Filet Mignon with Roasted Vegetables

The perfect celebratory healthy meal

Nothing screams “fancy as f&#@k” as filet mignon. When it is time to celebrate in this apartment, filet is on the menu. It is also something that is so deceivingly easy to cook but for some reason intimidating to most and therefore seems impressive to whoever you are cooking for (hopefully they don’t read this post and continue to feel special and in awe when they come to your home). With this perfectly seared on the outside and medium rare on the inside steak, you can pair it with some crispy and somehow still soft roasted fall vegetables. Honestly, steak houses get a bad rep for being an unhealthy option. Yes, they throw in an unnecessary bottle of heavy cream to their creamed spinach and fry one too many sides, but, if you keep it simple with a great steak and some roasted vegetables this meal is not only delicious but also incredibly healthy. And, even better, if you are one of the brave souls enduring an either paleo or Whole30 January, then you are in luck! Because this entire meal is approved. People on cleanses/resets gotta celebrate too? Just pourthat extra glass of red wine for your friend who refuses to cut out the booze.

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Rack of Lamb with Crisped Kale, Sautéed Mushrooms, and Butternut Squash Puree

The perfect Christmas dinner

When I think Christmas dinner, I envision sitting at a table with everyone I love, large glasses of wine, laughter encompassing the entire room, and an incredible meal on the plate in front of me. Typically, that meal involves two main things: vegetables and some type of perfectly cooked, fancy, wonderful, meat. Typically, it is a filet mignon or a pot roast. However, I am proposing we all change it up a little bit; its time to give the limelight to one of my favorite meats of 2017: lamb. This year, lamb has been one of my top obsessions. Not that it was ever something I didn’t enjoy (trust me, there isn’t a lamb chop that leaves my plate with a scrap of meat left on the bone), but recently I have found myself craving it hard core. Because of the price, and the fact that most of us are trying to cook on a budget, it is not something that I indulge in weekly. However, it provides the perfect candidate for the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas day. So, if you’re heading into this weekend hosting the holidays without a menu planned, I am here to help. Your family will love you even more.

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Chicken Vegetable Instant Pot Soup

Thanksgiving leftovers transformed to chicken & vegetable soup

If you’re like my family, as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over everyone immediately grabs a Tupperware and begins fitting as much food as possible into their dedicated “leftovers bin”; fighting for that last bite of stuffing or spoonful of sweet potato casserole. This year, I made it easy for the rest of my family, and took myself out of the fight declaring I only wanted to take one thing home, something that absolutely no one else was eyeing: the turkey carcass. Yep, that’s right, I wanted the bones. So much so, that I even traveled back to NYC with them in a Ziploc bag (I know, seriously a psycho move). BUT, the week prior I made turkey stock with all of the turkey bones leftover from my Friendsgiving meal and it truly was better than any bone broth I had ever tasted (fully tooting my own horn) and it was garlic & onion free. This is huge for all of my low FODMAP friends out there. So, instead of elbowing my sister over the white turkey meat, I grabbed my bones and headed back to my apartment where my instant pot resided. As expected, the turkey stock turned out magnificently. So tasty, in fact, that I may begin eating turkey instead of chicken just so I can store the bones for my next batch of broth. Either way, I had vats and vats of turkey stock to put to work; one can only fit so many mason jars in her refrigerator. As I felt a cold coming on, I knew what I was prepping for my weekday lunches: homemade chicken vegetable soup. It was insanely easy, cooked itself (not kidding), and is now officially going to be on my meal rotation all winter. Bless you, turkey, for giving me so much to love over the past two weeks.

Recipe

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

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