Miso Ginger Meatballs

Miso Ginger Meatballs are little bombs of umami flavor perfect for adding protein to any meal or serving as a delicious appetizer. Made using just 8 ingredients and baked in the air-fryer or oven, these meatballs are quick to whip up and great for meal prep, if that’s your thing. You may consider doubling the recipe if you’re feeding a larger family or adding them to lunches for the week, as this recipe makes approximately 15 meatballs.

Ingredients needed to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

As mentioned, you only need 8 ingredients to make these meatballs, and many of them are pantry staples. Here’s the list:

  • 85/15 grass-fed ground beef
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Rice vinegar
  • White miso
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Scallions (optional, for serving)

Tools used to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

To make these meatballs, you’ll really only need a few kitchen tools. The mandatory items you’ll need are as follows: cutting board, sharp knife, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, and an air fryer OR rimmed baking sheet (if using oven method). If you’d like to make your life slightly easier, I’d also recommend a #40 cookie scoop (this fits about 1 1/2 tbsp) to make sure each meatball is the same size, as well as a microplane or citrus zester for grating the garlic and ginger. Both of those items are completely optional, however. That’s all you need to make delicious meatballs in no time!

How to make Miso Ginger Meatballs

This recipe is as simple as combining all the ingredients, shaping the meatballs, and baking. It’s really that easy. No eggs, no breadcrumbs, no fuss. There is one caveat, which is that you really should use 85/15 ground beef. The fat ratio is very important to achieving juicy meatballs without adding extra ingredients, so don’t go any leaner than that ratio. I beg!

If using an air-fryer, I like to line the basket with parchment and bake the meatballs in two batches so they get nice and crispy outside while staying juicy inside. Adding all the meatballs at once would make for a crowded air-fryer and soggy, not crispy meatballs. If using the oven method, it’s helpful to line the baking sheet with parchment to minimize sticking, but you could also just spray your pan very well to avoid this issue.

Once baked, I let them cool slightly before topping with scallions (and sometimes cilantro) and devouring. They’re so delicious!

Looking for other make-ahead recipes for meal prep and beyond?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Harvest Kale Salad with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Golden Raisins

Recipe Ingredients

1lb 85/15 ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

½ inch piece ginger, minced or grated

1 tbsp soy sauce 

1 tsp rice vinegar

3 tbsp white miso

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Scallions, optional, for serving

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the air-fryer or oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the air-fryer basket or sheet tray with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients except scallions in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a #40 cookie scoop, or a large spoon, scoop approximately 1 1/2 tbsp of the meat mixture into your hands and roll to form a meatball. Repeat until all the meatballs are formed.
  3. If air-frying, bake the meatballs in two batches. Lower the temperature on the air-fryer to 390 and cook for 9 minutes, then repeat with the second batch.
  4. If baking, add the meatballs to the prepared sheet tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches at least 155 degrees and the meatballs are beginning to brown on the outside.
  5. Garnish with sliced scallions, if desired, and serve hot. 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.

Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzel Bites with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard are the perfect weekend baking project. Fluffy, cheesy, salty, and a hint of sweet from the fig mustard, these soft pretzels are easier to make than you probably imagine. With a little time and some good pretzel-twisting skills, you’ll have amazing homemade soft pretzels in no time.

Ingredients needed to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

To make these delicious soft pretzels, you’ll need a few basic baking ingredients like flour, instant yeast, salt, etc.. You’ll also need a good quality fig jam and dijon mustard, to make the sweet and tangy dipping sauce for these pretzels. Here’s the full list:

Tools used to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

The biggest piece of equipment required to make these soft-pretzels is a stand mixer. It is very difficult to knead the dense pretzel dough by hand, however if you choose that route be aware that you’ll need to knead for at least 10 minutes. The kneading happens much more quickly in the stand mixer, taking only about 5 minutes using the dough hook. Other than that, you’ll need a cutting board, a sharp knife, a small saucepan, two rimmed baking sheets, a pastry brush (optional), a small mixing bowl, and measuring cups and spoons.

How to make Brie-Stuffed Soft Pretzels with Rosemary Butter and Fig Mustard

These pretzels start with a fairly basic bread dough. You’ll combine yeast with the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients to a stand mixer. Let the stand mixer do the kneading, then let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Once the dough has risen, you’ll divide the pretzel dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece out into a long snake. Flatten the snake, stuff with a piece of brie, form the dough around the brie, then twist into a pretzel. Pretty simple! You’ll repeat this process for all 8 pieces of dough, then boil them in a pot of baking soda and water for 45 seconds each. Boiling in baking soda is what creates that classic pretzel flavor in the final product, so don’t skip that step.

