Kid Friendly Friday Spotlight - Fruity Krispy Treats

Happy Friday Foodies! I hope your Friday’s pass by quickly so you can get to a weekend of fun and relaxation. Today Pippy has an appointment at the vet and I am not very excited to go. There are several reasons for this: first, he’s a shag muffin – it’s been raining here for several days and his fur is super curly. I mean, some women would die for his hair, I just want it to be easily maintained. That’s never going to happen. Second, his ears are still bothering him. I have this awful feeling the vet is going to give me more eardrops; I hate giving him eardrops. He doesn’t make the process easy and sometimes he cries, which makes me sad. Finally, he is having a test done to see how his protein levels are doing. I hope they are back to normal!! Though he has not lost any weight on this new meal plan the vet does like how he tapers back now; so I am hopeful that means his protein levels are back in order.

Otherwise, I am pretty excited for the weekend. Do you want to know why? This weekend Nick and I are going to utilize our newly purchased Costco card to go shopping! I cannot wait. Our weekend will be pretty low key otherwise. We cannot go anywhere, not that we were planning some weekend adventure. Nick is on call all weekend because of the 9/11 anniversary and the possibility of an attack. Whatev.

You may see a ‘Because Life is Complicated Enough…’ about the upcoming anniversary of 9/11. I have not decided yet; I mean, I have tried to start a BLCE about this event but nothing is coming out the way I want it to. I have too many opinions about it and none of them are going to be diplomatic. The last thing I want to stir up is some controversy, especially during this very delicate time. I may post something sometime next week.

Anyway, long story short, we’re in NoVa for the weekend just in case something horrible happens and Nick has to go to base.

Moving right along, today is Friday – you know what that means, right? It means I have another Kid-Friendly Friday segment for you today. This week I have a fabulous guest blogger. Her name is Chris and you can find her over at Sharing Recipes. She has a great facebook page where she encourages all of us foodies to share recipes and pictures. It’s a great little community we have and she helps host all of our delicious ideas. She is one of my very favorites; I have known her for some time now and I feel like she is my next door neighbor – I love popping in to say hello.

Earlier this week I noticed something phenomenal on her page that I knew would be a great addition to my Kid Friendly Friday segment. Without further adieu, here is Chris!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi.

I am an Indiana born and bred girl, 41 years young and just starting to feel like a grown-up... not really :).  I have been married to the perfect-man-for-me for nearly 16 years (again, we feel like we are just starting, as many in our farming community celebrate 50 years and more <3).  My hubby is a hard working farmer/landscaper/pole-barn builder/snow plower and eats like a 17 year old football player, which I say if you work that hard you have to eat like that.  We have 3 beautiful girls; I know this because everyone always tells us how much sleep we will lose when they are in high school and dating.  When teasing my hubby about being a farmer with all girls, we have also heard many times, "the boys will come".  I don't know if that is comforting or alarming.

I feel like my journey with food is two journeys meshing together as I mature in the kitchen; the first journey being with my mom when I was young, watching her process and freeze as much home grown food as possible.  She processed everything from red raspberries to corn and pumpkin to red beets. Many years were spent on our back porch cleaning red beets to pickle, or husking corn to blanch and freeze.  She made jellies, spaghetti sauce and even squirrel and rabbit stew.  My second journey is now, without her, trying to remember all those things she was teaching me when I thought we were just doing chores.  I am surprised by the fact I must have been paying more attention than I thought, because I remember the processes.  What I don't remember I am able to fill in by having her old cookbooks she used, and more blessed because I can still turn to my grandma, her mother, who is a mere 83 years old and still doing all she taught mom.

In my quest for all things sweet I ran across some krispie treats made entirely of fruity pebbles.  When I tried them I was amazed and then I thought to myself, "these are too sweet!"  Amazed because I consider sugar and myself to be tight friends, but I guess even good friends can have too much of each other from time to time.  So, at home I was going to try and mix up something similar, but not too sweet.  The following is what resulted.  These would be great for school bake sales, kid's birthday treats and even a good "add-on" at a lemonade stand.  Try 'em, you'll like 'em!

 

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 cups Rice Krispies
  • 3 cups Fruity Pebbles
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 package mini marshmallows (I think it was somewhere around 10 oz)

Directions:

  • Lightly spray 13" x 9" baking pan
  • In large pot, over medium heat, melt butter
  • Stir mini marshmallows into butter to melt, stirring often so marshmallows don't scorch
  • When all is melted, remove from heat
  • Stir in all Rice Krispies and Fruity Pebbles until well covered with marshmallow mix
  • Pour into greased baking pan
  • Using wax paper to cover treats, push treats into pan evenly, slowly remove wax paper
  • Let cool before cutting

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Thanks again Chris for contributing such a delicious & fun recipe to my Kid-Friendly Friday segment! I CANNOT wait to give these a try; seriously. Don’t forget to stop by Chris' page  to show some love – tell her Mel sent ya!

I hope that you all have a fabulous Friday and an even better weekend.

Until Next Time,

Happy Rice Krispin’ 

Grilled Nectarines with Raspberry Sorbet

Happy Monday Foodies! I hope you all had a great weekend away from the chaos of life. Nick and I lounged around all weekend, which was an incredible break from the life we were leading in the weekends prior. Added benefit? It was mostly gloomy all weekend; a welcomed reprieve from the constantly sunny days this summer has given to us here on the East Coast.

Monday Sunday is the worst day of the week for me because Monday is always so close behind. I grew up having anxiety on Sunday’s. I always attributed it to school; I hated going to school on Monday, even when I was an adult in college and other high education pursuits; Sunday = anxiety. Now I am not longer in school, but last night I had an overwhelmingly high level of anxiety and here I sit today filled with more of it. I know why I am feeling this way, but it stinks because I had hoped my path in life would not be the way it is.

Is that not always the way?

I try telling myself everything will work out and being anxious is not going to solve much of anything, but that never works. Moving right along…

This week Nick’s sister, Chantelle, is moving to Cambodia. Holy cow! I am incredibly excited for her. Because she is flying out of D.C. Nick and I are going to have dinner with her on Wednesday night before her & Keith take the transatlantic flight. I wish I was going with them; I am addicted to international travel and have not had a grand international trip in quite some time! We joked around about stuffing me into a suitcase; well, they thought it was a joke; I was pretty serious about it. Just kiddin’!

Now that I have caught you all up on my life , I might as well tell you about an awesome breakfast we had this weekend. That is why you all are here after all, isn’t it? Well for this Meatless Monday segment, I present to you all Grilled Nectarines with Raspberry Sorbet. It is delicious and I am sure you all will love this sweet treat.

Nutrition Facts:
Serving size: 1 large nectarine
Total Calories: 207
Total Fat: 0
Total Carbohydrates: 49 g
Total Fiber: 5 g
Total Protein: 3 g

PointsPlus: 5

Here is what you will need:

 

  • 4 large nectarines, pitted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pint raspberry sorbet
  • 1 container raspberries, optional

 

Directions:

 

  • Preheat grill to medium
  • Coat  cut sides of nectarines with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with sugar

 

 

  • Place nectarines, cut side down, on grill rack and grill, turning once, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes per side

 

 

  • Place nectarines halves on plate

 

 

  • Place ¼ cup scoop of sorbet per serving

 

  • If you have them, sprinkle raspberries around nectarines; we did not have raspberries, but the dish turned out perfectly.

