Coconut Fried Chicken Nuggets

gluten free ~ dairy free ~ grain free

Kids. They are the most wonderful beings and at the same time can make you want to run for the hills and hide. The last scenario being most appropriate (at least in my house) during the dreaded “dinner hour.” It can be unbelievably tricky to make a dinner that both hits the kids criteria; i.e. dairy, carbs or ideally both followed by a plate of cookies AND that doesn’t make the adults eating feel like they just time warped back to their childhood.

I won’t lie, I LOVE chicken tenders but am not always a fan of the excessive amount of breading that is used on the frozen variety and I always prefer to make things from scratch if I can. This recipe is from the amazing Jamie Oliver and was first introduced by him as an alternative to the “pink slime” chicken nuggets that were being served at McDonald’s. These are super simple to whip up and are the perfect topper for a big green (ADULT) salad and will make any carb crazy, chicken tender loving child very happy. Enjoy!!! nom nom

 

3-4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

2 free range eggs

1 cup of almond meal/flour. Or use coconut flour if there are allergies

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion dried

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

8 TBS coconut oil

  1.  Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside
  2. Mix in a large bag all of the ingredients except for the chicken and egg and set aside.
  3. Now beat the egg and mix it with the chicken.
  4. Add the chicken and egg mixture to the plastic bag and shake until the chicken is completely covered.  Make sure to hold on to the top so it doesn’t open up.
  5.  Heat a large skillet on medium high heat.  Add 2 tbsp coconut oil and add chicken in.
  6. Continuously stir until the chicken starts to brown.  As it cooks, the coconut oil will be soaked up by the chicken so add another 2 tbsp when the pan starts to get dry.  **Add more oil if needed, but be careful you don’t add so much oil the nuggets get soggy, and vice versa; not too little where they can’t fry up nicely.
  7. Allow to cool and serve with your kids (or your) favorite dipping sauce or as a protein with a big salad. 

 

 

Creamy Potato Soup

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option

MAKE THIS IMMEDIATELY. That is honestly all I have to say about this recipe. One of the hardest things for me to give up in this crazy food journey of mine was dairy. Because let’s all be honest….recipes that are meant to be laden with dairy usually never turn out as well once you remove it. And being a farm girl from Kansas and growing up in Wisconsin, I am predisposed to LOVE cheese. You can keep your cold glass of milk but I will damn well eat the whole block of cheddar cheese. But over the last few months, as it became more apparent that dairy was also a trigger for me I have started to experiment more and more with dairy alternatives. And I am beginning to have some successes!

Let’s talk creamy potato soup for a sec, and yes, I lied about not having anything to say. First, this soup is made almost entirely in the slow cooker, there are two small stove steps; cooking the bacon and making the roux (simple I promise). Second, and most important, this soup tastes like it is made with whole milk and aged sharp cheddar cheese. I have used both soy creamer and coconut creamer to make this soup, and they both worked well. This soup is so hearty and rich that I made a only needed a simple salad and some Biscuits to complete the meal! Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients

10 slices cooked bacon or bacon substitute, diced and divided**

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (if desired) and diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 tablespoons bacon grease, butter or butter alternative

1/3 cup all-purpose GF flour

12-ounces of soy creamer (coconut creamer works as well)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, I used Daiya vegan shredded cheddar

1/2 cup dairy free plain yogurt or sour cream, I used Tofutti sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon  black pepper

optional toppings: thinly-sliced green onions or chives, extra shredded cheese, extra bacon, sour cream

**Quick and easy way to cook bacon: Preheat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with two sheets of aluminum foil. Place bacon on sheet and bake in the oven, turning once mid way through for approximately 20 minutes, or until crispy. No fuss, no mess!!!!

Directions

  1. Dice 8 slices of bacon, and add chicken stock, potatoes and onion to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through.
  2. Once the soup is about ready to serve, melt the bacon grease/butter in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour until it is completely combined, cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Gradually whisk in the soy creamer and continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth.  Let the mixture continue cooking until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally until it thickens.
  3. Immediately pour the milk mixture into the slow cooker with the potatoes, and stir until combined.  Add in the cheddar cheese, yogurt/sour cream), salt and pepper, and stir until combined.  I like the soup to be thicker, so I use a potato masher (or a large spoon) to mash about half of the potatoes (keep the soup in the slow cooker while you do this).  If you would like the soup to be thinner, add in an extra cup of warmed stock.  Stir to combine, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve warm, with desired toppings.  As always, if you can do gluten and dairy feel free to put them right back in this recipe! But, I think you will be super surprised at just how yummy the dairy free version is!!

