Sunday, August 31, 2014

Antipasto Skewers #SundaySupper

Our Sunday Supper team has you covered when it comes to Platter Food.  When I think of platter food I think party, food, family and friends.

A celebration.

A gathering.

Time together.

Whether your next gathering is small or large, in home or away, fancy or casual; our list of platter food dishes will give you a ton of great ideas, suggestions and mouth watering recipes to make it easy for finding the perfect platter and party food.

A few weeks ago we were invited to a birthday party for our neighbor's little girl.  She had a swimming party at her grandparent's home and wanted CRABS.  Not just any crabs but Maryland Blue Crabs.  We were treated with a bushel of fresh steamed crabs.  In Maryland, this is the PERFECT platter food.   

Along with the crabs we were served an assortment of finger foods and beautiful platter dishes.  I didn't want to come empty handed and brought these Antipasto Skewers.   Antipasto means "before the meal", an appetizer.  We were treated to deviled eggs and a 7 layer Mexican Dip.

For my skewers I chose to include some of our favorite antipasto items.  I love the cipollini onions that are marinated in a sweet and tangy marinade, the mushrooms that are tart and spicy with italian dressing and my all time favorite, artichoke hearts. I planned on 20 skewers so I bought enough of each of these three items to add 6 or 7 to one-third of the skewers.  This gave some variety to the skewers so they were not all the same.  (see top picture)  To this I added some salami, mozzarella balls, tomatoes, olives and italian chicken sausage.

I served the dish with my favorite pesto sauce.

We all had a great time, our bellies were filled and wonderful memories were made.

Antipasto Skewers
Makes about 20 skewers

3 large Italian chicken Sausages, cooked and sliced into 1/4 thick pieces
1 container of small round mozzarella balls (they had about 23 in one container)
20 slices of your favorite salami
20 small cherry tomatoes
20 green olives
20 black olives
6-7 Cipollini onions (Olive Bar at Whole Foods)
6-7 marinated mushrooms  (Olive Bar at Whole Foods)
6-7 marinated artichoke hearts  (Olive Bar at Whole Foods)
Dressing or dipping sauce is optional

20 skewers--Mine were 10 inch wooded skewers, if you go larger, then you will need more ingredients

1.  Gather ingredients and skewers.  Find a large platter to add skewers to.

2.  Add ingredients to skewers in any order. Stack skewers on platter.  I alternated the rows so that they would stack evenly otherwise your tower of skewers will lean to one side.

3.  When done, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

It’s time for party food! Check out all these recipes for tantalizing trays you can make for your next celebration:

Savory Bites:
Antipasto Skewers by Simply Gourmet
Bite-Sized Meatballs by MealDiva
BLT Bites by The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch
BLT Canapes by Peaceful Cooking
BLT Crostini with Basil Mayonnaise by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
Blueberry Jam and Goat Cheese Crostini by Casa de Crews
Cajun Style Deviled Eggs by Peanut Better and Peppers
Charcuterie Board by Family Foodie
Cheese-Filled Apple Rounds by eating in instead
Coquilles St. Jacques by Nosh My Way
Crudites Tray with Copycat Hidden Valley Ranch Dip by Hot Momma’s Kitchen Chaos
Crunchy Tuna Salad Boats by A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen
Cucumber Sandwiches by Momma’s Meals
Feta Zucchini Bites by Curious Cuisiniere
Gluten Free Thai Soup Shooters by Gluten Free Crumbley
Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs by Eat, Drink and be Tracy
Heirloom Caprese Salad by Shockingly Delicious
JalapeƱo Mac ‘n Cheese Bites by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Mostarda di Frutta by Rhubarb and Honey
Pimento Cheese Stuffed Peppers by Magnolia Days
Ploughman’s Platter for a Party by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Puff Pastry Cheese Sticks by Basic N Delicious
Rye Party Puffs by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Southwestern Turkey Sliders by The Texan New Yorker
Spinach and Mushroom Pizza Bites by The Dinner-Mom
The Modern Relish Tray by An Appealing Plan
Tomato and Brie Bruschetta by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Tomato Basil Soup Shooters by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Zucchini and Summer Squash Crostini by Hip Foodie Mom

Sweet Treats:
Alice in Wonderland Sugar Cookies by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Baked Lemon Glazed Mini Donuts by Killer Bunnies
Chocolate Oreo Pocky Cupcakes, Cake, and Morello Cherry Buttercream by NinjaBaking
French Silk Shooters by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
German Chocolate Brownies by Wallflour Girl
Mini Banana Nutella Cheesecake Parfaits (#glutenfree option) by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Raspberry Fools by The Foodie Army Wife
Strawberry Shortcake Dessert Shooters by The Redhead Baker
Vegan Caramel Truffles by What Smells So Good?
White Chocolate PB & Banana Bites by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Witchy Chocolate Mousse with Culinary Fairy Dust by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, August 29, 2014

What's in my Shopping Cart? #2

What's in my Shopping Cart is a way for you to peek inside my grocery shopping experience. My first published post in this series can be found HERE.

