November 1: Sheet Pan Beef and Black Bean Nachos
Thanksgiving is the most important food day in November. By now, you've made your list, checked it twice, and you're ready to start the cooking marathon. Planning for Thanksgiving is one of the best ways to ensure a successful holiday meal, but if you have a family, you also need to plan for the other 29 days of the month. That's where this collection of recipes can come in handy. We've put together 29 days of easy, fast, and fresh dinners so you don't have to do anymore thinking for this month. We've done it all.
November 1: The first day of November guarantees a candy hangover and some dark circles from the late night of tricking and treating your neighbors and friends. If you need a fast and fresh dinner, look no further than our Sheet Pan Beef and Black Bean Nachos. While we love melted shredded cheese, we found that it makes the nachos a bit unwieldy. Instead, a creamy cheese sauce coats each chip and makes it easier to separate from the pack. You can use pinto beans instead of black beans and shredded rotisserie chicken instead of ground beef. Topping potential is endless, but we like sliced avocado and jalapeño. Serve with Zucchini, Carrot, and Radish Salad for a simple dinner you can cook, serve, and clean in record time.
November 2: Sautéed Salmon with Citrus Salsa
Consider this light dinner an antidote to a season of rich stews, braises, and roasts. Serve with Cilantro Quinoa with Pine Nuts for date night, or double for 4 people. The tart, bright citrus topper cuts through the natural fattiness of the salmon; it would overwhelm lighter fish like cod or flounder. After freeing the citrus sections, squeeze the membranes over a bowl and make a quick vinaigrette for enjoying during the week. Change up the salsa with chopped tart-crisp apples and a seeded minced jalapeño, or try diced ripe pear and pomegranate arils.
November 3: Pork Chops with Herbed Goat Cheese Butter and Green Beans
This speedy main feels restaurant-worthy, but it couldn’t be easier or more affordable (just $2.70 a serving). Stirring fresh herbs, garlic, or lemon rind into softened butter, called compound butter, is a brilliant topper for simply cooked meats or fish, a pile of steamed vegetables, or as a spread for crostini. We stretch the butter with softened goat cheese to lower the saturated fat and add a tangy, luxuriously creamy finish. Dollop the goat cheese mixture over the pork chops and cover the plate with foil so it will melt slightly while you cook the green beans.
November 4: Crispy Chicken, Ham, and Swiss Roll-Ups
Meaty, cheesy, moist, and crunchy: This 5-ingredient dish really delivers. Preheating the pan gets the breading crisp within 20 minutes. If you only have regular breadcrumbs, just add 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder. The timing and ingredient amounts work for small, 2-ounce cutlets. Split larger ones in half: Place each on a cutting board, and place your hand flat on top. Holding a sharp knife parallel to the cutting board, carefully halve using short, swift strokes. Serve roll-ups with a simple green salad.
November 5: Quick Loaded Potato Soup
This lighter version of the beloved soup gives you more flavor, less glop, and full hearty satisfaction. With one simple extra step, the standard mashed potato process leads to a creamy soup adorned with all the great baked potato toppings. It also happens to be ideal for a lazy Saturday night by the campfire or around the television for football games. Double or triple this recipe to feed a crowd. Set out a bar of toppings, and let people mix and match for their favorite soup style.
If you like the idea of some chunks of potato, mash coarsely; for a smoother soup, mash more completely. For the best texture, stick with russet potatoes (aka baking potatoes); starchier varieties won’t yield as creamy a result. The soup reheats well, so it’s a good make-ahead candidate; just store the toppings separately.
November 6: Slow Cooker Sausage Cassoulet
A bit of sausage adds a zesty kick to this hearty bowl of beans and root veggies; it’s a fresh take on slow-cooked comfort. If you can’t find pre-cooked sausage, buy it raw and sautée in step 1 with the veggies before loading and setting the slow cooker for the day. Serve this warm, cozy dish with a dark leafy green salad and a knob of crusty whole-grain bread—the perfect weeknight meal to fill you up without the guilt between all those holiday parties.
November 7: Tofu and Vegetable Lo Mein
This dish has all the umami-rich qualities we love about classic takeout and none of the greasy sodium-bomb qualities we don't. Wavy, deep yellow Chinese egg noodles can be found in the refrigerated section of any Asian market and many supermarkets. You can substitute any refrigerated fresh pasta or even brown rice noodles; boil until just al dente. Sliced baby bok choy, carrots, snap peas would also be delicious here; add the vegetables in stages, from hardy and dense to leafy and tender; so all can cook to the perfect doneness. Serve with Steamed Broccoli with Peanut Sauce for a simple, flavor-packed side.
