I’ve been on a kick of re-making some of my all-time favorite recipes, many of which I’ve (inexplicably) never posted on this site. Completely on a whim this week, I whipped up this pear-apple pie (and proceeded to entirely eat it myself over the course of a few days…) and fell in love with it all over again. I made up this recipe several years ago and it definitely holds up over time.
I think streusel topping is totally underrated as a pie topping. I’m a sucker for the crumbly-crunchy-spiced-sweet texture and flavor it adds, and it’s so much easier than putting a pie crust topper on. I have a basic streusel formula I use and adapt as needed for different recipes, and it couldn’t be simpler.
I almost always make this for Thanksgiving when I go home to visit my family (and we eat on it for several days), so I have a strong association with the flavors here and fall in Kansas. In particular, the beautiful (and chilly) sunsets, quiet runs on our dirt road, and a breakfast of pie and coffee the next morning.
I also love that this recipe is reasonably healthy (as desserts go) and super easy to make. Other than dealing with pie crust dough (something I’m not terribly skilled with), the filling and topping are crazy simple and don’t require any special skills. You can throw this together while making dinner or doing other things, and it’s pretty forgiving if you don’t do something exactly right. In fact there isn’t really an “exactly right” with this recipe. You do you.
It’s that time of year…when you’re needing to figure out what to make for Thanksgiving or some other holiday gathering. This is kind of my jam. I’m that person who always gets asked to bring desserts to things, so I’ve developed a list of fool-proof recipes for every type of group, taste, and size of event. So below are some of my all-time favorite holiday dessert recipes, dishes that I think will become traditions for you as well.
If you’re needing to bake for gluten-free guests, I have a separate post on some of my favorite gluten-free breads & desserts. I’m not GF, but I still totally love every single one of these recipes and sometimes make them just because.
Traditional Holiday Dessert Recipes (Pies, Cakes, & Tortes)
These are perfect for the main event…the big meal, an office party, Friendsgiving. They feel fancy and are super season-appropriate, but (don’t tell anyone) take minimal effort and most can be made ahead of time.
This is a true Thanksgiving staple…taken up a notch. I’m notorious for finding boozy versions of everything (even before I worked for a spirits company), and this is one of my favorites. The maple flavor really shines through, and the bourbon just elevates things a little bit more. Recipe here.
The first time I made this, my dad said, “This is the best dessert I’ve ever eaten.” It’s become a Thanksgiving staple ever since. Somehow the addition of bourbon provides an incredible depth, and (I know this sounds weird) that tiny bit of black pepper is revelatory. This is also an insanely easy pie to make. I recommend making it the day before, because it’s better when it has time to totally cool and set up vs. fresh out of the oven. Honestly, this filling mixture would make the world’s best fruit crisp as well. Recipe here.
Not to brag or anything, but I make darn good grilled chicken breasts. Like, my-sister-requests-them-for-her-birthday-dinner good.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts often get a bad rap for being the iceberg lettuce of the protein world…a bland necessary evil but absolutely nothing to get excited about. However, I really struggle with the texture and flavor of chicken thighs or bone-in chicken, so I’ve made it my mission to crack the code on delicious chicken breasts.
My best friend (my Cheese) put me on to wet brining a few years ago, and it’s become an invaluable tool in my arsenal. I often forget to put chicken in to marinate in the morning before I leave for work, and so what I will often do when I get home at night is make up a brine, throw the chicken in, go for a run, and fire up the grill as soon as I’m back.
We’re going to talk about both wet brine and dry brine methods here, as both are great (but I’ll tell you my new favorite at the end).
It’s rare that I find a recipe that not only makes amazing leftovers, but makes *enough* of them that it’s worth all the work. And that I can actually talk myself into still choosing over the cafeteria’s amazing chicken tenders on days 2, 3, 4…
This is one of those recipes.
This grain and roasted vegetable salad is a total recipe unicorn—easy, versatile, and just as good hot, lukewarm, or cold. It can be meat-y, vegetarian, or vegan. Basically, YOU DO YOU.
Also, this lemon tahini dressing is sooooo good! It really pulls everything together, with depth and tanginess but doesn’t just overwhelm you. Honestly you should put this dressing on everything!
The only downside of this recipe is that actually getting that many vegetables roasted or grilled (and prepping them, honestly) can take a bit of time.
However, what I usually do is pace it over the course of an afternoon, since the veggies don’t need to be piping hot fresh. And I’ll do a combination of grilling and roasting so I don’t have my oven on forever. I love to absolutely pack this salad with veggies rather than have it be really grain-heavy, because HEALTH.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a simple healthy dinner recipe…probably because it’s been a while since I’ve *made* one that doesn’t require just throwing chicken and veggies on the grill. But this yummy and super easy farro salad is such a perfect way to transition from winter’s cozy comfort food to lighter summer fare that I had to share.
