Savory Holiday Snack Mix

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that Jeff and I have been following a pretty strict 10-Day Reset eating protocol. Without disclosing too much personal information, I will share that we have had some health concerns that warrant an elimination diet to see if symptoms reduce or subside. So far, it’s going well, but I definitely miss snacking. With the holidays coming up, I brainstormed a way to create a snack mix that would satisfy the parameters of our new way of eating while also being a welcomed edition to any holiday party for all to enjoy. This snack mix is IT. Loaded with my favorite nuts and seeds, a savory combination of spices, and completely customizable, this mix is a winner in my book.

Ingredients needed to make Savory Holiday Snack Mix

This snack mix is wonderful because it truly is customizable. You can use any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, cereal, etc. that you like or have on hand. Keep in mind that if you add more ingredients, you may want to consider increasing the amount of butter and seasoning blends that you use. The amounts listed are for about 3.5 cups of mix. Anything more than that and you’ll want to scale the amounts up. Since we’re following this Reset protocol, we kept it just to nuts, seeds, and coconut chips, but feel free to get crazy with your add-ins! Here’s what I used to make this mix:

I left the maple syrup out of this batch, as we aren’t consuming any added sugar at the moment. If I were making this at any other time, I would absolutely include the maple syrup. It gives a really nice balance to the savory, salty flavors of the snack mix, but it isn’t necessary if sweet + salty combos aren’t your thing.

Tools used to make Savory Holiday Snack Mix

The tools needed to make this snack mix are so minimal, you likely have all of them on hand already. You’ll want a variety of mixing bowls to melt the butter as well as mix the spices, one or two large sheet pans (I like these rimmed ones), measuring spoons, and a wooden spoon or spatula for tossing the snack mix. If using the maple syrup, you may want to line your sheet pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking. In addition, I recommend a large storage container to keep your snack mix fresh if you plan on making it ahead. I use this glass container and absolutely love it. That’s it!

How to make Savory Holiday Snack Mix

This snack mix comes together in minutes, making it super quick and easy to whip up as a hostess gift or to set out for guests as an appetizer. You’ll start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, then measure out all of your seasoning into a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Next, melt the butter in another mixing bowl in the microwave. Add the nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, and any other mix-ins you’ve chosen to the sheet pan and drizzle all over with the butter. Use your hands or a large wooden spoon to toss the mix until coated with the butter. Sprinkle on the seasoning blend and toss to coat again. Place the sheet pan in the oven and let it cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing every few minutes, or until it smells fragrant and your nuts have taken on a golden color. Store the mix in an airtight container to keep it crisp for up to a week!

Looking for other easy appetizers to serve this Holiday?

Give these other recipes a try from The Ardent Cook!

Whipped Feta Dip

Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

Cheesy Black Bean Skillet Dip

Recipe Ingredients

1 cup raw walnuts

1 cup raw pecans

1 cup unsweetened coconut chips, such as Dang

1/2 cup raw pepitas

2 tbsp grass-fed butter (or avocado oil), melted

1 tbs onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp dried oregano

¾ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

½-1 tsp sea salt, to taste

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Melt the butter in a heat-safe dish in the microwave, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the walnuts, pecans, coconut chips, and pepitas onto a sheet tray. You may need to use more than 1 sheet tray depending on the amount of mix. Drizzle all over with the butter, then toss to coat. Sprinkle on the seasoning, and toss to coat evenly again.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the nuts and coconut chips have taken on a deep golden color and the mix smells fragrant. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Buttery Dinner Rolls

When I set out to create a dinner roll recipe, I had a few criterion I needed to hit: I wanted a firm, somewhat crusty outside, a soft interior, and extreme buttery flavor. My mind immediately went to a crescent roll flavor, although I knew that crescent rolls were too soft on the outside for my taste. After a few failed attempts at dough (and maybe some tears), I finally got them to a place that I loved. These rolls hold up extremely well to things like Thanksgiving gravy and soup. There’s nothing worse than dunking a piece of bread into a bowl of soup and having it disintegrate, and these do nothing of the sort. I hope you love them as much as I do!