Chicken Meatball and Escarole Soup

gluten-free / dairy free option

It is officially soup time!!!!! Ok…its been soup time for almost two months, but what can I say???? It’s been a bit crazy (ok, bat shit crazy) at my house and we just arrived to the party.

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love the feel of the crisp, clean air as I walk my daughter to school in the morning and I love going to pick apples and pumpkins at Barthel Fruit Farm with my family. But by far, my most favorite thing about fall is the food!!! I know, I know….. no surprise there as I am obviously a bit of a food junkie. Though. I feel like I would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t feel the same way. I mean, just think about it!!! Apples crisps, pumpkin pie squares, pumpkin bread, and soups coming at you from all sides. It is frickin’ glorious my friends!!!! But truthfully, there is nothing better than a hearty warm soup served with a nice crusty loaf of garlic bread.  It warms your soul after a long day and is the perfect way to come together as a family. And pretty much anything I can make in one pot is a winner in my book.

This chicken meatball soup is an absolute staple in my house. The kids love anything that comes in the form of a meatball and is served with buttery toast. And I love that is healthy and creates a “no whining” environment at the table. Kid tip…I make sure to chop up the escarole a little smaller so that the meatball conveniently “covers” the escarole on the spoon! I serve this with a loaf of gluten-free garlic bread and dinner my friends is served. Enjoy!! nom nom

6 TBS plain gluten-free breadcrumbs

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan-reggiano cheese or Vegan parmesan cheese

4 TBS chopped  fresh parsley or 2 TBS dried parsley

1 lb ground chicken

2 large eggs

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion; finely diced

3 small carrots; finely diced

2 celery stalks; fnely diced

1.5 qt of chicken broth

2 1/2 tsp salt; divided

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 sprig of rosemary

5 cups escarole, thinly sliced

  1. Put breadcrumbs in bowl, moisten with 1 TBS water. Mix in cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Add chicken and eggs and mix until just combined. Scoop out 1 TBS of meatball  mixture and roll into golf ball sized meatballs. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in 5 qt pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots  and 1 tsp salt; cook until tender 4-5 minutes. Add broth and rosemary. Bring to a boil.
  3. Gently add meatballs, reduce heat to medium low to maintain a gentle simmer, cook for 10 minutes
  4. Add escarole and continue to simmer until meatballs are cooked and escarole is wilted, about 5 additional minutes.
  5. Discard the rosemary and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional grated cheese if desired.

Slow Cooker Beef Lettuce Wraps

Another AMAZING slow cooker summer dish is here!! Lettuce wraps are very versatile and can be a great alternative to your traditional bread laden sandwiches or heavier taco wraps in summer. The cucumbers and carrots are in season right now and lend a great vibrant crunch to the beef. And the beef…well, its super tender with a subtle sweetness to balance out the umami flavor. Translation, it is good enough to eat all by itself!

My hubby thought these were the bomb, and even though my kiddos were not keen on the lettuce wraps, they did devour the beef with some brown rice and the veggies on the side! So that is a win win in my book. This recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light magazine. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe to ensure it was gluten free. And while they had you soak the cucumbers and carrots for 15 minutes, we thought they were much better when they marinated longer. Enjoy!!! nom nom

gluten-free / dairy free 

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 8 hours on low

 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into slices

8 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 tsp canola oil, plus more for slow cooker liner

1 (2-3 lb) boneless chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat

1/2 cup unsalted beef stock

1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce

11 TBS rice vinegar, divided

2 TBS sesame oil, divided

2 TBS coconut palm sugar (brown sugar works as well)

2 TBS unsalted tomato paste

1 TBS white miso (soybean paste)

3/4 tsp crushed red pepper

16 Bibb lettuce leaves

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

 

Quick Pickles

3/4 cup thinly sliced english cucumbers

3/4 cup julienne-cut-carrots

1 cup of water

1 TBS granulated sugar (I use turbinado)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

**The quick pickles are best if they marinate overnight. If you don’t have the time, let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • Place cucumber and carrots in a shallow container with a lid. Combine remaining 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup of water, and granulated sugar in small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour vinegar mixture over carrots and cucumber. If you are marinating overnight or all day, let mixture cool and then place in refrigerator. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before serving; drain well.

