The Best Low-carb Pizza Crust

After much searching, here is a great, low-carb pizza crust recipe!

In a previous post on Tuesday, I shared a photo of our very first “keeper” recipe for a low-carb pizza crust.  This crust is made from riced cauliflower and grated cheese with a variety of spices that makes the flavor of the crust complimentary to the other ingredients added on top.

Prior to trying this recipe, I made a couple of recipes that used almond flour as the primary ingredient in the crust.  Neither of us cared for these crusts, as the almond flavor didn’t seem to work with the savory pizza toppings that we like so much, and we also did not care for the consistency.  We actually just scraped off the toppings and left the crust on our plates.

Over the past few weeks, I have been searching for a low-carb crust recipe that might actually work for us.  I knew that a cauliflower crust would most likely work with our personal tastes, as long as the consistency and flavor worked with our pizza toppings, too.  On Monday, after narrowing down the search to two basic recipes that were almost identical, I decided to give it a try.

I bought a large head of cauliflower with the intention of making two pizza crusts, rather than just one.  While I was giving this a try, it made sense to make one crust, then make a second one with some adjustments if I felt that the first one wasn’t quite up to our expectations.  If both turned out well, we would have a spare crust to freeze and use for another meal later on.  This was a good strategy, and thankfully, the first one came out very well.  I simply repeated the process for the second crust, and it turned out nicely, too.

One of the most important things to do in this recipe is to drain as much liquid from the cooked cauliflower as possible before adding the other ingredients.  This takes a few minutes, but it is an essential step.

I followed the directions and used a kitchen tea towel.  I measured out the cooked, riced cauliflower and used three cups in each crust, and I highly recommend measuring it out, rather than eyeballing it.  I didn’t pack it down, just spooned it into the measuring cup.  I also did not add the optional tablespoon of almond flour, since my goal was to keep the almond flavor out of the crust completely.

2016-01-11-15.11.16
The first crust s ready to go in the oven. I pressed it out to about 10″ in diameter, and that is as thin as I would recommend for one recipe. I actually dried out the cauliflower a little more for the second crust. Practice makes perfect! 😉

 

2016-01-11-16.28.52-1
The first crust s ready to go in the oven. I pressed it out to about 10″ in diameter, and that is as thin as I would recommend for one recipe. I actually dried out the cauliflower a little more for the second crust. Practice makes perfect! 😉

The crust turned out pretty much perfect, and even though I didn’t give it a try, I think this recipe might even make a nice faux flatbread to cut and eat with another entrée, especially one with Italian flavors.

We topped our lovely pizza with a quick sauce that I made by mixing a regular can of tomato sauce and a tiny can of tomato paste, since I never buy pre-made pizza or spaghetti sauce anymore.  I did not have sugar-free tomato sauce, so I just used the sauce a little sparingly.  Also, not listed in the original recipe, I sprinkled some Italian seasoning over the sauce before adding the other pizza toppings, then added a layer of grated mozzarella cheese.  We then added sliced pepperoni, a little crumbled sausage, black olives and a sliced fresh jalapeno, seeded.  Finally, we topped off our pizza with some fresh grated parmesan.  I love to have both mozzarella and parmesan cheeses on a pizza.

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Our tasty pizza is ready to go back in the oven for about five minutes at 450 degrees.

Since the crust was already baked, the pizza with toppings only needed to bake about five more minutes in the 450 degree oven.  I added the fresh basil leaves to the top after removing it from the oven.

2016-01-11-17.54.01-1
Lastly, we topped our delicious and healthy pizza with some fresh chopped basil.

It was pretty funny as we sat at our dinner table and tasted our new pizza at the same time.  I wanted to wait to share my own reaction and thoughts until I saw what Hubby thought of it.  Bless his heart, sometimes he will compliment my cooking even when he probably shouldn’t, so I wanted to try to get an honest reaction from him.  It didn’t take long, maybe two bites, before he shared that he really liked it!  I agreed, and we proceeded to eat the whole thing, along with our side salads.  If I had made the second pizza, we might have eaten it, too!  It was that good, and we have definitely missed eating good pizza.  I honestly believe that we would not have known this was a low-carb option if we judged it only by the taste, especially since we like the thinner crust anyway.