My final bill for this shopping trip:  $242.00  I have offered a few suggestions at the end of this post of how I cut corners when grocer shopping.

You may notice that it was a bit less than my projected $300 dollars that I normally budget.  The reason is we bought only two meat items.  I mentioned in my earlier post that we don't eat a lot of meat.  The meat that I bought at the beginning of the month has lasted us into this shopping excursion.

I spent the extra money that I saved on a few bulk items from Amazon: honey, maple syrup, gluten free soy sauce and a new Immersion Blender for the kitchen.  My hand mixer died.  These things are not pictured.

If we don't eat a lot of meat then what do we eat? Let me use the picture above to help you understand where the "main dish" would come from for our dinners in the form of vegetable dishes.

Spaghetti Squash--We love squash and this is a great way to use up our tomatoes from the garden and make a fresh tomato sauce to serve over the "noodles".  In addition to this I would serve rice for the kids (starch) along with a bowl of pitted cherries.

Portobella Mushrooms--I am in love with these.  I add some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and then grill them on the outside BBQ.  Amazing flavor, hearty "main course".  I would serve the mushrooms with sauteed spinach (hidden under the mushrooms), steamed carrots and marinated olives.

Napa Cabbage--This will be made into a vegetable stir fry using rice noodles or rice.

Basil Leaves--How can basil be the main course?  We love it on everything, including salads and pasta. I use my homemade pesto as the dressing for a dinner salad.  I will use a variety of the vegetables that you see and make a large salad for our family.  I still have lettuce from our last trip (not pictured).  If I have chicken or shrimp left over in the refrigerator I will also add this to the salad.  We eat a lot of salads for dinner.

Side dishes that I will make with some of the above ingredients include: Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad, Broccoli Salad,  lots of steamed carrots, sauteed zucchini dishes, and smoothies for our breakfast meals. We have one smoothie every day, including Finnley.

Juice is an interesting purchase for us.  My son is the only one that drinks it.  No one in my family, besides him, can tolerate orange juice or most juices.  He drinks one small glass every morning.  I don't buy juice because of the high sugar content.  We would rather drink smoothies filled with more vegetables and lots of water.

My kids eat a small amount of dairy.  I try to buy raw cheddar cheese for them to use.  They still love "orange cheese". I buy a few blocks each month for them to have on sandwiches, nachos or quesadillas.   They are kids and the color thing is a big deal.  Isabella is almost broken of the, "I need orange cheese".

Lunch meat is hard for us because I can't have nitrates.  We buy lunch meat without nitrates and nitrites but it is expensive.  I have decided to start buying whole hams and turkey breast roast and making our own.  I bought a meat slicer a few months ago and this allows me to cut all of our salami's, hams and turkey.  I bought the 2 pound turkey roast you see in the picture for $20.00.  It saves me about $15.00 dollars to make it myself.  I have been paying $16.00 per pound for lunch meat.

Eggs are a huge part of our diets.  We eat them daily in a variety of ways: omelets, scrambled, fried, hard boiled, and of course, for baking purposes.  If I can buy them from my local friend or the Farmer's Market I will, but for this week I needed to buy them from the store.

Frozen fruit is purchased once a month for our smoothies.  We didn't buy meat this trip so I knew that I would be well within my budget and picked up our frozen fruit for the month.

Compared to most families we do not spend a great deal of money on packaged food.  I can't figure out yet how we would not spend anything.  I have kids and they need lunches and they are not restricted in their diets and they want easy foods.  I try to have a few things on hand that they can "snack" on. Again,  my kids are not huge snackers and I believe this is because they eat meals made from scratch using fresh, whole ingredients.

Finnley has been a challenge to feed when we are out and about for the day.  I try to make all her baby food but for outings I do buy the Ella and Plum bags of food.  They are easy and mess free. Graham crackers, gluten free pretzels and cereal are just a few of the finger "crunchy" foods that we have tried for her when she needs a snack.  We tried the cereal that you see in the picture and it didn't work out too well.  They don't dissolve easily in her mouth.  Oh well, it was worth a shot.

Our kids love pretzels and I usually buy the cases of gluten free pretzels from Amazon but on this trip I needed a few things for my big kids to take to school. I bought a few of the bags you see in the above picture.

Let me know what you think. Is this a helpful update for you? What would you like to see in these post?  I try not to get too specific with brands in the post, but if you have questions then leave them below and I can try to answer them.

A few suggestions I use when I am trying to cut corners with my food budget:

1.  Buy in bulk.  I use Amazon Prime to save on shipping and for speedy delivery.  (this is not a paid post.) I really do use them A LOT.

2.  Allow extra money in your budget to buy items when they go on sale for future use.

3.  Shop with a list.  The days I go shopping without my list I usually spend more money then I had planned.

4.  Shop the perimeter of the store. I know you hear this frequently but it's true.  Everything in the center is packaged, canned or bagged.  We try to avoid the center aisles as much as possible.

