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The Best Food Gift Recipes You Still Have Time to Make

Food gifts are one of the most popular of the gift-giving season, and almost always one of the most well received. Whether it’s a last-minute gift or just a desire to share something wholesome and homemade with friends and loved ones, this menu is all you need to share awesome food gifts.

Skip the expected boxes of drug store chocolate and tins of stale popcorn; these 14 treats and snacks will truly be unexpected, welcome surprises.

Pomegranate Pistachio Bark

POMEGRANATE PISTACHIO DARK CHOCOLATE BARK

This foodie gift is beautifully shared with wrapped in brown butcher paper.

chocolate covered pretzel protein balls

CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL PROTEIN BALLS

These bite-sized gems are like a homemade Lara Bar. Fill a Mason jar with the balls and wrap in a ribbon.

homemade sour mix

FRESH SOUR MIX

Prepare the mix and pour the juice in to clasp-top bottles or re-use wine bottles. Give this gift with a bottle of vodka or tequila.
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Jim Gaffigan’s Hilarious Food Rules for Everyone Not to Live by

food-love-story

Jim Gaffigan recently recently his second book entitled Food: A Love Story. Gaffigan, if you are unfamiliar with his brand of humor, is a hilarious, honest, satirical comedian. He previously wrote the book Dad is Fat, in which he reels on fatherhood with five young children. And in similar fashion in his newest release, Gaffigan has his readers rolling with his honest take on food. He says the things we all may be thinking, but we all may not be saying. Gaffigan explores everything from American food consumption to the questionable purpose of kale.

Though the entire book is quotable, we probably can’t republish it here. So we’re sharing a few of Gaffigan’s best food rules to abide by. (Or, to not abide by, but to at least laugh at.)

Jim Gaffigan’s Hilarious Food Rules for Everyone

1. Never take advice from skinny people.

“When a thin person announces, “Here’s a great taco place,” I kind of shut down a little. How do they know it’s so great? From smelling the tacos?”

Now maybe this isn’t fair. Of course there are plenty of skinny people who know great food when they taste it, and of course there are plenty of skinny people that like particular foods that other not-so-skinny people might also enjoy. The point is, Gaffigan’s point is hilarious.

2. Steak is a big deal.

“…because consuming a steak is one of the great pleasures we get to experience during our short time on this planet.”

Gaffigan describes his confusion toward his father’s love for steak as a child, though he touchingly concludes just why it was so important to him throughout his life. Steak can be particularly fancy, and I think we all know that.

3. Gravy is not a beverage.

Our eyes met, and he gave me a warm Midwestern smile as if to say, “Hey, how’s it going?” I nodded and said hello and was only a bit more than slightly tempted to exclaim, “You realize you’re drinking gravy, right?”

Gaffigan pokes a lot of fun at Midwesterners, a title he himself holds, and though I must add that not all Midwest-residents probably drink gravy, this story is too good to pass up. It’s one of the best LOL anecdotes in the entire book!
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Be the Hostess with the Mostess: Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Goat Cheese Sandwiches Recipe

pork-tenderloin-goat-cheese-sandwiches-tall

The more the merrier is my food philosophy. I love hosting and I really get my jollies by sharing dinner with as many friends and loved ones as I can. That, to me, is the soul in food.

I never like to serve the same thing twice. Who would ever want to come over when they know it’s Chicken Something again? But when the menu is always a little unexpected, it makes the invitation that much more enticing.

pork-tenderloin-sliders

Pork tenderloin has been an easy go-to for my menu planning for some time now. It seems strange to say I’m obsessed with this tender cut of meat — but really, I am. I’ve grilled it and served as medallions, shredded for pulled pork sandwiches, sauteed with veggies for fajitas, cubed for pork and veggie stew, and so much more. The question is — what haven’t I used pork tenderloin for?
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Crustless Pumpkin Pie Mini Muffins: Clean Eating Dessert That’s Entirely Decadent

crustless-pumpkin-pie-muffins

The holidays are here and that means we get to feast! Whether you do so mindfully or mindlessly, the point is to enjoy the time, the family, and definitely the food.

I LOVE sweets, however I don’t love how I feel afterwards. This means that some of my greatest ingenuity in the kitchen happens while trying to create desserts that still taste sinful without punishing my tummy later on. And this becomes especially necessary during Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.

