Bacon Jalepno Cheese Dip

Oh my stars. If you aren't corn free, this recipe might need to be made ASAP! It sounds like a jalapeno popper dip with pizzazz! I haven't tried it, but I'm storing it here to possibly bring it to my next event where the people aren't grain free.

Original recipe from Host the Toast

10 strips bacon
2 (11 oz) cans whole kernel sweet corn, drained
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a cast iron or ovenproof skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until slightly crispy. Remove from heat and set on paper towels to absorb excess grease. Drain off all but 1 teaspoon of the grease remaining in the pan. We want to use the bacon grease to grease the pan and add more bacon flavor to the dip. Crumble the bacon.

Combine the corn, jalapeno, cream cheese, mozzarella, salt, cayenne, half of the bacon, and half of the basil.

Scoop into the skillet and bake for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and basil, and Parmesan cheese to taste. Serve immediately.

Whole Chicken Meal(s)

In my family nothing goes to waste. We currently live in California and between the chickens, the three kids and my husband, all food is consumed. Nothing is thrown out,  unless it's molded over. And then we have a proper burial and vow to now neglect said food again.

Really though, every meal is fixed and eaten for leftovers or re-purposed for another meal. So in light of this re-purposing, I thought I would do a few meals with one WHOLE chicken. These meals will feed 5 people and will only consist of ONE chicken.

First day: Chicken in the Crockpot

All of these re-purposed meals start with 1 whole chicken in the crockpot. Alternately you can use chicken pieces (like bone in thighs, drumstick, breasts etc) and do the same idea, but I use a whole chicken.

Usually I tell people that cooking chicken in the crockpot is the best and easiest thing you will ever, ever do. And it's so easy (and way better for you in fact) that you should do it at least once a week! However, some people can't handle that much chicken. BUT I've gotten a lot of questions about HOW to do the chicken without overcooking it. Simple solution is a crockpot with a probe, like this one (Click to see larger):

Not only is this crockpot programmable but it's got a temperature probe and when your chicken reaches desired temp it will turn to WARM! You will never have overcooked chicken again! SO BRILLIANT!

I digress.... ;)

So what you will need (besides a cool crockpot that turns itself off):

1 Whole Chicken with Giblets (trust me on this one, you won't eat them, but you will use them) 6-8lbs
Chicken seasonings of your choice (or if pick one of mine, use BEST CROCKPOT CHICKEN first)

Place defrosted chicken into the crockpot upside down. Cover with seasoning then flip over and cover the top. Place lid on crockpot and if you have a probe, stick it into the breast, closest to the bone but not touching. If using the program, set it for 160 on low. This should take 5-6 hours, but count on it being done sooner so it can continue to sit there and reach the final temp of 180 (fully cooked but not dry chicken). If you set your probe for 180 it will ultimately go over and dry your bird out. If you want to cook on high it's 3-4 hours, but I never recommend a chicken on high. Even with a probe. It looses some juicy.

With this meal I usually serve white rice (I know, boring but when cooked when chicken broth, it's amazing) and a veggie. It's key when you know you are going to re-purpose a meal that you pick things you can cook ahead and re-purpose for your next meal.

So remove ALL of the meat from the chicken bones but leave the bones (and chicken fat and giblets, unless you like eating those) in the crock pot. Cut the extra chicken into bite sized pieces and store for tomorrow.

Also, make 2-3 cups MORE dry rice then you need. You can either put this into your Chicken Rice Soup meal, or the Chicken Taco meal. So save your left overs for tomorrow.

First day: Chicken Broth

A lot of people don't realize that chicken broth is so incredibly easy to make at home and almost free! You know those bones you just picked clean? Add to the crockpot:

1 onion
2-3 rough cut carrots (or the peels and ends of carrots you saved from the last time you needed carrots)
1-2 ribs of chopped (or the cleaned ends and leaves of the last batch of celery you used)
2-3 bayleaves
Salt and Pepper
Optional: 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar (If you want more nutrition from your broth, use it!)

