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.

Gingerbread Applesauce + @OXOTot Product Review #Sponsored

I don't know about you, but once the weather hits freezing I'm ready to hibernate. Even my son, who is usually a little ball of energy sleeps in later and wants to spend more time cuddled in bed where it's warm. Today he got up at 8, realized how chilly the tile floor was, then came straight back to my room toting his handmade blanket from grandma and three of his most favorite stuffed animals—we didn't get up again until after 11.

Saturday is the day I normally dedicate to getting things done, be it house cleaning or blogging, but today I shoved it all aside to spend a few precious hours cuddling with my son. He's 4 now, in a very short while he'll decide he's too old to spend his days cuddled up in bed giving me big hugs and sloppy puppy kisses, so I try to drop whatever I'm doing and take advantage of this time while I can.

I think it's important for all parents to remember that these precious moments are the ones we can never get back. From time-to-time we need to slow down, forget about the laundry list of things we "need" to do and focus on what's truly important—creating lasting memories with our children. Take a minute to read a book, draw in the condensation on the windows, make snow angels, decorate cookies, or make some applesauce. Memories like these will last a lifetime and five-ten-twenty or more years from now you won't remember that the house looked like a tornado went through it because you took the day off from cleaning.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the OXO Tot Big Kids, Big Appetites 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 OXO Tot Big Kids, Big Appetites 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. 

Gingerbread Applesauce
makes 2 - 3 pints

Ingredients

3lbs apples, any variety (I used Aurora Golden Gala)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground all spice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses 

Directions

  • Peel and slice apples, add spices, vanilla extract, and molasses, then cook on high in a crock-pot for 3 - 4 hours. The applesauce is done when it can easily be mashed with a fork or potato masher.

Notes

I prefer to serve my applesauce chunky, but you can puree it with a food mill, immersion blender, or food processor for a finer sauce. You'll want to let it cool down a little first to avoid any chance of burns.

I include canning instructions with most of my applesauce recipes, but because this recipe contains molasses I'm not positive that it's safe for water bath canning. That doesn't mean you can't can this recipe, but you'll want to leave out the molasses until you're ready to serve it. For water bath canning instructions check out our previous applesauce posts: Easy Crock-Pot ApplesauceStrawberry ApplesauceSpiced Blueberry Applesauce and Peach Applesauce.
 

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

No shirt, no shoes, no service is clearly not a rule in our house! 

No shirt, no shoes, no service is clearly not a rule in our house! 

We've gone through quite a few plates in the past four years, but the divided plate from OXO is one of my favorites. The smaller size makes it easy for a child to grip while eating and the divided sections keep food mostly separated. I especially love the center dipping section, it's the perfect size for ketchup, syrup, or a dab of sour cream. The only thing this plate is missing is a lid, I'd love to have one so I can easily store leftovers.

Where to Purchase: Amazon or OXO

If you like this design, but prefer something with a lid there is a similar plate in the OXO Tot line, although it only has two sections. You can find it on Amazon.

Fork and Spoon Set

OXO sent me this set once before when my son was much smaller and it was all we used until he graduated to "big people" silverware. The large handles make the utensils easier for small hands to grip and the fork is slightly rounded to make scooping like a spoon possible as well. Now that my little man is older the blunt tines of the fork frustrate him, it makes stabbing larger pieces of meat difficult, but they're much safer for small ones just starting out with silverware.

Where to Purchase: Amazon or OXO

Perch Booster Seat

Because I travel so much I decided to purchase a booster seat for my son instead of a high chair, it made life so much easier when eating out at restaurants or while visiting homes not accustomed to hosting small children. The Perch Booster Seat wasn't available back then, so I ended up with one from Fisher-Price instead.

There are pros and cons to both models, but I like that the OXO Tot Perch Booster Seat weighs a mere 3lbs and has a slim profile—it makes traveling with it much more convenient. The Fisher-Price booster weighs a full pound more, which is a lot if you're already loaded down with a diaper bag and other odds and ends. Both models clean up easily, but you can actually remove the seat from the Perch Booster to get at any nooks and crannies food may have slipped into.

My son outgrew his last booster seat around age 2, so this is a great choice for older kids who are still too small to comfortably sit at the table. It's considered safe for children up to 70lbs, so should fit your needs though early elementary school.

Where to Purchase: Amazon or OXO

Disclosure

OXO sent me their Perch Booster Seat, Fork and Spoon Set, and Divided Plate with Removable Training Ring as part of this campaign. As always all opinions are my own.

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.

 

 

Curry Chicken Salad - King's Hawaiian #StarringRoll House Party

First, a quick thanks to King's Hawaiian for the box of goodies they sent for the #StarringRoll House Party I'm hosting on Sunday, 22nd February. In my party pack were several free product coupons I was able to use to help facilitate today's recipe and some great swag I was able to send home with my guests.

