano beans (see notes below)
  • 1 1/2 slices thick-cut bacon (I know, it's an odd amount. But 2 slices were too many, and 1 slice wasn't enough.)
  • 1/4 to 3/8 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

instructions:

How to cook Simple Smoky Romano Beans

  1. Snap off stem ends of beans, pulling and discarding any strings. Snap beans in half or into thirds, and leave smaller beans whole. 
  2. Bring a large Dutch oven full of water to a boil. Add beans; boil until crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking (or rinse under cold tap water). Drain well.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut bacon crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. Add bacon to pan; cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving drippings in pan. Add coriander to drippings; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add beans to pan; cook until thoroughly heated and lightly seared in spots, tossing frequently, about 4 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bacon.

NOTES:

Calories 114; Fat 4g (sat 2g); Protein 3g; Carb 14g; Fiber 4g; Sugars 2g (added sugars 1g); Sodium 232mg
Created using The Recipes Generator
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Shopping for and Preparing Romano Beans

When I was a kid, every grocery store in Mississippi carried Romano beans—except they were labeled, and we called them, pole beans. These broad, flat snap beans are in the same family as green beans and have a similar flavor, though a little bit sweeter, and a meatier, firmer texture. Nowadays, I don’t see them in regular grocery stores but do find them at farmers’ markets and farm stands. I have to say, they are absolutely worth seeking out for that great flavor and irresistible texture.

We’re all pretty used to stringless string beans, so prepping these guys will provide a little nostalgia for those of you who remember pulling strings. (I did find some Romano beans at the farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago that were stringless, but most of the ones I’ve found this summer have strings.) Hold a pod, snap off the stem end, and pull down to remove the string. There might be strings on both sides of the bean, so snapping the bean in half or thirds will give you another shot or two at removing all strings. Once they’re prepped, you’ll want to blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water before finishing in the skillet for this recipe.

They’re also amazing grilled, so give that a try. Prep as explained above (including blanching), drain, and toss with oil before placing over hot coals for a minute or two on each side.

Cucumber, Cantaloupe, and Seared Halloumi Salad

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This here salad is my JAM. I’ve been getting the most amazing cantaloupes all summer (B’ham folks, I get them at Murphree’s Market)—better than they’ve been any other year I can remember. They are incredibly juicy, honey-floral sweet, and almost indecently fragrant. They are, with no exaggeration, swoon-inducing. And when paired with crisp cucumbers, pungent herbs, and warm halloumi cheese, they are the meal of dreams. Seriously, this salad with a glass of crisp white wine? My summer dream dinner!

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)
Author:

Cucumber, Cantaloupe, and Seared Halloumi Salad

prep time: 10 Mcook time: 3 Mtotal time: 13 M
This simple salad celebrates the best of summer, when melons are at their juiciest, sweetest, most fragrant peak, herbs grow to thrilling heights in backyard gardens, and cucumbers offer extreme crunch with each bite. This pairs well with grilled fish or chicken, or stands up on its own for a light dinner—my favorite way to enjoy it. Well, with a very cold glass of white wine on the side, of course.

ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 thin cantaloupe wedges, halved crosswise
  • 2 Persian cucumbers (the mini cukes), shaved lengthwise into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 oz. halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 Tbsp. small fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. small fresh basil leaves (or larger leaves, torn)

instructions:

How to cook Cucumber, Cantaloupe, and Seared Halloumi Salad

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cantaloupe and cucumbers; toss gently to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add cheese to pan; cook until nicely browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side.
  3. Arrange cantaloupe mixture on a platter; drizzle any juices from the bowl over cantaloupe and cucumbers. Arrange warm halloumi on platter. Sprinkle with mint and basil. 

NOTES:

Calories 199; Fat 13g (sat 6g); Protein 7g; Carb 15g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 12g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 392mg
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Smoky Spice-Rubbed Catfish with Peach-Tomato Salad

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*sponsored post*

I am so excited to partner with The Catfish Institute to promote the goodness of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish. It’s a sustainable seafood option you can feel good about—it gets a “best choice” rating from Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program—and because of the way it’s farmed and fed, it has a reliably mild, buttery flavor every time. 

