Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We had an earthquake and then we had a hurricane, the first month of living in Maryland. It was quite an adventure. 

I would be so ungrateful if I did not say "Thank You" to everyone that wished us well while dealing with Hurricane Irene.  I cannot tell you how much your comments, well wishes and words of concern reached into our hearts.  We truly felt your concern and love towards us.  I spent several days cooking before the storm actually hit us.  One of the things I made twice was the GF Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe below).  They were so yummy and hit the spot for a quick snack or pick me up.  I have shared links to some of those wonderful pages that kept my family in their thoughts last week.  I went to each site and pulled a recipe that had chocolate, chocolate chips or oatmeal in them.  There are a few pages that I could not find recipes on their sites but I need to mention them here:  

What's for Dinner? Ally's Kitchen- Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Basilmomma, a busy Mom who likes to cook- Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Chef in Disguise- Oatmeal Date Biscotti
Dishing the Divine-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Simple Fare, Fairly Simple-Mama B's Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Southern Lady Cooks-Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies
Running with the Devil(ed) Eggs-Chewy Oatmeal Apple Cookies
Lark's Country Heart- Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones

I try to post a gluten-free recipe as well as a "regular" recipe for the things I cook.  After all, I did cook for 25+ years before going gluten-free and have some amazing recipes to share.  Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.  I cannot find the recipe that I used to make.  I hope that you enjoy the recipes that I have found on these pages that I follow.  All of these sites that I have shared above are foodies that have become my friends.   


1 cup butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth.

2.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

3.  Combine the dry ingredients, except for the oats and slowly mix into the wet ingredients.

4.  Mix in the quick oats and chocolate chips.

5. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Use a cookie scoop, with the dough tightly scooped to create a softer and thicker cookie. If the cookie scoop is loosely scooped the cookie will bake and go flat.  It still tastes good just slightly crispier on the edges.

6.  Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on sheet before transferring over to a wire rack to cool.

I will share some pictures with you from our week with the hurricane.

When they said that we were in the path of Irene, I honestly believe that most people where I live did not believe them.  My family took the warnings seriously and immediately started planning and preparing for the worst.  We did not know what to expect.  We gathered our 72 hours kits and had them ready so if the call came that we had to leave, we would.  We are not superheroes and we did not want to take any chances with our lives or those of the many people that may have to rescue us if we chose to stay against the council to leave.  We bought food, gas, water, propane.  We filled our bathtubs, checked our generator, tied down our stuff outside and watched with anticipation.

This is my handsome husband that did so much!  When we lost power for 3 days he spent some of his time reading. 

We played our favorite game during those days without power.  Settlers of Catan is an awesome family game. Drake won three games in a row!
Even with a hurricane, Isabella was dressed like a princess.  She is so cute!
After two days of not having a shower, I could not stand it and had to do the ol' "boil water and use bucket" set up.  It worked and it felt great to have clean hair again!

I prepared meals that we could use on our outside gas grill.  BBQ chicken legs were a huge hit and super easy.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to have our NUWAVE .  It allowed us to have homemade fries. I had an oven if we needed it.  I love this thing.

I should have made more, the kids devoured them!

The damage was not as bad as some places that we have seen.  We were lucky that we did not have any flooding like some areas.  Our neighbors dealt with wind damage and trees.  This one lost his fence.

Trees in power lines were everywhere, hence our not having any power for a few days.

Branches and limbs were everywhere.

Even a few trees landed on several homes.  I felt bad for these people.  I can only imagine the scare they got when they heard the tree land on their roof.

This is a picture of how one tree knocked another tree and another over.  It was like dominoes.

Written by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Recipe at the end. Below is a short story about our adventure with an earthquake in Maryland.

Yesterday will be a day that my family won't soon forget.  Our day started out fresh, early and filled with anticipation.  It was the first day of high school for Drake and the first day of college for my daughter in two of her classes...they are both freshmen.  I was impressed at how each of them appeared to be cool, calm and very together, as they headed out on this day to what would prove to be very memorable and a little bit "shaky" or "rattled" or a "moving" experience.

