Autumn Harvest Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette #Sponsored by @BrightFarms + GIVEAWAY

Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms as part of their #ChooseLocal campaign. I have been compensated for this post, but as always, all opinions are my own.

 DISCLOSURE: Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms as part of their #ChooseLocal campaign.  I have been compensated for this post, but as always, all opinions are my own.

DISCLOSURE: Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms as part of their #ChooseLocal campaign.  I have been compensated for this post, but as always, all opinions are my own.

I'm not quite sure how, or even when it happened, but somewhere along the way food became confusing. What was originally meant to be simple and nourishing has become a complicated mess of buzz words and fads that frequently leaves me scratching my head, wondering what ridiculous suggestion will come next.

In a world that constantly bombards us with "facts" about our health, it can be tough to weed through the information and figure out what is real. Yesterday eggs were bad, now they're good. We need to go gluten-free, dairy-free, or meat-free to be healthy. Eating more vegetables is never a bad idea, but what about the toxic pesticides? Organic is the only way to go, but with the rising cost of food who can afford it? Oh, don't forget, french fries will give you cancer. 

As if that wasn’t enough to make choosing a health lifestyle difficult, there are actually thousands of companies out there selling miracle "cures" to everything that ails you. There is even a vape pen that's meant to be used as an anti-snacking aide.  

Let's take a moment to chew on that one...

Feeding your family healthy meals shouldn't be so confusing. That is why you'll find the vast majority of our posts are dedicated to simple recipes using the best, often local, ingredients that you can afford. The recipes and posts on our site are styled in a way that encourages people of all skill levels to cook healthy meals.

Rather than get caught up in all of the marketing hype, our stance has always been to eat simple, seasonal foods as often as we can because food that hasn't travelled thousands of miles to reach your door always tastes better. The most important thing is to use the freshest ingredients possible, whether you shop at the local grocery store, grow your own food, or purchase it from a local farm or farmers' market.

Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms, a local producer of salad greens, to shine a light on some of our favorite local products. Keep reading for a simple salad recipe made from fresh, local ingredients and while you're at it make sure to enter our giveaway for a $25 grocery gift card so you can purchase everything you need to make your own Autumn Harvest Salad.

 DISCLOSURE: Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms as part of their #ChooseLocal campaign.  I have been compensated for this post, but as always, all opinions are my own.

DISCLOSURE: Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms as part of their #ChooseLocal campaign.  I have been compensated for this post, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Autumn Harvest Salad
 

with Apple Cider Vinaigrette



 

Ingredients


for the salad

BrightFarms Local Baby Greens Blend
SweeTango apple, thinly sliced
Shallot, thinly sliced
Pecan halves (see notes)
Applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled (see notes)

for the vinaigrette

3 Tablespoons light flavored oil (see notes)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon apple cider
½ teaspoon whole grain mustard with honey (see notes)
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions
 

 

  • Prepare the vinaigrette: in a small glass bottle or mason jar combine oil, apple cider vinegar, apple cider, pumpkin pie spice, whole grain mustard with honey, sea salt, and pepper. Shake until well combined. Refrigerate any leftovers.
  • In a skillet cook bacon until crispy, remove from pan, then set aside to cool.
  • Combine local baby greens, apple, shallot, pecan halves, and crumbled bacon then toss with vinaigrette. Serve immediately, preferably with a huge hunk of crusty baguette slathered with salted butter.

 

Notes


The type of oil you choose for this recipe is very important. A more-strongly flavored oil will drowned out the flavors, which is why I recommend skipping the extra virgin olive oil. Instead try using a light-flavored olive oil, canola oil, or another neutral-flavored oil of your choice.

One important thing to note is that honey mustard and whole grain mustard with honey are not the same things. My preferred mustard comes Doux South, but feel free to substitute with one of your choosing. And, if you happen to be near Madison, WI come visit the only museum in the world dedicated to mustard: The National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI.

Schermer pecans can be purchased directly from their website, but you'll often seen them offered as part of a fundraiser. Mine came from the Missouri chapter of the Children of the American Revolution (thanks mom!)

I spend a lot of time traveling, so it shouldn't surprise you when I say that my go-to bacon changes depending on where I'm at. While in Wisconsin it's a delicious applewood smoked variety from Patrick Cudahy, located in Cudahy, WI. When I'm down South with my family my allegiance switches to Burger's Smokehouse from California, MO. I've been in love with their old-fashioned Applewood smoked bacon for years, but it isn't always easy to find where I live. They're both solid choices that originate in the mid-west, so if you see them in your local supermarket make sure to give them a try.
 

Giveaway

 

TERMS: This giveaway is sponsored by BrightFarms and will run through October 31st 2017 at 12PM EST. It is open to US readers only, void where prohibited by law. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter, no purchase necessary. The number of eligible entries received will determine the odds of winning. Retail value of prize: $25.  Winner will be selected randomly and be notified by email. If no response is received within 72 hours the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be chosen. Winners: your contact information will be given to Abel Communications PR Firm so they can ship the prize to you, you can expect delivery in 4 - 6 weeks.