5.  Eat more vegetable driven dishes.  Meat is expensive, especially organic grass-fed meat.  By eating less meat we have reduced our monthly food expense by about $200 dollars.

Written by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Honey Sesame Chicken #sponsored

Our summer is coming to an end and with that thought, I am already thinking about fall, back to school and our busy schedules. It is true that I homeschool  our kids and our time is a bit more flexible but I find that with more open time also brings more scheduled activities.  Isabella wants to be on the go every single day.  I am already tired thinking about September and October.

What brings me comfort during this busy time is knowing that I can prepare some healthy meals at home that feed my family and keep us out of the lines for fast food.  Chinese Food is something that I have not been able to enjoy for a few years because of the ingredients that are used. I have an intolerance for soy, msg and wheat products (noodles) and most pre-packaged foods (sauces and dressings).  I have missed the sweet and spicy flavors of some of my favorite dishes.  

To bring some of the "fast food" in to our home so that my family feels that they are not being deprived of the "finer things" I have been experimenting with a variety of dishes.  Honey Sesame Chicken is one such dish that was easy for me to convert because I could easily replace the sauce ingredients with a few gluten free/paleo cupboard items that I keep on hand.  The recipe I decided to use called for chicken breast.

I am in the habit of buying chicken thighs.   For this recipe I decided to follow the suggestions for white chicken meat and purchased Tyson® Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast.  I found that each piece of breast meat is hand-trimmed for convenience to save time and effort in my meal preparation.  It is nice when I am in a hurry to have the meat ready to cut and use in my recipe.

Tyson Fresh Chicken is a brand that I use in place of my locally sourced meat when I am unable to get to my farmer to restock my refrigerator or freezer. They are a company made up of real people who have been in the business for 75 years.  Their products are all natural* with no added hormones or steroids**.   Did you know that they provide the chicks and feed to local farmers throughout the country?  In fact, more than 4000 farmers throughout the US help Tyson Foods provide chickens to our local market places by using their own farms to raise them in. 

As an added bonus, Tyson Foods also carries a line of gluten free pre-made items to be used when your family is on the go.  This recipe when made with arrowroot starch and coconut aminos is Paleo; when made with cornstarch and gluten free soy sauce it is gluten free.

My Honey Sesame Chicken recipe turned out delicious and my family asked for seconds.  I can't wait to make this again and next time trying the Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs in place of the white meat.

Honey Sesame Chicken 
Makes enough for 4

1 1/2 pounds Tyson Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup arrowroot starch or corn starch
3 tablespoon honey
1/4  teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
3 tablespoons coconut oil, for frying

Honey Sesame Sauce:
We like extra sauce, so I double this recipe for my family.

2 tablespoons soy sauce, gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch or corn starch
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
2 green onions, sliced thin (garnish)

1.  Combine the first 8 ingredients for the Honey Sesame Sauce in a small bowl.  Whisk to blend.
Set aside until all of the chicken is cooked through.

2.  Combine the chicken pieces, arrowroot starch, honey, salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Stir to coat each chicken piece.

3.  Heat oil in a skillet, add chicken pieces and cook until each side is golden brown. (See picture below.) Transfer chicken pieces to a wire rack until all chicken is prepared.

4.  When chicken is done cooking, transfer sauce to a small sauce pan. Heat sauce until it begins to boil, stirring often. Remove from heat when the sauce begins to thicken.  

5.  Add the chicken to a medium bowl and add sauce.  Fold chicken and sauce to coat each piece.  Add sesame seeds and green onions for a garnish.

6.  Serve with rice.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Note: Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 170 degrees for boneless products and 180 degrees for bone in chicken products.

Written by Sherron Watson


Please share in the comments below your favorite "back to school" chicken dish.  I am always on the lookout for new recipes to feed my hungry family. Plus if you leave a comment you will be entered to win a gift basket full of kitchen gadgets!

For more delicious recipes visit

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
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Be sure to visit the Tyson Fresh Chicken brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients. 
**Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones or steroids in chicken.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pineapple and Turkey Curry #glutenfree

Ground turkey has become our new best friend.  I have switched to using more ground turkey and less ground beef.  I do this when I don't have access to grass-fed beef in my freezer or it is not on sale at the grocery store.  It is more cost effective on my budget and a good healthy choice for my family.

Our family would eat curry daily.   We do enjoy all types of curry.  My husband makes a great japanese style curry.  I lean more toward the Indian curry combinations.  I buy a good quality yellow curry powder for basic recipes like this one.   At H Mart (they sell Indian Food too) we are able to find a good selection of curry powders and paste in our area.  I wish I could find an Indian grocery store because I would love to add a few more ingredients to my cupboards with an Indian flair. H Mart only has a small aisle.

