couple celebrating at the holidays

As we approach the upcoming holidays, one tends to think about large family gatherings and unending buffets of holiday delights, but what if only a few or nobody will be home for the holidays this year?  The empty nester situation is occurring more often than not.  The key question remains the same regardless of a full table of guests or an intimate dinner for two; what are we having for dinner? My best response is to keep it simple, colorful, healthy, tasty—and, of course, a tad indulgent.  There are many tips and tricks to pull off an empty nester holiday with lots of cheer.  Let me show you a simple delicious menu to celebrate in style and share my plan of action for making it happen.


All items can be substituted for vegan options including the cheese, ice cream, and protein. This menu will get all the antioxidants in for the day from the pomegranate superfood to the rich dark chocolate and the antiviral honey powerhouse. Follow these quick and easy time-savers to have a seamless holiday meal that delivers.

Prepping for the Meal

Plan Ahead

Make a detailed shopping list of all items needed and use helpful apps like Instacart to have all the items delivered to your door. I also have a simple template to follow when going to the grocery store that makes shopping a snap. Organizing your grocery list by area of the store will help you keep your shopping trip quick and efficient. The stores become extremely busy so ordering a couple days ahead is a good idea.  

Food Prep

The night before the holiday dinner is key to making the day flow with ease. I recommend prepping as much as possible the day before—believe me, you will thank me for this one. Here is a quick to do list for the dinner prep:

  1. Infuse the honey with thyme 
  2. Make the dill crème fraiche sauce
  3. Make the brownies or buy
  4. Check your shopping list twice to make sure all items are ordered
  5. Make lemon butter
  6. Crush candy canes 

Recipes to Follow

Crunchy Salmon


  • 4 Salmon filets about 5-6 oz
  • 1/3 cup of mayonnaise of choice (I love Sir Kensington)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp Calabrian chili pastes or chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon creamy horseradish
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional or non-dairy substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh  chopped parsley or chives
  • ¼ cup of Panko
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking  sheet with parchment drizzled with olive oil (best tip for cleanup)
  2. Place salmon filets on cookie sheet and add salt and pepper to filets
  3. Make topping by combining mayo, mustard, lemon
  4. Spread topping on salmon and add the panko, parmesan herb mixture on top
  5. Bake in oven for about 12-15 minutes



  • 1 baguette
  • 1 pink lady apple or apple of choice
  • Olive oil
  • 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese grated 
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • ¼ cup local honeyChives for garnish (1 tbsp)


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice baguette into ½ inch slices
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, add cheddar and thin slices of apple
  4. Bake for 7 minutes
  5. Gently warm up honey on stove with thyme
  6. Drizzle honey over baguette slices and garnish with chives and serve right away

Lemony Roasted Potatoes


  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes cuts into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ T lemon zest
  • ½ tsp harissa for a kick (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Toss potatoes with spices salt and pepper and olive oil and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  2. Roast at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes until fork tender.

Dill Crème Fraiche


  • ¼ cup crème fraiche
  • ¼ cup full fat Greek plain yogurt
  • ½ lemon juiced and zest
  • ½ tablespoon of capers (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped dill
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp of caster sugar


  1. Combine and adjust seasoning as needed

Petit Pois and Pancetta


  • ½ pound of pancetta or bacon cut into small dice
  • 2 shallots chopped fine
  • 1 pound of organic frozen peas
  • 1 meyer lemon juiced and zested (much sweeter than regular lemons)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter


  1. Saute shallots in butter and olive oil with salt and pepper until soft remove from skillet
  2. Add pancetta or bacon and saute till cooked through and add peas lemon and zest  
  3. Adjust seasoning to liking

Pomegranate Fizzy


  • 2 oz pomegranate juice
  • 2 oz prosecco
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 blood orange juice
  • 1 blood orange slice for garnish
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate seeds for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp cinnamon


  1.  Line martini glass or favorite cup with lime juice, sugar and cinnamon
  2. Combine liquids and serve in glass with ice


The holidays are a very special time of year to be with our loved ones no matter what the size of the gathering will be.  The beauty of the empty nest holiday meal is that it can still be tasty and indulgent yet simplified. Some easy pre-planning can make the day seem seamless. My motto is: there are no rules. If flowers are not your passion, skip them, but I highly recommend not skipping dessert!

It could just be pomegranate fizzys and apple bruschetta until your heart’s content and that is just fine too. Happy Holidays!

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