Katherine’s Everyday Salad

At one time (just about a year ago), I told you about my experience doing Whole30.  It was hard and freeing all at the same time.  I learned so much about my eating habits, some I knew (too well, I’m afraid) and some surprised me.

If you would like to revisit those posts here they are:
Whole30: Why I Chose to Tackle Whole30 and Why You Should Too
Whole30: Where Do I Start?
Whole30: My Favorite Foods and Tools
Whole30: Final Thoughts and Lessons Learned

While I was able to go through lots of details of our first Whole30, I’m not sure I will document all of that a second time.  I’m certain you might all run for the hills and never return.  Really, I like your company too much to do that!

But, I thought I would share a few recipes here and there that are considered compliant and great for everyday.  Today, I have Katherine’s Everyday Salad.

Who names a salad after themselves???  Someone crazy I’m certain.  One of the things I recommend to people wanting to try Whole30 is to eat the same meal at least a couple days in a row so you just don’t have to think about it.  This is what I ate alllmost every single day for lunch on Whole30, so it felt like it deserve a legitimate name.  It isn’t complicated or fussy.  I don’t even have a ton of photos because let’s be real.  Throwing some things on top of lettuce isn’t really complicated.

First, get baby spinach and arugula.  I don’t love raw spinach but I find it much more enjoyable with peppery arugula.  Next, get some tuna.  I have yet to try to make my own mayo for Whole30 (since most mayos are off limits) so I eat it plain.  You absolutely could mash in some avocado to create a bit of that creaminess and it would be delicious.

Next, chop a crisp apple (I think this one was Fuji).  Finally, toast some whole pecans in a dry skillet for a couple minutes.  Trust me, this extra step makes all the difference.  It toasts them and makes them so hearty.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Katherine’s Everyday Salad
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Ingredients

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach and arugula
  • 2 oz. canned tuna*
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 crisp and tart apple, chopped
  • 1/4 c. whole pecans, toasted
  • balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Instructions

  1. Fill a plate with spinach and arugula. Top with canned tuna. If you prefer, mash avocado with tuna to make tuna salad. If not, serve diced avocado on the side.
  2. Core and chop apple and add to the top of the salad.
  3. Place pecans in dry fry pan and toast on medium heat. You will know they are done when you start to smell the nuts (about 3-4 minutes). Add nuts to the salad.
  4. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top for dressing.
Cuisine: Salad | Recipe Type: Whole30

Notes

*If you aren't a tuna fan, this would be just as good with grilled chicken. Feel free to substitute almonds for the pecans if you prefer.

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/katherines-everyday-salad/

This meal is super healthy, uses an inexpensive protein and is filling!  I love the contrast in flavors and textures.  Admittedly, making salads isn’t one of my strongest suits. (Frankly, if I wasn’t so good at making brownies and pancakes we wouldn’t be here in the first place…)  But!  I do think this salad is hearty, simple to adapt to your own tastes and delicious!  Please let me know if you give Katherine’s Everyday Salad a try.  You can be my first critics!

Do you have a healthy go-to meal or salad?  What is something you wish you were better at cooking in your own kitchen?  Do you eat the same food everyday for one of your meals?

Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend.  We spent most of it digging ourselves out of snow-mageddon over in Chicagoland, but we survived.  To help us stay warm, I decided to whip up an old family classic: Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.

When I am planning any kind of event, I always think food first.  (Isn’t this the reason people get together?  Isn’t the food the most important part?)  Decorations are always the last on my mind and therefore often go undone or leave a lot to be desired.  In fact, my husband put up decorations for my son’s party a few weeks ago and I’m embarrassed to say they are still up.  I keep telling myself it is because my son deserves to feel the love, but really I just haven’t taken them down yet.

Once I tried a decadent and fabulous macaroni and cheese for a kids party.  Certainly they would appreciate a more glamorous approach to their standard fare, right?  They would adoringly look at me and beg me to share the recipe.

Not a chance.

You should know that I grew up on the ever-familiar florescent orange powdered cheese from the box and I loved every minute of it.  But, with this Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, you can have nearly triple the quantity for about the same price.  And, with just 4 ingredients, it’s hard not to love how quickly this simple meal comes together!


Ooh, that cheesy creamy goodness!

