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Bold without being “in your face”, this winter salad takes advantage of raw shaved Brussels sprouts, which gives crunch and a mild cabbage flavor. Crispy potatoes add another layer of texture, and cheddar cheese lends a pleasant tang. The whole thing is drizzled with a bright honey mustard dressing, bringing all the flavors together.

1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 apple
Juice of 1 lemon
6 oz pecans, roughly chopped
5 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, small dice
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Toss potatoes with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for 30 minutes, or until dark golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Thinly slice the brussels sprouts and add to the bowl.
4. Thinly slice the apple and then cut into matchsticks. Toss with lemon juice and add to the bowl.
5. Add pecans and cheese to the bowl.
6. Whisk together the mustards, honey, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil until emulsified.
7. Drizzle honey mustard vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.

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1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and thinly sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 sprigs fresh sage
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta
5 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
1 lb part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. To make the squash: Gently toss the butternut squash slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Scatter 3 sprigs of sage on top of the squash and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until caramelized.
3. To make the roux: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour to the pan and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk to the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the garlic and remaining sprig of sage and cook over low heat, whisking often to prevent scorching. After 15 minutes, remove from the heat and discard garlic and sage. Season the bechamel with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne.
4. To make the ricotta: Combine ricotta with spinach. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour 1/4 of the bechamel into the bottom of a greased pan and spread to cover the bottom (I used an 8″ x 10″ aluminum pan, but whatever you make lasagna or baked ziti in will work).
6. Place noodles over the bechamel, breaking them apart as needed to fill in all gaps.
7. Top noodles evenly with the ricotta mixture.
8. Scatter 1/4 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta.
9. Repeat the layers: bechamel, noodles, ricotta, and mozzarella. Mozzarella should be the final layer.
10. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour. Remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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Note: needs more bechamel. Adjust quantity for this recipe in the future.

Oh yeah. It’s pumpkin season, bitches.

I used this recipe, which I adapted in the following ways:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, spice, and salt and whisk.
3. In a small bowl, combine honey, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg and whisk.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
6. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups (standard 12, or 6 large if you’re weird like me).
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating halfway, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

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I don’t need to go on about the flavors of autumn. We all know about cinnamon and root vegetables and pies and roasts. Every year kitchens are taken hostage by the warm flavors of the season, and mine is no exception.

After a red wine, braised meat-type of a night, I finished everything off with sweet potato custard, and I used this recipe to do it. I swapped the canned pumpkin for canned sweet potato puree, added vanilla extract because it seemed logical, and skipped on the topping out of sheer laziness. It was too rich when it was warm, but served out of the fridge with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, it was the perfect dessert for a chilly fall night. To steal the words of my dinner date, who, by the way, ate this in his underwear with me, “It tastes like autumn, in a bowl.”