Ingredients needed to make Buttery Dinner Rolls

These rolls incorporate a lot of basic bread ingredients like flour and yeast. Here’s the full list of what you’ll need:

Tools used to make Buttery Dinner Rolls

You don’t need a ton of special equipment to make these rolls, but I do highly recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook to knead your dough. This dough takes a good 10-12 minutes to knead properly, and that’s a lot of hard work if you’re only using your hands. It can be done without a mixer, just be prepared to work the dough a lot. I have a KitchenAid mixer that was passed down from my dad, but any brand of stand mixer will work.

In addition to the mixer, you’ll want a clean work surface, such as the counter or a large cutting board, to roll the dough on. You will also need a large mixing bowl, clean kitchen towel, small mixing bowl to melt the butter, kitchen brush to brush the butter (or use a spoon), sharp knife to divide the dough, parchment paper, and a large rimmed baking sheet.

How to make Buttery Dinner Rolls

These rolls require a little forethought to make sure you have enough time to let them rise, but otherwise they’re pretty easy to pull together. The dough begins like most yeasted doughs by mixing the yeast with warm milk. I warm my milk in the microwave in two 30 second runs. I stir it in between each run, then check it to make sure its between 110-115 degrees with my meat thermometer. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can test it by feel. It should be warm to the touch but not hot by any means. Think of what a hot tub feels like! If it’s too hot, you run the risk of killing your yeast.

Once the yeast and milk have relaxed together for a few minutes, you’ll add that and all of the other ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer. I like to start by mixing it for 30 seconds or so, then stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides, then going again. Once the mixture is homogenous (roughly 1 minutes of mixing and scraping down the sides), you can turn the mixer up slightly and let the dough knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough will be smooth with minimal puckering and will bounce back when you press your finger into it.

Roughly shape the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled mixing bowl, then cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. I like to let my dough rise in a cold oven with the light turned on. The light creates the perfect, slightly warm atmosphere for the dough to do its magic.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few more times to shape it into an even ball. Using your knife, divide the dough into 16 equal parts and shape each one into a ball. Place equal distance apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with the towel, then let rise again for 30 minutes or until dough balls have puffed up slightly.

Now, you’re ready to bake! Well, almost. You’ll melt the remaining butter and brush that all over the tops of the rolls just before they go into the oven. That’s it! These little guys are so perfect in my opinion, and they really stand up to Thanksgiving gravy, making them the perfect vessel for sopping up every last bit on your plate.

Looking for other Thanksgiving-inspired recipes?

Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

Favorite Roast Chicken

Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

Recipe Ingredients

2 ½ -¾  cups AP flour, plus more for dusting

2 ½ tsp instant yeast

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup milk, warmed to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit

1-2 tbsp water

5 tbsp butter, melted, divided

Recipe Instructions

  1. Warm milk to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit and whisk in the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, salt, milk-yeast mixture, and 2 tbsp of the melted butter. Knead with the mixer until a smooth dough forms, about 8-10 minutes. If the dough is too dry, you may add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. The dough should be smooth and not puckered, and should spring back when you poke your finger into it. If the dough does not spring back immediately, it needs more knead time. 
  3. Transfer the dough ball to an oiled mixing bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let rise at room temperature for an hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Knead it once or twice to form an even ball, then cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and place equidistant apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with the dish towel and let rise again for approximately 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter, then bake for 27-32 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with additional butter immediately out of the oven and sprinkle with chopped herbs (such as sage, rosemary, and thyme), if desired. Serve warm! Leftovers keep nicely on the counter in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Favorite Roast Chicken

There are few things that make me more nostalgic than the smell of a chicken roasting on a Sunday afternoon. It was such a staple meal for my family growing up and it’s way easier to make than most people think.

This is my absolute favorite way to roast a chicken, hence why I named it Favorite Roast Chicken. It’s also what I’ll be making for my family on Thanksgiving, because I firmly believe that turkey is overrated. If you need to feed a crowd, simply opt for roasting two or three smaller chickens, which reduces your risk of the bird drying out.