Just before baking, you’ll brush each pretzel with a fragrant rosemary butter, which is made simply by melting butter and simmering it with fresh rosemary sprigs for 2 minutes. Bake the pretzels until golden brown, and that’s it! Serve with the fig mustard, which can be made in 3 minutes while the pretzels cool.

Looking for other weekend baking projects?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla-Whiskey Frosting

Buttery Dinner Rolls

Gluten-Free Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Recipe Ingredients

2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (one packet)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

1 ½ cups warm water, heated to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit 

4 ¼ -½ cups flour, may use closer to 4 ½ if needed 

4 tbsp butter

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 wheel brie, rind removed and cut into 8 equal pieces 

8 cups water

½ cup baking soda

Flaky salt or pretzel salt, to taste

¼ cup mayonnaise 

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp fig jam

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine yeast, brown sugar, salt, and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, or until bubbly. 
  2. Add the flour and mix on low with a dough hook until a dough forms, about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and coat in olive oil, then cover and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour, or until dough doubles in size. 
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 12-16 inch worm. Flatten the worm with a rolling pin or your hands, then stuff with a piece of brie and wrap the dough around the cheese. Make sure the brie is completely encased in the dough, then twist into a pretzel. Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough until you have 8 pretzels. 
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and rosemary sprigs. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the rosemary smells fragrant. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line two sheet trays with parchment paper. Boil the water and, once bubbling, add the baking soda. 
  6. Working in batches, boil the pretzels for 45 seconds, then place on the sheet trays. Brush with the rosemary butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes so the brie can set up slightly. 
  7. While the pretzels cool, make the fig mustard. Combine the mayo, dijon, fig jam, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 
  8. Serve pretzels while still warm alongside the fig mustard. Leftovers keep for 1-2 days covered in the fridge. To reheat, simply place on a piece of foil directly on the oven rack and warm at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. 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.

French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip is one of my favorite foods on the planet. I’m talking the Lipton soup packet, mixed with an entire tub of sour cream, with heavily salted potato chips, ruining my dinner at family parties, etc. This homemade version completely tops the boxed stuff.

Low-and-slow caramelized onions are added to a mixture of sour cream and Greek yogurt along with some flavorful dried spices to create a dip almost identical in taste to the Lipton mix with the addition of real onions. From there, you can use any dipping vehicle you want to scoop up that goodness. It’s beyond delicious!

Ingredients needed to make French Onion Dip

The best part of this dip is that we use real onions to achieve the majority of that “french onion” flavor. They get caramelized slowly in butter, salt, and pepper, and add so much depth of flavor to this dip. I prefer to use yellow onions in this recipe, as their flavor enhances so much as they cook. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this dip:

Tools used to make French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip comes together quickly and using minimal kitchen equipment. You’ll need a cutting board, a sharp knife, a cast-iron or non-stick skillet, a large mixing bowl, a silicon scraper/spatula, and measuring cups and spoons. That’s it!

How to make French Onion Dip

The hardest part of making this French Onion Dip is slicing and caramelizing the onions. This takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on how deeply caramelized you’d like your onions to be. I tend to like mine with a slight bite left to them, so I’ll opt for the 20-25 minute range, but you can let yours go as long as you desire as long as they aren’t burning!

You’ll start by melting butter in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet and thinly slicing your onions. Add the onions to the skillet along with a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook them over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and very fragrant, at least 20 minutes but up to 40 minutes. While the onions caramelize, you’ll mix together the sour cream, Greek yogurt, dried parsley, dried dill, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the onions are cooked, fold them into the dip, reserving about 1/8 cup to garnish on top of the dip. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl, then spoon the reserved onions over top of the dish. Serve with chips, pretzels, and freshly cut vegetables.

Looking for other delicious dips?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Muhammara-Style Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Recipe Ingredients

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 

¾ cup sour cream

1 cup plain greek yogurt

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

¼ tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over low-medium heat and melt the butter. Add the thinly sliced onions and stir to coat in the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook, stirring frequently, for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, until caramelized. If the onions begin to burn or take on color too quickly, lower the heat.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized to your desired level, remove from the heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Meanwhile, make the rest of the dip. Combine sour cream, Greek yogurt, dried parsley, dried dill, garlic powder, and onion powder in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the caramelized onions, reserving about 1/8 cup as garnish.
  4. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and spoon the reserved onions over the top. Serve with pretzels, chips, and fresh cut vegetables. 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.

Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

Whether you’re enjoying a big game, craving some loaded french fries, or just looking for a new way to enjoy potatoes, these Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce are exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Crispy, oven-baked fries get topped with an easy burger sauce and an unassuming line-up of toppings. What follows is a complete party in your mouth, and it doesn’t stop there. While these fries have a healthy array of goodies piled on top, you can completely customize your own toppings to fit your taste. Love cheese on your french fries? Layer it on! Don’t have ground beef? Use ground chicken, sausage, or even shredded pork. As long as you get crispy fries as your base and lots of that “animal style” sauce, you can’t go wrong with whatever you add on top! Let’s make them!

Ingredients needed to make Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

I love the earthy taste of russet potatoes in this recipe. It compliments the grass-fed ground beef extremely well. If you don’t have russets or don’t care for them, this dish would also be excellent using sweet potatoes, another variety of white potato, or even a bag of frozen french fries. As long as you’ve got one form of potato, you can make this recipe. Here’s everything you’ll need to pull these fries off:

Tools used to make Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

You’ll need basic equipment to make these delicious fries: a large cutting board, a sharp knife, a rimmed sheet pan, a skillet, a stirring utensil, and a mixing bowl. That’s it!

How to make Smothered Fries with “Animal Style” Sauce

The secret to any great oven-baked fry recipe is simple: preheat your sheet pan! By placing your sheet pan in the oven while the oven heats up, you ensure that the fries immediately start crisping up on contact. It works like a charm.

To begin, set the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place your sheet pan inside, as described above. Cut the potatoes into fries and coat in avocado oil, salt, and pepper.

Once the oven has preheated, carefully remove the hot sheet pan and add the fries to the hot pan in an even layer. They will sizzle upon contact. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15-20 until the fries are cooked through.

Meanwhile, you’ll prepare the ground beef, “animal style” sauce, and other toppings. Brown the ground beef in a skillet and break up all the clumps. Combine mayo, ketchup, relish, honey, vinegar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper and stir well. Chop up the red onion, cilantro, and pickled jalapeños and set aside.

Once the fries are done, top with the ground beef, red onions, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and drizzle all over with the sauce. If desired, other toppings may be added. Serve the fries hot with extra sauce on the side!

Looking for other game day food ideas?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

Recipe Ingredients

1 1/2  pounds russet potatoes, sliced into thin fries (3-4 large)

2 Tbsp avocado oil

1 Tsp salt, plus more to taste

Black pepper, to taste

1lb grass-fed ground beef

½ cup mayonnaise 

3 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp dill relish

1 Tsp honey

1 Tsp white vinegar

½ red onion, finely chopped

Fresh cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

Pickled jalapeños, chopped (optional)

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange an oven rack to the lowest height possible. Place a clean sheet pan in the oven to heat as the oven heats. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cut fries, avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Once the oven and sheet tray are preheated, spread potatoes out into an even layer on the sheet tray. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes, toss, then bake again for another 15-20 minutes until browned and cooked through. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the ground beef until browned and cooked-through, breaking up any large clumps, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. Make the sauce. Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, honey, and vinegar. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Spread the cooked ground beef evenly over the finished fries. Spoon the sauce over the fries and ground beef, then top with chopped red onion, cilantro, and pickled jalapeño. Serve immediately.

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.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa are your new favorite way to eat buffalo chicken. Perfect for a quick dinner, party appetizer, or game-day treat, these tacos are simple to pull together and crisp up in the oven in no time. Plus, the celery salsa is unexpected in the best way. Yes, you read that right, I said celery salsa. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I dreamed up this recipe and honestly, I was unsure of myself when I got in the kitchen to test it out. But trust me, you do NOT want to skip out on making this delicious condiment. Let’s get to making some tacos!

Ingredients needed to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

This recipe calls for cooked and shredded chicken, which is simple to do on the stove, in the Instant Pot, or pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken ahead of time. I love to make mine in the Instant Pot with a little splash of water and hot sauce then cooked on high pressure for 12 minutes. It shreds in seconds between two forks every time. Once you’ve got your cooked chicken, the recipe comes together in a snap. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Hot sauce
  • Butter
  • Coconut or brown sugar
  • Soft corn tortillas
  • Avocado oil
  • Grated/shredded cheddar cheese
  • Celery
  • Jalapeno
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Avocado
  • Salt

Tools used to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

When it comes to recipes, this one requires minimal tools to execute it. All you really need is a medium saucepan, two sheet trays, a knife, a cutting board, and a mixing bowl. That’s it!

