Whole 30 Week 3 – It’s all downhill from here

So we made it through a weekend in Syracuse, complete with three large meals with extended family – and desserts at each!  If you’ve ever been to the Cheesecake Factory and seen their chocolate tower cake – my dad bought an entire cake of that for dessert the first night, and then when the 12 or so people only ate 1/3 of it, he brings it to the other family gathering the next night…and then there was still about half of the cake left and told us we could take some home and freeze it (we declined).  But we did get to eat some good steak and crab legs, and see a lot of family members and friends and meet some babies that were born in June!  It was a busy but great trip, as most of our visits home are 🙂

So we’re back in DC and into the second half of our whole30.   Here’s a look at what we had this week, as well as links to recipes:

Breakfasts: mostly eggs, and some more of that homemade turkey sausage I shared from last week.  When we’re running late we have lara bars to grab n go and I’ve been hard-boiling some eggs in advance to have those ready to go too.

Lunches – mostly leftovers.

Snacks – bananas, almonds, pistacchios, Trader Joe’s ‘Just Mango’, lara bars (they have a list of approved ones here), apples with almond butter, and remnants of the beef jerky Matt made a couple weeks ago and  we had a few of these delicious energy bars left from the batch Matt made last week so that continued to be a treat 🙂

Dinners – Last Sunday we were at a BBQ with Matt’s family and brough out own homemade spiedie sauce (bc all the bottled ones have sugar and/or MSG…which is no bueno on the whole30).  I’ve actually had the marinade recipe for a long time and have meaned to try it out but never had any marjoram, but thanks to our Penzey’s trip a couple weeks ago we have some and will probably go homemade from now on. It was delicious! For those of you not from upstate NY – spiedies are bite sized chunks of chicken, marinated a specific way, and then grilled, usually on skewers.  They’re also meant to be eaten kind of as a sandwhich on thin sliced italian bread, but obivously we can’t do that on the whole30.  Either way, it’s amazing.

On Monday we were travelling all day so when we got home we just made a quick hash for dinner (red peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, home made turkey sausage, and topped with a fried egg).

Tuesday we had a taco bar for our small group (we did provide the group with cheese and tortillas…and then made them take the leftover cheese with them, because we don’t trust ourselves).  In order to be compliant we made our own taco seasoning (if you use that recipe and don’t like spicy, cut down on the cayenne.  Even Matt admitted it was quite spicy).

Wednesday we had salmon and asparagus, because we stopped by Whole Foods on Monday (I know, twice in a month…who are we?) and the wild sockeye salmon was still on sale for $8.99/lb!

Thursday we had zoodles with Moroccan meat sauce.  We did not make the meatball ingredients into balls, it was a weeknight and who has time for that?!  But feel free to do that.  Or short cut it like us and it’s still just as delicious!

This weekend modified (olive oil instead of veggie oil) this tandoori chicken recipe, and made it with breasts instead of thighs.

We also just made sausages (we went to whole foods, a third time (!) for these compliant ones) and peppers and onions for a quick and delicious dinner this weekend.

Today we modified this chicken with lemon sauce recipe to be compliant.  We picked it up when we were at Penzey’s a couple weeks ago as it goes with one of their spice blends (which is an optional ingredient if you don’t have it, we used it to season the chicken).  This was seriously delicious, will definitely make it again.

Day 21 is in the books and now it’s on to our last full week of this!  We’re mostly having a “favorites week” of our fave recipes from the whole30, looking forward to it!

IMG_6434Sausages with peppers and onions

IMG_6413Baked salmon and asparagus

IMG_6409Turkey sausage and sweet potato hash

IMG_6415Zoodles with Morroccan meat sauce

IMG_6425Saturday breakfast

IMG_6426Tandoori chicken with pineapple relish

IMG_6348Homemade spiedie sauce

IMG_6451Chicken w/ lemon sauce and green beans


Creamy Pasta Primavera

Friends, we have a new winner of a dinner dish!  I made this a while ago in college and forgot all about it until now.  This is a lovely summer dinner dish, I hope you love it as much as we did.  I can’t wait for leftovers!

