Apple Cinnamon Mini Muffins

Make these this weekend! We picked a ton of honeycrisp and McIntosh apples (whatever that big bag is…a bushel, a peck?) and needed to use them up! This recipe takes fresh apples and cooks them down so you can pack the muffin batter with a lot of apples. I have been serving 2 or 3 mini muffins per kiddo for breakfast and they love them! I store them in an airtight container for a few days, and if they last longer than that, put them in the fridge and either microwave for just 15 seconds or toast them up to bring them back to perfection. Also, feel free to use the apple saute method to have a generous helping of those around. Freshly sauteed apples make a great side dish with pancakes, pork, chicken, really just about anything.

Apple Cinnamon Mini-Muffins

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Cheesy Corn Dip

This dip is addictive! I have made it with frozen, fresh, canned and leftover cooked corn cut off the cob, so I know it works any which way. One of my favorite memories of making and eating this dish is when we went on our annual summer vacation to Cape Cod and I cooked way too much corn on the cob. With 16 people eating I must have thought we needed a whole bushel! No one complained after I made this dip to use the rest of it, though. Enjoy it with tortilla chips or try it as a side dish for black bean soup or enchiladas.

Cheesy Corn Dip

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Simplest and Best Guacamole!

Once you make this extra easy guac, you will never consider buying it pre-made ever again, and you will find so many wonderful uses for it beyond a tortilla chip–which is amazing in and of itself, of course. On burgers or chicken sandwiches, as a topper for black bean soup, chicken enchiladas, or fish tacos, or with a couple of eggs in the morning, this will be your new go-to condiment. More healthy fats for you! Get smashing!

Guacamole Bite

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Cape Cod Salad

This recipe is great because it doesn’t try to be a summer salad–it has robust winter flavors of bacon, cranberry, and apple with a dash of maple. I served a massive bowl of it for my son’s birthday party and when it almost all went along with everything else, I knew it was a hit! I bought a 4-pack of wide-mouth mason jars at the supermarket and use them all the time to shake up my dressings.

Cape Cod Salad

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French-Inspired Gouters (Small Tastes)

The French really do know how to enjoy a meal! This appetizer will be a hit at your next dinner party, or even just at a romantic dinner for two. I modeled this recipe after an appetizer Mike and I would order at Sel de la Terre, one of our favorite restaurants that unfortunately just shuttered its doors after New Year’s Eve. There are three components: golden roasted garlic, balsamic-drenched braised shallots, and an eggplant-goat cheese spread. Sounds complicated, but is exactly the opposite. Good bread to serve alongside this is a must. Baguette or rustic sourdough boule are great choices. Bon appetit! 

French Inspired Gouters (small tastes)

Left: eggplant-goat cheese spread ingredients in the food processor; Right: balsamic-braised shallots

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Butternut Squash Risotto

I would like to let you in on a culinary secret…risotto is not hard to make, I promise! I first dabbled in risotto-making when a recipe for a saffron risotto (similar to this recipe) appeared in Ina Garten’s cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Family Style. I knew her recipe would be easy-to-follow and accurate, and it was! So here is my version of that creamy, smoky and slightly sweet risotto. The tricks to making perfect risotto are as follows: buy arborio rice and accept no substitute; heat up your stock and have it ready for you to ladle into the pan; keep your risotto at a slight simmer, not a rumbling boil; and taste the risotto before serving. The rice should be creamy but still with a little texture. It should not be stuck in your teeth–if it is, add more stock (or even hot water, you can always season it) and cook it longer. You do not have to obsessively stir, but you want to stay close by to adjust the heat as necessary. Here we go! Pay it forward after you make this and tell your friends how surprisingly easy it is. 

Butternut Squash Risotto

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Winning Salad Dressings

It is the time of year when a salad is a prerequisite for picnics, gatherings, parties, beach days and even just dinner! I make a ton of salads this time of year because of the crisp and buttery greens we get from our farm. We wait all year for the Boston and red leaf lettuce in particular. So I have tried out many salad dressing recipes, and it is hard to make a bad one honestly. Even just good balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil does a great salad justice. But here are two dressings that I have made time and time again, and that have received raves from my guests. The chive vinaigrette is fresh and tangy and the buttermilk ranch is creamy, herbaceous and you won’t even pick out the cilantro but it adds a special necessary flavor. I don’t even normally like cilantro and I love it in this dressing! But if you are really opposed to it, and I won’t judge you, use fresh dill. To make it extra fun for the chef, invest in a set of wide-mouth mason jars or a salad dressing cruet, and a mini whisk.

Just add dressing!

Just add dressing!

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Roasted Eggplant Dip

I started making this dip a few years ago when I had a fridge drawer full of vegetables and I needed a recipe that used a lot of them! To my delightful surprise, my kids wanted to skip the pita chips and just get a spoon! Something about the sweet red bell peppers, roasted garlic and tomato paste and the overall creamy texture of this dip makes it appealing to adults and kids alike. This is a great dish to bring to a party and can easily be made ahead of time. 

Eggplant Dip Before

Eggplant Dip After

 

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Squash Biscuits

These biscuits disappear as soon as you put the basket down on the table, so you may want to consider making a double batch for Thanksgiving dinner! My mom had made them for years, and one Thanksgiving I asked her how she did it. She handed me a tiny Bisquick recipe booklet from 1977 and said, “Here babe, I know it by heart at this point.”  Some recipes just hold up well over the years, what can I say? The little booklet isn’t in bad shape either, maybe I should try the other recipes in it and see…

The great disappearing biscuits.

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