Here are a few of the reasons I love this Favorite Roast Chicken:

  1. You get way more bang for your buck when it comes to the price of meat per pound, especially when compared to buying boneless, skinless, (flavorless) chicken breast.
  2. You can save the bones to make delicious, easy bone broth. It’s great for your gut, filled with protein, and keeps in the freezer for use in everything from homemade soups to Thanksgiving gravy. I love to keep it on hand for pesky winter colds, too.
  3. The flavor can’t be beat. Just trust me on this one.

Ingredients needed to make Favorite Roast Chicken

It goes without saying that you need a whole chicken to make this recipe. The time and temperature for my recipe is specific to a 5-5.5 pound bird. If you happen to find a larger one, you can aim to add an extra 10-15 minutes per 1/2 pound, but check it frequently to ensure you don’t overcook it. I would not recommend a chicken larger than 7-7.5lbs, as I’ve had issues with the breast drying out before the dark meat parts of the bird have finished cooking. In addition to the chicken, you’ll need the following:

  • Butter
  • Fresh winter herbs, such as thyme, sage, or rosemary
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Shallots or yellow onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Tools used to make Favorite Roast Chicken

The tools needed to perfect the roast chicken are so minimal! The most important item is an oven-safe roasting pan or skillet. If I’m just doing one chicken, I’ll opt for my favorite Le Creuset cast iron skillet. If I’m doing two, or a large bird, I’ll use this larger pan by All Clad. You can also use a traditional square or rectangular roasting pan. Whatever you’ve got that fits the chicken and can go in the oven is perfect!

You also need a small microwave-safe bowl to melt the butter, paper towels to pat the chicken dry, a chef’s knife to minced the herbs and carve the chicken once it’s cooked, kitchen twine to truss the legs, a large cutting board, and a meat thermometer. That’s it!

How to make Favorite Roast Chicken

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually make a roast chicken. It sounds intimidating, but trust me, it’s not that bad.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll start by melting the butter, giving your herbs a good chop, and roughly chopping the celery, carrot, and shallot. I like to do this before I even touch the chicken, so I limit the amount of times I have to wash my hands. Mix the herbs with the melted butter, and set everything aside right next to your work station.

Remove the chicken from it’s plastic packaging and discard the giblets from the center of the chicken. There may be juices stuck in the cavity that you can go ahead and dump down the drain or into your trash can. Do not rinse the chicken! This causes a mess in your sink and it’s also not necessary.

Bring your chicken over to your work station and pat it dry with paper towels. I like to set up my largest cutting board and make that the raw chicken zone instead of using the countertop, but you should do what works best for you and your own kitchen set up. Tip: line your work station with a layer of paper towel before putting the chicken down, as this helps dry the bottom while you pat the other parts dry.

Make sure the chicken is dry all over, then coat the chicken in the melted butter. You want to get it completely covered, as well as spread some butter underneath the skin of the breast. The skin will easily separate from the breast meat when you run your finger underneath and pull upwards gently, at which point you can spoon a little melted butter inside and spread it around with your fingers.

Next, you’ll “truss” the chicken legs. Trussing is when you tie the legs up against the breast, which helps prevent air from circulating around the breast during the cooking process (which makes for a dry breast) and ensures an even cooking time for all parts of the chicken. It sounds fancy, but it’s super easy to do with a piece of kitchen twine.

Once the chicken is covered in the butter and herb mixture and trussed, wash your hands with soap and dry them well. Using one hand to hold the chicken (your “dirty” hand) and one hand to touch the salt and pepper, season the chicken liberally all over, as well as in the cavity. Use both hands to transfer the chicken to the roasting pan, then stuff the cavity with the celery, carrot, shallot, and whole herb sprigs. Wash your hands, the cutting board, the knife, and anything else that touched raw chicken.

Roast the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees at the deepest part of the breast, and 180 in the thighs. Remove from the oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil, then allow it to rest for 15 minutes or so.

To carve the chicken, you’ll want to transfer it to a large cutting board. You’ll begin by removing the wings, which should easily pop off without much pressure being applied. Next, to remove the leg and thigh, cut between the breast and the leg, turning the knife inward and downward to remove them in one piece. To remove the breast, start at the center of the bird and cut down along the breast bone, turning the knife outward as you cut downward. Then, slice the breast against the grain. Plate all the pieces on a serving platter, and surround the chicken with the pieces of vegetable that were in the cavity. You may also garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.

