Traditional King Cake


Talk about sneaking this recipe in just under the deadline. My Instagram has been full of recipes for King Cake for weeks now but I just haven't had time to make one and share it with you. The first time I made a king cake was a few years ago when I decided to host a Mardi Gras themed party.

After visiting New Orleans last year and loving every second of it, I knew I needed to get this cake made and shared with you so you could love it as much as I do.

King Cake came to New Orleans by way of the French in the late 1800's. It is shaped like a crown and decorated in three royal colors; green for faith, gold for power and violet for justice.

It's called king cake to honor the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. A coin or a plastic baby is hidden within the cake before it served (but not before it is baked!) and believed that the person who finds the token will have good luck for a year.

King cake is a yeasted cake which scares off quite a few bakers, but as long as you have active yeast and some patience, you will have no trouble whipping together this festive cake.

Traditional King Cake
Source: Love Bakes Good Cakes
Servings: 12
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    • For the Cake:
    • 2 packages active dry yeast
    • ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) water
    • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) milk
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • For the Filling:
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • For the Glaze:
    • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
    • 2-3 tbsp water
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • green, yellow and purple colored sugars

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the beater blade attached, pour in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast packets on top.
2. Add the unsalted butter, milk and sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
3. Add 2 cups of the flour, egg yolks, salt, lemon zest and nutmeg and mix until it comes together. Add in the remaining 2 cups of flour. Switch to the dough hook and process on medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a large, greased bowl, turning over the dough once to coat, then cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm location until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 16x10 rectangle. Combine the filling of cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the dough leaving a ½ inch border.
6. Starting with the long end, roll up the dough jelly-roll or cinnamon roll style and pinch the ends to seal the seam. Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, forming the dough into a ring.
7. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
8. Preheat the oven to 375 and brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
9. Place the wire rack over a lined baking sheet for easier clean up. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and the lemon juice to create the glaze. Add more water until it reaches a consistency where it can be drizzled over the cake.
10. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and then sprinkle sections of each color of sugar over the cake to created colored “wedges”. 

Isn't it gorgeous? The cake is very similar to a cinnamon roll covered in sweet glaze. I used green, yellow and purple sanding sugar which was a tasty little crunch against the super soft cake. 

If you make this and want to insert a coin or plastic baby, you'll need to allow the cake to cool completely after coming out of the oven, then flip it over and insert the token. Add glaze and sugar then see which one of your lucky taste testers gets good luck for a year!

#BakingBloggers: Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars


It's time for #BakingBloggers again! The theme that was most voted for was cheesecake!

I am terrible at making and photographing an entire cheesecake. I don't know why, but every time I try it, it ends up even more amateur than my regular photographs. So I made cheesecake bars partially to avoid that, but also because it's easier to take bite-sized foods into work for my coworkers.

I think I've mentioned before that I rarely eat or even try the baked goods that I make. But these were just too pretty and tasty looking to pass up, so that should tell you something!

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
Source: Cookaholic Wife
Servings:16 bars
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    • For the Crust:
    • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
    • For the Filling:
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • For the Topping:
    • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
    • ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ¾ cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together until the texture becomes like wet sand.
3. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and use a silicone spatula to press the crumbs down into a flat, even layer. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling by adding the cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined.
5. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the baked crust.
6. In the bowl of a mixer, add butter, brown sugar and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, flour and salt and mix until combined. Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
7. Drop rounded spoonfuls of the cookie dough mixture on top of the cream cheese mixture.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Allow to cool on the counter to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours but up to overnight.
10. Remove from the refrigerator, slice into 16 squares and serve. Keep refrigerated if not serving immediately. Cheesecake bars will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Sometimes it's hard to get a graham cracker crust to hold, but this one held up perfectly even when sliced into bars. The cheesecake is light and sweet and the cookie dough provides just the right amount of crunch from the mini chocolate chips. I definitely want to make these again!

Baking Bloggers


#FoodBloggerLove: Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins


Food Blogger Love is back! The event is hosted by Allison of The Pintertest Kitchen  and was created as a way for bloggers to show love to other bloggers. The event is a little different this year as us bloggers had the choice to either make a Valentine's Day related recipe or request to be assigned another person's blog and make a recipe from their blog, in their style of cooking, or made with their favorite food.

I chose to be assigned to a blogger and received Sarah of The Pajama Chef. Like me, Sarah blogs for fun and likes simple but delicious recipes. She's a wife, mom and fur-mom to her 3 kitties. She likes running, caramel lattes and staying in pajamas, hence the name of her blog. Her recipes balance between healthy and indulgent but absolutely won't leave you wandering the aisles of the grocery store for some hard to find ingredient that you'll use only a teaspoon of.

We've participated in a few events together, but I'm not sure that I've checked out her blog recently.