I grew up in Mississippi, where catfish was a mainstay. Back then, we typically had it fried—which is fantastic—but the mild, sweet flavor of U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is versatile enough to shine with other cooking methods, too. Here, I’ve rubbed it with some robust spices and given it a turn on the grill with some wood chips for a wonderfully smoky flavor. And because the fish itself is so mild, it pairs fantastically with fruit, in this case a summery mixture of sweet cherry tomatoes and even sweeter peaches. It’s an elegant take on a family-friendly fish you should get to know a little better, especially if you’re working to get more fish into your diet.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 catfish fillet and about 3/4 cup salad)
Author:

Smoky Spice-Rubbed Catfish with Peach-Tomato Salad

prep time: 30 Mcook time: 10 Mtotal time: 40 M
A whiff of wood smoke amps up spice-rubbed catfish in this stunning summer recipe. The mild flavor of the fish pairs beautifully with the fruity, herby salad.

ingredients:

  • 1 cup oak, hickory, or pecan wood chips
  • 4 U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish Fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups thin peach wedges, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • Basil sprigs (optional)

instructions:

How to cook Smoky Spice-Rubbed Catfish with Peach-Tomato Salad

  1. Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes; drain. Meanwhile, prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side of grill to medium-high and leaving other side with no heat. Maintain heat at about 400°F.
  2. Brush tops of catfish fillets with 1 tablespoon oil. Combine garlic powder, paprika, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; rub tops of fillets with spice mixture.
  3. Add soaked wood chips to coals. Arrange fillets, spice side up, on oiled grill rack over unheated side of grill. Close lid and cook until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse onion in cold water; pat dry. Combine onion, tomatoes, peaches, vinegar, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss gently to coat. Add basil; toss gently to combine. Serve salad with fillets. Garnish with basil sprigs, if desired.
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Beet and Cherry Salad with Pistachio-Mint Gremolata

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A few weeks back, I played with a monochromatic golden beet and mango salad. It was so stinking good that I thought, welp, why not try a monochromatic red beet salad? So I paired the earthy roots with sweet Bing cherries, and it was a match made in heaven! As always, I give you the recipe up front here, and the notes and tips are below.

Yield: 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)
Author: Ann Taylor Pittman

Beet and Cherry Salad with Pistachio-Mint Gremolata

prep time: 30 Mcook time: 6 Mtotal time: 36 M
Wow, what a great combo! Sweet, juicy cherries and earthy beets form a gorgeously monochromatic base for a salad featuring a lovely whiff of cardamom in its dressing. The pistachio-mint-lemon gremolata offers a pop of contrasting color, crunch, and flavor. I use a quick microwave method to "roast" the beets, so the salad comes together quickly. You can make the salad and the gremolata a day or two ahead; just store them separately until ready to serve.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. small trimmed beets (for me, this was 6 beets)
  • 1 lb. sweet cherries
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted pistachios
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)

instructions:

How to cook Beet and Cherry Salad with Pistachio-Mint Gremolata

  1. Pierce each beet once with the tip of a small knife. Place beets on a large sheet of microwave-safe parchment paper; wrap tightly. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes or until beets are tender. (If your beets are larger than mine were, they will take longer. Go in 1-minute increments until they reach the desired tenderness.) Cool beets slightly; trim off stem end, and remove skins. Cut beets into thin wedges.
  2. Meanwhile, pit cherries, and cut in half. 
  3. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, and cardamom in a small jar; seal and shake well until emulsified. Combine beets and cherries in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat.
  4. Combine pistachios, mint, and lemon zest; sprinkle over salad just before serving.