Creamy Pasta Primavera (recipe from here)

Serves: 6+


  • 3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp. Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups cut-up fresh asparagus spears (1-inch lengths)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting salt.
  2. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and vegetables; cook 10 to 12 min. or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Add broth and cream cheese; cook 1 min. or until cream cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Stir in Parmesan.
  3. Drain pasta; return to pan. Add chicken mixture; mix lightly. Cook 1 min. or until heated through. (Sauce will thicken upon standing.)


Gremolata Bowties & Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry

Another week has passed!  Busy season is going surprisingly well so far, but there are still almost 7 weeks left until October 15 so I’m sure I’ll be eating those words in a week or two.  Still working overtime, but not as much as I’ve historically been slaving away at this time of year so that’s a big win!

This week was the last week of the Financial Peace class I’ve been helping out with at church.  Gosh that stuff was so good.  People can hate on Dave Ramsey all they want, and while I will admit that I don’t agree with everything he says (and that’s okay!), I will say that the man is changing lives.  And if more people could get into this and follow the principles he teaches, this world would be a different place.  It’s funny how big of a difference having a written budget makes!  It sounds so simple, but that’s really at the heart of this.  I think people hear the word budget and think they’re only for people who are poor or living paycheck to paycheck, but it’s for everyone!  It is AMAZING how much money we’ve “found” since starting to just actually keep a budget.  I could go on forever.  If you want to know more about that stuff, ask me some time.  But be warned that apparently I get really excited and talk really loud when I get going about it (Matt shhh-ed me a few times while I was on the phone talking to mom today).  I’m really excited to see where this stuff takes us.  We’re probably going to be coordinating another one in the new year, it’s going to be great!

Another two quick, easy, and few ingredient recipes for you this week!  Both were absolutely delicious, easy, healthy, and will be made again (probably in the next 6 weeks…).  The bowties are the PERFECT mix of lemon, garlic, cheese, and deliciousness.  And the stir fry I was definitely skeptical about, but ended up being very pleasantly surprised with how good it was.  That lime did a lot for it.  Thanks, Rachel Ray.

Gremolata Bowties (recipe from here)

Serves: 4


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound bowtie pasta (aka farfalle)
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup grated pecorino
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp. juice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced


  1. Cook pasta according to directions, reserving ¾ cup of the pasta water.
  2. In skillet, cook chicken in oil over high, stirring, until cooked through; season.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients to warm; season.

*Note that peas are not pictured in the pasta below because someone conveniently “forgot” to get them….


Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry (recipe from here)

Serves: 4


  • 1 14 ounce bag coleslaw mix
  • 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lime (1 tsp. zest and 1 tbsp. juice)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Optional: thin sliced bell peppers


  1. In a large skillet, cook coleslaw (and peppers, if desired) in 2 tbsp. oil over medium-high, stirring, 2 minutes; season.
  2. Stir in lime zest and juice; divide among plates.
  3. In same skillet, simmer remaining oil, sriracha and 2 tbsp. water over medium-high, 1 minute.
  4. Add shrimp; cook, stirring, until opaque in center, about 3 minutes; season.
  5. Top plates with shrimp and sauce and enjoy.


Green and Gold Quinoa Salad

Another recipe in my new collection of quick and easy recipes.  This was another delicious recipe, perfect for summer!.  Thanks, Every Day with Rachel Ray!  Note that is says to serve chilled, but we had it warm both times and really enjoyed it that way.

Green & Gold Quinoa Salad

Serves: 4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1 bunch  scallions trimmed, sliced crosswise
  • 5 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • lemon wedges

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions (for added flavor use chicken or vegetable broth
in place of water); let cool.
2. In skillet, heat EVOO over medium-high. Add zucchini and scallions. Cook, stirring, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 minutes; let cool.
3. In large bowl, toss quinoa, zucchini mixture, corn and parsley; season.
4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)
5. Before serving, toss in almonds. Serve with lemon wedges.


