Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla Whiskey Frosting

I love a good pie as much as the next person, but sometimes all I want after the big Thanksgiving meal is a small piece of something sweet. That’s why I’ve been team cookies-on-Thanksgiving for years, and this is one of my favorite recipes! It’s a classic, chewy spice cookie recipe that gets smothered in delicious vanilla whiskey frosting (you can leave the whiskey out if that’s not your jam). It has all the warm spices you think of on Thanksgiving without the commitment of a full slice of pie.

Ingredients needed to make Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla Whiskey Frosting

These cookies have a lot of spices, which in my opinion are good investments for holiday season cooking and baking. You can use them to flavor both savory and sweet dishes, so it’s worth it. Here’s a full list of what you need:

Tools used to make Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla Whiskey Frosting

It’s easiest to make these cookies using a stand mixer, such as a KitchenAid, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have one. In addition, you’ll need two rimmed baking sheets, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, parchment paper, and a butter knife or icing spatula. For ease, you can also use a cookie scoop, but that is completely optional.

How to make Classic Spice Cookies with Vanilla Whiskey Frosting

If you’ve ever made cookies before, this process should be no surprise to you. It’s really simple. Start by creaming together your butter and sweeteners, followed by the eggs. Add the dry ingredients. Chill the dough. Bake. See where I’m going with this? While they bake you can make your frosting either in a regular old mixing bowl or in the stand mixer, up to you. Let cookies cool, lacquer that icing on, then enjoy by a fire with an after dinner drink. Got it? Good.

Looking for other un-pie Thanksgiving or holiday desserts?

Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

Chocolate Pistachio Rice Crispy Treats

Recipe Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, divided (12 and 4)

1 cup sugar 

¼ cup molasses 

1 egg

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger 

¾ tsp ground cloves 

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

A few turns black pepper

½ tsp salt 

3 ¾ cup powdered sugar 

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp milk

3 tbsp Irish whiskey

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together 12 tbsp of the butter, sugar, molasses, and egg until fluffy and lighter in color. 
  3. Switch the whisk attachment for the paddle, then slowly add the flour and spice mixture. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. While the dough chills, make the icing. Combine remaining butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, 1 tbsp milk, and whiskey in a mixing bowl. Whisk by hand, or use whisk attachment in the stand mixer, until the frosting is light and fluffy. If additional milk is needed, add accordingly. Store in the fridge until cookies have cooled completely. 
  5. Once chilled, shape dough into 1-inch balls, or scoop onto the baking sheets using a 1-inch cookie scoop, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies have spread slightly and have firmed up. 
  6. Cool on a wire rack, then ice. 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.

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.

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita is literally comfort in a bowl. I know you may be thinking, “I’ve definitely seen other food bloggers with recipes for curry chickpeas,” and you’re right! However, none of them are as good as mine. I say that humbly, but also based in fact. Many other recipes I came across when doing research for this recipe included hard-to-find spices (which aren’t practical for all home cooks), added water when the recipe doesn’t really need any, and so on. The balance of flavor, heat, acid, texture, and overall taste of this curry is truly amazing. Plus, it’s made using ingredients that are found in most pantries, which is what we all need right now. My protein-obsessed boyfriend didn’t even complain that this is a vegetarian main dish. It’s delicious. Bonus? It’s vegan if you substitute the Greek yogurt in the raita for a vegan alternative.

Ingredients needed to make Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

I like to serve this curry over brown rice, but it would also do well over quinoa, cauliflower rice, or just eaten on its own. It’s easy to substitute whatever grain or grain-alternative base you want for this recipe. In addition to the rice, you’ll need the following to make the curry:

The cucumber raita, while not necessary, is an absolutely delicious compliment to the slight heat of the curry. It adds a cooling, fresh element that leaves you with a really balanced bite every time. Here’s what you’ll need to make the raita:

  • Cucumber
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Curry powder
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Salt

Tools used to make Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

The tools needed to make this dish are as follows: a sharp chef’s knife for chopping, a large cutting board, a Dutch oven or large, deep-sided sauté pan, a wooden spoon, a mixing bowl, and measuring spoons. It’s fairly minimal, and the bulk of the dish is made in one pot, making for easy clean up!

How to make Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

This curry begins by sweating the onions with garlic, ginger, and all of those warm spices. The entire process takes about 6 minutes, but it will make your kitchen smell incredible. Once the onions have sweat and the other aromatics have been added, you’ll add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and pumpkin. Some brands of canned pumpkin are thicker than others, so if you need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water at this point, you may. Use your judgement. The goal is to simmer this curry long enough to create a thick, saucy final product that feels like it’s been cooking all day, when it really only takes 15-20 minutes. You’ll stir to combine, then reduce the heat to low and allow the curry to do its thing.