I hope you all enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Happy Monday

Delicious Sweets in a Jar & a GIVEAWAY!

Happy Friday Foodies! I’m so thankful that the weekend is here. I will be able to relax with my Panda Bear; it’s been quite the week for me. I am pretty happy that we are not traveling anywhere this weekend. Since the middle of June either one or both of us has spent every weekend away from our house and on the road; I, for one, am over it. While I love to travel, the lumbar system in our car does not play nicely with my back and is always making me uncomfortable. Now, I know that probably did not contribute to my recent kidney ailment, but being so uncomfortable in the car does not make life any better. I am just thankful our little family will be chowing down on Thai food this weekend and relaxing with each other.

It will be a pretty awesome weekend together. Besides eating well and spending time with each other, our new television is being delivered today. I am super excited, so is Nick. That’ll be a great project for today. Not many people may get so excited about a television, but it is pretty hard not to. This is the granddaddy of all televisions; minus the 3D capability, which Nick wanted. Thank GOD for Nick’s dad talking him out of getting a 3D television. Much like all of our smart phones, this television is a Smart TV. While I don’t think it can make dinner for us, it does pretty much everything else. I cannot wait to get it hooked up to use!

Okay, now that you all know what my life looks like this weekend, I have a specially modified version of Kid Friendly Friday for you today. First, let’s get down to the fun activity I have for the kiddos in your house. All summer I have tried to give you recipes that would allow your mini-sous chefs get down and dirty working in the kitchen with you; but today I have something that is less cooking and more preparing. I had fun, so I hope most kids would have fun making these. Are you ready?? Today I present to you Sweet Treats in a Jar. So many times during my life I have received one of these little guys or have seen them in the stores waiting to be purchased; but I have never made one.

That is until recently.

Today I have two awesome flavors for you: S’mores in a Jar & The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in a Jar.

Here is what you will need & how to layer the ingredients for the S’mores:

  • 1 to 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

  • Add the layers in that order, close the jar & store until you’re ready to use, or give to your favorite people!
  • Find the 'How To Cook" here. 

 

Here is what you will need for the Brownies:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa power
  • Chocolate chips
  • Layer the ingredients in the order listed above, seal & store… or give to your favorite friends!
  • Find the 'How to Cook' Here

I had a lot of fun making these jars for the first time this week! I bet you’re all wondering if I am going to keep these bad boy jars to myself? Well, ordinarily I would not want to share chocolate, but I have some amazing people that I would share with every day of the week if I could. Do you want to know who those people are? Dum, dum, dummmmmm…

Are you ready yet?? I cannot hear youuuuu!!!

Those people are YOU!!! Yep, you! I want to share my little jars of chocolaty heaven with you. That brings me to a very special announcement!

I am HAVING A GIVEAWAY!!  

I know it has been a couple of weeks coming, but life has been pretty chaotic and most recently painful. With the help of all of you wonderful people, I hit 1000 followers a couple of weeks ago. I promised a giveaway then and I am finally posing it! One lucky person will walk away with the following:

  • 1 S'mores in a jar
  • 1 Ultimate Chocolate Brownies in a Jar
  • 1 Cutsy Apron 

Now, I am not going to make it hard to enter this Giveaway. However, I do have a couple of requirements. Here they come:

  1. First, this Giveaway is open to only those people in the United States. [Don’t worry, I’m working on opening up my next one to all of my lovelies everywhere else]
  2. Second, you must be at least 18 years old to enter. [I do not want somebody’s parents thinking I’m sending their kids candy. Seriously, candy in a box from a stranger? Oh boy!]
  3. Third, you must follow me as yourself [meaning, if you follow me as a page, you must also follow me from your personal account] on facebook telling me you did so. If you already do, just tell me your name in the comment section below.
  4. Fourth, you must leave a comment below. Make sure your name here is the same as your name is on facebook.
  5. Finally, when you leave a comment below, include a recipe of mine that looks appealing to you!

See, it is SUPER easy! This giveaway will remain open until next Friday, August 19 at midnight EST. I will announce the winner by Monday, August 22.

Good Luck to you all!! 

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating!

A Day at the Beach Cake & Cupcakes

Happy Monday Foodies! I hope your weekend was filled with food and fun. Nick and I ended up back in Pennsylvania this weekend, which was not our original plan. However, last weekend our little check engine light came on as we were leaving Lancaster county. The system BMW installs in cars allows the owner to manually access a screen [on the navigation system] that will tell you exactly what is malfunctioning. Well, our system was saying everything was okay, but we knew better. BMW told us as long as the service engine light was orange we could use the car with caution. We did just that. The one nice thing about taking our car up to York BMW is the relationship Nick and his father have with the guys there. This family goes through cars like nobody’s business and, because of that, Nick has a great relationship with the service and sales guys and feels comfortable working with them instead of somebody locally. Eventually we will build a relationship with a D.C. BMW dealership, but for something like this we decided to tack on another couple of hours and just deal with the guys we already know.

There were two more added benefits of driving all the way up to Pennsylvania this weekend!

First, we were able to see Chantelle & Keith again briefly before they went on their new journey to New England. I love them!

Second, we got to see Joe’s new car. Who is Joe? Well, Joe just happens to be Nick’s dad and he is an amazing guy. Seriously. He is brilliant and honest, compassionate and incredibly thoughtful. He’s worked hard his entire life and he built an incredible name for himself in the business world. In fact, he is currently trying to finalize some very special purchases for his future after retirement. One of those is a brand new BMW. He had an M3, which was beautiful and, if we could have financially afforded to, Nick & I would have loved to have that car.

In addition to a brand new car, he also just purchased a brand new boat, which everybody is super excited about. One of his dreams was to have a boat and to have the freedom to sail around enjoying retirement with his wife. He officially owns a brand new boat as of Friday. And next Saturday he will be the proud new owner of a beautiful BMW 535 GT. And, when I say BEAUTIFUL, I mean absolutely GORGEOUS!

Not only will he be living the life with a new car & boat, he soon will have a beautiful new condo in Florida, where golf and boating will be an easy pasttime & he will be able to avoid the bitter winters of Pennsylvania.  His life is FLYING with new adventures and everybody is so excited for him.

Me & the GT

Sorry about that tangent.

Anyway, Nick and I were able to swoon over his new car when we were at the dealership. I want it. He’s going to love it.

I bet you’re all wondering where the good part of this post is, right? Well, I wanted to fill you in on our weekend, so forgive me! I do have a great post for you today. It is Meatless Monday, after all. I have a great creation from one of my very favorite people. Yep, you guessed it – Jess! One of the women that Jess works with spent two whole weeks at the beach and Jess created a Welcome Back Beach Cake and Cupcakes for her co-worker! How awesome is she? I bet you all wish you worked with Jess now, too!

I know I do.

Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need for the cake:

  • Cake mix (2-8 inch rounds)
  • 2 containers of vanilla icing                                                           
  • Vanilla wafer cookies or graham crackers, crushed
  • Teddy grahams
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Hershey treasures candy
  • Green fondant or green fruit by the foot
  • Cocoa puffs
  • Breadsticks or wafer cookies
  • Blue decorating gel
  • Food coloring
  • Green chocolate
  • Gumballs

Directions:

  • Bake the cake as directed.  If you decide on white cake, I suggest dying it blue, to really give it that ocean feel! 

