Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad is a healthy main-course salad that still feels hearty and keeps you full. Loaded with crisp veggies, salty feta, and slightly spicy harissa chicken thighs, this salad is perfect for a weeknight or busy weekend meal. To save even more time, you can buy pre-marinated harissa chicken thighs from everyone’s favorite grocer, Trader Joe’s, or try my delicious copycat recipe, available here. I love topping this salad with a quick homemade lemony herb dressing (details included in recipe), but if you aren’t in the mood to make your own, I would highly recommend a store-bought ranch.

Ingredients needed to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

My recipe for Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad includes some of my favorite veggies to add to a salad, but don’t let me stop you there. In my experience, the more a salad has in it, the better it gets. This would also be delicious with some halved cherry tomatoes, a different kind of cheese, fresh corn, roasted broccoli, etc. The options for customization are endless! Here’s the full list of ingredients for the salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Harissa chicken thighs (recipe here)
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Radishes (I love watermelon radishes in this salad)
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Cilantro

If you also want to make my favorite easy dressing that compliments this salad perfectly, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tahini
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This salad comes together using the most minimal of kitchen tools. All you need is a few kitchen staples and you’re ready to eat! I used the following tools to make this salad happen:

  • Large cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Large mixing bowl or serving plate
  • Small mixing bowl, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Measuring cups and spoons, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Whisk, optional if making homemade dressing
  • Air fryer, optional if making homemade crispy chickpeas

How to make Harissa Chicken Chopped Salad

This dish is as simple as chopping and plating. If you plan to make your own harissa chicken thighs using my recipe, you’ll want to do that as the first step. The chicken thighs don’t take very long as they’re absolutely worth the effort, trust me!

You’ll begin by chopping everything you need for the salad, including the lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro. Add it all to a large mixing bowl or serving plate, crumble the feta and sprinkle the pomegranate arils on top, then add the crispy chickpeas. You can make these using a simple recipe for Air Fryer crispy chickpeas, available here, or just grab a bag of them already made from the store.

To make the lemony herb dressing, combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Alternatively, you could add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender for an even smoother consistency, but I personally enjoy the texture of the chopped herbs in this dressing. Both methods are excellent and the flavor remains the same!

Slice the chicken and add it to the salad, then drizzle all over with the lemony herb dressing (or dressing of your choice)! It’s so good and the perfect hearty salad for any day of the week.

Looking for other simple, healthy recipes?

Try these ideas from The Ardent Cook

Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Warm Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Recipe Ingredients

2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

Harissa Chicken Thighs, cooked and chopped (store-bought available at Trader Joe’s, or homemade)

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped

2 medium carrots, thinly sliced or shredded

Handful of assorted radishes, thinly sliced 

1 avocado, quartered 

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 cup crispy chickpeas (store-bought, or homemade)

1/8 cup cilantro, chopped, for serving

For the Lemony Herb Dressing

⅛ cup tahini

Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon

1 TBSP dijon mustard

⅛ cup finely chopped cilantro

3 TBSP water, or more if thinner consistency is desired

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine the chopped lettuce, cucumber, carrots, radishes, avocado, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl or arrange on a serving plate. Crumble the feta and scatter the pomegranate arils and crispy chickpeas on top.
  2. Make the dressing, if using. Add the tahini, lemon juice and zest, dijon mustard, cilantro, water, salt, and pepper to a small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Slice the chicken and arrange it on top of the salad. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. To store in the fridge, do not dress the salad. Leftovers keep very well undressed in an airtight container, with the dressing added once you are ready to eat. 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.

Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

I absolutely love all things Chinese food, but when we transitioned to a gluten-free way of eating it ruled out a lot of take-out options. Unfortunately, soy sauce and other soy products contain wheat, and they’re hidden in a lot of dishes. I’ve learned a lot about how to balance the intricate flavors of what we consider “Chinese” cooking (and I’ve still got A LOT to learn about the legit, authentic, traditional recipes), and and I’m pretty proud of how this dish turned out. The combination of the punchy garlic and ginger paired with the sweet honey and earthy toasted sesame oil is mind blowing, plus the dish is pretty healthy! Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

All the ingredients used in this dish are ones I pull out constantly when I’m making anything Asian-inspired. If you love Asian flavors and cook them at home frequently, I would highly recommend stocking up on some of these ingredients to ensure your meals are tasting as true-to-flavor and balanced as possible! Here’s everything you’ll need:

Tools used to make Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

This take-out-inspired dish is wonderful because it requires very basic kitchen equipment. You’ll need the following items: a cutting board, a sharp chef’s knife, a medium pot with lid, a medium-large skillet, a pair of tongs, and a jar with lid OR a medium mixing bowl with a whisk. There are also a few optional kitchen tools that helped make this meal happen quickly, which are a microplane and a force juicer, although the dish can still be successfully made without those items.

How to make Honey Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

This dish happens rather quickly, so I find it’s helpful to have most of your ingredients measured out ahead of time. You’ll begin by cutting your chicken breast into thin 1/4-1/2 inch strips and coating them in a mixture of tapioca starch (this helps our chicken get a nice crispy sear), ground ginger, ground turmeric, and garlic powder. Once your skillet is heated, sear the chicken on both sides. You may need to work in batches to do this in order to avoid crowding the pan. While the chicken sears, steam the broccoli and make the sauce.

I love to make this sauce in a mason jar with a lid so I can just dump everything and shake to mix. However, if you don’t have a mason jar, it works perfectly well to mix everything in a bowl with a whisk. Either option is perfect!

Once all the chicken has been seared, return it all to the skillet and pour in the sauce. The honey will help create a delicious, thick sauce that coats all of the pieces of chicken. You’ll let the sauce simmer with the chicken for a few minutes, toss in the steamed broccoli, and garnish with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and more sesame seeds! Serve it over rice, rice noodles, or eat it as-is. It’s so delicious!

Looking for other Asian-inspired dishes?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Ponzu Greens and Grains Bowl

Aromatic Chicken Meatball Curry

Recipe Ingredients

1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced

2 ½ tbsp tapioca starch

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp garlic powder

2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into florets

3 tbsp avocado oil, divided (1 for searing chicken, 2 for sauce)

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

¼ cup coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce

3 tbsp rice vinegar

¼ cup honey

1 tbsp sriracha, more or less to taste

1 tbsp raw sesame seeds

1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

2 cloves fresh garlic, grated or finely minced

Juice of 1 lime

Cilantro, for serving

Sesame seeds, for serving

Recipe Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into thin strips, each about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Combine the tapioca, ground ginger, ground turmeric, and garlic powder and coat the chicken in the mixture.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the avocado oil in a skillet over medium heat and sear the chicken, working in batches if necessary. While the chicken sears, steam the broccoli until fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the chicken and broccoli are cooking, make the sauce. In a mason-jar with a tight fitting lid OR a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 tbsp avocado oil, sesame oil, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, honey, sriracha, sesame seeds, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic. Shake or whisk to thoroughly combine.
  4. When the chicken is seared, return all of it to the skillet and pour in the sauce. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce with the chicken until the chicken is cooked-through and the sauce has thickened slightly, another 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice.
  5. Add the steamed broccoli, then stir once more to coat everything in the sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and more sesame seeds. Serve hot over rice or rice noodles! 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.

Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

The crossover recipe to end all crossover recipes….. this stew! Yes, I know that wasn’t a complete sentence. Two of my favorite winter meals are french onion soup and beef stew, and I never really thought of combining them until now. I’d say french onion is my top choice, but it’s frustrating that it never feels like a complete meal. It could be that it’s lacking variety in vegetables, there’s not really any protein, etc. So, I created a cross between the two comfort food recipes, added some quinoa for nuttiness and extra volume, and fully lost it when I tasted the first bite. It was that good.