While the curry simmers, I like to make the raita. It’s really simple to pull together and takes the curry to the next level, in my opinion. As I mentioned above, it’s easy to make this dish completely vegan by substitution the Greek yogurt for a non-dairy alternative.

Start by peeling your cucumber and halving lengthwise. Then, scoop out the seeds and cut it into a very small dice. Add the cucumber to a bowl, along with the Greek yogurt, spices, and cilantro. It’s important to add salt after tasting, as some brands of Greek yogurt can be saltier than others. Salt the raita to your liking, then transfer to the fridge until the curry is finished.

Serve the curry over brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or whatever other base you’d like, then top with a dollop of raita and extra cilantro. This dish is also awesome paired with some fresh naan or pita bread. It’s so warming and stick-to-your-ribs, as they say!

Looking for other comforting dinners for colder-weather nights?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Pineapple Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Roasted Apricot Chicken

Herbed Chicken Tortellini Soup

Recipe Ingredients

For the Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece ginger, minced

1 tsp curry powder

¾ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground turmeric 

⅛ tsp cayenne, or more if desired (I used closer to ¼ tsp)

2 (15oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk

1 (13.5oz) can pumpkin puree

1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

Juice of ½ lime, plus wedges for serving

Cilantro, for serving

Cucumber raita, for serving (recipe below)

Brown rice, for serving

For the Cucumber Raita

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded, diced very small

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

⅛ tsp cayenne 

¼ tsp curry powder

2 tbsp cilantro, very finely chopped

Salt, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook for an additional 30-45 seconds until very fragrant.
  2. Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and pumpkin. If the consistency is too thick (some canned pumpkin options are thicker than others), you may add water 1 tablespoon at a time, however keep in mind you want the final product to be thick like a slow-simmered curry. 
  3. Turn the heat to low and allow the chickpeas to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until they are very fragrant and the consistency is as thick as you’d like it. Continue to simmer if a thicker consistency is desired. 
  4. While the chickpeas simmer, make the raita. Combine the cucumber, yogurt, cayenne, curry powder, and chopped cilantro in a mixing bowl. Season with salt to taste. 
  5. When the chickpeas are finished simmering, remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Season one final time for salt.
  6. Serve the curry over brown or basmati rice, then top with a dollop of the raita and additional cilantro, if desired. Leftovers keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 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.

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.

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens is a quicker, easier take on a creamy risotto. Ditch the constant stirring and broth-adding that is required of risotto and replace it with earthy wild mushrooms, nutty farro, and the perfect salty punch of parmesan in every bite. I love this recipe because it highlights one of my new-found favorite ingredients: wild mushrooms harvested by my boyfriend’s sister and brother-in-law. They are foraging extraordinaires and have taught me so much about mushrooms and their amazing properties. Did you know mushrooms form intricate communication networks that cover miles in order to signal other mushrooms of impending danger?

I wasn’t always a mushroom lover, but I’ve really been enjoying experimenting with them in my recipes. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Ingredients needed to make Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

This recipe calls for wild mushrooms. I was lucky enough to score some maitake, or “hen of the woods,” from my boyfriend’s sister and brother-in-law, which is what I used here. You could use any variety of mushroom you like or that is available locally in-season. Other great options would be oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, or morels. If you aren’t experienced at foraging, I would not recommend going out into your own backyard and pulling up whatever mushroom you see. Be sure to ask an expert to identify any mushrooms you find, or visit local farm stands for the freshest options available for purchase. In addition to the mushrooms, here’s what else you’ll need:

  • Butter or olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • Dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Farro
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Milk or cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Microgreens

Many of the ingredients in this recipe are fresh, but I have linked a few of my staple pantry items that you’ll want to have on hand for this recipe. Also, as a quick note, if you are looking for a quick recipe, you’ll likely want to use pearled farro (linked above). “Pearling” is a process by which some of the bran is removed from the farro, which in turn removes some of the nutrients and fiber, but makes for a much faster cook time. If you don’t care about the time, I’d recommend this imported farro brand or this organic farro from Bob’s Red Mill.

This recipe uses wild maitake mushrooms, but any wild variety will work!