  • Allow the cake to cool completely, then level the cake. I have a cake leveler (which you can find at Wal Mart) or a large knife will work. 

Tint one can of the icing blue and frost layer in between the 2 cakes, the sides and one half of the top.  Tint one half of the second can of icing tan. 

Frost the other half of the top with the tan frosting. 

  • Place the rest of the tan icing in a ziplock bag, cut a small opening in the corner, and pipe a strip of icing around the blue half of the cake and around the bottom as a border.  It doesn't have to look fancy, because you'll be covering it. 
  • Crush the graham crackers or cookies to make sand.  Use it to cover the half of the top covered in the tan icing, as well at the borders on the top and bottom.
  • Take the blue decorating gel and cover the blue frosted half of the top of the cake (it looks more like water). 

Now time to start adding the fun stuff!! 

  • Take the rest of the white icing and separate it so you have some different colors - you really only need a tablespoon of each of several colors to start making the clothing on the teddy grahams.  I suggest one of the colors be black so that you can make eyes on the fish as well as the teddy grahams. 
  • Take the different color icings you have and make some bathing suits for your teddy grahams, include eyes and a nose. 

  • Take the fruit by the foot and cut it into leaf shapes to go up the side.  (I used some left over fondant leaves that I had, so my pic looks a little different).  To make the leaves for the trees, place some of the green chocolate into a ziploc bag and then microwave for 10 seconds at a time, massaging after each round until melted. 

  • Then cut a corner off of the bag and pipe leaves onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  To get a more real look, line some wooden spoons on the wax paper and pipe the leaves over top of the spoons. Place in the fridge until set. (I didn't have green chocolate, so I made fondant leaves.) 
  • Use melted chocolate to attach the leaves to the top of the breadstick or wafer cookie. 
  • Allow to set before adding additional leaves.  Trust me when I tell you that melted chocolate can act like glue in cake decorating. 
  • Also attach some cocoa puffs to the tops of trees for coconuts.  Place some at the bottom of the trees in the sand as well. 
  • To make the treasure chest, place one Hershey treasures candy in the sand on the side of the cake, flat side up.  Put some yellow icing on top, and place a second candy on top.  Pipe some straps on the top. 

  • Place the goldfish crackers on the side, with some white dots of icing for bubbles.   

  • Once the leaves are set, you can place the trees into the cake and serve! 
  • Keep the cake at room temp.  If you are using fondant, try your best to keep it out of the humidity.  It will wilt very quickly. 

 

Now For the cupcakes:

  • Cake mix (22 - 24 standard cupcakes)
  • 1 container vanilla frosting
  • Swedish fish
  • Umbrellas
  • Fruit by the foot
  • Gumballs
  • Graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
  • Blue sugar (You don't have to go buy it.  Place some sugar in a ziploc bag with a couple drops of blue food coloring and mix it around)

Directions:

  • Bake your cupcakes as directed. 
  • Again, if using a white cake mix, dye it blue. 
  • About halfway through cooking time, put 2 swedish fish in each cupcake (if you put it in at the beginning, they will melt too much). 
  • Allow cupcakes to cool completely. 
  • Tint one half of the container of icing blue. 
  • Cover one half of each cupcake with blue icing, the other half with the white icing. 
  • Cover the blue half of each cupcake with the blue sugar and the white half of the cupcake with the crushed graham crackers/wafer cookies. 
  • Fold a piece of fruit striped gum to look like a chair and place in the sand part of the cupcake.  Fruit stripe is easy to bend and move around. When I made them, using a whole piece didn't work and they unfolded a bit, so I just used half a piece for some. 
  • Place a gumball next to the chair. 
  • Take an umbrella and place it behind the chair.  

These babies look so awesome! I wish I had a beach cake & a bunch of beach cupcakes. These look so easy to make. Don't let all of the instructions weigh you down; they are just detailed, which is awesome for such a great work of art! I hope that you give them a try. 

Until Next Time,

Happy Beach Cupcakin'

Spicy Jalapeño Potato Packets

Happy Monday Morning Everybody!! I am coming off a good weekend filled with relaxation and good food. Not only am I coming off of a great weekend, I am walking into a short week! Nick and I are going to visit my momma in the middle of the week and enjoy some great food from one of my favorite events each year!! I am not going to get into the details because I plan on blogging about it later in the week! Prepare yourselves for some amazingly yummy pictures!

Today I have an awesome post for you for our Meatless Monday segment. A few weeks ago I noticed a post by The Country Cook, a bloggie friend of mine, which instantly captured my attention; I knew I wanted to adapt this recipe to appease my own tastes. Are you all wondering what I have for you today? Today I present to you Spicy Jalapeno Potato Packets! These are off the hook good and are so easy to make.

Recipe Adapted From The Country Cook.

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced [optional, if you’re using the jalapeno butter you will not need it!]
  • 4 tablespoons jalapeno butter, recipe follows
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Aluminum foil

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
  • Rinse your potatoes and thoroughly dry them off
  • Cube your potatoes

  • On two or three large pieces of foil, add two heaping tablespoons of the jalapeno butter

  • Divide the cubed potatoes between each piece of foil
  • Evenly divide the garlic between the two foil packets
  • Sprinkle as much salt and pepper as your heart desires on each foil packet
  • Divide the heavy cream in half and pour over each potato packet, making sure that the potatoes are coated and the cream is evenly distributed

  • Now, fold each of the sides to make a square for the potatoes and covering them thoroughly

  • Place the potato packets on a baking sheet and cook for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender
  • Carefully, open up your individual packet and eat away!

Jalapeno Butter:

½ stick butter, slightly softened

½  can diced jalapeno peppers

2 cloves garlic, pressed

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Combine butter, garlic, and jalapeno in a food processor and process until smooth

Add a little olive oil if needed to bring everything together

Season with salt and pepper

 

This was such a fun recipe and it is easily adapted to your particular tastes, which is one of the biggest selling features for me. I mean potatoes are a pretty versatile food and they ALWAYS taste good! I hope you all give them a try!

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating

Peanut Butter M&M Buttermilk Pancakes

Happy Friday Everybody! Guess what? Nick comes home tomorrow! The only bad part is his flight comes in very early in the morning, which means I have to get up at the crack of dawn to get out to the airport. It would not be such an issue, but I have not been able to go to sleep lately. I live in the hard knocks, seriously.

Let’s move onto food. Nick had been talking about pancakes for weeks; particularly Buttermilk Pancakes. Well, last Sunday we were scurrying around trying to get ready for his flight and I somehow managed to get up pretty early and had plenty of time to spare. While he, like most men I fear, was trying to pack for a week away the morning of his flight [I could never pack the morning of my flight] I decided to sneak out into the kitchen and try to whip up some pancakes without him knowing. Yeah, right. Me make something in the kitchen without him wandering in? It’ll be a cold day in… well, you know, before that happens! Well, I wanted to include some sort of element of surprise and then it hit me. Why not add some M & M’s? I hate to brag, but WOWZA! I added a half of cup of Peanut Butter M&M’s to the batter, because we both happen to love that kind, and these Buttermilk Pancakes became instantly irresistible. So today, for this Kid Friendly Friday segment, I present to you Peanut Butter M&M Buttermilk Pancakes.  

Let’s get down to business. Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter M&M’s

*Note: You can use 3 cups buttermilk, but I opted against it!

