Weekly Menu 11/30 - 12/4 & More Free Printables!

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I took off last Wednesday to make sure that I had enough time to prep all of the food for Thanksgiving, which meant that since the office was closed on Thursday and Friday, I had 5 whole days off.

However, it didn't feel like that at all. It's Sunday already and I feel like I've barely completed anything on my to-do list, much less relaxed. Oh well. There's always the vacation I'm planning in February right?

Remember weeks ago when I shared the Thanksgiving printable with you? Well at that time, Jennifer also made me Weekly Menu printables that I intended to share right away. Except, I was so busy that I haven't actually shared a weekly menu post with you since then. Sorry about that.


Sunday: leftovers (yes, we still have turkey!)

Monday: Taco Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday: Sauekraut and Kielbasa

Wednesday: Crock Pot Cashew Chicken 

Thursday: pizza

For breakfast this week I'm using up the rest of the sweet potatoes to have a take on potatoes o'brien and for lunch, I'm using up the rest of the carrots and celery to make a vegetable soup.

Speaking of which, I really need to get that on the stove, so just one last thing:

 

That's the printable and here is where you can go to download a copy without the watermark: Cookaholic Wife Meal Plan Printable by Bound for Keeps.

Okay, I lied. Another thing; don't forget to go check out the Bound for Keeps facebook page!

Okay, okay, last thing. Here's my printed out version of the meal plan!

(I really need to remember to buy color ink cartridges!) 

{Make-Ahead} Celery and Onion Stuffing

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Once upon a time the blog you are reading had a recipe for celery and onion stuffing. It was graced with a confusing recipe layout, inconsistent measurement abbreviations and probably one of the most terrible pictures on here (and there are still many).

Today you are reading the revised version of that recipe where everything has been improved! The only downside is that I'm just sharing this with you the day before Thanksgiving and you won't get to see it in it's golden brown and crisped up glory until I edit this post (yet again) on Friday or so, so you can see the final product.

As I've mentioned only a trillion times, the life of a food blogger means that you typically have to make traditional holiday recipes way before the actual holiday in order to get them photographed and shared in time for your readers to make for the holiday. And as you also know, I'm pretty terrible at that. You still like me though, right? :)

In all actuality, this is dressing and not stuffing because it is being made separately from the bird but I cannot bring myself to call it dressing. Stuffing, dressing, that tasty good stuff on the table at Thanksgiving, no matter what you call it, it is a very versatile dish and super easy to make.

While the turkey is supposed to be the lead character on the day of thanks, I think that the side dishes need to act as supporting characters. A lead character cannot be a lead without their supporting counterparts. Which is why I strongly believe in making my stuffing crispy and flavorful enough to hold her own against the turkey. I do this by using a lot of seasoning.



{Make-Ahead} Celery and Onion Stuffing
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 8-10
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 4 celery stalks, diced
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt 
    • 1 tsp. dried sage*
    • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
    • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
    • 1 tsp. dried thyme
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. dried basil 
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 
    • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    • 2 cups assorted bread crumbs (white/wheat, focaccia, ciabatta, Italian, sourdough, etc.)*
    • 1 egg, whisked 
    • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock 
Directions:
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Add the salt, sage, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, basil, pepper and nutmeg to the skillet and stir to combine. Cook for 3 minutes longer.
3. Transfer the celery and onion mixture to a large bowl and top with bread crumbs and egg. Stir to combine, then add in 3 cups of chicken stock, stirring to fully combine. Mixture should be very moist.
4. Butter or spray a 9x13 baking dish and transfer stuffing mixture into it, pressing down evenly.

To Make Ahead: Press an even layer of plastic wrap on top of the stuffing and cover tightly with foil or a lid. Freeze up to 1 week in advance. To thaw, bring to room temperature. If stuffing looks very dry add the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock. Follow directions for baking.

To Make Immediately: Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes. Increase temperature to 450 degrees and cook 5 minutes more or until the top of the stuffing is browned and crispy.

*Spices Note: If you do not have all of those spices on hand you can use Poultry Seasoning, which is made up of sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, pepper and nutmeg. Use 2 tablespoons plus the above measurements for salt, garlic powder and dried basil.

*Bread Note: A combination of multiple types of bread brings more flavor to your stuffing. You don't need to purchase multiple types at once though. Save the heel or ends of different breads as you buy them and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, then place in a zip top bag. Thaw to room temperature before crumbling or mixing into stuffing.


One purchase that has totally saved me with making dishes in advance are Pyrex glass containers. They can go from fridge to counter to oven to freezer to cabinet.


Since learning to make my own, stuffing (or dressing) has become one of my favorite side dishes to enjoy along with the turkey or really, at any time of the year!



Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

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If you are still looking for a quick dessert you can bring to your Thanksgiving feast, I have a great one for you.

These pumpkin bites are super easy to make and don't take up much time at all. Plus, the smell in your kitchen while this baking is just heavenly. Seriously, it really is.



Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites
Source: The Frugal Girls
Servings:  ~ 30 bites
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 15.25 oz. box of yellow cake mix
    • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
    • 8 oz. cream cheese
    • 1 package vanilla almond bark
    • sprinkles, sanding sugar, etc. for decorating 
Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine powered cake mix and pumpkin puree until smooth. (Do not add anything else the boxed cake mix calls for.)
3. Pour the cake batter (it will be thick) into a 9x13 greased baking dish. Bake according to boxed directions, usually between 24-32 minutes.
4. Let the cake cool to room temperature. While the cake is cooling, let the cream cheese soften to room temperature.
5. Break the cake into crumbly pieces and add in the cream cheese. You can either do this by hand or with the beater attachment in a stand mixer. Make sure no large lumps of cream cheese remain.
6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
7. Roll the cake and cream cheese mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
8. Melt the vanilla almond bark in the microwave (microwaving in thirty second intervals and stirring until smooth) in a large bowl.
9. Using two spoons, drop each cake ball into the melted almond bark and toss to coat. Allow excess to drip off before returning to the baking sheet.
10. Decorate with sprinkles, sanding sugar, etc.
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until all cake balls are coated and decorated.



Aren't they cute? They can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week!