First, cook your pasta of choice per the directions on the box, though I cook mine just under since it will also bake in the oven as well.  I love to use penne or cavatappi because my kids like these shapes, but of course, elbow macaroni works great too.  (It is not lost on me that I am calling this macaroni and cheese and not using macaroni in the dish.  But let’s just say that it’s ok, ok?)

While your pasta cooks, butter a 9 x 13 glass pan and set aside.  Once you have drained the pasta, pour half the pasta into the pan.  Dot the pasta with butter (about 3 tablespoons) and then season pasta with salt and pepper.  Top pasta with shredded colby jack cheese.

Then repeat the steps again: pasta, butter, season with salt and pepper and shredded cheese.

Finally, pour milk over top of whole pan.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  If you want the top a bit crispy, you can uncover and then bake for 10-15 more minutes, but we like it creamy and so I just stir and serve.

This has a simple, classic flavor, but creamy and delicious without the fuss.  The simplicity is great for a quick weeknight meal and would also be fantastic for a side at a barbeque or potluck meal.  This would also be fun to experiment with additional cheeses like sharp cheddar, pepper jack or even smoked gouda!  I hope that you give Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese a try, you will absolutely love it!!!

Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

10 minPrep Time

45 minCook Time

55 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pasta, any shape
  • 6 T. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 c. shredded cheese
  • 2 c. whole or 2% milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it is at a rolling boil, add a good amount of salt to the water. Add pasta.
  3. Cook pasta to package directions, just shy of cooking time by about one minute so pasta is al dente. Drain.
  4. Butter a glass 9 x 13 pan. Pour half of the pasta into the dish. Season with salt and pepper and dot with about 3 T. of butter. Spread 2 c. shredded cheese on top.
  5. Repeat previous step: noodles, salt and pepper, butter and finish with cheese.
  6. Pour 2 c. whole or 2% milk over the top.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. If you like a crispy top, cook for an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered. I also recommend stirring pasta well right out of the oven to fully incorporate all the cheese.

Notes

In this recipe I used cavatappi pasta, 2% milk and shredded colby jack cheese. It would also be delicious using sharp cheddar, pepper jack or a combination.

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/simplest-creamy-macaroni-and-cheese/

If you would like to check out other recipes, click here!

What is the most important part of a party for you, the food or the decorations?  When you do you like to serve macaroni and cheese?  What food reminds you of your childhood?

Thick Buttermilk Pancakes

It does not matter the season, but once every six weeks or so I have a major craving for pancakes.  I think that it feels luxurious to mix the batter, pour little puddles onto the griddle and eat them warm with my coffee.  Pancakes simply epitomize Saturday mornings.

Thick Buttermilk Pancakes are the classic pancake you hope for: thick, light and pillow-y.  For my son’s PJs and Pancakes party, I used these as the base and let the kids choose their toppings.  Of course the kids chose sprinkles and mini-chocolate chips but they would be even more delicious with berries or sliced bananas.

Start with the wet ingredients (egg, buttermilk and oil) and mix well.  Add in the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and baking powder, sugar and salt) and mix until just combined.  BUT!  I do have discovered a trick that is a MUST…

You MUST let the batter rest for at least 10 minutes.  Get the coffee going, warm up the griddle and unload the dishwasher.  That extra time will ensure thick and light pancakes.  It gives the baking soda and baking powder a chance to activate with the liquid and offer that light texture.  Thick Buttermilk Pancakes hit the spot on any lazy weekend.

Thick Buttermilk Pancakes
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Ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 c. buttermilk or soured milk
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

Instructions

  1. Whisk egg, milk and oil together. Then add remaining dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
  2. Let rest for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour.
  3. Use a measuring cup to pour batter onto heated griddle. Flip the pancakes when they are puffed and full of bubbles.
  4. Serve immediately with butter and syrup.

Notes

To sour milk, add 1 t. fresh lemon juice to regular milk. This recipe easily doubles.

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/thick-buttermilk-pancakes/

Any leftovers, if you have any, can be easily frozen.  Just wait until they have completely cooled, and layer between layers of parchment or wax  paper in a large plastic bag.  Just pop in the microwave or the toaster to warm.

Do you have a special breakfast/brunch item that you love?  How do you like to spend your Saturdays?  What food item feels luxurious to you?

Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken

Is there anyone out there that tries to resist doing what the entire world seems to be doing?