Directions:

  • Heat griddle to 375 degrees
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl

  • Add eggs, buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter, whisk to combine
  • Batter should have small to medium lumps
  • Add the M&M’s

  • Heat oven to 175 degrees
  • Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough
  • Using a pastry brush, brush some of the reserved melted butter on the griddle
  • Using a ½ cup measuring cup, pour pancake batter in pools 2 inches away from one another

  • When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, flip over; about 2 ½ minutes
  • Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute

  • Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven to keep warm!

The awesome part about these pancakes, besides the taste, is how fun they are to make; or will be to make with your kids. What kid does not want to add a handful of M&M’s to their pancakes? It’s a great way to get them involved and inspire them to be creative with ordinary breakfast foods. I was inspired by the need to surprise Nick, who thought he was only getting ordinary Buttermilk Pancakes.

I hope you give them a try with your kiddos this weekend. And, if you’re like me and don’t have any kids, I hope you give them a try while watching early morning Saturday television!

Until Next Time,

Happy Pancake Creating!

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Tenders

Happy Friday Foodies!! What a glorious day it is, too! First, everybody here in the United States will be celebrating our Nation’s Independence Day! My apron goes off to all of those men [then] and women who tirelessly fight to keep this nation free, independent and sovereign. Without a defined fight and struggle we may not be celebrating the freedom we have today. Second, my wonderful foodie friends helped me reach 600+ followers on Facebook! I cannot even believe it! I do not have words adequate enough to thank everybody for all of your support, encouragement and conversation! I am one lucky girl! Finally, it is Kid Friendly Friday! What, whaaaat? And do I have something for you!

I have actually wanted to make this for a couple of weeks but the stars did not align until last night. It was well worth the wait; and, because it was so simple and delicious, I believe it will become part of our permanent rotation of dinner recipes. I’m going to jump right into today. Are you ready? I can’t hearrrrrr you! Are – YOU – READY?! Okay, okay. Today I present to you Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Tenders. Oh yeah!

Inspired by Wisconsin Cheese

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • ¼ cup flour [use GF flour if you want a GF meal!]
  • ½ teaspoon garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups cornflakes, crushed [make sure you pick up a gluten free cornflakes brand!]
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Combine flour, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl

  • Whisk egg and milk in another dish
  • In a third dish, combine cornflakes and Parmesan

  • One at a time, dredge each tender in flour, then dip in egg mixture, and finally the Parmesan cornflake combination, making sure to coat well

  • Place on a foil linked baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes, until crispy, golden and cooked through
  • Eat!

Easy, huh? I am telling you the kids will go crazy over this dish! Not to mention, it is so fun to cook. I don’t know about you, but I am sure the kids would love the idea of dredging all of their tenders. It does not happen to be my favorite part of any meal preparation, but it is an easy way to get everybody involved!

The combination of cornflakes and Parmesan was a homerun. The crunchiness of the cornflakes and the sharpness of the cheese really comes together well! You could easily make a blue cheese dipping sauce or any dipping sauce you like!

I hope you all enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Happy Friday

RLR's Amazing Tortilla Soup

Good Monday Morning everybody! I hope your weekend was fabulous! This weekend Nick & I made our way to Pennsylvania so he could get scuba certified. Since the certification classes were held in my hometown we visited with my momma and one my long lost friends! All in all it was a pretty exciting weekend. I stuffed my face with my favorite pizza and cheese steaks and then topped it off with hanging out with my friend Rebecca on Sunday afternoon.

Let me tell you about Rebecca. She is awesome [period]. We met just over four years ago in a Law Office that will remain nameless for reasons that go beyond this foodie section of my blog. Trust me, we quickly bonded over many things, but one of those things was a common dislike for a schlep of a boss. I will forever refer to her as RLR. Our paths crossed while we were both overhauling our lives. Maybe that is why we get along so well? She is a pretty bad ass attorney that gets the job done for all of those families out there suffering through something unpleasant.

Somewhere along the line we both got our wits about us and moved on from our schlep of a boss; now she is thriving in at an amazing office and doing great things along the way. However, I moved away. I moved far, far away. In the moments when I was moving, RLR was creating a new family. You see, she married her high school sweetheart, became a step-momma to one of the coolest kids that I know and somehow managed to create two beautiful babies all while I was finding a new path in life. I was amazed but sad that I was missing it all.

Enter yesterday.

Yesterday we were reunited. I met her two beautiful baby girls and tried to frantically catch up on the last 2 years of life. Facebook correspondence does not compare to sitting down and reminiscing, catching up and laughing with a friend. I am so glad that we were able to visit with her beautiful family yesterday.

I bet you are all wondering why I am telling you about my powerhouse attorney friend, huh? Well amongst friends, food always tastes better. Now RLR has told me for years about this amazing Tortilla Soup she serves up in minutes. I love a good Tortilla Soup so I was pretty excited when she suggested making it for us yesterday. There was no passing up that offer. I had something else to blog about, but this soup was too good to pass up sharing about. And it is perfect for this installation of Meatless Monday! I only have a picture or two because I was too busy catching up while she was quickly making it and I was too worried about eating it quickly after that first bite; yes, it was that good.

Here is what you will need:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (29 ounce can) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Handful of jalapeno slices, or 1 jalapeno small diced
  • ½ one large sweet onion, emphasis on sweet onion
  • A few tablespoons cilantro
  • Squirt or two of lime juice
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream

Directions:

  • Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer
  • Add the can of tomatoes and garlic
  • In a food processor add jalapeno, onion and cilantro and blend into a paste
  • Add to pot and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes

  • When you are ready to eat, you can assemble your bowl of soup any way you like.

We put some tortilla chips and cheese on the bottom of the bowl and then added the soup & sour cream! If you wanted you could put the soup, then tortilla chips and cheese on the top. You can do it however you like! It’s easy to dress this soup up any way you like; add avocado, chicken, pork, or corn. I made a chicken tortilla soup almost 2 months and it was out of this world, but included a bunch of different spices. This was perfectly seasoned just as RLR made it! I could not believe it!!

Happy Monday Everybody & I hope you give this a try!

Until Next Time,

Happy Tortilla Soup Makin’

Triple Cheese Calzone

Good Monday Morning Everybody! It is a rainy day in my neighborhood today. I cannot tell you how much I love it. I am in a gloomy mood. Ever wonder why the challenges we face in life sometimes all come at you at once, instead of over the span of your lifetime? I sometimes find myself on the border of self-misery when I have difficulties. Luckily for me I have a Nick; emphasis on lucky. Sometimes when I become overwhelmed with obstacles in life and I’m moping around asking - why me? why now? why so frequently?- I so often remember the fateful day that Nick and I went out on our first date and I begin to remember that this ONE blessing is all I need to move forward. Nick is a blessing. He walked into my life when everything was chaotic. I will be forever grateful to God for leading me to Nick and to Nick for asking me out on that first date.