NOTES:

Calories 209; Fat11 g (sat 1g); Protein 4g; Carb 29g; Fiber 6g; Sugars 19g (added sugars 2g); Sodium 241mg
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How to Microwave-Roast Beets

First, try to use small beets for even, quick cooking. Mine were between two and three ounces each. Pierce each beet once with the tip of a sharp knife, and place on a large sheet of microwave-safe parchment paper.

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Wrap the beets tightly in the parchment paper, folding over the edges to create a good seal, and turn the package so the seams are on the bottom. Microwave like this for six minutes (or longer if your beets are larger).

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Once the beets are done, let them cool down until they’re cool enough to handle. Then you can cut off the stem end and peel off the skins.

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My Favorite Cherry Pitter

Trust me: If you make a cherry pie or cobbler or salad at least once a year, you should invest in a cherry pitter. It makes the job of loosening and removing those suckers So. Much. Easier. I love the one pictured below, which I’ve had for 10+ years. It’s made by Oxo, and it does the job really well. And the splatter guard keeps my clothes nice and clean—which means a lot to me, because I never wear an apron.

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Marinated Zucchini Slaw

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Have a glut of zucchini? Or just love it? Or on the lookout for a killer make-ahead side dish that everyone will want the recipe for? Look no further—Marinated Zucchini Slaw is here!

Yield: 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)
Author: Ann Taylor Pittman

Marinated Zucchini Slaw

prep time: 37 Mcook time: total time: 37 M
In the summer, when zucchini is sweetest and most abundant, I'm always looking for new ways to use it. That's how this make-ahead slaw came into being. The flavor profile leans Greek-ish, with oregano, lemon juice, olive oil, and feta, and the texture is just fantastic—crunchy, but more chewy-crunchy than crunchy-crunchy. Important first step: I salt the zucchini to draw out a lot of its moisture. That way, you won't end up with watery slaw, no matter how far ahead you make it. Trust me: I made a double batch and ate the leftovers for three days. Check out my delicious leftover makeover idea below!

ingredients:

  • 4 cups matchstick-cut zucchini (from about 1 1/2 lb. zucchini)--see notes below
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

instructions:

How to cook Marinated Zucchini Slaw

  1. Combine zucchini and salt in a large strainer or colander; toss well to coat. (Don't worry about the amount of salt—much of it drains off with the water.) Strain over the sink or over a bowl for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine carrots, green onions, oregano, oil, lemon juice, and pepper in a large bowl; toss well to combine.
  3. Pat zucchini dry on a double layer of paper towels. Add zucchini to carrot mixture; toss well to combine. Add feta; toss gently to combine.

NOTES:

Calories 124; Fat 9g (sat 3g); Protein 4g; Carb 8g; Fiber2 g; Sugars 5g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 280mg
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Matchstick-Cut Zucchini

You can certainly make matchstick-cut zucchini by hand—cutting into very thin planks, then into little matchsticks. Or you can use a mandoline, if you have one. But I love using my julienne peeler for the job. I keep the stem end on the zucchini and use it as a handle, then drag the peeler down the length of the squash. I make a few strokes, until I reach the seedy middle, then rotate the zucchini and start on another side. I find that the seedy middle part doesn’t hold up well for this type of recipe. Don’t throw this core away, though. You can shred it and add to pancake or muffin batter, meatloaf, or burger patties for extra moisture. Or you can chop it up, sauté it, and use it in fried rice, soup, omelets—you name it..

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Once I have a pile of long shreds, I cut them in half so the slaw is easier to eat. You could also try this recipe with zoodles (I’d cut them so they’re not so long), or with shredded zucchini.

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And I know that you can buy matchstick carrots, but since you already have that julienne peeler out, why not go ahead and cut your own fresh ones? You can nibble on the cores when you’re done.

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Straining the Zucchini

This step is super important. If you skip it, I promise you’ll regret it! You’ll end up with a pool of liquid at the bottom of the bowl (ever had that happen with zoodles?). Look at all the liquid that drains off!