I’m talking about the InstantPot of course.  I feel like everyone got one for Christmas.  Seriously, if I see one more Instagram feed promising my life will be changed by this new kitchen gadget I might hit someone.

But can we sing the praises of the old classic Crockpot?  This is similar to the one I have and I really like it.  Especially for its programmability (is that a word??) and less than half the price of the InstantPot!  Also, after the cook time is complete, it automatically shifts over to warm instead of continuing to cook.

Now I will say my husband isn’t a huge fan of Crockpot meals.  The meat just comes out too dry.  But this Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken is fantastic and healthy too!  Oh, and I promise the chicken comes out juicy and tender.  My tip?  Make sure you start with raw chicken, not frozen.  I think going from frozen to cooked makes it tougher.

First, chop up some carrots, onion and red pepper and lay in bottom of Crockpot.  This will be the bed for your chicken.  Next, lay four chicken breasts across the veggies.

Next, in a separate bowl, mix together chicken broth, creamy peanut butter, lime zest and lime juice, soy sauce, quick cooking tapioca, ginger, red pepper flakes and minced garlic.  Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of ingredients, it really makes a great sauce!

Now pour this over all the chicken and veggies.  Cover with the lid and cook on LOW for 4 hours or HIGH for 2 hours.  When cooking time is up, add peas and a bit of coconut milk for creaminess.  Cover again for about 10 minutes until peas are warmed through.

And all that the beauty of the Crockpot holds is here, in this dish…

Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken is healthy, great peanut flavor with just a little kick and perfect for a weeknight meal.  Give this meal a try and I hope it finds a way into your weekly rotation!

Yields 4-5 servings

Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken

5 minPrep Time

2 hrCook Time

2 hr, 5 Total Time

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (I used 4 shallots)
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 red pepper, rough chopped
  • 4-5 chicken breasts
  • Thai Peanut Sauce
  • 3/4 c. chicken broth
  • 3 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 T. soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
  • 2 T. quick cooking tapioca*
  • 1 T. ginger, fresh grated or paste
  • 2-3 t. red curry paste or red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Add at the end:
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • Garnish
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. First, chop onion, carrot and pepper and lay in the bottom of your Crockpot.
  2. Next, lay chicken breasts over the top of the vegetables.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the Thai Peanut Sauce and pour over chicken and vegetables.
  4. Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
  5. Then, uncover and add frozen peas and coconut milk.
  6. Serve over brown rice and top with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro.

Notes

*Tapioca is used as a thickening agent for the Thai Sauce. Feel free to omit if you prefer. Also, if you are avoiding rice, I have also served this over a bed of baby spinach and it was delicious!

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/crockpot-thai-peanut-chicken/

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out other recipes here!

Do you struggle with weeknight meals?  What are some of your favorite weeknight meals?  If you have the coveted InstantPot, please tell me why you love it!

Roasted Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

There are times when you need to come up with a beautiful dinner and fast.  You don’t want to spend hours scouring Pinterest or magazines or old cookbooks.  (You should come here first!)  Then, I will have just what you need for the perfect meal.  Roasted Cranberry Balsamic Chicken is holiday worthy but certainly easy enough for a weeknight.

As I have mentioned, one of my favorite things about December is our annual Book Club Christmas Dinner.  We all bring something, enjoy dinner together and chat about our year of books.  This is our third year and I anticipate it every year.

Since I love to entertain, I always feel this is an opportunity to make something elegant, try something new or challenge my baking skills for something over the top!  Because I host, I always make the main dish.  Wanting something festive but not overly fussy presents a challenge sometimes, but this year I think I found the PERFECT dinner.  Roasted Cranberry Balsamic Chicken proved to be easy to prep (especially ahead of time!) and delectable to eat!  I can’t wait for you to try this at home!

First, add fresh cranberries, olive oil, soy sauce, real maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, garlic cloves, sea salt and black pepper to a food processor or blender.  Puree until liquified.  Pour over chicken in pan.

Marinate chicken for 4 hours or overnight.  For juicier chicken, choose bone-in, skin on chicken.  (If you prefer boneless skinless chicken, you certainly can, you will just need to reduce cook time.)