See what happens when I have a ton of things on my mind? A small sentence about a rainy, gloomy day turns into a paragraph that is resembles a country song. I am sure you are all here for one very important reason – food. Well I do have something for you today. It’s another Meatless Monday creation! Last week I made a very yummy Salami Calzone that was a big hit in our house. I thought to myself all of my vegetarian friends should not be deprived of such a yummy creation and, therefore, I created a Triple Cheese Calzone.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups shredded pizza cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (13.8 ounce) tube refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ pound sliced provolone cheese
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Place a baking sheet upside down in the oven
  • Beat the eggs and parsley in a small bowl
  • Pour half of the egg mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the shredded pizza cheese

  • Reserve the remaining egg mixture for brushing on the crust
  • Turn another making sheet upside down; line with parchment paper and brush with olive oil
  • Unroll the dough on the parchment paper and pat into a rectangle
  • Spread the cheese and egg mixture over one half of the dough, leaving a slight order along the edge

  • Top with pieces of ricotta cheese, and then sprinkle some Red Pepper Flakes to the top

  • Layer the provolone on top

  • Fold the other half of the dough over to cover the filling
  • Crimp/Roll the edges to seal, and then pierce the top of the dough in a few places with a knife

  • Slide the calzone with the parchment paper onto the hot baking sheet, bake 15 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining egg mixture, then continue to bake until the crust is golden - about 10 minutes

  • Let rest, cut into wedges & eat away!!

Like I said with the salami calzone last week, this is such an easy meal! It would be incredible with homemade pizza dough. While you’re at it, you might as well make some extra dough for homemade pizza! Why not? In fact, this would be a great recipe to get the kids involved.

I hope you all enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Happy Monday

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Happy Friday Foodies! I hope the work day goes quickly for those of you in the office and the weekend goes slow so that you can enjoy every second! We do not have much planned for the weekend. For the last week or so I figured Nick would be going home to visit his dad for Father’s Day. I am not entirely sure why the plans fell through, but now he is staying with me this weekend. I was kind of looking forward to a weekend by myself. Our lives have been on a never ending fast paced train for a long time so having a weekend to sit around and read and teeter around the city by myself would have been lovely. I do not know about you, but having a day or two alone rejuvenates the soul!

Now that I’m not alone this weekend I have a full menu to handle, which is no big deal! I am actually looking forward to it. Today I have something that is delicious, moist, gluten free and amazingly simple. Are you ready for it? Today I have Chicken Cordon Bleu! I love this dish. It is one of my favorites. I guess that does not really mean much to some people because I have a LOT of FAVORITES. All things considered, this is a GREAT meal; and, better yet, it is super simple to make so the kiddos can get involved.

That leads me to the next piece of news! Today begins a new mini-series!  Because this meal was very simple to make and actually kind of fun I thought it would be a great recipe to kick of Kid Friendly Friday’s. Now I cannot guarantee that every Friday will be Kid-Friendly, I will do my best to be consistent through the summer so that all of your kid’s can get in the kitchen and help; especially now that they are home for the summer!

Here is what you will need:

  • 3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • Deli Ham, sliced thin
  • Swiss cheese, sliced thin
  • ½ cup Gluten Free Bisquick [or GF Flour if the Bisquick is not available in your area]

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Place each chicken breast in a sealable sandwich bag and gently pound with the flat side of a meal mallet until it’s about ¼ to ½ inch thick [the kids will LOVE this]

  • Grease a glass baking dish with the butter
  • In a food processor, place cereal, garlic salt and basil. Cover & process until finely ground like flour. Pour the mixture in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg and milk and set aside
  • In another bowl add the bisquick and set aside
  • [You want an assembly line of bowls: bisquick, egg, cereal mixture]
  • Layer 1 or 2 slices of ham on top of the chicken followed by 1 slice of cheese
  • Roll up the chicken fairly tight and secure each with a toothpick so that the cheese and ham remain enclosed inside of the chicken
  • Coat each rolled chicken breast with the bisquick mix, the egg mixture and then the cereal mixture
  • Place in the baking dish

  • Bake 35 to 40 minutes and EAT!

Inspired by Gluten Freely

I served these with yummy gorgonzola mashed potatoes, which paired extremely well with the chicken breasts! You can serve anything you would like with them: baked potato, salad, vegetable. This recipe is a hotbed for good side dishes! I hope you all give it a try; more importantly, I hope you let your kids get down and dirty in the kitchen with this dish. Make sure to watch them when they pound out the meat and remember to have them wash their hands every time they handle the raw meat! You do not want any cross contamination!

Until Next Time,

Happy Friday

Meatless Monday Cheesy Broccoli Frittata

Good Monday Morning! I hope you all had a great weekend! We were running all around the DC area this weekend, which was great! Unfortunately, it was more mission oriented than for leisure. Therefore, exploration of our new metropolis will commence in the weeks to come, but it was still fun to travel all around running errands and checking out new places. On the top of our explorative list is a menu of restaurants worth finding, I am sure. Nick and I try to have a “date” night each week. Sometimes life has a way of sucking us in to adult responsibility and forces us to lose touch with the simple things in life. So at least once a week, usually on the weekend, we like to go out and sit in a nice restaurant. It really is fun. We sit around for hours talking about food and our blog, politics, international chaos, work and our future. Being able to talk to somebody on so many levels is refreshing and exciting; we aim never to lose that connection, so date night each week helps us strengthen that bond.

One of our many topics of conversation this weekend had to do with the path of my blog, particularly in the weeks to come. Several weeks ago I asked all of my foodie favs what they may like to see appear on my blog in the months to come. I was encouraged by the suggestions I received and am in the process of incorporating each of those suggestions in some way. Today it all begins.

I have a mini-series tab that highlights a particular type of diet or food that I experiment with for a week or so and some of my new paths will expand on that idea; however, the mini-series may be more like a reoccurring weekly series. Are you ready to know what I have for you today? Today begins Meatless Monday’s! A few of you expessed interest in something like this and Nick’s sister was kind enough to inspire the name. I hope this series does not disappoint! To begin Meatless Monday’s I have for you today… Cheesy Broccoli Frittata!

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 ½ cups red potato, cubed [1 BIG red potato]
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 1 ½ cup broccoli florets, chopped & steamed
  • 1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 4 to 5 eggs
  • 1 to 1 ¼ cup skim milk
  • Garlic powder OR 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • In an oven safe skillet over medium – high heat, sauté the potato and onion for about 12 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring frequently. If you are using garlic cloves, add those about 5 minutes into the process. If not, just sprinkle some garlic powder over the onion and potatoes immediately.

  • In the meantime, combine the milk, eggs, salt, paprika and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl and whisk together until light and frothy

  • Add the broccoli to the skillet and top with the cheese, making sure to spread it evenly

  • Pour the egg mixture into the skillet over the potato mixture
  • Shake the pan so that all of the ingredients are equally distributed

  • Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the bottom starts to set up while the top is still a bit unsettled
  • Move skillet to oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until the frittata has set up
  • Insert a toothpick into the center to verify its doneness

I had never made a frittata before, but this was probably the easiest dish to make! I was a bit skeptical and a little worried because I had no real idea what I was getting myself into, but I am so glad that I gave it a try! You should too!!

Tune in next week for another Meatless Monday recipe!

Until Next Time,

Happy Frittata - ing' 

Gluten - Free Products

Good Morning Everybody! This Tuesday morning I do not have any fabulous recipe for you.  In fact, I cannot guarantee that I will have one later today either! Fear not, I will be back soon with a special dish in honor of a special person. For now, I am going to share some of the gluten free items I found in the last 10 days that really saved me and inspired me. Like I mentioned in my previous posts, I was worried that I would not be able to find gluten free products as easily as I would some place else. Yes, Yes, I'm sure I sound like a broken record to some of you, but we do live in the middle of nowhere right now. 