Next time, I may try to put the baked crust under the broiler for a minute or so, just to crisp it up a bit more, since that is how we tend to like our crusts, thin and just slightly crisp but not overcooked.  I may also try adding a little more grated parmesan cheese to the crust batter.  The other recipe that I found was pretty much identical to this one but had 1.5 cups of this cheese, not just 1/4 cup.  I don’t think it needs that much cheese, but a little more might just make it even tastier!  (Grated parmesan cheese baked in the oven makes tasty snack crackers that are perfect on a low-carb diet.  I buy them at our local deli.)

One more nice thing about this crust is its low cost.  I calculated the cost of each crust right at $1.  I’m all about saving a little money where I can, for sure.

Here is the link to the original site where this recipe was posted on The Lucky Penny Blog.

The BEST Cauliflower Pizza Crust

This recipe has also turned up on Pioneer Woman’s “Tasty Kitchen” site, with a reference back to the original post. This crust, or a variation of it, honestly seems to be one of the more widely used low-carb pizza crusts now, for good reason.  While it took me a little more time to make it on this first attempt, it will definitely go faster next time.

Going forward, I will make several crusts at once and freeze the other baked crusts for future use.  If I had to make a crust from scratch like this every time we want a pizza, I probably wouldn’t go to the effort, but making several at once makes perfect sense.  I can’t wait to actually have pizza on one of our future RV trips, too!  What a treat that will be for us.  I also plan to experiment with this recipe as a standalone flatbread, too.

Where there is a will, there is usually a way, and I’m glad that I kept searching for such a great pizza crust option that works for us.

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“Healthy” is the Word

A few goals for healthy living in 2016

A few days ago, I had a brief discussion with another blogging friend about how some people select a word as inspiration for their lives in the new year.  I have never done this per se, but after giving some thought to what I would like to see for myself in the coming year, “Healthy” would actually be a good word for me personally right now.  Of course, “Healthy” doesn’t mean only physical health, as I want to apply it to just about every area of my life… spiritual health, emotional health, etc.  But for this post, I want to focus on physical health, since this is something on many of our minds in the month of January, especially concerning healthy eating and exercise.  For me, physical health also helps me to be healthy in all other aspects of my life, too.

I’ve had much success over the past two years in staying on a healthier, low-carb eating plan.  During the holidays this year, I did not gain as many pounds as I did last year as I endured a stressful few months while dealing with Mom’s illness and death and did not focus as much on my diet.  This year, I didn’t give myself a pass from the eating plan, with the exception of Thanksgiving week and the two weeks at Christmas and New Year’s.  While we haven’t resumed our low-carb diet 100% yet, I’m looking forward to resuming it consistently because I know how much better I will feel once I do that and how much better my clothes will fit long-term.  February 1 is our target date to be 100% back on our diet, and we are both good with that target date as we are already easing into it anyway once again and are largely there already.

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A good Chef’s Salad is a great, filling option for a low-carb lunch or dinner!

For more information on a low-carb lifestyle, see my page
My Low-carb Lifestyle

I also plan to explore more new low-carb recipes for us this year.  Sometimes keeping it simple with some tried and true meals is a good, safe option, but hopefully I will have more time this year to explore new recipes and expand our favorites list.  I hope to find more good, easy low(er) carb recipes that can be prepared in under an hour from start to table, and if we can eat two or three meals from one preparation, so much the better.  I hope to find one new, awesome low-carb recipe per week, and I plan to share some of the best ones here for others to enjoy, too.

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I finally made a low-carb pizza crust that we actually like. It is made with cauliflower and cheese and tastes quite good.  We no longer have to just eat the toppings off of a pizza!

Daily walking is thankfully one healthy practice that I have done consistently since June when I purchased my Fitbit Charge HR.  Honestly, this has been such a great thing for me, and it is a daily habit now.  I cannot recommend Fitbit tracking enough, as it has been a great accountability tool for me, not only in tracking steps, but tracking my heart rate and calories burned each day.  I believe that Fitbit walking and tracking is one reason that I did not gain as much weight during the holidays this year, too.  My exercise goal for the coming year is to just continue my daily walking, while getting back to the gym a little more regularly for additional workouts.