One hour before roasting, pull chicken out of the refrigerator.  Flip chicken over in the pan, roasting skin side down.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pour remaining fresh cranberries over the chicken and tuck stems of fresh thyme around chicken.  Roast for about 25 minutes, then flip chicken.

Once chicken is flipped, glaze chicken with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and put under broiler to crisp up skin for about 6-8 minutes.  (If using boneless, skinless chicken, broil 3-4 minutes).  Chicken is done when juices run clear and interior temperature reads 165 degrees.  Serve chicken with extra juice, roasted cranberries on top and fresh cracked black pepper.

Roasted Cranberry Balsamic Chicken is elegant enough for company, easy enough for a weeknight and tasty enough for everyone!  Consider this beautiful meal if you are looking for a festive dinner!

Roasted Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

10 minPrep Time

35 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs. bone-in skin on chicken thighs or breasts
  • FOR THE MARINADE
  • 1/3 c. fresh cranberries (or frozen)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. soy sauce*
  • 2 T. real maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • fresh thyme
  • sprinkle of dried Italian herbs
  • remainder of fresh cranberry bag (about 8 oz)
  • 1 T. EACH of real maple syrup and balsamic vinegar to make glaze

Instructions

  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Add to glass baking dish.
  2. Add all marinade ingredients to food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Pour over chicken, cover and marinate for four hours or up to overnight.
  3. One hour before roasting, remove from refrigerator, flip chicken to skin side down. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Add remaining cranberries to the pan and tuck fresh thyme sprigs around the chicken. Roast chicken (skin side down) for 25-28 minutes.
  5. Pull chicken from oven, flip chicken to skin side up and glaze with maple syrup/balsamic mixture.
  6. Broil chicken skin side up for 6-8 minutes until skin is deep brown and crispy. (If using boneless skinless broil only 3-4 minutes).
  7. Chicken is fully cooked when juices run clear and interior temperature is 165 degrees.
  8. Serve chicken with extra juices, roasted cranberries and a sprinkle of fresh thyme for garnish.

Notes

*If you would like to make this recipe paleo or Whole30 compliant, exchange soy sauce for coconut aminos. You will use one whole 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries for this recipe.

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/roasted-cranberry-balsamic-chicken/

Apple Cherry Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Our weekend was full of pjs, Christmas crafting (just imagine giving two toddlers pattern scissors in every style imaginable.  Paper scraps e v e r y w h e r e……..) and decorating gingerbread men.  A perfect way to enjoy a quiet Christmas weekend!


Notice not many candies made it on the gingerbread…

About once a month or every six weeks I get a major craving for something warm for breakfast.  Sometimes that means pancakes, but most of the time I want baked oatmeal.  One person I dearly love didn’t want to try my baked oatmeal “because I don’t like oatmeal” when they were visiting my home.   Oh, my friend.  This is NOT gloppy, sticky oatmeal.  Apple Cherry Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal really is probably the best I’ve made.  It is a warm hug from the heavens that just sent you a foot of snow to admire.  While you eat this.  In your pjs.  and drink coffee all day.

Apple Cherry Steel Cut Oatmeal is meant to comfort, savor and enjoy slowly.  I describe this as more of a warm oatmeal cookie fresh out of the oven rather than soupy texture we made out of those packets as kids.  (Have I convinced you yet??  Am I getting obnoxious about oatmeal yet???)  Well, anyway, it is cozy, warming and perfect for a hearty delicious breakfast.

First, in a large bowl combine brown sugar, unsweetened applesauce, eggs, old fashioned and steel cut oats.  Mix gently to combine.  Add baking powder, cinnamon, salt and milk.

Add chopped apple and dried cherries and mix until just combined.

Pour into buttered baking dish and bake for 35-45 minutes.  Press down until there is an even layer on top and oats begin to soak up the milk.

Top with brown sugar, milk and toasted pecans.

Apple Cherry Baked Steel Cut Oats has great texture from the two types of oats.  If you aren’t crazy about oatmeal, I dare you to try this.  Not only will you feel healthy with all those oats and fruit, you will feel sophisticated.  Smarter even.  Ok, maybe not, but your standards for oatmeal may have risen.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  You just might love it!

