Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

This year, I thought I’d try something new, and post a Thanksgiving recipe BEFORE Thanksgiving! Isn’t that a great idea? Just you watch, I think it’s gonna catch on around the food blog world. I’m practically a genius.

This has become one of my go-to sides this fall. The idea actually came to me after I made a dinner that involved stuffing acorn squash halves with chipotle chicken (I’ll be back with that recipe before too long) – and I LOVED the flavor combination of the sweet squash and the smokey, spicy chipotles. I often find that acorn and butternut squash can be too sweet for my liking, but the addition of some spice completely turned things around. I tried this mash out shortly thereafter, and my husband and I can’t get enough of it! I think it’ll make a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving – a newer, more interesting take on the traditional sweet potatoes (not that I have anything against brown sugar and marshmallows – I’m not a MONSTER).

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash
serves 4 as a side dish

2 medium acorn squashes, halved and seeded
3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and poked with a fork
2 chipotles, minced
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (2% or full fat – sour cream will also work)
1 T butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
olive oil

1.) Preheat your oven to 375°, and line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly spray the inside of the acorn squash with olive oil, and season the flesh with a sprinkle of kosher salt. Place the squash cut side down on the baking sheet, and place the potatoes on the same sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the squash and potatoes are fork tender (the potatoes might take longer than the squash).

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

2.) When the squash and sweet potatoes are cooked through, allow them to cool for a couple minutes. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh of each into a medium bowl, and add the chipotles, greek yogurt, butter, salt and pepper. Mash until smooth, and well-combined.

Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, and Chipotle Mash

3.) Spread the mash into a baking dish, and pop back into the over for 5-10 minutes, so everything can warm through. Serve hot.

This could certainly be made ahead of time – I’d say up to 2 days in advance. Refrigerate the mash (either in an airtight container, or in the baking dish, covered with plastic wrap), and then reheat in the oven for 20-25 minutes before serving.

I’ve actually found that this makes for a great, quick, weeknight side dish. I throw the squash and sweet potatoes in the oven, and let them bake while I prep the rest of dinner, or work out, or watch some HGTV. Despite needing some baking time, the active prep for this mash is about 5 minutes total! Not too bad, if you ask me. It’s healthy, it’s creamy, it’s a little spicy, and it reheats beautifully – so make a big batch, and use it up throughout the week! You could even spread a little bit on to your post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, to add a little kick.

How can you not love a holiday that basically REQUIRES elastic-waist pants?
Tina

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Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

One of the things I was tasked with contributing to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner was a salad (actually, I may or may not have assigned myself this job; I can’t remember). I wanted to come up with a salad that was more than the just token fresh vegetable on the table; we all know that most of the time, we each slip a few leaves of romaine on to our plates so we can feel somewhat virtuous in between heaping forkfuls of the good stuff like mashed potatoes and stuffing. I wanted the salad to be hearty, and full of delicious things, and something that people might actually eat a second helping of! And if I’m the only one who goes back for seconds of this one? Well, more for me.

Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
serves 6-8 as a side dish

10 oz bag of kale, torn into bite size pieces*
1 cup dry wheatberries, cooked and cooled**
seeds of one large pomegranate
6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled
3-4 oz crumbled feta
olive oil
juice of one lemon, divided
1 T maple syrup
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

How To Seed a Pomegranate

*For those who are still scared of kale, you could use baby spinach instead (and obviously, skip the massaging part). However, once kale is dressed with some olive oil and lemon juice and worked a little bit (which helps to tenderize the somewhat tough leaves), it really just tastes like any other green, except with some more texture and chew! I have yet to experience the legendary bitterness that kale supposedly possesses… so, don’t be scared.

**Wheatberries are just the entire wheat kernel (less the hull), and are one of my favorite grains. They have a great chewy texture, which makes them great for things like salads, or stuffing peppers. You’ll find them in the same aisle as rice and other grains in the grocery store; if you can’t find them or don’t care to use them, you can certainly substitute brown or wild rice in this recipe.

