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. 

Get a Slice of This: Hawaiian Pizza #Sponsored by OXO

Before sitting down to develop today's recipe I took a poll among friends, family, and random strangers (because I'm that weird person who talks to everyone I stumble across in life.) What I wanted to determine was which pizza toppings were most popular. I was pretty sure that my favorite combination—roasted red pepper, mushroom, caramelized onion, and pesto—wasn't going to make the list. What I wasn't prepared for was the sheer number of people who like pineapple on their pizza.

And to think I was so sure pepperoni was going to be the winner. 

I never stopped to consider that pineapple could be a pizza topping, much less one with such a cult following. The other surprising thing was how consistent people were with their pairings: ham or Canadian bacon with nary a vegetable in sight. I felt like there was a little room to improve upon everyone's idea of the perfect Hawaiian pizza, which is how today's recipe came about. The pairing of home made pizza dough, a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh pineapple, hickory smoked honey ham, and a sprinkling of red onion makes for a mouth-watering combination that you absolutely have to try.

Don't forget to keep reading after the recipe for a quick review of some great tools from OXO that will help you on your quest to make the perfect pizza at home.

  DISCLOSURE:  Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Get a Slice of This: The OXO Pizza Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a set  tools for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Get a Slice of This: The OXO Pizza Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a set  tools for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Hawaiian Pizza


makes two14 inch pizzas + extra sauce


 

Ingredients

 

for the sauce

28 ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

for the dough

1⅛ cup water + additional tablespoon, as necessary (see notes)
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 pinch sugar
3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour + additional 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

toppings (double if making two pizzas)

½ cup pizza sauce
1 eight ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced
½ cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 slices hickory smoked honey ham
⅛ cup red onion, thinly sliced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Directions

 

for the sauce

  • In a food processor, combine whole peeled tomatoes with their juices and sea salt. Pulse 4 - 6 times until the tomatoes are broken up, but still slightly chunky. Taste the sauce and add more salt as needed, then use immediately or refrigerate for up to seven days.

for the dough

  • Fill a large glass measuring cup with 1⅛ cup water that is no warmer than 110°F. Add active dry yeast and a pinch of sugar, then stir until everything has dissolved completely. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Your mixture should be slightly bubbly.
  • In a large bowl add 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and the mixture of water, yeast, and sugar. Mix by hand until all of the ingredients are combined and the dough is sticky and somewhat shaggy looking. If the weather is cool and dry you may need to add additional warm water, so do it slowly, one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together easily.
  • Set the mixing bowl in a warm spot, cover with a towel, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  • Dust your work surface with a small amount of flour, then place the dough on top. Knead it firmly and continue to dust with flour until you have a smooth ball of dough. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rise on the counter for 2 hours at room temperature (approximately 70°F.)
  • Cut the dough into two equal size balls. If you don't plan on making two pizzas take a small amount of olive oil and coat the inside of a large plastic container, add the ball of dough, then cover and and refrigerate for several days.
  • Take the remaining ball of dough and slowly stretch it into a round, flat disk. If you're having difficulty with it keeping the shape you want or find it tears easily, let the dough rest briefly, then continue to shape the dough. You'll want a circle that is roughly 14 inches in size.
  • Move your oven rack to the lowest setting, then preheat the oven to 450°F

Now build your pizza...

  • Top the crust with pizza sauce and spread it evenly over the top of the pizza. Add slices of fresh mozzarella, pineapple chunks, ham, and onion. 
  • Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 13 - 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned along the edges. Remove the pizza from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices. Top with a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes, then enjoy!

Notes


The extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, but you can freeze the leftovers for up to three months that way you'll always have some on hand when you want to make pizza. I like to portion mine out into ½ cup containers so I only need to defrost what is needed to make a pizza.

For the sauce I'm partial to using Cento brand San Marzano tomatoes, but can use your favorite whole peeled tomatoes. If you decide to make this sauce using something other than San Marzano tomatoes you may want to add a pinch or two of sugar. San Marzano tomatoes are naturally sweet and less acidic than many other canned tomatoes you'll see on the shelves and the extra bit of sugar will help compensate for the added acidity.