Enter: the Crustless Pumpkin Pie Mini Muffins. This quintessential holiday dessert does not need to be on your “No-no” list this year. I have adapted this recipe from 58 Day Dreams into a cleaner more health-friendly version. Why wait until New Year’s to start eating right again?

mini-pumpkin-pie-muffins

My favorite way to watch portions with most delectable treats is to make mini versions, and in this case that’s mini muffin pies. I often find that those few bites are enough to satisfy me for the rest of the night.
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Cozy Winter Dinner for Four: Turkey and Herb Stuffed Acorn Squash

turkey-acorn-squash

Some (huge) part of me loves hunkering down for the cooler months. This season mean more time by the fire, with a book, wearing cozy sweaters, and playing board games. Maybe this means I’m secretly an 85-year-old woman living in a millennial’s body, but maybe I’m OK with that.

One of my favorite parts of fall and winter is spending time in the kitchen creating wholesome, seasonal recipes. I love all of the winter vegetables and making “comfort food” that won’t ruin my wellness goals — like these fall comfort foods for vegetarians. My household tries to avoid excessive grain consumption, and increased veggies, the result being my favorite format of dinners: stuffed anything. Stuffed zucchini, butternut squash, these stuffed kale and bean sweet potatoes — name the veggie and I’ve packed it with goodies and served it as a meal.

acorn-squash

So then I tried to include the much less popular cousin of the beloved butternut or spaghetti squash, and experimented with acorn squash. It is perfect for a foggy fall night and lasts forever to make GREAT leftovers — even served cold! Plus, acorn squash is more nutrient-dense than any of its other summer squash relatives. Score!

stuffed-acorn-squash

Acorn squash is loaded with vitamin C to boost the immune system, vitamin A for healthy vision and skin, and has more than 9 grams of dietary fiber! This is more than one-third of the daily requirement and helps to regulate blood sugar, diabetes, and digestion. Plus, hello, isn’t she so pretty?

To choose a ripe acorn squash, look for one with a dark green color, with a small patch of yellow or orange. The skin should be hard and the stem slightly withered.

acorn-squashes

For this recipe, slice the squash lengthwise, brush with olive oil and dust with nutmeg. Remember a little bit of this powerful autumnal spice goes a long way!

I chose to stuff the squash with ground turkey, as it is leaner than red meat and the subtler flavor lets the squash taste take center stage! Like all of my recipes, this is extremely forgiving in what you choose to throw in to the stuffing mixture. Consider adding red and green bell peppers, chopped onions, or sun-dried tomatoes. Those are some of my favorite bonus additions when I have them lying around the house.

minced-garlic-and-herbs

But for the purposes of guiding you on a ready-to-follow recipes with little improvisation needed, I’ve literally stuffed this recipe with some of the best natural flavor agents around. Minced garlic and onion, sweet raisins, and a trio of fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and thyme. The aroma before you even start roasting will fill your senses and boost your anticipation of this meal.

stuffed-turkey-acorn-squash

As always, I’d suggest tossing any almost-moldy greens into the mixture right at the very end so they wilt slightly and blend in with the other flavors. I’m always looking for ways to hide any extra veggies!

If your tummy and nutritional choices allow, you may even want to top with crumbled feta cheese before drizzling with balsamic vinegar and serving for an extra flavor boost!

And one more favorite preparation tip? I’ve made this with sweet potato flesh combined with the turkey mixture. Having both acorn and sweet potato together makes it extra yummy!

Turkey and Herb Stuffed Acorn Squash
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise with seeds removedacorn-squash-stuffed-turkey

1 lb. ground turkey

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, minced

16 oz. baby spinach

3 celery stalks, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

1 tsp. parsley, chopped

1 tsp. thyme, chopped

1/2 tsp. basil, chopped

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

2+ tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter or coconut oil

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and adjust rack to middle position. While it warms, brush the squash lightly with olive oil and dust with nutmeg. Place squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Brown the ground turkey. Add the diced onion, garlic, and celery, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes until soft.

3. Stir in herbs, spices, and raisins. Add spinach and wilt 2-3 minutes. Add in butter or coconut oil and combine over medium heat.

4. Spoon filling into acorn squash and roast for 20 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.


ALSO TRY THESE PERFECT FALL MEALS

Twice-Baked Shepherd’s Pie

Whole Wheat Chicken Pot Pie

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese


Recipe by Katie McGrath; Photos by Kacy Meinecke for DietsInReview.com