1.) Start by prepping your kale. Add all the kale to a large bowl, and pour about one tablespoon of olive oil over it. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the kale, and add a small pinch of kosher salt; use your hands to massage the olive oil and lemon juice into the kale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

2.) To make your dressing, whisk together the maple syrup, dijon, the juice of the remaining half lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a good pinch each of kosher salt and pepper. Taste to make sure you don’t need to adjust it; my first round making this dressing, I found it wasn’t maple-y enough, so I added some more maple syrup. Adjust to your taste.

3.) Add the wheatberries, chopped bacon, and pomegranate seeds to the bowl with the kale. Pour the dressing over everything, and toss to coat. Top with the crumbled feta, and serve.

(I like to add extra pomegranate seeds to my salad. More antioxidants for me!)

Wheatberry and Kale Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

Since I first came up with this salad (last week), we’ve had it as a main course twice, and we’ve debated whether to have it again before Thanksgiving. It’s super filling and hearty, thanks to the kale and wheatberries, with TONS of different flavors – the salty feta, the smoky bacon, the sweet and tart pomegranate. It’s a great fall side dish, and would be especially perfect to have on hand if you have any vegetarians joining you for Thanksgiving (omitting the bacon, of course). Side note: since kale is very hearty and holds up well to dressing, this salad can be dressed and assembled ahead of time (I wouldn’t add the feta until you’re ready to serve). You could easily assemble the whole thing 6-8 hours ahead of the big meal (drain off any excess dressing or oil/lemon juice), keeping it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Tomorrow morning, I’ve got a quick post put together with a delicious way to cook acorn squash! It’s incredibly quick, easy, and delicious… and the leftover filling can be used to make an equally simple and tasty dessert. Make sure you check back tomorrow!

I’m totally ready for a long weekend,
Tina

Holiday Recipe Roundup!

Well, friends, the holiday season is upon us! And by “holiday season”, you know I really mean “eating season” – so, put on some elastic-waist pants, grab a big blanket to wrap yourself up with, and let’s get to work making your Thanksgiving menu, shall we?

After more than two years of posting recipes to the blog, we’ve got QUITE the collection of dishes to round out your holiday meal. You won’t find much in the way of sweet potatoes topped with mini marshmallows, or how to prep and roast a giant turkey (I’m more of a ham girl, myself), but you WILL find plenty of delicious recipes that will add something new and fun to your meal (when all else fails? Sprinkle your dish with pomegranate seeds! Festive!). I’ve broken this (gigantic) list down into several categories: Salads, Sides, and Desserts. A good amount of them are quick and easy to make, most will impress the hell out of your friends and family, and ALL of them are delicious. Feel free to send me the leftovers of any of the following:

Salads:

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate and Fried Goat Cheese

Lemony Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pepitas

strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed onion dressing

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Vidalia Dressing

Beet Salad with Honey Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Honey Goat Cheese Salad Dressing

Ina’s Ranch Dressing

Side Dishes:

Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts

Honey Balsamic Carrots

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Spicy Corn with Feta and Lime

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Smoky Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

balsamic roasted potatoes.

Balsamic Roasted Potatoes

Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Dried Cherry Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Chutney Vinaigrette

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Fritters with Smoked Greek Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds

Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere and Parmesan

Green Beans with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Green Beans with Orange, Goat Cheese, and Pomegranate Seeds

Bacon Creamed Corn

Beer and Chile Macaroni and Cheese

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Four Cheese Baked Macaroni

Desserts:

Classic Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

Cider Mill Donut Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust

Nutella Rugelach

Ginger Pear Hand Pies

Ginger Pear Hand Pies (you could absolutely use apples instead of pears, if you wanted to!)

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Finished cakes, with a slightly prettier caramel drizzle.

Mini Salted Caramel Icebox Cakes

Chocolate Cakes with Cream Cheese Filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Brownie Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Pots de Creme

no-bake nutella cheesecakes.

No-Bake Nutella Cheesecakes

I am going to TRY to get a couple more Thanksgiving (or Thanksgivukkah, or other holiday) worthy recipes up on the blog over the weekend/early next week… but I can’t promise anything, as I might find myself too busy “taste testing” the desserts I’m making for all our Thanksgiving gatherings to get to the computer. I mean, do you think someone ELSE is going to test the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies to make sure they’re not poisonous?? No ma’am, it’s all on my shoulders. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

I hope you’ve found something that looks delicious enough to add to your holiday meal, and I hope your holiday weekend is filled with tasty feasts, and stretchy waistbands.

