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.

Prosciutto and Green Onion Cheeseball #Sponsored by @carnivoreclub

Earlier this year I made an off-handed comment to my Grandmother that I wish I had more family recipes to cook from. I have the handful that she was willing to write down, but things like my great-aunt’s cheeseball or the taco salad I loved so much when I was a kid were doomed to be nothing but distant memories since the family members who made them had already passed on.

In a moment of clarity, which is rare these days considering that my Grandmother is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, I received a much-needed little tidbit—she had a copy of the cheeseball recipe. It was on a notecard, in a folder, in the back of a cabinet, near the fridge.

The downside is that it's been several years now since her house was sold, I couldn't just pop over and start digging through her kitchen. Then I remembered that I had taken two mementos when she moved: a set of framed photos of my grandparents in their younger days and a stack of papers in a crumbling manilla folder which I'd found in that exact spot.

It was full of recipes clippings that looked interesting, so I took it home to dig through later and had yet to take a closer look. Knowing it was still siting in my old bedroom six hours away I called my mom to set her on the enormous task of searching for the missing notecard. She found the long-lost cheeseball recipe and in a stroke of luck I had several packages of prosciutto sitting in my fridge which had been part of the December Carnivore Club box. 

This may have been a rough year, but the final few days brought me my favorite recipe from my childhood and a box of meat to help me recreate it. I couldn't have asked for a better end to 2016. Happy New Years everyone!

Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from LA QUERCIA in Norwalk, IA. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from LA QUERCIA in Norwalk, IA. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

Great-Aunt Helen's Prosciutto and Green Onion Cheeseball
makes 8 servings

Ingredients

¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 green onions (6 - 8 shoots, green part only), diced
3 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  • In a skillet, set over medium-high heat, toast the walnuts until they have darkened slightly (approximately five minutes.) Stir the nuts frequently so they don't burn, then set the toasted nuts aside to cool. 
  • In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, green onions, prosciutto, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well (you can use a stand mixer to speed things up), then turn the cream cheese mixture out into a plastic wrap lined bowl. Cover the cream cheese mixture with plastic wrap, then shape into a ball.
  • Before refrigerating roll the ball in toasted walnuts, re-wrap in plastic wrap, and allow to chill for at least two hours (but preferably over night.) 

Notes

In case you were wondering we used LA QUERCIA's Berkshire Prosciutto in our cheeseball. It has a mild flavor, which makes it a great choice for a cheeseball.

This recipe is flexible, so feel free to double it or cut it in half as needed. It's the perfect quick and easy treat to bring along to a party or family gathering.

Make sure to keep reading for a full review of the December Carnivore Club box

Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from LA QUERCIA in Norwalk, IA. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from LA QUERCIA in Norwalk, IA. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

What's in the Box?


The December box included five delicious offerings from LA CUERCIA in Norwalk, IA

Berkshire Prosciutto
Speck Americano (applewood smoked prosciutto)
Prosciutto Picante (with fennel and red chili)
'Nduja (spicy prosciutto spread)
Spicy Borsellino Salami (with pimenton and red chili)


Review

 

Some days the stars align and meat magically appears on your doorstep. It's a wonderful feeling, even more-so when that meat happens to be the one ingredient your mother recently told you she remembered from a long-lost recipe you'd been lamenting over. This is how I felt when I opened the December Carnivore Club box and saw it was filled mostly with prosciutto from my go-to meat company LA QUERCIA. When I put together an antipasto plate or charcuterie board it's usually with coppa, prosciutto, and salami from LA QUERCIA (by way of our local Hy-Vee Supermarket.)

Fortunately the box was made up of a number of options our local store doesn't stock, so I got to munch happily on some new-to-me varieties as I set about recreating the cheeseball of my childhood memories using the Berkshire Prosciutto. It has a very mild flavor, which makes it a perfect for times you don't want your meat to be the dominant flavor. The Speck Americano, which is smoked and Prosciutto Picante, which is rubbed with fennel and red chili have a more pronounced flavor, so I used them on a cheeseboard alongside a selection of local cheddars and potter's crackers. Sometimes the best advice to putting together a winning cheeseboard is K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid).

As my husband says, those are sound words to live by.

I was excited to see some 'Nduja included in the box as well. It's a spicy sausage spread that I'm only familiar with because of Carnivore Club. It tasty on top of a fresh baguette or crackers, but I've been used it several times to create a spicy tomato sauce to top some fresh pasta. I've been told it's also excellent as a pizza topping so if we have any left that's next on my list of things to try.

Last but not least was the Spicy Borsellino Salami. It's flavored with pimenton and red chili, which gives it a nice kick without being overly spicy. It's another meat I feel that the K.I.S.S principle applies, it's perfect with a slice of baguette, a bit of cheddar, or even on its own.

Would I order this again? Absolutely! I was excited to see my go-to brand featured in the box this month. It gave me a chance to try a few things our local stores don't carry.
 

Price


Pay as little as $50/month with a recurring subscription (monthly, bi-monthly, and quarterly plans available) with a three month minimum or purchase a single box for $55. 
 

Where to Subscribe

For a limited time you can Save 10% off your order from Carnivore Club using coupon code EATMEAT Offer valid through 1/31/17

Disclosure


Today's recipe was sponsored by Carnivore Club who has provided me a box of incredibly tasty meats from LA QUERCIA in Norwalk, IA. No other compensation was given for this post, but it does contain affiliate links.