This particular dish of Pineapple and Turkey Curry reminds me of a dish I had in Hawaii when we were on vacation a few years ago.  We visited the pineapple farm on the island of Oahu.  Fresh pineapple from the islands was something I ate every day.  We found curry to be a popular dish is some of the local eateries around the islands.

I have added a few ingredients that we like in our curry's to make it our own.  Our garden is producing a lot of zucchini and this is a dish that features it well.  The green and yellow together just feel like summer.  This dish is gluten free.  To make it paleo don't add the peanuts, peanut butter or serve it over rice.  You could substitute the rice for cauliflower rice. You could use almond butter in place of the peanut butter.  A vegetarian conversion would be to eliminate the ground turkey and use a firm tofu instead.  Just dice the tofu into small pieces.  I use tofu often in our curry dishes for our vegetarian friends. 

Summer is almost over in our part of the states.  The Farmer's Almanac is forecasting a white and wet winter for the East.  BOO HOO!

This is a great dish to add to your family's dinner to remind you of summer and the warmth that the sunshine brings.


Pineapple and Turkey Curry
Makes 4 servings

1 pound of ground turkey
1/4 cup green onion, diced
1/2 cup zucchini, sliced and quartered
1/4 thinly sliced carrots
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2-3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 (13.5 oz) cans of coconut milk, full fat
1-2 teaspoons of honey, for sweetness (omit if using sweetened peanut butter)
1/2 (+/-) cup unsweetened peanut butter
1 cup diced pineapple (fresh or canned)
cilantro, optional garnish
whole peanuts, optional garnish

1.  In a large skillet melt coconut oil.  Add diced vegetables and cook for 4 minutes.  Add ground turkey and cook until meat is not pink.

2.  Add spices, curry powder, peanut butter and coconut milk.  Stir well and simmer for 12 minutes.

3.  Add fresh pineapple and serve immediately with rice.

NOTE:  This is a dish that you can adjust to your family's preferences.  Taste and cook as you go. My family likes our curry to be strong so I use the 3 tablespoons we also like the peanut butter so I might add more than the 1/2 cup.  Same with the honey, if you like it sweeter add a bit more.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

I go through a lot of pickles in our home. Every one of my kids enjoy sweet or dill pickles in our tuna fish, on hamburgers and on a good ham sandwich.  

I get tired of buying food that I can easily make at home and save a few hard earned dollars.  Pickles are not hard to make and they can be customized to how you and your family like them.  This recipe is a salty brine.  It has a good dill punch.  The juice is strong.  I make it with coconut palm sugar and this is why the brine is a brownish color.   I use coconut palm sugar in most of my recipes because it has a lower glycemic index than white table sugar.  If you would like to learn more about coconut sugar here is a LINK to some information.

I remember my grandmother always adding fresh pickles to her pickle jar. I was just a kid and never thought much about it until I made my own.  It worked.  I made a batch of the brine, added my pickles and let them get "dillified" and the kids started eating them down fast.  I bought about 3 more fat pickles, quartered them and added them to the brine.  The kids could tell the difference between the recently added pickle spears and the older ones.  It was easy.  I did this a few times and the brine held true each time.  The dill got a little sleepy and droopy but the flavor stayed the same.

This is a refrigerator recipe which means that this is not a processed pickle recipe.  It is not shelf stable. These pickles need to be refrigerated and will remain crisp. If processed with a hot water bath, then the pickles may become a bit softer.

I made two jars from this recipe.  I had a quart jar for the spears and I had a small pint jar for some slices.  This is just a personal juice and you can slice and dice your pickles however you wish: spears or slices.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles 

4 medium pickling cucumbers, cut into quarters

1 1/2 cups of white vinegar
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar or table sugar
2 cups of water
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon pickling spice
1 Tablespoon dill seed
3 cloves of garlic, left whole

1 cup of ice cubes
Handful of fresh dill

1.  Prepare cucumbers by slicing or cutting them into quarters.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan add white vinegar, salt, and water.  Bring to a boil and add pickling spice and dill seeds.  Remove from heat and add 1 cup of ice cubes.

3.  In quart jar add fresh dill, garlic pieces and pickles.  It will be crowded.  Once the ice cubes have melted and the brine is cool add the brine to the pickle jars.  The brine should be just covering the pickles.  They will produce some of their own water as the pickle.

4.  Store in refrigerator for 24 hours.  To be honest, we ate them after 4 hours but they are definitely better the next and the next and the next DAY.    If the brine is too salty for you, soak the pickle in water for 15 minutes and use.  We like a salty brine in our home.

5.  As mentioned above, when I get down to half a jar of pickles, I buy a few more and add them to the old brine.  It works great and saves a few pennies too.

Written by Sherron Watson

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Baked Rock Fish

I have lived in Maryland for three years and in this time I have baked, grilled and poached more whole fish than ever in my life time of cooking in the kitchen.