Tools used to make Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Because of the varying times required to cook farro (depending on what kind you buy), I call for pre-cooked farro in this recipe. Farro is a great grain to cook at the beginning of the week to use in loads of different meals just as you would rice or quinoa, so I’ll often do that on Sundays and have it ready in the fridge for easy dinners. I’d recommend cooking your farro ahead of time or give yourself extra time before starting on the mushrooms, which take very little time in comparison. You’ll need a medium-large pot to cook the farro, such as this one.

In addition, you’ll need a large skillet big enough to cook the mushrooms and then toss everything together at the end. I used my favorite Le Creuset cast-iron, but any non-stick skillet will work. You’ll also want a large cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, a well-sharpened chef’s knife, like this one, and a wooden spoon for stirring. That’s it!

How to make Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

If you cook your farro ahead of time, this recipe takes all of 20 minutes. If not, don’t sweat it, just be prepared for a little extra time spent cooking! Begin by trimming any slimy areas from the mushrooms and brushing off excess dirt. If you can, try to avoid rinsing the mushroom as this prevents them from caramelizing (they’ll retain too much water and steam rather than caramelize). Next, chop the mushrooms into roughly 1-2 inch pieces while you melt your butter in a skillet.

Add the onions, salt, and pepper, and cook until the onions are translucent. Then, you’ll stir in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes or so. You want the mushrooms to be softened, but not mushy. Add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and stir to coat the mushrooms and onions.

The best step? Adding the wine. This step is crucial in order to get all the caramelized bits from the mushrooms and onions up from the bottom of the pan. If you don’t care to cook with wine, you can easily substitute chicken or vegetable broth! Just make sure to use your wooden spoon to scrape up the goodness from the bottom of the pan as you add the liquid.

You’ll let this simmer on medium-low heat until all of the wine has evaporated and you’re left with delicious caramelized mushrooms. At this point, you’ll add your cooked farro and allow it to warm with the mushrooms for a minute or so. Then, add the parmesan, milk or cream, and a pinch more of salt and pepper. The goal is to have a light creamy coating, but this isn’t going to be a thick cream sauce by any means. If you want more of a thick cream sauce, you can certainly add more milk or cream and let it reduce slightly over low heat for a few minutes. I prefer just a touch of creaminess to really let the flavor of the mushrooms and farro shine.

That’s it! You’ll sprinkle on a handful of microgreens at the end for a little fresh bite, and serve immediately. It’s so delicious paired with a glass of wine and pair of cozy PJs, but elegant enough to serve for dinner- if we ever get to host dinner parties again!

Looking for other comforting vegetarian dishes from The Ardent Cook?

Ponzu Greens and Grains Bowl

Creamy Green Goddess Pasta

Potato, Leek, and Corn Chowder

Recipe Ingredients


2 tbsp butter or olive oil

½ pound wild mushrooms, such as maitake or oyster

½ medium yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

2 cups cooked farro

⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsp milk or cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

1-2 handfuls bitter microgreens, such as micro arugula, for serving

Recipe Instructions

  1. Prepare the mushrooms by trimming any slimy areas and brushing off excess dirt. Roughly chop the mushrooms into 1-2 inch pieces while you melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until onions turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5, until they are just softened. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and thyme, then season again with a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  3. Pour the wine into the pan, stirring constantly to scrape up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the wine to evaporate entirely, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Once the mushrooms are finished cooking and the wine has evaporated, stir in the cooked farro (make sure the farro is warmed before adding). Add the parmesan, milk or cream, and a pinch more of salt and pepper. Fold to combine until the cheese has melted and everything is incorporated. The final dish should be creamy, but not overly wet. Top with microgreens and an additional sprinkling of parmesan, and serve warm. This dish stands up on its own as a vegetarian main alongside a salad, or pair it with roast chicken and vegetables for a comforting fall dish. 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.

Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

Here’s the deal: I call this a spoon cake. In reality, it’s not a spoon cake. It’s more like a crumbly, shortbready, delicious, hard-to-name object that comes out of your oven and tastes amazing. So I settled with spoon cake, because you have to spoon it out of the pan to eat it.

Juicy apples get cooked down with bourbon, sugar, fresh lemon juice, and spices (wait until you smell your kitchen), then layered over a shortbread-style crust with more shortbread crumbled over the top. Bake the whole thing and spoon it into your bowl while still warm… with a scoop of vanilla ice cream of course.

