Sugar-coated hams and marshmallow sweet potato casserole are no longer on the holiday menu at AFM. This December, the dishes served will be equally delicious as they are healthy. Love & Lemons, a blog founded in Austin by culinary-genius, Jeanine Donofrio, and her husband, Jack, have made it easy to prepare a festive, holiday menu without compromising on health or flavor.
Love & Lemons is renowned for its inventive use of seasonal produce to create nourishing vegetarian recipes. But, they also understand that no one starts off as an expert, so the blog provides easy-to-follow guides for cooking with seasonal vegetables like butternut squash and pantry staples like lentils. Take it from us, wherever you are in your cooking career, this Love & Lemons Holiday Menu will take the stress out of cooking and have your guests asking where on Earth you got your recipes from.
AFM: Where do you spend your holidays and what does that typically look like? What do you love about the holidays?
L&L: It’s a mix! We’ve spent many holidays in Austin, either just the two of us or with family visiting. Now that we live in Chicago, we spend the holidays with my family here. My favorite holiday memory is baking cookies the day after Thanksgiving with my mom and my sister. When we were too short to reach the counter, she’d pull up chairs so we could get our hands in the flour.
AFM: What do your family’s holiday meals look like, do you recreate meals you grew up with as a child, and are you the one doing all of the cooking?
L&L: My mom cooks a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the same family recipes that I grew up eating, and they often inspire the Thanksgiving recipes that I share on the blog. I host Christmas dinner, so I get to have some fun with it. I make something different every year, and it always centers around fresh, peak-season produce.
AFM: Love & Lemons is well known for recipes that are colorful and healthy. Do you incorporate that same ethos into your holiday comfort foods?
L&L: Yep, of course! I embrace beautiful fall and winter produce. Luckily, my favorite comfort food veggies are in season right now — butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, kale, fennel…I could just keep going!
AFM: Do you have any tips or tricks to cooking for the holidays and hosting? Or favorite cookware or appliances that you would recommend to someone?
L&L: I like to make as many components in advance as I can — a creamy squash soup can be made the day before; roasted garlic for mashed potatoes can be made and frozen well in advance. I also mix up all of my sauces and dressings ahead of time. That way, I’m really just roasting and assembling things right before we eat. Oh, and I always delegate desserts and breads to my husband, Jack.
As far as cookware goes, I would recommend a Staub dutch oven, a Vitamix blender, and a KitchenAid food processor. And if you love lemon like me, make sure you have a Microplane zester!
AFM: Are there any funny stories, interesting memories or challenges you can share from when you’re developing your recipes?
L&L: As I mentioned before, Jack does all the bread baking in our house so he’s the one who creates all of the yeasted baking recipes that we post (like this focaccia recipe). The biggest challenge is trying to get him to write things down or make a recipe the same way twice. I have to follow him around the kitchen with a pen and paper asking ten thousand questions to make sure the recipe steps get recorded accurately. After we’re done I usually say ‘This is the last bread recipe!’ but then I post it, people love it…and repeat.
AFM: Is there anything else you would like the Austin Fit community to know?
L&L: Jack and I miss Austin so much (and we’re excited to be moving back)! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season filled with fresh, flavorful food.