Right now Sarah is doing a really cool feature where she interviews other bloggers to see how they eat, asking questions like how many meals they make at home, who they're cooking for, how they meal plan, and what their best tips are for meal planning. I think this is SO COOL!

Let's face it, meal planning is hard, even if you're a food blogger. There needs to be some creativity, ingredients that your whole family will eat, recipes that don't take hours and hours of prep and things that actually look appealing.

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down in front of the computer, Pinterest open and just scrolled and scrolled and scrolled because nothing looked appealing. If I asked my husband he'd suggest pizza on Monday, tacos on Tuesday, breakfast on Wednesday, burgers on Thursday, pizza on Friday, tacos on Saturday...I think you get where I'm going with this. 😊

Anyway, it only took me a few minutes of scrolling through Sarah's recipes before I knew exactly what to make. I sometimes ask my coworkers for suggestions and this time was told "maybe something on the healthier side?"

I grinned. "Healthy" desserts? Those are my favorite to make because I love the flabbergasted look on someone's face when they tell me how good a dessert was and then I drop the "oh and it was healthy for you too" bomb.

Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins
Barely Adapted from: The Pajama Chef
Servings:14 muffins
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    • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
    • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • 2 eggs
    • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
    • ½ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
    • ¼ cup honey
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • 1 ½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two muffin pans with paper or foil liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add in the coconut oil, Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla. Stir in the mashed bananas.
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, using a flexible spatula to fold ingredients together until no lumps of flour remain. Carefully fold in the blueberries as well.
5. Fill each muffin cup ¾ of the way full.
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Transfer to a wire rack and let muffins cool completely.

These muffins are delicious and like expected, no one believed me when I told them how healthy they were! 

In addition to great muffins and tips on meal planning, Sarah also has a ton of other recipes. The ones that intrigued me the most where Buffalo Pretzels, Strawberry Ginger Smoothies (you know my obsession with ginger...these are getting made ASAP!), Honey Mint Glazed Chicken and Triple Chocolate Brownies.  And that's not even touching her collection of breads, breakfasts or side dishes! 

Show Sarah some love by checking her out on social media:

Meal Plan Monday - February 12-18th, 2018


Is it just me or has winter crawled to a snail's pace? At least it's the middle of February, but I feel like we've been in the winter months for at least 6 months now. Which is about 5 more months than I can stand.

Luckily I have a lot of stuff this spring to look forward to, like my girl's trip to Vegas in the beginning of April and possibly a trip to Texas at the end of April. While I'm hoping those two things hurry these cold months along, it also made me realize I haven't done much to be ready for vacation...like lose that last 10 pounds that's hung around for more summers than I can count. Hopefully I can manage to do it in time and if not, at least before the summer is good enough for me.

I initially planned to switch between the Fast Metabolism Diet and the Food RX plan from now until I go on vacation, but since these first 28 days have been 50% failures, I've decided I'm going to just stick with FMD right up until the week before vacation.

In keeping with that, the menu is as follows:

Monday: oatmeal pancakes with rhubarb sauce and turkey bacon

Tuesday: stuffed pepper soup

Wednesday: crock pot pepper steak and onions

Thursday: grilled chicken with green beans

Friday: sheet pan cashew chicken

Saturday: spaghetti squash spaghetti

Sunday: Italian turkey burger soup

Phase 1 - spelt pretzels and berries
Phase 2 - turkey patties and mushrooms
Phase 3 - berry cobbler

Phase 1: balsamic beef roast with quinoa and tomatoes
Phase 2: balsamic beef roast over salad
Phase 3: Irish pub salad

I won't be taste-testing any of the baked goods I'm making this week but there are cookie dough cheesecake bars, coconut rhubarb bread and King Cake made and shared just in time for Mardi Gras. 

#ImprovCookingChallenge: Philly Cheesesteak Twice Baked Potatoes


The theme for this month's Improv Cooking Challenge is steak and potatoes and for some reason, those two ingredients really stumped me. We eat steak and potatoes pretty frequently, but that didn't seem anywhere near creative enough to share with you.

It took until the weekend before this recipe was to be shared before inspiration finally struck and it came via the Super Bowl. Tom had asked me to make appetizers and seeing as he wanted the Eagles to win, I wanted to do something Philadelphia related. Cheese steaks were the obvious choice, but how to include potatoes?

I scrolled through all of the appetizer recipes I had pinned and landed on twice baked potatoes and knew that would be the perfect combination. Who doesn't like twice baked potatoes or cheese steaks? It was a match made in cheesy, carby heaven.

The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.You can also read more about the event on our our home page.

If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.