This recipe is made in the Instant Pot, so it’s relatively quick and easy. The steps can be a bit confusing if you don’t read through the instructions fully, so make sure you actually pay attention before beginning the recipe. But, as long as you read everything, you’ll be left with a delicious, wholesome cold-weather dinner in under an hour. Let’s make it!

Ingredients needed to make Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

This stew has a fair amount of ingredients, which is part of the reason the flavors are so complex. I would not recommend leaving anything out. Here’s the full list:

  • Avocado oil
  • Beef stew meat
  • Yellow onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • Water
  • Tomato paste
  • Carrots
  • Quinoa
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sharp cheddar or goat’s milk cheddar cheese
  • Fresh parsley
  • Toasted bread or croutons

Tools used to make Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

As mentioned above, this recipe is made almost entirely in the Instant Pot. If you don’t have an Instant Pot but feel comfortable in the kitchen, you could absolutely try making this on the stovetop or even in a slow-cooker. I did not test the recipe using those methods, so I can’t provide specific instructions. However, it will certainly work as long as you adjust the cooking time accordingly (the Instant Pot works much faster than other methods, so any other method take longer to achieve the same beef tenderness and depth of flavor).

I use the Instant Pot Duo Nova 6-qt, linked here. I absolutely love it. I was NOT a gadget-lover in the kitchen until I bought one of these on a whim, and I promise you- it’s life changing. Other than the Instant Pot itself, you’ll want to gather a few more kitchen items to make this recipe a breeze: a cutting board, a sharp knife, a pair of tongs, measuring cups and spoons, aluminum foil, a rimmed baking sheet, and a stirring utensil. I prefer to use my favorite wooden spoon for stirring, as it’s the perfect length for reaching the bottom of the Instant Pot. That’s it!

How to make Instant Pot French Onion Quinoa and Beef Stew

This stew is not difficult to make, but it does require a few extra steps to ensure everything is cooked to perfection. It drives me nuts when I make a soup and the meat turns out too tough/chewy while the vegetables are so soft they’re falling apart, so I made sure that didn’t happen with this stew. To achieve the perfect tenderness for both the beef and the vegetables, we actually pressure cook the stew twice. The first time, it’s just for the beef, while the second time is for the vegetables and quinoa. It sounds fussy, but I promise it doesn’t take any extra time than if we were to make this on the stove!

You’ll begin by trimming the beef of any fat or cartilage, then cut down any very large pieces. The stew meat should come already cubed, but sometimes there are a few wild pieces that need to be cut in half. Aim for approximately 1-inch pieces of beef.

Once the beef is trimmed, we’ll work in batches to sear it on all sides using the Sauté feature on the Instant Pot. Working in batches is key to ensure our meat gets browned and crispy. If we tried to sear all of the beef at once, the pan would be overcrowded and no browning would occur. Remember: browning= flavor.

Once we’ve seared the beef, we’ll add all of the thinly sliced onions and shallots, garlic, and a little red wine to deglaze the Pot. It’s very important to scrape up all of the caramelized bits that stuck to the Pot as we seared the beef, as those provide amazing flavor in our stew. Once the onions and garlic have absorbed much of the wine and are becoming tender, we’ll transfer them to a plate and return the beef to the Pot.

Next, add a splash of beef broth and start the first round of pressure cooking. The first round takes about 35 minutes start-to-finish, including time for the Pot to pressurize, cook, and then release the pressure. While the beef cooks for the first round, we can prepare the carrots, herbs, and quinoa.

You’ll want to cut the carrots into uniform pieces, each about 1/2 inch thick. Gather your fresh herb sprigs, rinse your quinoa, and maybe even have a glass of wine while you wait.