I love the experience that a whole fish brings to the table for my family. It touches on our senses: the smells are vibrant with the scent of the ocean, the visual beauty of a whole fish is exciting for the kids to see, the ability to touch and debone the fish at the table is once again, an exciting venture for our guest to enjoy and finally the ooohs and aaaahs that escape the mouths of friends and family are music to my home chef ears.

Rock Fish is a local fish that is caught in the Chesapeake Bay.  We eat a lot of this fish in the summer time.  I find the fish to be mild in flavor.  Not too firm to the touch.  A great fish to eat, use in fish tacos, or serve as individual steaks.

For this dish I layered the flavors to create the lemony sauce that I made from the melted butter, steamed green onion, lemon, capers and of course, any juice the Rock Fish provided during the baking time.

I have a few more whole fish recipes coming in the near future. I recently bought a whole Red Snapper and grilled that on our BBQ pit.

When I buy my whole fish I try to buy it as fresh as possible. In fact, if you know anyone that goes fishing, ask if they would sell you one, give you one or barter with you.  Living by the water we have fish markets that get fresh fish daily so this is easy for my family to find the freshest fish possible.  I usually have them remove the scales and gut the fish for me.  I will trim the gills when I get home.  I find this is the easiest for me but you are always welcome to do this task at home.

The great thing about fish is that there are an array of herbs and spices to choose from when baking or grilling your whole fish.  Each time I make a whole fish I mix and match what I have in the refrigerator.  Some herbs that I have used are dill, thyme, mint and flat parsley.  I like to use citrus. Sometimes its lemons, limes or grapefruit.  I like capers a lot and of course butter or ghee always make an appearance.

This is an easy recipe and the fish and sauce have rich flavors and make a lovely dinner.

Baked Rock Fish

1-2 pound rock fish
6 whole green onions
handful of fresh dill
2 lemons, juice from one and slices from the other
2 tablespoons capers
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cream or coconut cream (from top of coconut milk can)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a baking dish (oval or rectangular-large enough to hold fish) lay your fish across dish.  My head and tail hung over abut 2 inches on each side and did not cause me any problems while baking.

3. Use a sharp knife and cut 4 slashes across fish. In each slash place a sliced lemon. Around the fish add the dill and green onion. Squeeze half a lemon over the top of the fish. Add the salt, pepper and garlic salt. Sprinkle the capers. Add the tablespoons of butter. (see picture) Finally add the water.

4. Place in oven uncovered and bake until fish is firm to the touch, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour broth into a small sauce pan. Reduce the liquid for 5 minutes by bringing broth to a boil and simmering.

5.  When sauce has reduced add cream or coconut cream to the sauce.  Stir and taste.  Make any adjustments based on your taste buds.  

6.  I gently removed the fish from the bones to a small plate, added a few more capers and lemon slices.  Poured the sauce over the fish and served with steamed vegetables and rice.  The sauce can always be served on the side.

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole #glutenfree

This is a dish that my kids request I make on multiple occasions.  I don't cook casseroles very often anymore because of the requirement of dairy and cheese.  BUT--my kids don't have any diet restrictions and so I don't mind making this once in a blue moon; or as they say in this day and age, a Super Moon.  

I make this gluten free with several changes to the original recipe.  I don't buy any canned cream soups. I make the "cream soup" as I go in the recipe.  It takes but a few minutes to whip it together and you have a "made from scratch" version without all of the extra preservatives.  This is one way that I can make our casseroles gluten free.  Some people are surprised that these soups have wheat listed as an ingredient.  This is why I suggest, if you are new to the gluten free style of eating, to read ALL labels. 

The cracker crumbs on top are our favorite garlic and onion gluten free crackers whizzed in the Vitamix two or three times. I also buy my sliced ham from a reliable vender that sells a gluten free product.  I buy our ham from a local farmer or Whole Foods.

I have not attempted to make this paleo for my family.  The cream soup is easy because you can use a nut milk and arrowroot.   The cheese is my kids favorite part.  If you're Lacto-Paleo or an 80/20 Paleo family then use the cheese that works best for your family.

I find a casserole version of this dish easier than the fancier breast rolled with a cheese and ham center. When I find that much time to make them again, I will, but for now I think this casserole will work, especially on busy activity nights.  In fact this could easily be made with your kids help.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

5 cups of precooked chicken, cubed (use breast, left over rotisserie or thighs)
1/2 pound of deli style ham
1/4 pound cheese: provolone or swiss
4 tablespoons grass fed butter or ghee
4 tablespoons rice flour, tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
3-¼ cups whole milk (I have not made this using nut milk or coconut milk before)
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoons white pepper
6 Tablespoons Butter
2 cups of your favorite gluten free cracker, coarsely smashed (see picture)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x13 inch baking dish. Set aside.

2.  This dish is layered in this order starting with the chicken, then the ham, then the cheese, the sauce goes on top and finally sprinkle with the cracker and butter crumbs.

3.  In a medium sauce pan melt butter.  Stir in flour or starch and stir.  Add milk.  Sauce should begin to thicken.  When thick remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and white pepper. Return to heat and continue cooking at medium heat until the cream sauce is thick.

