Raw Pumpkin Coconut Cheesecake Bars

Dairy and gluten free raw pumpkin coconut cheesecake bars

Thanksgiving is most commonly associated with a big old turkey, but I would venture to guess that the second dish that comes to people’s minds is a pumpkin pie. What is Thanksgiving without some type of creamy, delicious, pumpkin filled dessert. In an attempt to recreate my favorite dessert but also keep my menu gluten and dairy free, and to include some of my favorite ingredients, I created raw coconut pumpkin cheesecake bars. These are incredibly easy to make and perfectly fill the void of that craving for sweets as you begin to clear your plates.

Recipe

Continue reading “Raw Pumpkin Coconut Cheesecake Bars”

Honey Glazed Roasted Carrots

Thanksgiving vegetable side of honey glazed carrots

To often during a Thanksgiving meal you stand up from you seat, probably panic in realization that you have forgotten to rebutton your pants (although, if you’re a true pro you know the only acceptable pants are stretchy ones), and notice that you did not eat one vegetable that entire meal. I’m not here to shame you or make you feel badly about this, we’ve all been there. But this year, prepare yourself so that when you leave the table and begin to start this stream of thought the light bulb clicks and you’re like “wait, no, I had those incredibly perfect glazed carrots. Go me”. This recipe will add extremely minimal amount of time and effort to your game-day prep (lets be real, Thanksgiving is a game) but provides an option for people to get some veggies in. And not just any veggies, tasty, soft on the inside, crisped on the outside, well cooked and glazed, vegetables. Did I say honey is involved? Just go make them already.

Recipe Continue reading “Honey Glazed Roasted Carrots”

Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecans and Marshmallows

Dairy-free Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole

In my household growing up, sweet potato casserole was the one Thanksgiving side that was completely ignored. Unfortunately for my deep love for this vegetable and constant sweet tooth, this dish never made the cut for my mother’s standards. Whether it be the fact that we already had mashed potatoes and another potato dish brought by my grandmother (that, if ignored, would cause an absolute uproar from my sister), she just didn’t feel the need for this third starch, or the fact that marshmallows were something she didn’t see fit for a dinner table, I never knew what I was missing. It wasn’t until I began hosting my own Friendsgiving and researching recipes and menus online when I realized how deprived (insert overreaction) I was as a child without this glorious dish next to my turkey. I soon took my favorite method of cooking sweet potatoes – low and slow in the slow cooker so that the ooey gooey sugar begins to seep out of the pores and the inside can be eaten with a spoon it is so soft and delicious – and mixed it with my love for toasted nuts and constant desire for something sweet. Alas, an absolute fan favorite of my Friendsgiving crowd. This dish will also always have a sweet spot in my heart because, as proven and always reminded by the scar on my inner forearm, it was the dish I cooked in my first industrial kitchen at non-other than Blue Smoke restaurant at an Umi Kitchen holiday cookoff (one of the highlights of my Freckled Foodie venture).

Recipe

Rosemary & Thyme Mashed Potatoes

Dairy-free Thanksgiving mashed potatoes

As probably the biggest fan favorite and most notorious side, good mashed potatoes are an extremely important key to a successful Thanksgiving meal. They must be creamy but not too mushy, have texture but not too lumpy, and most of all, flavorful. While mashed potatoes may get a bad rep on the “healthy” scale, since most act as a canvas for unnecessary filling ingredients (hello, heavy cream, I’m looking at you), this recipe focuses on making the actual potatoes the star of the show. Plus, it is dairy free for all you non-lactose lovers out there and is garlic and onion free for anyone following low FODMAP.

Recipe

Gluten Free Stuffing

Gluten free stuffing side for Thanksgiving

Without a doubt, my favorite dish on a Thanksgiving spread has always been the stuffing. The thing I love most about this side, besides the fact that it is basically just carbs moistened (yep, I said it) with flavor of other ingredients and chicken broth, is that every family makes theirs differently. No two houses make their stuffing the same; some (me) feel passionately that no stuffing is complete without sausage, some dice the bread so small it is a somewhat carb filled mush, and some throw some things in there that honestly boggle my mind. No matter the recipe, stuffing should be included on every single forkful of turkey eaten during the Thanksgiving meal. In our house, the stuffing has always included the same key ingredients: sausage, pecans, apples, and celery. Each bite includes the perfect mix of sweet and savory with also the somehow crunchy and also moist bread. While most stuffing dishes are an absolute no-go for anyone avoiding gluten, this version features my favorite gluten free bread, Canyon Bakehouse, making it an approved dish for all types of celiac relationships.

Recipe

Autumn in a Bowl: Kale Salad w/ Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussel Sprouts, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

Delicious fall themed salad with roasted vegetables, pecans, and goat cheese, in a honey mustard dressing

As soon as the summer ends and the leaves begin to change colors, my taste buds immediately start screaming, “FALL.” While I can happily have every cinnamon/apple/pumpkin filled breakfast or dessert, I also crave certain fall themed vegetables; butternut squash being one of them. As I continue my journey to put an end to SDL (sad desk lunch), I found myself determined to create a meal the combined some of my favorite fall ingredients. People who complain about salads clearly aren’t using the right ingredients because this salad is anything but sad. Plus, if you’re really feeling crazy, it is even more decadent when topped with a perfectly cooked steak. (Yes, in fact I did bring a salad with steak to my desk and, yes, I like my steak rare; get at me!)