Why You Shouldn't Shop on Thanksgiving

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I didn't expect it, but whether or not stores should be open on Thanksgiving is a pretty controversial topic. Some people firmly believe they should be closed and others simply do not. I fall into the first camp of people and I'm taking my little corner of the internet to share with you why I think you should stay home.

I've talked about this before, last year I shared a post with you about why I thought stores should not start their sales on Thanksgiving. It was called Black Friday, a rant

There is a Facebook group called Boycott Black Thursday (that started back in 2011) that has over 80,000 followers who don't want stores to open on Thanksgiving. I completely agree with them. Now, let's talk about why.

Reason One: It's Personal For Me. My cousin works for a large retailer. We have always planned Thanksgiving around her schedule so she could still eat with us and get enough sleep to make it through her next shift. This has never bothered me until this year. Why?

Well, regardless that her days off are Thursday and Friday and regardless that she works overnight so her Wednesday shift actually ends at 7 am on Thursday, she is required to work on Thanksgiving day. Note that key word there, required. No one is allowed to take off, not even months in advance. If you don't show up, you're fired, end of story. That sure screams holiday spirit, doesn't it?

To add further insult to injury, let's talk about her current shift and her required Thanksgiving day shift. She goes into work at 11 PM on Wednesday night and clocks out at 7 am on Thursday shift starts at 4 pm on Thursday afternoon. Let's pause there. 7 am to 4 pm is 8 hours. She has eight hours to go home, fall asleep, wake up and get back to work. Actually, that's not true. The sales at this store start around 6 pm so the parking lot will be full by 3. She needs to get there between 2 and 3 pm to finding parking. So now that's 6-7 hours after her previous shift ends. And the real cherry on this bullshit cake? She's only scheduled to work 7 hours that day and because of how their schedules and work weeks fall, she's not even getting paid overtime or holiday pay.

Let's break this down. It takes her 20 minutes to get home so if she manages to clock out right at 7 am, hightail it out the door and warm up her car within 5 minutes she'll be home around 7:30 am. Now we also have to assume she will instantly fall asleep although that is highly unlikely. Now let's say she sleeps until 1:30, that's 6 hours which is enough to function on. Now she has 30 minutes to shower and get ready and 20 minutes to get to work to make it there right before 2:30 and hopefully still find parking. Oh yeah, she hasn't ate anything since her lunch break somewhere in the early morning. That's okay though, hunger won't kill you in a day. And why does she have to do this? Because someone thinks that a $70 GPS or a $100 television or $25 sheets is the most important thing in the world and they absolutely without a doubt need to be at a large retailer on Thanksgiving day to get these items because if not, their Christmas will be ruined. RUINED I TELL YOU!
However, do you know the history of Black Friday? That brings me to my second reason.

Reason Two: The Sales Really Aren't That Great
Black Friday was named as such because it was typically the day that stores turned a profit and finally got their numbers from in the red to the black. If you don't know much about finances, this means until that day stores were typically operating at a loss and then on that day, they began making a profit. Kinda scary to think that retailers solely depend on the Christmas holiday season to make money. However, people buy gifts on Christmas so at least there is some logic. 

So Black Friday became the day for deals. Get all your Christmas shopping done on this great day, save some money and come home and put yourself into another turkey-coma with all of the leftovers. 

Somewhere along the line, Black Friday became less about good deals and more about insanity. Because the retailers knew the people would come, they offered extremely low prices on otherwise expensive items. It wasn't just your large or small appliances, it was everything. If you put a stack full of sweaters at 50% off next to where your check out lines start, retailers know that most customers are at least going to take a look at those sweaters. Because they need a sweater? No, because you put a sign on it that says 50% off and retailers know that people are drawn to a deal. How many times have you bought something you didn't really need simply because it was on sale?

Yeah, that's pretty much the entire purpose of Black Friday, to make the prices and ads so enticing that you absolutely need to purchase that 50% off sweater. It's only $9.99. What's $10? You spent that at Starbucks for two coffees. For this $10 you could get a sweater. Something that lasts longer than coffee. Oh and look it comes in various colors and prints. The green one is kinda cute with its bird print. Oh hey, the blue one has foxes on it and foxes are so in style right now. Wow, look at that purple one. It has kittens. Your friend Sarah is totally the crazy cat woman. For only $10 you could get this as a gag gift for her. She'd love it! 

See what I did there? Exactly what the retailers do to consumers. (Be honest, how many sweaters would you have in your arms?) We have become conditioned to believe that Black Friday is the best day to get a sale and the stores are only going to offer prices like that on that day only. 

But guess what. That is not true. Retailers basically jack up their prices all of the time for the mere fact that if they then slap a 'sale' or 'clearance' tag on it, people want to buy it. People want to feel like they are getting a good deal all of the time. How can a retailer compete with that? By constantly offering 'sales' which is really only reducing the cost of an item to what it should actually sell for. Novel concept, right?

Reason Three: There Are Other Days
Once retailers realized people would come out in droves on Black Friday to get a deal, they began offering different deals straight through the entire weekend so in case you couldn't shop on Friday, you could still get a good deal on an item on Saturday or Sunday. Then as Black Friday got a little more insane and the online shopping became more popular, strictly online retailers and retailers with an online presence realized they could create another day of sales. They dubbed it Cyber Monday and it became known as the day where you could score great deals on items online so you could shop in your pajamas and never brave the 'crazy' people out on the previous Friday.

Now, that wasn't enough. We still needed more. What about those small businesses struggling along to keep up with the lower prices and extended hours of the big box retailers? Small Business Tuesday was created and now you could go pick up some handmade soap from the local soap maker down the street for a discounted price.

Black Friday had now stretched into Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Five whole days of items at discounted prices. Money would be flying into the stores at an alarming rate!

But that still wasn't good enough. Retailers realized there was still a demographic of people they were excluding. The planners. The planners start holiday shopping months in advance and by Thanksgiving, they have their holiday stock pile of presents. Now, it would seem ludicrous to offer Black Friday deals in August, so retailers needed a new game plan and it came along by offering "Black Friday Pricing for the entire month of November!"

(You read that in the loud announcer voice too, right?)

