Monday, August 20, 2018

What's For Dinner~Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

Wow, it's been AWHILE!  6 months to be exact.  A lot has happened these past six months.  For those  of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you know where my attention has been focused. I finally feel we are at a point where I can step back into the world of blogging, but I can tell you that just like before my family will always be my number one priority.  So, that may mean five to six posts a week or it may mean one.

My plan and desire is to share openly with my readers about what we have been through these past six months, I just need to put all my thoughts together. God has blessed us tremendously, and it is just too good not to share it all with you.

But for now, I will leave you with a recipe that several of my IG friends had requested.  With so many having just started school, this is a great recipe for a busy weeknight.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Casserole


1 pound ground chicken
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 C flour (we use gluten free)
1 1/2 C chicken broth (we use Pacific brand)
1/4 C cream, buttermilk, or milk (we use flax milk/Dairy Free)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
32 oz frozen tater tots
2 TBS butter (we use Earth Balance/Dairy and Soy Free)
1/2 C buffalo wing sauce
1/2 C shredded carrots (optional)
1/4 C chopped celery (optional)
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese (we use Follow Your Heart/Dairy and Soy Free)


1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
2. Add ground chicken and cook (breaking up with a spatula) until no longer pink.
3. Sprinkle in flour and stir to coat cooked chicken.
4. Slowly stir in chicken broth and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken and reduce sauce.
5. Stir in cream (or buttermilk, milk).
6. Add dried seasonings and salt and pepper and stir all to combine.
7. Let cook and additional 2-3 minutes until sauce is nice and thickened up.
8. Melt butter in microwave in a large microwave safe mug or cup.
9. Add buffalo sauce and stir to combine.
10. Spray crock well with non-stick spray.
11. Add 1/2 of the tater tots.
12. Drizzle with 1/2 of the buffalo sauce/butter mixture.
13. Cover with the meat mixture.
14. Top with carrots, celery and bleu cheese if desired.
15. Add remaining tater tots and drizzle with remaining buffalo sauce.
16. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
17. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours.

You can also bake this in the oven.  Follow steps 1-9, then spray a 9 x 13 inch backing dish and layer as mentioned above. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until tater tots are crisp.

You can find another great Tater Tot recipe linked below. Enjoy!

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What's for Dinner Thursday Addition~Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

This week's What's for Dinner is a special Thursday addition, since Valentine's Day fell on a Wednesday.  I hope all my friends were spoiled by a loved one in some way yesterday.  And those missing a loved one, I pray God smiled down on you and made your day a little brighter.

I am a huge fan of slow cooker meals during the winter months.  Something about being able to throw a few ingredients into the pot, and then walk away for hours to come home to a hot hearty meal.  A win in my book.

This is a new to us recipe.  Since #2 and I's food sensitivity tests have us taking beef and turkey out of our diets, we are out to find meatless hearty dishes so we don't overdo the chicken and fish.  We have learned that overcompensating for one sensitivity with a certain food generally leads to that being on the list the next time. So we really try hard to rotate our proteins especially.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Prior to cooking.  Look at all those gorgeous colors!


1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
4 C good quality vegetable stock (we use Kitchen Basics)
4 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (we use Eden organic-be sure to by the SOY free version)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
***optional toppings:  chopped fresh cilantro, crumbled corn tortilla chips, diced avocado, sour cream and/or shredded cheddar (dairy free, if making this soup vegan)


1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high 3-4 hours, until all of the vegetables are cooked and tender.  Remove the bay leaf.

2. At this point, you can either:
    1. serve the soup as-is (brothy and chunky)
    2. use a blender or food-processor to puree the soup completely (uber-thick and smooth)
    3. use a blender or food-processor to puree about half of the soup (so that it's thick and smooth but          still a little chunky)

3. Serve the soup warm, garnished with your desired toppings.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

Original recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day~2018

Hello my loves!  Popping in today to wish each and every one of you a Happy Valentine's Day!

I know this day is not popular with everyone.  For some it is a day they would prefer to skip.  I get it.  Past hurts, missing a loved one, feeling unloved. 

For those feeling a bit down today, I wanted to share this with you.  Each of us has been given the BEST VALENTINE gift ever!  Jesus.  His love is unconditional, unchanging, and the best love of all.  

So, if today finds you a bit sad, maybe lonely, or even happy and satisfied, remember who you belong to.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Cookies~

Good morning friends.  I pray all are well, and staying healthy.  Gosh this flu season has been a doozy!  While I am never one to wish away time, Spring can't come soon enough.

Today I thought I'd share a hearty cookie recipe with you.  We are not big sweet eaters in our house, but we do on occasion like a homemade cookie.  These are great with a cup of coffee, and could be considered a "breakfast" I don't want to have to cook cookie. I love that they can easily be changed up by choosing different mix-ins.

Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Cookies


1/4 C unsalted butter (we use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)
6 TBS neutral flavored oil (canola, melted coconut, etc)
1 tsp vanilla extract ( we sub with maple syrup due to sensitivities)
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C plus 2 TBS brown sugar
1 large egg (we sub with a flax egg-1 TBS ground flax seed to 3 TBS water, let set up)
2 C old fashioned oats + 1/4 C hot water (we use Bob's Redmill gluten free rolled oats)
1 cup all purpose flour (we use Pillsbury gluten free all purpose flour)
1 TBS cinnamon (we used 1/2 TBS cinnamon and 1/2 TBS nutmeg-cut down on cinnamon due to a sensitivity)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix-ins-dried cranberries, chopped pecans (could use raisins, other chopped nuts and chocolate chips)  equal to 1 C total.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine butter, oil and vanilla.  Mash until butter is soft.  Add in sugars and stir to cream them together, and then stir in an egg.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oats and hot water and let sit for 5 minutes until oats are slightly softened. Add them to the wet mixture.
4. Add in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, and stir to combine it all with the wet mixture.  Add in your mix-ins (no more than 1 cup total of assorted mix-ins).
5. Refrigerate dough for at least 10 minutes.
6. Measure out tablespoon -sized cookies, and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet, bake for 12 minutes, or until bottoms are golden (in our oven that was 14 minutes).
7. Let the cookies cool fully before removing them from the baking sheet. 

They stay moist overnight in an airtight container.

Original recipe can be found here.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Firecracker Chicken Meatballs~It's What's for Dinner

Hello my friends!  It's been awhile since I lasted posted.  We are all well, just crazy busy.  I don't think I've had a day without something on the calendar in weeks! 

I shared this recipe on Instagram, and several asked for the recipe.  So I am popping in today to share it with you all. 

My #2 and I are dealing with new food sensitivities, so we are once again learning to be creative in the kitchen.  The good news is that most of our sensitivities, at least on the big things like proteins, are the same! 

We are really enjoyed this recipe.  I think it is a great one for both adults and kiddos alike.  Always a win in a busy household.

Firecracker Chicken Meatballs

Not the prettiest plating, but it was delicious.


2 pounds ground chicken (you can use turkey as well)
4 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 large eggs (or egg substitute, we make flax eggs-1 TBS ground flax seed to 3 TBS water, let set up)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (we use gluten free, you may find you need a little more if mixture is a bit sticky)
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder

Firecracker sauce:

1/2 cup hot sauce (we use Texas Pete's)
1 C light brown sugar
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on spice preference)


1. Position rack near center of the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

2. In a saucepan, combine the ingredients of the firecracker sauce over medium high heat, allow to come to a boil, reduce the heat so it simmers.  Let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool.  The sauce will thicken as it cools so don't worry if it looks thin.

3. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, garlic, salt, pepper, eggs, panko, paprika, and onion powder. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.  It's easier to tell when the ingredients are combined when using hands.  DO NOT OVERMIX, it will result in drier meatballs.

4. Shape the meat mixture into a ball, about 3 TBS of meat per ball.  You can also use an ice cream or cookie scoop. Place shaped meatballs on prepared baking sheet, bake for 11-13 minutes or until the meatballs are completely cooked.

5. Brush each meatball with the firecracker sauce. Place back in the oven and bake an additional 1-2 minutes.  Drizzle or brush with additional sauce as desired.

Original recipe can be found here.

I'll be back tomorrow with a hearty breakfast type cookie. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Soups On~Paleo Taco Soup

Y'all it has been downright cold here this past week.  While we do experience temps in the 30s from time to time in Atlanta over the course of the winter months, it generally lasts a day or two and then we jump back up into the 50s and 60s.  This system was here to stay!

Cold, chilly nights accompanied with a HUGE football game on the TV call for soup.  Good old comfort food.

I cannot take any credit for this one as hubby found it online, AND prepared it for us!  Winner winner, soup's for dinner!

Paleo Taco Soup


2 lbs grass fed ground beef
1 zucchini, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (we used one red, one orange as our daughter cannot eat green)
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cups tomatoes, diced (we used organic canned)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 cup tomato sauce
4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp cooking fat (we use Earth Balance Vegan Soy Free butter)
fresh cilantro (to garnish)
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the cooking fat in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add the garlic and onion, and cook 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the ground beef and brown 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle all the spices over the meat.  Season to taste and mix everything well.

Add the zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, and jalapeno to the saucepan.

Pour in the tomato sauce and beef stock; give everything a good stir.

Cover, lower heat to medium, and let simmer 20 to 25 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning, and serve topped with fresh cilantro and sliced avocado.