If preparing or carving the chicken sounds scary to you, you can always feel free to leave a comment or DM me on Instagram and I’d be happy to help you. I’m also planning to host a Zoom class all about roasting a chicken that will take you through the process step-by-step in a small group setting. More information on this class is available on my Instagram, @theardentcook.

Recipe Ingredients

One 5-5½ pound whole chicken

3 tbsp salted butter, melted

1 bunch whole fresh herbs, such as sage, rosemary, or thyme

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 medium shallot, halved

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Finely chop roughly 2 tbsp of the herbs and add to the melted butter. Leave the rest of the herbs whole.
  3. Remove the giblets and pat the chicken dry. Rub all over with the melted butter and herb mixture, getting some butter underneath the skin of the breasts as well. Season the chicken and the cavity liberally with salt and pepper, then truss the legs using kitchen twine.
  4. Transfer to the roasting pan and stuff the cavity with the carrot, celery, shallot, and the remaining bunch of herbs. Roast for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the thigh reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and tent lightly with aluminum foil. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving. To reheat, place skin-on chicken in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. For breast, reheat in a shallow pan with 1/2 inch of chicken stock or gravy to retain moisture. Enjoy!
  6. BONUS: For a quick chicken gravy, pour off all but 5 tbsp of pain drippings from the same pan you roasted the chicken in. Heat drippings on the stove over medium heat, then whisk in 4 tbsp of all-purpose flour to create a roux. Let the roux bubble for 1-2 minutes, until the raw flour taste is cooked out and the roux has browned nicely. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1/2 cup dry white wine, making sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then return to the heat. Add 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme to the pan. Once the wine has cooked off, about 3-4 minutes, slowly whisk in 2-3 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Once the gravy has thickened, add in the next 1/2 cup, and so on, until all of the stock is incorporated and gravy has thickened to your liking. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter is my take on a classic mashed potato. I love a good mashed potato, but the combination of skin-on red potatoes with the butternut squash is something like magic. Especially paired with the extremely easy (but wow-worthy) sage compound butter, this dish is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. If you are a hard ‘no’ on leaving the skin on your potatoes, I totally understand. Peeling them is just fine and it won’t change the final taste much at all. I prefer to leave the skin on to get the extra nutrients that are found in the skin, plus I love the texture it adds. But, it’s your mashed potatoes, so do what you love!

Ingredients needed to make Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

This dish couldn’t be easier to gather ingredients for. You need everything you’d expect from a mashed potato recipe, plus the butternut squash and the sage. It’s pretty simple to pull together. Here’s the full list:

  • Olive oil
  • Red potatoes, such as Norland
  • Butternut squash
  • Fresh garlic
  • Whole milk or heavy cream
  • Salted butter
  • Fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper

That’s it!

Tools used to make Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

I talked about this briefly in my Fall Picks list, but I firmly believe that there is no better mashing tool than this stainless steel, old-fashioned masher. The one linked there isn’t the exact one I have (mine is a hand-me-down vintage piece), but it’s a similar idea. Using a food processor or other tool for mashing has always left me with chewy, rubbery mashed potatoes, which is just not what you’re looking for. We want creamy, fluffy, and light as our final product, and this masher does the job. In addition to the masher, you’ll need the following items to create this luscious recipe.

How to make Butternut Mashed Potatoes with Sage Compound Butter

One of the keys to getting the flavor right in this dish is to roast the butternut squash and garlic while the potatoes boil. You could easily boil the butternut squash with the potatoes, but you lose an opportunity for caramelization, which adds a ton of flavor to this recipe. I highly, highly recommend taking the extra step and roasting the squash. Just trust me. While the squash and garlic roast, boil the potatoes and make the sage compound butter.

