Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts | Sarah J. Hauser #sides #dinner #paleo #easyweeknight

I tend to overcomplicate things. While researching a recipe using bread I thought, “Well, why not just make the bread myself?” That’s all fine and good. Things with homemade bread taste better. But while I daydreamed about the smell of dough in the oven, a pile of laundry sat in my bedroom, dishes from two meals ago filled my sink, I had yet to shower, and I watched my one-year-old running by with a diaper about to explode. I don’t have time for homemade bread—but I bookmarked the recipe for another day. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week. Or when my kids drive off to college. For now, I need to simplify.

In the spirit of simplicity, I thought I’d share what I do most nights for meals. I’ve slowly learned to get more realistic about dinner. Then when I can make the space, I add in a new dish or try an interesting ingredient. But many nights, our menu consists of a green veggie, a starch, and a protein. Tomorrow, we’re doing baked chicken drumsticks, green beans, and corn. Another day, we did baked salmon, rice, and roasted asparagus. Sometimes I’ll follow a new recipe or make a stew or soup on the stove or in the slow cooker. But the formula still stands: beef stew, mashed potatoes, peas (technically a legume, but whatever).

Also, 9 times out of 10, whatever vegetable I make is roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. That’s it. Keep it simple. In the recipe below, I added a little maple syrup—’cause every once in awhile you gotta’ go wild.

This formula makes it easy to mix and match, and I can gradually introduce new foods to my kiddos. If we’re going to have brussels sprouts, a food not exactly known for being kid-friendly, I’ll make sure the other two parts of the meal are relatively well-liked (although, kids are quite fickle, so you never can know for sure). They have to try at least one bite of the new food. If they don’t like it at least they’re not leaving the meal hungry, and I’m not making a whole separate dinner for them. If I’ve got time for that, I’d rather go back to making the homemade bread.

Everyone has their own methods for feeding their families, and I’m still learning as we go. For now, this seems to work for us more often than not.

How about you? Do you meal plan? What tips and tricks have you found helpful as you’re getting dinner on the table? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts | Sarah J. Hauser #sides #dinner #paleo #easyweeknight
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts | Sarah J. Hauser #sides #dinner #paleo #easyweeknight
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts | Sarah J. Hauser #sides #dinner #paleo #easyweeknight
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts | Sarah J. Hauser #sides #dinner #paleo #easyweeknight

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts
Yields 4-6 servings

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾”-1” pieces
2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (large ones quartered)
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup*
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus another pinch
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread the sweet potatoes out onto two large rimmed baking sheets. (If you crowd it onto one baking sheet, the vegetables won’t brown as well.) Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and the maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt. Toss the sweet potatoes to make sure they’re evenly coated with the olive oil, syrup, and salt.

Bake for 16-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to toss the potatoes. Add the brussels sprouts, dividing them between the two baking sheets. If the vegetables look a little dry, drizzle on an extra tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat and return the pans to the oven.

Bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and browned to your liking. (For extra browning, you can also put them under the broiler for a minute or two at the end.)

Serve alongside your favorite protein such as pulled pork or crispy chicken thighs.

*This gives a very slight maple flavor, but in this recipe it’s intentionally subtle since sweet potatoes are already so sweet. If you want, you can increase the maple syrup by a tablespoon or so. You can also leave the maple syrup out entirely if you want to avoid added sweetener.

Note: These vegetables also taste AMAZING with an over easy egg on top in the morning! It’s a great way to get some veggies in for breakfast!

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser

Lately the questions, "What can the baby eat?" and "What will my toddlers eat with minimal complaining?" seem to drive my meal planning. I feel like I've lost a bit of my joy in the kitchen. I still love cooking, of course, and I'm grateful I even have the luxury of choice in what I make for dinner. But I've found myself stuck in what's practical. I miss asking, "What can I make that nourishes body and soul? What can I make that delights?"

This dish is an answer to those questions. It's nourishing for body and soul, and it's one of my new favorite salads. It's got a slight kick from the arugula and Dijon but then richness from the goat cheese and sweetness from the cherries. Hearty, healthy, sweet, and savory.

And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’…And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
— (Genesis 1:29-31)

I generally serve my kids at least a version of what we eat for dinner, but my twins often do better eating the components of a dish separated. For this one, I'll give them a scoop of plain quinoa, a handful of walnuts and dried cherries, and then add chicken or whatever else to their plates. That way, they try new foods and eat what we eat, but they also have something a little more palatable. (I don't know if that's the right way to feed toddlers. I could be doing it all wrong, but hey, we're all just figuring this out as we go, right?)

It's easy to get bogged down in the utilitarian that we forget the beauty of variety and the joy of cooking. After all, our God could have only provided the basics needed to keep us alive, but instead, he gave us thousands of foods with endless combinations. So every once in a while, regardless of how your kids eat, treat yourself to something you love, something that delights. After all, I think when we delight in God's good gifts, we can taste that the Giver himself is good. 

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries
Yields 4 entree-sized portions

1 cup quinoa
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Arugula or other salad greens (optional)

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water. (Quinoa has a natural coating that can taste bitter or soapy, but you can get rid of this coating by rinsing it well.) Add the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the water to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat, and let it stand for about 5 minutes (keeping it covered!). Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool while you prep the dressing and other ingredients. 

For the dressing, in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Cover and shake vigorously until all the ingredients are mixed well. 

