‘Tis the Season

Merry Christmas Y’all! I so love this time of year with candles in all the windows, reconnecting with old friends through visits, calls, and cards, and the overall feeling of hope and joy in the air. That being said, my to do list is LONG and planning meals at the last minute really adds to my stress level. So one of my big secrets to staying sane this season is meal planning 7-9 days in advance and having everything on hand for the week. That way I can conquer my to-do list without the added stress of figuring out dinner too. I have listed some of my go-to meals below and truly ALL of these have been or will be on my table in the month of December. Hope this helps! May the peace and love of the season fill all of your hearts and homes this Christmas season. 

1. Black Beans and Yellow Rice

Black Beans and Yellow Rice

There are so many things I love about this dish! First, it doesn’t take long to put together, 20-30 minutes max. It does need to cook for a couple hours though, and really the longer it sits the better. So the second thing I love about this recipe is that I can make it up in the morning and all I have to do at the end of the day is cook the rice and dinner is served. It also makes a lot (original recipe says it serves 8), and we easily get 2 to 3 meals out of one pot (2 nights on the meal plan-check!). Lastly, this is even delicious for breakfast. Seriously, I absolutely love a bowl leftover with a fried egg on top, yum!

2. Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Meatballs just getting started. Turn over when browned.

I actually have a double batch of this spaghetti sauce on the stove right now. I made it for Eggplant Stacks earlier in the week, but will be making meatballs tonight to have with spaghetti. Having a big batch like this on hand adds the following to my meal plan: meatball subs, baked spaghetti, and homemade pizza (4 more nights of dinners, yes!). Make some up this weekend and your whole week will be easier.

3. Baked Potatoes

I haven’t actually done a blog post for this, but baked potatoes are always on my menu when time is short. I roll mine in olive oil and coarse seas salt before baking at 350 degrees for an hour to an hour and half depending on the size of your potatoes. Since I’m all about making one meal that can be customized to serve everyone, I put out a topping bar of steamed broccoli, chopped turkey bacon, shredded cheddar, sour cream, and chopped green onions. Obviously theres lots of options here. If you can tolerate dairy, try making my Potato Soup in the morning and it will be ready when you come home at the end of the day.

4. All American Turkey Meatloaf

All-American Turkey Meatloaf

This is definitely one of the most popular posts on the blog and with good reason. This recipe is easy, quick, and always delicious. Made with turkey, my guys say they don’t even miss the beef here. I love that it makes 2 loaves. We either get one more night out of it, or my hubby has meatloaf sandwiches for lunch all week!

5. Bean and Salsa Tortillas

Bean and Salsa Tortillas

This is one of my husband’s favorite meals. I love that these are quick from start to table (about 45 minutes), and the recipe makes a lot so we usually have leftovers. Not everything is good reheated, but these hold up amazingly well and never go to waste around here. The bean mixture would also make a great party dip!. Add some salsa and green onions, if desired, and serve warm with some tortilla chips. It’s always nice to have an AG friendly option amidst all the cheese and bacon these days.

6. Egg Cups

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When all else fails, breakfast for dinner is ALWAYS the answer! These made to order egg cups fit the bill perfectly and can be adapted to suit almost anyone’s needs. They are delicious and filling and can get you through even the longest of shopping and wrapping days.

 

Ho, ho, ho … hope that helps. I’m off to finish my shopping, Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving Sides

Here is a list of some delicious side dishes for your AG friendly turkey day meal:

1. Kahlua Glazed Carrots

Kahlua-Glazed Carrots

This is by far one of the most popular posts on the blog, and with good reason. These are so decadent and easily made dairy-free using a butter substitute. If you are trying to impress your in-laws, make sure these are on your menu! Easy to make on a weeknight, but elegant enough for company.

2. Roasted Winter Veggies

Roasted Winter Veggies

I just LOVE this combination of winter veggies! The parsnips add a little kick and the flavors blend beautifully here. This recipe could be prepped completely the day before by peeling and chopping everything. Toss and roast as directed and keep warm until ready to serve. How’s that for making the big day easier?

3. Parsley Potatoes

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Here’s an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes that can be made dairy free by using Earth Balance or other butter substitute.

4. Roasted Winter Veggie Soup

Roasted Veggie Soup

If you serve soup as an appetizer or accompaniment with your turkey, this should be on your menu! It’s so delicious and will be loved by all of your guests. Feel free to make this a day or 2 in advance to make the day a breeze.

5. Apple and Pecan Acorn Squash

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This would be an ideal side if you were serving a small meal, for say 4-6 people in all. You would need 2-3 squash, assuming each had one half. My family says this tastes like apple pie in a squash bowl, so why not have pie for dinner and dessert? (Click HERE for our actual Apple Pie recipe)

6. Cranberry-Apple Sweet Potatoes

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This can definitely be made to serve a crowd and don’t you just love all the color here? Baking in a large foil packet makes clean up a cinch and this could easily be made in the morning and kept warm until serving time.

Wishing you and yours a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving! 

 

 

Our Favorite Apple Pie

As I turned the calendar last week, I could almost hear an audible exhale from the AG community. November means Thanksgiving, and that means TURKEY! Woohoo! I’m so grateful there’s at least one holiday a year devoted to a safe meat and veggies for all the AG folks out there. And, of course, we can’t forget the pie! The day before Thanksgiving is known as “pie day” at my house. My grandmother made 10-15 pies every year for the big crowd we had back then. She made sure everyone’s favorite was on the table and made 2 of the most popular ones. Carrying on that tradition, everyone gets to choose a pie for the big day and my husband chooses this one every year without fail. It’s scrumptious warm or cold, with ice cream or without, and at any time of the day (it’s fruit, right?). I would love to know what you are serving for pie at your Thanksgiving table. Please share in the comments below. 

1  9″ pie crust (homemade or store bought depending on what is safe for your family)

1  4″ inch piece of vanilla bean

1/4  cup packed brown sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons flour

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

2  1/2  pounds Rome or other cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

For the topping:

2/3  cup packed brown sugar

1/3  cup flour

1/3  cup regular oats

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

5  tablespoons chilled butter or safe alternative

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon; stir well. Add apple slices and toss to coat.

Fit crust into 9″ pie plate. Flute the edges and spoon apple mixture into the pastry shell. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Combine the first 4 topping ingredients. Slice the chilled butter; cut it into the topping mixture with a pastry blender (or fork and knife) until crumbly. Uncover the pie and sprinkle topping over the apples. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 25 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes if serving warm.