Ingredients needed to make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

To make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake, you need the basic ingredients like flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. There’s nothing super abstract in this recipe, so hopefully you have it all readily available to you! Here’s the shopping list:

  • Apples (I prefer honey crisp, granny smith, or pink lady)
  • Bourbon
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Tapioca flour (or cornstarch)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder

Tools used to make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

This is a great dessert to make when you don’t want to dirty a lot of dishes. I love my KitchenAid stand mixer, but boy is it annoying to clean. You don’t need to whip it out for this recipe, luckily! Here’s what you’ll need:

How to make Apple Bourbon Spoon Cake

This cake is quick and simple to make. You’ll begin by cooking down your apples in a skillet with the bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca, and spices. Don’t worry if you don’t have tapioca, because cornstarch works wonderfully as well! While the apples cook, you’ll make your crust in a mixing bowl. The key here is to create small pea-sized pieces of butter that are all coated in flour. When the dough bakes, the butter melts and the crust becomes cohesive. It may seem crumbly at first, but should stick together more-or-less when you squeeze it into a ball with your hands. If it doesn’t hold together (it’s ok if some pieces crumble down, but not all of them), you can add some cold water tablespoon at a time. Be careful not to add too much, or your dough will be too wet and goopy.

You’ll press half of the crust into the bottom of the pan and par-bake while your apples cooks. Once the first half is baked, you’ll spoon over your apples, which are fully cooked by the time the bottom crust is baked, over the top. I love when the timing of things cooking just works out, as in this recipe! To finish, crumble the remaining dough over top of the apples and bake again until golden brown. Spoon it into a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Looking for other delicious desserts from The Ardent Cook?

Chocolate Pistachio Rice Crispy Treat

Salted Brown Butter Banana Cobbler

Peanut Butter Peach Berry Cobbler

Recipe Ingredients

Filling

3 cups apples, peeled and sliced ¼ thick

¼ bourbon

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp salted butter

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp tapioca flour (or cornstarch)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

Crust

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (or GF flour blend)

½ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp baking powder

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, chilled and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 egg

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and parchment-line an 8×8 glass baking dish. 
  2. Make the crust. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the butter and mix with the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or two forks until the butter is pea-sized and coated in flour. Stir in the egg. The dough will be very crumbly, but will hold together when pressed between your hands. If your dough is too dry and crumbly, you may add 1-2 tbsp of cool water to bring it together. Some flours are more absorbent than others, so go by feel- the dough should hold together more or less when squeezed into a ball, but should not be wet and goopy by any means. If it doesn’t hold together when some pressure is applied, then it’s too dry. 
  3. Divide the dough in half and press ½ of it into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar, and stir to coat the apples. Sprinkle the cinnamon and tapioca evenly over the top, then mix to incorporate. 
  5. Bring the apples to a boil and let cook for 2-3 minutes at this heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat slightly and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the apples are soft. 
  6. Once the first bake is complete, spoon the apple filling over top in an even layer. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the apples, then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. 
  7. Let the cake cool slightly, about 5 minutes, to let everything set up. Then, spoon into bowls and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 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.

Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Pepitas

Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup is warming, satisfying, and perfect if you’re looking for a savory application for pumpkin. I love a good pumpkin spiced coffee, but sometimes the savory side of pumpkin is neglected when it shouldn’t be!

The soup is vegan, but feel free to make substitutions as needed. I happen to love the taste of the coconut milk in this soup, but if it’s not for you, simply swap it for some heavy cream instead. Same thing goes for the broth- I’ve used vegetable broth, but chicken or beef work too. I never stress over the exact recipe for a soup… if it gets too thick, you thin it. If it gets too salty, you thin it. See a theme? It’s pretty tough to mess up!

Ingredients needed to make Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Pepitas

This soup packs a lot of flavor and therefore requires a few more ingredients than you might typically expect. I’ve talked about chipotle peppers in adobo before, but they are one of the key ingredients to creating the smoky flavor in this soup. You can find them in most grocery stores in the international foods aisle. Other than the chipotle peppers, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil 
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • Vegetable broth
  • Full-fat coconut milk
  • Coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • Creamy natural peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted, if possible)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh cilantro

To make the spiced pepitas, which are optional, you’ll need these items:

Tools used to make Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Pepitas

This soup comes together quite easily and with minimal equipment. You’ll need a sharp knife, cutting board, large soup pot or Dutch oven, wooden spoon, blender, mixing bowl, and a small skillet.

How to make Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Pepitas

Like most soups, you’ll start by sautéing your aromatic base, which in this case consists of onion, garlic, and ginger. The recipe doesn’t call for this, but you’ll obviously need to prep those ingredients ahead of time by dicing and mincing.

