Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

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Happy Halloween!!!

I hope everyone has a great holiday! I can't wait to hand out candy to all the little kiddies for the first time in the new house. I hope there are some original costumes this year. I love the princesses and superheroes and witches...but I'd looove to see someone dressed up as Lady Gaga. Or a Minion from Despicable Me! You know those little yellow things? That would be the best!

Anyways, hope you all stay safe and enjoy the holiday. Oh, and maybe enjoy some delicious pumpkin bread while you're at it :)

Printable Recipe


  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (15-16 oz. can) 2 cups pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water 

Heat oven to 350. Grease 2 9x5x3 loaf pans. (I use mini loaf pans and just adjust cooking time). Blend flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in eggs, pumpkin & water. Mix well.

Blend in dry ingredients until mixture is smooth. Divide batter evenly. Bake 60-75 minutes or until tests done. Cool completely before serving.

Source: Old recipe from my recipe binder

Friday, October 28, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

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I've never had Swedish meatballs before I made them the other night, so I didn't really know what to expect. Every time I see a picture of them they always look scrumptious and I'm a sucker for gravy, so I figured I had to give them a go.

The spices gave the meatballs a different taste than I was expecting (after all, growing up eating Italian meatballs my whole life doesn't really leave me knowing anything else), but they were different in a great way. I ended up using turkey and pork as my protein to decrease the fat content, so they were very healthy as well! And we couldn't even tell the difference. Chris said this was the best brown sauce he's ever had, which I happen to agree with. The only thing is, you definitely have to serve these over egg noodles. The sauce is just too good to let go to waste! Enjoy and have a great weekend :)

Printable Recipe

  • 2 slices fresh white bread
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • A pinch plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. ground turkey
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.

In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds.

Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat, or in an electric skillet set to 250 degrees F. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.

Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Post: Chris' Pasta Salad

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Hi everybody. This is Chris and I’ll be guest blogging today about my pasta salad. As Amy has mentioned time and time again on her blog, I love to eat. Just as important, though, is how much I love the feeling of grilling for a bunch of people. Since Amy and I love to host parties and have people over, I’ve found myself manning the grill on many occasions.
While I’m on the grill, Amy is usually in charge of making all the side dishes. All the sides, except one. My pasta salad is extremely easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. Recently Amy also suggested we add double the amount of Provolone cheese and Genoa salami and that has put it over the top. Now it’s being requested as a staple at our get-togethers. I hope you enjoy it!
Cut the salami and cheese so they are about the same size as the sliced olives.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


  • 1 (16 oz.) box tri-colored spiral pasta
  • 2 (1/4-inch thick) slices Provolone cheese, chopped
  • 2 (1/4-inch thick) slices Genoa salami, chopped
  • 1 (2.25 oz.) jar sliced black olives, drained
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Italian dressing, plus more to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water. 

In a large bowl, add the pasta, Provolone cheese, Genoa salami and olives. Top with 1/2 cup Italian dressing. Stir well. Add more Italian dressing as needed.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Source: Chris Original

Monday, October 24, 2011

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

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Do you ever find yourself sneaking a spoonful of peanut butter when no one is looking? It happens to me quite often. Peanut butter is my go-to when I'm trying to eat a low-carb diet (yes, it is on the plan!). It is also known to curb your appetite for a few hours, which I find actually works.

When I found this recipe for peanut butter cookies that were still low-carb (minus the sugar), I knew I had to make them. They were delicious and the sprinkle of salt was a nice touch for those of us who like salty and sweet snacks. I also used chunky peanut butter to give the cookies some texture. Chris even spooned a little bit of vanilla ice cream on top of his cookie to make an open faced ice cream sandwich. Brilliant! Hope you enjoy :)

Printable Recipe


  • 1 cup natural peanut butter 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • Coarse sea salt 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.

In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the mounds with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. Sprinkle coarse salt on top of the cookies.

Bake until golden around edges, about 10 minutes, switching the position of the pans halfway through baking. Transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Source: Food Network

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Stuffing Bake

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I'm a complete sucker for stuffing. Not even homemade stuffing, the store bought stuff. It's my favorite part of Thanksgiving, and I often times find myself buying the boxed version at the grocery store. I always feel guilty eating it alone though. I mean it's solely carbs! Who would feel good about that! But I can't pass it up. I'm in love with the stuff.

