Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pesto Mint Lamb Kabobs

This past summer we decided to eat less pork and beef.  The main reason is that we found that when we cut these two things out of our diets we felt better overall.  Pork especially had an impact for most members of our family.  I can't describe it exactly other than to say we felt blah after consuming bacon, pork chops or roast. Our kids still eat ham for sandwiches but I believe taking the dinner portions out of their diets has helped them digest the bit of pork they eat for lunch.  I have had the same reaction to beef.  I just feel better without too much of it in my diet. 

 In fact all meat makes me feel and react with a bright red nose, cheeks and chin.  I get small blisters around my face too.  I think meat may be a trigger for my GERD and Rosacea.  I have taken meat out of my diet completely for the last month and I feel great.  Honestly it has been easier than I thought because I can see and feel the difference this change has made in my life.  I will still continue to taste my recipes and, on rare occasions, eat a small amount of meat...but...it better taste dang good in order for me to put it into my body.

My family won't, nor should they, give up meat just because it triggers a bad reaction in me.  For this reason I still prepare meals for them that have lamb, chicken or turkey in some of the recipes.   We really like lamb.

I make a lot of pesto in the summer and sometimes I am down to the very tail end of the jar.  I decided to use it as a marinade with these lamb kabobs.  I know that lamb and mint go really well together.  I buy little bundles of mint but never manage to use the whole bunch.  This time I did because I added the rest to the pesto.

To bring out the flavor of the mint I also served the kabobs with mint jelly.  You can make this or buy it from most grocery stores.

Kabobs just scream summer to me.  Cooking on the grill on our back porch or at the park adds so much flavor to meat.  I love grilling.  I used metal kabobs but you can use the bamboo ones too, just soak them for 30 minutes so they don't catch on fire.


Pesto Mint Lamb Kabobs

2 pounds leg of lamb roast cut into cubes
1/2 cup pesto (homemade or store bought)
handful of mint leaves, washed and minced
olive oil to brush on grill

1.  Preheat grill or prepare coals.  I like mine hot so the kabobs take less time to cook.

2. Add the cubed lamb to a large bowl and add the pesto and minced mint leaves. If the marinade seems dry then add some olive oil.

3.  Thread the meat on the kabobs and grill.  Lamb does not need to be well done. In fact, we like ours to be pink on the inside.  The kabobs don't take long to grill.

If using metal skewers please be careful because they can get very hot on the grill.  Use a mitt to help rotate them or tongs.

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, May 8, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies #dairyfree

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies remind me of my childhood.  Why? I don't know they just do.  Maybe it's the smell of them baking in the oven or the texture of the cookie itself.  Something sends me back to my youth when I make this cookie.

The memory is there but I can't put my finger on it.  I notice the older I get those early memories are fading.  I feel their imprint on my soul but the details have been crowded out by new memories.

At any rate this cookie is delicious.  It does perform better when baked in a Whoopie Pie pan over spreading out on a cookie sheet.  I bought this oddly shallow Whoopie Pie pan at Goodwill without fully understanding what it was.  I Googled it and discovered the real purpose but I use it for a lot of different recipes.

You can see from the picture below the difference.  The thicker cookie is softer while the flatter cookie is soft in the center bus has crispy edges.  You can make them how ever you want.

Speaking of Whoopie Pies, Rye found a vending machine the other day that had them in two flavors.  Her excitement was contagious.  For her, this was one of her childhood memories.   My heart melted as she bought the pie and shared it with Isabella in the back seat on our ride home.  She carefully split the pie down the center and explained how she and Drake used to eat these when they were younger.  

Witnessing this whole exchange made my Mommy heart strings hum with love.  To see the bonds between my kids grow is a tender moment.  I am amazed when my kids share their memories with each other.  They see their lives so differently than I see it from my Mom perspective and watchful eye as a caregiver.  

Joy only starts to express the feelings it sprouts in my being.  My kids are everything to me but to see them being everything to each other is something completely breath taking in my mind.  The seeds have been planted and they are growing.  The memories are being made.

I don't remember things from my childhood as clearly as I used to but I know these cookies played a special roll.  I will have to ask my Mom to see if she might have a clue as to why this cookie stirs such emotion for me.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes 16 large cookies

1/3 cup oat flour
1 2/3 cups of uncooked oats
1 cup cashew flour (Vitamix whole cashews into flour)
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup of raisins (soak in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes)
1/3 cup maple syrup

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or spray a Whoopie Pie pan with your favorite cooking spray.

2.  Make sure to soak the raisins to hydrate them. This helps to add moisture to the cookie.

3.  Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and combine well.

4.  I use a large cookie scoop and usually get about 16 cookies.  Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes or until cooked to your desire.