Compound butter is just a fancy word for butter with flavor bits in it. In this case, we’re adding chopped fresh sage. The easiest way to make compound butter is to let the butter come up to room temperature so it’s easy to work with. Add the sage and butter to a mixing bowl and incorporate the herbs using a fork. When its fully incorporated, spread the butter onto a piece of large parchment paper into a rough log shape, then wrap in the parchment, using the parchment to help you shape the butter into a uniform roll or log. It’s way easier than it sounds, and it adds so much flavor to these potatoes! The compound butter needs to chill in the fridge while you make the rest of the potatoes.

Once the potatoes and butternut squash are cooked, you can mash them with the milk, butter, salt, and pepper, either in the pot you boiled them in, or in a large mixing bowl. I like to start with 1/4 cup of milk and add more as needed. You can always add milk, but you can’t take it away!

To serve the potatoes, make sure they are warm and top with the sage compound butter. I like to add a few pats to the top, then serve the log of butter alongside for guests to add as much or as little as they like. It’s so delicious!

Looking for other Thanksgiving recipes by The Ardent Cook?

Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

This skillet bake is reminiscent of the flavors and texture of stuffing, without all the carbs. Perfect for a vegetable side, or as an option for your gluten-free guests.

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Not a traditional Thanksgiving side, but since there are no rules this year, why not include a fun grain side? This Wild Mushroom Farro is perfect!

Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

I’m a huge advocate of desserts other than pie on Thanksgiving, and this one is awesome to fill that void. Apples get cooked down in a delicious bourbon caramel sauce, then layered over a buttery shortbread-style crust with more shortbread crumbled on top. So good!

Recipe Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil, for greasing

2lbs red potatoes, such as Norland 

2-3lb butternut squash

3 cloves garlic 

¼ -½ cup whole milk or heavy cream

6 tbsp salted butter, softened to room temperature, divided

2 tbsp fresh sage, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut butternut squash into half moons about ½ inch thick. Place on an oiled sheet pan with the garlic cloves and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway, until the squash are tender and caramelized. 
  2. Meanwhile, cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place in a large pot with water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then cook for 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. I do not peel my potatoes, but if you’re using a thicker-skinned potato (like russet), you may consider peeling. 
  3. Combine 4 tbsp of the room temperature butter with the sage and mix with a fork until the herbs are incorporated. Lay out a piece of parchment paper large enough that the butter can be shaped into a log and rolled up within the parchment. Chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the potatoes. 
  4. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot you boiled them in, or a large mixing bowl. Add the roasted squash and garlic, along with remaining 2 tbsp butter, ¼ cup of the milk, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mash until creamy, adding additional milk if needed to achieve your desired texture. Top potatoes with the sage compound butter just before serving. 
  5. To reheat these potatoes, I like to add them to a pot with 1-2 tbsp of milk per cup of potatoes. Stir in the pot until just heated and the milk is incorporated. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

This Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake is an unexpected pairing of veggies and fruit that takes on the feeling and flavor of Thanksgiving stuffing… without all the bread. Not that bread is bad. You just maybe don’t want to devour an entire skillet-full of it on a day that isn’t Thanksgiving. Made entirely in one skillet or baking dish, this bake is quick, delicious, and perfect for an easy fall side.

Ingredients needed to make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

To make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake, you’ll need a few key ingredients. The rest is simply for flavor, and you likely have most of it in your pantry already. The full list includes:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Shallot
  • Fresh sage
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Love a short ingredients list!

This recipe uses fresh sage. You can easily grow it, or it can be found in the refrigerated produce section in any major grocery store!

Tools used to make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

The best part about this bake is the low-effort clean up. All you need to make this dish is a sharp chef’s knife for chopping, a cutting board, and a skillet or baking dish big enough to fit everything. That’s it!

How to make Sweet Potato, Celery, and Apple Bake

This recipe is simple to make using only one skillet. You’ll begin by preheating your oven and chopping your vegetables and apples. Since the sweet potatoes take a bit longer to cook than the other produce, those get added to the skillet with olive oil, sage leaves, salt, and pepper, and baked for a few minutes ahead of time. Once the potatoes are partially cooked, add the apples, celery, and shallots. Stir to combine, then return to the oven to finish cooking. That’s IT. I love to serve this bake alongside roasted chicken or turkey, or as a topping over butternut squash or sweet potato soup.