 

  1. Coat bottom and the sides of slow cooker with canola oil. Place onion slices in the bottom of slow cooker; top with garlic.
  2. Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chuck roast to pan; cook 2-3 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Place beef on top of onions and pour any drippings from pan over the top.
  3. Combine stock, soy sauce, 3 TBS vinegar, 1 TBS sesame oil, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper) in a medium bowl, and whisk together. Pour mixture over beef and onions. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  4. Transfer beef and onions from slow cooker to a large platter; shred with 2 forks. Reserve 1/2-1 cup of the cooking liquid and discard  the remaining liquid and garlic. Sprinkle evenly with salt and 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid, toss to coat.
  5. Divide beef and pickles among lettuce leaves, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Buttermilk Pancakes

gluten-free – dairy free option – refined sugar free

Pancakes. Most definitely in my top 5 of all time favorite foods. They are (or should be) little golden mounds of fluffy, slightly sweet heaven. Which you can then drown in maple syrup, slather with jam or just throw on an ungodly amount of butter and eat until euphoria sets in.  I told you I like pancakes….. and without fail at every breakfast outing I would go on, no matter what else I might order, you were guaranteed to see a single pancake next to me. That is until I had to give up gluten (which can make eating pancakes out almost impossible). So, I had to put on my big girl panties and learn how to go without my beloved pancake. Sometimes I am lucky and the restaurant will have a GF option and I will literally have to fight myself not to get up from my chair, kiss the server and do a little pancake jig.

Pancakes are also a big deal in my house. They are pretty much a weekly occurrence since breakfast for dinner is one of the kids most requested meals. I won’t lie, it has been an uphill battle to find a gluten-free pancake recipe that my crew approved of.  I pinned and googled a ridiculous amount of recipes and we began our search. Unfortunately, we had many disappointing dinners where the pancakes were either to dense, to mushy, or simply not the pancakes of days gone by. So after a few failures, the lightbulb finally went off (sometimes it takes a bit ya’ know??) and I pulled out our pancake recipe from the days before allergies and sensitivities and we started to tinker around with it. We had a few false starts but pretty quickly we had the recipe you see now, and they were ok.

HA! Just kidding…but wouldn’t that be some shit???!!! If after reading this whole thing about my weird obsession with pancakes I just said they were “ok”?? They were better than ok, they were actually fantastic!!! Light, fluffy, slightly sweet and the perfect dessert for any breakfast. Enjoy!! nom nom

 

3 TBS butter or vegan butter; melted and cooled to room temp

2 cups of gluten-free flour; I use Cup4Cup brand

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar or other unrefined sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups buttermilk or non-dairy buttermilk* (see note below)

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla

mini chocolate chips (optional) I used Enjoy Life brand mini vegan chocolate chips

**If you want to make a dairy free buttermilk here is how you do it. This will make enough buttermilk for the pancakes. In a liquid measuring cup put in 2 TBS of apple cider vinegar. Add enough dairy free milk to the apple cider vinegar to equal 2 cups total liquid. Let stand for 5 minutes and whisk before using as the mixture will separate a little.

  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly
  2. In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, whisk wet ingredients together.
  3. Pour wet ingredients in to the dry ingredients.Whisk gently until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated; stop before batter is evenly moistened.
  4. Add the cooled melted butter and mix until evenly moistened.
  5. Let the batter rest while the pan heats up.
  6. Lighlty oil the pan and pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake into the pan.

*Not everyone in my fam wants chocolate chips in their pancakes (my hubby is a purist). So, I add the chocolate chips to some of the pancakes right after I put the batter in the pan!

 

 

 

Zucchini Patties

gluten free / dairy free option / vegan option

There are two words I would use to describe zucchini. The first is Prolific.. The other would be Huge. I assume you see where this is going and that it goes without saying…. I have a ton of zucchini in my house. Between my mom’s garden and a few friends I find myself staring at the zuchinni wondering how many different recipes I can create or find with zuchinni as the main ingredient. And since zuchinni bread is the poster child of Zucchiniville, and I like to walk off the beaten path whenever possible…. I decided to start off with a savory dish like the patties you see above.