Reason Four: Scrooge
To recap,
1. Black Friday Pricing is offered for the entire month of November.
2. Black Friday deals.
3. The Saturday and Sunday following Black Friday deals.
4. Cyber Monday.
5. Small Business Tuesday.

Depending on how the calendar year falls, Cyber Monday and Small Business Tuesday could actually be in December and I am not even going to cover with you the deals that are offered in December only to further drive people into the stores to spend money.

For the sake of simple math, let's assume that Thanksgiving falls on November 25th.

Retailers now offer Black Friday Pricing from November 1 - 24th, actual Black Friday deals on November 26th, weekend deals the 27th and 28th, Cyber Monday deals the 29th and Small Business Tuesday deals on the 30th. That is TWENTY NINE days of sales.

Twenty Nine days for retailers to go from operating in the red to operating in the black when they used to just have one big day. Twenty Nine days for people to collect paychecks and go shopping. Twenty Nine days of people to sit in their pajamas and order items online.

Do you know what mental image I get when I picture these retailers deciding that those TWENTY NINE days just aren't good enough? Scrooge (the duck form) throwing around paper money and swimming in it. It's pure greed at that point. If twenty nine days of sales isn't going to take your company from operating at a loss to being profitable, nothing is. And they are just opening on Thanksgiving day because they can.

Which leads me to Reason Four: Demand. 
Maybe you remember when stores weren't open at all on Sundays. If you needed bread or milk or gas in your car, you were SOL until Monday morning if you didn't have the foresight to take care of that by Saturday evening.

Obviously, we survived as a country through retailers not being open on Sundays or we wouldn't be here right now.

But there was a demand. People wanted to shop on Sunday. The mother who ran out of butter for Sundays dinner wanted to be able to pop into the local Mom & Pop grocery store and pick up her stick of butter. The family traveling across country for the new job needed to drive straight through Sunday to arrive in their new town on Monday needed to be able to stop and fill up their gas tank on Sunday. So limited working hours on Sunday were introduced.

It's truly this simple. Had there not been a demand to shop on Thanksgiving day, stores would not have opened. It would not be mandatory for their employees to work. Retailers still had compassion. Still remembered that their employees are not their indentured servants. That they still have lives, families, interests outside of work.

Reason Five: It Should Be A Choice 
Now we live in a world where we expect stores to be open around the clock because if you need a new video game at 3 am you better damn well be able to get it. It's sad, really. That we live in a society of Give It To Me Right Now. Patience is a lost art. Instant gratification fuels our daily lives and it has taken away some of the most simple things we used to enjoy.

By no means do I claim that everyone likes their family, wants to spend the holiday with them, or even has a family to spend the holidays with. Some people really don't mind and I APPRECIATE THEM. I appreciate every doctor, nurse, emergency personnel, taxi driver, gas station attendant, etc. who chooses to work that day so someone else doesn't have to. Personal sacrifice is something we don't see much of these days so it means so much more when you actually do encounter it.

But that's not the case. There is no choice. You work on Thanksgiving or any other day that retailers no longer deem a holiday or you get fired. And that's just sad. Sad that money is more important than people. Sad that retailers used to be closed on ALL national holidays and now that no longer exists.

In Closing, all I can say is that I hope this has at least made you think.

If you'd like to join the Boycott Black Thursday group, please click that link to their Facebook page.

If you would like to boycott all retailers who are open on Thanksgiving, here is a list of the current ones, take from the Boycott Black Thursday page.





Steak Nachos with Wholly Guacamole Nacho Cheese Sauce & A Giveaway

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Yesterday I shared Wholly Guacamole's Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe with you as part of their HOMEGATING possibilities and as I said yesterday, today I will share the nacho recipe I made.

But first, a quick re-cap.

HOMEGATING is when you can relax and watch the game with your friends in the comfort of your own home instead of at the stadium. And obviously, being the good friend that you are, you're going to serve some food to your friends. At the homegatinghq.com website, you can find recipes, how-to videos, football trivia and much more.

Wholly Guacamole asked me if I would be interested in sharing a recipe for HOMEGATING Headquarters. I chose to use one of their current recipes, the Nacho Cheese Sauce and make my own style of nachos with it. Yesterday, I also shared ten other things you could do with these cheese sauce.



Steak Nachos with Nacho Cheese Sauce 
Source: Wholly Guacamole & Cookaholic Wife
Servings: 6
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 2 lb. flank steak
    • 1 tbsp. chipotle chile powder
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • salt and pepper 
    • 1 bag tortilla chips
    • Nacho Cheese Sauce
    • 1 cup guacamole cream
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup pickled jalapenos 
    for the guacamole cream:
    • 4-6 oz. sour cream
    • 12 oz. Wholly Guacamole (in any flavor)
Directions:
1. Preheat a grill or skillet to high heat. Season both sides of the flank steak with chipotle chile powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
2. Cook steak for 3-5 minutes on each side or until it reaches desired level of doneness. Transfer to a plate to allow to cool.
3. Once cooled, slice against the grain into strips.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and guacamole until combined.
5. Divide tortilla chips among plates. Ladle Nacho Cheese Sauce on top. Divide steak among plates and then top each with diced tomatoes, pickled jalapenos and large dollop of the guacamole cream.

Delicious! I opted to use the Hatch Chile Guacamole to add in some extra heat to this recipe.

Just like last time, the Wholly Guacamole people have offered to give one reader a cooler of various guacamole flavors and other promotional products (including the squishy avocado!). I'll be honest, I immediately tore into the box the second I got it and completely forgot to take a picture, but I received at least 6 different guacamole samples, a coupon and another squishy avocado!

To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wholly Guacamole: Nacho Cheese Sauce

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Last month I told you that I'd be working with the cool people at Wholly Guacamole again this month and now the time has finally come.

Let's start at the beginning. Whether you are a fan of it or not, it is football season and during football season the fans are doing two things - either going to games and tailgating in the parking lot, or having their friends over to watch the game at home and serving food there. Wholly Guacamole opted to call that HOMEGATING and a new thing was born. HOMEGATING is all about making cool recipes for your friends to eat at your house while you watch the game and avoiding the craziness at the stadium.

They even created a separate website solely for this HOMEGATING phenomenon. You can find party planning tips, recipes, how-to videos, football info AND a coupon! You totally should go visit the site: homegatinghq.com You'd be surprised at what you could learn. (Like it was 1943 was the last year that a football game ended with a 0-0 score...who knew?!)