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My Favorite Way to Use the Leftovers

As I mentioned above, I made a double batch and enjoyed leftovers for days. I had them as a simple side dish, piled on a burger (really good), and atop a farro bowl (also very good). But my favorite way to enjoy the leftovers was in an individual frittata! I just warmed some up in my favorite little 8-inch skillet, and then poured two beaten eggs on top. I cooked this stovetop on medium heat for a couple minutes, then finished under the broiler for a couple minutes. So good!!

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Golden Beet, Mango, and Avocado Salad

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Holy cow, this is such a great combo—one that I would not have come up with on my own. See, I had something similar recently in Santa Fe, at the lovely restaurant Paloma. The interplay of creamy avocado, earthy beets, and juicy-sweet mango was incredible … inspiring … memorable. I believe their salad was topped with pepitas, but I went with pine nuts for mine, along with a sprinkling of Tajin seasoning for zesty flavor and a hint of chile richness. Check out the recipe below, and then scroll down for beet and mango tips/how-tos.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Author:

Golden Beet, Mango, and Avocado Salad

prep time: 10 Mcook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 H & 10 M
Wow, what a trio: Earthy, tender golden beets, juicy-sweet mango, and creamy avocado come together with a barely-there dressing (the ingredients are so good that they need little embellishment). Each serving boasts a hefty 7 grams of fiber, too. Serve alongside tacos, enchiladas, grilled chicken, or seared steak.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. trimmed golden beets (about 4 medium)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ripe, firm avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp. Tajin seasoning (see note below)

instructions:

How to cook Golden Beet, Mango, and Avocado Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wrap trimmed beets in heavy-duty foil. Roast at 425°F until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Rub off and discard skins. Cut each beet into 8 wedges.
  3. Peel mango (a sharp paring knife works well for this). Carefully cut both mango "cheeks" from pit (see photos below). Slice mango cheeks crosswise.
  4. Place beet wedges and mango slices in a medium bowl. Drizzle with lime juice and oil, and sprinkle with salt. Toss gently to combine. 
  5. Peel and pit avocado; cut crosswise into slices. Arrange avocado and beet-mango mixture  on a platter. Sprinkle evenly with pine nuts, cilantro, and Tajin. 

NOTES:

Calories 221; Fat 12g (sat 2g); Protein 4g; Carb 28g; Fiber 7g; Sugars 20g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 350mg
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How to Roast Beets

My favorite way to cook beets is to wrap them in foil and roast them in the oven. If you are pressed for time, though, you can wrap the beets in microwave-safe parchment paper and microwave on HIGH for 6 to 10 minutes. They won’t be quite as tender and moist, but they’ll still be good. Anyway, here’s how I roast in the oven. First, trim the tops of the beets and cut away any “tails.”

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Then wrap the trimmed beets tightly in foil.

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When the beets are done and have cooled off a bit, you can easily remove the skin. I like to use a paper towel to rub off the skins. Here, you can see little bits of skin in the foil; they just rub off easily, leaving a shiny, smooth peeled beet behind.

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Then simply cut each beet into into 8 wedges (and try not to gobble them all up).

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How to Cut a Mango

I know there are all kinds of tutorials online that show how to cut a mango. To me, the fastest, easiest way is to peel the entire mango and then cut off both “cheeks.” Holding the peeled mango (a paper towel might help you get a better grip—the peeled mango will be slippery) so that a narrower side is pointing up, slice somewhere between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch from the middle. The pit will announce where it is, and your knife can just graze it as you cut down.

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And then cut off the other cheek, on the other side of the pit. Once the cheeks are off, you can slice ‘em, cube ‘em, or keep ‘em whole.

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I sprinkle this salad with Tajin seasoning. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a combo of dried chile, dehydrated lime, and sea salt. It’s tangy, it’s salty, and it’s roasty-toasty with the essence of chiles but not necessarily the heat. It is absolutely delicious sprinkled over mango or watermelon or pineapple, used to rim a margarita glass, tossed with popcorn, or dusted over grilled chicken or beef. You’ll find it with the Mexican or Latin American foods in most supermarkets, and you’ll be glad you did!

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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

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.

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