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“That was really good, we’ve had Thanksgiving every night this week,” smiling while looking at me.  “I know, said me.”

Yes! Yes! Yes!  This exactly what I wanted to hear.  My plan this year was to enjoy a bit of Thanksgiving everyday during the holiday week.  This way when I didn’t cook a huge feast on Thanksgiving there would be no sad feelings.  I’ve already explained how much I do love the flavors of Thanksgiving but I have no desire to spend a full day in the kitchen cooking.  So I think my plan to enjoy a bit of Thanksgiving all week is the perfect solution!

This sweet potato mash is rustic.  I left the skins on, added roasted brussel sprouts, applewood smoked goat cheese, and buttermilk.  I typically cook ‘clean’, but I chose to make this dish a bit decadent.  Yes goat cheese and buttermilk qualify as decadent in my diet these days.  These sweet potatoes were really delicious.  I can honestly say I’m loving my Thanksgiving creations this season.  I can only hope my actual Thanksgiving dinner will match what I’ve already made.  Wish me luck!

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Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Brussel Sprouts

  • ~2 lbs sweet potatoes, 3 large
  • 10 oz sliced brussel sprouts (you can buy these pre-sliced from Trader Joe’s)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2-3 oz applewood smoked goat cheese
  • s&p
  • pomegranate seeds, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Stab sweet potatoes with a fork and roast for 1 hour or more, until fully tender.  Set aside.
  3. Turn oven up to 425º.
  4. Place sliced brussel sprouts in a large skillet, coat with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, and season with s&p.  Place in oven and roast for ~25 until lightly browned and tender.  Set aside.
  5. In a pot heat up buttermilk and most of the goat cheese over medium heat until goat cheese is melted.  Chop sweet potatoes and add to pot.  Mix well to ‘mash’ sweet potatoes.  Add roasted brussel sprouts and season with s&p.  Continue to heat until warmed through.
  6. Serve top with a remaining goat cheese and pomegranate seeds.

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With all the heavy foods surrounding Thanksgiving I decided I wanted a lightened up version for green beans this year.  These are very simple, almost too simple for a blog post.  They are quite tasty too.  Everyone loves simple and delicious so I knew I had to share.

I used meyer lemons in this vinaigrette offering a sweeter and less acidic flavor than if you used regular lemons.  You can definitely still use a regular lemon and adjust the other ingredients to fit your tastes.  I also chose to french cut my green beans.  I bought the tool a few years ago and use it every time I cook these beans.  It’s time consuming and a bit of a pain but to me the extra effort is worth it.  I truly love french cut green beans.  Something about the way they soften and become more pliable just does it for me.

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Grean Beans with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed and french cut (optional to french cut)
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon, ~2 tbsp
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp dijon styled mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • s&p
  • pomegranate seeds (I forgot these!)
  1. Steam trimmed and french cut green beans for 5 minutes.  Just enough to soften them but not long enough to loose their crunch.  Remove and immediately place in a bowl of ice water.  Drain and dry well.
  2. In a jar add the lemon zest, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, olive oil, and s&p.  Shake well.  Taste and add more of any ingredient if you desire to find the right balance of tangy/sweet.
  3. Toss beans with vinaigrette and refrigerate until serving.
  4. Serve topped with fresh pomegranate seeds – so bummed I forgot to add them!

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Oh do I love me some cranberries!  It’s totally one of those foods you either love or you hate.  They have always been one of my favorite sides during Thanksgiving, I love them more than the turkey itself.  In fact I like just about every side more than the turkey, unless it’s canned cranberry.  I can’t stomach the thought of it.  But to each their own.

In the past I’ve made raw cranberry sauce, my mom’s recipe, and stove top cooked cranberries.  Both are delicious in their own ways.  I really love the combination of tart and sweet mixed all into one.  This year I’m making new recipes and decided it was time to try a baked cranberry sauce.  It’s pretty much as easy as it gets and definitely worth a try.  I cooked the cranberries with orange juice, orange zest, coconut sugar, and cinnamon.  They cooked down into a deliciously chunky cranberry sauce!

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Oven Baked Cranberries

  • 16 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/3-1/2 cup coconut sugar (I like them tart so I used 1/3 cup)
  • zest of 1 orange, ~1 tbsp
  • juice of 1 orange, ~1/4-1/3 cup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix cranberries, coconut sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Coat a 9×9 pan in coconut oil.
  4. Add cranberry mixture to pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Let cool a bit and serve.