But let's get to the recipe portion of this post, since I'm sure that's why you're here. Right? I opted to make the Nacho Cheese Sauce because it is so versatile. Now you have 3 ways to get this recipe.

First, you can go to their website: Nacho Cheese Sauce 



Or if you're more of a visual learner, they made a how-to video for this recipe, that you can find on YouTube. (I really should try that sometime!)

The third way is to read the recipe below.

Wholly Guacamole: Nacho Cheese Sauce
Source: Eat Wholly 
Yield: 3~ cups
Printer Friendly 

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
2 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne

Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until no lumps remain and the mixture is a golden brown color.
2. While whisking slowly pour in some of the milk. Once the milk has been absorbed fully, add the rest of the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens.
3. Reduce to low heat and stir in the shredded cheeses and spices. Whisk until there are no lumps of cheese. Remove from the heat.

Now there are quite a few things you could do with Nacho Cheese Sauce.

Obviously, the first option would be to use it for nachos (and I'll share that recipe with you tomorrow) but you could also:

1. Pour it over 2 cups cooked pasta then bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven for a nacho-flavored mac and cheese.
2. Dip soft or hard pretzels in it.
3. Use as a cheese sauce for tacos or enchiladas.
4. Pour over cooked lasagna noodles in a 9x13 pan. Top with browned ground beef, diced tomatoes and jalapenos, and repeat layers for a Mexican lasagna.
5. Ladle onto a tortilla and top with shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and guacamole for an open-faced quesadilla.
6. Pour over any steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
7. As a topping for a baked potato.
8. Combine with 2 cups boiled potatoes, 3/4 cup chicken/beef/vegetable stock, and heat, stirring until combined. Top with a dollop of sour cream and guacamole and cooked crumbled bacon for a loaded baked potato soup.
9. Pour over a burger and top with salsa and guacamole. (No seriously, you need to do this one)
10. Drink it.

Okay maybe I'm kidding about the last one but it really all depends on how strongly you love cheese sauce. If you wanna slurp it down by the ladle-full, I'm not going to judge you. And I think if you balanced it out with some guacamole and chips, the nice people at Wholly Guacamole wouldn't judge you either.

So check back tomorrow for my nachos recipe using the Nacho Cheese Sauce and also a chance to enter another giveaway!

Disclaimer: HOMEGATING is a registered trademark of Wholly Guacamole. I did not receive financial compensation for this post, however I was provided with guacamole samples. The Nacho Cheese Recipe is not my own, nor is the above image or Youtube video, it was created by Wholly Guacamole and with their consent, posted on this blog. The ideas presented for the nacho cheese sauce are my own. Written consent from both parties agreed for this post to be shared on either party's social media sites. 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

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Apple pie was one of my first successful baking adventures. I got the idea in my head that making an apple pie from scratch couldn't possibly be that difficult so I set out to do it. I made two batches of the dough because I was convinced one of them wouldn't work out. I peeled the apples and then had to cut them with a steak knife because we didn't even have a chef's knife in the house. (This should tell you a lot about my mother's cooking skills)

By some culinary miracle, I kept all my fingers and the pie was delicious. I've made one almost every year since then. This time I wanted to shy slightly away from your standard apple pie and add in some salted caramel. I'm sure to some people 'salted caramel' was so five years ago but it is still one of my favorite flavor combinations.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Source: Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 9
Printer Friendly 

Ingredients:
for the crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1/3 cup ice water
for the filling:
5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup salted caramel, homemade or store-bought

Directions:
1. Make the pie crust by combining the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the water, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough comes together.
2. Remove dough from the processor and form into two evenly sized discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Remove one disc of dough and roll out into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Drape the dough over a 9-inch pie plate and gently press into the bottom and sides of the pans. Return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
4. Prepare the filling by tossing the apples together with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Place in a colander and allow to drain thoroughly. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Return the apples to the large bowl and toss with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
5. Remove the dough-lined pie pan from the refrigerator and use a slotted spoon to make an even layer of apples. Drizzle with the salted caramel. Repeat another layer of apples and caramel until all are used.
6. Remove the remaining disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut 1-inch strips of dough. Place over the pie in an alternating fashion to create a lattice top. Trim away excess dough and/or press into the edges of the pie to crimp.
7. Freeze the pie for 30 minutes.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
9. Place the chilled pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush lightly with an egg wash (egg and water whisked together). Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cover the edges with a pie ring or wrap with foil and return the pie to the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
10. If the crust is much lighter, remove the ring and cook for 5 minutes more to get an even color over the pie.
11. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Covered pie can be kept at room temperature or refrigerated for 2 days.


Salted caramel is by far one of the best things you can add to an already delicious apple pie. This may just be my new favorite way to make it! 

2014 Thanksgiving Menu (with Free Printable To-Do List!)

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Thanksgiving, already!? I swear, if it weren't for the Canadian Thanksgiving being in October, the thought of planning my menu would pass right on by in my head. So, a special thank you to my Canadian friends for always providing that reminder.

Thanksgiving last year was a little bit crazy. As in, I hosted for 20ish people in my 1200 square foot apartment where I have a pub style dining table that seats four. We did bring in a long folding table and chairs so there was some additional seating, but it was only enough for half of us to sit. I think I may have sat on the floor to eat. 

It was also a complete whirlwind of an event. With that many people, there was a ton of food and I spent more time working on the food than I did spending time with everyone. I'd prefer not to go that route this time and I've tried really, really hard to limit the amount of food I'm going to make. 

My guest count is still up in the air. My cousin is due on December 6th and no one thinks she's giving birth anywhere near her due date and will end up much earlier. If that happens, I'll be down 4-5 adults and a toddler. 

I've also spent a lot of time watching Ina Garten on the weekends in hopes that her simple but fancy appetizers and very laid back party planning will rub off on me. I'll let you know how it goes. 

I haven't spoken to my other aunt yet to see what she plans on making, so this is subject to change, slightly. 