Once the beef is finished the first round of pressure cooking, we’ll go ahead and add the par-cooked onions and garlic, quinoa, carrots, fresh herbs, and remaining beef broth to the Pot. Close the lid again, and pressure cook the entire stew one final time. We’ll only be cooking it for 2 minutes, however this second round of cooking takes more like 15 minutes start-to-finish, including time for the Pot to pressurize again, cook, and then release the remaining pressure.

Once the stew has finished cooking, taste it for salt and pepper, then season accordingly. Turn your oven to Broil and ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls or crocks. At this point, you can top the soup however you see fit. I love to use a piece of toast and freshly shredded goat’s milk cheddar cheese, while Jeff prefers to top his with salad croutons. Alternatively, this stew is excellent served over mashed potatoes, or eaten as-is. You can absolutely customize it and have a delicious meal!

Looking for other soup recipes?

Try these from The Ardent Cook!

Herbed Chicken Tortellini Soup

Chipotle Peanut Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Pepitas

Potato, Leek, and Corn Chowder

Recipe Ingredients

1 tbsp avocado oil

1.5 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 medium shallots, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup red wine

One 32oz container beef broth, divided

1 cup water

2 tbsp Tomato paste

3 medium carrots, cut into ½ inch pieces

¾ cup quinoa, rinsed

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Toast or croutons, for serving

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese, for serving

Fresh parsley, chopped, for serving

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Trim beef of any fat or cartilage and ensure there are no excessively large pieces. Each cube should be roughly 1-inch in size. Season the beef on all sides with salt and black pepper. Turn Instant Pot to “Sauté” and sear the beef, working in batches to avoid crowding the pot. 
  2. Once all the beef has been seared on both sides, remove it from the pot and add the onions. Stir to coat in the beef drippings and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions begin to take on some color. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Stir in the red wine to deglaze the Instant Pot. The onions and garlic will soak up some of the wine and start to become tender. Cook for 2-3 minutes until most of the wine has been absorbed by the onions or evaporated, then transfer the mixture to a bowl. 
  4. Add the beef back into the Instant Pot along with ¼ cup beef broth. Close the lid and ensure the vent is in the “Sealing” position. Turn the Instant Pot to “Pressure Cook” and then “High Pressure.” Set the timer for 20 minutes and let it go. Once the time is up, let the Pot naturally release pressure for 10 minutes, then carefully quick-release the remaining steam by opening the vent. 
  5. To the Pot with the cooked beef, add the water, par-cooked onions, quinoa, carrots, herbs, tomato paste, and remaining beef broth. Return the lid to the Pot and follow the same process as above to pressurize the Pot, this time setting the timer for 2 minutes. Let the soup pressure cook once more, allowing for 5 minutes of natural release once the time is up. After 5 minutes, quick-release the steam and safely take the lid off. 
  6. Turn your oven to broil and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls or crocks and top with a piece of toast or handful of croutons, followed by the shredded cheddar. Place the filled crocks onto the lined baking sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden brown. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy hot!

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.

Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail

This cocktail was inspired by one of my favorite local businesses, The Salt House in New Hope, PA. A delicious combination of fresh beet juice, aromatic ginger and rosemary, a touch of sweetness, and a little bubble, this cocktail is everything you’d want from a holiday beverage. The ingredients are fresh and simple, so you feel good drinking it despite the shot of vodka that’s in there. I hope you enjoy this bright and inspired cocktail and have a wonderful holiday celebration, no matter how different it looks this year!