November 8: Black and Blue Steak Salad
This gastropub favorite usually features a heaping portion of steak, butter-yellow croutons, and a blanket of creamy dressing. Our more balanced version includes avocado and a vinaigrette that complements the vegetables instead of disguising them. A little meat goes a long way: just 12 ounces is plenty to serve 4. Serve with Mini Baked Sweet Potatoes for a lighter approach to the classic meat-and-potatoes combo. If you'd like to make this recipe in advance, grill the steak and cook the sweet potatoes a day or two ahead. Reheat the potatoes while you assemble the salad.
November 9: Sautéed Scallops with Shaved Celery Salad
Celery is an underrated vegetable, often used as a flavor accent for soups or Thanksgiving stuffing. But it shines as the star in a salad, thanks to its fantastic crunch and naturally salty flavor. For ease and speed, we advise slicing thinly on a mandoline. To cut by hand, line up 3 stalks and slice all at once instead of slicing each stalk individually. The crisp texture of the salad provides a nice contrast to the creamy-meaty scallops. Golden raisins are a surprising and delicious addition, offering a pop of sweetness and chewy texture; you can substitute regular raisins, dried currants, or dried cranberries.
November 10: Kale-and-Chorizo Soup
Inspired by the classic Portuguese dish caldo verde, this brothy soup takes on rich flavor from Spanish chorizo. Be sure to pick up firm, cured Spanish chorizo (flavored heavily with paprika and typically sold in links) and not soft, raw Mexican chorizo—a delicious, but totally different, product. You can substitute kielbasa, though the soup will take on a smokier personality. The kale can get dark if held in the soup too long, but shortly after cooking it will show off its nice, bright green color (snap your Instagram photo then). We highly recommend serving with toasted, garlic-rubbed crusty bread.
November 11: Mac and Cheeseburger
This budget-friendly dinner costs less than $9. Mac and cheese gets heartier, and possibly even more family-friendly, when you stir ground beef and fire-roasted tomatoes into the cheese sauce. Make sure to drain the tomatoes so the sauce doesn’t get too thin. We call for whole-grain rotini, but any short pasta shape will work here; just do try to go whole-grain for more nutrition. If you don’t have dry mustard (used here for added depth), stir in a teaspoon of Dijon. Serve with a side of green beans or broccoli tossed with browned butter, or with a salad the family enjoys (a crunchy romaine Caesar salad would be great.
November 12: Quick BBQ Chicken Pizzas
Saturday dinners should be speedy so you can get back to your family time, football watching, or weekend hobbies. We use pre-made pizza crusts and convenience items like marinara and barbecue sauces to make these pizzas come together in just minutes. Baking the pizzas directly on the oven rack gives you a crisp crust in less time. You can substitute shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese for fresh. Keep these pizza crusts handy. Once you see how great they are, you'll be using them quite a bit.
November 13: Slow Cooker Beef-and-Sweet Potato Chili
Leaving the peels on the sweet potatoes has three benefits: Prep is faster, you add more fiber, and the potatoes hold their shape better after the 7-hour simmer. Besides, the peels get so tender that you barely notice they’re there. If you’d like to change things up, try parsnips in place of the sweet potatoes; they have a similar sweetness and earthier flavor and won’t fall apart after cooking for an extended time. You don’t need to fully cook the ground beef before it goes into the slow cooker; just cook it enough to “set” the shape of the crumbles. Make sure to buy extra potatoes for this chili. We'll use some in tomorrow's dinner.
November 14: Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad
It may seem too good to be true, but it’s not: This impressive plate requires only 5 ingredients (water, oil, salt, and pepper are freebies). Microwaved sweet potatoes are sliced into medallions, brushed with oil, and lightly seared so they become satisfyingly steak-like. The creamy, nutty sauce adds richness, and the lemon-dressed arugula-chickpea salad bulks up the plate beautifully. In place of almond butter, you can use any nut butter you like—try peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter. And if canned chickpeas aren’t in your pantry, try cannellini or navy beans.
