Fall Comfort Food

Better Happier Recipes

three comforting meals + Menu inspiration

for cozy weeknight dinners, or date night in


Are you in full on fall mode yet? I know I am.

The weather is at last consistently true, and I do mean TRUE sweater weather around the Philadelphia area, I even stumbled into a snow / hail / wintry mix when I went home to Rochester last week. While it felt a little too soon for snow for my liking, I have been so ready to embrace all of the delicious meals that we make during these months. I love when dinner this time of year is healthy but comforting, and thus a fall comfort food menu was born.

I had grandiose plans of included three additional recipes in this post, but in true September through December form, our schedules got a little hectic these past few weeks. We had completed these delicious meals already, including Oatmeal Risotto, Family-Style Piri-Piri Chicken, and Roasted Butternut Squash Cauliflower Crust Pizza, so I figured we should get to sharing so you can get cooking. I’m hoping that if schedules allow it, we can get back in the kitchen to test out the rest of the fall & winter menu we’ve dreamed up.

I’ve been raving about this piri-piri chicken Robert made to anyone who will listen since the first time he made it for the first time over the summer. It’s all about the sauce, but the spatchcocked chicken is also my favorite. We had a huge excess of peppers in our garden a couple of months back, which turned into a very delicious excuse to make piri-piri sauce. Here we’ve served it family style, layering the crispy smashed potatoes underneath the spatchocked chicken, with the sauce served on the side.

I think butternut squash is at its best when it gets all caramelized and delicious from roasting. I’d been craving an interesting homemade pizza for a while, and cauliflower crust had also been on my gluten-free to-do list for quite some time. I’d been avoiding it because, to be perfectly honest… I have had some very weird cauliflower crusts since I eliminated wheat from my diet. This was my favorite of the ones we’ve tested out. It can handle the weight of all the heavy toppings we put on top, and tastes genuinely like a thin crust dough. To me, the cauliflower crust pizza just screams -date night in- you know? It’s a little more labor intensive, but tastes so decadent and is well worth the extra effort to make the crust.


Risotto is a no-brainer this time of year. It’s so hearty and comforting, and endlessly adaptable to what you have on hand in your fridge. We’ve made savory oatmeal before, and this version of Oatmeal Risotto with Brussels and Toasted Hazelnuts does not disappoint. Last but not least, we also included beverage pairing options this time around, since it’s become such a big part of how we plan meals and menus these days.

I hope you find some cozy fall dinner inspiration amongst these recipes for the cold nights ahead!


Oatmeal Risotto

with Brussels + Toasted Hazelnuts

pair it with a

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tbs olive oil, divided
1 tbs butter
1 shallot, sliced
1 cup brussel sprout leaves
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted & chopped
2 tbs ricotta salata cheese, shaved
2 tsp cumin
salt + pepper


  • In a medium pot, warm chicken stock over low heat and keep warm.

  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm 1 tbs olive oil until shimmering. When oil is hot, add brussel sprout leaves, season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring frequently until leaves are bright green and beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • In the same skillet, warm remaining 2 tbs olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add oats and cook until they’re toasted and fragrant, an additional 2-3 minutes.

  • Deglaze the skillet with wine, making sure to stir thoroughly.

  • When wine has evaporated, using a ladle add 1 ladleful of warm stock to the skillet. Stir slowly until stock is absorbed by oats and continue to add one ladleful at a time until all 4 cups of stock have been incorporated (this should take about 25 minutes).

  • When all stock is used, oats should be softened with a thick creamy consistency. Reduce heat to low and add butter, stirring until melted and incorporated.

  • Taste risotto and season with salt and pepper.

  • To serve, spoon risotto into a bowl. Top with brussels sprouts leaves, hazelnuts and shaved ricotta salata cheese.