Ingredients needed to make the Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail

The ingredients needed to make this cocktail can vary depending on what equipment you have at home. We have a fruit and vegetable juicer, so we actually juiced our own beets and ginger. However, don’t fret if you don’t have an expensive juicer, because both beet and ginger juices can be found in the produce section at most grocery stores! Here’s everything you’ll need:

Tools used to make the Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail

As mentioned above, we used a juicer to make our fresh beet and lemon juices. This is absolutely optional, as most grocery stores sell fresh pressed juices in their produce section. Love Beets is a great brand to seek out for pure, unsweetened beet juice, and those infamous ginger “immunity shots” in the refrigerated section are perfect to add that ginger punch to this drink. Regardless of whether you choose to use a juicer, these are the other tools you’ll need to make this cocktail:

How to make the Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail

This cocktail requires as much or as little fuss as you want to put into it. For my boyfriend who enjoys craft cocktail making, he does all the fuss. He juiced everything for me when we first tried to recreate this drink and even went out into the snow to clip the fresh rosemary from our herb garden. Don’t have a lot of time? Don’t worry! Use the store-bought juices and enjoy your life It’s entirely up to you.

You’ll begin by making the rosemary simple syrup, which sounds much fancier than it is. Combine the water, sugar, and fresh rosemary springs in a small saucepan and let bubble until the sugar is just dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely before discarding the rosemary so the flavor really infuses.

Next, we assemble the cocktail. Combine all ingredients except the sparkling water into a cocktail shaker or large mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a few ice cubes and shake until the cocktail is mixed well and chilled.

Strain into your favorite fancy glasses and top with as much or as little sparkling water as you like. I also love to garnish with a little fresh rosemary so people know what to expect when they take a sip. That’s it! The ingredients listed in this recipe make enough for 2 generous cocktails, so keep that in mind when considering whether or not to double (or triple) this recipe!

Looking for a delicious appetizer to pair with the Holiday Heart Beet Cocktail?

Try these other recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Pomegranate Goat Cheese Guacamole

Whipped Feta Dip

Muhammara-Style Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Recipe Ingredients

Makes 2 cocktails

4oz fresh beet juice

1oz fresh ginger juice

1oz rosemary simple syrup (recipe below*)

1oz fresh lemon juice

3oz vodka

3-4oz sparkling water

Recipe Instructions

  1. Make the rosemary simple syrup. *Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is just dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely before discarding rosemary.
  2. Make the cocktail. Combine beet juice, ginger juice, simple syrup, lemon juice, and vodka in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well for 30 seconds or so, then strain into two cocktail glasses.
  3. Top each glass with 1-2 ounces sparkling water and garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig. 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.

Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

The holidays always bring about strong feelings of comfort food, and this Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni fills the void so incredibly well. If gluten and dairy aren’t for you, I’ve tested this recipe using a grain-free pasta alternative as well as dairy-free milk and cheese. Luckily, there are loads of swaps you can make to create the dish that works for you based upon your dietary needs, or just use the real stuff. I love this as an easy weeknight dinner or as a solution to your Christmas Eve dinner needs for gatherings large and small. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients needed to make Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

This dish uses all the traditional Italian pasta ingredients like rigatoni, ground sausage, herbs, and cheese. Here’s a full list of everything you’ll need, plus links to some swaps I used to make this compliant with my current gluten- and dairy-free eating habits:

  • Rigatoni or other cylindrical pasta shape (I like this brand if GF)
  • Ground Sweet Italian sausage
  • Olive oil
  • Kale
  • Fresh garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flake
  • Heavy cream (substitute non-dairy milk or cream alternative if DF)
  • Pasta cooking water
  • Mozzarella (substitute non-dairy cheese or goat cheese, if tolerated)
  • Lemon zest
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Tools used to make Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

I love pasta dishes because they take close to no equipment to pull off. This dish comes together with only a few tools, most of which you likely already have. Here’s the complete list:

How to make Creamy Sausage and Kale Rigatoni

This pasta recipe is very straightforward, making it a welcome addition to any weekly meal plan. It’s also the perfect recipe to throw together the night before a big holiday, such as, ahem, Christmas Eve… particularly if you haven’t finished wrapping gifts for the big day.

You’ll start by cooking your pasta in the pasta pot according to package directions. Be sure to reserve approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining, as this helps us achieve a silky creamy sauce that adheres to each noodle.