This is another Smitten Kitchen gem that I’ve adapted in several different iterations depending on what I have in the fridge (like that delish goat cheese with thyme and apricots you can kind of see in the pic below). This is the simplest version, but feel free to add to or switch up ingredients. The best part of this dish is the combination of different textures and flavors—creamy, chewy, salty, crunchy, sweet. So as you swap things in and out, try and maintain those elements for maximum awesomeness. You can also try it with different grains (barley is a particular favorite of mine).
I don’t want to oversell this, but I’ve got your new favorite Meatless Monday recipe comin’ at ya. It is LEGIT.
This easy cauliflower & chickpea curry is crazy flavorful and super easy to make. It’s healthy but doesn’t feel like you’re giving anything up. We all win.
The other great thing about this recipe (besides how fast it comes together) is that it doesn’t take much in the way of special ingredients. Other than red or yellow curry paste (which I think most grocery stores have now, and you can easily get online), everything should already be in your kitchen.
Make with this: Easy Homemade Naan Bread
I’ve been accidentally keeping this recipe a secret the last couple months. I know, I’m sorry…that’s not what friends do.
It wasn’t not on purpose. It’s just that life’s been so crazy, and this chicken has been one of the things getting me through. As the weather has gotten too cold for my normal nightly grilling, I had to try and find something else super easy but still healthy to have regularly. And once I tried this once, I was totally hooked.
This apricot balsamic chicken recipe comes courtesy of Joy the Baker (link at the end of this post), and it’s so simple but feels kind of fancy. The original recipe calls for chicken thighs, and it probably is best because thighs stay more moist and bring more flavor.
But I use chicken breasts sometimes, just because I struggle with the texture of thigh meat and don’t typically have it on hand. Chicken breasts work just fine, and my biggest tip is to make sure they’re sliced or pounded thin and even, so they cook quickly without drying out (also, try brining them first). I also swapped out the thyme the original recipe calls for and added rosemary instead, which I think gives it a punchier flavor.
This is the kind of recipe you can actually whip up on a weeknight after a frantic day of work in less than 30 minutes, then sit down with a glass of wine and take a deep breath.
You know you know what I’m talking about.
I am a well-known lover of cauliflower, but even I was surprised by how fervently I fell in love with this recipe. I tried it kind of on a whim, just to mix things up from my normal grill foil packet cauliflower (which is bomb, and I’ve made literally every night for like four months).
But I took one bite and said out loud (in a room by myself), “OH MY WORD THIS IS AMAZING!” My cats looked at me weird. Whatever, they’re totally missing out.
The flavor combo of this roasted cauliflower is crazy and intense. It’s such a perfect blend of sweet, savory, crunchy, and earthy. I would never have thought to pair really ANY of these together, but the result is absolutely sublime.
And you know what’s bonus?? It’s super easy too. There’s very little hands-on time, and it can all come together in under half an hour—basically the time it takes for the cauliflower to roast. It makes a perfect side dish alongside simple things like grilled or baked chicken, and I’ve even had it as a lighter vegetarian dinner as well.
I moved away from home when I left for college, and only get back to Kansas once or twice a year. Usually that’s around Thanksgiving, but on the rare occasions it happens to be during the summer, my mom invariably asks if there’s anything in particular I want to eat, and I invariably answer “grilled chicken and steak with fried baby potatoes”.
It’s our thing.
It’s nice that some things in life are consistent 🙂 This is barely a “recipe”, but I’ve never really had these quite the same anywhere else so I wanted to share how we do this. The reason that summer is key is because we want to get fresh new potatoes if possible (red is best), and the key is SMALL. Yes, you can make regular potatoes this way, but it’s only with smaller potatoes that you get the right ratio of buttery crispy goodness and soft fluffy innards.
Guuuuuyyyyys. I know I haven’t posted a non-dessert recipe on here in a while. That’s mostly because I haven’t been cooking—I’ve been GRILLING. Ever since I moved in and have been getting settled, I’ve started using my awesome new grill non-stop. A lot of that has been slapdash marinating or brining and then throwing things on the grill as fast as I can. Not really “recipes”, per se. But *this* is the real deal, and I couldn’t wait to share it.
Behold, cheesy rosemary sweet potatoes on the grill.
I mean, that’s just ridiculous. I’ve been experimenting a lot with foil packet veggies (it’s my fave way to do cauliflower on the grill), and this is my favorite find yet. You can still make these if you don’t have rosemary (or could substitute fresh sage), but the rosemary really elevates it.
I *am* working on a bigger post on grilling for first-timers. I definitely can’t claim to be an expert yet, but I’ve done a lot of experimenting and reading up, with a lot of success, so hope to make the subject feel a little less daunting for other first-timers. I’ll share my favorite marinades and rubs, different ways to prepare veggies, tips for moist and not overcooked meat, and how to make sure you cook things to a safe temperature. So stay tuned!