2014 Thanksgiving Menu 

Appetizers:
rosemary cashews
stuffed mushrooms
mini cheese balls
pancetta pear crisps
veggies and dip

Main and Sides:
turkey
crock pot mashed potatoes
gravy
honey-pear cranberry sauce
individual twice baked sweet potatoes
cheesy green bean casserole
wild rice, mushroom and celery stuffing 
dinner rolls

Desserts:
turtle cheesecake
pumpkin pie
sweet potato pecan pie mini tarts

It's still way too much food for the amount of people that will probably show up, but it is actually cut down over the previous years. The cashews and cranberry sauce can be made far in advance. Almost everything else will be made the day before so Thanksgiving will really be about cooking, re-heating and plating. 

Wow, writing the year in front of the menu really hit me. This will be the sixth year I've hosted Thanksgiving. That's just crazy! I've got it all down pat by now, but if this is your first year hosting and you're looking for some recipes and tips, check out what I've said in other years:

Thanksgiving 2013

And guess what else! You can have a free printable! Remember the other week or so when I mentioned internet friends? Well one of them is starting her own printables business and emailed me to see if I'd be willing to share her printables on my blog. Of course I said yes and the timing was perfect. She made a Thanksgiving To-Do list for you! 


Look at that turkey! Isn't he adorable?! To print a copy without the watermark, simply click here

And then head on over to the Bound for Keeps Facebook page and tell Jennifer "thanks!" 

Guess what else  --- I'll have more printables to share with you in the very near future! 

Paleo Shrimp Fra Divolo

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I haven't been able to find shrimp the grocery store for an affordable price in so long. We used to eat shrimp almost once a week and then the prices skyrocketed and I've spent the time ever since missing seafood. Usually I am not a fan of red sauces with shrimp but this just looked so good that when I found some shrimp on sale, I knew this was what I needed to make.


Paleo Shrimp Fra Divolo
Source: Home Sweet Jones
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
    • 3/4 lb. peeled and deveined
    • 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 cup chicken stock
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano
    • 1 tbsp. anchovy paste
    • 1 pickled pepper, minced and 1 tsp. juice
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
    • salt and pepper
Directions:
1. Drain tomatoes in a colander, saving the juice.
2. Add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add chicken stock, red pepper flakes, oregano, anchovy paste and bring to a simmer.
3. While the liquid is simmering, lightly mash the tomatoes. Once the chicken stock mixture has reduced by half, add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the tomato juices.
5. Cook for 5 minutes.
6. Add the shrimp, pickled pepper and brine. Cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
7. Garnish with parsley and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.


I changed the recipe up a little bit for the sake of time. The original calls for browning the shrimp shells and then simmering them in the wine. That would create more of a seafood/brine flavor and the way I chose to do it lessened that. You could easily add in a clam juice or reduce the juice from the canned tomatoes if that was the flavor you were looking for and didn't have time to simmer the shells either. 

Crock Pot Maple Chile Pork

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You know what? Pork cooked in the crock pot is not easy to photograph on its own. It's much easier when you're going the pulled pork sandwich route and piling that porky goodness on top of a bun. But regular old shredded pork? Not so much.

So work with me a little bit and pretend that these are at least decent pictures. I can tell you though, that the taste more makes up for its less than stellar photography skills.


Crock Pot Maple Chili Pork
Source: A Year of Slow Cooking
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 2 lbs. pork tenderloin, quartered
    • 2 tbsp. all natural maple syrup
    • 1 tbsp. chile pepper sauce (see below)
    • 1 tsp. five-spice powder
    • salt and pepper 
    Chile Pepper Sauce:
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tsp. white vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp. coconut palm sugar
Directions:
1. Place the quartered pork in a 4 quart slow crock pot.
2. Combine the maple syrup, chile pepper sauce, five spice powder, salt and pepper. Pour over the pork.
3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

I was really concerned about cooking pork tenderloin for that long in the crock pot because with little fat on it, it tends to dry out very quickly. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was still very moist and cooked perfectly. In a way, it was slightly overdone since I couldn't pull the quartered pieces out without them starting to shred on their own, but taste wise you couldn't tell at all.

*If you don't wish to make your own Chile Pepper Sauce, you can use Sambal Oelek, but it is not Paleo since it contains sugar. ** Most people in the Paleo lifestyle consider coconut palm sugar as an alternative to other sugars and will still use it, even if it is 'sugar'.



Pumpkin Roll Cake

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Making a cake into a log will always be intimidating I think. I got the cake part down and I even know what type of towel to use and how much powdered sugar to put down so the cake doesn't stick, but for some unknown reason I almost always get a break in my cake in the first roll over.

One day I'll get this right, but until then you'll just have to enjoy pumpkin roll cake. Terrible fate, huh?


Pumpkin Roll Cake
Source: All Recipes Magazine, Oct/Nov 2014
Servings: 9
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Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice
    • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
    • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray or grease a jelly roll pan (15x10 rimmed baking sheet). Line with parchment paper and spray or grease that. Sprinkle with flour and shake to coat all of the parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together in a small bowl.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) beat the eggs on high speed for 5 minutes, then slowly beat in the sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow color. Add in the pumpkin and lemon juice.
4. Add the flour mixture to the mixer a little at a time until fully combined.
5. Pour batter onto the prepared jelly roll pan and spread smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle chopped walnuts evenly over the batter.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
7. Dust a large linen or cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. Loosen the cake edges with a knife and quickly invert over the towel. Peel off the parchment paper and quickly roll the cake up in the towel starting with the short end. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour.
8. Beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed. Once combined, slowly add in the powdered sugar and vanilla. If frosting is too sweet at a pinch of salt.
9. Carefully unroll the cake and spread the cream cheese frosting almost to the edges of the cake. Roll up again and chill until ready to serve.

If the ends of your cake aren't pretty, slice off a thin layer with a serrated knife before serving.


Girl's Night Menu

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My friend Shannon suggested that we have a old-school girls night one evening soon. We ended up choosing today and I offered to host so I could plan another menu. The last thing I really need to be doing is planning another menu when my Thanksgiving one isn't fully prepared yet, but my priorities aren't always in line.

I'm assuming we're going to spend the night watching movies, eating junk food and talking. This menu probably wasn't my most genius invention to create during a Whole 30 since I can't enjoy most of it, but at least it allows me to use up some extra stuff in the freezer I otherwise wouldn't be able to make, right?

