Cranberry Salsa

I was so excited when I found this recipe. First, it was another no-cooking-involved appetizer that was still fun and festive. Second, I knew any leftovers would be awesome alongside my favorite use of leftover turkey – Turkey Cranchiladas. Seriously, though – can you think of a better day-after-Thanksgiving meal?

If you’ve already have your Thanksgiving menu set, keep this in mind for Christmas. The color is such a beautiful, rich red that would be super festive on a holiday table!

CranberrySalsa

Cranberry Salsa
(from Bake-aholic)
Makes about 2 cups

1 (12 oz.) package of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 green onion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips.

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut Spread

I’m thankful for a lot. My husband who works so hard for our family in so many ways. My little guy whose smiles just make my day. That we’re all healthy, fed and safe. And my friends – because I really don’t know where I’d be without them.

Last night, we had some friends over to celebrate an early Thanksgiving. Friends I went to middle school with who have loved me since before I’d really learned to love myself. Friends from college who have been supportive of us as we dated, got married and grew the family. And newer friends, who helped me stay sane during the early months of motherhood. It was just a small cross-section of our friends, but as I looked around the table it reminded me just how lucky we are.

I think something that often gets lost in prep for these big meals is that the goal is really to spend time together – not hours cooking. With that in mind, I whipped up a few no-cook appetizers. This one is whipped up in about five minutes and can be ahead of time. For a busy day like Thanksgiving, it’s a definite winner.

CranberryPumpkinSpread

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut Spread
(from Pen and Fork)
Makes about 2 cups

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup dried cranberries, plus a tablespoon for garnish
3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients, except cranberries for garnish, in a food processor and pulse until nearly smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with crackers or toast points.

Pomegranate and Avocado Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

So far, Jake is not a picky eater. I know we’re just getting into toddler-battle territory so it may change but for now we’re still happily surprised every time he tries and loves a new food. One of our recent finds is pomegranate. I bought one to make this salad and tossed him a few arils while I was prepping things. He devoured them and screamed for me.

At this point, the kid would probably eat his weight in pomegranates if we let him. I’ve bought more pomegranates in the last few weeks than I have in all my previous years of grocery shopping combined.

While the pomegranate was the standout for Jacob, he did eat some of the bacon, goat cheese and avocado too. The adults happily ate everything, of course! This salad is going to make a repeat appearance at our Thanksgiving table this year.

PomegranateAvocadoSalad

Pomegranate and Avocado Salad
(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Serves 6-8

1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 pear, diced
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 avocado, diced
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup of goat cheese crumbles

Toss together in a large bowl and serve with citrus vinaigrette.

 

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil.

Whisk together and serve.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I often tease my husband that he must have had a boring childhood because he doesn’t know 99% of the kid songs I know and he doesn’t get any of my Sesame Street references – and this started way before we had kids. There’s a few times he’s been able to tease me back – and making pumpkin seeds is one of them.

His family always roasted their seeds as a part of the annual pumpkin carving festivities. We never did. And now that I found a recipe I really like, I’m happy to incorporate them into our new family traditions.

JakePumpkin

This year was Jake’s first time helping with everything – he was unimpressed with the pumpkin and the seeds. Here’s to hoping he grows to love it!

RoastedPumpkinSeeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
(from The Homesick Texan’s Family Table)
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 tsp. paprika
Pinch of cayenne

Rinse the seeds until they’re free of all pumpkin. Place in a pot and add 4 cups of water and the salt. Bring the pot to a boil then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter and spices. Add in the pumpkin seeds and toss until evenly coated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread out the pumpkin seeds in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, then let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Baked Apple Roses

I’ve been taking a step back from blogging lately. This has always been a hobby for me and when it starts to feel like a chore, I know it’s time to take a breather and wait until I feel excited about it again. This time, inspiration struck in the form of a Facebook post. My friend, Caitlyn, posted the video for these and since I had everything in the house already, I just had to try them out.

These came together easier than I was anticipating and they looked awesome. I made them in cupcake tins, but I think if you doubled the recipe and put them in round cake pans they would work great as a pull-apart dessert. They were also good reheated in the oven. If you’re looking for a different take on apple pie for Thanksgiving, this is a great option!

AppleRoses

Baked Apple Roses
(adapted from Tip Hero)
Makes 6

1 large red apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. peach preserves
1 sheet puff pastry
Cinnamon sugar, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Spray a cupcake pan with nonstick spray.

Place the apple slices in a bowl and cover with water. Add lemon juice, toss to coat. Microwave on high for 3 minutes then set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peach preserves and 2 Tbsp. water. Set aside.

Roll out puff pastry until it’s a 12″ x 12″ square. Using a pizza wheel, slice the puff pastry into 6 2″ x 12″ strips.

Take one puff pastry strip and brush it with the peach preserves mixture. Place one apple slice along the top of the strip, with the rounded side overlapping the top. Place another slice overlapping the previous slice. Repeat until the end of the strip is reached – the top should look like a scalloped edge. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Carefully fold up the bottom of the puff pasty strip to form a pocket for the apple slice. Starting from one end, gently roll the puff pastry to create the look of a rose. Press the end together and place in the prepared cupcake pan. Repeat 5 more times, until all the strips are used up. Sprinkle again with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, until golden.