I have a bunch of things to bring to you, so let's get started!!

Last week I made three gluten free smoothies that were thick enough to be a meal substitute. Nick and I got to talking and he suggested putting some Whey Protein in the smoothies so that it would give you more of what you need in a meal substitute. I found this great gluten free Whey Protein. If you notice, this particular container is flavored [Vanilla Almond]. So, fear not people who follow a GF diet, you, too, have flavorful options!!

The next products I found were equally as fun and amazing. Take a look at this GF chocolate cake mix. It was great to see these products in our little local grocery store. It is no Wegman's, let me tell you! You can understand my fear, but I was amazed at how many options I had. In fact, if you take a minute to talk to the people who work in the store, they will tell you what the store is doing to improve on their options, believe me - I asked!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, pasta and GF substitutes for cooking foods. The store had a whole section of gluten free, rice pasta noodles and pasta and cheese. I used the gluten free, rice lasagna noodles for our lasagna night on Sunday and there was no discernible difference to regular noodles!

I've noticed that a lot of GF recipes include ingredients for Potato Starch and Xanthan Gum, particular with doughs and breads. I will be using these two, very important, ingredients in the weeks to come so keep checking back! There are a ton of other ingredients like this in my little store, all of which are important gems in the GF world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now let's get onto some important little things - the snacks! Oh yes, snacks! Are there good GF snacks? Do they compare to non-GF snacks? Well, there are a ton of snacks out there! I could not possible blog about them all, but I am including a few below. Check them out, buy them up and eat them all! Fear not, no gluten is involved!!!

 

 

The one thing I have not included is the Blue Diamond Nut Crackers. I fully intend to cook with my in the coming weeks, but they are 100% gluten free! Blue Diamond also has Baked Nut Chips that are not GF, but contain PPM levels that do not exceed 20. So if you have a slight gluten intolerance, the Nut Chips may be a good fit for you. It really is a judgment call. You can check them out and decide for yourself. The great part about these little guys is the variety of flavors Blue Diamonds manufacturers, so you do not have to worry about being locked into one flavor! 

In my angst for trying to find gluten free products, I talked to somebody who worked for the grocery store. He was very helpful and seemed to know some things about Celiac Disease [CD). Unfortuntely, I did not ask him if he suffered from CD. However, he did tell me he noticed the more media coverage of the disease and noted that the store was doing more to infiltrate more GF items in the store. That made me very happy! He showed me to my most prized isle, and subsequently, my most visited isle the last two weeks. He was great and I was thankful for running into him. 

The other thing to keep your eyes peeled on in the store is the little tags under the GF items. If my little military - town store there were TONS of little tags indicating that it was a GF product! Woohoo!!! I was very excited!

I hope you all enjoy these things! If you have taste tested any of these guys [or others], drop a comment and tell all of us how you like them or what products you do prefer!! We'd all love to hear from you!!


See you back here later.

Until Next Time,

Happy Gluten-Free Shopping!

Gluten Free Chicken Lasagna

Good Monday Morning all of you great people! I hope this blog post finds you having had a wonderful and relaxing weekend! I know some of you dread Monday's, but I have to report that I do not associate Monday’s with dreadfulness and anxiety anymore. Much of my life I would forget to have fun on Sunday’s because I hated the ever present Monday morning just around the corner. Most Sunday’s I would try to simmer my anxiety about the week ahead, all of the work I was still frantically trying to get done and all of the work I was facing in the days to come. However, the last six months have been completely different. Each Sunday I am full of life and without fear. Thinking about it, there is really no reason to dread Monday. Monday begins a new chapter in your life, a new week to conquer your goals and happily live your dream!

I celebrated the day before Monday last evening! I knew that my handsome boyfriend was going to have a very long day today and I wanted him to have an incredible dinner last night. Therefore, I got in the kitchen and started dabbling in my gluten-free products. What I created was more amazing and flavorful than even Nick and I could imagine! Last night I made Gluten – Free Lasagna.

Let’s get down to your shopping list. It should include:

Recipe Adapted from Gluten - Free Goddess 

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced thin
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and sliced thin

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • ¼ cup plus 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon basil
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • ½ cup gluten free chicken broth, divided
  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 box rice lasagna noodles

  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) block cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (4 ounce) container feta cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Lightly grease the bottom of a lasagna style baking dish
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the peppers, spinach, garlic and onions. Stirl for a minute or two
  • Lower the heat and add 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and herbs and then season with salt and pepper
  • Stir and cook for 5 minutes then add ½ cup of the broth
  • Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced and the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes

  • When the vegetables are cooked, stir in the cooked pieces of chicken, stir for a few minutes and then set aside

  • In the meantime, combine the cheeses [only use 5 ounces of the shredded cheddar cheese] with one beaten egg
  • If you are using canned tomato sauce – pour it into a medium sized bowl; add the ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar and the remaining ¼ cup gluten free chicken broth to thin the sauce down. Then whisk it together
  • If the mixture still seems thick, add a little more chicken broth
  • Spoon ½ cup of the sauce to the bottom of the baking dish
  • Arrange one-third of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of the dish
  • Cover evenly with the vegetable and chicken mixture, pressing down with a spatula to make a compact layer
  • Spoon ¼ cup of the sauce over that layer
  • Top with another one third more of the lasagna noodles and press down again
  • Spread the cheese mixture in an even layer. Add some more sauce and add the remaining lasagna noodles and press firmly
  • Cover with the remaining sauce, allowing the sauce to seep in and around the sides of the dish
  • Top with large chunks of feta cheese, scattering it all over the top
  • Cover the lasagna loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until the lasagna is hot and bubbling and the noodles are fork-tender
  • Top individual slices with a dollop of the cheddar cheese remaining

*Just a side note, if the noodles are uncooked the dish will take less time to cook. However, my noodles were pre-cooked and it took more than an hour. If you are like me and only have the precooked noodles, after about 50 or 60 minutes, remove the foil and allow an additional 30 minutes of cook time without the foil. This will allow the lasagna to cook a little faster and will make it nice and bubbly.

This was an amazing dinner. I have to say, Lasagna is not my favorite Italian dish. In fact, usually it is the cheese that gets to me. I know, the girl who could eat cheese at all three meals and as a snack does not like the traditional cheese in Lasagna. The cheese mixture we used was AMAZING! I wanted to lick it out of the pan! What provided even more flavor was the chicken and vegetable mix. I cannot recall ever having a Lasagna dish like this one.

The best part about this dish, aside from the flavor, is it is gluten free! WOOHOO!!! I was slightly worried about the noodles because they have a different kind of consistency, when they are not fully cooked. Yes, yes, shamefully I could not wait and I took a little bite of an undercooked noodle and was full of what became unwarranted fear. When the dish is fully cooked, you cannot even tell the noodles are not the regular wheat Lasagna noodles. I was very impressed, to say the least. Better yet – I got a high-five from Nick because the dish was that amazing.

I hope you all give this a try. Sadly, this is the last day in my gluten-free mini-series. However, I liked it so much that I will continue blogging about gluten free dishes, just not every day! Keep checking back for exciting new gluten free dishes in the near future!!!

Until Next Time,

Happy Monday

The Very Berriest, Gluten Free, Smoothie

This morning I made my third, and final installment for this week, fruit smoothie. This is the fruitiest smoothie I've made this week. In fact, not only is it the fruitiest smoothie, it is a hearty smoothie too. Nick and I had this for breakfast and we were both pretty full. Adding some Whey protein, could make it an even better meal substitute. 