Fitbit stats
My weekly report from Fitbit during the blizzard. I walked over 29,000 steps on the day we shoveled all that snow, which definitely helped to achieve my step goal for the week while we were snowbound.

If you don’t own a Fitbit or desire to purchase one, let me just make a simple recommendation that works for me on days when I’m not very motivated to walk.  Let’s call it my “3/30 Rule.”  My “3/30 Rule” for daily walking is simply walking briskly for three minutes in every thirty-minute time period during the day from the time I get up to one hour after dinner.  I typically walk about 330 steps in a three-minute period when walking briskly, and it also allows me to elevate my heart rate throughout the day, not just once or twice a day.  I actually set a thirty-minute timer as a reminder at home to walk on the days that I’m mostly at home for the day.  Like I said, this is not how I typically walk on most days, as I prefer to have at least one longer walk outside, at the gym or other locations around town, but it is a simple way to add lots of steps in a single day.

Wonder how many steps this “3/30 Rule” will get you in a typical day?  Here is how it works for me.  In twelve hours, walking for three minutes every thirty minutes, I usually walk just under 8000 steps!  When trying to meet a goal of 10,000 steps each day, this gets me 80% of the way to my goal.  When I add in all of my other steps, I’m at or well past the 10,000 step goal.  In fact, I hope to even up my weekly step goal this year, too.  As a side note, as you can see in the photo above, I walked over 29,000 steps on the first day we shoveled snow here and burned over 3000 calories!  I knew this information, thanks to my handy Fitbit, and it was a little “reward” of sorts for all that hard work and all the aching muscles I had afterward.

One more way to add steps each day is simply parking far away from the front door of the store you are visiting.  We made this change last year, even before I purchased my Fitbit, and it is something we just do by habit now.  Not only is it easier to not “fight” for a closer parking space, we both get those extra steps in, and it’s also easier to leave the parking lot most of the time, too.  We both wonder why we always tried to park closer now, and perhaps this is just a little wisdom with age?

Finally, we hope to resume a more regular RV travel schedule this year, getting back to a monthly outing to help with our exercise goals.  We may even make more Saturday day trips by car with the dogs, just to do some hiking.  These trips may not happen until March 1 or later this year, but we will do our best to get back out in nature more and back to our hiking and bicycle riding which does us so much good from a health standpoint.  We are definitely missing our RV weekends and RV vacation weeks right now, especially after missing our traditional full week away after Christmas due to the blizzard.  Hubby’s nephew and his family also purchased a really nice, big pop-up camper late last year, and we are looking forward to camping with them on occasion going forward.  We love showing family and friends the beautiful state parks that we love to visit regularly.

I have other ideas and goals for this year, including ideas for working on the house, progressing in my photography and visiting some new destinations, but once again, taking care of my physical health is right up there toward the top of my list.

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Pistachio Brittle

I started off my holiday baking escapades this week with a new twist on a favorite recipe.  I have always liked peanut brittle, even though I will confess that I am really not a fan of the peanuts, per se.  The buttery and sweet brittle is what I love the most.  As I have dieted over the past year, one food that I have enjoyed almost daily for a little snack is pistachio nuts.  Costco sells a big bag of the shelled nuts at a good price, and I have been so grateful to keep a bag of these healthy nuts on my kitchen counter over the past year when a snack attack hits me.

Hubby and I discussed some of the sweets that we would like to have and give this year during the holidays, and we both agreed that substituting pistachios for the peanuts might be worth a try, as we both love to eat them.  I have also had a slightly spicy pistachio brittle in the past (similar to the recipe at that link), and it was very good.  However, for this first attempt, I opted to use a more traditional recipe and substitute the nuts as the only change.

Pistachio Brittle
Lovely Pistachio Brittle!

This was definitely a successful modification, and I seriously doubt that I will ever make regular peanut brittle again, unless I make it for someone who prefers it over this kind.  The wonderful green color from the pistachios even makes the brittle more festive for the holidays, too.