One-Pan Ranch Pork Chops and Vegetables

There was a running joke in college that I would only do the dishes if I had been drinking. I hate washing the dishes and apparently that was the only way it was tolerable. Now, I don’t have to do the dishes often because Mark and I have a deal worked out – if I cook, he’ll clean up.

The problem is that he’s been working late a lot lately so I’ve been having to do both. Solution? One pan (or pot) meals. And lots of them. This was one of the best I tried – super easy and super flavorful. Tiny and I loved them!

RanchPork

One-Pan Ranch Pork Chops and Vegetables
(adapted from Damn Delicious)
Serves 2

2 pork chops
2 large white potatoes, dices
8 oz. green beans
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.

Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Add the  pork chops, potatoes and green beans to the pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with Ranch Seasoning and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss then shake into a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until pork is cooked through and vegetables are soft. Serve immediately.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Hatch Chilies

I’m really having a love/hate relationship with this cooler weather in the morning. I love fall and this summer was humid beyond belief so the break is so, so welcome. But it’s also reminder that winter’s knocking on the door. I feel like my favorite season is going to get crowded out fast this year so I’m trying to savor every minute of it.

This quick and easy soup is our first of the fall season. I always anticipate soups taking a lot time to prep but using a rotisserie chicken sped this along nicely. I loved the kick the hatch chilies gave it, but you could also use canned, chopped green chilies or omit the chilies altogether.

HatchTortillaSoup

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Hatch Chilies
(from The Wicked Noodle)
Serves 8

4 large tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cumin
32 oz. chicken broth
4 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed and seeded, then diced
4 cups shredded chicken (or one whole rotisserie chicken)
Toppings: sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, avocado

Preheat the broiler. Half the tomatoes and place them cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and season with salt. Broil until the skins are beginning to blister and blacken, about 5 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about five minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices along with the chicken broth to the pot. Stir to combine and let simmer for 15 minutes. Puree with a hand blender, then stir in hatch chilies and chicken. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes and then serve.

Hatch Chili Chicken Burgers

Grilling season is waning here. We’re getting that chill in the morning and I actually wore pants all day yesterday. Pants! So now, of course, I’m regretting all of the grilling I didn’t do all summer long.

We cooked these up while watching the football game. I always try to make something fun in case the game is lackluster – and in this case, the food was the highlight. If you’ve still got some hatch chilies around, this is a great way to use them!

HatchChickenBurger

Hatch Chili Chicken Burgers
(adapted from MJ + Hungryman)
Makes 6

4 hatch chilies – roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 lb. ground chicken
½. tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
½ tsp. cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
Garlic mayonnaise
6 slices pepper jack cheese
6 hamburger buns

 

 

In a small bowl, toss together first 4 ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the ground chicken, salt, pepper, cumin, egg and breadcrumbs until thoroughly combined. Divide into 6 equal servings  and form into patties. Chill for a half hour then grill over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.

Top patties with cheese and let melt. Serve burgers on buns topped with the hatch chili relish.

 

Hatch Chili Mac ‘n Cheese

For the first time since I started this blog, one of our local grocery stores stocked hatch chilies. I feel like I’ve been watching my more-Southern food blogger friends rave about them for years and could never participate in the hatch chili fun. So now that they’re here? I’m making hatch chili everything.

First up: mac n cheese. I really, really loved this. The roasted chilies paired really nicely with the jack cheese sauce. I had split this into two pans with intentions to freeze one for later – but it all got eaten before it made it to the freezer. Oops!

 

HatchMacNCheese

Hatch Chili Mac ‘n Cheese
(from Life’s Ambrosia)
Serves 6-8 as a side

5 hatch chilies
2 cups elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp. flour
2 cups whole milk
3 cups shredded jack cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. olive oil

On the grill, roast the chilies over high heat until charred and blistered. Transfer to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, peel the chilies, seed, remove the membrane and dice.

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the diced onion and cook until nearly translucent. Whisk in flour until the mixture is a play dough consistency. Add milk, whisking constantly, and cook until starting to thicken, about a minute. Stir in cheeses and stir frequently until melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and diced chilies and season with salt to taste. Spread the macaroni in a greased baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine the panko and olive oil. Spread over the top of the macaroni.

Bake at 350F degrees until bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Cheddar Ranch Chicken

This is one of our newest family favorites. And my newest favorite meal to take to new moms. I think I’ve brought it to my last three or four friends that have had babies. It’s a hit for two big reasons: it only requires about 5 minutes of prep time and it reheats well.

I’ve been pairing it with wheat dinner rolls and green beans. It’s been a perfect, comforting dinner with almost no effort.

CheddarRanchChicken

Cheddar Ranch Chicken
(from Damn Delicious)
Serves 4-6

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 package ranch dressing mix
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Panko

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Spray a 9×11 pan with non-stick spray. Arrange chicken thighs in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, ranch mix and garlic. Spread evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the top of everything.

Bake for 25-50 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown on top.