In order to make myself not feel as guilty the other day when I found another box in my grocery cart, I decided to make some sort of meal out of it. Combining it with chicken, broccoli and reduced-fat cheese actually worked! And I still got my stuffing fix! This would be a perfect weeknight meal for kids, especially they're a stuffing lover like this big kid over here (me). Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (6 oz.) box Stove Top chicken flavored stuffing
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (14 oz.) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook stuffing as directed on package.

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. In a 9x13 inch pan, mix chicken and broccoli. In a separate bowl, combine soup, water and cheese. Pour over chicken mixture and combine well. Top with cooked stuffing mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Source: Kraft

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baked Apples

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Nothing screams fall like a warm homemade apple pie. And a warm homemade apple pie without all the guilt is even better!

These baked apples were exactly that. They had the richness of an apple pie, but since they're is no crust, you avoid (most of) the guilt. Chris and I both really enjoyed these. We topped them with a little sugar-free vanilla bean ice cream to make the perfect "low carb apple pie" type of dessert. If you want a little indulgence without the extra carbs, this is definitely the way to go. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe


  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 same-size Granny Smith apples
  • 2 tbsp. butter, cut into 6 teaspoon-size pieces
  • 1 cup apple cider

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Core apples, making sure not to puncture the bottom of the apples so that the juices will remain. Remove skin from 1/2-inch around top of apples at the opening. Fill each cavity with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Top each apple with a teaspoon of butter.

Place apples in casserole dish and pour apple cider around them. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from heat and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pepper Steak

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Sometimes the easiest meals are the best meals. Just like most stir-fry recipes, all you have to do is prepare your ingredients beforehand so when you're ready to cook you simply throw it together and you're done! I particularly liked this recipe because the pepper flavor added a little kick and the sauce came out extra thick. Just the way I like it.

I modified this original recipe pretty significantly because I didn't have one major component and I also wanted to add more vegetables. Along with the peppers and onions, I also added sliced mushrooms and water chestnuts (my favorite). I also doubled the amount of sauce I made so I could spoon some over rice. When I made the rice, I cooked it in the leftover beef broth I had from the stir-fry sauce and it came out amazing. I always prefer cooking rice in something other than water if possible because it adds an extra level of flavor. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 12 oz. top round beef, trimmed to 1/8" fat, prime grade
  • 4 tsp. plus 6 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. beef broth
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. plus 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 5 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 (5 oz.) can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Rice, cooked, for serving

Slice meat into thin slices with the grain. Cut each strip across the grain about 1" long so you have small thin slices. Place in a bowl and add 4 tsp. of soy sauce, beef broth, 1 tsp. cornstarch and black pepper.

In a small bowl, mix 6 tbsp. soy sauce, water and 4 tsp. cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat the wok on high heat. Swirl in 1 tbsp. oil and add the beef, spreading evenly in the wok. Cook undisturbed for 20 seconds letting the beef brown. Using a spatula, stir meat, cooking another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining 2 tsp, of oil to wok. Add peppers, water chestnuts, mushrooms and onions and cook about 3 minutes or until tender. Return beef and juices to the wok. Add the sauce and red pepper flakes and stir fry about 30 seconds until slightly thickened.

Source: Adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes

Friday, October 14, 2011

Homemade Lasagna

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My friend, Hilary, had the most precious little girl three weeks ago. I went over to visit her little bundle of joy, and she was picture perfect. Ten tiny fingers and the cutest little nose. I know how busy and tiring caring for a newborn can be, so I thought I'd bring over some homemade lasagna for her and her husband, Dave. All they have to do is bake it and they're set for a few nights worth of dinner.

I was a little hesitant to use the "ready to bake" lasagna noodles, but when it came down to it, they were just the easier solution. Making lasagna isn't really too difficult, but it does take some time and cooking lasagna noodles (and making sure they don't break in the process!) is a step I would gladly avoid if possible. I made an extra tray of lasagna for Chris and me, and I was delightfully surprised at the end result. I was afraid the noodles would be crunchy and hard, but they were tender and cooked perfectly. Just what I wanted. Enjoy!
  • 4 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground Italian flavored pork
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked (or you can use the readty-to-bake noodles)
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the marinara sauce so it is warm.