If you have refrigerated one of your balls of dough leave it on the counter for an hour or two, until it has reached room temperature, before use. Once it has warmed up you can stretch it out to fit your pan. If you try to work with cold dough it won't stretch easily and may tear.

Don't forget to keep reading for our review of the products we used for today's recipe.

Review

 

OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Pizza Pan: I've tried quite a few different methods of making pizza over the years and I'll fully admit to having a preference when it comes to the pan vs stone debate—I do love my pizza stone—but there are a number of instances where using a pan is flat out more convenient.

Most notable is the fact that the prep time for putting together a pizza decreases significantly because you don't need to wait an hour for the pizza stone to reach 450°F. This is great for those times when you want pizza in a hurry and even better when you don't want to warm the house up by keeping the oven on for long periods of time. I rarely make pizza in the summer because it means I'll have the oven on for at least 90 minutes, but by using a pan instead I'm down to 30 minutes tops. For those of you who live up North in the land where houses don't have air conditioners, this is a real plus.

The other thing I really like about this pan is that absolutely nothing sticks to it. This means I don't have to spend time after dinner scrapping off baked-on cheese or sauce, which is a common occurrence with my pizza stone. A quick wash with soap and water is all this pan needs, everything slides right off. The downside to this is that the pizza does tend to move around if I cut it directly on the pan, so I have to make sure I'm twice as careful while I'm slicing up my pizza.

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro Pizza Pan: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

OXO 4" Pizza Wheel and Cutter for Non-Stick Pans: I have an OXO Pizza Wheel that was given to me as a wedding gift and I absolutely love it. Over the past nine years it has sliced its way through hundreds of pizzas and still works great. So, being so highly satisfied with my current wheel I was curious to see how the plastic version that is designed for use with non-stick pans would hold up. I was a little skeptical at first, but it sliced right through my thick crust pizza without a problem and the cheese hardly stuck to it, something I can't say about my trusty metal pizza wheel. If you own a set of non-stick baking sheets or pizza pan this is definitely a piece of equipment you'll want to take a closer look at. 

Where to Purchase


OXO 4" Pizza Wheel and Cutter for Non-Stick Pans: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

OXO Good Grips Complete Grate & Slice Set: Last but not least, I had a chance to try out OXO's Grate & Slice set, which couldn't have come at a better time. I have good knife skills, but I also have arthritis, so all this rainy weather we've been having has been making my hands ache. It's been difficult to hold on to my knife, but with the Slice & Grate's large handle I was able to produces perfectly uniform slices every single time, with hardly any effort. This nifty tool has been a real asset in the kitchen and it makes short work of putting together the perfect pizza or salad.

The four removable plates give you the option for a coarse or medium grate, as well the slicing surfaces that give a straight or julienne cut. Since the cutting surfaces are removable you have the option of slicing or grating directly over a bowl or you can use the bottom of the container to collect and measure your ingredients as you slice away. When you're done all the pieces, including the handle, fit inside the box. That means there is no chance you'll cut yourself as you're taking it out of the drawer, which is something I've done several times with the blades to my mandoline.

Whether you're just learning how to cook and haven't developed your knife skills yet or you're starting to find holding a knife is becoming increasingly difficult, this is one tool I'd definitely recommend you check out.

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Complete Grate & Slice Set: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

OXO Grate and Slice

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 Get a Slice of This: The OXO Pizza Campaign through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a set of tools for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Our Thoughts on Hello Fresh #NotSponsored

I've had a lot of people ask me about meal services and my Facebook feed has been inundated with people talking about their experiences, so I decided it was time to try them out—starting with Hello Fresh (since they had an awesome Black Friday deal this year.)  

 Though we frequently post sponsored content, today's post has not been sponsored by Hello Fresh (just in case you were wondering)

Though we frequently post sponsored content, today's post has not been sponsored by Hello Fresh (just in case you were wondering)

Ordering
 


The process was straight forward, you have three plans to choose from: Classic, Veggie, or Family. Then you'll need to select how many people you're cooking for (options were 2 or 4), how many meals you'd like delivered, and your delivery date

I opted to go with the veggie plan. My little guy is a self imposed vegetarian, so I knew anything with meat wasn't going to pass muster with him, but I could always add a protein source if anyone else wanted one. I actually opted for that route with one of the meals to stretch the meal a little further so I had lunch for the next day.