I used a recipe from Land O Lakes, with only two slight changes, in addition to substituting the nuts in equal amounts.  After adding the baking soda, I also added one teaspoon of Watkins vanilla extract, and I also turned the entire recipe out into just one buttered pan instead of dividing it between two pans.  In my opinion, it came out great!  Using a candy thermometer makes this a simple recipe to prepare, too.

Candy Thermometer
This candy thermometer belonged to my mother-in-law, and I treasure using it every year when preparing holiday treats. What a story it could tell over the decades!
Pistachio Brittle 2
Brittle in a buttered pan

I buttered the baking pan well, turned out the hot brittle mixture into the pan, spread it to the edges with a buttered spatula, then let it sit for about an hour until it was completely cooled.  Once it was cooled, I then turned the pan upside down over a large cookie sheet and gently tapped the bottom of the pan with a hammer (that I only use in the kitchen) until the brittle fell loose.  While the brittle was upside down on the cookie sheet, I used the clean hammer to gently break the pieces apart, using only the edge of the hammer when tapping.  There is no need to line the pan with foil or parchment, as the brittle slides out quite easily after it is allowed to completely cool in the well-buttered pan.

I also experimented with another new recipe that has pistachios, too.

Cranberry Pistachio Bark
Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Bark

I found this simple recipe for Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Bark online from Brown-Eyed Baker.  This took about five minutes to make, using the microwave to melt the white chocolate morsels, and it will be a regular holiday sweet treat for us.  What a pretty addition it will be to my Christmas food gifts this year!  (12/13/14 Update: Just saw where Ina Garten also adds some diced dried apricots to hers, too!)

After the holidays, I will go back to just snacking on my lovely pistachio nuts, sans all the extra calories, but I will certainly have fond memories of these tasty treats!

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Holiday Survival Kit

I made a little gift to take to our yearly Christmas party with some dear friends on Sunday evening, and I wanted to share it here.  Blame it on Pinterest.

Holiday Survival Kit
Holiday Survival Kit

Here is the list of items that I included, and I also included a separate printout of the legend of the Candy Cane story.  I only buy Bob’s Candy Canes at Christmas, and I did not include any homemade treats, as these friends will soon receive one of my cookies platters, too.

Holiday Survival Kit Text
I made a kit for each of my special friends, and they both loved their little surprise, in addition to their “real” gift.  The total cost, including the gingerbread box, was less than $10, and I used clear snack sized bags to hold each of the items on the list.  If you want to include more items, there are several good ones listed online.  Just search for “holiday survival kit,” and you’ll see some of them.

One friend keeps her little grandchildren after school each day, and they are going to explore the items in order by taking an item out each day in the order listed.  I never even thought of that possibility, but what a cute idea that is.  The kit could certainly include a few more kid-friendly items for that purpose, too.

This was such a fun little project and took less than an hour to put together after purchasing the necessary items.  Let’s just say while it not definitely not diet friendly, it is a fun little gift to make and give! 😉

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National Cookie Day

As today is National Cookie Day, I wanted to share some of my own adventures in cookie baking over the past two years.  My own Christmas cookie adventures began in earnest when our long-time bakery shut its doors forever and left many of us in dire straits for decorated Christmas cookies.  This had been a tradition for me for a number of years, and I was not ready to give it up.  So, I embarked on making my own decorated cookies for the first time with some success the first year and even better success last year.

I have not worked on further honing my cookie skills since last Christmas, due to my weight loss effort.  It was a necessary sacrifice and one that I was more than willing to make this year.  But, it’s time to once again start baking cookies for gifts, and I am so ready to get going once again!  Last year, hubby and I embarked on a cookie decorating day where he helped me “blitz” the decorated cookies mostly in one day, and we had a lot of fun together.  As it turns out, he has a great artistic flare for decorating cookies, too.

I have linked to my cookie posts at the bottom of this post, as there are links to many of the recipes I used in those posts, in case you are also ready to embark on your own Christmas cookie adventures soon!