4.  Pour cream sauce over the top of the chicken, ham and cheese.  Prepare the topping by melting the butter and adding the cracker crumbs.  Sprinkle topping over the cream sauce.

5.  Bake casserole for 40-45 minutes.  The top should be bubbly and start to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  As the sauce cools the casserole will thicken too.

6.  Serve with rice, noodles or by itself.  This makes great leftovers and can be reheated in the microwave for school or work.

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chicken Liver Pate #paleo #glutenfree

I have created a monster in introducing the girls in my family to Chicken Liver Pate. They love it. They eat it by the spoonfuls or spread thickly on sandwiches.  I am still trying to teach them to eat this is moderation.

The men?  Not so much.

My son's reaction:  "That is not even food".

Cory's reaction after the tiniest little tongue touch to the spoon: "Nope. Nasty!"

Rye and I had this to say, " AWESOME!  MORE FOR US".

I am okay with it. My feelings are not hurt because Chicken Liver Pate is not loved by my whole family or by most people for that matter.  I did encourage them to try it because homemade taste better than store bought.  Not to be snobby but I can't bring myself to eat pate that has been sitting on the shelf.  I am sure it has been properly preserved but I believe this is something that you should make from scratch and definitely eat while it is still fresh.

I have made this batch and frozen small cookie scoop sized balls for later uses.  What can you use it in besides eating it plain?  Lots of stuff.  Liver is full of micronutrients that many of us miss out on and it has been recommended to eat organ meats twice a week.  Here is a link to read more about eating organ meats.  I have learned so much from Paleo Mom and trust her comments, advice and philosophy.  I highly recommend that you do your own research and listen to your doctors and your body.  Chicken Liver Pate is a high calorie food and should not be eaten every day.

A little goes a long way is how I look at it.  I feed about a teaspoonful to Finnley twice a week.  She is almost one and eats very little meat.  This is a way that I can introduce her to a new flavor and know that she is eating something that is good for her.

I have been reading about various ways that you can use liver pate in recipes without eating it by the spoonful. This is especially good to know when dealing with a few family members that won't eat it straight "as is".  The suggestions that I am going to try are adding a small amount to hamburgers, adding some to meatloaf and soups/stews.  The flavor is masked but the benefits are still included.

I had several neighbors test and taste the pate.  I wanted to make sure that the flavor profile was right. My friend Jennifer said it was smooth and she liked the subtle undertone of the addition of the cooking wine.

I am hoping to get a few more livers (rabbit from a friend) and try some new pates in the future.

The pate is easy to make: you saute the veggies, cook the meat, add your spices, blend in a high speed blender until smooth, add your butter/ghee and cream/coconut cream, taste and re-season and you're done.

It is not hard and if you enjoy pate this is something you will want to try at least once to make in your home.  I am thinking with the holidays coming up that this is a great appetizer to share with a gluten free cracker or fresh vegetables.

Let me know what you think.

Chicken Liver Pate
Makes about 1.5 cup

1 lb. of raw chicken livers (a small white container at the store is usually 1 pound)
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon ghee (to saute)
3 tablespoons red cooking wine (this is optional)
3/4 cup ghee or grass fed butter, unsalted
3 tablespoons coconut fat (found at the top of the can in a can of coconut milk--don't shake)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon nutmeg (we like a lot)

1.  Melt 1 tablespoon of ghee in a cast iron pan.  Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in the fresh parsley.  Remove from heat and add to a high speed blender or food processor.  NOTE: I used my Vitamix and my pate is very smooth.

2.  Slice livers and saute them in the same cast iron pan that you used for the onions.  Add cooking wine and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Two ways of doing this.  Cook until the liver centers are pink OR cook until done (no pink).  You decide on how comfortable you are eating undercooked chicken livers. The first option will give you the pink color.  I cooked mine until completely done because I have kids eating it at home.

3.  Remove liver from stove and add to the high speed blender.  Add 1/2 a cup of ghee, coconut cream, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth.

4.  This is the where you get to decide how it taste.  My recipe is just a basic blend.  If you think it needs more salt--add more salt.  More wine--add more wine.  Smoother --add more cream or butter.

5.  When your pate is JUST RIGHT for you and your family it is ready to be chilled.  Find a container with a tight lid and grease the inside.  I used ghee.  Pour pate.  Add a piece of plastic film to the top if you do not want a skin to appear.  Let chill for at least 3 hours.

6.  The shelf life is short this is why I would recommend that if you don't use it in  days, freeze it.  To freeze just put into a freezer safe container, add your date and freeze.  Good for 3 months.

Written by Sherron Watson

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Owl Bento Box #SundaySupper

Sunday Supper is all about Back to School and we have you covered for meal planning and ideas.  See the list with links and recipes at the bottom of this post.

