Autumn Harvest Side Salad

When I asked on Instagram what you guys wanted to see in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the majority of the responses were “healthy side dishes!” Well, consider this autumn side salad that. It’s super quick to throw together (you can even assign it to the least capable cook in the household), light enough that it won’t ruin your appetite for the big ticket items (read: turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie), but the taste is anything but lacking.

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Autumn Harvest Side Salad

ingredients:

1 bag of chopped kale

2-3 honey crisp apples, thinly sliced

5-7 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds

3-5 tablespoons of toasted pumpkin seeds

2 cups roasted butternut squash

4 tbsp apple white balsamic vinegar (or a similar product in a store near you)

directions:

Place the kale and balsamic in a bowl and toss until leaves are thoroughly coated.

Add in pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, and butternut squash and toss everything together again.

Finally place apple slices all around bowl, tucked under leaves here and there, for that final polished look!

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It’s still a little unbelievable that Thanksgiving is in three days. As always, I’m wanting time to slow down but also getting SO ready to finally blast some Christmas tunes and bust out my favorite decorations! I haven’t packed or even prepared at ALL for my upcoming trip, so I’m signing off early to at least attempt some progress on that. Much love, friends!

Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin

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Alright, people. Final 2018 Easter recipe begins now!

I’m just going to start by saying the past week has been SO much fun for me to write. I always share a lot of recipes and holiday-oriented posts, but having all of the recent recipes connected by the common theme of building an epic party menu felt so fresh and playful for me. I was so inspired and now I’m getting really excited to apply the same kind of style/organization to future holidays. How do y’all feel? I hope you liked reading these as much as I loved writing them!

Anyway, back to the food.

The final recipe is a favorite side dish of Mark’s and mine. I made it a couple of years ago for our first Easter together, and we instantly decided it had to happen again and again and again. It’s creamy and cheesy, good for serving to crowds, and makes bomb leftovers. It’s potatoes au gratin!

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I know this isn’t exactly groundbreaking. Potatoes au gratin are kind of the go-to for Easter side dishes. But up until two years ago, it wasn’t something I had ever had. Mark hadn’t either, because he didn’t really celebrate Easter growing up. So it’s still new enough for me that I think it’s worth sharing as I experiment a bit.

I can easily understand why it’s a mainstay on Easter brunch menus, though. You can serve these potatoes alongside a bright, citrusy salad or with a honey glazed ham. Or both! They’re pretty versatile. Also…it’s potatoes and cheese. So, instant and guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you’re ever feeling worried about whether or not your guests will really enjoy the menu, add a dish with potatoes and cheese. Real talk.

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Potatoes Au Gratin:

6 small potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 c heavy cream

1/4 c milk

1 tbsp thyme

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of salt and pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 1/2 c shredded gruyere cheese

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a mandolin (or a really good, sharp knife) slice the washed potatoes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring consistently. Add the heavy cream and milk into the saucepan, stirring to combine. Then add the thyme, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Finally, mix in the shredded gruyere cheese. Mix constantly, making sure to scrape everything from the bottom of the saucepan, until mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.

Arrange half of the potato slices in circular pattern around a cast iron skillet. Pour half of the cheese/cream mixture over these slices. Cover the skillet with the remaining slices and then pour the rest of the sauce over the potatoes.

Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil and sprinkle the parmesan over the top of the potatoes. Then bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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This rendition was so, so good. Much better than my 2016 version. It had a respectable gruyere in it, which made all the difference. Plus, the red pepper flakes added some heat without the dish crossing the line into being “spicy”. I really can’t wait for you to try this.

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As I’ve been mentioning, my Easter will likely be nothing special. The bunny won’t visit me. I’ll be at work starting at 11 am, so no church or brunch for me. I will probably treat myself to a slice of carrot cake. And maybe I’ll make a quiche in the morning? I can probably manage that. Mostly, I plan on just spending the day feeling grateful and looking forward to fresh starts and new beginnings.

 

Thank you so much for reading, everyone! Have very Happy Easters. And don’t let your pets eat any chocolate or you’ll have me to answer to. 😉

 

Roasted Cauliflower w/ Cashew “Nacho Cheese” (Whole30!)

There’s a restaurant just around the block from my job called Gracias Madre. It’s entirely vegan Mexican food. Sounds so weird, right? Except for it’s not. Everything I’ve ever had there is delicious (the horchata latte is beyond this world and the alcoholic drinks are some of the best I’ve ever had), and the restaurant itself is so pretty that after visiting for the first time, it quickly became one of my favorite spots in West Hollywood. It’s definitely always a high contender on where to take visitors when I have them!

One of the things I almost always order when I stop in for a bite is the roasted cauliflower with cashew “nacho cheese” sauce. It is mouthwateringly good, even though it sounds a little strange. You just have to trust me here.

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The first time I ordered this I was actually doing a round of whole30. I asked what the sauce was made of and was told that it contained cashew butter, chipotle peppers, some coconut milk, and lime juice. Since then I’ve made many batches, trying to get it just right to perfectly recreate the dish. And finally, I think I’m there!

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This functions really well as a snack or side dish. I make a big batch of the sauce, store it in the fridge for a week, and roast the cauliflower as needed. I always hated cauliflower before I started making this, and now it’s a regular on my weekly grocery list! Any dish that causes that kind of 180 is a winner in my book.

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To make the cashew nacho cheese:

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

1/2 cup cashew butter

2 tbsp of the sauce from canned chili’s in chipotle adobo sauce + 1 actual chili pepper

1 garlic clove

1-2 tsp of lime juice

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. DONE.

 

To make the cauliflower “chips”:

Cauliflower florets, however much you want!

olive oil

salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the cauliflower into smaller slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt. Mix so that the cauliflower is evenly coated. Bake for about 25 minutes, turning over halfway through, until the pieces are crispy.

Drizzle the sauce over the cauliflower and enjoy!

 

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So, whole30-ers, how’s it going?! I’m definitely eating a lot less crap and I really am craving less (my biggest challenge is food FOMO: when I see a box of doughnuts placed in front of me that everyone else is enjoying, even if I didn’t want doughnuts, I get kind of desperate). I cheated last week with taking a bite of cake and I had a beer at my friend’s birthday party, but I’m not sweating it too much because I don’t think it’s healthy to have too much guilt about what you eat, whether it’s “healthy” or not. Life’s about living, ya know? And sometimes that means taking a bite of a doughnut.

Love you people!