OH DID I HAVE PLANS too!  I made a list of the things I wanted to do, in fact, I even took pictures. I thought this will make the best post tomorrow because I can be creative, thoughtful and have a little time to myself and share my deep and inner thoughts...WELL, we know how that turned out...LOL

I got to spend the whole day with a cute princess!  And oh what a day it was...LOL

Oh, I had thoughts and I had to dig deep to not completely implode with fear.  Silly right? I wanted yesterday to be special for the kids so I made peanut butter cups and had planned on Beef and Peppers...two things we all love.  I thought this day is going to be perfect.

My daughter the day before had asked for Fried Pickles and around 1:30 I decided that I would surprise her and make a batch to have ready.  She would be home in an hour and these would be awaiting her return, with the Wicked Awesome Sauce of course...LOL

Cory was working in the basement, Isabella was playing a game on my computer and I was busily cooking...we were all settled.  Working and playing to our heart's content.  Looking back, it's hard to remember everything that was going on at once.  They say time stops and things move slowly when fear, adrenaline, and chaos take over...and I guess it did.

I felt the very subtle beginnings of a sifting.  Like when you are gently sifting powdered sugar.  It's slow, easy and with a light touch.  I stop.  I think.  You question.   Maybe it is....and then at that moment, you realize that it's not stopping.

I ran to the basement door, yelled for Cory to get out of the basement that we were having an earthquake.  I froze.  Then time started moving so slow.  I yelled (maybe screamed) for Isabella to run to Mommy..faster...faster...our house was rocking, groaning and the floor was like walking on ice.  FEAR!

We ran from the house as fast as we could...not thinking that oil was boiling on my stove, not knowing what was to come and worried.  Two of my kids were gone, at school and no way to reach them.

I immediately tried calling my Mom and my daughter ( Drake would not have a phone in HS) , I was shaking, crying, FEAR had set in.  When it stopped I ran and posted on my page...I thought someone needs to know what just happened.  FB phone did not.  All lines were down.  At that moment I got a message from my Mom saying she had just seen the news.  I could get messages but not call out. You feel trapped when you cannot reach someone.

We love to skype back and forth and this was our only form of communication for a while on this day.  When I heard their voice, I lost it.  I can't explain it...I just could not stop crying and shaking.  Isabella would not leave my side.  She was worried the house was going to "dance" again.  The mind of a 4-year-old is amazing.  I am feeling fear and anxiety.  I see and hear disaster and through her eyes, she sees dancing.  I love that.  What would I give to be a child again....such innocence?

It took a minute for me to gather my wits.  We talked with the grandparents and things calmed down.  We met our son walking home from school.  Cory went and got Rye from the college.  In the end, we were all safe and together.

I have to say we ate those peanut butter cups and passed on dinner.  Our stomachs were too upset to eat a tasty and delicious meal.  That night we gathered our family and talked.  We each had a different tale to tell.

Drake was in the cafeteria with about 600 freshmen.  He said that everyone thought the initial shaking was from a group of kids running down the stairs, then it HIT and the teachers realized what was going on.  Drake said he remembers the floor being like running with your socks on cardboard.  It was hard to walk.  They had large bleachers and other items stacked very high and as they ran out, everything was swaying.  The kids all made it out...but the freshman class will never forget their first day.  He said that seeing the cafeteria today will be weird because it won't be moving.

Rye was on the third floor of the Fine Arts building sitting in a chair with rollers.  She said they all stopped, it got quiet as everyone tried to process what was happening and then the rolling of tables and chairs started.  She actually was not afraid and the kids were all able to exit the school with very little problems.  Her biggest worry was us.   We could not communicate and so she imagined the worse. She knew I would be cooking and was afraid that maybe I had gotten hurt in the kitchen or her Dad in the basement.  Fortunately, she was able to get our text finally and we arrived at the school. Our 10-minute drive took 45, traffic was terrible as everyone was trying to get kids.