Ah, back to school is right around the corner for us.  Maryland officially begins school next week. BUT, psst.... we start when we want too. Well, kind of.  Our school year is 180 days and we make sure that we keep records and that our kids are "doing school" by the book for 180 days but it also means we get to learn what we want and visit lots of places.  Field trips are the best!

We homeschool our kids and love the freedom that this brings to our family.  We start late because we go further into the summer months.  In Maryland many of the local history locations, living farms, and towns host homeschooling functions.  We try to catch a few of these so that Isabella can get some "hands on history" to start our new year.  This year we will be heading down to Williamsburg, VA to learn about the American Revolution and then to our local Renaissance Festival to learn about this particular time in history.

This is one of the many reasons why I LOVE to homeschool.

Our lunches are a bit different because I don't have to get up early each morning and pack a lunch for my kids but that does not mean we don't have fun when lunch time comes around.  We find ourselves going to parks, camping, hiking, site seeing or enjoying our friends.  These are all reasons for us to pack fun lunches. Bento Boxes are fun lunches in my opinion.

I love Bento Boxes.  This Owl Bento Box is super easy and Isabella gets a real "HOOT" out of opening the sandwich tray.  This particular bento box is stacked.  I love the variety that is available when selecting a Bento Box. I visit our local H Mart in Catonsville.  They have a huge selection of fun inserts (I am using the reusable cupcake holders), little sayings on sticks, cute picks to decorate with and a selection of boxes to choose from.

Pinterest is filled with fun ideas and food suggestions to use in your next Bento Box.  This idea of the owl was easy and something my kids could assemble and would want to eat.  It took me all of 3-4 minutes to make it.  It took me back to when my kids loved Winnie the Pooh.  Owl was one of my favorite characters. I think because he loved to learn, loved to read and he lived in a tree house.  I want to live in a tree house someday.

Want to know how I did it?  See the instructions below and enjoy your next fun Bento Box.

Owl Bento Box
Makes one sandwich

2 slices of lunch meat--any kind
1 slice of cheese--any kind
2 slices of leafy lettuce (wings)
2 slices of bread (body)
cheese or carrots (feet and beak)
6 slices of cucumber (base of eyes)
2 small round carrot slices (eyes)
1 black olive, cut in half (eyes)
extra carrot sticks to hold up the leafy wings

1.  Prepare all of your items.  Cut the carrot sticks for the feet, the triangle for the beak, the circles for the eyes.  Slice the cucumbers and halve the black olive. Tear the lettuce and stack them to create the leafy wings and feathers of your owl.

2.  Make your sandwich using the bread, meat and cheese.  Using a large circle cookie cutter, cut the body.

3.  Assemble your owl using the picture as your guide.  Instruct you children or husbands (he he he--oh that would be funny) to add the lettuce to the sandwich when they are ready to eat their owls.

4.  Ta-Da--you're done with the owl.  Find other healthy snacks to fill the cubbies in your Bento Box. I included fresh blueberries and a trail mix that I make at  home.

Are you searching for back to school recipes? Take a look at these by Sunday Supper contributors:

Back to School Beginnings

Back to School Lunches and Simple Suppers

Back to School Sips

Back to School Super Snacks

Back to School Sweets and Treats

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. 

Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What's in my Shopping Cart?

What you see: 1 watermelon, 1 pineapple, 2 grapefruit, 8 apples, a bag of grapes and 6 peaches, 2 kiwi. 1 head of cauliflower, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 box of spinach leaves, 1 head of iceburg lettuce, 1 box of mushrooms, 3 zucchinis, bunch of radishes, 3 rutabagas, 3 sweet potatoes, 1 bunch of kale 5 pound bag of carrots, 3 yellow beets, 5 heads of romaine lettuce, 6 lemons, 1 acorn squash, 1 bunch of asparagus, 2 garlic bulbs, ginger root and 1 celery.
 (2 kombuchas to start new batches)

I thought it would be fun to share with you our families grocery shopping excursion for one day.  If you read my blog then you know that I am a huge fan of organic and grass fed foods.  I shop every 10 days for our families meals.  This doesn't mean I am not in the store more than that-- because I am.  It seems just when I think I have gotten everything on the list, I get home and discover I forgot something and a new list is started.

Keep in mind that this is what NORMALLY happens with our budget and meal planning. Life events pop up and plans change.  I have learned to be flexible and try to be prepared for when life throws us a curve ball.

Let's talk budget first.  Everyone has their own idea of what their food budget is.  I am not going to judge or tell you what that budget should be.  I can only tell you what my budget is.  I have a family of 6 and this past summer we had one extra teenager.  So all summer I have been cooking for 7 people: 3 adults, 2 teenagers, 1 kid, and one baby.   Cory and I both work from home and we rarely eat out--even when we go on day trips, we pack a lunch or snacks.

This means that I plan 21 meals over the course of 10 days ( 7 people X 3 meals a day= 21 meals) plus snacks. To be honest, my kids don't snack much. I think this is because we don't eat a lot of processed food--they eat real food.

