Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Guest Post: Weekly Meal Plan by Cousin Jessica, Tuesday

Our dear "Cousin Jessica" (as kids, we only referred to her by her full "title", and it has since stuck) has written a series of posts for our blog this week, walking through a week of cooking for a new family amidst the busy-ness of life. We're posting it over several days this week, but will include the grocery list at the top of each post for ease of use.  Her posts are filled with great tips along with great recipes, so happy reading!

Weekly Grocery List and Budget – Weekly budget including what we need for breakfasts and lunches - $150 for a family of three.

I have a lot of the spices in these recipes already, along with some staple items. Please double check your cupboards and the recipes to make sure you have all ingredients!

Brown Rice
Whole grains (any)
Acorn Squash
Ground sausage with sage
Flat leaf Parsley
Chicken stock
Avocado oil
Brussel sprouts
Butternut Squash


Tuesday “Let’s entertain on a week night” – Acorn Squash stuffed with Sausage, apple and cranberry stuffing; Sweet treat: Paleo Bon Bons

Let me start off by saying, entertaining on a weeknight is totally doable even if you both work.  The key is to PREP.  This stuffing is still amazing if cooked the night before. Bon Bons can be prepped up to a week in advance.

The base of this recipe was not my idea. Last year, I had a craving for stuffing and squash and I went hunting for recipes.  I knew I wanted apples and cranberries to give some sweetness, but I also knew that I didn’t have a ton of time.  I found this recipe on Happily Unprocessed (great site!) and tweaked to make it work for us.  Tonight I’m adjusting to make everything mostly paleo for my dear friend who is coming over for dinner.

Bon Bons:
·       Almond butter – 1 cup
·       Coconut flakes – ¼ cup
·       Almond extract – a couple drops
·       Honey -1/2 cup
·       Dark chocolate (to be paleo, 85% or above. To be creative, use fruit infused chocolates – like orange or raspberry)

What to do:
·       Mix everything but the chocolate into a bowl. You want the consistency to be thick – add more coconut if you needed, but make sure it’s not crumbly.  The mixture should still be damp. 

·       Melt the dark chocolate. Form the above mixture into balls and put into a small cupcake paper.  Pour the dark chocolate over the top. Freeze for 30 minutes or up to a week.

Squash and Stuffing:
·       Two acorn squash
·       Half onion – diced
·       Diced Celery – ½ cup or so
·       1 lb ground sausage with sage – I used spicy Italian sausage for kick – if you can’t find with sage, just add some extra sage in your cooking process.
·       ½ teaspoon dried sage (more if your sausage does not have sage)
·       ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
·       Two cups whole grain brown rice - cooked
·       1 apple cut into chunks – Skin on – any variety (honey crisp is my fav)
·       I cup dried cranberries
·       Butter – two or three pads – grass fed if you can find it

Cook it up!
·       Bake up the squash -  preheat oven to 350 – cut in half, brush with olive oil, place face down on a cookie sheet.  Cook for 15-20 minutes. If your squash is thick, cook for 25 – you want it mostly done
Cook the stuffing – this can be done the night before and saved in the fridge
·       Cook onions, celery in olive oil until translucent. Add the sausage and cook until cooked through. Add the spices. Add apples, cranberries and some butter.  Add the brown rice and mix.  
o   Note: This will not “set” like traditional stuffing because there is no bread. Expect it to be crumbly
Stuff the squash
·       Pull squash form the oven and flip over – use a fork to break up squash – it will be a little stringy. Add some butter to preference.  (In this stage, I always add a little goat cheese to make the squash extra creamy, completely up to your own taste)
·       Stuff the squash with as much stuffing as it will hold. It’s ok if a little bit falls on the pan or the sides, it will get crispy and it’s amazing.
·       Bake another 20 minutes – careful not to burn the top. The stuffing is cooked – this baking is only to add more flavor to the squash, finish the squash baking, and crisp the sausage.
·       Leftover stuffing – put in a glass pan and bake until crispy. Great for leftovers or to supplement if you have hungry guests!

Eat! Take everything out of the oven – it will be VERY hot.  I like to top with a little goat cheese or parmesan. My friends added siracha and it was delicious.  

Dessert: Bon bons are eaten frozen – do not thaw!

Tip: if you want more of an ice-cream consistency, mix in some ripe banana during the creation process and lessen the amount of almond butter by about half.

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