A couple of years ago, quinoa wasn’t even on my radar as a food that I would want to eat. Once I went gluten-free though, it became necessary to really explore foods that I hadn’t considered before and the absence of so many of my go-to carbs made this option seem rather appealing.
In all honesty, since changing my diet to gluten-free, it has become my favorite pantry staple that I have used to create delicious, protein-packed dishes that my whole family loves. In the summer months, in particular, quinoa is perfect for your summer salads because it can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature.
Looking for a fresh new idea for topping those summer salads? Today I am sharing an easy recipe for Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders that you can even make-ahead and freeze for your busy week over at the Wild Oats blog!
I’m so excited to be joining as a contributor at the Wild Oats blog this year to share fresh & fun dishes for busy families. I’m not sure if you have heard of the product line before, but it is the new organic line available at your local Walmart store. I agreed to the partnership because I know that organic food is important to many of you, but I also understand how difficult it can be to eat organic on a budget. It is the two things that our family struggles with too. When Wild Oats presented at a meeting that I attended for Walmart, their enthusiasm for their products and the pride they took in them was, frankly, contagious. When they reached out to me, I knew it would be a great partnership to encourage healthy eating. I also think you will be pleased with the price point on these products when you browse the grocery aisles and I want to show you ways to use these affordable pantry staples in a new way you might not have thought of before!
I will be sharing an idea on their blog once a month and one idea on my blog! I hope you will love these recipe creations as much as I do. The bonus is that each of these dishes will also be gluten-free! Yay!
*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Last month I shared with you that I have been on a quest to replicate some of our favorite restaurant dishes in our kitchen to help cut down on our dining out budget. Shrimp Scampi is one of those dishes that I absolutely love when I go out for seafood, but I don’t always love the price tag that comes with it. Today I wanted to share with you an easy Gluten-Free Shrimp Scampi that is a delicious dish you could share during this Lent season for a Friday night feast that the whole family will love.
The shrimp can be dredged in a gluten-free flour to add a little bit of coating to the shrimp or they can just be quickly sauteed in the delicious wine and butter sauce, then tossed with fresh Italian parsley. I love to put the shrimp scampi on top of some gluten-free pasta and serve it all with a side of roasted green beans. Thanks to the garlic in the scampi, it coats and adds flavor to your pasta beautifully.
In case you have been on the hunt for the gluten-free products at Walmart, I actually have found the section at the end of the candy aisle. They have a section dedicated specifically to gluten-free eating that includes a lot of my favorite snacks, pastas, cake mixes, and even loaves of gluten-free bread. I have found the prices really do beat out the ones at other supermarkets and specialty shops so I stock up when I go.
Slice up a few lemons and dress the plates with a sprig of flat-leaf Italian parsley to really make it feel like restaurant dining. This isn’t the only dish that we have here that would be perfect for a meat-free evening or to be enjoyed on your Fridays during the Lent season. In fact, I have quite a gathering on the site.
If you are on the hunt for more delicious dishes, be sure to check out this link for 30 Fish & Meat-Free Meal Ideas! I have tried to include a big variety so that you are never bored for your evening meals. I hope these dishes inspire you and that you can give this easy shrimp scampi a spin for a quick weeknight meal!
½ cup (2½ oz./75 g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (found the gluten-free section of the store), can omit if you prefer to not have a crispy exterior to your shrimp
½ tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
1½ lb. (750 g) jumbo or extra-large shrimp, peeled and
deveined, tails intact
12 Tbs. (1½ sticks) (6 oz./185 g) unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) dry white wine
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, the ½ tsp. salt and the ¼ tsp. pepper.
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil.
Toss half of the shrimp in the flour mixture to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. Add to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining shrimp, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 2 Tbs. of the butter and the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic softens and is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes.
Add the wine, lemon zest and lemon juice, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to very low. Whisk in the remaining 10 Tbs. butter, 1 Tbs. at a time, letting each addition soften into a creamy emulsion before adding more. It will become very creamy, like a sauce.
