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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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).

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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.

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