Disclosure


Today we're excited to be partnering with BrightFarms as part of their #ChooseLocal campaign.  I have been compensated for this post, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Quick and Easy Oven Roasted Vegetables

Today's recipe is proof that healthy food doesn't need to be complicated or time consuming to make, something I think that many of us forget from time to time. A few minutes with a sharp knife (or better yet, a mandoline) and you can turn your bounty of fresh produce into a meal fit for a king. Serve these tasty vegetables along side baked chicken or fish, add them to pasta with a smattering of olive oil and fresh parmesan, or eat them straight off the hot pan. No matter how you choose to serve them they'll be delicious.

If you happened to buy your vegetables precut from the grocery store instead of fussing with a sharp knife, we don't judge. Just remember, as long as you hide the wrapper no one will ever know you didn't slave away over the cutting board to get dinner on the table.

Quick and Easy Oven Roasted Vegetables | Not Starving Yet

Oven Roasted Vegetables
 

makes 6 - 8 servings

 

Ingredients


1 red bell pepper, cut into 1½ inch pieces
2 shallots, sliced
1 yellow squash, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
garlic sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions


 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the vegetables into uniform pieces, place in a large mixing bowl, then add olive oil, garlic sea salt, and pepper. Toss the vegetables so the oil and seasonings are evenly distributed, then transfer the vegetables to a foil lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the onions have caramelized and have slightly darkened edges. 

Notes
 

 

This recipe is fairly flexible, so you can substitute many of your favorite vegetables for those that I've listed above. Just keep in mind that some vegetables take longer to cook. You'll want to put things like potatoes, carrots, or winter squash on a separate baking sheet or leave them out entirely since they can take upwards of 45 minutes to cook.

For more even browning remove the baking sheet after 10 minutes, give the vegetables a good stir, then continue to cook for an additional 10 - 20 minutes. I usually skip this step because I'm forgetful, but the zucchini does cook more evenly when you remember. 

Mini Pumpkin Pies - Do the Little Monster Mash with @OXOTot #Sponsored

The past few months have been busy, so it's no huge surprise that the holidays have snuck up on me. I'm not sure where the time went, but there's only a week until Thanksgiving and I haven't even planned our menu yet. I'll admit I'm a little out of practice at menu planning, it's been years since we've stayed home for a holiday, which is why I've spent the past few days trying to get a handle on what I want to serve so I can write up the mile-long shopping list that generally accompanies one of my fabulous feasts.

Rather than save the best for last I decided to tackle our dessert spread first. We'll likely have a handful of children around the table so I've decided make a healthier version of our holiday favorites, starting with these mini pumpkin pies. OXO has once again sent us some tools from their OXO Tot line, so make sure to keep reading after the recipe for our full review of the products we used during the development of this recipe.

  Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Little Monster Mash OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Little Monster Mash OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Mini Pumpkin Pies for Tots

makes 6 servings


 


The great thing about this recipe is that it's flexible, you can easily adjust the ingredients as your little one grows. For younger children feel free to remove the butter (but not the milk) and scale back on the spices. The cooking time will be the same, but it will change the final texture. Older children love a little sugar mixed in, extra pumpkin pie spice, and a fun topping. To get them involved make sure to let them decorate their own mini "pie".

Ingredients


15 ounces canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)

optional toppings

whipped cream
crushed graham crackers
maple syrup
leftover pie crust scraps (dipped in cinnamon sugar then baked)

 

Directions
 

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl combine pumpkin, melted butter, milk, eggs, and pumpkin pie spice, then blend until smooth. Spoon mixture into OXO's glass baby blocks or another 4 ounce oven-safe container and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown. Make sure not to fill past the 3 ounce marker-line so you have room for expansion as the eggs bake.

Don't forget, you'll need to adjust the baking time if your containers are larger than 4 ounces.

  • Serve immediately with one of the optional toppings listed above or allow to cool on a wire rack for an hour, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Notes

 

This recipe makes slightly more than will fit in the OXO Tot glass blocks. Rather than scale the recipe down to fit in 4 containers I like to put the extra in a small oven-safe dish, add a bit of sugar (either white, brown, or both) and bake it along side the kid-friendly "pies". This way I have a small treat to eat during nap-time or later in the day when I need a sweet pick-me-up that won't leave me feeling guilty. 

A note on freezing:

Because this is technically a custard pie it will likely start to separate in the freezer, so while you can freeze it the texture will change and may not be appealing to a picky little one. I would do a test freeze and thaw of a single container to make sure your little one won't balk at the change in texture.

Want more great ideas to help you feed your tot? Check out our recipes for Easy Crockpot Applesauce, Gingerbread Applesauce, and Homemade Spaghetti O's.