Return the shrimp to the sauce and mix gently to coat well. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and gluten-free pasta.
When you go gluten-free, there are only a handful of fast food restaurants that you can eat at and really enjoy without feeling rotten. Chipotle is one of my favorite places and has been our go-to spot for a quick to-go dinner on busy weeknights for delicious gluten-free dishes. As I went to plug in our usual order this week though, I discovered there was a supplier issue of our family favorite…carnita meat isn’t at our location.
To be honest, I had a sneaking suspicion that this was eating away at our budget (thanks to its delicious convenience & a handsome Chipotle runner at my disposal) so I had been thinking of recreating this dish at home to save our family some money.
Necessity birthed creativity as I went on the hunt for a yummy replacement.
It seems fitting since our focus is money management this month for the m challenge that I could break a fast food habit with this yummy homemade alternative. Money. In. The. Bank.
This meat couldn’t be easier to create and the best part is that once you rub in the spices, this is a completely hands-off recipe. What isn’t easier is how freaking good it smells in your slow cooker all day which drove us absolutely crazy until dinnertime. The combination of spices is delicious, complex, and comprised mostly of ingredients I already had in my pantry. Garlic, red chili pepper, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, orange juice, lime juice, and beer.
I love the burrito bowl and making it couldn’t be easier. I just did a layer of brown rice made in my rice cooker (world’s best invention- here is the one I use for less than $25), a layer of black beans (canned or slow cooker homemade Mexican Black Beans), carnita meat, mozzarella cheese, diced tomatoes, and I do a mean scoop of plain greek yogurt with a dash of salt, and a squeeze of lime. Serve this giant bowl up with tortilla chips for scooping and you are done.
Since this makes such a large amount of meat, I divided and freezed it for our month. No more Chipotle runs (averaging $22 per pop) and leftovers for a week of meals? Um. WINNING.
What was even better was that everyone in our family thought these were better than Chipotle. I was hoping to just have a nice substitution on days where we need to save a little, but now carnitas at home are better than the ones we bought out and we save a lot of money in the process.
As I shared with you, when I attended college I lived on junk & convenience food and I had the inevitable “Freshman 15,” to prove it from my bad eating habits throughout the year. I only wish I knew how great I would have felt and how much better I would have performed if I had stocked my fridge with healthy options.
Now I know that there are healthy ideas for stocking your refrigerator – whether it’s a dorm sized mini-fridge, your first apartment fridge, or the huge family-sized fridge many of us graduate to – and I’m making sure that my kids do know that the foods that are good for your body are easy to keep on hand, too. In this healthy fridge makeover, I’m sharing easy ways to keep good-for-you foods within reach along with a recipe for a quick to make no-bake energy bite that you can mix up in a bowl for easy snacks on-the-go that both kids and adults love.
Eggs- Eggs are the perfect food for starting your day out right or for a healthy late night snack. Did you know that you can prepare an egg easily in the microwave with no special equipment at all? Simply spray or grease a bowl to prepare it and crack two eggs in it with a tablespoon of milk and whisk well with a fork. Place your bowl of eggs in the microwave and cook for one minute. Give it another little scramble with your fork and then cook for thirty second intervals, until your eggs reach the desired consistency. That’s it! Don’t forget that you can add your own fun add-ins to this versatile food like chopped up veggies, cheeses, or meats.
Berries- Berries are a great item to keep on hand to eat as a side, to grab by the handful for a quick snack, mixed in with a cup of Greek yogurt, or as a topper to a bowl of instant oatmeal in the morning. Cut berries can also be added to a water bottle and then allowed to steep overnight to create a healthy & inexpensive infused water.
Veggies- Cut veggies are the perfect item to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack. Some of my favorites for snacking are peppers (in every color), carrot sticks, celery sticks, & cauliflower. Pair these veggies with your favorite dips like a nut butter with celery or dip them in hummus for an easy snack.