How to make Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Celery Salsa

As mentioned above, you’ll need to cook and shred 1-1.5lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast ahead of time. You could do this in the Instant Pot as described above, or simply grab yourself a rotisserie chicken from the store and shred it. Either way, once you have your shredded chicken, this recipe takes less than 30 minutes to pull together.

You’ll make a simple wing sauce by combining hot sauce, butter, and either coconut or brown sugar and simmering it for a few minutes on the stove until the sugar has dissolved. Add the shredded chicken and stir to thoroughly combine.

Next, you’ll microwave some corn tortillas for about 30 seconds until they’re very pliable. Lay them flat on a sheet tray and brush each side with avocado oil, then layer on some shredded cheddar on the top half of each tortilla. Add buffalo chicken on top followed by a bit more cheese, then fold the tortillas over to create a taco. It’s helpful to flip each taco over (onto the side that you first put the cheese on) to help them stay closed, and you can also place another sheet tray on top to help them stay closed for the first few minutes of cooking. Let them bake for 10-12 minutes total, removing the top sheet tray after 3 minutes or so, then flipping over halfway through to allow the other side to crisp.

While the tacos bake, make the celery salsa. Combine the celery, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and a pinch of salt and mix. Set aside.

Finally, you’ll top the tacos with the celery salsa and some fresh avocado and enjoy!

Looking for more easy dishes like these tacos?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Broccoli Salad with Quick Homemade Ranch

Recipe Ingredients

1- 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 breasts), cooked and shredded

⅓- ½ cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s, divided

2 tbsp butter

1 ½ tbsp coconut or brown sugar

12-15 soft corn tortillas

2 tbsp avocado oil

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

5 stalks celery, finely diced 

1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

½ red onion, finely diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped 

Juice of ½ lime

Salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium saucepan, combine hot sauce, butter, and coconut sugar and simmer for 3-4 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Stir in the shredded chicken and fully coat in the buffalo sauce.
  2. Microwave the corn tortillas for 20-30 seconds until very pliable. Place them on one of the sheet trays and brush both sides with avocado oil. Working only in the top semicircle of each tortilla, layer some shredded cheese, buffalo chicken, then more shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over to form a taco, and repeat until all tacos are filled and folded.
  3. If the tacos aren’t staying closed, place the second sheet tray on top of the tortillas to help them stay shut. Bake for 2 minutes, then remove the sheet tray and continue baking for an additional 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the tacos are crispy and the cheese is melted.
  4. While the tacos bake, make the celery salsa. Combine the celery, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and salt to taste. Mix well and set aside.
  5. Let the tacos cool slightly, then serve topped with the celery salsa and fresh avocado. These tacos also taste wonderful with a side of ranch or bleu cheese dressing and extra hot sauce. 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.

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives is a recipe that is sure to impress, plus it looks way more fancy and complicated than it actually is. Tangy goat cheese gets baked in a bath of good-quality olive oil alongside salty olives and lots of fresh herbs and citrus zest. It’s delicious scooped onto crackers to slathered onto bread.

Ingredients needed to make Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

This recipe requires just a few good-quality ingredients, most of which you likely have in your pantry and fridge already. Here’s the full list:

Tools used to make Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

The tools required to make this dish are next to none. You’ll need an oven-safe baking dish, measuring cups and spoons, a sharp chef’s knife, a cutting board, and a microplane or citrus zester. That’s it!

How to make Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Orange Olives

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Before slicing your goat cheese, make sure it is very cold. It helps to stick the log into the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing it if you want precise rounds, however this step isn’t necessary if you don’t mind a more “broken” presentation (it still tastes delicious).

Slice the goat cheese into 7 or 8 even rounds and place them in the baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped fresh herbs, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, citrus zest, and a pinch of salt. Arrange the olives around the goat cheese, then cover the entire dish in the olive oil.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the oil begins to bubble just slightly around the edges and the entire dish is hot.

I love to serve this dish with crackers or fresh crusty bread for a delicious alternative to a cheese board!

Looking for other delicious appetizers?

Try these easy recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Whipped Feta Dip

Turmeric Cauliflower Hummus

Recipe Ingredients

½ cup good quality olive oil

4oz log goat cheese, chilled, sliced into rounds

5-7oz mixed olives

1tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

1tsp dried oregano

¼-½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp orange zest

½ tsp lemon zest

Pinch sea salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice goat cheese into 7 or 8 rounds and add to the baking dish in an even layer.
  3. Sprinkle the fresh chopped herbs, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, citrus zest, and a pinch of sea salt over top of the goat cheese rounds. Arrange the olives evenly around the goat cheese.
  4. Cover the entire dish with the olive oil. It’s okay if the oil doesn’t cover the olives entirely.
  5. Bake the dish for 10-15 minutes until small bubbles begin to appear on the sides of the dish and the goat cheese is hot. Serve immediately alongside crackers or fresh bread. 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.