Recipe

Healthier Layered Nachos

I freaking love bar food. No matter how health conscious I may be and aware of what these types of meals will do to my stomach / make me feel afterwards, there is simply something about a plate towered with nachos that I cannot resist. As a kid, my go-to “homework snack” was a plate of Tostitos doused with cheddar cheese that I would microwave for the exact perfect time so that the cheese had just melted but the chips hadn’t turned soggy yet. Fifteen years later, I’d like to say my taste buds have matured, but there is something so inviting and irresistible about nachos. They are all inclusive and a communal meal. Have a table of 5+ people at a bar and everyone’s getting hungry? Order a plate of nachos and watch everyone dive in and pretend to not care which specific chip they get but actually search the entire tray for the perfect chip / meat / cheese / bean combination (because what’s worse than a naked chip on a plate of nachos). For that exact reason, I love cooking and preparing nachos on a cookie sheet and letting everyone get their fair share of perfectly rationed and scattered toppings. Not to say I still won’t enjoy an order at the bar while watching a football game, but here is a way to make this delicious snack (or meal…) healthier and more food-hangover friendly. I promise, guests won’t be able to tell the difference.

Recipe

Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

Gluten and dairy free dark chocolate banana muffins

Is there any better start to a morning than enjoying a banana baked good with a warm cup of coffee? I honestly cannot think of one. Whether it is banana bread, muffins, cakes, donuts, or pies, anything baked that contains banana is a guaranteed way to my heart. But, let’s be honest for a second here, some banana breads and muffins sold in today’s world as a “breakfast food” are really just cake in a different form. When I was finally old and wise enough to come to this realization, it slightly broke my heart. I love banana bread. I mean lovvvveeeee. The aroma of a fresh cooked loaf makes my heart swell and immediately feel all things comfort. So, instead of giving up on this love affair, with my new-found baking ability and determination to create new recipes, plus a kitchen filled with browned bananas after clicking too many times on last week’s instacart order, I decided to make my own healthified version. These dark chocolate banana muffins are sweet enough to fill that dessert void while also including approved ingredients making it an acceptable breakfast (yes, dark chocolate if purchased in the right form is acceptable in the mornings in my book). Plus, I used Kite Hill’s new unsweetened drinkable yogurt to make these muffins extra moist. Yea, I said it, MOIST. The word that everyone hates using or hearing until a person uses it to describe something you baked and you immediately jump with joy. Behold, the way to my coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family’s hearts.

Recipe .

Meat Chili

An extremely easy, healthy, comforting, and filling meat chili

When the temperature starts to drop, my kitchen immediately transforms into a vessel for comforting, warm, rib lining meals that you want to have encompass you in a big open armed bear hug. That is how I feel about chili. When I enjoy a good bowl of chili my mind goes to a winter day on a comfy couch by a fireplace wrapped in a cozy blanket watching a football game. If that doesn’t sound like an extremely glorious Sunday to you, then we have different ideas of relaxation and comfort. Not only does this chili provide the ability to suddenly transport you to a different place, much better than the desk you may be eating this at for lunch, but it is extremely easy to make. And I’m not just saying that; this meal is sincerely stupid easy. I would stretch to even say it is the easiest thing that has ever been, or ever will be, featured on my blog. If you have an instant pot or slow cooker meal you are in luck because this baby is a dump and cook meal that requires the simple effort of pushing a button. It is a serious crowd pleaser and one of my Sunday meal prep staples as I am able to put everything in the machine, push a button, and get on with cooking my other meals. Plus, in my honest opinion, chili is one of the few foods that actually tastes better the next day once all of the flavors have combined and the sauce has thickened.

Recipe

Coconut Salmon Skillet with Broccoli and Cashews

Skillet dinner with charred broccoli, toasted cashews, hints of coconut oil and lemon, and the perfect seared salmon

Although it feels like I just got back, it has somehow already been a month since my trip to Iceland. The trip was filled with an insane amount of breathtaking views (waterfalls, geysirs, glaciers, hikes, hot springs, etc), plenty of glasses of Viking beer, and some (insanely expensive) great dinners. As a lover of all things seafood, I was incredibly excited for all of the fish filled menus I was sure to see, and this meal did not disappoint. I have dreamt of this last dinner in Iceland, from a restaurant called Messin, since we returned home. The second they placed a cast iron skillet on our table I knew I was going to fall in love with this dish. The charred broccoli mixed with the toasted cashews and the perfect salmon with that seared exterior and rare interior had my stomach craving this meal the moment I walked out the door of the restaurant. As soon as we arrived home, I knew what the next experiment was going to be in my kitchen: recreating this meal. I am happy to say that is just as good, and about an eighth of the price, when made at home. This is most definitely a new quick and easy weeknight dinner staple; plus, it only involves one dish for both cooking and eating out of.

Recipe