How much do I budget?  My budget is $300.00 every 10 days and $1200.00 a month for food.  The extra money leaves me enough for last minute items, specialty items for unplanned dishes, sale items that I can buy in bulk and unaccounted extras in the kitchen.

What does it run me a meal?  Just under $15.00 per meal for 7 people over 10 days.

For our family of 6 to go out to eat here is what it cost us for each meal:

Fast Food:  $25.00 That is if we can each eat for under $5.00.

Mid-Range Restaurant:  $70.00 This is a tight number and is much more usually + tip.

Sushi:  $150.00  We do this once a month.  We love it!  I consider sushi healthy and I never get sick when I go.  This is a treat because I get a day off from the kitchen. I use my own gluten free soy sauce. They know me very well at this restaurant and this helps too.

SOOOOO--We eat in, we buy organic food, shop locally when possible and love that our meals cost about $15.00.

What you see:  Enough chicken thighs for 3 meals, 1 package of chicken breast pieces, 1 whole rock fish, tofu, 2 pounds of ground turkey for two meals, smoked salmon for snacks, 1.5 pounds of turkey meat for kids lunches, 2 containers of Organic Greek yogurt for smoothies and snacks, cottage cheese for snacks, cheese for snacks, 3 cartons of organic brown eggs, 1 pound of grass-fed butter and 1 gallon of organic milk.  The two watermelons are to help me hold things up but we did buy two for this week.

In pictures, I am showing you what we bought this past Saturday.  I have broken it up into three categories:

Fruits/Vegetables:  I usually buy, during the summer months, our vegetables from Farmer Markets and local produce stands in the area.  Not all of what I need is available and so I do have to purchase things from a grocery store.  We also buy frozen fruit for smoothies as needed.  We did not buy them on this trip.

Meat, dairy and eggs:  Our meat comes from two sources: Whole Foods or through our local farms.  I have not reordered our local meat (next month) so I bought what we need from Whole Foods for this week. My family does not drink a lot of milk and that 1 gallon will last us the full 10 days.  We use greek style yogurt and a small selection of cheese.   I have switched our family to eating more chicken, turkey and fish. We eat very little red meat and pork.

Other:  This category is for the boxed or packaged dry items.  You can see that this is the smallest bundle of ingredients.  I don't eat bread or most carbs but my kids still eat sandwiches for lunches. They like chips too.  I buy a small selection of items from Amazon Prime each month because I can get bulk pricing: oils, pasta, chips, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, gluten free pretzels, and all of my gluten free flours/starches.  This is where that extra money comes in each month that I talked about up above.

Not pictured and not purchased on this trip. This is a list of a few things that I buy when I run out: extra virgin olive oil, peanut butter, nuts, spices, coffee, tea, honey and maple syrup. I find that because I buy this stuff in bulk it will last my family a few months.

You might be surprised to see that we don't buy a lot of everyday items for making meals .  Such as canned cream soups, broths, condiments and pre-made sauces.  I make most of these items from scratch.

We don't eat many sugary sweets.  I try to make a healthy treat about every 4 days.  We don't eat meat everyday.  I make meat a part of our diet every other day (dinner meals) The kids eat meat daily with lunches and leftovers.  We eat a lot of vegetables in our smoothies, salads and then most of them are made into side dishes.

What do we snack on?  I know it would appear that we don't have any fun foods in our shopping cart. This is because I make most of these from scratch.  Our kids enjoy popcorn, nuts, cheese and salami platters with fruit, fresh fruit salads, yogurt with nuts and berries, frozen yogurt (greek yogurt and frozen berries blended together), chips and the occasional cookie.

What do we eat? Here is just a small sampling of some of the things we eat each day.

Breakfast--through the week we have smoothies.  Isabella and Finnley usually have an egg, toast or oatmeal.  On the weekends I will make gluten free pancakes, biscuits, waffles, crepes or omelettes.

Lunch--our lunches are sandwiches (kids and Cory), salads, sauteed vegetables and leftovers from the night before.  I make large dinners so that we have enough for the next day (at least 2 or 3 servings).

Dinners--what you see on my blog is what we eat for dinners and leftovers.

In preparing and planning our meals I try to stick with Paleo dishes first with the occasional gluten free item thrown into the weekly lineup.  I make a list of dishes I want to make for the 10 days and try to stick to the list.  I ask my kids each time before I go shopping if there is anything they want me to make (favorite dishes) and we collaborate together to come up with our menu for dinners.

Our kids love to shop with us. I like to have their input when planning.  I believe it is a great way for them to learn about menu planning, healthy choices, budgets, how to select fresh food and to learn about local farmers.  It gets them into the markets so they can see prices and understand how expensive food is and to not waste it by taking too much for their plates.

I hope you found this helpful.  Please leave me a comment with any questions you might have or what you would like me to share with you next time about our shopping excursion.  I would like to make this a feature on the blog if there is any interest.

Written by Sherron Watson

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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