Nut Butters & Nuts- Nothing is quicker or easier than keeping a package of nuts on hand for snacking. Did you know that you can even freeze nuts? Grab an extra package and store it in your freezer, up to six months, to make sure they don’t go rancid. Try a new variety like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or cashews for a little variety. These can also be added to bowls of instant oatmeal in the morning or mixed into a salad for a crunch topping.
Nut butters are great for an accompaniment to celery or cut apples. My own favorite nighttime snack is peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast with a glass of almond milk before I go to bed. It’s a satisfying and inexpensive snack!
Hummus- There are many different flavors and varities now of hummus and it is the perfect snack or spread to add to pitas or even smeared as a topping for your favorite sandwich. My favorite variety is the Red Pepper Hummus with sliced cucumbers or pita for an effortless snack.
Energy Bites- No-bake energy bites are a fun snack to have on hand when you are craving a treat with a little sweetness. We all adore these at my house! The best part is that they don’t require an oven or mixer, making these an easy treat to make…and to eat! Did I mention it tastes an awful like cookie dough too? Yum!
It’s become an embarrassing pattern of mine to make a resolution every year to be better about eating breakfast. Each time, I start on the path towards healthy eating. However, as life becomes fuller and mornings more hectic, I find that eating a good breakfast often gets pushed to the side.
This year, I discovered how invaluable my slow cooker was in creating a beautiful, hot breakfast for my entire family that I could serve in the morning and enjoy for mornings to come. I could also serve it as a midday pick-me-up or as a healthy late- night snack. The discovery might seem a bit old-fashioned, but a batch of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. This isn’t just any old oatmeal though—this oatmeal is made from delicious steel cut oats.
Today I am sharing a trick to get the creamiest oats ever that will transform your mornings and your life. Did I mention that you don’t even have to clean the slow cooker after you make them? YOU MUST READ THIS!
We have come to the age of slumber parties and epic sleepovers in our home. If you were anything like me when I was a child, you just couldn’t wait to wake up and find out what would be for breakfast. Making a breakfast bar can be a fun way to serve a large group whether it is your child’s birthday or simply an easy way to entertain guests for the morning. I am partnering with Walmart today to show off a cute display for creating a breakfast bar in your home.
My favorite sleepover when I was a kid involved a huge display of toppings for our waffles and pancakes. I remember as a child delighting in all of the options and I still have that delight even as an adult. Now as mom, I love creating a self-service bar of choices for our meals where everyone can customize their own meals to their own tastes.
Breakfast, in particular, as a buffet is a great idea so that guests can sleep in and then come and create their breakfast whenever they are ready, eliminating the need for you to all be around the table at the same exact time.
Even on busy school mornings, I find that this option would work beautifully since we all arrive at the table at different times. By prepping the toppings ahead, you can save time in the morning and really enjoy that cup of coffee.
Here are some of my suggestions for creating a beautiful and easy breakfast bar spread!
Make Serving Easy With Scoops & Trifle Bowls
Ditch the cereal boxes for an elegant display utilizing clear glass trifle bowls and an inexpensive all-purpose scoop. Give your guests choices by providing more than one selection of cereal.
Create a Simple Toppings Bar
I love to provide a variety of toppings so everyone can make their bowl their own. Fresh strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries can be a wonderful fresh topper. Dried fruits, slivered almonds, or crunchy walnuts can also add variety to your toppings bar. Make an easy batch of granola (I love this vanilla-scented granola or this easy honey nut granola) and add this to the mix for another crunchy layer. Remember to take advantage of what fruits are in-season to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
Add a Gluten-Free Option
As someone who is gluten-free, I love when there are options for me. Yogurt can be a delicious option and give your guests a chance to also create their own bowl utilizing the delicious toppings you have provided for your breakfast buffet. I like to keep small bowls handy to pour the yogurt out into and giving me room to really layer on the fruit, nut, and granola toppings, just as I would do with cereal. Make sure that you are using gluten-free oats if making your own granola or purchase gluten-free prepared granola if purchasing them.