A moment, an unexpected event in time.  A memory we will carry with us forever.  The emotion, the reliving it, the coming together.  As I sat in my living room last night with my family, I was grateful and realized that this day is perfect.   We are together and we are safe!

 Peanut Butter Cups 

The filling will make enough for about 20-24 cups.  This depends on what size of cup you get and how full you make the center in each one.

1 bag of milk chocolate chips
1 cup of crackers, broken into small pieces (not smashed) You can use Saltines or Ritz.
1 cup of peanut butter, smooth
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla

Mini cupcake or candy wrappers

I used a Pyrex 2 cup glass measuring holder to melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.  This is a slow process because you do not want to ruin the chocolate.  I started with 1 cup of chips and in increments of 35 seconds (4X's), I heated and stirred the chocolate.  The melted chocolate will help the others to melt when you stir in between each heating.  If you have a double boiler and prefer to warm and melt your chocolate this way, please do so.  I don't own one of those.

I put my crackers (GF Glutino Table Crackers) into a plastic back and broke them into small pieces.  You want pieces and not crumbs.  The crunch adds a lot to the filling.

In a bowl combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and broken crackers.  Mix well.

I lined up my cups on a cookie sheet and fill the bottom of each cup with a little bit of melted chocolate.  I made these a few weeks ago and added too much chocolate on the top and bottom and we did not like this.  We like a little bit of chocolate with our peanut butter.  I put the cups in the fridge for a few minutes, about 5, to get firm.

On top of the chocolate, add your peanut butter filling.  I used my hands and shaped the filling to fit on top of the chocolate.  I would say that the filling was about a 1/2 inch, here or there.

Melt more chocolate as needed to have enough for the top of your peanut butter cup.  Once your cups are made with: chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate return to the fridge to set.  You can leave them in the fridge or take them out.  We like our candy cold, so they are still in the fridge.

I had some leftover filling and this is what I did with it.  I rolled them into balls and dusted them with powdered sugar.  OH MY!  Next time I will make enough of the filling to make more of these babies.  They were so good.  ENJOY!

Written by Sherron Watson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fried Pickles with Wicked Awesome Sauce

Who eats Fried Pickles you ask?  WE DO and love them!  

On July 24, 2010, we left on our 1-year adventure of living on the road and traveling with our kids.  We hit 15 states in 10 months.  We were shy of our goal by 2 months.  I was bummed but understood the need for a job...LOL  Cory was offered a job in Maryland that we could not pass up.  Plus the kids were a little bit done with the whole traveling and sightseeing thing. I could live this life forever.  I am a gypsy at heart.

I love to travel and try new things.  I enjoy meeting new people and sharing with others.  I crave diversity.   I love cultural traditions, ethnic food and the feeling of being somewhere new and exciting.

We learned so much on our trip.  More than I think we ever thought possible when we set out.  We bonded with our kids, who we learned were awesome teenagers!  They were and still are, very funny.  We laughed so much on our trip.  We fell in love with some areas and disliked a few.  The number one reason that we disliked "a few" was the humidity.  East Texas is freaking hot in August!  The water in the lakes was so warm that you could not even cool off and the nights...UGH!  It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.  I kept thinking to myself " why the heck do these people stay here?"  But I soon learned that you stay because that is where your heart is, your family and you do get used to it...eventually.

We spent time at the beach...OUR favorite place!

We loved Austin!  This was the bat kayak tour we went on.

We visited the UT campus where Cory went to college and the surrounding parks.

We lived in heaven.  This was how we spent most of our year, in the woods and living with nature.

I bring up Texas because this is the place that I first had fried pickles.  I will never forget it.  We had gone to The Texas Roadhouse and when we both saw this on the menu we had to give it a try.  We were not disappointed. I craved them from that point on.  I never made them while in the trailer though.  I did not do a lot of deep frying in the kitchen.