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I’ve already mentioned my non-traditional Thanksgiving meal plan, coq au vin substituting turkey legs for the chicken, but this doesn’t mean I don’t love Thanksgiving food.  I grew up with an amazing traditional meal!  I have such fond memories enjoying my mom’s delicious food.  You may wonder why don’t I make this meal for my family?  Well the truth of the matter is I do not have it in me to make a huge Thanksgiving feast.  I love to cook, obviously, but I’m all about the one or two pot meal that doesn’t that doesn’t take hours of time in the kitchen.  I don’t know how so many people, my mom included, can prepare a turkey along with multiple sides and pies.  Looking back I realize how much of a super mom my mom was and is.  Seriously she went above and beyond for our family and I aspire to do the same for mine.  This being said I still can’t bring myself to cook a turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberries, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rutabaga, apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and homemade whipped cream all within 24 hours.  Seriously did you catch all that?  As I said my mom is a super mom!

I always thought my mom’s stuffing was the best.  She used the giblets, cooked it in the turkey, and it is oh so delicious.  She uses the same recipe to date.  If I were celebrating with her you’d be sure I’d eat some!  But since I’m doing my own thing with our little family unit, I’ve decided to make stuffing, cranberries, green beans, and sweet potatoes -my favorites!- all throughout this week.  Hopefully my new recipes will all be share worthy.  This one definitely is!

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This delicious stuffing I made is Whole30 approved.  Gluten free, no bread, all veggies and turkey Italian sausage, in other words paleo.  As I was prepping the dish I started to worry about the end result but stay with me, it came together fantastically.  Josh raved about it and was more than happy to see a huge pan of leftovers.  But after all isn’t this what Thanksgiving foods are all about?  This stuffing would add plenty to any Thanksgiving feast, but it definitely a meal in itself, which is how we enjoyed it.  Originally I planned to make a side of green beans, but due to an exhausting day I chose put them off for another night.  Even though this is not your traditional meal don’t hesitate to try it!

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 large sweet potato, grated (I used my food processor)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 1/4” cubes
  • 5 celery stalks, chopped small
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into 1/4” cubes
  • 1 medium rutabaga, chopped into 1/4” cubes
  • 8oz sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb turkey sausage (not in casing)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (I used apple juice sweetened)
  • 1/3 cup chopped raw pecans
  • s&p
  • 2 tbsp coconut vinegar
  • 1/4 cup broth
  • 3 eggs
  • s&p
  1. In a large skillet cook bacon slices over low heat to render out fat.  Set bacon aside on a paper towel lined plate and reserve fat.
  2. Use 1/3 of the bacon fat and cook the sweet potato shreds over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.  Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Use the next 1/3 of the bacon fat and cook the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, zucchini, and rutabaga until lightly softened and browned, another 10 minutes.  Add to the bowl of sweet potatoes.
  4. Use the last 1/3 of the bacon fat and brown the turkey sausage, adding the apples after 5 minute.  Then add to the bowl of browned veggies.
  5. Lastly quickly cook the mushrooms over high heat until browned and add to the bowl.
  6. Season veggie mixture with s&p and coconut vinegar.
  7. Scramble eggs and mix with broth.  Add to veggies along with the cranberries and pecans.  Mix well incorporating everything.
  8. Grease a 9×13 pan and add the mixture pressing down lightly.
  9. Bake uncovered at 375º for 25 minutes until browned on top and cooked through.

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As Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching I’m feeling inspired to enjoy a few fall styled meals.  I love the warming flavors that come with the season.. squash, cranberries, apples, sage, and cinnamon to name a few.  Every year for Thanksgiving I take a different approach from the traditional.  I want something delicious and easy.  This year it’s going to be a modified coq-au-vin.. using turkey legs cooking it in my crockpot.  I can’t wait.  But I do still enjoy Thanksgiving fixings, particularly cranberries and sweet potatoes.  So I cook them a few times around the season to enjoy their deliciousness!

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For this meal I combined my love of fall all into one.  Sweet potatoes, cranberries, and apples all cooked with red onion, cinnamon, ginger, orange zest, and maple syrup.  And to make this a complete one pot meal I added in chicken thighs.  I let my crockpot do it’s magic filling our home with heavenly scents!  I’m happy to report this turned out quite delicious.  Sweet, tart, and savory all wrapped into one.  I topped it with fresh toasted pecans and served it along with roasted brussel sprouts.

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Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, Apple, and Chicken

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp orange zest
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • s&p
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4-1/2 cup pecans
  1. Season chicken thighs with s&p and brown in coconut oil over medium high heat.  Set aside.
  2. Place half the red onion, half the apple, and half the cranberries in the crockpot.  Add the bay leaf, layer in the chicken thighs, and add the sweet potatoes.  Season with s&p.  Top with the remaining onion, apple, and cranberries.  Add zest, syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic.  Lastly pour broth over everything.
  3. Cover and cook on low 6 hours.