NOTE:  I make my own cashew flour in my Vitamix.  If you don't have a Vitamix then you can try a food processor or a grain mill.  I would also suggest a replacement flour would be almond meal or almond flour.

Written by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cashew Basil Pesto

I first made pesto a few summers ago.  I see a lot of recipes for this sauce, dip or salad dressing.  Honestly, I am not sure what to call it because we use it for everything.  You can see in the picture above we tossed it with some pasta.  I also use it served with fresh veggies, over eggs, thinned down for a salad dressing and as a marinade for chicken or kabobs.

Basil is in my top five for fresh herbs.  I buy this herb more than any other herb all year round.  My neighbor can grow it like he is a super farmer.  Me?  Not so much.  I use the same technique and I get nothing.  Nada.  My brown thumbs may never turn green at this rate but I keep trying each year hoping for the same results.  For this reason I buy basil instead of growing it myself.

Pesto is a party in my mouth.  The freshness that is present is undeniable.  The flavors linger long after my meal is over.  Much to my delight.  I  know this version is not traditional but it is what I like. I prefer the flavor of cashews to almonds or pinenuts.  I am pretty sure that I burned my taste buds out on almond flour, almond nuts and anything that looks or feels like an almond.  Blech...I needed a break from that healthy nut.  Cashew is a great replacement in pesto.

Using fresh ingredients is the way to go but also using a good quality olive oil is key too.  I have tried plenty of icky tasting olive oils to last a life time.  I now invest in what I think is a great flavor, organic extra virgin olive oil.  It makes a difference in the dishes that you prepare.

If you want great flavor, I encourage you to use, great ingredients.  Give this pesto a try and let me know what you think.

Cashew Basil Pesto

1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups tightly packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped cashews
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons boiling water

1.  I use my Vitamix to make this.  I add the first 5 ingredients and pulse until blended.  You can also use a food processor too.

2.  I then pour the pesto into a small bowl and add the parmesan cheese and boiling water.  Mix together.  Add more water if you would like it to be thinner.

3.  Keeps in the refrigerator for 10 days.  It never last that long in our family though.

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hawaiian Meatballs

There was a time that Cory and I thought about moving to Hawaii.  We spent 6 weeks there during the summer of 2010.  I fell in love with the islands but there were a few things we were worried about and the longer we stayed the more diverse the islands became to us.   If it was just Cory and I we would have considered it but with 4 kids and the cost of living the reality of the move was not going to happen.  We still return for visits and have chosen to enjoy them as tourist instead of as home owners.

I was born on Midway Island which is not too far away....only 1500 miles...Okay so it's a bit far.  My dad was in the Navy and this is why we were stationed there. The sound of waves crashing against the shoreline sends a ripple of emotion through me.  I feel connected to the lifestyle.  My dad always reminded me of Jimmy Buffet because he had a very laid back approach to life and loved the water.  I remember being on the water at an early age wearing my life jacket and being dumped into the San Diego Bay more than I like to think about.  His catamaran was his toy and he wanted to share it with his kids.  I am not sure my Mom completely liked the idea but she went along on most escapes.

Living in Maryland and being so close to water has felt great.  I can see why the sea was a place that my Dad found his happy place.   While garage shopping last summer I found a box full of old cookbooks.  I quickly glanced through the titles and spotted a book on Hawaiian cooking.  The date on the inside cover read: 1973.  My heart pounded a bit with excitement as it often does when I find a cookbook that is not in my collection.  I thumbed through the pages and found several recipes that I knew my family would LOVE.

These Hawaiian Meatballs were located smack in the middle of the book. I soon discovered that the book was a compilation of recipes from a local newspaper. In my mind that read, "the best of the best" for that year. I took the liberty to alter the recipe a bit to accommodate my family's taste and used what I had on hand.

Oh did these taste amazing! They have been added to our rotation of recipes that I use when I have run out of ideas....it happens.  I made the meatballs from scratch but you can use frozen meatballs too.
I served the meatballs with rice and fresh fruit.  Let me know what you think!

Hawaiian Meatballs
Makes about 25--depends on size of scoop you use


1 package of meat with three kinds:  beef, veal and pork
1 egg
1/4 cup  diced bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4-1/2 cup BBQ sauce


1 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup of crushed pineapple with juice
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced small
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, add more to taste

1.  Prepare sauce by including all ingredients into a medium sauce pan and bringing to a gentle boil.  Let simmer until thick.

2.  Make meatballs by adding all the ingredients to a medium bowl and blending well.  Shape meatballs by using a cookie scoop.  Line them in rows on a cookie sheet.

3.  Bake meatballs at 375 degrees until done, about 20 minutes.

4.  Transfer meatballs to a baking dish and pour sauce over the top.  Bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove and serve with rice.

Written by Sherron Watson

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