It wasn't until I started following food blogs and seeing other bloggers making them that I thought about making them myself.  I surprised the kids last week and yesterday my daughter asked for them again.  I love that!  So today I will make a quick batch, think about our trip and count the calories...LOL

Fried Pickles

Dill Pickles ( I buy the large pickles and slice them or you can buy the pre-sliced version)
Seasoned Fry Mix ( I used the GF  Hodgson Mill brand)
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk or buttermilk

For a quick treat (4 people) I plan on two large pickles per person.  If you do more pickles you will need to add more eggs and milk to the recipe.

I slice the pickles into 1/4 inch pieces.  I put the eggs and milk in one bowl, whip them together.  I grab a second bowl and add the fry mix.

On the stove, add oil to a large pot. I like to use a pot because when you add the pickles to the oil, it boils up and the sides on the pot allow me to not worry about it bubbling over onto my stove.  I add enough oil to create a 2-inch deep-frying area.

I dip my wet pickle into the fry mix, dip it into the egg/milk, dip it again in the fry mix.  It creates a nice crunchy coating.

Fry the pickles until they are golden to medium brown. I like mine crispy so they tend to be a little bit browner than most.

Remove cooked pickles to a plate with paper towels.  This will soak up the extra oil.

I served my pickles with a sauce I made.  I named it Wicked Awesome Sauce.  LOL

**If you don't have a fry mix on hand, use flour with some salt and pepper.  If making it GF use White Rice flour or Brown Rice flour.

Recipe:  Wicked Awesome Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1T. Sriracha sauce (oh yes,  it's gonna be hot)
1 tsp of horseradish sauce

Mix the three ingredients together.  YUMMY! 

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beef Stew

When I think of back to school and all of the running around, late nights, carpooling and daily errands, it makes me overwhelmed on some days to also think about making a meal with lots of steps, instructions, and prep work.

Sometimes I need an easy meal.  A meal that tastes good.  I also love to have leftovers.  This stew recipe is perfect for all of those desires. 

The thing I like about making a stew, are the combinations are endless.  For us, it is based on what we have in the fridge.  What meat I have thawed for the day.  I have called this beef stew, but you could easily change out the beef for chicken or pork.  In fact, you could add no meat or beef broth and use vegetable broth and still have a yummy meal.

Fall is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the leaves and their changing colors, the cooler weather and the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving..YES, I am a kid at heart).  Although we eat soup all year long, we don't really eat this type of stew until the weather starts changing.  This happened this week.  I was told that the east coast is pretty "by the calendar" with their season's.  I was impressed when spring hit with rain and warmer weather in March and here we are with September a week away and the change is in the air again.  I welcome Fall/Autumn with open arms and a big hug.  LOVE IT!

Beef Stew

1 package of stew meat  (a pound in a half works well).
3 T. flour (Gluten Free-use brown rice flour)
2 T. oil (for browning the meat)
1 whole onion, diced or sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of fresh herbs ( I used Thyme, Basil and's in my garden)
1/2 bottle of beer (optional)  I would choose a strong flavor, it adds a wonderful undertone to the stew.
5 cups of beef broth
1 tsp. of salt
pepper to taste

* NOTE:  To make this Gluten-Free, you must use Gluten-Free Beer or omit this step.

1.  In a large bowl add flour and meat.  Toss until well coated.  Heat oil in a large skillet and add floured meat.  Brown each side.

2.  Prepare vegetables.

3.  Plug your crockpot in and add all of the ingredients: meat, veggies, beer, broth, herbs, and spices.  

4.  You can cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.  

5.  Before you serve the stew, check the flavor and adjust the salt and pepper.

You can used dried herbs too.  We just love fresh and this is what I have on hand.
This gives you an idea of what the stew will look like right before it starts to cook.

Written by Sherron Watson

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Roll

This is one of our favorite desserts.  Not only does it taste out of this world it also holds a special place in our heart for the memory of my grandmother and our family holidays.  This was always requested by the cousins and grandkids.  When my grandma got to where she could not make them like she used to, someone else would try to ensure we had one to share.  I would say this is a recipe that helped me to learn how to bake.  

It usually was not just one either...we had a big group and it required several so that we each got a piece bigger than a sliver.  Plus we all wanted left overs.  

