Butternut Squash Frittata with Fried Sage

Savory butternut squash and Parmesan frittata with fried sage on top - cookieandkate.com

It’s very strange to be a private, reserved person with a public job. Sometimes I can hardly stand to publish another post and put myself out there for critique all over again. I’ve pulled back from writing about personal matters on this once-little corner of the internet over time, even though ninety-nine percent of you all are so kind and encouraging. (Thank you.)

butternut and sage

I catch myself doing the same in new relationships—not opening up, not being myself, turning into a generic people pleaser. Vulnerability terrifies me and it’s safer to just bob along on the surface. This week went south and that’s all I can muster up to say about it.

This frittata, though. I guess I should say something about it. You should make it. It’s full of sweet butternut squash, sautéed onion and salty Parmesan cheese, topped with crispy fried sage. It’s a great gluten-free holiday brunch option.

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Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella

Wintery butternut kale panzanella salad - by @cookieandkate

Are you knee-deep in holiday overwhelm? Me, too. I got most of my holiday shopping squared away and ate a proper dinner last night, so that’s something. I’m going to call this salad a proper dinner-in-a-bowl. It’s full of roasted winter squash, nutritious greens, whole grains, seeds and olive oil. Granted, this blog needed another kale salad like my closet needed another motorcycle jacket… which is to say not really but absolutely.

Traditional panzanella is a summertime salad made with cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, vinegar and homemade croutons made from stale bread. As far as I can tell, though, any salad featuring vegetables, vinaigrette and big ol’ homemade croutons qualifies as panzanella these days. This salad calls for a healthy amount of olive oil, of course, so now seems like prime time to share some photos of my trip to the olive oil harvest this fall.

butternut and meCalifornia Olive Ranch invited me and a few other bloggers (Erin/Naturally Ella, Kelsey/Happyolks, Brenda/A Farmgirl’s Dabbles, Stacey/Delightful Crumb!) out to the Sacramento area for a couple of days at the end of October. The two lovely ladies in charge of marketing for California Olive Ranch, Kirsten and Grace, were warm and welcoming and fit right in with the rest of the crew.

During those two days, I was just hanging out with friends who are as passionate about good food as I am. It was grand. I wasn’t obligated to post about the trip, but it was so inspiring and insightful that I didn’t want to keep it all to myself.

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15 Wholesome Holiday Treats

Healthier holiday treats that everyone will love! See them at cookieandkate.com

This week is eating my lunch! Yesterday’s photo shoot didn’t work out as planned and I’m writing from the auto service department this morning. Free WiFi is hardly softening the blow of their outrageous repair estimate. Rumble grumble!

I thought I’d share some of my very favorite sweet and savory holiday treats today. If you’re on the hunt for Christmas appetizers or cookies, I’ve got you covered! All of these recipes are made with 100 percent whole grains and many are naturally sweetened as well. I’ve left notes for which are vegan and/or gluten free so you can find just the right fix. What’s your pick? I’d like one of each, please.

spicy molasses cookies

No. 1: Spicy Molasses Cookies

These not-too-sweet, grown-up cookies are fantastic on their own or with an afternoon cup of coffee.

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Easy Salted Oat Fudge

Healthy salted oat fudge! Tastes like a cross between fudge and no-bake cookies. cookieandkate.com

This fudge happened by accident. Back when I was perfecting my granola bar recipe, I decided to warm up the almond butter mixture for one of the test batches. When I stirred in the chocolate chips, they melted—as chocolate chips do when they’re stirred into warm liquids. Head smack.

The chocolatey mix tasted great, but I cursed those chips for melting because I wasn’t trying to make solid chocolate bars. I couldn’t waste a precious blend of chocolate, honey and almond butter blends, however, so I carried on with the recipe and served it as a makeshift dessert at girls’ night. Jordan, Tessa and Alissa are always good sports.

easy healthy fudge ingredients

We all enjoyed the chocolatey bars that night, but I was still mad at them for not being what I wanted them to be. “Off you go!” I declared, and sent the rest home with Jordan. She texted me a couple of days later to tell me that she and her husband had polished off the whole batch already and she was craving more. She called it “salted oat fudge” and suggested I publish the recipe, so here we are!

These delicious, easy, wholesome chocolate squares taste like a cross between fudge and no-bake cookies. You just can’t go wrong with a hybrid between fudge and no-bake cookies, am I right?