5 Ingredient Squash & Sausage Pasta

I swear our lives will slow down eventually…in just under two months.  This past weekend we were in St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL for my friend Allison’s wedding.  It was a blast!  We flew into St. Louis early on Friday morning and spent the day exploring there.  Caught lunch with one of my coworkers who is in the St. Louis office, and hung out with our friend Brian for the rest of the day.  After dinner we had just a little 1.5 hr drive up to Springfield.  That went super fast compared to the 8-12 hours road trips we started the month with.  I’ve only been to Springfield once before and boy did I forget how much that town loves Lincoln…

Saturday was an absolute blast, such a nice ceremony and fun reception.  My friends Rachel and Kara made the trip down from Milwaukee, completing the fun.


Due to the crazy business of our lives, actually caring about our budgets (thanks, Dave Ramsey…) and a free Everyday with Rachel Ray Subscription that I scored with my most recent Fabletics order, we’re moving to easier (yet still delicious) recipes.  One of the recent issues had a whole slew of really delicious looking 5 ingredient recipes, so we’ll be testing those bad boys out over the next weeks/months.  Quick, easy, and cheap, that’s my kind of meal!  Here’s the first of many –

Squash & Sausage Pasta (recipe from here)

Serves: 4


  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed*
  • 1/2 pound summer squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced
  • 5 ounces goat cheese
  • 12 ounces farfalle pasta
  • 3 tablespoons torn mint leaves
  • Optional: herbs and red pepper flakes for seasoning


  1. Cook Pasta, being sure to save ¾ cup of the pasta water
  2. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, until browned and crumbled (about 7 minutes)
  3. Transfer Sausage to a plate
  4. Add squash to the same skillet and cook on medium-high, stirring often (about 4 minutes). Season with salt, pepper, and other desired herbs.
  5. In the pot used to cook the pasta, stir in the pasta with the cheese and the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Top pasta with sausage, squash, and mint leaves. Enjoy!

*We used Trader Joe’s sweet italian chicken sausages for our version.  It was still pretty delicious but we decided that we’d go with regular sausage next time – more flavor.

IMG_5213 (1)

Vacation Recap and Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls

Phew!  Good news, everyone – I got a preliminary passing score on the CFP exam!  Preliminary meaning it’s not official official, but it’s a pretty good indicator.  I have been given my life back..until busy season takes it back, like next week.  Ugh.

After exam week, Matt and I headed up to Michigan for my friend’s wedding.  It was a blast!  A little reunion with some of my main college ladies, so fun!  And seeing super pregnant Anna, one o  my best friends is 8 months pregnant and it’s blowing my mind!


After the wedding we headed over to Vermont to spend the week on vacation with Matt’s family.  We stopped quick in Niagara Falls on the way, because how can you drive by and not?  In Vermont we all rented a house in the mountains and it was a good week of relaxing, reading, hiking, and hanging out.IMG_5180

The view from our kitchen


Yup, this happened.

At the top of Haystack Mountain.


And who doesn’t love building a fire and roasting a good marshmallow?!

The recipe I’m sharing with you is from one of my favorite new discoveries.  And by discoveries I mean a coworker told me about it when I was telling him how great blue apron is (which he did end up trying and loving, btw).  This service is called cook smarts.  It’s a bit different (and cheaper) than blue apron and you can sign up and get 3 free sample plans (which is where this recipe came from).  The idea is that you subscribe for $6-8/month (depending on how many months you buy at time) and then they give you a meal plan for the week.  It consists of 4 meals for 4 and comes with a grocery list and suggested advance prep.  They give you recipes with overlapping ingredients to minimize food waste and save on your groceries.  We have done 2 of the weeks and it definitely cut back from when I was just picking a few new recipes to try every week with no rhyme or reason.  After busy season we’ll definitely be trying out a paid month and seeing where that takes us.

Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls

Makes: 16 rolls


  • 4 oz Rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 2/3 lb Cucumbers, sliced into matchsticks
  • 4 leaves green lettuce, torn
  • 16 sheets rice papers (more if you break some)
  • 1 cup grated carrots (~1 carrot)
  • 1 batch nuoc nam (see below) – 1 cup water, ¼ cup sugar, 4 minced garlic cloves, ¼ cup fish sauce, ¼ cup lime juice


Advance Prep (3o min to 1 day ahead)-

  1. Make Nuac Nam – Combine sweetener and water and boil. Mix with remainder of sauce ingredients and season to taste with hot sauce if desired. Adjust taste as needed – use fish sauce for more savory, more lime juice for tartness, more sweetener for sweetness.Set Aside 1 cup for serving.
  2. Marinate chicken in remaining nuac nam – at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 day.
  3. Optional – cook rice noodles according to package instructions

Day of –

  1. Grill chicken and slice.
  2. Cook rice noodles if you didn’t already.
  3. Cucumbers, carrots, Green lettuce – Prep as directed.
  4. Fill a frying pan with about 1 ½” (3.75 cm) of water. Heat water over medium-low heat – it shouldn’t be so hot that you can’t touch it.
  5. Dip rice paper into water and rotate through water. Watch this video for a good overview on how to do these.  Place onto a plate. Do 2-4 at a time (separate plates) and then assemble 2-4 rolls.
  6. To assemble rolls, layer lettuce, noodles, carrots, cucumbers, and chicken at the end of the rice paper that is close to you. Don’t over-fill or the paper will break. Fold rice paper over the filling from the bottom up. Then fold sides over. Roll as tightly as possible.
  7. Repeat until done. Assemble until you have no more filling.
  8. Enjoy rolls dipped with nuoc nam sauce*.

*We forgot to save some of the nuoc nam so we just mixed some soy sauce and sirracha for a little dipping sauce, it was delicious!


Cowboy Caviar and Blue Apron Goodness

What a great weekend!  I finally got back to Pure Barre for the first time in a few weeks (stupid knee injury) on my studying day off of work on Friday.  The rest of the weekend I got a lot of studying in, and a some quality time with friends and new friends.  We spent a bunch of time in the city, the weather wasn’t too hot and life is oh so good!

On Saturday one of our friends had a cocktail party.  He’s done these every couple of months and it’s really an all around win.  He makes fancy cocktails and tries new cocktail recipes, and we all bring food to snack on, and then it’s just a solid evening of hanging out and enjoying fancy drinks that don’t cost $15 each.  We brought cowboy caviar this time because it’s always a favorite, and I realized I’ve never posted the recipe on here (because it wasn’t new and during year one, this was for new recipes…)!  Well folks, here it is, enjoy!

We also accidentally got Blue Apron this week (forgot to skip the delivery) but it worked out really well.  All the meals were delicious and 2 of them were made with common enough ingredients that we’d totally make them again.  Pics and links to recipes are after the caviar.  We also have a couple free weeks of blue apron we can give to people who have never tried it.  So if you want to check out this great service send me a text or email.

Cowboy Caviar

Serves: A lot (fills a bowl described as “7” in diameter; 4½;” tall; 1½-liter capacity”)


For the Caviar:

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can white (Shoepeg) corn
  • 2/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2/3 cup green onion, chopped
  • 2 avocados, chopped

For the Dressing:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper


  1. Prepare and mix together caviar ingredients
  2. Prepare the dressing (in a salad dressing shaker is easiest), and pour over Caviar.
  3. Chill and let sit for a couple hours for best flavors.
  4. Stir and serve with tortilla chips.


Seared Salmon & Preserved Lemon

The side salad with this was absolutely delicious and totally do-able on your own (without having the ingredients delivered to you).


Lamb & Risotto-Style Ditalini Pasta


Miso Roasted Chicken