Girl's Night Menu 

veggies and dip
pulled pork nachos
fruit salad
brownies 

Shannon is bringing the veggies and dip and Kayleigh offered to make brownies. I have mac and cheese in the freezer and the soft pretzel bites so I should be able to pull it all together rather quickly. 

I am most looking forward to the pulled pork nachos, which I saw being made last week on the Cooking Channel. I'll have to edit the recipe a bit to make them without sugar but otherwise I think I'll do okay with just the veggies, pulled pork (in a lettuce cup for me) and the fruit salad. 

OUAT: Dwarf Dip (Spinach Dip)

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This will be the final Once Upon A Time recipe that I'm sharing with you. I did make others, but not everything turned out nice enough to photograph the first time around so I'll just have to make some of these again without the OUAT theme.

The Seven Dwarves are a part of Once Upon A Time just as they are in the story of Snow White. In this version, you learn that there was actually an eighth dwarf that died an untimely death. You also find out that dwarves are hatched from eggs and do not know what love is. Their names are given to them when they first touch their pick axe. In the case of Grumpy, you find that their names can change. The dwarves make friends with Snow White when she is on the run from the evil queen and even give Prince Charming a hard time when he and Snow finally get together.

In Storybrooke, the dwarves are basically handymen, skilled in just about everything from crops, mining and electricity.

This dip really has nothing to do with dwarves, but since it's a spinach dip I decided dwarves would eat spinach dip for strength, just like Popeye would. And since they are dwarves, who are kind of rustic, it would only make sense that they would eat their spinach dip in a pumpernickel bread bowl.



Dwarf Dip (Spinach Dip)
Source: Knorr Recipes
Servings: 10
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Ingredients:
    • 10 oz. box chopped spinach
    • 16 oz. container sour cream
    • 1 cup mayo
    • 1 package Knorr vegetable recipe mix
    • 1 pumpernickel bread bowl
    • crackers or vegetables, for dipping
Directions:
1. Thaw spinach and cook according to package directions. Drain excess water and let cool.
2. Whisk together sour cream, mayo and vegetable recipe mix in a large bowl until well combined, then stir in the cooked spinach.
3. Let dip cool for 2 hours.
4. Cut a large circle in the top of the bread bowl, leaving a 1-inch rim. Use a spoon to dig out the inside of the bowl so all of the dip will fit inside. Cut up or tear pieces of the scooped out bread to use for dipping.
5. Transfer the chilled spinach mix into the bread bowl and put on a plate with bread pieces and additional crackers or vegetables for dipping.

There are many ways to make this recipe and you can decide on how much effort you want to put into making your version. This is the most involved, aside from making your own bread bowl (which is totally a possibility). You could also purchase a frozen spinach dip, cook that and then serve in the bread bowl, or if you wanted to put the least amount of effort into it, there is a rather tasty spinach dip served in a jar in the chip section. Just saying...



OUAT: Belle's Bookies (Brownie Cookies)

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In the show, Belle is one of the few characters that kept her name in both the Enchanted Forest and Storybrooke. There was a bit of a time where she went by the name of Lacey, but that had to do to a memory spell put on her by Regina.

Belle's story somewhat follows the typical story of Beauty and the Beast, where in this case, Rumplestiltskin also serves as the beast. Her father needs Rumple's help for a war (I think?) and the trade is that she comes to be his maid. Almost from the beginning Belle realizes that Rumple is not quite the monster he appears to be and tries to bring out the good in him. Being Rumple, he is not willing to give in to the lighter side of things and prefers to hold on to the darkness and his magic. They have a very rocky relationship throughout the seasons.

Like in the story, Belle is known to be a bookworm which made this recipe all too fitting. I know they're called "bookies" because they're a combination of brownies and cookies, but it was just perfect that they also played to one of her biggest interests. In Storybrooke, Belle is the librarian.



Belle's Bookies
Source: various Pinterest images
Servings: 16
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Ingredients:
Directions:
1. Follow brownie box directions to preheat oven.
2. Prepare brownie batter and spread into a 9x13 baking dish.
3. Drop rounded teaspoons of chocolate chip cookie dough over the brownie mix.
4. Bake according to box directions (usually 28-32 minutes).
5. Use a cookie cutter to cut out circles of bookies.



You can't go wrong with a cookie baked into a brownie, ever. 

The Miracle of the Internet

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This is disjointed and rambly and definitely not the best thing I've ever written but I've tried to edit and I feel like it loses the importance of the topic. So just bear with me here while I ramble a bit, okay? 


The internet is not always a good place. People can be downright cruel to others when they have the ability to hide behind a computer screen. Your information can be stolen, your private pictures posted without your consent and various other unpleasant encounters. 

"Internet friends" is an interesting term. A lot of people simply do not understand how anyone could create a friendship through the internet, with someone or multiple someones they've never met. Even though the internet, chat rooms and message boards have been around for quite some time and it's rather common to meet your significant other on a message board or dating website, there is a large group of people who simply just do not understand this and give you weird looks when you mention it. 

To be honest, I never thought I'd have internet friends. I've never been good at making friends. I'm fairly certain that all of my friendships have started by the other person wanting to be friends with me and then for whatever reason, deciding I was cool enough to keep around. So the fact that I'm part of a message board who don't mind me coming back is pretty neat. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This all started somewhere in the early fall of 2010 when I found a website called The Knot. It's for wedding planning and one of the biggest features on the site were the message boards. Intrigued, I started posting and over time, sharing wedding planning, wedding stories and then just the things that happen in our general lives, this group of women who wanted to talk to each other on a regular basis formed. Fast forward a few years later, we decided to move over to another message board. 

And now it's been over a year since we've taken up residence on this new board. A lot has changed, many people have left and we've welcomed some newcomers. And for what its worth, a lot of us have met each other too. Two years ago (has it really been that long?) we had a massive get together where I informed my husband that two of my internet friends would be staying with us. 

He doesn't really get it, he talks to people in the games he plays but never really forms relationships like this. I think he finds it amusing though, since he'll lean over sometimes and ask what we're talking about on the boards or he'll look at a particular signature picture  and comment that it's funny/amusing/whatnot. 