Make a Pretty Display
If there is one investment that I am glad I have made over the years, it has been in classic white dishes. Display your toppings in pretty bowls and add an inexpensive bouquet of flowers to the center of your breakfast bar. Even if the ingredients are not all homemade, you can still make things feel pretty and upscale with a few inexpensive additions and beautiful plating.
I hope these ideas inspired you for your breakfast. Whether it is a weekday rush or a leisurely morning with out-of-town guests, the breakfast bar can be an easy way to serve a meal!
This tomato soup and grilled cheese combo gets an update in the form of golden brown roasted cauliflower florets. It’s just the right combination of classic and new just in time for fall.
I’m giving in, but not without a bit of stomping my feet and audible sighing. Autumn is here, and with it there is a crispness to the air that didn’t accompany my summer evenings. I find myself continually reaching for my sweaters, and although they’re still kicking out a few tomatoes, the production in my garden is slowing mightily.
I even wore boots last week, pulling them from the closet where they sat all summer as I ran around in sandals and low profile tennis shoes, skipping along the pavement in the sunshine. I zipped them up over my jeans and stared in the mirror at my sweatered reflection before heading to the market. There I grabbed as many tomatoes as I could find, hauling them to my car and then home where I rinsed them and diced them and stewed them in a large pot, trying to preserve the flavors of summer for the winter that is just around the corner.
At the end of the session, several pots of tomatoes later, I let the final batch cook down a bit longer, added a sautéed onion and some herbs, and then blended it together as the oven warmed the house right as the sun started to fade. I suppose fall isn’t so bad when it means the return of oven-warmed rooms and the smells that come with baking and roasting.
This soup gets a bit of a twist by placing the roasted cauliflower right on top. Cut your cauliflower into tiny florets so that they can suspend themselves right at the top of the bowl, just getting a bit of a dunk in the thick tomato broth.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic.
Add the stewed tomatoes and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and and simmer for 25 minutes.
While the tomatoes are simmering, preheat oven to 425ºF. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, olive oil, oregano, honey, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, stirring once.
When the tomatoes have simmered for 25 minutes, remove from heat and blend in a blender until smooth. Pour back into the pot and heat over medium-low heat, stirring in the milk, basil, and salt. Cook until hot, but do not boil.
Serve with cauliflower sprinkled over the tops of the soup bowls.
I am so excited that my book club was chosen to participate in a This Is Where I Leave You book club before the film hits the big screen on September 19th. When I was asked to participate, I had heard of Jonathan Tropper, but had never read one of his books before. I can honestly say that if you are wanting to add a little sparkle and hilarity to your book club discussion, This Is Where I Leave You is the book for you.
I read this book in a record two days and my husband kept finding me with it in some state of crying-laughing almost every moment I read it. Although he isn’t much of a reader, I handed it to him and said, “You must read it.” Each night when I crawl into bed, I hear random laughing and snorting on his side of the bed. It is that kind of book that you finish and hand off to someone else so you can laugh about it together.
When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
In this story, each of the siblings are told that it is their father’s dying wish for them to sit shiva together as a family. The irony is that their father is an atheist who made it known he didn’t believe in religion, but with their mother’s persuasion, she manages to get their family together under one roof for one week. With no escaping each other and a lot of time to reflect on life and the choices they have made, it really makes for some hilarious moments of family dysfunction at its best. What I loved about this story more than anything is the message that even when they drive us crazy, we will always love our family.
I love it in the way that I loved the movie Bridesmaids- so wrong and so right. Raunchy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and so perfectly pitched. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Arrested Development as it reads just like my favorite episodes of the early seasons of the Bluth family. The crazy family dramas are always my favorites and this family does not disappoint in the craziness department. For better or worse, they are family, with all that history and messiness and love.
Love stories told from male authors sometimes fall short for me, but that was not the case in this one. Tropper does such a fantastic job of sharing what a failing marriage looks like, what it would feel like to lose the love of your life (interweaving old stories of the couple and new), and how one can find love again. Even in the darkest of moments of this marriage, Tropper finds a way to bring the hilarity into even the depressing situations of losing your life partner.