Make sure to keep reading for our OXO Tot product review!

Today we'll be looking at the Glass Baby Blocks, Food Masher, and Feeding Spoons from the OXO Tot line.

Product Review: OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks, Food Masher, and Feeding Spoons

Review


Glass Baby Blocks

When my son was first starting on solids I tore the internet apart looking for small glass containers like this, but there really wasn't anything remotely similar on the market at the time. I eventually settled for a plastic set which has served me well over the past few years, but not all of the containers have held up to the abuses I've put them through (they eventually developed cracks in the bottom from being smashed in my diaper bag, which is why I was interested in a glass set in the first place.)

The bottoms of these blocks are made from borosilicate glass, which unlike plastic will never break down and can be taken straight from the fridge or freezer to the microwave or oven to be reheated as needed. You don't even need to defrost the food first, which is a huge plus when you're in a hurry (and let's be honest, when you have a screaming, hungry child you are always going to be in a hurry!)

What I really love about these containers is that they have a million and one uses beyond baby food. I use mine to store small amounts of chicken stock, fresh herbs in olive oil, leftover bits & bobs, and even salad dressing—the containers are leak-proof so they're great for tossing in lunch boxes. They're definitely not a one use product, which isn't something you can often say about a product designed for kids.

If you like the design, but aren't keen on using glass around your little one OXO does make a plastic version that comes in a variety of sizes.

Food Masher

At first I wasn't sure how much use I'd get out of the food masher, but I'm perfectly willing to admit when I'm wrong, there are some well-thought-out features included in the design that make this much more efficient than using a fork. First of all, the masher handle comes apart, so you can store everything inside the bowl allowing you to toss it in the diaper bag and go, without having to worry about bits of leftover food getting everywhere. This feature alone makes it worth the purchase price, I can't count the number of times I've tossed my mashing utensils in my diaper bag, leaving behind stray bits of food on my diapers and other whatnots. But the feature I really like are the teeth on the side of the masher, they make short work of stringy foods like sweet potato and I was able to have a nice smooth consistency in no time at all, which isn't always possible with a fork. This ended up being a real winner and as an added bonus it's really great at making small amounts of guacamole, so even after the baby is done with mashed food it's still useful in the kitchen.

Feeding Spoon Set with Soft Silicone

The soft silicone tip of this spoon is perfect for little ones just starting out with solid food and the material is gentle on the skin should you need to scrape stray bites off their face, neck, or belly (my kid can't possibly be the only one who has managed to get food stuck in his belly button, right?)


Where to Purchase


OXO Tot Glass Baby Blocks — OXO.COM or Amazon

OXO Tot Food Masher — OXO.COM (not yet available on Amazon)

OXO Tot Feeding Spoon Set with Soft Silicone — OXO.COM or Amazon

 

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Little Monster Mash OXO Tot blogger outreach campaign. They have provided me with a set of tools from their OXO Tot line, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Monster Mash with OXO Tot

Using Up Food Scraps: Cherry Pit Vinegar #CanItForward

I've been canning for years, but until recently I hadn't given much though to the peels and pits from my yearly harvest. When I was done with whatever project I was working on I tossed all my scraps in the compost and moved on. It wasn't until I was reading through Alice Water's latest book My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own that I even realized I could turn these leftover bits and pieces into something else.

After a marathon canning session in which I made cherry vanilla applesauce, Cherry Liqueur, and Cherry Almond Preserves I have no shortage of cherry pits to work with which is why my first project ended up being cherry pit vinegar. It's a flexible pantry staple that can be used to create a flavorful vinaigrette, but has a multitude of other uses. Plus, if you're looking for DIY gifts for the holiday season it's festive red color makes it an excellent choice.

Don't forget to check out the rest of our canning section for more great recipes.

Using Up Food Scraps: Cherry Pit Vinegar | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Pit Vinegar

 

Ingredients


cherry pits, whole
apple cider vinegar or other vinegar of your choice
 

Directions
 

 

  • Place cherry pits and excess juice in a sterilized glass jar, add enough vinegar so the pits are completely submerged, then cover. Allow the mixture to sit for at least a week in a dark place, taking care to shake the jar occasionally. If you notice your pits have floated to the top, don't worry, it's all a part of the process.

  • After seven days removed the pits and strain the vinegar through a piece of cheese cloth to remove any solids. Store the cherry vinegar in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place.

Notes


While the acidic nature of vinegar generally prevents harmful bacteria such as botulism from growing it is still best to properly sterilize any equipment you'll be using for this project so other forms of bacteria aren't introduced.

It's not a well known fact, but stone fruit seeds do contain small amounts of cyanide. This is why it's important you only use uncracked pits, so the seed inside does not come into contact with the vinegar. If you're concerned that the cyanide may leach into the vinegar you can always use pitted cherries to flavor your vinegar.