Looking for other one-skillet recipes from The Ardent Cook?

Roasted Apricot Chicken

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Chicken with Nectarines and Crispy Prosciutto

Recipe Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large sweet potato, chopped into ½-inch cubes

4 large sage leaves

2 medium tart apples, such as Pink Lady, diced

5 stalks celery, diced

1 medium shallot, minced

½ tsp salt

Black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes and sage leaves in a cast-iron skillet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 12 minutes.  
  2. Remove skillet from the oven, then add the apples, celery, and shallots. Season again with a pinch more of salt and pepper. Toss to combine and return to the oven for another 15-18 minutes, until vegetables are tender and slightly caramelized around the edges. 
  3. Serve immediately alongside a protein of your choice. I have paired this with both roasted chicken and grilled sausages and it never disappoints. It’s also great as a topping for creamy soups such as butternut squash or sweet potato. Leftovers keep in the fridge for 3-5 days, so this is a great meal-prep option. Enjoy!

There may be affiliate links in this post! By purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love and use myself. Thank you for your continued support of The Ardent Cook, it does not go unnoticed.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs is the perfect fall comfort dish. A filling of ground pork, celery, shallots, garlic, and apples is finished with delicious golden raisins and fresh sage and thyme. It all gets tossed with cubes of sharp Irish cheddar and stuffed inside tender roasted acorn squash. And the best part? These are topped with buttered sage breadcrumbs, which you can’t even imagine until you taste them. They are phenomenal. Caramelized squash, savory herbs, melty cheddar, crisp breadcrumbs…oh my.

Ingredients needed to make Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

These squash pack a lot of flavor, and therefore the ingredient list is semi-long. Don’t fret. It’s a super easy process and everything gets made in one skillet then baked on one sheet pan. Not as overwhelming as you thought, right? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Acorn squash
  • Olive oil
  • Ground pork
  • Shallots
  • Celery
  • Apple
  • Fresh or dried sage
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • Fresh garlic
  • Golden raisins
  • Sharp Irish cheddar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sourdough or other crusty bread
  • Butter

Tools used to make Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

The filling for these squash comes together in one skillet, which makes for pretty easy clean-up. You’ll also need a sharp knife, large cutting board, a chopper or food processor (to make the breadcrumbs), and a sheet pan or baking dish. That’s a small list, right?!

How to make Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

Making these squash requires a few steps. First, we need to prep and chop our vegetables. You’ll want to wash and dry everything before use, then start by halving and cleaning the seeds out of the squash. Set those aside and finish chopping the shallots, celery, apples, and garlic. If you’re using fresh herbs, you can also take this time to mince those up.

The squash get roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper, for about 35-40 minutes until fork tender. Moving on to the filling, begin by heating your skillet over medium heat. You’ll sauté the pork along with the shallots and celery until the pork is cooked, then add the apples, herbs, and garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Stir in the cheddar, stuff into the squash, and top with those delicious buttered sage breadcrumbs (which take about 2 minutes to make by the way). Lastly, you’ll pop them back in the oven to melt that cheese and get the breadcrumbs nice and golden. Perfection!

Looking for other flavorful autumn recipes?

Try these other comforting dishes from The Ardent Cook!

Potato, Leek, and Corn Chowder

Roasted Apricot Chicken

Harvest Steak and Goat Cheese Bowls

Recipe Ingredients

For the Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 large acorn squash

1 tbsp olive oil

1lb ground pork

2 medium shallots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium apple, diced

½ tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh sage

¼ tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh thyme

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup sharp Irish cheddar, diced into small cubes 