While the pasta cooks, brown your sausage in a large skillet or deep pot. I prefer to use my Dutch oven for this step. Once browned, push the sausage into a ring at the outside of the pan to make space in the middle for the garlic. Add the olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes, stirring it around until fragrant, then stir to combine with the sausage. Add the kale and stir again, allowing it to wilt slightly.

Once the pasta is drained, add it directly into the pot with the sausage and kale while still hot. Add the heavy cream, pasta cooking water, and cheese, folding everything together. If needed, you may turn the burner on low to encourage melting of the cheese and thickening of the sauce.

Once the pasta is creamy and all ingredients are incorporated, fold in the freshly grated lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately! Leftovers keep well in the fridge or freezer.

Looking for other weeknight comfort food ideas?

Try these recipes from The Ardent Cook!

Favorite Roast Chicken

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas with Cucumber Raita

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Recipe Ingredients

1lb Rigatoni

1lb ground sweet Italian sausage

1tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste

1 head kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed

1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid

1 cup mozzarella cheese

1 tbsp fresh lemon zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions Before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, brown sausage in a large skillet or deep pot. Once browned, push sausage to the sides of the pan and make an open area in the center.
  3. Add olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to the center of the pan and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Mix to incorporate with the sausage. Add the kale and stir again, allowing it to wilt.
  4. Add the pasta directly to the pan with the sausage and kale, turn the pan to low heat, then stir in the heavy cream, pasta cooking liquid, and mozzarella. Fold consistently until a creamy sauce forms. You may use additional cream to achieve your desired sauce consistency, if needed.
  5. Stir in the freshly grated lemon zest, salt, and pepper, 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.

Green Curry Chicken Tacos

Curry of any kind is one of my favorite foods and I truly think I could eat a variety of curry every night for dinner. In an effort to change it up from the usual protein, vegetables, curry sauce, and rice, I thought I’d give a curried taco recipe a go and BOY am I glad I did. This easy green curry chicken comes together in under 15 minutes in the Instant Pot, then gets stuffed into a delicious soft tortilla and topped with a few effortless garnishes. So easy and SO flavorful- let’s make ’em!

Ingredients needed to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos

Here’s everything you’ll need to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos:

Tools used to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos

These chicken tacos come together fastest and easiest when you use a pressure cooker, such as the Instant Pot. If you don’t have one, you can also cook the chicken in the oven using a covered Dutch oven, but be prepared that this method takes significantly longer. In addition to the Instant Pot, you’ll need the following tools:

How to make Green Curry Chicken Tacos

The entire process takes about 30 minutes start-to-finish when you factor in the time it takes the Instant Pot to pressurize and depressurize. You’ll start by mincing or grating your garlic and ginger and cutting each chicken breast in half crosswise. Place the chicken, garlic, ginger, curry paste, and coconut milk in the instant pot and stir until roughly combined. Set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure and set the timer to 11 minutes. Let the Instant Pot do its magic while you prepare the toppings.

Finely chop the cilantro and set aside. In a small, dry skillet, toast the cashews over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop them.

Once the chicken has finished cooking, allow the Instant Pot 5-7 minutes of natural release, then carefully open the valve to quickly release the rest of the pressure. Using tongs, place the chicken onto the cutting board (you could also do this in a large mixing bowl) and shred using two forks. Turn the Instant Pot to sauté and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken. Return the chicken to the pot to soak in the curry sauce.

Warm your tortillas over the flame of your gas stove, or in the same dry skillet that you toasted the cashews in. Place the chicken into each tortilla, then top with the cilantro, cashews, and a little sriracha if desired. Enjoy!

Looking for other quick and easy recipes?