Since the movie will be hitting the big screen on September 19th, I hosted our book club to read the book and then we plan to make an outing to see the book on the big screen. Sometimes it is difficult to find a book that we all like, but this one fit the bill perfectly for our group and we used the time to have a delicious brunch together and celebrate the kids heading back-to-school.
After seeing the trailer, I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite movies this year. I have to say that after reading the book, the film could not have been more perfectly cast and I kept seeing these actors in these roles even as I read the book. Many times the movies just don’t live up to the books, but I can already tell that this one won’t be the case.
TIWILY Boozy Brunch Ideas
Here are some delicious brunch options for a fun morning with your girlfriends that are some of my favorite when I am entertaining. I am selecting these because they can be made before everyone arrives so that you can really enjoy book club with your friends. You will also find a fun drink I have created just for your book club that you can sip while chatting about the book.
In the theme of the book and all the food that is brought to the family as they sit shiva, you could also make your friends bring you brunch dishes potluck style in excessive abundance, taking the pressure off of you as the hostess.
Perhaps you could even pass some of these recipes on to them and ask them to make them for you.
It just seems like something awkward that the Foxman family might try in the book.
What is a book club without a good discussion? LAME. Here are some of my favorite book club questions that I gathered for our discussion together!
TIWILY Book Club Questions
1. What was your first impression of Judd’s wife, Jen? Because you see her almost entirely from Judd’s perspective, was there any chance to see her as a sympathetic character before Judd finds her so? Do you think that Judd and Jen have a chance at salvaging their relationship, with or without a baby girl to raise?
2. Discuss Judd’s mother and her relationship with each of her children. Do you think that Hillary Foxman was truly a bad mother? Was there any real irony in her being a child-rearing guru? What was your opinion of her character?
3. Most of the characters in this novel struggle against living up to an ideal established either by themselves or by a friend, family member, or spouse. Judd fails to be the perfect husband, brother, and son; Jen fails to be the perfect wife; Wendy fails to be the perfect mother and Alice fails to become a mother at all. Mort and Hillary Foxman, it turns out, fail their children spectacularly in some ways while succeeding in others. What do the lives of these characters reveal to us about perfectionism, ideals, and our expectations for ourselves and others?
4. For all of their faults, is the Foxman clan a likeable group of people? What makes them an endearing group of people? Who did you like the most, and who did you find the least appealing, and why? Were there any characters you would have liked to see developed further?
5. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?
6. Discuss Judd Foxman, the novel’s protagonist, from his very ironic and dry sense of humor (shared also by his brothers and sister), to his anger and vulnerability regarding his wife’s infidelity, to his conflicted emotions regarding his immediate family. What was your first impression of the protagonist/narrator of this novel? What did you find the most engaging aspect of his character? Did you find any aspect of him off-putting?
7. What comment is Tropper making about the role of trauma and tragedy in our lives? Almost every character in this book suffers or has suffered: Phillip from his neglected/overindulged childhood; Judd from his wife’s infidelity; Horry from his brain damage; Paul from the Rottweiler attack; Wendy from her unhappy marriage; and Alice from her infertility. What does their unhappiness, and the way each person copes with that unhappiness, teach us?
Be sure to head to the theaters to see This Is Where I Leave You on September 19th!
Share your own book club and hashtag it with #TIWILY #TIWILYbookclub
In honor of the movie, I am hosting a giveaway today for one (1) $50 Visa gift card and a copy of the book so you can enjoy reading the book and then catch the film in theaters September 19th! Please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter to win by September 12th! One winner will be chosen at random! a Rafflecopter giveaway
I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is. It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.
Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes. Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.
One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy. Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.
I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up. The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.
Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!
A gluten-free pasta salad laced with pecans, bacon, and sweet grapes.
1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
1 lb. fresh broccoli
½ cup light mayonnaise
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 packets Stevia
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups seedless red grapes
10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
½ cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.