Salt and pepper, top taste

For the Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

2-3 large slices sourdough or other crusty bread

3-4 fresh sage leaves

2 tbsp butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and strings. Drizzle each half with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, cut side down, for 45 minutes or until squash are fork tender. 
  2. In a large skillet, brown the pork, shallots, and celery, about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the apple, sage, thyme, and garlic and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the apple is just soft. 
  3. Make the breadcrumbs. Pulse the bread in a food processor or high speed blender until a crumb forms. Melt butter in a skillet and add the sage leaves. Fry the sage leaves for 1-2 minutes until crispy, then add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the sage leaves and set the breadcrumbs aside. 
  4. Remove the filling from the heat and fold in the golden raisins and cheddar cubes. Spoon the filling into each half of the squash and top with the breadcrumbs. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  5. Serve immediately, or wrap tightly in foil and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, place the entire foil-wrapped squash half on a sheet tray and heat in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

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Creamy Everything Scalloped Potatoes with Lemony Pesto

You. Guys. I literally tested this recipe THIS MORNING and had to share it same day because it’s that good. I grew up eating traditional scalloped potatoes, sometimes with ham, and of course they were delicious. What could be better than potatoes and cheese? Um, I think I found my answer.

The monotonous, traditional scalloped potatoes (or potatoes Au Gratin) get jazzed up with the addition of fresh thyme, garlic, and everything bagel seasoning. Traditionally, this dish incorporates both gruyere and parmesan cheeses, however in this recipe I chose not to add the parmesan. The nutty, creamy gruyere, which is normally balanced by the tangy parmesan, is instead complimented by the bright lemony pesto, and I didn’t feel that the parmesan was needed. If you want to add it, go for it.

This dish comes together in about 15 minutes, and the majority of the cook time is spent in the oven. You start by slicing Russet potatoes (or other starchy variety) and shallots into 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. You want to take care to slice the pieces as close in size as possible, so they all cook at the same time. Once sliced, just layer the potatoes and shallots in your glass baking dish and cover with the delicious cheese sauce.

The lemony pesto could not be easier- simply mix 1/4 cup of your favorite store-bought pesto with the juice and zest of 1/2 lemon. The brightness will blow you away! I also love to spoon this pesto over avocado toast, pasta, fish or chicken, and homemade pizza. The opportunities are endless, and I know this will be a summer staple condiment for me.

The weather is warming up, but the nights are still cool and begging for a soul-warming dish to be eaten out on the patio with your favorite sweater on. I’ll be having these potatoes tonight, alongside pan-roasted chicken breasts and crispy broccoli. Probably with a glass of Pinot Grigio too, because, well you know. I hope you enjoy this refreshing take on a classic as much as I do. If you make this recipe, don’t forget to share a photo and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!


1.5lbs Russet potatoes 

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded

1 TBSP flour

2 TBSP butter, plus more for greasing

1 ½ cups milk 

½ cups shredded gruyere

1 TBSP everything bagel seasoning

¼ cup basil pesto

Zest and juice of ½ lemon 


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8×12 or 9×13 inch glass baking dish with butter.
  2. Slice potatoes into ⅛-¼ inch pieces. Peel and slice shallot crosswise and separate the layers into rounds. Mince garlic cloves. 
  3. Place a layer of potatoes followed by a layer of shallots and repeat until the baking dish is full. Set aside.
  4. In a medium skillet, melt 2 TBSP butter over medium heat. Stir in minced garlic and thyme leaves. Allow to cook for a minute or so, until fragrant. 
  5. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Allow the flour and butter mixture to cook for 2 minutes or so, until thick and bubbling. 
  6. Add milk and stir constantly until the entire mixture has thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Add cheese and stir until just melted. Remove from heat and stir in everything bagel seasoning. Taste for additional salt and add accordingly. 
  7. Pour cheese sauce over potatoes, using the back of a spoon to smooth it over the top evenly. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. 
  8. While the potatoes bake, make the Lemony Pesto. Combine ¼ cup of your favorite store-bought basil pesto, juice of ½ lemon, and fresh lemon zest. Stir to combine.
  9. When the time’s up, remove foil and broil the potatoes 1-2 minutes, until the top is browned to your liking. Spoon Lemony Pesto over the top and sprinkle with additional everything bagel seasoning, if desired. Serve immediately for dinner alongside your favorite protein and vegetable. 

Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits are light, comforting, filled with cheddar-y goodness, and easy as…..biscuits? They’re best fresh out of the oven, but if you have enough self-control to not eat all 8 in one sitting, they can definitely be stored for later. I recommend storing in a sealed container on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 days. If storing longer, transfer to the fridge after 3 days. To reheat, simply warm them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.