Apple Cherry Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal

5 minPrep Time

40 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 c. steel cut oats
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. milk (any kind is fine)
  • 1 small apple, peeled, cored and chopped (I used Pink Lady)
  • 1/3 c. dried cherries
  • 1/2 c. whole pecans, roasted with sprinkle of salt
  • brown sugar, milk for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add first five ingredients to a large bowl and mix gently. Add next six ingredients (through cherries) and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour into buttered 8 x 8 baking dish. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.
  4. While oatmeal cools slightly, toast pecans in DRY small fry pan over medium heat. (Do not use oil, heat nuts in dry pan). When you start to smell the nuts, remove from heat and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve over warm oatmeal with extra brown sugar and milk.

Notes

This recipe easily doubles for a 9 x 13 pan. I love the texture of the mixed oats but can also use just old fashioned oats. Feel free to use coconut oil to grease pan and almond milk to make dairy free. Finally, don't omit the pecans, they take this over the top!

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/apple-cherry-baked-steel-cut-oatmeal/

For other recipes, click here.

What is your favorite breakfast on a cold morning?  Do you have an “elevated classic” that you love?

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussell Sprouts

Happy Thanksgiving Week everyone!  Wishing you lots of mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and pie.  Lots of pie.

I feel a bit like I have been shoved into the holiday season, but I’m excited nonetheless.  There is nothing that gets me more into the holiday spirit than seeing twinkle lights and a holiday movie.  This weekend was raining, and grey and the kids we all were stir crazy.  So, we took the kids to see the animated movie “The Star”.  It was really cute and had a great soundtrack.  It had a heavy dose of star power too: Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Tracy Morgan, and Kristin Chenoweth and many more.  Highly recommended, particularly those with little ones to entertain.

Our family always had the same foods for Thanksgiving.  (If you’re wondering, turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, cranberry sauce and stuffing).  It feels strange when we don’t have those foods but when I got married, it was fun to see how other families celebrate.  When we bought our first home, we wanted another excuse to celebrate with both of our families so we hosted a pre-Thanksgiving party at our house.  We loved getting our two families together, and I loved having an opportunity to try new dishes we otherwise wouldn’t have tried.

This recipe came from trying to brainstorm fun new ways to incorporate vegetables into this celebration of family.  It is a great addition to your Thanksgiving table because you roast it in the oven early and then you can serve just warm or at room temperature.

Cut Butternut Squash

First, do yourself a favor and buy peeled and chopped butternut squash.  It isn’t terrible to do yourself but during Thanksgiving week, you’ll want to.  Costco is where I bought mine, but you can also find it at Trader Joe’s and maybe even your local grocery store.  One note, be sure to use shortly after you buy, though, as this spoils fairly quickly if it is already peeled and cubed.  Lay on a cookie sheet (if you want even simpler, line your cookie sheet with foil).

Then trim the bottoms off your brussell sprouts and cut in half.  Don’t worry if some of the leaves come off, those are my favorite crispy bites in the whole pan!  Brussell sprouts get such a bad wrap!  They are delicious when roasted and crispy and I love the different textures in this dish.

Next, pour olive oil all over the veggies and toss to coat.  Generously season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  These distinctions are important because there aren’t many ingredients and it is in those simpler dishes that every ingredient counts.

Roast the vegetables at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes, tossing once so they roast evenly.  With 10 minutes left on the timer, add pecans to the pan to toast along with the vegetables.  Finally, pour into serving dish, add dried cherries and top with feta cheese.  Toss lightly so feta cheese softens a bit.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

This dish is a nice change up from your typical side dish for Thanksgiving.  I hope you and your families are blessed with wonderful family, longtime friends and fantastic food.  Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussell Sprouts is a wonderful addition to anyone’s holiday table.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussell Sprouts
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Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Brussell sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 c. pecans
  • 3/4 c. dried cherries
  • 5 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil for easy clean-up.
  2. Trim Brussell sprouts and cut in half. Combine with the butternut squash on an even layer on a cookie sheet. If they are too crowded, consider using two cookie sheets.
  3. Pour olive oil over the vegetables and toss lightly so they are coated evenly. Season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing once to cook evenly.
  4. About 10 minutes before vegetables are done, add the pecans to roast with the vegetables in the oven.
  5. Pour all veggies into a serving dish and add the cherries and feta cheese. Toss lightly to soften the cheese. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Notes

If you would like a brighter color, consider adding dried cranberries instead of dried cherries. This is also delicious with a drizzle of white balsamic vinegar at the end.

