Thanksgiving Thoughts on Food

I am so excited to be hosting my first Thanksgiving at home! I love cooking, but I especially love putting together fancy meals and feasts like Thanksgiving dinner.  As much as I try to tell myself that food is fuel, it isn’t as simple as that.  There is definitely a Food=Love philosophy that is ingrained in my upbringing.

In addition to enjoying the food itself, there is so much sensory joy that comes from the preparation.  Feeling the textures of crinkly kale, smelling herbs and spices as you measure and chop, listening to the sizzle of oil, and planning out your preparation so that everything is done at once.

Then there is the joy that comes from cooking for others.  Much like knitting a prayer shawl, where the maker prays intentionally while knitting the fabric, cooking for friends and family makes me take extra care with my recipe as I think about the health and enjoyment that my food will bring them.   Preparing and sharing a meal with special people is one of my favorite things to do. Few things bring me more happiness than savoring a good meal while savoring the company of loved ones.

This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  The focus is on the people you love, sitting and sharing a meal together.  Such a simple thing, but a such a huge blessing.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Catchup Salmon (Don’t Worry, Not Ketchup Salmon)

I had such an amazing weekend.  I went to see my Absolute. Favorite. Band. Ever.  The Pentatonix.

If you don’t know who they are, you need to find them on youtube and watch all their videos, then download their albums, and cry because they are starting a tour in Europe and you can’t see them in concert for a long time.  It was the third time I’ve seen them live, and I will try to see them again as many times as possible.  So Worth It.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not paying.  We got home from the concert at midnight (CRAZY!) and Bryce really doesn’t care what time I go to bed.  I had grandma and grandpa to help in the morning before we drove home, but I still started the week behind in sleep, behind in chores, and behind in food prep.   Thanks to Flylady, my house was still in pretty good shape, but I was definitely playing catchup today.  Thankfully, I had the perfect recipe to make life easier today!

This is one of the best recipes I have in my arsenal, mostly because the effort-in:quality-out ratio is off the charts.   It takes maybe two minutes to prep, and less than 20 minutes to cook.  It is delicious with sweet potatoes for an entree, and I use the leftovers to top my caesar salads for lunch.  Dj will never order salmon when we go out to eat, because this recipe ruined him for all other salmon.  It’s that good.

Full disclosure, part of the greatness is definitely because we have a Wegman’s that provides reeeeallly fresh salmon.  If you can buy fresh fish, definitely do it.  Frozen isn’t nearly as good.

Best Salmon Ever

  • Fresh salmon fillet
  • Juice from 1 lemon, or balsamic vinegar also works well
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • Dry dill weed.

Put salmon fillet on a cookie sheet (do yourself a favor and line it with foil for ease of cleanup.)  Squeeze lemon juice liberally over the fish.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt, pepper, and dill weed.  Broil on high for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  That’s it.  You’re welcome. 😉

Coconut Cashew Crockpot Curry

Say that five times fast!  Tonight was another crockpot night, and this was an experiment to see if I could shortcut one of my favorite curry recipes

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Kind of like my pancake mix shortcut, I have found that salsa is another great timesaver.  Salsa is a combination of peppers, onions, tomatoes, and various spices, so it works as a base for lots of different recipes, not just mexican.  In this case, I used it for this AMAZING bean stew.  I love this recipe, because it tastes slightly exotic without completely subscribing to Thai or Indian traditional curry flavors.  It is warm and comforting, sweet and spicy, and the cashew’s crunch keeps it from feeling like normal crock pot mush.  Using the salsa saves me from chopping peppers, chilis and onions, and also takes care of measuring garlic and cilantro.  Make sure that your salsa is nice and chunky and full of good stuff, or you can always add half a bag of frozen peppers and onions in addition.

Coconut Cashew Curry

  • 1 can regular coconut milk
  • 1 16 oz Jar of medium salsa
  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 T paprika
  • 1 cup cubed sweet potato (can sub fresh or frozen carrots)
  • Roasted, salted cashew halves and pieces (for topping)

Put everything in the crockpot, except cashews.  Cook on low for 5 hours, or high for 3 hours.  Serve with jasmine rice, top with cashew pieces.

Pick-A-Flavor Bar Cookies

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Cool weather always gives me the baking itch. I love the way the oven warms the house and fills it with the scent of deliciousness!  We don’t eat a lot of treat food, but when we do, I try to make it from scratch.  Homemade baked goods are always more “Worth It” than store bought, and I feel like even if it’s not health food, at least I know the ingredients are natural and minimally processed.  I might even sneak some flaxseed or whole grain flours in there….

The recipe calls for a box of cake mix, but it’s pretty easy to find mixes with non-scary chemicals if you look in the natural food aisle, or at a specialty grocery store like Trader Joe’s.

These cookies have the best texture ever — so chewy, gooey, and delicious!  They remind me of the giant cookies I would get at Chocolate World when I was a kid.  The key is waiting until the pan is cool to cut and eat them; this is one of the few baked goods that is NOT the best straight from the oven. (Though that didn’t stop me today…)

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Pick-A-Flavor Bar Cookies

1 18oz box of cake mix (Today, I used a box of TJ’s pumpkin bread mix, which was 17 oz.  It still turned out fine)

1 T of ground flaxseed, mixed with 3 T of warm water and set aside for 5 minutes to gel

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4-1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 cup mix-ins (candy, nuts, etc) of choice

Once flaxseed has gelled, mix the cake mix, the oil, and the flax gel together in a stand mixer.  Gradually add 1/4 cup of milk to help the mixture come together.  You want the batter to be really thick and sticky, so don’t add more milk than you need!   Mix in candy or nuts.  Press into a greased 8×8 pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Some combos I’ve tried and loved:

Pumpkin Bread mix with chocolate chips

Spice cake mix with walnuts and raisins

Golden cake mix with mini peanut butter cups

Chocolate cake mix with crumbled peppermint bark

Your imagination is the limit!