The soups has a good hearty Mexican flavor, but not too spicy for those of you who don't care for a lot of heat.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

One Pan Ranch Chicken and Veggies~It's What's for Dinner

Happy Sunday friends.  I pray your week is off to a good start.  I had several request this recipe after I share in on Instagram.  I had thought it was already posted on here, but apparently I was mistaken.  Just the older one pan ranch pork recipe was.  Similar, but this new one is dairy free as well as gluten free.

Most Ranch dressings and mixes contain dairy.  So if that is of concern to you and you need to omit it due to dietary restrictions you can replace it with this homemade recipe.  The original recipe can be found here. 

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix


1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme


Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

For Dairy Free Dressing: mix with 1 cup mayo, 1 cup original flavor dairy free milk and 1 tsp vinegar (we use Earth Balance Vegan mayo)

Dip: mix with 8-10 ounces of dairy free sour cream (we use Tofutti brand-this does contain some soy)

Other: use in place of one packet of Ranch dressing mix in recipes.

One Pan Ranch Chicken and Veggies


Chicken Breasts (we generally make 4, 3 for dinner and 1 leftover for our daughter's lunch the next day)
1 bag organic fresh organic green beans
1 bag small gold or red baby potatoes
Ranch Dressing Mix (I double the above recipe when making this)
Olive Oil


1. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper for ease of clean up.
2. Trim chicken breasts and lay them on the parchment paper, leaving room in between each.
3. Rinse and trim green beans and place in a large bowl.
4. Rinse and halve potatoes (quarter if they are larger) and place in bowl with green beans.
5. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the chicken breasts, enough to coat, and then sprinkle with 1/2 of the ranch dressing mix.
6.  Drizzle the green beans and potatoes with olive oil to coat.  Sprinkle with ranch dressing mix and toss to coat thoroughly.
7. Spread the vegetables onto the baking pan around the chicken breasts.
8. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender.

You can adjust amounts depending on how many mouths you have to feed.  This is also great with boneless pork chops in place of the chicken.  And as always you can easily swap out the green beans and potatoes for other veggies, such as squash, zucchini, carrots, or brussel sprouts.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Shrimp and Rice~It's What's for Dinner

Hello from the chilly South.  Honestly, while it is cold here I can't complain as I know so many of you are experiencing far worse temps, wind chill, and snow fall.

After slacking off on our meal planning the week leading up to and after Christmas, I decided it was high time to get back to some sense of normal.  While I didn't full out meal plan this week, we are back to eating healthier dinners at home.

This recipe is similar to one we have made before, substituting shrimp for chicken.  My youngest is eating very limited beef due to new dietary restrictions, and she was a bit tired of chicken so shrimp it was.

Cilantro-Lime Black Bean Shrimp and Rice


2 TBS olive oil
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 garlic cloves, minced (we keep jarred minced on hand, so much easier)
1 /4 tsp salt (we prefer sea salt)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 C chicken broth or vegetable broth (for added health benefits you can use bone broth)
1 C uncooked Jasmine rice (or use any rice that says on the package that it takes 15 minutes to cook it-we had white long grain on hand)
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBS lime juice, freshly squeezed + extra (we keep Whole Foods organic lemon and lime juice on hand)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed, drained (we used Eden organic soy free)
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped + extra



1. Heat large skillet until hot on medium heat. Add olive oil-it should run easily but not sizzle or burn. Add shrimp and minced garlic to the skillet, making sure it doesn't crowd, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes over shrimp.  Cook shrimp, stirring once or twice, on medium heat, about 3-4 minutes total, until pink in color.
2. Remove shrimp from the skillet to a plate.


3. To the same (now empty) skillet, add chicken broth, uncooked rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil.  Mix everything well. Reduce the heat to low boil/simmer.  Cover the skillet with the lid.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered, until the rice is cooked through.  You might need to add 1/2 cup water if your rice in not completely cooked through.
4. Mix the lime juice, rinsed and drained black beans, and fresh cilantro into the cooked rice.
5. Add extra lime juice (about 1 tablespoon) and extra chopped fresh cilantro to the plate with shrimp, mix to coat shrimp.  Add the shrimp to the skillet with the rice and gently reheat.

Click here for the chicken version.

Stay warm friends.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy 28th Birthday to our First Born~

Happy 28th Birthday to the one who made us parents. You have been a blessing to many...your family, friends, co-workers, students, athletes, and the lives of 3 in your charge and their families.  We always told you to make a difference in someone else's life, and you have done just that.  Sometimes overlooking your own needs to do so.

We are so very proud of the young woman you have become.

Happy Birthday Elie.  May God continue to bless you and use you to do His will.