These zucchini patties are crazy good!! And minus the shredding which can be a bit annoying, they are a breeze to make. Both my kids devour them and will even eat them multiple times in a week!!! I mean…that NEVER happens in my house…. not unless its chicken tenders or dessert. And they are super versatile. My hubby and I make BLT  or BELT stacks with them…..ridiculously good. We take one patty and give it a swipe of Veganaisse, top that with mixed greens, bacon, tomatoes and an occasional fried egg and you would give up sex for a month to get another one. I promise. They are also superb topped with a slow cooked pulled pork and creamy slaw or make them mini and use them as a base for your own version of salmon latkes.

I ALWAYS double the recipe so I can make one batch with regular cheese and one with vegan cheese….I live in a divided household when it comes to cheese. For true vegans….I have never made these completely vegan and removed the egg, But I assume a flax-seed egg or other egg alternative would work just fine.

Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini**

1 small onion shredded (grated)**

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, I use Daiya shredded cheese

1 egg or flaxseed egg

1/2 cup gluten-free bisquick (or regular bisquick if you are GF friendly)

salt and pepper to taste

**The quickest and easiest way to shred the zucchini and onion is with a food processor fitted with the shredding blade. Make sure you scoop out the seeds from the zuchinni before shredding. Once they are shredded, squeeze all the excess water from both the zucchini and the onion.

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until completely mixed together
  2. Heat enough oil to coat your skillet (I use grapeseed or canola) to medium heat.
  3. Drop mixture by the spoonful to make approximately 6 patties
  4. Let them cook on each side until brown, appx 5-7 minutes per side.
  5. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain off the excess oil

 

Would love to hear of any awesome zucchini patty concoctions you come up with!

Fruit Cobbler

gluten free / dairy free option / refined sugar free

 

The top three reasons I love summer in order are; 1) warm weather 2) fruit cobbler 3) fresh produce, and trust me, the only reason warm weather comes before fruit cobbler is because without the weather we would not get the fruit. And that my friends, would be a huge bummer. Here is a little cobbler 101…….

Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. They consist of a fruit or savoury filling poured into a baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit, or dumpling before being baked. Some cobbler recipes, especially in the American South, resemble a thick-crusted, deep-dish pie with both a top and bottom crust. Cobblers came into existence with the British American colonists because they were unable to make their traditional suet puddings due to missing ingredients and cooking devices. This particular recipe is my great grandmother’s and uses a simple pie crust as the topper. I significantly decreased the sugar in the filling, and also switched it to an unrefined sugar.

Cobblers are also great for beginning bakers! A fruit pie typically has two crusts and takes a little patience and dexterity to assemble. A cobbler only uses one crust and has a more rustic appearance to it, which makes it easier to hide any flaws in your pie crust. And trust me pie crusts can be tricky. You simply roll out one pie crust, lay it in the baking dish, pour in the filling and fold over the edges of the crust. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream!!  Our personal favorite is blueberry cobbler with a vanilla coconut ice cream.

Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients:

3 cups of sliced peaches or other fruit such as blueberries or blackberries

1/4 cup of organic natural cane sugar

3 TBS butter/ vegan butter

1 TBS.  gluten-free cornstarch

Gluten Free Pie Crust

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Set aside.
  2. Follow this link to make the  Gluten Free Pie Crust. Roll out the dough to be 1/8 inch thick.
  3. Place the pie crust into a 9×9′ baking dish. Make sure the crust in set down into the pan and the extra pie crust is hanging off the sides.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust. You can trim some of the dough that hangs over the side or you can leave it as is! Fold each side of the pie crust over the filling and make sure to pinch closed the corner flaps once all the sides are folded over.
  5. Brush the crust with milk (we use almond milk) and sprinkle with a small amount of sugar.
  6. Bake at 400 F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly

 

Side Note: If you roll the dough out to be an 1/8 inch thick you will have a good amount of dough hanging over the edges. If you decide to trim the pie crust, then here is what I do with the extra.

  1. Put all the scraps of dough together and form a ball. Roll out the dough, in can be anywhere between 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut into strips.
  2.  Melt 1 TBS of butter and brush both side of the pie crust twigs. Sprinkle each side with sugar and cinnamon. Throw them on a baking sheet and put them in the same oven as the cobbler. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flipping once in the middle. Remove them from the oven and either serve as a garnish for your cobbler or they are a slightly sweet treat all by themselves!