Bring on the pecan pie and mashed potatoes,
Tina

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Let’s talk about lamb. In general, I find that people either love lamb, or they really, really hate lamb. It’s pretty rare to find someone who feels neutral about lamb, in my experience. And I will be honest with you – I hated lamb. I hated it A LOT. Every time I tried it, it was just SO gamey and overly intense with its flavor of ANIMAL. I am in no way squeamish about the fact that eating meat = eating an animal, but lamb was just too much for me.

As with most experiences in my life in which I discovered I actually liked a food I thought I hated (my mom would love to tell you about the time I discovered that ravioli was actually delicious), I was being polite. We were enjoying a little family weekend at my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Illinois, and they had decided to make a big, beautiful dinner… with lamb being the star of the show. Now, my family knows I’m not a huge meat eater, and that I have zero problem making my meal out of all the sides, and avoiding the meat. So, of course, I encouraged them to make their lamb dish, and I would just opt out if I needed to. When the meal was ready, the lamb smelled INCREDIBLE – so, I figured I’d try one little lamb chop, hate it, and pass the remainder on to my husband. I took one little bite of the lamb (smothered in the delicious greek yogurt and herb sauce), and I LOVED it. I proceeded to eat something like 4 lamb chops, to the amazement of myself, and my entire family. And this recipe shall remain on our “special dinners” list from now on. (I won’t lie to you, lamb ain’t cheap. That’s why this isn’t on our “regular old Tuesday night dinners” list – this bad boy is special occasions only.)

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce
recipe modified slightly from here
serves 4 generously

For the lamb:
two racks of lamb, frenched, and cut into 8 chops each
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
juice of 4 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

For the yogurt mint sauce:
generous 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
6 green onions, white and light green parts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice and zest of one lemon
one cup of plain greek yogurt (please do not use fat free – use 2% or full fat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.) Start by making the marinade for your lamb. In a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper, and pulse until everything is finely minced. Remove the herb mixture to another bowl, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and wine; stir until everything is well-combined.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

2.) Place your lamb chops in a single layer in the bottom of a baking dish, and pour the marinade over them, turning them to make sure all the meat gets coated. Cover the dish tightly, and refrigerate overnight. Late the next morning, turn the chops over, and allow them to keep marinating until just before you’re going to cook them.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

3.) At the same time you turn the chops, make your yogurt mint sauce. Add the mint, dill, green onions, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil to your food processor, and pulse until finely minced. Then, add the greek yogurt, salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times, until everything is well combined. Cover the sauce and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, so all the flavors have a chance to marry.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

4.) Remove the lamb from the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cook it. Heat a large grill pan (or your grill) to medium-high heat, and brush it with a little bit of olive oil. Remove the chops from the marinade, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, and grill for about 4 minutes on the first side, 3 minutes on the second side. If you prefer your lamb more toward well-done, grill them for about 5 minutes per side. Remove them to a large platter, and cover them tightly with foil. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Serve the warm chops with the cold yogurt sauce, and enjoy! I served our chops with a side of roasted chickpeas, and some cauliflower steaks, and it was one of the best meals we’ve had at home in a long, long time. The lamb has an insane amount of flavor, and is unbelievably tender and juicy – combined with the cold, herby yogurt mint sauce? Heaven.

This meal is PERFECT for company – it’s quite impressive, and the bulk of the work can be done ahead of time! Once the meat is marinated, and the sauce is made, you’re ready to throw the chops on the grill when company arrives (and your oven is totally open for whatever sides you decide to serve it with). For all those reasons, it would also make a lovely holiday meal, if you’re okay with non-traditional foods. These chops would even be great for a cocktail party – lamb chops are fairly small, and that bone makes a great handle for eating them without a fork and knife. A platter of lamb chops with a side of sauce for dipping would make a great, slightly heartier appetizer.

Side note: the leftover yogurt mint sauce is amazing on everything! We put it on some chicken sandwiches, used it to dip vegetables, and basically ate it straight from the bowl. Do not discard the extra sauce, whatever you do!

Greek Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

I was essentially gnawing on the chop bones like a cave woman,
Tina