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Cinnamon Maple Caramel Popcorn

Cinnamon maple caramel popcorn, simple to make with all natural ingredients - cookieandkate.com

It’s been two days since I published my gift guide and I’ve made no progress on my holiday shopping list. I have, however, consumed lots and lots of this simple, maple-sweetened caramel corn. I can’t help myself! This is the one time of year that I wish I worked at an office, just for the homemade, powdered sugar-dusted cookies and chocolate peanut butter buckeyes.

naturally sweetened caramel popcorn

I’ve managed to appease my holiday cravings with my own homemade treats. Case in point? This popcorn. It’s dangerously easy to make and I’m powerless in the presence of its salty-sweet, cinnamon-flavored crunchiness.

Most caramel popcorn is made with corn syrup, which is an ingredient I’d rather avoid, plus a lot of butter. This healthier, dairy-free, homemade version is made simply with reduced maple syrup, nut butter, spices and freshly popped popcorn. And it is delicious.

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Holiday Entertaining Gift Guide (Treat Yourself!)

Holiday entertaining gift guide (my favorite things to give, or to get!) - cookieandkate.com

Do you have your Christmas gifts ready to go? Not me. I have a list, though! This gift guide is for my fellow shopping procrastinators. I wasn’t sure what to call it—Kate’s favorite things? Holiday gift guide? Entertaining essentials? Well, I’m not sure a waffle maker qualifies as essential, but it’s earned the shelf space in my little kitchen.

Basically, these are all items that I own and love and would buy for all of my friends if I were Oprah. On that note, this post contains affiliate links. Here we go:

Le Creuset cast iron Dutch ovens: My babies! I own two of these and I’m convinced that they are magic because they make everything I cook in them taste better. I love the idea of passing these heavy duty pots on someday. I have a smaller 3 1/2-quart oven (shown here, great for cooking for four or so) and a bigger 5 1/2-quart oven for larger quantities. Available in tons of colors on Williams-Sonoma (free shipping through December 20 with code FREESHIP) and Amazon (also with free shipping, no code required—here’s the 3 1/2-quart and the 5 1/2-quart).

Red and white baker’s twine: This twine makes everything wrapped in it look festive. I like to wrap gifts in brown kraft paper and wrap them a couple of times with this twine. Then I address them with a gold gel pen for a little sparkle. Tie on a small pine cone or sprig of evergreen or rosemary if you want to be extra cute.

Caldrea green tea verbena hand soap: I love this hand soap from Target. It doesn’t have any bad-for-you chemicals in it and smells fantastic. I’m a big fan of the refillable glass bottles and just bought some replacement soap for when I run out.

Everlane silk button-down: Have you heard of Everlane? It’s an online-only shop that cut out the middlemen to sell high quality pieces at low prices. Their silk blouses are absolutely gorgeous and so well made that I plan to wear them forever (they’re much nicer than J. Crew and cost less!). I’m obsessed with the silk pocket blouse. I also love the silk round collar shirt, which has a slightly oversized fit. The cashmere crew is on my Christmas list!

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible: Meet my most-used cookbook, which is an unconventional one. It doesn’t have any recipes inside. It’s a flavor thesaurus, if you will—you can look up any ingredient and see what other flavors might go well with it. The authors of the original Flavor Bible just came out with a more extensive vegetarian book (shown here) and I’m in love.

Wusthof classic 7″ santoku knife: This is my chef’s knife. I use it every day. It slices through vegetables like butter and fits nicely in my hand. I’ve bought one for my mom and my uncle just bought one, too. I won’t stop until everyone owns a great chef’s knife!

Bose soundLink mini bluetooth speaker: I can’t listen to music on tinny, trebly little speakers. They make my ears hurt. I bought this little guy for my office and have also used it to play podcasts in the kitchen. The sound is incredible and fills the whole room (even my living room!). I read way too many reviews for small Bluetooth speakers when I was shopping for one—just do yourself a favor and buy this one.

Favorite wine glasses - cookieandkate.com

Schott Zwiesel “universal tumblers” (set of 6), otherwise known as my wine glasses. I break even the “unbreakable” stemmed glasses and have to worry about Cookie’s wagging tail knocking them over. I replaced my cheap, clunky wine glasses with these crystal clear stemless glasses over a year ago and I haven’t broken a single one! They’re beautiful, practical and durable and I swear, those sexy rims make cheap wine taste better.

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