Hello Fresh Menu 12/2 - 12/8

What's in the box?

 

Two blocks of ice, a frozen food bubble bag (to help keep things cool), a reusable recipe book, and three meal kits from the veggie plan: Protein-Packed Rice Bowl, Pesto Flatbread (aka Posh Pizza), and Jamie's Easy-peasy Tomato Tagliatelle with Asparagus, Fresh Basil & Parmesan.

Each meal comes in its own separate box so there is no confusion about which ingredients are used in a particular recipe. If you happen to be allergic to (or don't particularly enjoy) one of the ingredients in a recipe it's easy to remove it and substitute something else.

Protein-Packed Rice Bowl
 


Time it took to prepare and cook: 30 minutes (as listed on meal card) 
Quality of ingredients: Excellent
Any trouble with this recipe? Yes. The recipe called for sesame seeds, but they were missing from my box.
Picky kid approved? Yes. He ate my entire serving plus part of the leftovers. 
Would I make this again? No. This is a bland, but serviceable meal. It's real downfall is that it's exactly how I made fried rice when I was in college and couldn't afford to order takeout.

Pesto Flatbread

 

Time it took to prepare: 30 minutes (as listed on meal card)
Quality of ingredients: Excellent
Any trouble with this recipe? No
Picky kid approved? Yes, in fact he ate most of my share too.
Would I make this again? Absolutely, this was my favorite meal in the box.

Tomato Tagliatelle

 

Time it took to prepare: 25 minutes (as listed on meal card)
Quality of ingredients: Good. The basil arrived slightly discolored, which is likely because it was shipped on ice and got too cold (basil is very temperature sensitive.) It didn't affect the final dish at all.
Any trouble with this recipe? No, but I felt like it needed more salt.
Picky kid approved? Mostly. He picked out the larger asparagus pieces and ate the smaller ones. To be fair, that may have been because his two front teeth were loose. 
Would I make this again? Yes, this is a quick and easy meal I can make from items I generally have on hand.

Added bonus

 

I had a little bit of produce leftover from two of the meals (half a zucchini and half a can of corn) which I used as side dishes later in the week.

 

How to Cancel


Hello Fresh makes cancellation easy, although it is a multi-step process with a survey at the end. The nice thing is that you also have the option to have a box delivered bi-weekly, monthly, or even pause your subscription (in case you're heading out on vacation.) Otherwise you click on No Thanks and either cancel right away or schedule one last delivery. 

After I cancelled my subscription I did not receive another delivery, although I do still get emails from Hello Fresh. You'll need to unsubscribe from those separately if you no longer want to hear about the service.

My Thoughts

 

Meal services such as this really have a lot going for them and I see why they appeal to such a large number of people. You really can't beat the convenience of having everything you need delivered to your door, requiring minimal work on your part to ensure you have a tasty and healthy meal on the table in under 45 minutes. 

If you're always pressed for time and struggle to get a healthy meal on the table every night, then a service like this can be a blessing. It's also great if you find yourself stuck in a rut, always fixing the same handful of things. You'll have three new meals to try out and if you like them you still have the recipe cards so you can make them again.

The problem is, you really pay a premium for the convenience. Three meals at full price would have set me back $59 (and considerably more for the other plans.) To put that in perspective, I spend slightly more than that a week to feed our family 3 meals a day plus snacks (my budget for the entire month is around $400.) The price isn't something I could afford on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't use the service again.

There are a number of instances where I could see myself ordering again, not just for myself, but for someone else. This would make a great gift for a recent graduate, young professional, or busy mom (especially one who's recently had a baby.) I'd even consider subscribing again if I went on vacation and had a kitchen to cook in so I wouldn't have to spend part of my vacation obsessing over what to feed everyone.  

Have you tried Hello Fresh or another meal service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.