Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

This butternut squash mac and cheese recipe strikes the perfect weeknight balance. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s comforting and completely delicious. This mac and cheese is not…

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butternut squash mac and cheese overhead

This butternut squash mac and cheese recipe strikes the perfect weeknight balance. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s comforting and completely delicious. This mac and cheese is not so rich that you’ll get a belly ache or fall asleep immediately after dinner.

This recipe is redeeming, too—it’s full of luscious roasted butternut squash, which amps up the golden hue without overwhelming the flavor. This mac and cheese is a real crowd pleaser. Our toddler loves it and so do we.

butternut squash before and after roasting

The cooking method is a thrill. This pasta comes together in one pot. You don’t ever strain the pasta. You don’t have to fuss with a béchamel sauce. You don’t have to get out the blender for the butternut.

If you roast your squash in advance, this recipe comes together in about 30 minutes. This is a unicorn of a pasta dish and I’m so excited to hear how it turns out in your kitchen.

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Cowboy Caviar

Y’all know I’m from Oklahoma, right? I grew up eating cowboy caviar, also called Texas caviar. It’s a classic bean salad recipe popular in the South. You…

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cowboy caviar recipe

Y’all know I’m from Oklahoma, right? I grew up eating cowboy caviar, also called Texas caviar. It’s a classic bean salad recipe popular in the South. You can serve it as a side salad or as salsa. Either way, people go crazy for cowboy caviar at potlucks.

Cowboy caviar is made with black-eyed peas and black beans, chopped tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion and cilantro tossed in tangy Italian dressing. I typically think of cowboy caviar as a warm weather salad, but it’s made with ingredients that are readily available year-round.

Cowboy caviar is actually perfect for New Year’s if you’re craving something fresh yet hearty, and trying to hit your black-eyed pea quota!

cowboy caviar ingredients

I have one issue with most cowboy caviar recipes—they’re often swimming in store-bought Italian salad dressing. As such, they can be way too oily and contain some unnecessary preservatives. Instead, I whisked together a simple, homemade Italian dressing from scratch. It’s easy to do and tastes fantastic.

This recipe yields a big bowl of dip, but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble polishing it off. I hope you enjoy this cheekily titled delight!

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Italian Dressing

Italian dressing has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. My mom always served a simple green salad with dinner, and I…

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Italian dressing

Italian dressing has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. My mom always served a simple green salad with dinner, and I gravitated toward Wish-Bone’s Italian dressing for drizzling on top. I was especially glad to reach for the extra zesty variety when we had it. Eating at Olive Garden was a rare treat and I took full advantage of the unlimited salad.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—homemade salad dressings taste so much better than store-bought. This classic Italian vinaigrette is bold, zesty and irresistible! My collection of salad dressing recipes was incomplete without it.

Italian dressing ingredients

This dressing is easy to make with basic pantry ingredients. You’ll need olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and dried oregano. You’ll also reach for salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (only if you like some heat).

The beauty of making your own Italian dressing is that you know exactly what’s going into it—like real olive oil and no preservatives.

You can also adjust the flavors to suit your preferences. Whether you like extra zesty or more mellow dressing, you’ll find guidance in the simple recipe below. It’s ready in under five minutes and keeps for a week!

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Perfect Baked Sweet Potato

Some baked sweet potatoes are better than others, and these are downright perfect. These baked sweet potatoes are silky-smooth all the way through. They’re sweet, creamy and…

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baked sweet potato recipe

Some baked sweet potatoes are better than others, and these are downright perfect. These baked sweet potatoes are silky-smooth all the way through. They’re sweet, creamy and delicious.

Baked sweet potatoes are always a nice side dish. They also make a great weeknight meal if you top them well. You’ll find several of my favorite flavor variations below.

sweet potatoes before and after baking

In my baked sweet potato recipe testing, I was surprised to find so many parallels to baked potatoes. It’s easy to lump sweet potatoes (commonly called yams) and potatoes together, but they come from different plant families. They’re only distantly related, but I’ve realized that they do bake up similarly.

Both are best baked in the oven without foil, directly on the rack, at high heat. You’ll learn why and find the full recipe below!

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Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette

This balsamic vinaigrette recipe deserves a moment in the spotlight. When you’re improvising a seasonal salad, no matter how simple or elaborate, balsamic vinaigrette is always an…

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balsamic vinaigrette recipe

This balsamic vinaigrette recipe deserves a moment in the spotlight. When you’re improvising a seasonal salad, no matter how simple or elaborate, balsamic vinaigrette is always an excellent choice. It’s a classic for a reason, and I love the lightly figgy flavor that balsamic vinegar imparts.

This balsamic dressing strikes a delicate balance between tangy and sweet. It’s just right.

balsamic vinaigrette ingredients

This homemade balsamic vinaigrette calls for basic pantry ingredients, yet tastes far superior to any store-bought dressing. This is true for all homemade salad dressings, even when they’re made exclusively with pantry ingredients like this one.

I can’t entirely explain why freshly-combined basic ingredients taste so much better than pre-made dressing from the same pantry shelf, but the difference is undeniable. It’ll smack you right over the head.