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/roasted-butternut-squash-brussell-sprouts/

What is your favorite meal on your Thanksgiving table?  What do you look forward to most on the special day?

Wine-Braised Chuck Roast

Your life will never be the same.

(I told you I have a flair for the dramatic, right?)

Our family has a tradition every fall to celebrate the change of the seasons by having a special Family Night.  Once we are well into the school year and people are gearing up for pumpkin season, my kids see our local farm set out hundreds of pumpkins for sale.  We drive by often so their anticipation starts when they see the farm setting out displays.

After a comforting meal, we head to the pumpkin patch to select pumpkins for the holiday and finally return home to watch Charlie Brown’s The Great Pumpkin.  Once the candles are lit and pumpkins set out, we are ready to celebrate that Fall is here!

To set the stage, I like to make something warming and quintessentially Fall.  Starting this meal early in the day allows it to simmer on the stove for hours while at the same time making your home smell glorious and cozy.  Thankfully it is pretty simple to make.

First, heat a large cast iron pan or pot to medium-high heat and add oil.  (This pan is my favorite for this meal because it handles high heat well.)  While the oil heats, cut a large chuck roast into big chunks.  Liberally salt and pepper the meat and when pan is very hot, add meat carefully.  Sear the meat on both sides getting a good golden crust, then remove meat from the pan.

Add carrot, celery and shallot to the oil, season with salt and pepper again and saute until tender (6-8 minutes).

Sprinkle on flour and cook one minute more.  Pour in wine, beef broth and water and bring to a boil.

Return meat to pot with vegetables and broth and reduce temperature to a low simmer.  Cover pot and and simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours.  Then remove meat and shred.  If liquid has not thickened enough, turn up the heat and simmer until reduced.  Return beef and add peas.  Simmer another 5-7 minutes until peas are warm and beef has soaked up some of the gravy.

About 30 minutes before beef is finished, start boiling peeled and chopped Idaho potatoes for mashed potatoes.  Serve over the best mashed potatoes and sprinkle with fresh parsley for a fresh finish.

 

Wine-Braised Chuck Roast
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb. chuck roast, cut into big chunks
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 lg. carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 c. red wine
  • 15 oz. low sodium beef broth
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat high heat pan on the stove to medium-high heat with oil. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. When oil is hot, add beef carefully, searing both sides until golden crusts form. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add vegetables to the oil, season with salt and pepper and saute until they are tender, about 6-8 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in flour and coat the vegetables, cooking one more minute. Pour in wine, beef broth and water and bring to a boil.
  5. Add beef back to the pot, turn heat down to medium-low to simmer and then cover. Simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours.
  6. (About 30 minutes before roast is done, start boiling peeled and chopped potatoes for mashed potatoes if you desire.)
  7. Remove beef from pot carefully to shred. If liquid in pot isn't thickened, turn up heat and simmer until reduced. Return shredded beef and add frozen peas. Simmer until peas are warm and beef has soaked up some of the juices.
  8. Serve over mashed potatoes and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
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http://www.thecomforttable.net/wine-braised-chuck-roast/

Check out other recipes here!

What is your ultimate comfort food?  What food signifies Fall to you?

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars

Everyone on the planet (except a few people) seem to go bananas over PSL’s.  If you have been living under a rock and don’t know what that is, it is the Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks.  I can do pumpkin!  I can!  (As seen here.)  But in my coffee??  Um, sorry, no thanks.

Sometimes I like to bring people back to the beauty and perfection of apples in the fall.  When I walk through the grocery store, their scent wafts toward me and you might see me grabbing bags and bags of them.  They are the perfect portable snack, sweet, crisp.  Buuuut, they might be even better in Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars.

Fresh apple gives a very fun texture to these bars, as does the oatmeal.  Cinnamon chips add a fun twist and butter, well, just makes everything better.

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 x 13 pan with sprayed aluminum foil.  Add flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to a large bowl.  Cut in softened butter until mixed, crumbly and butter is about the size of peas.  (I like this pastry cutter!)

Pour half of the mixture into the pan and press down lightly to form the crust.  Next, lay the apple slices over top of the crust.

