Giving Thanks

I am thankful for so many things in my life right now – I have a challenging job that I really enjoy, two sweet kids who are becoming wonderful young adults, and I am particularly thankful for my amazing husband and our friends who have been so supportive of our new healthier lifestyle.  This thanksgiving, we had a dinner for 14 and fortunately they were amenable to our adjusted dietary approach on Thanksgiving dinner which turned out absolutely fantastic, if I do say so myself.

We didn’t keep the table strictly Paleo, since we did have some traditional folks in the group, but I think we managed to blend the offerings very well, and even better, our guests brought a number of the dishes to share, so I didn’t have to do the experimenting all myself.

First the appetizers:

  • Bacon-wrapped Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze – I just followed this basic recipe, and then drizzled the finish product with a balsamic glaze I have from Trader Joe’s
  • Primal Bacon Chicken Liver Pate – Holy crap, this stuff is crack.  Traditionally we in the Hunyadi house have had a cream cheese based mushroom crostini thing for Thanksgiving, so I was looking for a paleo alternative.  No more looking – this is perhaps the best pate I’ve ever tasted, and everyone raved about it.  I served it with Paleo crackers.

Then the main event:

  • Smoked Turkey – our friends Steve and Anita provided the turkey, smoked to juicy and flavorful perfection, sugar free.
  • Paleo Cranberry Sauce – the aficionados of the cranberries at the table declared this to be one of the best versions of the dish they ever had.  I think this is the new official recipe for Thanksgivings to come
  •  Green Bean Casserole – friends Kenny and Elaine provided this dish and indicated that the mushroom soup that is made first to use for the casserole is divine all by itself.  In the casserole with the nuttiness from the hazelnuts, I found heaven.  I normally can take or leave green bean casserole, but this dish was scrumptious.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the leftovers this weekend
  • Sweet Potato Casserole – Kenny also made this one, and while I was originally a bit wary about the coconut shreds in the topping, I really like this version.  Marshmallows don’t even seem appetizing anymore, so this was a welcome switch.  Highly recommended.
  • Sausage Stuffing – OK, I honestly didn’t know what to expect when it came to Paleo stuffing, but this one from A Girl Worth Saving was a great base for it.  I modified the recipe slightly by starting with ground sausage, onions, and celery in the pan, then adding the apple, and then crumbling in the “cornbread” and the liquid.  This was a great sausage stuffing, if I do say so myself.  Definitely a keeper.
  • Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms – I’m a sucker for just about any stuffed mushroom.  I miss the traditional creamy center (i.e. cream cheese) but not the stomach ache.
  • Paleo Dinner Rolls – I thought about just giving up and going with the old Pilsbury crescent rolls and letting the primal peeps just abstain, but because my guests were doing so much of the work, I just couldn’t justify it.  These dinner rolls aren’t the buttery awesome of the old standby, but they are still rather good, and received plenty of compliments.

And for dessert:

  • Paleo Pumpkin Pie – Elena’s Pantry to the rescue!  I think this is my new favorite Paleo crust.  I might experiment with getting a more buttery flavor into it somehow, but the texture is spot on.  The pumpkin pie was really good too.
  • Paleo Pecan Pie – Ok, this one gets mixed reviews.  Honestly, I think it’s a pretty good substitute for the real thing, even though it’s not as syrupy or sickly sweet as the original.  I think that’s actually why I liked it, though some of my guests were missing the karo.   I used the same crust as the pumpkin pie, and it worked great.

All of the holiday goodness, and no digestive issues.  I’ll call that a win!

Fall Flavors

This weekend, E.J. and I made our annual visit to the Texas Renaissance Festival with our friends Kenny and Elaine.  Fortunately, Paleo options abound at the fair, and we feasted on sausage, sweet potato tots, and sauerkraut. We wore the same outfits as last year, but we both had to make some major adjustments to our costumes to get them to fit right.  E.J. ended up ordering another shirt and kilt since the old ones were too big to alter, and I tore apart the shirt, vest, and skirt, cutting out 6 inches or so out and putting it all back together.

It’s amazing what a difference a year makes.

On Sunday, it was back to the weekly prep, and while some ribs were doing their thing in the smoker, I worked on a few seasonably autumn dishes.

First, I started the Crock Pot going on this excellent Beef and Mushroom stew.  I cooked it on low for about 7 hours, and since I had some ribeye in the freezer, I used that instead of stew meat… it turned out pretty wow.

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While that was going, I made a fresh batch of my favorite ground lamb Shepherds Pie which is got its amazing flavor from fresh thyme and rosemary.

Then I made this One Pan Autumn Chicken Dinner from Cooking Classy. Its got all of my favorite fall flavors all rolled into one easy dish, and makes plenty when cooked on an extra large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Finally, I made a double batch of our favorite Paleo Sandwich Bread, which we’ve been enjoying with breakfast this week.

It’s still a bit unseasonably warm here in Houston this week, but hopefully the cool fall weather will make its way down here soon.  I’m ready for leggings weather!