Roasted Butternut Squash Cauliflower Crust Pizza

with Pesto, Fresh Ricotta + Greens

pair it with a
Hopped Pale Ale or a Classic Lager

2 Cauliflower Crust Pizzas
1 cup diced butternut squash
1/2 cup basil & parsley pesto
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup micro greens
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Flip squash and continue roasting, an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Transfer cauliflower crusts to baking sheets lined with fresh parchment paper. Divide pesto between pizzas, spreading in a spiral motion until covered. Divide squash and ricotta and top pizzas. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, cheese will warm but not melt completely.

  • Remove from oven and top with micro-greens and fresh black pepper.

Cauliflower Crust

4 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper



  • Preheat oven to 400°. In a food processor, working in small batches, pulse cauliflower until it reassembles the consistency of rice, taking care to not over-process. Transfer to a large bowl and add almond meal, parmesan cheese and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly to combine.

  • Divide mixture in half and transfer each half to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread mix into a rough circle shape, working with hands to make as thin as possible. Pizzas should be approximately 10-12’’ round.

  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. When browned, carefully use a large spatula to separate crust from parchment paper.

  • Once separated, set aside.

Basil & Parsley Pesto

1 bunch parsley, leaves removed from stems (about 1.5 cups)
1 bunch basil, leaves removed from stems (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper


  • In a food processor, combine parsley, basil, almonds, lemon juice, and garlic. Process to combine until a thick paste forms.

  • Season generously with salt and pepper and continue to process, pouring olive oil into mixture until desired consistency is reached.


family style
Piri-piri Chicken

with grilled lemon braised kale
+ crispy smashed potatoes

pair it with a
Dry Riesling

1 whole skin-on chicken, spatchcocked (backbone removed
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs harissa spice powder
salt and pepper


  • Remove chicken from packaging and pat dry. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle harissa on both sides of chicken and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides as well. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least one hour and up to six. When ready to cook, remove chicken from refrigeration and bring to room temperature. 

  • Using a gas or charcoal grill, setup one side of the grates for indirect heat cooking. On a charcoal grill, place coals and build fire on one side while leaving the other empty. On a gas grill, turn on portion of the burners to high and the other to low. Let grill preheat 10-15 minutes. 

  • Using long grilling tongs or a long handled grilling spatula, carefully transfer chicken, ribcage side down onto indirect heat side of the grill. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. If you notice any flare-ups, extinguish immediately. Working carefully not to break skin, flip chicken to skin side down and cook over indirect heat for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest section of the chicken reads 165°. 

Piri Piri Hot Sauce

10 red cherry peppers 
1 dried chili de arbol
1 red pepper, roasted
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, cleaned 
1 lemon, juice & zest 
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil 


  • In a food processor combine all ingredients until sauce is formed, about 90 seconds. 


Grilled Lemon Braised Kale


1 bunch Tuscan kale
1 lemon, halved
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper


  • Wash and dry kale. Remove bottom 3 inches of stem and discard. Roughly chop remaining pieces of kale. 

  • In a large skillet over medium, high heat, warm olive oil. Add kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until kale has reduced in size and began to wilt.

  • Add garlic and continue cooking as kale continues to wilt. It will reduce in overall volume by about half. Reduce heat to low and add chicken stock. Stir to combine and continue cooking, covered for 15 minutes. 

  • Preheat a standard grill, or a grill pan to high heat. Grill lemon, flesh side down until well browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

  • Remove lid and squeeze juice of 1/2 grilled lemon into kale and stir to combine. Season to taste with any additional salt and pepper. 

Crispy Smashed Potatoes


3 lbs baby potatoes, washed and cleaned
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400°. Fill a large pot half way with cold water. Add potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. When a boil is reached, check potatoes for doneness; if they are done a knife will pierce easily. Continue checking at 5 minute intervals until potatoes are cooked through. When they are, drain and rise with cold water. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet lined with paper towel or a cloth to cool and dry. 

  • When potatoes are cool to the touch, toss with olive oil and season with garlic power, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Spread evenly across a rimmed baking sheet and using the back of a spoon or your palm, smash each potato.

  • When all are smashed, transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully flip potatoes. Return and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are well browned and crispy. Remove from oven and serve.