I used all fresh produce for this smoothie and it came out amazing; however, like the other smoothies this week, substituting frozen fruit will work just as well. Are you ready to see what I have in store for you? Well, for breakfast, we had the Berriest Fruit Smoothie ever! 

Here is what you shopping list should include:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh strawberries, stems removed
  • 6 ounces blackberries
  • 6 ounces blueberries

  • 2 cups of yogurt - I used blueberry and strawberry
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

*If you do not want to use the yogurt, just substitute the cups of yogurt with a cup of milk

Directions: 

  • Add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend away for 30 to 45 seconds [increasing the time for frozen produce - stop when all of the fruit is blending smoothly]
  • Garnish with a strawberry 

Like I mentioned, this is packed full of berry flavor and is such a healthy and hearty breakfast substitute. Right before I made this smoothie we were talking about bacon, ham, eggs, cheese and sausage. Can we say calorie buster? We have a walk planned for later this morning and afternoon, so I thought why ruin a potentially healthy day with a breakfast that would sure weigh us down, make us tired and de-motivate us for our planned walks. 

The best part about this smoothie, like the others, is it is gluten free! The only cautionary tip I would throw your way regards the yogurt. I remember reading something that said beware of the ingredients in some yogurt, so I did my research to ensure that the yogurt I used was in fact gluten free. You should do the same. 

I hope you all have enjoyed your weekend and keep checking back the next couple of days as I bring my gluten-free mini series to an end. But fear not, gluten-free recipes will continue to pop up every month [and, hopefully every week!].

Until Next Time,

Happy Berry Smoothie Makin'!

Slow Cooker, Gluten Free, Spicy Sausage Stew

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like eating soup. I never gave a thought to whether it was difficult to maintain a gluten free diet with soupy additions. Earlier this week I made West African Chicken Soup, which had a lot of flavor. Chantelle, Nick’s beautiful little sister, mentioned that she and her boyfriend would love to eat more soups. I was first introduced to the idea of gluten intolerance because of Chantelle and Keith, her boyfriend. His diet is free from gluten and I have been curiously wandering the internet finding out more about Celiac Disease and gluten intolerances since then.

As a result of their request, I made a stew last night – a heartier soup. This meal was packed full of spicy flavor and will pair nicely with a wretched winter [though I love snowy, stormy winters!] or on a cool evening any time during the year.

Are you ready to know what I have in store for you?? Are you sure? Okay, well here it is – Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage Stew. That’s right, slow cooker. I chopped and sliced everything up, put it all in the slow cooker with some gluten free chicken broth and put it on high for about 6 or 7 hours.

Here is what your shopping list needs to look like:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, small chop
  • ½ head of cabbage, shredded

  • 5 medium red potatoes, washed and diced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans diced or crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 5 cups gluten free chicken broth
  • 8 spicy gluten free sausage links, cooked and sliced

Directions:

  • Add oil [2 tablespoons or enough to coat the bottom of the crock]into the bottom of the crock pot and turn it on high
  • When the oil is warm, add the chopped garlic
  • In a medium skillet, heat some oil and sauté the onions until translucent and soft, add to the crock pot
  • Add the carrots, cabbage and potatoes
  • Season with salt and lots of pepper
  • Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, sage, basil, parsley and red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Add the sausage
  • Pour in enough broth to cover the ingredients

  • Cover and cook on high for about 6 hours, until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender and the cabbage is soft
  • Adjust seasoning before serving. We all know I like my pepper and spice, so I added some extra pepper, but not any additional spice this time!

This meal was hearty and filling. Oh, and it was full of amazing flavor. We absolutely loved it, especially because the last couple of nights have been chilly. It was perfect to eat on a cool evening. The ingredients yield a lot of stew! I mean, A LOT! If you do not want 8 servings of stew [or 6 depending on how much you eat], just scale everything back the same amount. I think it is fine the way it is, but then again with something this good is well worth eating two days in a row!

The best thing about this meal is it is gluten free. Yes, free from gluten! Beware of the sausages; I checked the sausage packages. I used Johnsonville, but be careful not to pick up the brats because they contain gluten or were brazed in beer. However they make the brats, gluten is involved! There are plenty of options, so do not feel discouraged! In fact, next time I am going to make a sweeter version of this dish and use the sweet sausages! I’m so looking forward to that!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and enjoy this stew!

Until Next Time,

Happy Slow Cookin’ 

Cran-Raspberry Smoothie

Good Morning Everybody! I am writing with little to contribute on the gluten-free homefront... at least for now! I have a little something up my sleeves for later today, but right now I present to you another fruity smoothie. I know, I know, how many smoothies can one person blog about in a week. Currently we are at two, but watch out because soon we will ping to three! Yes, there is another one on the line for later this week. 

I like smoothies, especially because my mom bought us the fantastic Ninja. Oh, what is the Ninja you ask? It just happens to be the best darn blender in the world. I will never go back - please Ninja, never go out of business!

I ask... no, I beg you to stay tuned because I promise I have actual gluten-free meals planned! I have two fabulous dinners and at least one gluten-free breakfast! My gluten-free week may extend past the seven day mark for a couple of reasons. First, Nick and I have to make another 70 mile journey North tonight, which means no extravagant meal tonight. Boo-hoo. Second, I committed to something. Once I commit, I do not stop until I finish my goal. Since, I committed to bringing you all a gluten-free week, you will get a gluten free week. But, it may be a slightly unconventional week. And, finally, I am really getting into the idea of gluten free meals. I like it, I like the thrill of something new and I am excited to incorporate and blog about more gluten-free meals in the future. Yes, you heard it first - I will continue to bring you gluten-free recipes on a regular basis! 

Okay, okay, okay so where is the recipe? Here it is: a CranRazz Smoothie! OOoooo, yeah! 

Here is what your shopping list needs to look like:

  • 1 cup raspberries [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream/frozen yogurt - make sure to read the labels. There are tons of ice cream brands that are gluten free, including some Breyers flavors, Dreyers and Ben & Jerry's. Now, none of these brands will say with an absolute that their flavors are free of gluten. BJ, for example, attritubed their hesitancy to the ever-changing ingredients in their products. I like that, but was also slightly frustrated. 
  • 1 1/2 cups cran raspberry juice

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients into the blender and pulse for about 30 seconds [for fresh fruit] and 45 to 60 seconds [for frozen fruit] until smooth and creamy
  • Serve and garnish with a fresh raspberry [or blackberry, in my case because I LOVE blackberries!]

 

I love this drink and so did Nick. The interesting thing about the ingredients is the dichotomy between what is and what is not gluten free. Like I mentioned above no brand is really giving us a 100% go-ahead that their ice cream is gluten free. However, what I find even more interesting is that McDonald's has stated that all of their ice cream is gluten free. Hello? Thanks, McDonald's! I have a hard time believing that - buyer beware! Also, a lot of the flavors at Dairy Queen are admittedly gluten free. Again, buyer beware! I suggest doing some research before going out there and buying a blizzard. 

What I have noticed is that much of those products that are all - natural tend to be gluten free... unless we are talking about pure wheat. Just as an FYI, don't eat that! I am thinking about the cran-raspberry juice I used. I figured cranberry juice would be fine, but was slightly concerned about the other variations. I used Ocean Spray and their website confirms the Ocean Spray beverages are all gluten free. That's great for me... I love me some cran-raspberry and cran-peach juice!