In a medium bowl, add the cherries, walnuts, and rosemary. Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl, and stir everything together. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Mix well. Add more dressing if desired, reserving some for serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I added about another ¼ teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper). 

Transfer the quinoa salad to a serving dish. Top with crumbled goat cheese, if using. Serve on its own or over arugula or other salad greens.* 

Drizzle each portion with some of the remaining dressing and garnish with fresh rosemary. Enjoy!

*Rather than serving the quinoa on top of greens, you can also add a few handfuls of arugula right into the quinoa mixture. Pour the rest of the salad dressing on it, and toss well. The arugula will wilt slightly with the dressing, so serve immediately. 

Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale

Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale

I often feel like the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of paradoxes. You're excited but exhausted, busy but you want to spend time reflecting on Advent. You plan big meals, get together with family, attend office Christmas parties, and eat until you can't stuff your face any more. Then there are those random few days thrown in when you actually have to cook a regular, weeknight meal. And that can sometimes seem more daunting than the holiday feasts.

This recipe is for those weeknights (although, to be honest, I'd entertain on the weekends with this one, too). It's a "pour a glass of wine, light a fire in the fireplace, and stare at the beautiful Christmas tree your family just decorated (while pondering how you're going to rearrange the ornaments your kids hung without them noticing)" kind of meal. Not that I'd ever change my kids' decorating...

It's a meal that's relatively inexpensive to make, but packed with flavor. Red wine and Parmesan cheese make it the perfect comfort food, but it's full of kale - and everything is healthy when there's kale in it, right? Leftovers also heat up really well, so you've got lunch covered tomorrow.

So in the midst of the holiday craziness, I hope you get some quiet evenings, and I hope those evenings are still full of really good food.

Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale
Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale
Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale
Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale
Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale

Linguini with Red Wine, Corn + Kale
Yields about 6 servings

1 pound linguini
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
10 ounces chopped kale*
1 cup dry red wine
2 (15.25 ounce) cans corn, drained
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for topping (optional)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded, plus additional shavings for topping

Cook pasta according to the package directions, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water when draining. Set the reserved water and cooked pasta to the side. 

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are softened and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. 

Turn the heat to medium. Stir in the kale and the wine. Cover and let the kale wilt for about 3-4 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Add the corn, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook for about 5 more minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. 

Turn the heat to low. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cooked pasta, shredded Parmesan, and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss well, until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are fully incorporated. At this point, if the pasta seems a little too dry, add in a bit more of the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency. (I typically end up needing about ½ cup of pasta water total.)

Season with salt and pepper to taste. (I usually add nearly a full teaspoon more of salt.) Serve immediately, topped with Parmesan shavings and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

*Many stores (such as Trader Joe’s) sell washed and ready to use kale in 10 ounce bags, which is perfect for this recipe!

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

My eating habits over the past couple weeks have been less than stellar. As much as I try to eat clean most of the time, some weeks all of that falls to the wayside. I'm especially susceptible to temptation when I'm running errands with the kids, and the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru is just too easy. Or when I taste-test a few too many waffles and pancakes in the name of "recipe development." Or when the kids poop in the tub, you're not home, and your husband ends up scrubbing said tub and two poop-covered toddlers. And then afterwards, he needs feel-good comfort food, so you give in to take-out from Portillo's.

(By the time I came home, he had everything and everyone completely cleaned up. But of course, I couldn't have him eat cheese fries all by himself. Also, maybe I shouldn't talk about poop on a food blog? Oops.)

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

Needless to say, my body isn't loving my recent food decisions. As much as I love to cook, there are plenty of days when it doesn't happen - and this week included a few too many of those days. But, I'm not going to sulk and feel guilty about it. 1. Because Chick-Fil-A waffle fries and homemade pancakes soaked in orange-bourbon syrup are totally worth it. And 2. That was last week.

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

Today is a new day, and it's time for me to get back on track. This slow-cooker curry stew is the perfect way to do that. It's vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and almost Whole30 compliant (just sub the chickpeas for more potatoes or other vegetables to make it a W30 recipe). You can also easily change up the vegetables to use what you have on hand. Sub white potatoes for sweet potatoes. Toss in a bag of spinach instead of kale, or add broccoli florets that need to be used up.

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

So even if you have a rough day with the kiddos, and you end up spending the evening cleaning who-knows-what, you've got a hearty, comforting, clean meal ready to go. 

Of course, no judgment here if you need a few cheese fries, too. 

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale
Adapted from The Kitchn
Yields about 8 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, divided
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth, divided
2 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 (5 ounce) bag kale (or a few big handfuls of chopped kale)
1 (13-14 ounce) can coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (a Dutch oven would also work) over medium heat. Add the diced onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the curry powder, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper (if using) to the pan. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable broth, and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.*

Pour the onion, potatoes, spices, and all the liquid from the skillet into the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the rest of the broth, the chickpeas, bell peppers, tomatoes, black pepper, and the last teaspoon of salt. Give everything a good stir. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 ½ - 4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender. 

Stir in the kale and the can of coconut milk. Replace the lid and allow cook about 10 minutes more, until the kale is wilted. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

*Note: I have made this recipe by completely skipping the sautéing step, omitting the olive oil, and just tossing the raw onion, potatoes, and spices directly into the slow cooker. It does work and the recipe will still taste good, so that’s an option if you want to cut down on prep time. However, I highly suggest taking the extra few minutes to sauté the onions, potatoes and spices. You’ll get a richer, sweeter, and more flavorful finished dish.