Next, you’ll add the chipotle peppers plus sauce, cinnamon, pumpkin, and broth. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes to let all the flavors mingle. For the creamy component, you’ll want to remove the soup from the heat and add in the coconut milk, coconut sugar, and peanut butter. Just trust me on the peanut butter, it makes this soup.

Because we need to blend the soup, I usually pause at this point and make the spiced pepitas. I like to let the soup cool so it doesn’t make the blender explode from the steam. The pepitas simply get tossed with the olive oil and spices, then warmed in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.

Blend the soup using either an immersion blender or regular blender, top with the pepitas (and cilantro, if using) and serve! It’s so delicious!

Looking for other cozy recipes from The Ardent Cook?

Potato, Leek, and Corn Chowder

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

Mom’s Checkerboard Chicken Chili

Recipe Ingredients

For the Soup

2 tbsp olive oil 

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1-inch piece ginger, minced

2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, plus 2 tsp adobo sauce

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 (14oz) can unsweetened pumpkin puree

3 cups vegetable broth

1 (14oz) can full-fat coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

¼ cup creamy natural peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted, if possible)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro, for serving 

For the Spiced Pepitas

¼ cup roasted, salted pepitas

½ tsp olive oil

⅛ tsp chipotle chili powder

⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

Recipe Instructions

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. 
  2. Add the chipotle chili peppers, adobo sauce, ground cinnamon, pumpkin, and broth. Stir to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Remove soup from the heat and stir in the coconut milk, sugar, and peanut butter. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to cool slightly. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the spiced pepitas. Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. In a mixing bowl, combine the pepitas, olive oil, chili powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toss to combine, then add to the hot skillet. Toss for 1 minute or so, until the seeds are warm and the spices have adhered. Set aside. 
  5. Using either an immersion blender or high-speed standing blender, blend the soup until creamy (you may need to work in batches if using a standing blender). Ladle soup into bowls and top with the pepitas and cilantro, if desired. Serve warm. 
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. When reheating, be careful not to bring the soup to a boiling point. This can cause the oils in the coconut milk and peanut butter to potentially separate. 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.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad is a gourmet take on a traditional vegetable side. The days of steaming cauliflower are over and have been replaced by roasting. I know everyone is probably up to their ears in cauliflower recipes, from cauliflower rice to cauliflower mash to cauliflower Alfredo sauce. Lucky for you, I’m not trying to disguise cauliflower as anything but its own true self in this recipe, which is delicious!

Ingredients needed to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

It goes without saying that you’ll need a pretty large head of cauliflower, or two small ones, to make this recipe. In addition, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Jarred pesto (I prefer using store-bought here because we’re incorporating it into a dressing… if we we’re having pesto pasta, I’d obviously recommend homemade)
  • White wine vinegar
  • Honey
  • Pitted green olives
  • Dried cranberries
  • Slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I always start this portion of the recipe by recommending you invest in a good set of knives. If you aren’t ready to take the plunge into a full knife block, at least get yourself a chef’s knife that has some weight to it. Here is the knife block set I’ve had for two years (and they still look and feel brand new), or an option for just the chef’s knife. In addition, you’ll need a cutting board, large rimmed sheet pan, and a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid (or a mixing bowl and whisk).

How to make Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I love this recipe because you can “set it and forget it” for the most part. The only real cooking involved is roasting the cauliflower, which takes about 20-25 minutes. During that time you can easily gather all the other ingredients you need, quickly toast the almonds in a skillet, shake up the dressing, while still having time to prepare the rest of your meal. When the cauliflower is finished roasting, you’ll layer on the olives, cranberries, and toasted almonds, then drizzle the dressing over the top. Give it a final season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and you’re ready to enjoy!

Looking for other delicious vegetable sides?

Try these other vegetarian sides from The Ardent Cook.

Cheesy Corn and Poblano Casserole

Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Ginger

Herbed Carrot Salad

Grilled Zucchini with Feta Cheese and Zesty Oregano Chimi

Recipe Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ cup jarred pesto 

2 ½ tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp honey

¼ cup pitted green olives, halved

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup slivered almonds

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cauliflower on a large rimmed baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft and has browned slightly. 
  2. Combine the pesto, white wine vinegar, and honey in a large mixing bowl or mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Whisk (or shake, if using a mason jar) vigorously until the dressing is combined. 
  3. Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir them frequently and watch closely until browned and fragrant. 
  4. Transfer cauliflower to a serving dish. Top with the olives, cranberries, and almonds. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately, while the cauliflower is still warm. If you don’t use all of the dressing, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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.