What in the world do you talk about? You might wonder. Well, everything. It's no different than any conversation you'd have with a friend in person. We ask if this dress looks right or what jewelry to wear with this outfit. We talk about favorite tv shows, books and movies. We talk about food and parties, birthdays and anniversaries. Jobs, husbands, pets, children and the daily occurrences of our lives. We send each other Christmas cards and gifts and even random pieces of mail or swap coupons. We give advice, we make suggestions, we offer support. 

Words are important. You can never underestimate the power of hearing or reading someone supporting you in a choice you are making, whether it be as simple as picking new furniture or as serious as separating from your husband.  

And that's what lead me to this post. Support. This group of women that I have the honor of typing to on a daily basis are, in some cases, more supportive than people I know in real life. And have done some miraculous things when the opportunity arose. 

I don't want to discredit anything that we've done, from purchasing gift cards in celebration of graduating law school to gathering money for someone who was just having a rough financial time, to sending cards when someone lost a family member or even a pet and a ton of other things that would make this post way too long if I ever listed them all out here. All of those things should have prompted me to write a post like this and I don't want it to seem like this is more important than anything else we have done, because it's not. It just happened to fall at a time where the words flowed freely from my fingertips and I had an overwhelming desire to share how awesome these people are with the rest of the world. (Or the 116 regular readers I have.) 

One of the posters, let's call her J, lives in Kosovo and came about a hurt puppy limping about outside. Being the kindhearted person she is, she took in said puppy and named her Shelby. Not being a dog person and not having planned on this at all, she ended up going through quite the adventure. In posting on the board for advice on how to deal with this new four-legged friend they couldn't keep, another poster said she'd be interested in taking the dog. That poster, M, lives in the DC area. Like there wasn't an entire ocean and quite a few countries between the United States and Kosovo, the discussion changed ask to how the puppy could get here. Like it was the most natural thing in the world for someone in an entirely different country to just offer to give this puppy her forever home. 
(her paw is much better by the way)

If that doesn't touch you on some level, I have a hard time believing you're human. 

As I stated above, the internet is not always a friendly place. But it can be. You can also make friendships and meet some incredible people who are so giving, so caring and end up meaning so much to you that you have a hard time writing a post like this, because you can't find the words to express it all. People who make you proud to be a part of the group that maintains this little happy corner of the internet. 

And who do tiny little things like arrange puppies with hurt paws across the Atlantic ocean to their forever homes. 

And that, is the power, is the miracle of the internet.

This is where I need your help though, and if you're a frequent reader you know I never do things like this. We've tried to get Shelby to fly along with humans to the US which greatly reduces her costs, but it just hasn't worked out for various reasons. Shelby still wants to come to the US and meet her new doggy siblings and human parents. Could you spare a few dollars to make this happen?

If so, just go here to her YouCaring link. Help Shelby to her Fur-ever home


If any additional funds are raised, the money will be donated to a non-profit animal organization in Kosovo. I feel it necessary to mention that animal organizations there aren't what they are here. Getting Shelby here would be a miracle in and of itself, but having additional funds for the homeless animals that run rampant there... that's powerful.



OUAT: Mr. Gold's Magic Wands

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I still have more Once Upon A Time party recipes to share with you. I hope you don't mind seeing them after Halloween!

This is a really simple recipe and almost not worth sharing because it is so easy, but I really wanted to include as many recipes for the characters as possible. Mr. Gold is known for his magic, hence the magic wands, although he can also preform magic with just his hands.

Mr. Gold actually has three names. In the Enchanted Forest, his real name is Rumplestiltskin but after he takes a dagger with magical powers for his own, he also becomes The Dark One. Rumple is known for making deals with people in their times of need and benefiting greatly from them. He's shady and sneaky and knows dark magic. He's also a coward and allowed his son to slip through a portal without him because he was too scared to give up his magic. Rumple also had some future-seeing abilities and knew that he would create a curse that would allow him to see his son again and that the curse would be broken by the savior, named Emma, who is the product of true love.



Mr. Gold's Magic Wands (Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks)
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 20
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Ingredients:
    • 20 pretzel rods
    • 1 bag white chocolate chips 
    • sanding sugar 
Directions:
1. Pour white chocolate chips into a microwave safe dish and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until chocolate is melted and smooth.
2. Dip one end of the pretzel into the white chocolate, spinning to coat.
3. Place sanding sugar in a shallow dish and roll the pretzel through it, working quickly as the chocolate will harden right away.
4. Place pretzel on a sheet of wax paper to harden completely. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

There's just something delicious about chocolate covered pretzels. 

SRC: Caramel-Nut Pumpkin Sticky Buns

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Eek! It's November! I can't believe how quickly this year is going by. I am rather proud to admit though, that over the weekend I bought three Christmas presents. Okay, not really. I ordered a gift card, took out cash and bought money holder Christmas cards. That counts for something right?

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I wanted to make something that fit in well with the current season. Pumpkin, caramel, apples and cinnamon were the first things that ran though my mind. I was assigned to Daily Dish Recipes which is written by Nicole. She has quite the crazy life going on there, being a mom to a handful of teenagers and a variety of pets, including a hedgehog. (Personally, I'm impressed they named the hedgehog something other than Sonic, because doesn't anyone who was alive in the 90's want to own a hedgehog named Sonic?) The hedgehog's name is Pico, by the way. In addition to blogging Nicole is also interested in scrapbooking and photography. You know, in all that free time she has. :)

For once I didn't debate too much between recipes. I quickly chose these Caramel Nut Pumpkin Sticky Rolls because I had all of the ingredients in the pantry except for the Hawaiian rolls but I had a coupon for $0.75 off those. It was made to be, right?

If you're already pumpkin'd out, I would strongly suggest some of Nicole's other recipes that caught my eye; like Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls with Bleu Cheese Sauce or Two Ingredient Ice Cream Bread (yes, you read that right and yes, I am totally making that soon!)