Instant Pot Lemongrass Pork Bowls

Herbed Chicken Tortellini Soup

Roasted Apricot Chicken

Recipe Ingredients

2-3lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (3 medium breasts)

1-inch knob ginger, minced or grated

3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

3oz green curry paste, such as Mike’s Organic Curry Love

1 13.5oz can full-fat coconut milk, unsweetened

Small (taco-sized) tortillas, any variety, or jicama wraps

1/2 cup raw cashews

Sriracha, for serving

Cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving

Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Cut each chicken breast in half crosswise. Place chicken, ginger, garlic, curry paste, and coconut milk into the bowl of the Instant Pot. Turn the Instant Pot to Manual, then High Pressure, and set the timer for 11 minutes. Let the Instant Pot do its work, then allow for 5-7 minutes of natural pressure release before carefully opening the valve to quick-release the remaining steam. **If using oven method, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and add above ingredients to a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, then bake for 1-1.5 hours until the chicken easily shreds with a fork.**
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings for the tacos. In a small, dry skillet, toast the cashews over medium-low heat until golden in color and fragrant. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop, then set aside. Roughly chop the cilantro, then warm the tortillas in the same skillet that you toasted the cashews in. Alternatively, you may char the tortillas over the open flame if you have a gas stove.
  3. Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot and shred using two forks. Turn the pot to the sauté feature and let the curry sauce simmer for 10 minutes or so, until reduced and slightly thicker. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken to the sauce.
  4. Assemble the tacos. Place a serving of chicken into each tortilla, then top with the cilantro, cashews, and sriracha, if desired. 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.

Filet Mignon with Turnip Cauliflower Purée

Man oh man, this meal is an absolute stunner. A while back during pandemic grocery-scarcity scares, we ordered a grass-fed, pastured meat and poultry box from one of my favorite online retailers and got two free filet mignons in the package. I had been saving them for something special, until I realized that 2020 was a complete sh*t storm and I could make filet mignon on a weeknight and call it a special occasion. Paired with an earthy (not to mention low-carb) puree of white turnips and cauliflower, these steaks are filled with flavor and take just minutes to cook to a perfect medium rare. Go ahead and bookmark this recipe for your next date night in, or just a random Thursday- who really cares anymore!

Ingredients needed to make Filet Mignon with Turnip Cauliflower Purée

It goes without saying that you need a couple filets to make this recipe. If you wanted to use a different cut of steak, you certainly could, using the same cooking method described in this recipe and adjusting the time based on the weight of the meat. I will say that the tender, almost-buttery nature of the filet pairs so well with the turnip cauliflower purée that I’d highly recommend you splurge on the filet, but any steak will still taste great. Here’s the full list:

  • Olive oil
  • Filet mignon
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Cauliflower
  • White (Hakurei) turnips
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Red wine
  • Salt and pepper

Tools used to make Filet Mignon with Turnip Cauliflower Purée

You don’t need a whole lot of equipment to make this dish, as most of the work is done in your cast iron skillet. The purée comes together best in a food processor or high-speed blender, but it can certainly be done using a hand-masher in a pinch (and with a little extra effort). Other than those two items, you’ll also need a large pot to steam the cauliflower, a sharp chef’s knife, a meat thermometer, a stirring utensil, paper towels, measuring cups and spoons, and a large cutting board. It’s a pretty straight-forward list, and hopefully you have most of the equipment stocked in your kitchen! If not, I’ve provided links to some of the items I use above.

How to make Filet Mignon with Turnip Cauliflower Purée

I absolutely love teaching people how to make steak, because more often then not they realize just how easy it is. I used to fret constantly about making any kind of meat besides chicken, and for no good reason. Once I got a meat thermometer, it totally changed the game for me. I stopped worrying about the time and learned to cook to the feel and temperature. Curious what I mean by that? I’ll give you a brief explanation here… if you want to go really in-depth, I’d recommend signing up for one of my private Zoom cooking courses where I can really take time to answer your individual questions and we can make this dish together in real time. Shoot me an email at ‘theardentcookblog@gmail.com’ if that sounds like something you’re interested in (hint: a Zoom cooking class makes a wonderful gift!).

