Holiday Mac-n-Cheese w/ Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Shallots, and Prosciutto

You've gotta taste this. It's nuts.So, I'm a firm believer that macaroni and cheese should never be diet food. The very thought of a low-cal/fat mac&cheese just pisses me off. First of all, this isn't something you should be eating every day. This is holiday, or special occasion food. I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who enjoy eating low-fat version, and more power to you -- but I'm not interested in it at all. Considering I only eat this kinda stuff MAYBE 3x a year at max, it's totally worth it to me. With that said, this is a very decadent and "made with love" version of mac&cheese the CarnalDish way -- can you say version 3? You get to caramelize your own shallots, roast your own garlic, and make your own breadcrumbs as well as make a deliciously cheesy mornay sauce. There are a lot of steps here, but they're easy steps. Lots and lots of photos to help you nail this recipe, and believe me -- when you nail it, you're going to love it.

Baked Brown-Sugar, Apple & Cranberry Oatmeal

This is so perfect.It's almost like eating a giant oatmeal cookie for breakfast -- almost. You guys are going to love this recipe. It's amazing, and sooo simple -- it comes together very quickly. Oatmeal is a great foundation to add damn near anything you want, so you will find that this recipe is very adaptable. You can do whatever you want to it, and I promise it'll be delicious. Add any combination of fruit you'd like, any nut you'd like (or not), use any kind of sweetener. The options are limitless, and the choice is yours.

Leek, Sausage & Chanterelle Puff Pastry Frittatas

Absolute adorableness.I really like cute food. I eat with my eyes first, so if it's cute, I'll provide it with a barrage of awww's while devouring it. This is one of those recipes you could totally make your own -- that's the whole idea, right? Due to the fact it's been a deliciously fatty holiday (as it should be), I had some frozen puff pastry leftover and decided to throw some delicious eggy goodness in there and bake it pretty. If you don't like mushrooms, you're a weirdo -- kidding! You can totally leave them out. You could swap out the expensive chanterelle's for a more affordable button, shiitake, or portobello variety. You could use bacon instead of sausage, ANY kind of cheese you want -- the possibilities are endless.

Garlic & Herb Duck Fat Baby Potatoes

Add the fresh herbs and we've got ourselves a party."Duck fat" just sounds sexy. Say it out loud, in your lowest bedroom voice -- I'll wait...see?? Doesn't it sound naughty :) It's a wonderful fat. Bacon fat and duck fat are the yin to the potatoes yang. You can't go wrong with either of them. I have to buy my duck fat because I don't cook down enough ducks on the regular to make my own. This deliciously sinful tub of bird fat cost me about $6 from Wegmans and a little goes a long way. You only need about 2 tablespoons of it for all of these potatoes. They soak up the duck fat and get amazingly crisp and super golden brown.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Thighs with White Wine Portobello Cream Sauce

Serve it up, big daddy!Chicken thighs are bae. Period. They are hands-down my favorite part of the bird. I love wings and boobies and legs too, but thighs are just...pure love! I ate them frequently during my weight loss journey -- fatty skin included, and I still lost the weight. It's all about moderation. I do not recommend this particular recipe for white meat because white meat isn't as naturally fatty and full of moisture like dark meat. A chicken breast cooked using this method will dry out and ruin the dish -- you would have to do some serious tweaking. With that said, this recipe is for THIGHS. Okay? Got it? Good.

White Wine Braised Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Cranberries

Heavens...these are SO good! *shakes fist*These are the brussel sprouts for those who hate brussel sprouts, or think they hate brussel sprouts. My dad absolutely hates brussel sprouts, and he destroyed these. My mom shook her head and raved, "I eat brussels all the time, but those are the best I've ever had. Makes no sense. They're even good cold". Well, neither party is lying here. These are just damn good brussel sprouts. Bacon and brussels go together like eggs and avocado. They're just a match made in mouth heaven. Throw in a few dried cranberries to soak up some of that white wine and we've got ourselves a party. The brussels cook up tender and caramelized, full of delicious flavor, sure to please any skeptic. They aren't the least bit bitter, and sure to be a great addition to your holiday table.

Quick Pan-seared Chicken Breasts

pansearedchickenbreast11The secret to a good sear is to remove as much surface moisture from the protein, and make sure the oil is damn near smoking. Also, leave the meat alone! It will let you know when it's ready to flip over. If you start poking at it, and it's sticking? It's not ready. If it moves around or releases with minimum effort, it's ready. Now that you know those basics, you shouldn't have trouble getting a wonderful color and crust on your fish, chicken, or steak.

Clean Eating: Quick & Easy Sauteed Tuscan Kale

tuscankale7Kale is another one of those "super amazing superfoods" that helped me shed the pounds this year. You can really customize this quick and easy recipe to your personal needs. Here is one of my favorite ways to cook this bitter green down to deliciousness. I'm cheating by using pre-washed kale in a bag, purchased from Wegmans. It's absolutely delicious. Although I'm not a fan of stems, and there are a few in's still a great dish. You can pick them out if you want -- I usually do because I'm petty. Adding just a touch of honey at the end really mutes the bitterness associated with this vitamin-packed dark leafy green. You can use this recipe for any "tough" green vegetable, it works great with swiss or rainbow chard.

Clean Eating: Quick & Easy Skillet Sweet Potatoes

skilletsweetpotatoes_thumbSince January 1, 2014, I've been focusing on my health and losing weight. I've lived off an 80% clean diet with plenty of exercise, and had to part delicious ways with my beloved heavy cream pastas, super cheesy yeast breads, and sugar-laden bowls of dairy. I mean, we still hook up from time to time -- but those days of eating them frequently WHILE sitting on my ass in front of a computer for 40 hours a week are long gone. I had to really focus on this. The hard work is continuing to pay off, as I'm down 40lbs and a crazy number of inches and still going strong. Don't get things twisted, I am still about the comfort foods -- I've just learned how to keep it cute.

Quick and Easy Asparagus

quickasparagus3Spinach, broccoli, hericot verts, kale, brussels, and asparagus are our most frequently eaten green vegetables in this house. I realize I haven't posted any vegetable recipes, and there's a reason for that -- I honestly thought no one cared lol. I treat veggies with respect most times, and keep them rather simple for our quick weeknight noms. Sometimes I'll do something fancy with them, but not frequently. I didn't think anyone wanted to know how I did this, but I guess I can post my quick and easy vegetable recipes as well as the more involved versions too, right? Wouldn't hurt...