It’s happened. I found a salad recipe I love. True, it’s packed with roasted vegetables and hearty grains in addition to the baby kale…
But still, I absolutely love this recipe, and for a person who’s not really into salad, that is saying something!
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it’s CRAZY adaptable, takes very little hands-on time, and you can use store-bought ingredients to make things simpler. I used pre-cooked beets (I still went ahead and roasted them after), and a clamshell of baby kale which is tender and doesn’t need shredded.
This roasted vegetable salad is also a great dumping ground for other leftovers…I’ve tossed in roasted veggies, grilled chicken, and anything else that caught my fancy. It made a great make-ahead lunch for taking to work all week, and I actually *looked forward* to pulling it out of the fridge.
Besides swapping out the wild rice for a hearty grain like barley, and I played with the dressing proportions quite a bit…in particular, I decreased the olive oil so it makes less dressing but the flavor is stronger—so you need less and cut the calories down a little.
Because I use baby kale and it’s more tender, this works okay, and you can add the dressing ahead of time without everything getting too soggy. It packs a punch!
The very first time I made this recipe was many years ago, when the leaves were turning all shades of fiery red and orange, signaling a gorgeous Georgia fall. There was a chill in the air, co-workers arguing over SEC football, and comfort food cravings were haunting me.
You know what else says “fall”? Apple butter. Well, technically anything apple + cinnamon, but apple butter is definitely high up on the list. My mom had shared a homemade apple butter recipes from our family friend, Louise, and I decided to give it a try…and it’s become one of my favorite recipes of all time.
Since that time many years ago, making this apple butter has been a rite of fall. I’ve made it, without fail, every single year for going on a decade. I share jars with friends, co-workers, family…this stuff is legendary. And all the better because it’s so easy.
One of the best parts?? No peeling necessary–you keep the peels on your apples, because the pectin in the peels helps it thicken up. The combination of spices and brown sugar makes for a complex and warm flavor, completely adaptable to your own preferences. This is one of those great things that bubbles away on the stove, but takes very little hands-on time and effort.
I’ve posted the original homemade apple butter recipe as I was given it below, but when I make this I make one major tweak—the amount of sugar it called for seemed extreme, so I decrease it significantly. It lets the natural sweetness of the apples as well as the spices shine through, and makes it healthier overall.READ THE POST
I was getting ready to start my grill the other night, when all of the sudden I realized I needed a break from it. I’d grilled chicken and veggies almost every night for over a year and a half (and loved it), but it was time to switch things up. But since it was already dinner time, I had to find something fast, easy, and that didn’t require special ingredients. Oh, and healthy. And yet magically this delightful maple-glazed chicken with a nice spiced sweet potato hash totally fit the bill!
I ended up modifying the original recipe a little, specifically in how I cooked the chicken since I had tiny tenders vs. full chicken breasts. What I discovered is that the recipe is simple and flexible, so you can figure out the right proportion of stove vs. oven each time you make it. The sweet-and-savory combo was a total winner!
READ THE POST
I love pie. Pie is the best. But for a holiday where pie plays a major role, I don’t really love Thanksgiving pies. Thanksgiving’s a big deal in my family. We always come home. We get together not only all day on Thanksgiving, but pretty much every other day that weekend. We play football. We play cards. There are glorious sunsets. There is SO much food. This year I think we actually set a record.
[Note: I edited and republished this in December 2019 with refreshed photos]
Every year I make a fruit pie or two, because pumpkin, German chocolate, and chocolate chip pie are just not for me. There’s usually a pear-apple pie with streusel topping, or some similar combination (I’ve been on a roll with this bourbon pear crumble pie). A couple years ago, though, I was really at a loss for what else to make, and then my mom found a bag of dark cherries in the freezer.
After looking up a number of recipes on Pinterest, I had to basically make up the recipe and hope it would work (I had visions of it just being this giant pool of juice, the soggiest pie ever). It was actually super simple and so easy to throw together.
This bing cherry pie ended up being my favorite dessert that year, and I had it for lunch, dinner, breakfast the next morning, and the tiny sliver that was left the next morning as well. This pie is my everything. I have no idea why, but it’s amazing.
I had some hesitation as I decided to try out this recipe, to be honest. On the one hand, I love a hearty salad (I’m on the record as not generally loving lettuce salads…). But on the other hand, I’m not a massive fan of lentils. I don’t hate them, just tend to find the texture weird and flavor a bit underwhelming. So I wasn’t sure how this lentil, butternut squash, and kale salad would land with me.
But I was pleasantly surprised both by the flavor and texture, and how satiated it kept me for hours! I didn’t feel cheated or dread having to heat up my lunch, and for me that is a win…the cafeteria chicken tenders are always calling, and I have to avoid that call!
Besides the lentils, the base of this salad is a delicious blend of roasted vegetables. Butternut squash for heft, red onion for flavor, and kale for texture (and greenery). Personally I could have left out the pecans and wouldn’t have missed them, since I’m not hugely into nuts and they add calories. And I loved the subtle dressing that blended everything together—sometimes dressings can overpower a salad, especially on leftovers, and that’s not the case at all here.
If you’re looking for other delicious hearty salads, I’m particularly in love with this roasted vegetable and barley salad with a yummy creamy shallot dressing, and this sweet potato and chickpea buddha bowl with maple tahini dressing. Along with this dish, they all three make DELISH leftovers and are perfect for taking to work for lunch as well.
The grilling extravaganza continues! And this time we go a little fancier—gorgonzola grilled potatoes. My love of grilling recipes is well-documented, partly because grilled food is delicious, but also because it’s often healthier, easier, and requires less cleanup.
I’ve been in love with my grilled cheddar rosemary sweet potatoes for like a year now, and this is a similar idea, just taking it up a notch.
Now, obviously strong blue cheese is a polarizing thing. I truly adore it, but realize not everyone does. If you hate it, then I’d say move on, this isn’t for you. But if you’re kind of on the fence, then I’d recommend giving this a try…melting the gorgonzola crumbles and the thin coating it makes over the crispy potatoes and herbs really mellows out the flavor and makes it less in-your-face.
This is a perfect weeknight side dish for one person (hello!), but also could be a great fancy-feeling (and low-effort) side for a dinner party.
Sometimes a self-directed health guilt trip and a slapdash new recipe can actually work out for once. My track record lately on poorly-thought-out and super rushed recipe trials has been…not great. Due to tons of travel lately (and not a little bit of stress and convenience-based choices), I’m feeling less than spry and as soon as I got back from a week at the wineries of Sonoma I really felt the need to LOCK IT DOWN.
I really needed to actually eat a decent healthy lunch last week, and this thai chicken with cauliflower rice happened to catch my eye. I actually threw it together in just a few minutes *while* making my dinner for that night, and to my surprise it was totally awesome! Easy, delicious, and fast.
And best of all, it made amazeball leftovers. Like, leftovers I actually looked forward to warming up at work. I made a few tweaks to the recipe, both playing with the ingredients in the sauce slightly as well as combining a few steps to make it even easier.
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).