Now back to the steak. When I say, “cook to the feel,” I mean literally TOUCH YOUR MEAT. I’m not asking you to give it a massage, but don’t be afraid to poke it with a clean finger. Getting a lot of resistance? It’s probably done, or overdone. Still tender? It could probably use more time. As you continue to do this, you’ll start to get a calibration for how the meat you enjoy feels. When I say, “cook to the temperature,” that means exactly what it says. Don’t just use your meat thermometer, but rely on it. I will check my meat numerous times throughout the process of cooking, and not just at the end of cooking! For example, taking the temperature of the meat when you know it’s NOT done serves as an excellent benchmark to help you guess how much longer it needs. I like to take the temperature of my steaks after they are seared but before they go into the oven as a way to gauge how long to leave them in the oven for. This probably sounds overwhelming, but think of it like a tire gauge! You probably check your tires halfway through filling them with air so you know how far you have left to go, right? Same concept here.

Now back to how we actually make this dish. It’s pretty simple. You’ll begin by steaming your cauliflower florets and turnips until fork tender. Drain them completely, then set them aside so you can pay full attention to your steaks, because they cook quickly. You’ll sear the steaks for a few minutes per side over medium-high heat in your oven-safe skillet, then transfer them immediately to the preheated oven. Set your timer, but don’t be afraid to air on the side of caution. You can always add time, but you can’t take it away, and nothing is worse than an overcooked steak.

Once the steaks are done, take them out of the oven and let them REST. Rest is so important to ensure that all of those flavorful juices you cultivated during the cooking process recirculate into the meat and keep it moist. If you cut into it too soon, those precious juices will grace your cutting board rather than your taste buds.

While the steaks rest, you’ll make your turnip cauliflower purée and red wine pan sauce. Add all of the ingredients for the purée to your food processor and blend until no lumps remain, then transfer to a serving bowl. Return the skillet you cooked the steaks in to the stove (leave the steaks to rest on the cutting board) and heat it over medium heat. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up all of the bits from the bottom of the skillet, and allow it to reduce by half. Once it’s reduced, add the final tablespoon of butter and whisk until combined.

To serve, scoop the purée onto each plate and top with the steak (sliced against the grain). Drizzle all over with the red wine pan sauce and enjoy immediately!

Looking for more date-night-in recipes from The Ardent Cook?

Give these other delicious dishes a try!

Favorite Roast Chicken

Wild Mushroom Farro with Parmesan and Microgreens

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Buttered Sage Breadcrumbs

Recipe Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 (5oz) filet mignons

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 medium head cauliflower

1lb white (Hakurei) turnips

3 tbsp butter, divided

2 tbsp sour cream

¼ cup red wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Recipe Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot with 1-2 inches of water to a boil. Cut the cauliflower into florets and quarter or halve the turnips, depending on their size. Steam the vegetables until fork tender, approximately 5 minutes, then drain and set aside. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then heat olive oil in a cast-iron skillet (or other oven-safe pan) over medium-high heat on the stove. 
  3. Pat the filets dry with a paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. When the oil is hot, sear the steaks without disturbing for 2 minutes each side. Transfer to the oven and continue to cook for 2-4 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (for medium rare). You may continue to cook the steak in the oven if a higher internal temperature is desired. 
  4. Remove the filets from the oven and allow them to rest for at least 10 minutes on a cutting board. While the steaks rest, make the puree. Combine the steamed cauliflower and turnips along with 2 tablespoons of the butter, sour cream, and pinch each of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until few lumps remain and the mixture is mostly smooth.  
  5. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Use caution and remember that the handle will be hot, as it was just in the oven! Add the wine and stir, scraping up the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the sauce has reduced by half, then whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter. 
  6. Spoon the turnip cauliflower puree onto a plate. Slice the steak, against the grain, and plate on top of the mash. Spoon over the red wine reduction and finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. 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.

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.