Finally, add cinnamon chips to remaining crumble mixture and pour over the top of the apples.  You do not need to press down.  Pour melted butter over top and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool completely before serving.  Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars are wonderful for a treat, breakfast (because…oatmeal, fruit,  right??) and they aren’t half bad with a scoop of ice cream (they get even better if possible).  See how versatile?!? Try adding this to your holiday baking this year, you won’t regret it!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bars
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Ingredients

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1 c. butter, softened and 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. cinnamon chips
  • 2 large apples, sliced thin (Granny Smith preferred)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 baking dish with foil that has been sprayed.
  2. In a large bowl, add flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well before cutting in softened butter until butter resembles the size of peas.
  3. Core, peel and slice two apples very thin.
  4. Pour half the oat mixture into the bottom of the pan and lightly press down. Layer the apples on top.
  5. Finally, add cinnamon chips to the remaining oat mixture and pour over the apples. You do not need to press down. Drizzle melted butter over the top and bake for 30 minutes until top is golden.
  6. Cool completely before serving plain or with a scoop of ice cream.
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http://www.thecomforttable.net/apple-cinnamon-oatmeal-bars/

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Apple, Broccoli and Dijon Chicken Skillet

We tend to eat a lot of chicken.  It feels lighter to me than many other options but I haven’t always had a great track record with it.  When I was a kid, I found chicken to be bland and boring.

If I’m going to eat chicken, I want it juicy, tender, boneless and skinless and tons of flavor.  Apple, Broccoli and Dijon Chicken Skillet always hits the spot.  It is a one pot meal and covers a whole lot of ground: veggie, (flavorful) protein and starch.  Usually I serve this on its own, without any sides or distractions from the main event.

First, fire up the heat on your pan to about medium-high heat and pour in about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Chop up your boneless skinless chicken breasts into chunks, slightly bigger than bite-sized.  I find if you chop them too small, they can dry out a bit, so maybe about the size of a half dollar.  Sprinkle chicken with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Then drizzle Dijon mustard over the top of the chicken.  I’m generous with the mustard because I love the flavor so much.  Slightly brown each piece on both sides then remove to a plate.

Next, to the same pan add another tablespoon of olive oil and  chopped onion.  While you stir the onion, scrape up some of the bits left behind by the seasoned chicken.  Saute for a couple of minutes then add minced garlic and white rice.  (You can use brown rice, which I have done, it just needs to simmer a bit longer for the rice to cook through.)  Saute until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant.

Add to the onion, garlic and rice the apple juice, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, more Dijon mustard and spices like oregano and thyme.  Bring all this to a boil and then lower heat so that the liquid simmers and reduces.  Once it has cooked for about 12 minutes, add the fresh broccoli florets and return cooked chicken to the pan.

Try to push broccoli down a bit into the liquid and then cover and simmer for about 10-15 additional minutes until rice is fluffy and broccoli is tender.  Apple, Broccoli and Dijon Chicken Skillet is so flavorful and delicious.  It is a fantastic new twist on a basic chicken and broccoli dinner.  This is so tasty, you might even convert the biggest broccoli skeptic in your house!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Apple, Broccoli and Dijon Chicken Skillet
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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in large chunks
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • 1 1/2-2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped or 1 large shallot minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. long grain white rice (or brown rice)
  • 2 c. low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c. apple juice
  • 2 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/4 t. thyme
  • 3 c. raw broccoli florets

Instructions

  1. Heat large skillet on medium high heat and add olive oil to the pan.
  2. Chop up the chicken breasts into large chunks. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with Dijon mustard.
  3. Saute chicken on both sides (about 3-5 minutes) and then remove to a separate plate. Chicken does not need to be cooked through, as it will finish cooking later.
  4. Next, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and add onion (about 3 minutes) making sure to scrape the bits as you stir. Then add garlic and rice to the pan (for another minute or so).
  5. When onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant, add broth, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and oregano, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
  6. Finally, add chicken back to the pan then top with raw broccoli. Try to push broccoli into the liquid to help it simmer in the sauce. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes until rice is fluffy and broccoli is tender.
  7. Serve immediately, though leftovers are fantastic as well.

Notes

Brown rice can also be used, just cook 15-20 minutes each time (total cooking time around 35-40 minutes).

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http://www.thecomforttable.net/apple-broccoli-rice-and-dijon-chicken-skillet/

 

This recipe was adapted from Carlsbad Cravings.