Brown the beef and pork. Drain and add to sauce.

Combine the ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a medium bowl. 

In a 9x13 inch pan, spread a light layer of the meat sauce on the bottom (this is so the noodles don't stick to the bottom of the pan). Top with 4 lasagna noodles. Spread 1/4 of the ricotta mixture over top of the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese and a light sprinkle of Parmesan. Top with more meat sauce. Continue layering until you run out of space and/or noodles. Make sure you end with a layer of sauce, layer of Mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil. To prevent sticking, spray the bottom of the foil with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes and remove foil. Continue baking for an additional 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Pie

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The other week when we were limbo-ing, uhhh, apple picking, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was homemade apple pie. It's an essential this time of year and topped with a little ice cream makes the perfect fall dessert. I was going to try to steer clear of any traditional apple recipes and only try new ones, but there's just no escaping homemade apple pie. It's too delicious to deny making it.

The first time I made apple pie, I didn't really know what to expect. Something so delicious must be super difficult to make, right? I was ready for the challenge, but soon realized it was going to be a lot easier than I thought. Who knew that the filling of an apple pie was basically five ingredients? Not I! The hardest or most tedious part is peeling and slicing the apples, so if you can get through that it's smooth sailings! You should use my simple two-crust pie recipe and try this one out :)


  • Pastry for Two-Crust Pie
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
  • 6 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (6 medium)
  • 2 tbsp. firm butter or margarine (optional)
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare pastry.

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Stir in apples. Spoon into a pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over apples. Cover with top pastry. Seal and flute. Cut slits for ventilation.

Brush top crust with 2 tsp. water; sprinkle with 1 tbsp. sugar. Cover edge with a 2-3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minuets or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in crust. Cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pastry for Pies and Tarts

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Store bought pie dough just doesn't compare to homemade dough. Homemade dough becomes flaky and buttery after baking, unlike store dough which gets crumbly. This might take a lot more time and effort, but it is well worth it in my opinion. 

And Crisco, by the you know of this stuff? It can be used to get gum out of your hair (I may or may not have prior experience with this), fix a squeaky door hinge, and makes the best fried chicken ever (according to Minny in The Help). Well, it also makes amazing pie dough. If you get it on your hands, it's a pain in the butt to get off, but I think that's what helps make this dough so desirable. The oily/buttery/sticky texture of it does wonders. Enjoy!

Mix the dough until the particles are the size of small peas.

Add water, a little at a time, until the dough sticks together and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Form into a ball...

or divide into two balls if creating a two-crust pie.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes.

Roll out the dough...

Fold or roll up the dough and then unroll it onto the pie plate. (If doing a two-crust pie, you will fill the pie crust, fill it, and then roll out the other piece of dough on top.)

Printable Recipe


One-Crust Pie (9-inch):

  • 1 cup all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. shortening
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
Two-Crust Pie (9-inch):

  • 2 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. shortening
  • 4-6 tbsp. cold water
In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening using a pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tbsp. at a time, tossing with fork until all the flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 tsp. more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface (for Two-Crust Pie, divide pastry in half and shape into 2 rounds). Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

Roll pastry on lightly floured surface, using floured rolling pin, into circle 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch pie place or 3 inches longer than 10- or 11-inch tart pan. Fold pastry into fourths and place in pie plate; or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate. Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked.

From here, prepare dough as directed on pie or tart directions. You may need to partially bake or fully bake before adding the filling. For Two-Crust pie, fold top pastry over top of filled pie and cut slits so steam can escape. Press rim to seal.

Bake as directed on pie or tart recipe.

Source: Betty Crocker Bonus Edition Cookbook

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not Your Average BLT with Spicy Mayo

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In my personal opinion, BLTs are the ultimate comfort food. Not to mention the frying bacon makes the house smell delicious. The freshness of the tomatoes and lettuce paired with crisp bacon is a killer combination. Add some toasted bread and a thin layer of mayonnaise and we're in business. If I could have one of these for lunch every day, I'd be a very, very happy lady.