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Perfect Roasted Butternut Squash

Want to know something cool about roasted butternut squash? You don’t have to peel it before roasting. That’s right. You do not have to suffer through peeling…

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roasted butternut squash on serving platter

Want to know something cool about roasted butternut squash? You don’t have to peel it before roasting. That’s right. You do not have to suffer through peeling an entire slippery butternut squash if you’re going to roast it. The skin is perfectly safe to eat, and it’s hardly noticeable after a nice roast in a hot oven. You can see proof here and here.

Butternut squash is technically a winter squash, and it is indeed hearty and wonderful on a chilly day. Spring zucchini hasn’t arrived yet, so let’s use up the butternut in the pantry while it’s still good.

how to cut butternut squash

Butternut squash is naturally quite sweet. Roasted butternut squash is my favorite preparation because the edges caramelize against the pan, yielding delicious savory bits that help balance the sweetness.

Roasted butternut makes a great side dish with a few garnishes on top, but it’s more versatile than that. Over the years, I’ve used it in risotto and soup, hearty fall and winter salads, and even tacos. Again, I love to contrast the sweetness with spicy and savory ingredients, and you’ll find a list of suggestions below.

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Perfect Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted acorn squash deserves a place on your table this season. It’s easy to make, warming and hearty, and almost nutty in flavor. Acorn squash is often…

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roasted acorn squash

Roasted acorn squash deserves a place on your table this season. It’s easy to make, warming and hearty, and almost nutty in flavor.

Acorn squash is often overlooked when surrounded by its brighter squash cousins. Unlike butternut squash, it’s satisfyingly but not overtly sweet. Like pumpkin, it plays nicely with autumnal spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

If you’ve already had your fill of the other squash varieties this fall, give acorn squash a try!

how to prepare acorn squash for roasting

Halved and roasted acorn squash makes a beautifully simple side dish. It’s worthy of your Thanksgiving table, but easy enough for a regular weeknight dinner.

Today, I’m showing you how to prepare perfectly roasted acorn squash, with caramelized edges and tender insides. The method is very similar to roasted spaghetti squash. Let’s get to it.

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Best Baked Potato

Meet the baked potato of my dreams! These baked potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. They’re exactly the kind of baked potato…

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baked potato recipe

Meet the baked potato of my dreams! These baked potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. They’re exactly the kind of baked potato I’ve been craving. If you share my definition of what a baked potato should be, you could call these potatoes perfect.

I baked potatoes every which way to arrive at this recipe. I tried various baking temperatures, different crisping methods, and even analyzed how and when to slice open those beautiful baked spuds.

potatoes before and after baking

If you’re accustomed to run-of-the-mill baked potatoes, this might sound like a silly amount of effort. But if you have savored the glorious contrast between a crispy potato exterior and fluffy interior, you know there must be a trick to it.

The good news is that baking the perfect potato isn’t complicated when you follow this method. There’s not much better than a piping hot baked potato on a chilly day, so preheat that oven already!

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Perfect Baked Apples

Craving something sweet? These baked apples are a delightful dessert featuring seasonal fruit. They taste like an apple crisp but look much cuter. This baked apple recipe…

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best baked apples recipe

Craving something sweet? These baked apples are a delightful dessert featuring seasonal fruit. They taste like an apple crisp but look much cuter.

This baked apple recipe is all in the technique, but it’s not complicated. I’ll walk you through it below.

baked apple ingredients

You’ll need a short list of ingredients to make this recipe—apples, oats, coconut or brown sugar, optional pecans or walnuts, and butter. We’ll add a little bit of cinnamon and salt to take the flavor over the top.

Serve these wholesome baked apples with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or creamy yogurt. They’re sweet enough to taste like a treat, but wholesome at the same time. Serve your baked apples as a special dessert, or make them as a fun weekend project!

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Favorite Chickpea Salad

Have you met my all-time favorite chickpea salad recipe? Sure, I have many beloved chickpea salads on the blog already, but this is my tried-and-true favorite from…

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best chickpea salad recipe

Have you met my all-time favorite chickpea salad recipe? Sure, I have many beloved chickpea salads on the blog already, but this is my tried-and-true favorite from my cookbook, Love Real Food. In the book, I called it the “Outrageous Herbaceous Chickpea Salad,” which is exactly right!

“Here’s a simple chickpea salad that I could eat every single day. It’s bursting with fresh Mediterranean flavors, thanks to chopped bell pepper, parsley, red onion, and celery. Lemon and garlic take it from tasty to transcendent. This salad packs well, so it’s perfect for potlucks and picnics. It’s also a great lunch option, so long as your serving is large enough…”

chickpea salad ingredients

I love this recipe as much today as I did when I created the recipe several years ago. In fact, I stand behind all of the cookbook recipes, and it makes me so happy to hear that you’re cooking from the book!

I’m truly a healthier eater when I have this salad in the fridge. It’s the perfect hearty side salad or mid-afternoon snack. Pile it onto a bed of greens, or cooked whole grains like farro or quinoa, or even onto your scrambled eggs or cheese nachos. You can’t go wrong with this one.

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