Christmas Cookies 4
Decorated Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies 3
Decorated Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies 2
Decorated Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies 1
Decorated Christmas Cookies
Christmas Snickerdoodle Cookies
Christmas Snickerdoodles
Tangy Lemon Glazed Cookies
Tangy Lemon Glazed Cookies – a new family favorite
Oatmeal Lace Cookies
Oatmeal Lace Cookies
Savory Breakfast Cookies
Savory Breakfast Cookies
Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies – Ghirardelli recipe
Stained Glass Cookies
Stained Glass Cookies
Ginger Crinkle Cookies
Ginger Crinkle Cookies
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Linzer Sandwich Cookies
Linzer Sandwich Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies
Candy Cane Cookies
Peppermint Almond Cookies
Peppermint “Snowballs” – made from Candy Cane Cookie recipe
Decorated Christmas Cookies
Decorated Christmas Cookies
My Christmas Cookie Trays for Gifts
My Christmas cookie gift trays – 2012

See my note below about the pretty cross cookies, please! 😉  Also, the reindeer cookies were made from my peanut butter cookie recipe.

Christmas Cookies 7
My Christmas cookie and candy gift trays – 2013
Christmas Cookies 5
My Christmas cookie and candy gift trays – 2013
Christmas Cookies 6
My Christmas cookie and candy gift trays – 2013

One note – I love baking the pretty decorated cross cookies (pictured in the 2012 trays).  A word of caution, though.  They tend to break easily when included in a tray of other cookies, it seems, so I wrap them individually now with a cardboard backing when giving them with the gift trays.  After going to all the effort to make these pretty cookies, I want the recipient to get them in one piece.  I allow one cross cookie per person, and I include a handwritten note that this is a “special” cookie for them and include the verse, John 3:16, in my note.  They can certainly freeze their special cookie to eat at Easter, if they prefer, as long as it is properly wrapped, but so far, I think everyone has eaten their cross cookies for Christmas.

My previous posts on Christmas Cookies:

Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies – 2013

Happy National Cookie Day!  I’m ready to start baking again!

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A Fabulous Thanksgiving

We enjoyed a great traditional lunch with family at our home on Thanksgiving Day.  While I did not get a picture of everything we had to eat, here are a few quick photos that I managed to take amid the process of getting everything served.  Sadly, I did not get a picture of the new brussels sprouts recipe that I made, and it was most definitely a hit with everyone, too.  It also had fresh cranberries, pecans and feta cheese in it, and it was such a pretty dish, as well as a tasty one.

Recipe for Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts
(To make it a bit more diet compliant for me, I omitted the barley and used sugar-free maple syrup.  I used feta cheese crumbles since I already had it on hand.  It came together in a skillet nicely right before we were ready to eat lunch, and this will likely be a regular holiday dish for us now.)

We also had mac and cheese and hot rolls, of course.  I’m glad that my family was just fine to skip any kind of green bean casserole this year.  It seems that we have all grown a bit tired of that particular dish, at least for now, and it’s just no fun to prepare a dish that really doesn’t even sound good.

Thanksgiving Turkey - Alton Brown Recipe
Thanksgiving Turkey – Alton Brown Recipe
Cornbread Dressing Ingredients
Cornbread Dressing Ingredients – I did not get a picture of it after it cooked, but it was so good!
Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes
Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes – yum!
Pea Salad - Marinated
Pea Salad – Marinated – used fall colors in the peppers
Salted Caramel Fudge
Salted Caramel Fudge – a new twist on my fudge recipe
Lemon Chess Pie
Lemon Chess Pie – “ta die fer” – extra lemon, of course!
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Pie – a must have pie at Thanksgiving

We took off in the RV once again this year after our big Thanksgiving lunch for a nice, long weekend away, carrying most of the leftovers from lunch with us.  After some brutal winter weather only a few days earlier, we had absolutely gorgeous weather for our quick trip, even though it was a little bit windy at times.  A little wind seldom stops us these days, though, and we had a great outing once again this Thanksgiving weekend, instead of opting to stay home and fight the crowds in town for Black Friday weekend shopping.  I am just so done with that now.  I also got to see a friend from high school while we were in the Abilene area that I have not seen since 1976, and that was quite a treat for me indeed.  She is as sweet as ever, too.