Last week, though, I decided to make a different version of my favorite sandwich. Since it was kind of cold and dreary outside, I wanted the sandwich to be warm (and not just from the bacon). I had a bunch of tomatoes from the farmer's market and had a back-up tomato in case my idea failed, so I thought I'd give something new a try.

I breaded and baked the tomatoes so they would become warm and crispy, and to my surprise and delight they turned out terrific (I also made another version of them using cheese and they became my new favorite side dish). I made some spicy mayonnaise to add a different flavor, and these sandwiches turned out amazing. I used the new "thin" sandwich bread slices that are being sold in grocery stores, but you can definitely use regular bread or a roll instead. These were definitely an enjoyable twist on a classic BLT. Yum!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 tomato, sliced thick
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • Lettuce
  • 2 slices bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Cut tomato into thick slices and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and water. Pour breadcrumbs onto a large dish.

One slice at a time, dip the tomatoes into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, allowing the excess to drip off. Place each tomato onto the baking sheet.

Once all tomatoes are coated and on the baking sheet, lightly spray the top of each tomato with cooking spray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise and hot sauce and set aside.

Once tomatoes are done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Spread the mayonnaise mixture on one piece of bread. On the other slice, layer the lettuce, bacon and crispy tomatoes. Enjoy!

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baked Fried Tomatoes with Parmesan

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These tomatoes turned out to be an excellent side dish. I was initially making them for a sandwich, which I will post later this week, but after I baked them they looked and smelled so delicious so I figured I should top them with some cheese (you always need to add cheese) and try them plain. There are always tomatoes in the house, so these are going to be a great go-to recipe for when we need a side but are out of ideas.

I've never had fried green tomatoes, although they are something on my food bucket list, but this recipe was kind of a play on those. I didn't have any green tomatoes around, but these red tomatoes that I got at the farmer's market worked well. Just make sure you cut them thick or else they might become mushy and gross. I breaded them the same way I'd assume you would bread fried green tomatoes, but I decided to bake them instead and they turned out delicious! Enjoy! 

Printable Recipe

  • 1 large tomato, sliced thick
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Cut tomato into thick slices and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs and water. Pour breadcrumbs onto a large dish.

One at a time, dip the tomatoes into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, allowing the excess to drip off. Place each tomato onto the baking sheet.

Once all tomatoes are coated and on the baking sheet, lightly spray the top of each tomato with cooking spray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through. After you flip the tomatoes, top each with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Continue cooking until done or until cheese is melted and tomatoes are crispy.

Source: SK Original

Monday, October 3, 2011

Roasted Beets

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I never thought I would tackle roasting beets. I grew up eating the canned stuff and really enjoyed them so I didn't see any reason I needed to make them from scratch. I proved myself wrong last week.

Chris' mom made roasted beets marinated in apple cider vinegar and Chris fell in love. I immediately knew I'd have to learn to make them myself. When we went to the farmer's market the other weekend, I was sure to grab a bunch of red beets so I had no excuse not to attempt roasting them. And I did it!

It actually wasn't hard at all, just time consuming. After letting them roast in the oven for an hour or so, you just need to let them cool, slice them, and then marinate them. Easy enough, right? Right. Just make sure you don't get that purple stuff on you. It doesn't come out. Trust me.

  • 1 lb. red beets, scrubbed clean and green tops removed
  • Olive oil for roasting
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the beets on the aluminum foil in the pan. Rub olive oil over the beets, and sprinkle with salt. Wrap the aluminum foil over the beets and roast for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the beets and how old they are.

After 1 hour, test every fifteen minutes by poking a beet with the tines of a fork. Once the fork tines go in easily, the beets are tender and cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

After the beets have cooled for several minutes, but are still warm to the touch, peel off the outer skins and discard (be careful not to get the juice on your clothes!). Cut the beets into quarters or slivers.

Place beets in a serving bowl. Pour apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and salt, to taste, over the beets. Allow to chill and then serve.

Source: Roasting adapted from Simply Recipes