Caramel-Nut Pumpkin Sticky Rolls
Source: Daily Dish Recipes
Servings: 12
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Ingredients:
    • 12 King's Hawaiian Dinner Rolls
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
    • 2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
    • 1 tbsp. milk
    • 4 tbsp. melted butter
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup caramel sauce (homemade or store bought)
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Slice open each Hawaiian roll and place in a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, 1 tbsp. of pumpkin pie spice and the milk. Divide the mixture evenly among the open rolls. Replace the tops of the rolls to create a sandwich.
4. Brush each roll with the melted butter, then sprinkle with sugar and the remaining 1 tbsp. of pumpkin pie spice.
5. Drizzle the caramel on top, letting it run down the rolls, then sprinkle with the chopped walnuts.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Serve warm.



If you need a quick recipe to bring to a holiday gathering, I more than suggest this one. The rolls are the perfect individual-sized serving once you pull them away from all that melty caramel goodness.



Weekly Menu 11/2 - 11/6

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Do you remember back in July or August when I told you that I had something planned almost every weekend until Christmas? Well, that hasn't slowed down at all but I did have this weekend free and I tried to get some stuff done around the apartment to make me feel more organized. 

I had planned on getting a few weeks of recipes typed up but I didn't quite get that far. I do have all of my current photos edited and ready to go though! 

The menu for this week is the first week of my Whole 30. Tom is also eating healthier and I cleaned out the pantry of unhealthy items, so lets hope it sticks! 

Sunday: shrimp fra divolo

Monday: beef and mushroom stir fry

Tuesday: apple bacon chicken burgers, oven-roasted sweet potato fries, salad

Wednesday: spaghetti and meatballs

Thursday: roasted pork tenderloin, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans 

Friday: leftovers

For breakfast I'm having the ever common prosciutto egg cups. My lunch for this week is bacon wrapped meatballs with roasted butternut squash and spicy garlic green beans. 

I had intended to form the chicken burger patties, make the meatballs and the sweet potato fries in advance but I had to choose between prepping dinner and blogging recipes. The recipes won out.

November Whole30

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What!? A post from me on a Saturday? Yeah, I know, but I am starting another Whole30 this month and since I plan out my menu in advance, I wanted to share it with you in case you were interested in starting one too.

I am really doing a Whole29 (I really can never pull off the 30 can I?) since I'm giving myself Thanksgiving as a cheat day. Sugar and alcohol will be had along with one dinner roll. Otherwise I'm sticking to the rules.

If you're interested in trying a Whole30, the best place for you to start is here, Whole30. There's a book you can order as well if you have the extra time. If not, the website should more than get you through. On their website you can learn about the program, find out what is and isn't allowed and even find a support group for those days where it takes every ounce of self control you have not to run to the nearest fast food restaurant and order a cheeseburger and fries.

The general basis of a Whole30 is to exclude the following foods for 30 days: sugar (real or artificial, other than what is found naturally in fruits and vegetables), no alcohol (this includes cooking with wines), no grains, no legumes, no dairy (except clarified butter) and none of those fun ingredients they put in foods like MSG, sulfites, etc.

Seeing as I've done one of these before, I can promise you, you will survive. It's just 30 days. You may want to start by cleaning out your fridge and pantry of the items you can't have if you think you'll be tempted or if you've managed to wrangle the rest of your household into trying this as well.

Same as last time, popcorn will be my exception.

Now, lets get onto the food. The first thing you should know is I am completely content with eating the same breakfast and lunch for an entire week. I understand that you may not be like this, however that is how my menu is being planned.

I also just graze on the weekends and don't eat proper meals. I'll eat things like tuna mixed with avocado, a few slices of prosciutto and a baked sweet potato, a handful of baby carrots, a fried egg and 2 slices of bacon, bag of popcorn, a banana, etc.

Week One: November 1 - November 8 
Breakfast, whole week: prosciutto eggs cups (no mozzarella cheese)
Lunch, weekdays: bacon wrapped meatballs over butternut squash puree, roasted green beans 
Sunday, dinner: Shrimp fra divolo
Monday: beef and mushroom stir fry
Tuesday: apple bacon chicken burgers, homemade sweet potato fries, salad
Wednesday: roasted pork tenderloin with apples and onions, roasted green beans, mashed sweet potatoes
Thursday: spaghetti and meatballs
Friday & Saturday: leftovers


Week Two: November 9 - November 15
Breakfast: dijon baked eggs (sans cheddar)
Lunch: Mu Shu Lettuce Wraps
Sunday: French pot roast
Monday: cashew chicken with green beans
Tuesday: Taco Shepherds Pie
Wednesday: cranberry turkey meatballs
Thursday: shrimp chowder
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: I have a birthday party so I'll have to make do with what is there. I think I'll be okay though.

Week Three: November 16 - November 22
Breakfast: steak hash 
Lunch: chicken vegetable soup (no noodesl, adding veggies)
Sunday: chicken, sausage and kale stew
Monday: garlic-herb pork tenderloin with roasted parsnips and and green beans, mushrooms and tomatoes
Tuesday: caveman chili
Wednesday: green chile and cilantro turkey burgers, oven sweet potato fries
Thursday - Saturday: leftovers
Almost everything this week will generate more than enough to have as leftovers

Week Four: November 23 - November 29
Breakfast: prosciutto egg cups
Lunch: chicken vegetable soup (no noodles, adding veggies)
Sunday: French pot roast leftovers
Monday: garlic ginger pork, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts
Tuesday: caveman chili
Wednesday: cashew chicken leftovers
Thursday: Thanksgiving
Friday & Saturday: Whole30 approved Thanksgiving leftovers

Sunday, November 30: apple stuffed bacon wrapped chicken breasts, sauteed kale, baked sweet potatoes

I plan to continue the Whole30 lifestyle straight through to the week of Christmas where I'll spend that indulging and then start all over again, for 30 actual days, in January. I'm not sure what's going to happen between Christmas and New Years. At the worst, I'll be Paleo with extra sugar and at the best it will be a full Paleo diet.

One last thing, you can replace soy sauce with coconut aminos (small bottle, usually on the bottom shelf in your natural/organic section by the salad dressings), the butter I use is Kerrygold and you can get salted or unsalted. Check your spices! A lot of them have sugar included! Also check your condiments, there are quite a few that contains sugars in them as well.

As I make these recipes, I'll try to remember to come back to this post and update with links! 
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