Philly Cheese Steak Twice Baked Potatoes
Source: Cookaholic Wife
Servings:8-10 people
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    • For the Potatoes:
    • 1 lb. baby yellow potatoes
    • 1tbsp olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • For the Topping:
    • 1 lb. thinly shaved beef (or deli roast beef)
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 cup provolone cheese, shredded
    • salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. Prick the potatoes with a fork. Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip potatoes over and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
4. Remove potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool.
5. In a medium skillet, cook the beef until fully browned over medium high heat. Then transfer to a cutting board and dice into small pieces.
6. Add olive oil to the skillet over medium heat along with the onions and bell pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
7. Slice the cooled potatoes in half and use a spoon to carefully scoop out the inside, leaving a thin layer around the edges of the skin to make them sturdy enough to hold the filling.
8. In a large bowl, stir together the potato filling, steak, onions and bell pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Scoop the filling back into each of the potato halves. Top with shredded cheese.
9. Return to the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 

Tom wasn't sure if he was going to like these and ended up loving them and telling me I should make them again. I definitely will! And maybe if I want to take a little credit for the Eagles winning because of these, then so be it. 😀

Meal Plan Monday - February 4-10th, 2018


Ugh, so much for doing these weekly, huh? I feel like I have so much time to get things done on the weekend, but then I look up and it's somehow nearly over. I've even tried tracking my time to see what I'm doing and I'm not wasting time, I just simply don't have enough of it in a day. I'm sure you can commiserate.

Anyway, here's what we're having this week.

Sunday: (superbowl apps) Cheeseburger Bombs, Steak Nachos and Philly Cheese Steak Twice Baked Potatoes 

Monday: turkey chili 

Tuesday: beef and vegetable soup 

Wednesday: breakfast sandwiches

Thursday: steak and broccoli with potatoes

Friday: crab cakes with sweet potato fries

Saturday: chicken pad thai

As I'm still doing the Fast Metabolism Diet, my breakfast, lunch and snacks for this week is as follows:

Phase 1 -
Breakfast: brown rice cakes and strawberries
Snacks: peaches, apple
Lunch: chicken meatball soup, pineapple

Phase 2 -
Breakfast: eggnog pudding, rhubarb
Snacks: beef and vegetable soup
Lunch: chicken stir fry (using metabolism noodles)

Phase 3 -
Breakfast: berry cobbler
Snacks: carrots and guacamole, celery and almond butter
Lunch: chicken meatballs over spaghetti squash with roasted red pepper sauce

For desserts this week I'm making cheesecake bars to take into my coworkers. 

#NationalPeanutButterDay: Easy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Swirled Fudge


Happy National Peanut Butter Day!

Are you a fan of peanut butter or do you prefer the other nut butters out there? I can go either way. While some good old peanut butter is delicious with jelly on a soft bread sandwich, the richness of cashew butter is incredible to dip an apple or celery in.

I knew right away I wanted to make fudge for today and use up the remaining peanut butter chips that I received a while back. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of them left to make an entirely peanut butter fudge, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the classic pairing combination of some good old peanut butter and chocolate.

Traditional fudge, made with a candy thermometer, is really not my thing. I have a candy thermometer and likely enough patience to make it that way, but when you can make fudge by microwaving together some ingredients and then refrigerating them...why not go that route?

Easy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Swirled Fudge
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 16-20 squares
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    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 cup peanut butter chips
    • 4 tbsp butter, divided
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ¼ tsp salt, divided

1. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Place a piece of parchment paper on top, long enough to allow the sides some overhang. (Cut an inch or so slice into each corner of the parchment paper to make it fit better in the dish.)
2. In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips with 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk (spray your measuring cup with non-stick to allow it to slide back out easily), 2 tablespoons of butter, ⅛ (a pinch) teaspoon of salt and the vanilla extract.
3. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each for 1 minute to 1 ½ minutes, or until the mixture is completely smooth.
4. Pour into the prepared dish.
5. In a smaller bowl, combine the peanut butter chips with the remaining sweetened condensed milk, butter and salt. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until the mixture is smooth.
6. Pour the melted peanut butter over the chocolate mixture and use a knife to swirl the peanut butter into the chocolate.
7. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours but up to overnight.
8. Using the overhang parchment paper, lift the fudge out of the dish. Slice into 16-20 squares. 

Rich, peanut buttery and chocolatey! What more could you want from an easy fudge recipe?

Peanut Butter Day Recipes

#FantasticalFoodFight: Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal Muffins


When I saw that the ingredient for January's Fantastical Food Fight was oatmeal, my first thought was "I wonder if you can make muffins using steel cut oats?"

I'm not quite sure how, but I ended up with a massive amount of steel cut oats. Too many for one person that isn't that huge of an oatmeal fan to begin with, so using them in baked goods seemed to be a good solution to cutting down on that massive container I have hanging out in the pantry. 

Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal Muffins
Adapted from: New York Times Cooking
Servings: 16-18 muffins
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    • For the Steel Cut Oats: (* 1 cup prepared steel cut oats may also be used)
    • ⅔ cup water
    • ⅔ cup milk or non-dairy milk
    • ½ cup dry steel cut oats
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ½ tsp salt
    • For the Muffins:
    • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • 5 oz. plain (or vanilla) Greek yogurt
    • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
    • ½ cup milk or non-dairy milk
    • ½ cup coconut sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup frozen blueberries tossed in 1 tsp all purpose flour

1. Prepare the oatmeal by adding all of the oatmeal ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to a simmer, until the oats have absorbed nearly all of the liquid, about 12 minutes.
2. While the oatmeal is cooking, preheat the oven to 375 and line cavities of two muffin pans with paper liners.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, applesauce, milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla until combined.
5. Once the oatmeal has been cooked, add a heaping 1 cup of oatmeal to the yogurt mixture, stirring until combined. Add in the flour mixture and mix until no large lumps remain. Gently fold in the blueberries. (The batter will be very thick)
6. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each ¾ of the way full. Bake for 18 minute or until golden brown and the muffins spring back lightly when poked. 

These muffins are not very sweet, but they are really hearty and filling and bursting with blueberry flavor. The oatmeal makes the muffins really dense but they're not dry or chewy by any means.

#FootballFoods: Cheeseburger Bombs


'Tis the football season, which to me, means hearty appetizers, gooey dips and my husband yelling at the television. I'm not really a football person. I'm kind of Switzerland when it comes to the sport. Tom is from PA and a Steelers fan. But we live in Maryland, which is Ravens country. Of course there's a huge competitiveness between both teams and because I don't really get football, I prefer to remain neutral.

If Tom is happy because the Steelers are winning, great. If the Ravens are winning, great. If neither are winning, still great as far as I'm concerned.

So while I don't care for the sport, I am all for any event that allows me to make appetizers and today I am joining in with the other Festive Foodie bloggers and sharing a recipe with you that is perfect for game day.

I looked online for some recipes and when I saw cheeseburger bombs, I knew it would be something Tom loved. I opted not to even look at the ingredients for any of the recipes I found and just wing it instead.

Cheeseburger Bombs
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 16-20 bombs
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    • 2 packages refrigerated biscuit dough (8-10 per package)
    • 1 lb lean ground beef
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 tsp dried parsley
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
    • ¼ cup ketchup
    • 2 tbsp mayo
    • 2 tbsp mustard
    • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
    • 5 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • sesame seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground beef, onion and garlic and cook until the beef is browned. Drain any excess grease.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Once the beef is cooked, reduce the heat to low and add in the ketchup mixture, stirring until all of the meat is coated.
5. Meanwhile, roll out each of the biscuits until it is ¼ inch thick.
6. Add 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into the center of each biscuit. Top with a cube of cheese and wrap the biscuit dough around the mixture into a ball, pinching to seal the seams together.
7. Repeat with remaining biscuit and meat mixture, placing 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
8. Brush the beaten egg over the tops of each biscuit ball and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
9. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops of each bomb is lightly golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving as the cheese is near bubbling when they first come out of the oven. 

Optional: stir together additional ketchup, mayo and mustard to create as a dipping sauce. 

I was really bummed when I pulled down my container of spices and found that my regular sesame seed container was empty and all I had were black sesame seeds. I hope that them not being the standard tan color doesn't turn you off this recipe because it's SO good. 

I'd honestly rather make these than make regular burgers. Since it's only two of us, I end up freezing the remaining burger buns and they just aren't as good when they've been frozen and thawed. This way all I'd need to do is keep a can of biscuits in the fridge.

Meal Plan Monday January 15-21, 2018

Happy Monday! How is January treating you so far? Mine has been okay.

I'm starting back up with the Fast Metabolism Diet this month so my meal planning just got a lot more difficult! I made a compliant menu for the week, including a grocery list and recipes to help myself stay organized.

If anyone is interested in a copy of it, please let me know and I'll get it uploaded.

So this week, the meal plan starts on Monday and goes through until Sunday as I've found it's easiest for me to follow the phases with the original start day of Monday.

Monday: chicken sausage bowl over a mashed sweet potato

Tuesday: steak with Italian-style veggies over brown rice

Wednesday: pepperoncini pork roast with green beans

Thursday: steak with peppers and onions

Friday: chicken fajita bowl 

Saturday: shrimp fried rice

Sunday: cashew chicken over quinoa

For breakfast this week I'm having spelt pretzels with peaches, a spicy ground beef and veggie scramble, oatmeal with coconut and peaches and a chocolate almond smoothie.

Lunches will be Hawaiian turkey burgers with salad, turkey meatloaf with green beans and turkey/tomato/avocado lettuce wraps.

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