This was our first trip to Abilene State Park in the month of November, so it was interesting to compare this trip to past trips there in different months.  The park is actually located near the tiny community of Buffalo Gap but is still only fifteen minutes from the main retail area in Abilene.  I still have not written a post about this nice park yet and need to do so sometime.  We have now been in each of the seasons except summer, and I honestly do not think we will try to go in those very hot months either.  We are quite happy to visit there in the cooler months, even though we ran our air conditioners in the RV on two afternoons on this trip.  Almost every weekend is often booked at this park in the large trailer sites, and winter is definitely the least crowded time for this park.

I also completed the NaBloPoMo blogging challenge on Sunday, having posted every day in the month of November at my new site at Animal Wonder.  If you haven’t yet taken a peek there, I hope you will do so soon.  It is an ongoing project and one that I really enjoyed working on in November.  Many of the photos I shared over the past month are among my favorite bird photos, even though I still have many more favorites to share, too.  I’m excited to continue working on even more animal posts going forward, not just limited to birds that I focused on during the past month.

And speaking of birds, there is some big news right now in birding circles (picture at that site) that is based in my area.  A very rare bird, a Eurasian Common Crane, has recently been spotted among the many Sandhill Cranes at the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge.  After the news broke a few days ago, I followed their page on Facebook and have been following updates on the rare Eurasian Common Cranes that have been spotted there.  These rare birds have created quite a “circus” at the refuge, according to the people posting the Facebook updates, and people are traveling from as far away as California to see these birds.  So far, I think two Eurasian Cranes have been spotted.  I would love to drive over there soon to see if I could see them, but I’m not sure our crazy December schedule will permit me to do so.  We’ll see.  How I would love to personally take a photograph of this rare bird that is most typically not even seen on this continent!  Birding in our area may be better than normal this year, thanks to some nice fall rains that have left many playa lakes with some much-needed water.

Wikipedia – Eurasian Common Crane

E-Bird Common Crane Sightings (Range Map)

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Thanksgiving Lunch Lists

This is the week to make the lists and check them twice – the Thanksgiving lunch list and the grocery shopping list to go with it.  I recently discovered the free Keep app, and it has been such a blessing to keep all of my food lists on it.  The lists sync automatically on my phone, my tablet and my laptop, and I am loving it.  Sometimes technology is a truly great thing to help out with the little things.

Thanksgiving Lunch List
Our Thanksgiving meal lineup this year!

While I normally purchase most of our groceries at the club store these days, I will no doubt purchase some things at our local grocery store for Thanksgiving, too.  The Thanksgiving week sale ad just came out, so it is time to look over the shopping list one last time and schedule a trip to the grocery store at a time that is not as crowded.  I’ve stood in too many ridiculously long lines at the grocery store on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, sometimes to just purchase one item that I forgot on a previous trip.  I’m so done with that nonsense now, if at all possible, and working carefully on the shopping list in advance has helped to prevent such unneeded stress.

I intentionally planned leftovers from lunch for our camping trip and to send home with others for a second meal.  While the lineup is not low-carb by any stretch, I will try to only partake of very small portions of the items that are not “legal” for me.  I’m still not ready to risk sabotaging my diet too much at this point, after working so hard to lose the weight this past year.

So far this week, I’ve finalized the lunch list, and I am finalizing the shopping list.  I’ve also made good progress on house cleaning, as there will be little time for that next week as I prepare our meal and get things ready to leave in the RV later on Thanksgiving Day.  I also made the pie crusts and put them in the freezer.  I used Pioneer Woman’s “Perfect Pie Crust” recipe this time because it is easy to make, makes two at once, tastes great and freezes quite well.  Making traditional pie crusts is not one of my best talents, to be sure, and this recipe is a very simple one.  It can also be found in her holiday cookbook, too.

With both Thanksgiving and our next RV trip coming right up, things are going to be pretty hectic here until early December.  We also have both movie and play tickets that I am excited about, as well as an evening out with two of my best friends.  I will continue to post over at Animal Wonder for the rest of this month to meet the blogging goal there, but I doubt that I will be back here to post until after our trip, unless I somehow get ahead of schedule.  I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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