My Thanksgiving-inspired recipe run-through

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and surprisingly, it’s not just because of the food! I’m not really into traditional Thanksgiving food in the first place, and you know me, I can eat the good stuff year-round. While I do love time spent in the kitchen with mom or trying a new spin on an old favorite dish, the real reason I love Thanksgiving is because it’s the one holiday that’s stayed the same since childhood. Heart-shaped valentines, egg hunts, fireworks, costumes and candy and gifts from Santa just don’t have the same effect on me as they did when I was a kid. But Thanksgiving is the one holiday that’s all about gathering with friends and family around a home-cooked meal. Since my cousins and I have dispersed away from our hometown as we’ve grown up, Thanksgiving has become more and more an excuse to spend hours with those loved ones I don’t get to see very often.

This year though, things will be a little different. “Me” became “we” this summer when I got married so instead of spending a few days apart to spend time with our own families, the hub and I are now expected to do things as a unit. Now, we could just do what we always do and separate for a weekend because it’s not like we have kids, right? But, here’s another catch….WE GOT A PUPPY! God forbid we separate now, we have joint custody of this cute little monster that has us both wrapped around her little paw!

So freaking cute, right?!

So now we are packing up the dog and taking this Thanksgiving on the road for what might end up being a new TG tradition. We’ll visit my family down south for a night, then visit his up north for the rest of the weekend. Since I will not be spending much time in the kitchen for my favorite foodie holiday as expected, I decided to do Thanksgiving-themed food prep and meals over the past week. A sort of “test run” of dishes I might have served had I been a host instead of a guest. Checkout these Thanksgiving-worthy dishes and holler at me if you decide to add any to your own menu!

A few of these recipes have already been modified to be Plan friendly by Lyn-Genet, and since I tend to tweak things and swap or substitute ingredients because I just can’t follow a recipe exactly to a tee even if my life depended on it, I also included notes on the other changes I made.

Balsamic Cranberry Roast chicken – original recipe from Pure Wow

2 cloves garlicIMG_0047
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1½ cups cranberries, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 pieces chicken (thighs, drumsticks or a mixture)
Nonstick spray, as needed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs for finishing
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs for finishing

I added 1 cup of pearl onions to balance out the tart cranberries and served with roasted carrots and fennel.



Whole-Roasted Stuffed Delicata Squash – original recipe from NY Times Cooking

6 small delicata squash, about 1 pound each
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to tasteIMG_0046
Olive oil, for the baking sheet
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, diced
1 bunch kale (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped
6 ounces panko or gluten free panko
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped basil, for garnish

I added 1 cup chopped leeks to the stuffing and served  alongside a persimmon and pomegranate salad with a homemade basil vinaigrette.


Roasted duck – Recipe Inspired by Pan-Seared Cinnamon Duck Breasts with Balsamic Jus from The Plan Cookbook by Lyn-Genet Recitas and Cast Iron Roasted Duck Legs by Mike Vrobel from Dad Cooks Dinner.

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped IMG_0045
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1tsp)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 duck breasts
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

So…I made a few changes to the cooking process here. I used the dry herb blend (listed above) from The Plan Cookbook on duck legs (instead of breasts), and left in the fridge overnight. Once I was ready to cook, I seared the legs in a cast iron skillet and used some of the rendered duck fat to brown onions, shallots, carrots, garlic, and fennel before placing the seared legs back over the bed of veggies. I added the wine, balsamic, and a little broth to the pan and placed in the 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

The hearty roasted veggie leftovers make for a great breakfast the the next day. Just toss them in a dry pan over medium heat until crispy and serve over sauteed greens and maybe even a fried egg!

Protein-packed Real Food Desserts…or breakfast!

Apple Cranberry Streusel from The Plan 

IMG_0041This is an old favorite from The Plan that I often play around with — the possibilities are endless! Checkout my previous blog post How to modify a recipe to use local foods in season for the original recipe. This time, I had extra cranberries from the chicken dish so I added cranberries to the apples and instead of almond flour, I subbed hazelnut flour for a little change. Sprinkle with chia seeds, flax, or other raw nuts for a protein-packed breakfast or serve in a large pie dish as a gluten free dessert!


Pumpkin Chia Pudding – original recipe by Katy Keck

IMG_0035I used full fat coconut cream, heated it in a saucepan with the pumpkin puree to blend, and then mixed in the spices and chia. After placing in individual serving dishes, I added raw pecan pieces. This would work with other winter squash like butternut as well!




Cheers to a wonderful holiday filled with friends, family, lots of laughs, and of course, good food. Happy Thanksgiving!