November 15: Ginger-Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Sherry vinegar has more depth and less tang and sharpness than other vinegars. It rounds out the sweet honey and pungent ginger. Since the thin glaze would burn on the grill if added too early, grill the pork most of the way through, then brush with the glaze and turn continuously for the final 6 minutes or until done. A fresh, crisp salad is a welcome change of pace from the usual fall side of roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes. We love the look of watermelon radishes in this fresh, crisp salad, but any radish will work. You can also round out this meal with Chili-Spiced Potatoes for a comforting side. If you don't have sherry vinegar, sub red wine vinegar or cider vinegar.
November 16: Greek Shrimp with White Beans, Tomato Sauce, and Feta
This simple, Tuscan-inspired stew is the perfect casual supper for two, though it can easily be doubled. Enjoy leftovers with a piece of whole-grain French bread baguette for dunking. Serve with Lemon-Dill Orzo Pilaf. A quick sauté in oil toasts the orzo slightly, so it takes on a nutty flavor. The oil coating also keeps the pasta from absorbing liquid too quickly, so it won't overcook.
November 17: Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, and Walnuts
Warming winter flavors unite to create this simple and elegant weeknight dish. Sweet turkey Italian sausage is the preferred protein, but you could use any sausage you prefer. Turkey sausage is ideal because it's lower in saturated fat and often sodium when compared to traditional pork sausages. Use the reserved pasta water to quickly tenderize delicate broccoli rabe. Just don't toss the water when you're done with it. Pasta water is like liquid gold, and it adds a creaminess to this dish you can't get from anything else. Serve with a side of Caesar salad or a light kale salad tossed in a simple vinaigrette.
November 18: Chicken Potpie Skillet Pizza
Try this quick, playful spin to turn pizza night on its head—in a good way. You get all the creamy goodness of chicken potpie, in a fun, eat-with-your-hands way that kids will love. Grown-ups will dig it, too, especially if you offer hot sauce at the table. Cooking the pizza in a preheated cast-iron skillet makes the crust wonderfully crispy so that it doesn’t sog out when the creamy sauce goes on. Be sure to use only 10 ounces of dough (though you’ll likely have to purchase in a 1-pound or larger ball); save the remaining dough to make breadsticks the next night.
November 19: Beer-Braised Chicken Thighs with Cremini Mushrooms
A wide skillet and less liquid allow for a relatively short, intense braise—less than 20 minutes, compared to many hour-long versions. Porter is a dark beer with a roasted malt flavor. You'll use half a bottle for the recipe; sip the rest as you dine. Serve with Parsley-Fennel Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette for an easy side that's fresh and crisp beside the deep, earthy flavors of the chicken dish.
November 20: Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
Translated from Spanish as "old clothes," the name ropa vieja describes how beef (typically flank or skirt steak) cooks to tender, succulent shreds over a long, slow braising period. Here, it simmers with colorful bell peppers, smoky fire-roasted tomatoes, and plump golden raisins for a hit of welcome sweetness. We serve the meat over rice, but try blending culinary traditions by serving it over something creamy, like a bed of grits, polenta, or mashed potatoes. It would even be great in a pasta toss. Use up leftovers by tossing them into corn tortillas for ropa vieja tacos or into flour tortillas for quesadillas, or build a pizza using the flavor-packed beef as a topping.
November 21: Hummus Soup
Thursday is going to be a big day, so we want to keep dinners this week light and refreshing. For tonight's dinner, we're turning to our favorite app for a luscious soup. That’s right—we turned the dip of the decade into a soup that’s savory, silky, and garlicky good. A portion of the chickpeas are reserved and toasted in a skillet to offer some chew—a nice textural contrast to the creaminess of the pureed soup. If the soup feels a little too thick, adjust by blending in more water, 1⁄/4 cup at a time. You can make the soup a day or two ahead, but you’ll definitely need to adjust the texture, as it will overthicken upon standing. Make the toasted chickpea topping up to a day ahead; store in an airtight container at room temperature. For the sake of your sanity, purchase tahini in a jar with a wide mouth; narrow tops make it difficult to stir and spoon out what you need.
November 22: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole
We love the old-school feel of this skillet supper. It's the perfect dinner to welcome home kids and family members for the Thanksgiving week. If you can't find whole-wheat panko, sauté fresh whole-wheat crumbs until crisp. Instead of tuna, you could use 1 to 2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast. Serve with Orange and Almond Salad for a fresh, seasonal side.
