With Halloween next week and Thanksgiving quickly following, it almost feels like the holidays are here. For many that means laboring in the kitchen for hours, preparing for a house full of hungry family and friends. Since prepping for a crowd or even for just a few is a daunting task for most, I’m going to let you in on an entertaining tip that is so simple, but will help keep things in perspective: don’t complicate things. Why didn’t I realize this years ago?! Not every dish needs to be laborious and involved. Pick one dish to devote time to, and choose simple dishes that are foolproof for everything else.
When I made this Triple Sesame Asparagus recipe (adapted from Cooking Light), I knew immediately that it would make the perfect side dish for entertaining. Not only are the asparagus delicious and ascetically please with the black and white sesame seeds, but they are also a no-brainer to make. Add this recipe to the “wow the crowd without the work” list!
What You Need
- 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
What To Do
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Place trimmed asparagus on a baking sheet, toss with sesame oil until evenly coated
- Sprinkle white and black sesame seeds on asparagus and toss again until evenly distributed
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until asparagus have reached desired "doneness"
- Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve immediately
This past weekend we had beautiful fall weather, which was perfect for seasonal activities like apple picking. On Sunday we headed to Eckert’s for what was not only my son’s first apple picking experience, but mine as well. Between riding the tractor to the apple trees, and being able to eat an apple by himself, the whole day was very exciting for him.
As we walked back to our car with our apple loot in hand, I was already brainstorming what I was going to do with these beauties. Of course, a few apples were going to be eaten with a giant spoonful of peanut butter; but I had my sights set on something more. I then remembered this amazing salad that I had when visiting my friend in Minneapolis a few summers ago. The Apple, Manchego and Chive Salad is just a few fresh ingredients, cut into matchsticks, and tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. Although the components individually are fairly basic, they come together to create a beautiful and memorable salad. Once the idea of this salad came into my mind, I knew I had to recreate it.
Apple, Manchego and Chive Salad
Recipe inspired by Cafe Lurcat
What You Need
- 2 large apples, (1 Granny Smith and one Honey Crisp)
- 1/2 pound manchego cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- Fresh ground black pepper and Kosher salt, to taste
What To Do
- Slice apples in matchsticks; I cut the apple into 4 chunks and then thinly slice each quarter. Stack 4 of slices and then cut long thin slices to form matchsticks. I then cut the long matchsticks in half. While cutting the apples, toss the matchsticks in the juice from one lemon. As you get to the second apple, add the juice from the second lemon. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Cut the cheese into matchsticks and add to the bowl of apples. Add the chopped chives and stir so the cheese and chives are mixed throughout.
- Drizzle with the olive oil, and season with the fresh ground pepper and Kosher salt. Toss until everything is evenly distributed.
This recipe is not difficult, but the slicing can be time-consuming. I highly recommend stacking the slices in order to speed up the forming of the matchsticks.
I love the idea of having one or two meatless meals a week. It’s nice to switch it up, and eating more veggies is never a bad thing. Sometimes I’ll get an idea to try some completely out-of-the-box vegetarian recipe that I’ve decided will be really good; but then for one reason or another, it turns out terribly. My husband will look at me like “did you really think I was going to eat this?”, and I try to convince myself that it has a little flavor. When I decided to try these Red Lentil Burgers from Cooking Light, I was worried that this was going to be another vegetarian recipe that was going to go to the recipe graveyard. But to my surprise, they turned out great! They were crispy on the outside and tasty on the inside. When served with a dollop of spicy aioli, my husband thought the whole combination tasted like a crab cake! I served these with zucchini noodles and an extra squeeze of lemon, and they made a really delicious meatless meal.
Red Lentil Burgers with Spicy Aioli
What You Need
- 1 cup dried small red lentils
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1/4 tablespoons cilantro, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus extra lemon wedges for serving
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
What To Do
- Rinse and drain lentils; place lentils and rice in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentil mixture; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils and rice are tender. Drain by place mixture in a strainer and using the back of the spoon, push out any excess liquid until mixture is fairly dry.
- Place lentil mixture in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Set aside (keep mixture in processor).
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add green onions to pan; cook 2 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and red pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add green onion mixture, 2 tablespoons cilantro, lemon juice, and salt to food processor; process until combined.
- Once the mixture has cooled, diivide mixture into 12 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 6 patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove cooked patties from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 6 patties. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro.
- For the spicy aioli, combine mayo and Sriracha. Service patties with spicy aioli and lemon wedges.
I let the mixture sit for a bit to cool and thicken, and I think this helps the patties form together.
When my parents come to visit, they practically stop at Jennifer’s Pharmacy to pick up gluten-free muffins before stopping at our house. Jennifer’s Pharmacy has these incredible muffins made with almond flour, banana, and other mix-ins like blueberries, peanut butter chips, or toffee. They’re so good, I’m not even offended if my parents stop there first!
Last week we were in Des Moines visiting my parents and my mom welcomed us with homemade gluten-free banana blueberry muffins. Although my mom’s were made with brown rice flour instead of almond flour, I was impressed with how the Giada de Laurentiis recipe she used rivaled the muffins at Jennifer’s.
I was loving these muffins so much that I made them as soon as we got home. The muffins don’t taste grainy or dense like one may think of gluten-free muffins; rather they are light and deliciously moist. I halved the oil that Giada calls for, and it made nary a difference. These muffins make the perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack for my one-year old! They’re so good, you won’t miss the gluten.
Banana Blueberry Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Source: Giada de Laurentiis
What You Need
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 small bananas)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
What To Do
- Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Stir in the bananas and blueberries. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
- Spoon 1/3 cup of the batter into each muffin liner. Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the muffins comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.
The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg; I decreased the oil and the nutmeg.
My husband has informed me that football season officially begins tonight. This means I need to set my lineup, because for the first time ever, I’ve jumped into the proverbial Fantasy Football pool. I don’t even know who my players are or how to set my line up; all I know is that this signals the beginning of a lot more TV-time for my husband.
To me, the beginning of football season really means the start of fall foods and munchies that can be served to a crowd on a crisp Sunday afternoon. When I made this Chicken Chilaquiles, my immediate thought was how perfect it would be for a small get together. The dish, which was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe, is traditionally made with eggs or pulled chicken, and partially stale tortilla chips. I made this with pulled chicken, added cheddar cheese, and topped it off with a drizzle of adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro and guacamole. Chilaquiles are essentially baked nachos with sauce, and who doesn’t love the sound of that?!
What You Need
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped (I used 2 cups of cherry tomatoes because I had them)
- 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, depending on heat
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3 cups tortilla chips
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
- Additional sauce for garnish: adobo sauce, taco sauce, salsa
What To Do
- Place tomatoes and jalapeño(s) in a blender. Add broth, salt, and garlic. Cover and process on high speed for 1 minute or until smooth; set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add chicken breasts and boil for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked. Remove chicken from water, and cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with enough tomato sauce to lightly coat, about 3/4 cup. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven broiler to high.
- Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato mixture to pan. Add tomato paste to the tomato mixture to thicken the sauce slightly. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add chips to pan, and stir to coat with tomato mixture. Once chips are evenly spread out in the pan, distribute shredded chicken on top of the chips. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken. Keep the pan on the stove until the cheese melts. Once the cheese has melted, place the pan under the oven broiler for about 5 minutes, allowing the chips to crisp and brown slightly. Keep an eye on the pan to prevent burning. Remove pan from over and top with adobo sauce, fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes and guacamole. Serve immediately.