It's not every day I get a chance to eat a meal cooked by someone else. I do the bulk of the cooking because years ago I banned my husband from the kitchen.

Best... decision... ever...  Seriously!

Are you wondering what his offense was? It's simple, he never leaves the kitchen in the same sparkling condition he found it. (I also sincerely hope he's not drinking anything while reading this post, because he and I both know that sparkling is one thing my kitchen isn't.) That photo of my kitchen in the About section, it's a complete lie. I took that several days after we closed on our house, which was a three full weeks before we moved in. The kitchen hasn't looked that organized in almost six years. Yikes!

Anyway, due to this ban and the fact that we rarely eat out, it's pretty seldom that I get to enjoy someone else cooking for me. I always love trying other people's dishes, especially when the cooking style is so different from mine.

One of the best dishes I tried last year was the curried chicken salad someone made for my sister-in-law's bridal shower. It was absolutely fantastic. I make a pretty mean Blueberry Chicken Salad, but this was absolutely mind blowing. It took every ounce of restraint not to whip out my journal and start taking notes so I could recreate it once I got home. My family may be accustomed to that type of behavior, but my SIL's family, not so much. After the shower I immediately began developing my own version, which has proven to be a real crowd pleaser. I'll be serving it, as well as my Dr Pepper Pulled Pork, during our #StarringRoll House Party.

Curry Chicken Salad

Curry Chicken Salad
makes 3 - 4 large sandwiches or 12 mini sandwiches

Ingredients

16 ounces chicken breasts, diced
¼ cup chicken broth or stock
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Maharajah Curry Powder (see notes)
¼ cup celery, diced
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup walnuts
2 tablespoons shallot, diced
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
arugula or other bitter greens, for dressing
12 Savory Butter Rolls from King's Hawaiian

optional

¼ cup granny smith apples, diced (see notes)

Directions

  • Lightly season the chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper, then place in a skillet with chicken broth or stock. Bring the stock to a simmer, cover the skillet and cook for 10 - 15 minutes on medium-low or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160°F. Once cooked dice the chicken and set aside to cool. 
  • In a bowl combine mayonnaise, curry powder, celery, raisins, walnuts, shallot, and granny smith apples (optional). Give everything a good stir so the ingredients are evenly distributed before adding the diced chicken. Refrigerate overnight for the best flavor.
  • Serve on a King's Hawaiian Original Sweet Dinner Rolls topped with bitter greens such as arugula or radicchio. Enjoy!

Notes

Maharajah Curry Powder is a salt-free blend from Penzeys. It provides a depth of flavor I haven’t found in other curry powders, but it is expensive. Feel free to substitute your favorite curry powder in this recipe.

This chicken salad is very sweet. If you would like to tone down the sweetness try adding granny smith apples. 

This dish is best when prepared in advance and allowed to sit overnight. It can be stored in a sealed container for 3-4 days.

Disclosure

In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that House Party and King's Hawaiian have provided me with free or discounted products that I've used to create this recipe. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

Apple Cider Syrup #Unprocessed

Since our trip to the pumpkin patch earlier in the month I've had apple cider doughnuts on my mind. Even if they are made from scratch, they aren't considered unprocessed so I wondered if I could make a less processed version at home. I've been in recipe development mode all week trying to get the right balance of flavors, but while the doughnuts taste good, they aren't great — yet. I'm ready for a short break from this project so I thought I would put the recipe on the back burner for now and move on, but I didn't want to leave you without a recipe of some sort.

It just so happens that another recipe came out of all of my kitchen experiments and it happens to be an unprocessed sweetener. Apple cider syrup isn't something I was familiar with, but I stumbled across it on the King Arthur Flour website and thought, hey I bet I could make that. It's really quite simple, you take a half gallon of unsweetened apple cider and boil it down until it thickens. The resulting syrup is incredibly sweet and can be used as a topping for pancakes or an addition to baked goods to give them more apple flavor. It's quite versatile and has the added benefit of making your entire house smell like autumn.

Apple Cider Syrup
makes approximately 8 ounces or a half-pint

Ingredients

½ gallon fresh apple cider *see notes

Directions

  • In a large pot bring the apple cider to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high. Continue to simmer the cider for approximately 2 hours or until it has reduced in half. 
  • If you accidentally cook your cider down more than you had intended you can save it, just add a small amount of apple cider back into the syrup, stir until well combined and cook down more if necessary.
  • This recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for several months or canned using a water-bath. Pint, half-pint, and quarter-pint jars will be processed for 15 minutes. For complete canning instructions you can visit my Crock-Pot Applesauce recipe the process is identical.

Notes

If you're looking to use this as a natural sweetener you'll want to use an apple cider that doesn't contain preservatives or other added ingredients. Many of the varieties sold in the store contain Potassium Sorbate or Sodium Benzoate, which is used as a preservative. I purchased a gallon of cider from one of our local farms that is unfiltered, unsweetened, and has no preservatives.