Ahh, November. When the excitement of a new quarter turns to soul-sucking drudgery, when ballet flats are swapped out for galoshes, when we all wait with bated breath to see if the country will regress by a few decades on Election Day. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?
Actually, though, November may be my favorite food month. Comfort food gets pretty dull by February, but right now it’s still relatively novel. The tail end of the autumn harvest is still available at farmers’ markets. And then there’s my very favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, right in the middle of it all. This month, I have some lunchbox-friendly salads to break up long November days, the perfect sticky buns for Thanksgiving morning, and a boozy cider cocktail to make the days go down a little bit easier.
Blue Cheese Polenta with Apples, Prosciutto, and Pearl Onions from My Name is Yeh
Maybe it’s because we’re a week or so deep in torrential rain, but this looks like an ideal dinner to me. As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of using polenta as the base for a low-budget meal. This one uses petite pearl onions and prosciutto, but you can make this an even cheaper treat by subbing in regular chopped onions and bacon. I want to snuggle up with a bowl of this polenta and a blankie and an episode of the Daily Show, please.
Curried Coconut Quinoa and Greens with Roasted Cauliflower from Cookie + Kate
This has been my favorite go-to meal these days. I simplify it a little by cutting out the ginger, turmeric, and ground cardamom and adding more curry powder (Penzeys’ sweet curry is incredible). The recipe suggests adding chickpeas for added protein, but since I’m an omnivore I’ve taken to sautéing up some chicken apple sausage and serving it on top.
Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese from Smitten Kitchen
This gorgeous salad starts with a whole butternut squash. The flesh is cubed and tossed with olive oil, cumin, and smoked paprika, then roasted. The seeds are roasted alongside. The crumbled goat cheese and black lentils make it the perfect light lunch.
Hazelnut Crunch Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting from Hungry Girl Por Vida
I have a well-documented, long-running obsession with hazelnuts, and I’m always looking for desserts that contain hazelnuts but no chocolate. Needless to say, when I found this recipe I nearly shrieked. Moist pumpkin cake is frosted in brown butter cream cheese frosting (that bare frosting look, by the way, is pretty popular right now) and topped with homemade hazelnut brittle. I’ll take ten, please.
Spiced Amaretto Apple Cider Kiss from How Sweet Eats
This autumn cocktail is garnished with cinnamon sugar and sweetened with a touch of honey. Try replacing the apple cider with hard cider for a boozier, bubblier drink, or heat up the apple cider first for added cozy factor.
Sweet Potato Sticky Buns from The Sugar Hit
I’m not going to lie, these buns are a lot of work. They start with a raw sweet potato and end up as, well, what you see in front of you. But hey, we have the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, so you have time. As if the rich sweet potato dough wasn’t enough, they’re laced with cardamom and topped with a maple-brown sugar drizzle.