One of the most common mistakes home cooks make is equating more flavor with more expensive or exotic ingredients. This is rarely the case, and the new cookbook Effortlessly Elevated Eats is setting the record straight. “My main focus for this cookbook is how to easily elevate a dish at home,” explains author and self-taught cook Jenny Hurley.

“By this, I mean just taking a recipe that is ordinary and making it extraordinary by elevating the ingredients.” Indeed, pumpkin pasta is delicious, but add toasted walnuts tossed with sage and brown sugar? It immediately becomes showstopping. Try one of these dishes tonight!

Approachable Autumn Squash Soup

(Serves 6)

1 (2 lb.) butternut squash
2 apples
2 onions
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 ⁄2 tsp. cayenne
4 andouille sausages, diced
3 large sage leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. curry powder
3 cups vegetable stock
1 (15 oz.) can coconut cream
1 ⁄2 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


1. Heat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with foil. Peel and dice squash, apples and onions. Toss with next 3 ingredients. Bake on baking sheet 45 minutes.
2. Heat a Dutch oven over high. Cook sausages 10 minutes, adding sage after 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
3. Place garlic, ginger and curry powder in Dutch oven; cook 30 seconds. Add roasted veggies, stock, coconut cream and salt; simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
4. Blend soup. Stir in cheese. Serve topped with sausage and crispy sage.

PER SERVING: 637 calories, 22 grams protein, 40 grams carbs, 8 grams fiber, 16 grams sugar, 46 grams fat.

Pumpkin Pasta With Goat Cheese

(Serves 6)

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
7 to 8 sage leaves
1⁄2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. dried pasta
12 oz. andouille sausage, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1⁄2 cup goat cheese
1⁄2 cup crème fraîche


1. In a skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium. Once it starts to foam, add sage; crisp 3 min. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Add walnuts; toast 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Crumble sage leaves into the bowl, then mix in brown sugar and 1⁄2 tsp. salt.
2. Cook pasta. In a large skillet, arrange sausage slices in a single layer; brown 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Cool pan slightly. Add remaining butter; once it starts to brown, add garlic. Cook 30 seconds, then mix in remaining ingredients.
4. Drain pasta and return to pot with sausage and sauce. Mix until coated. Serve topped with walnut crumble.

PER SERVING: 678 calories, 26 grams protein, 68 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 33 grams fat.

Apple Upside-Down Cake

(Serves 10)

1 1⁄3 cups flour
3⁄4 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chai spice
6 tbsp. softened unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2⁄3 cup buttermilk


1. In a bowl, mix first 5 ingredients. Set aside.
2. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter 1 minute. Add sugars; beat 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. Beat in 1⁄3 of flour mixture, then 1⁄3 of buttermilk. Repeat twice more.
3. Take 8″ cake pan out of fridge and pour batter over topping *. Bake at 350°F 40 to 45 minutes., or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes; carefully flip it onto another rack. Cool 20 min. and serve.

*For topping: In a saucepan, melt 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter over medium-high. Stir in 1⁄2 cup brown sugar. Add 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla and 1⁄4 tsp. chai spice, then pour into cake pan. Arrange 2 peeled and thinly sliced apples in the pan in a circular pattern. Place pan in fridge to set.

PER SERVING: 428 calories, 6 grams protein, 63 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 26 grams sugar, 17 grams fat.