Check back later for more cool stuff I intend to bring to all of you! Also, make sure to check back later this week for actual AWESOME gluten-free meals... not just these fun drinks! 

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating! 

West African Chicken Soup and Thai Broccoli Salad

Last night I made Gluten – Free soup and salad. It is funny because both dishes have origins in different parts of the world, but surprisingly both dishes came together nicely to form a wonderful dinner. Gluten Free meals are not terribly difficult to make, so I am learning. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with my local grocery store yesterday when I noticed that it had more of a gluten free selection than I originally imagined. I will blog about that tomorrow in more detail.

Tonight Nick and I have to drive 70 miles North to take the car to get a routine checkup at the dealership… yep, you heard it right – 70 miles! I will likely not be making a dinner tonight, but I anticipated the journey and plan to bring you news on some exciting products I found! Our lives are kind of crazy right now, because as I mentioned we live in the middle of nowhere. While many people may have a terrible problem with living life in a military town, I actually love it. It is fun and I like the semi-seclusion of life right now.

Let’s get down to business.  First, I will tell you about Thai Broccoli Salad.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup Sweet Red Chili Sauce  - I used the Thai Kitchen brand, which is gluten free.
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup shredded carrot

 

Directions:

 

  • Bring water to a boil in a saucepan
  • Add broccoli, cook 3 to 4 minutes
  • Rinse under cold water; drain well
  • Mix chili sauce, lime juice and salt in large bowl with whisk until well blended
  • Add broccoli and carrots; toss to coat well. Cover
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve!

 

Now let’s get going on the other dish. Yes, the OTHER dish  - the soup. I was slightly concerned about how this soup was going to turn out because it has a lot going on in it, but I will tell you the West Africans know how to do it right. I spent some time in West Africa and back then I was kind of a food snob so I did not enjoy much of anything. The only thing I enjoyed was to spite somebody who was bugging me about my undercooked chicken. While I do not suggest anybody EVER eat undercooked meat, my red chicken was one of the best meals I ate when I was in Africa.

 

Here is what you will need to make this wonderful West African Chicken Soup  - well at least my version of it!

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized chicken breasts, cubed
  • Black pepper – I am in love with pepper, so I used a lot. Scale your measurements to your liking
  • Salt – I only used one turn for each side of the chicken
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk -  I used Thai Kitchen because it is gluten free
  • 4 cups low – sodium, gluten free chicken stock
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 3 to 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and large dice

 

 

Directions:

  • In a large pot, season the chicken with salt and [generously] with pepper and cook until no longer pink the middle; set aside to cool [cube chicken after it has cooled]
  • Add the onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until they are translucent, stirring occasionally
  • Add ½ the garlic and cayenne and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, tomatoes and peanut butter
  • Bring to a boil and reduce liquid by 1/3 – about 6 minutes
  • Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and add the potatoes, chicken and remaining garlic
  • Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through
  • Season, to taste, with [salt and] pepper. I did not add any additional salt,  just pepper
  • Serve hot and with the salad!  

 

I hope you all give one or both of these dishes a try! The soup made the entire house smell absolutely wonderful! In fact, coming back into the house this morning the aroma of last nights dinner still loomed and it made me happy - that is how good this soup made it smell in here! I kind of regret giving the rest of the soup to Nick for lunch today, but he will definitely enjoy it and all of his work friends will be jealous! 

I hope you all enjoy this Gluten - Free meal as much as Nick and I did! Check back tomorrow for my awesome finds and a cameo from another sweet drink!

Until Next Time,

Happy Gluten-Free Diet!

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I have wanted to focus on a particular type of diet for a few weeks now and I am finally going to do a mini-series about it this week. All week I will be blogging about a Gluten – Free diet. Many people who suffer from Celiac Disease are not able to eat any foods that contain gluten. For those of you who do not know what gluten is: it is a protein that is contained in wheat, rye and barley that people who have Celiac disease and gluten intolerance cannot break down - to be very simplistic. If  you want to know more, please visit the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website, which is a subset of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

I do not suffer from Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance; however, Nick’s sister is dating an amazing guy who does suffer from gluten intolerance. When I first learned of it, I was intrigued and asked a few questions but in the last couple of years it seems like people all over the media are now talking about Gluten – Free Diets.

I got to thinking about the difficulty in being gluten – free; many people write and talk about how easy it is once you become aware of the ingredients in food. I was slightly worried that I would not be able to successfully put together a gluten-free menu. Not because I thought it was too difficult, but because I live in the middle-of-nowhere surrounded by thirty-thousand military personnel. The PX is not going to cut it. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that our local grocery store had an entire section of foods dedicated to gluten – free diets. My life became instantly easier.

To begin my gluten-free mini-series I started off very easy with the almighty Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Most fresh and frozen fruits are gluten free – as long as the fruit has not been processed in something weird, you should be okay. I tend to stick with fresh fruit or freshly frozen fruit. If you do not, make sure to check the labels.

So let’s get down to business – here are the SIMPLE ingredients:

  • 3 cups frozen strawberries
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1 cup milk [plus a little extra if you want the smoothie thinner]
  • 2 tablespoons sugar *

Directions:

  • Place all of the ingredients in your blender and blend away for about a minute
  • You want the drink to sound smooth – so when you no longer hear pieces of frozen strawberry, stop and serve it up!

*If you are in the midst of winter or heading into spring when it is impossible to find GOOD fresh fruit and you have to use frozen strawberries you may want to add an additional 2 teaspoons to the mix. If you have a sweet tooth, add a little more. However, if you have access to great fresh strawberries use them and stick with the recipe above. Fresh fruit typically is sweeter than frozen fruit!

 

This smoothie had great flavor. Nick kept insisting it could be a great meal replacement because of how hearty it was. At first I thought he was crazy, but he actually was on to something. I was stuffed after I drank this. If you wanted to add a little Whey Protein to the mix, it would probably serve as  pretty good meal replacement. Because whey is milk based [in its pure form] adding it to the mix will maintain the gluten-free recipe! Do what you will, but just make sure to try this!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Smoothie Making! 

Minty, Green St. Patrick's Milkshake

Welcome to the last day in the St. Patrick's Day mini-series. Yes, I PROMISE today is the last day in this special green week saga. So, you are probably asking yourself what does she have for us today? Well, today I present you with... dum, dum, dum... a green, minty St. Patrick's Day Shake. Oh yes, marvel in it, embrace it and run to your kitchen right now and mix this baby up! It is the perfect end-of-St. Patrick's - Day week treat. It is a copycat version of the famous - or infamous - McDonald's Shamrock Shake. I have never been a huge fan of this shake phenomena, but Nick loves these drinks. I thought it would be a great way to end the week and I knew Nick would REALLY enjoy it. But then again, he has loved everything I made this week.

 

 

So lets get down to the VERY simple ingredients to this shake:

  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • 4 drops green food coloring

 

Directions:

  • Combine all of the ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed for a few seconds [until the shake is at your desired thickness]
  • Pour into a cup and drink away!!

 

This is probably one of the easiest recipes to make and the ingredients are probably all in your pantry. Go make this shake right now. For those people who miss their green McDonald's shakes during the other 11 months of the year, this recipe will sure quench your craving! I hope you all enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Creating!