Friday, October 30, 2015

Slow cooker chai apple butter

Easy slow cooker chai apple butter: Use it as a flavorful spread or swirl it into your morning yogurt, oatmeal or cottage cheese.

Easy slow cooker chai apple butter

Last day to talk about apples, I swear. But that doesn't mean I'll start talking about pumpkin. Heck no -- that ship sailed this year and I can't say I missed it.

No, we'll move directly into preparations for this food blogger's high holy day: Thanksgiving! And then we'll talk about all the blow-your-mind things you can make with those tons of Thanksgiving leftovers.

But before we start talking all about the Thanksgiving sides and Mr. Ninj's famous deep fried turkey, let's have one last hurrah for apples. Which I've doctored into a chai-spiced apple butter that is super easy, because it calls for ground chai tea and is made in the slow cooker.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Slow cooker sweet potato and cheddar soup

Effortless low cooker sweet potato and cheddar soup: easy, healthy and with just a bit of kick from smoky chipotle peppers. Effortless fall comfort food!

Easy and healthy slow cooker sweet potato and cheddar soup

As we near the end of October, I'm happy to say that I still haven't made or eaten anything with pumpkin in it -- AND I HAVE SURVIVED! Seriously, I'm not a pumpkin hater. Not at all. You'll find lots of pumpkin recipes here on the blog. But this year, pumpkin-spice everything has made me feel like taking a pumpkin holiday and focusing on enjoying the other fruits and veggies of fall.

Which is how I got hooked on this slow cooker sweet potato and cheddar soup. It's got a couple of canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce cooked into it, which gives the soup just the right amount of smoky spiciness.

It's like taking all the best flavors and smells of fall and immersion blending them into a warming, comforting bowl of soup.

Makes me want to snuggle in front of a fire with a cozy chenille throw.

Which I could do if it would stop being 78 degrees outside every damned day! Jeez louise, enough already with the summertime: I am so ready for fall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Best fall recipes without pumpkin

Give pumpkin a rest and celebrate the other flavors of fall -- apples, pears, butternut squash -- with nine easy and delicious recipes.

Best recipes of fall that don't include pumpkin

I didn't mean for this to turn into the pumpkin-less fall. Really. I'm not a hater of pumpkin, as evidenced by all the pumpkin recipes I've posted in the past.

But this year? Can we please just give pumpkin-spice-whatevs a rest?

For just once, let's celebrate all the other stars of fall, too -- apples, pears, butternut squash, acorn squash -- and give pumpkin a day off.

Check out my favorite no pumpkin fall recipes below, with everything from breakfast muffins to crunchy salads and creamy comfort food weeknight dinners to chewy cookie bars.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Maple ginger chicken and apples

Tender and saucy maple ginger chicken and apples: perfect fall comfort food that's healthy and super easy to prepare.

healthy and easy maple ginger chicken and apples

Given that it's finally starting to feel like fall, I seem to be eating a lot of cold-weather comfort foods. Gone are my insatiable cravings for cool summer salads or still-warm sun tea. Now, I'm all about slow roasting and crockpotting.

But still no pumpkin. I'm just not feeling the pumpkin love this year for some reason. No, I know the reason: too much pumpkin-spice this and pumpkin-laden that all over my social media feeds. I just can't do it. Not when there are so many other way more delicious fall fruits and veg out there, just waiting to be featured in a comfort food recipe. Like apples.

Clearly my awesome blogging friend Katie Webster of Healthy Seasonal Recipes agrees with me, as the recipe I'm sharing today for maple ginger chicken and apples comes directly from her new cookbook, Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Maple Syrup. Peeps: I am over-the-moon excited about this book -- and not just because Katie is super-talented and one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Like me, Katie is all about real-food recipes, made with fresh, healthy and seasonal ingredients that everyone in your family will go cray cray for. I have little post-it flags on more recipe pages than I can count in this cookbook. I'm a little bit in love with it and plan to give a copy to everyone I know for the holidays.

But you don't have to wait for the holidays because I'm going to give away a copy of Katie's cookbook to one of you this week! Simply follow the instructions in the widget following the recipe for your chance to win a copy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Butternut mac and cheese

Butternut mac and cheese is a hearty, meatless dish that even the pickiest eater will love; so good, they'll never suspect it's healthy!

Healthy butternut mac and cheese

This recipe originally appeared in 2013 on the Kitchen Apparel blog, as part of a blog swap. Since that blog is no longer active, Sandra, its owner, graciously gave permission for me to repost it here at Yankee Kitchen Ninja. We'll miss Sandra's gorgeous photography and healthy recipes but wish her much luck and success in her new endeavors.

As part of the blog swap, given that we planned it for October, we considered making something with pumpkin. Then, as now, we realized that we were already completely sick of pumpkin (and assumed you probably were, too) so instead opened our topic up to all fall squash.

And, out of “all fall squash”, we both ended up making a pasta dish using butternut squash.

But come on, who can blame us? It's the squash that, with a little butter and maple syrup, can nearly taste like candy.

(Not quite like candy, I realize. But more like candy than, say, a paper bag though, right? Bear with me, I tend to be dramatic when it comes to trying to get you to make a recipe I like.)

Sandra's recipe (which I'm happy will live on as part of Yankee Kitchen Ninja!) was a gorgeous, delicious pasta with butternut squash, broccoli and cranberry beans. I urge you to try it. But I also urge you to try this butternut mac and cheese recipe -- it's freakin' awesome, and only partly due to the fact that Mr. Ninj actually ate it.

Little back story: Mr. Ninj is not a fan of vegetables and claims that it's not often the taste but the texture that turns him off (he is genuinely afraid of asparagus in any form). It's sort of like having a 3-year-old picky eater, to which I'm sure many of you can relate. So when he saw the roasted butternut squash sitting on the kitchen counter as I pulled this dish together, he freaked. I assured him that, because it was being incorporated into the cheesy sauce, he'd never even know it was there.

I was lying, of course -- but, holy smokes, it turned out to be true!