November 23: Tofu Banh Mi Wraps with Quick-Pickled Carrots and Radishes
The beauty of these wraps is how versatile they are—and how light they'll be on your stomach as you ready it for a day of feasting. Versatility is ideal tonight when you've got a house full of guests and a whole lot of pie to bake. Ready the tofu and pickled veggies, set out a buffet with all the fillings, and let your family and guests build their own dinner. Drain the pickles well before adding to each wrap. This is a saucy sandwich, so extra liquid can make it a bit messy once you bite in. If you've got guests who aren't fans of tofu, you can use rotisserie chicken in its place.
November 24: Thanksgiving Day
Relax and enjoy. This is the Thanksgiving that goes off without a hitch. We've seen you this far into the month, so let us help you take Thanksgiving by storm. Our Most Epic Thanksgiving Cookbook Ever covers every course—with a delicious menu that features step-by-step guides to help you master the essentials or riff where you like. Mix and match our new classics with your family favorites, and prepare to have a Thanksgiving feast for the ages. Tomorrow, we'll get back to more basic cooking. Be sure to save leftovers. We're going to put them to good use in the coming days.
November 25: Turkey, Broccoli, and Phyllo Pie
Skip the potpie and try a fragrant, flaky casserole for your turkey leftovers. We ditch the pastry dough for a flaky, golden phyllo crust—a nice alternative to the pies and potpies you may be wary of by now. Don’t fret about getting the phyllo topper to fit snugly in the baking dish; any overhang will become delightfully crisp in the oven. Thawed phyllo can be finicky: Unroll very carefully, and keep remaining sheets under a slightly damp kitchen towel while you work. If you don't have leftover turkey from yesterday, use shredded rotisserie chicken.
November 26: Slow Cooker Chicken, Bacon, and Potato Soup
You've had a busy week of cooking, so since you've finally reached Saturday, take it easy. This slow cooker soup is satisfying and comforting, ideal for a day of winding down and relaxing.
The slow cooker gently coaxes out delicious flavors from simple, hearty ingredients. This soup is perfect for ushering in fall: It's hearty enough for the beginning of soup season, yet brothy and veggie-packed so that it doesn't feel too heavy. Pair it with a slaw or kale side salad and crusty whole-grain bread for a light, satisfying dinner. This recipe is ideal for a weekend, when you can check on the slow cooker after just a few hours; though you won't be able to leave the soup unattended all day, this still offers the benefit of hands-free, fuss-free cooking. Either baby red, Yukon Gold, or fingerling potatoes will work well here, as they'll maintain their shape nicely during cooking.
November 27: Creamy Butternut-Leek Bisque
Whole-grain quinoa simmers in the soup and then gets blended into the mix—resulting in a thick, creamy, luscious texture. Don’t be afraid to let the blender go for a couple of minutes; that’s the path to super-smooth results. We call for precut-prepped butternut squash because it’s a real time-saver, slashing up to 20 minutes of prep time; you’ll find bags of the peeled, cubed squash in the produce section with the bags of broccoli florets and other prepared-prepped veggies. For the prettiest appearance, go with beige-colored quinoa and skip red or tricolored varieties. Greek yogurt goes into the soup to brighten the taste, and another dollop goes on top as a finishing touch along with crunchy almonds.
November 28: Butternut-Cauliflower Coconut Curry
A range of textures—crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth—makes this cool-weather main incredibly satisfying. The chickpea mixture can also be a delicious gluten-free snack: After baking, toss with a little kosher salt, ground cumin, and ground red pepper. Serve over Cilantro-Chile Couscous. If you had enough butternut squash with yesterday's bisque, double up the cauliflower. But if you're a fan of butternut squash, you won't regret eating it twice in two days with this dish.
November 29: Fast Skillet Chicken Cacciatore
Lean chicken breasts cook quickly—in just 15 minutes compared to the hour-long braise in most cacciatore recipes. If you'd like more heat in the sauce, kick up the crushed red pepper to 1/2 teaspoon. Serve with Parmesan Polenta Rounds for an easy-as-pie side that fulfills that starchy comfort craving. Have leftover polenta? Slice and sear remaining polenta, and refrigerate. Reheat in the microwave for a fast, gluten-free side.
November 30: Pork with Chunky Applesauce
The fall family favorite goes lighter with barely sweetened apples. And instead of the typical pork chops, we go for lean, inexpensive pork tenderloin. Complete the meal with a side of Broccolini or broccoli. You can call this a budget-friendly meal. Four servings totals only $7.10. Change up the sides, and you can use this technique again and again for quick and easy weeknight dinners.