 

 

 

Chestnut Stuffing

I'm pretty sure numerous wars have been fought at the dinner table over which type of stuffing (or dressing) reins supreme and with so many varieties to choose from, it really isn't any surprise that my family frequently finds itself debating their various merits. Personally, I've always been a fan of my grandmother's mushy breadcrumb dressing, but mine never tastes quite as good as hers, so I decided it was time to start the painful process of coming up with my own recipe. I've spent years cycling through various styles—sausage stuffing, cornbread dressing, variations on bread stuffing—I've tried them all (well, except oyster stuffing since it would cause me to stop breathing forever... stupid shellfish allergy.) It took me roughly 6 years of rejecting recipes before I finally discovered chestnut dressing and I haven't tried another recipe since.

What I love is that this recipe has a fairly simple ingredient list made up of things I typically keep in the pantry, plus it's flexible and can be dressed up to suite a variety of tastes. I've added additional things like fennel, pancetta, or fresh herbs—just to change things up a bit, but it's perfectly tasty just as it's written. It's been served alongside deep-fried turkey, honey-roasted ham, and most recently whole roast duck. It's always the first thing to disappear from the table, so if you want to have leftovers you'll need to make a double batch.

Chestnut Stuffing | Not Starving Yet

 

Chestnut Stuffing
 

makes 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

1lb loaf stale sourdough bread, torn into chunks
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 - 3 stalks celery, diced  
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 stick salted butter
1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
13 ounce package peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large skillet add onion, celery, shallots, and butter. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until the celery is tender. Add poultry seasoning, bread, and chicken stock, then mix until all of the liquid is incorporated. Add additional stock as necessary if you still have dry bread or want your stuffing to be more moist.
  • Chop or crumble the chestnuts, add salt and pepper to taste, then mix everything together.  Transfer the finished stuffing to a baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 - 30 minutes or until the stuffing is slightly brown on top.

Notes

You'll want to lay your bread out several days before making this recipe so it will have time to dry out. I put mine on a cookie sheet, then let it sit in the oven for at least two days. If I need to use the oven I toss it on the counter while I'm cooking and put it back in the oven once it has cooled off. If you decide to make stuffing at the last minute you can always bake your bread for 20 - 30 minutes, then let it cool off before you tear it into chunks.

The amount of chicken stock you'll need can vary, so make sure to have extra on hand. If your stuffing comes out of the oven a little dry you can always add a little bit of extra stock to moisten it up a bit. Just remember not to add cool or room temperature liquid to a hot ceramic or glass baking dish as it can cause thermal shock. This will break your dish and render your stuffing inedible (because no one wants to accidentally munch on glass shards.)

Chestnuts can be hard to come by, if you can't find them at your local supermarket talk to someone in customer service and most times they'll be happy to order them for you. Otherwise, check out your local asian market, many of them carry chestnuts year around.

Chicken Soup with Stars

This is one of those simple recipes that is guaranteed to make you feel better, no matter what ails you. Whether you're sick, tired, sick of being tired, tired of being sick, or just love a good bowl of soup—this is the recipe for you. It's not a miracle cure, but it's pretty darn close. You can make your broth from scratch or cheat a little and buy it at the store. No matter how you make it it turns out perfect every single time. If you have any left over it freezes well, so makes sure to keep some on hand for last minute company or when you don't feel like cooking.

Chicken Soup with Stars

Chicken Soup with Stars
makes approximately 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

2-3 chicken leg quarters
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup baby carrots, sliced
1 cup celery, diced
32-64oz chicken broth (see notes)
7oz star pasta, either pastilla or stelline (see notes)
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Add chicken leg quarters, onions, carrots, celery, and 32 ounces of chicken broth to the crockpot, set to high, and cook for 3-4 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  • Remove the cooked chicken and allow it to cool before shredding the meat. Return shredded chicken to the crockpot.
  • On the stove partially cook your star pasta. Since cooking time on the various shapes is different, cook your pasta for half the time stated on the package, drain, and add it to the crockpot to finish cooking.
  • Allow the soup to cook for an additional 30 - 60 minutes, or until the pasta has cooked completely and the carrots are no longer crunchy. Cooking time varies greatly between models of crockpot, so I suggest checking the soup periodically during the final step so you don't overcook the pasta.
  • Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, as well as additional chicken broth as necessary (up to 32 ounces.) The partially cooked star pasta soaks up a lot of the broth while cooking, infusing it with flavor. Add the amount of broth you feel is necessary, you may not want to use the full 32 ounces.

Notes

This recipes calls for store bought broth because it's convenient, but I highly recommend making your own if you have the time. It's a fairly simple although somewhat time consuming process, however the results are definitely worth it.

To save time you can make this with leftover chicken, you'll need about 2 cups worth. I prefer to use chicken leg quarters as they're the least expensive cut of chicken sold in my area. I can usually pick them up for $0.49/lb where as a whole chicken usually runs about $1.19/lb.

This recipe is incredibly flexible, so add to it! Try adding fresh herbs or garlic to mix things up a bit. When it comes to chicken soup there is no wrong way.