I have made this recipe at least 30 times.  I am going to say at least once for every year I have been married and then a few years, it even got made twice.  I woke up this morning feeling the need for some chocolate roll.  Maybe a little bit of home was needed to warm my heart.

I  have not made this as a GF dessert, YET!  I will work on it, but today I splurged and had a piece.  I have taken step by step photo's so that you can be successful in making this yummy dessert.
In the past I have also made a pumpkin roll.  The method is the same.

Recipe:  Chocolate Roll 

6 Tablespoons cocoa (See note for gluten free flour conversion)

6 Tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs separated

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

whipped cream

NOTE:  To replace the 6 T. of flour for a gluten-free mix, this is what I used:

3 tablespoons of almond meal
2 tablespoons of white rice flour
1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch
1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg yolks with sugar until lemon-colored, then fold in flour mixture. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into batter along with vanilla.

Grease a 15X10 roll pan, line with wax paper and grease again. Pour batter onto greased wax paper and spread gently to all corners. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until cake is bubbly. The cake will shrink slightly from the sides. Turn roll pan onto a towel that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up with a towel and cool in the refrigerator. Unroll cake and spread with whipped whipping cream, reroll cake and move, without the towel, to a cake dish. Cover with Saran Wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Remove and dust with powdered sugar. Serves about 6-7 good slices, more if you make the slices thin.
For the whipping cream, I used 1.5 cups of heavy cream, 1.5 tsp. of vanilla and 2 T. sugar. Whip until spreadable.

When you combine the egg yolk/butter mix with the dry, it creates a very stiff , almost dough-like mix.  

After you combine the egg whites with the above mix, this is what it will look like.  Nice and fluffy.  You may have to use a metal spoon to get it started as the flour mixture is firm.

I have a jelly roll pan in storage..DOPE!  That does not help me today, so  use a regular cookie sheet and with the parchment I create the size I need.  The batter is not thick and will not push the sides down.

The cake will look like this when it is baked.  The center will feel firm too.

After it is done baking, the pan needs to be flipped onto a powder sugar dusted dish towel.

Gently pull back the parchment paper.

The cake..perfect!

Sprinkle this with more powdered sugar to keep it from sticking together or to the towel.
It can get messy with all of the powdered sugar.  LOL

Roll the towel up and put into the fridge to cool.
I usually wait 30 minutes before I get it from the fridge and unroll the chocolate cake.  I cover the whole thing with whip cream.  It is not unusual for the cake to crack or even split .  If this happens just use the towel to help you roll it up and put the crack or split on the bottom.  It does not change the taste of the cake..LOL

And here you have it.  I forgot to buy a dish to fit the chocolate roll, so I am using a cutting  board that I bought earlier this week.  


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

We eat a lot of food in my family.  Especially in the summer.  My teenagers are growing and are always hungry, the 4 yo thinks she needs to eat when they do and my hubby and I both work from home.  That is five months, 3 meals a day, 7 days a week.  Like I said, we eat a lot of food.

It's tough at times trying to find things to stock the refrigerator that is new and not a sandwich.  Although my kids love their ham sandwiches, variety is the key to enjoying and having a well-rounded love of food. With this in mind, I try to keep pasta salad stocked at all times.  We love pasta and by changing the dressing and ingredients, your possibilities are endless.

This tuna pasta salad is one of our favorites.  In fact, I grew up eating this type of salad.  It reminds me of my time in high school, returning late from a football game and grabbing a big bowl of this salad.  I love how food, like a smell, can take you back 20+ years to one night or a time of your life. ENJOY!

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 Box of  elbow pasta, prepared according to instructions on box
2 cans of tuna, drained
1/2 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced sweet pickles
1 cup of diced red onion
1/2 cup of cubed cheese ( I used Jack, but you can use cheddar too)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
salt/pepper to taste
2 tsp. of mustard (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions on the box.  Drain and add to a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well, taste and adjust seasonings (salt and pepper).  Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Written by Sherron Watson

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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