I serve these biscuits warm with a dollop of sour cream or butter, or alongside my Crispy Cast-Iron Chicken Thighs with Black Pepper Gravy to sop up that delicious creamy sauce. I hope you enjoy this simple baking project, and don’t forget to share and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram.

Ingredients needed to make Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

Like most baking recipes, you need your classic flour, butter, etc. to get these biscuits just right. I use a ratio of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, specifics of which are described in the section titled “How to make Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits” below. For now, here’s what you’ll need to gather:

Tools used to make Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

There’s not a whole lot of equipment required to make these biscuits. The most important piece of equipment is a clean, floured kitchen counter for folding and shaping the biscuit dough. Other than that, you’ll want to gather these pieces of equipment:

How to make Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

This dough comes together unexpectedly, so be warned. It won’t look homogenous like a bread dough, and that’s kind of the point. The technical term is that the dough will look “shaggy” after the wet ingredients are added. The sour cream acts as our leavening agent when mixed with the baking soda, and the cold butter creates a solid barrier that, when melted, causes steam to rise and separate the dough to form little air pockets. In short: FLAKY LAYERS. Be weary of the amount of times you knead this dough, as the more you work the flour, the more time the gluten has to become tough. The best method is to use a swirling/folding technique to incorporate the ingredients while the dough is still in the bowl, and then knead it just a few times on your floured surface. Rolling the dough over onto itself, also known as lamination, is what creates those layers of solid butter upon solid butter that will puff up once in the oven, so don’t skip Step #8.

Another note: whole wheat flour, in my experience, tends to absorb liquid more easily and can lead to tougher baked good. So, the ratio in this recipe of 1.5 cups whole wheat to one cup AP flour is about as liberal as I’d go with your whole wheat usage. If you don’t have whole wheat, this recipe can easily be done using only AP flour. If you go that route, I would recommend using slightly less water in this recipe, maybe decreasing by a tablespoon. I haven’t tested this recipe using a gluten free flour, but I would recommend using a cup-for-cup option if you want gluten free. It should be fine if you follow all other aspects of the recipe.

I love to enjoy these biscuits fresh from the oven with a dollop of sour cream. They are so delicious!

Recipe Ingredients

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus more to dust rolling surface

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup salted butter, cold (1½ sticks)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp coconut sugar

1 generous cup sour cream

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 TBSP water

Fresh ground black pepper, a few good turns

Optional: ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped 

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut sugar, pepper) and whisk to combine.
  3. Cube butter into ½ inch pieces with a sharp knife. Set aside about 4 cubes in a small bowl to be melted later. 
  4. Drop butter cubes into the dry ingredients and toss to coat in the flour mixture. Using clean hands, squeeze and manipulate the butter into the flour to create small blueberry-sized pieces.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture and add the sour cream. Using a fork or butter knife, work the sour cream into the flour mixture by swirling and stirring to incorporate. The dough will not look homogenous. Add the cheddar cheese and water and repeat the swirling process. At this point, add chopped chives, if using.
  6. Using lightly floured hands, roll the dough over onto itself while still in the bowl. Then, dump the entire mixture onto a clean, floured surface such as your counter or a large cutting board. 
  7. Using your hands, knead the dough a few times to incorporate. Be careful not to knead more than a few times, or your biscuits may turn out tough rather than light and flaky. 
  8. Shape the dough into an oblong rectangle, as pictured below. Using a sharp knife dusted in flour, cut the dough in half and fold one half over onto itself. Then, press and shape the dough into an oblong rectangle again. 
  9. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces using the floured knife to avoid sticking and place biscuits onto a greased cookie sheet. Melt the reserved cubes of butter and brush or spoon over the tops of the biscuits. 
  10. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen slightly and are golden brown. 
  11. Serve for breakfast with a fried egg and extra chives for garnish. Alternatively, enjoy these as a snack with a dollop of sour cream or alongside my Crispy Cast-Iron Chicken Thighs with Black Pepper Gravy.