Squash and Country Ham Hand Pies

Listen up, friends – it’s fall! Ok, it’s been fall ever since this epically delicious mac and cheese found its way into our mouths and hearts. But in this moment, fall means cozy, savory hand pies stuffed with an earthy butternut squash and salty country ham filling. And did I mention the pastry is loaded with toasted pecans? Yup. Fully channeling autumnal North Carolina goodness here.

hand reaching for one Squash and Country Ham Hand Pie
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Caramelized Onion and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Every once in a while a meal is created that you just want to curl up in bed and snuggle with. This is that meal. Macaroni and cheese already falls squarely in the comfort food category but when you add sweet caramelized onions and salty, smoky bacon to it… It’s a real situation. You might be thinking, “Nah, that sounds too rich for me,” to which I would say, “Get real. It definitely is not.”

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Homemade Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Ravioli

Ok, are you all familiar with the amazingness that is homemade pasta? It’s in its own category of greatness, especially when you stuff it with ricotta, goat cheese, basil, and little pops of fresh sweet corn and spicy jalapeno. Come on – sweet, spicy, herby, and creamy? These are words I live my life by. And honestly, the texture of homemade pasta is just unbeatable. Once you try it, you’ll never look back. (Except when you feel lazy and just want a bowl of buttery spaghetti out of a box. I feel you.)

Homemade Corn and Jalapeno Ravioli
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Coffee-Rubbed Smoked Pork Butt

In northeastern North Carolina, and several other parts of the country, summer really isn’t summer without smoked pork. That said, neither is fall, winter, or spring. This kind of cooking is a ritual and usually carries some subtext of a super relaxed afternoon, day-drinking, and some good company. The day before we made this Coffee-Rubbed Smoked Pork Butt, I’d been writing an article for Mashed about adding coffee to your steak rub. I couldn’t get the dang idea out of my mind, except I wanted to test it out on pork. So after some thought, I added ground coffee to Bon Appetit’s very basic 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Immediately, I knew it was all my luscious little pork butt needed. The rich, roasty, slightly bitter flavor of the coffee married perfectly with paprika, salt, sugar, and cayenne. The only thing left to add was a little smoke.

Coffe Rub Spice Blend
Coffee Rub Spice Blend
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Pasta with Fresh Tomato Butter Sauce

In honor of this very delicious tomato season, here is another fresh tomato recipe! This one comes in the form of a light, buttery sauce coating thin spaghetti, garnished with bunches and bunches of fresh basil, and a little grated Parm (if that’s your style). Ya’ll. It’s so good and perfect and easy. I made it for lunch the other day and I’m not usually someone who drags out a pan and lights up the stove for lunch. But these fresh, juicy tomatoes were calling my name.

chopped tomatoes in a bowl
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Fresh Tomato Basil Tart

The sun and the rain and the air have been really good to us on the OBX this summer and we have tomatoes for days. And basil is growing like a weed! I am reluctant to cook fresh garden tomatoes too much. Considering how sweet and juicy they are, it feels like a vegetable crime. But sometimes, an idea comes along that’s too good to resist and splaying these fresh tomatoes out all over a buttery, flaky tart dough showered with tons of fresh basil seemed like the best possible move. It’s like summertime on a plate. If the tomatoes in my tart picture look too round and uniform to have been homegrown by me, you are correct. I bought these from the farmer’s market because mine weren’t ripe enough yet. But, a week or so later, I proudly swung in from the garden with these beauties! Some of whom are definitely destined for another Fresh Tomato Basil Tart. Or, maybe this buttery tomato pasta? TBD.

fresh tomatoes on a kitchen towel
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Garlicky White Pizza with Kale and Mushrooms

Lately, anything hanging around in our kitchen becomes an excuse to make pizza and I kind of love it. Since this pizza dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas, I always seem to have some in the freezer. I’m stuck in a pizza loop and highly recommend you get stuck in one too. I posted the recipe for the topping to this pizza, Mushrooms and Kale with Breadcrumbs, last week, alluding to this moment, and today is the day! This garlicky, veggie-loaded pizza, with fluffy clouds of ricotta and a balsamic drizzle (if you’re fancy) is all yours!

charred veggies equal awesome pizza

There’s nothing wrong with a meat and cheese pizza, but the vegetables on this puppy really send it over the top. (That, and all the roasted garlic cooked into the white sauce. Duh🤷‍♀️) Since the kale and mushrooms are already cooked before they’re loaded onto this pizza, they end up powerroasting while it bakes. That’s a new term I’m throwing out there just for this recipe. Powerroasting (verb): deeply charring food, resulting in irresistibly delicious texture. It’s so good but, just a word of caution, the kale and mushrooms will change colors to dark green and brown… almost black? Don’t be scared, its exactly what you want. Charred perfection.

Garlicky White Pizza with Kale and Mushrooms
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Beef and Arugula Meatballs

When life gives you wilting arugula, make meatballs! These Beef and Arugula Meatballs are my go-to for an easy weeknight meal/appetizer and a swift rescue for a bag of arugula that is quickly yellowing, on the verge of becoming slimy, in my fridge. We’ve all been here, right? Yellow? Sad? Yes.

Sad-looking arugula for Beef and Arugula Meatballs
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Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates

This recipe today is a full-on flavor factory! Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemon and Dates! It’s spicy, a little sweet and tangy, and super comforting. My favorite part? The rice cooked in the chicken’s salty, hot pepper-flavored juices. Chicken Fat Rice? Juicy Chicken Rice? There’s a good term for it in there somewhere, I just don’t know what it is. Just trust me, it’s the best. 

Harissa Chicken and Rice with Lemons and Dates
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Beet and Bacon Risotto

You guys… this Beet and Bacon Risotto…! It’s too good to be allowed. What’s not to love about risotto already, with all its creamy, carby goodness? But this one is all aswirl with shredded beets and crispy bacon, offering that perfect salty/sweet combo, rounded out with gobs of grated parm and a smidge (more than a smidge) of bacon fat. Are you ready? Let’s go⬇️

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