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

With the holidays looking different this year, I figured it would be an okay time to create a non-traditional Christmas Eve appetizer. Speaking from experience, not many holiday gatherings include a big vat of guac, so why not break the mold this year? When Erika of Esteem Wellness kindly offered to feature one of my recipes on her account, I knew I wanted it to be simple, made from clean, whole ingredients, festive, and delicious. This guacamole fits the bill. Did I mention that it’s made using only 5 ingredients? Jump on this, folks!

Ingredients needed to make Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

As I said above, this guac requires just FIVE ingredients. It’s absolutely delicious and so simple to pull together. All you need are a few ripe avocados, fresh lime juice, pomegranate arils, goat cheese, and salt. If you’d like to take this guac up a notch, it would also be delicious dusted with some fresh chopped cilantro, roasted pistachios, or crushed red pepper flakes for a touch of heat. Serve it with your favorite tortilla chips and you’re ready to go!

Tools used to make Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Everyone has their preferred method of mashing guac, but the easiest way, in my opinion, is to use an old-fashioned potato masher. This one is very similar to what I have at home and it leaves me with perfect, lump-free guac every time. If you don’t have a masher, you could use a fork, a pastry cutter, or even your hands. You’ll also need the following tools to complete this recipe:

How to make Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

This guacamole couldn’t be simpler to make. You’ll start by halving your avocados and carefully removing the pits. Scoop the flesh of the avocado into your mixing bowl, then squeeze the juice of half a lime into the bowl. Add the salt and mash until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the goat cheese and pomegranates. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Looking for other easy appetizer recipes?

Try these options from The Ardent Cook

Savory Holiday Snack Mix

Whipped Feta Dip

Cheesy Black Bean Skillet Dip

Pst!! Looking for a cocktail to pair with this guac? Try my Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail!

Recipe Ingredients

3 medium, ripe avocados

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

2-3oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Optional add-ins: fresh cilantro, chopped pistachios, crushed red pepper flakes

Recipe Instructions

  1. Halve the avocados and carefully remove the pits. Scoop the flesh of each avocado into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice and salt, then mash to combine.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the pomegranate arils and goat cheese. Serve alongside your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy! Leftovers keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

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.

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.

Apple Spice Smoothie

This Apple Spice Smoothie is the perfect option for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert. It’s loaded with flavor and even has a hidden veggie, so it’s really wonderful if you’re looking to add more nutrients into your diet but don’t want to skimp on flavor.

Ingredients needed to make Apple Spice Smoothie

The base of this smoothie consists of banana, apple, and…. frozen riced cauliflower. I know you’re probably thinking, “EW,” but trust me here, you can not taste it. It adds a frozen element to this smoothie that makes the final product creamy and nutrient-dense. Then, the smoothie gets some much-needed healthy fats from sources including Greek yogurt, almond butter, and almond milk. Throw in a ton of warm spices and BOOM. Blend and serve. Here’s the full list of what you’ll need:

Tools used to make Apple Spice Smoothie

Smoothies are, well, smooth. That’s because you make them in a blender- which is all you really need to make this recipe! I use this one by Ninja. It’s so versatile and can be used for chopping, processing, and/or blending. In addition to the blender, you’ll need a cutting board and knife to peel and cut the apple before adding it to the smoothie. So easy!

How to make Apple Spice Smoothie

The process to make this smoothie is incredibly simple. You’ll want to start by peeling and cutting your apple into rough 1-inch cubes. This makes it easier for them to blend up with the rest of your smoothie ingredients. Then, simply add everything to your blender and away you go! I like to serve this smoothie with another dash of cinnamon on top. It’s amazing!

Looking for other smoothie recipes?

Try these two options from The Ardent Cook archives.

Citrus Ginger Green Smoothie

“Cake for Breakfast” Green Smoothie

Recipe Ingredients

½ ripe banana

1 apple, peeled and diced

½ cup frozen cauliflower rice

⅓ cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice)

1 tbsp unsalted creamy almond butter

1 large medjool date, pitted

½ cup plain unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

⅛ tsp ground cloves

⅛ tsp ground ginger

Pinch sea salt

Recipe Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend on high until creamy. Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately!

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.