Fill the crockpot with water (up to the rim) and set it on high. You can cook this for 8-24 hours depending on how rich you want your broth to be. I try to cook mine no less then 24, but often I'm in a hurry to get the broth done for the next day's re-purpose meal. So I stick it in right after dinner and it's ready by dinner the following day.

When you've hit your time, taste and adjust for salt. Usually I cook my broth salt free (only the salt that was in the crockpot from the seasonings first is in the broth as it cooks) and add it when I need it, if it needs it. There are some seasonings that are salty enough.

If you aren't going to use the broth at the moment it's done, strain it with a find mesh strainer (press all the carrots into mush, it gives the broth a great color), allow to cool, then store in fridge or freezer. Just be aware that if you store in glass jars the broth expands and WILL shatter all over your freezer. BTDT. So I love to store my broth in large muffin tins then pop out when frozen and store in another container. Then I have 1 cup portions to play with.

But we are going to go right into tonight's re-purpose meal!

Second day: Chicken and Rice Soup

Once your broth is done, this meal comes together only the time it takes for the rice to finish cooking. Note, this will make two days meals! It makes a bunch! Enough to feed 10-12 people.

What you will need:

The broth you just made (or 8-10 cups of broth and water)
Left over chicken from yesterday
Left over rice from yesterday (or 2-3 cups dry white rice)
4-6 thin sliced carrots
2 ribs of celery (sliced thin)
1 onion (sliced thin)

Directions when using leftover rice:
To a large stock pot add: the broth, onion, and your veggies.  Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. AS soon as it starts to boil, set your timer for 10-15 minutes and check your carrots for doneness. When they are just al dente, add in your left over rice and chicken. Once warmed, the soup is done.

Using left over rice makes this a nice comforting soup. When making the rice inside the soup, it's much thicker and more hearty.

Directions when using dry rice, not leftover:
To a large stock pot add: the broth, onion, and your rice.

Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. AS soon as it starts to boil, add in your carrots and celery, stir and cover until rice is done and tender.

If you use only have minute rice, do not add the rice until the carrots are tender. Alternately, you could add your rice after the carrots are tender. Cover and remove from heat to finish. Though I don't suggest that.

When the rice is almost done, check your broth level. Sometimes I have to add some water to keep it a little more soupy, and some times I don't. This isn't soup like chicken noodle, but it's more hearty with little liquid, but enough to call it soup.

Just before the rice is done, put in the leftover chicken and once the chicken is warm, it's done!

My kids absolutely love this meal and we have it at least once a month (if not twice) in the winter and at least once in the summer.

Second day: Chicken Tacos

This is another second day option and very easy. All that chicken you cut into bite sized pieces makes a perfect base for chicken tacos. And the rice is perfect for a quick Spanish rice.

What you will need:

Leftover chicken
Leftover rice
Taco seasoning
1/2-1 cup of salsa
1/2 -1 cup of chicken broth you just made
flour or corn tortillas (alternately you can buy your own pre-made taco shells)
frying oil
veggies for tacos (lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, avocado, etc)

Combine leftover rice in a pan with chicken broth and salsa. Mix well and sprinkle some taco seasoning over the top. Just enough to color the rice and give it that Spanish flare. Turn on low and let it warm slowly as you put together the rest.

Also sprinkle the left over chicken with taco seasoning. Don't be heavy handed as it can get extra spicy!

Add oil to a pan and once hot enough, using tongs, drop in one corn tortilla. If it starts sizzling immediately, you know you have a good temp. If it just kind sits there, your oil might not be hot enough. Turn the tortilla immediately and fold over like a taco shell. Cook a minute or so on each side then drain on paper towels. I usually spread the first shell apart with my fingers and stack the rest upon it so that they don't dry closed! Nothing worse then a perfect shell that has dried closed.

You can do the same to the flour tortillas but note the inside doesn't get crispy so it's almost like a gordita shell. My husband (who isn't wheat intolerant) loves them.

Once you are almost done with your shells, add some oil to a pan and once hot, add the left over chicken that you've sprinkled with taco seasoning. Fry it up until warmed through.

When everything is warmed and done, put some meat, some Spanish rice, and cheese in a taco shell and let the picky eaters decide what veggies they want on it.

If you don't fry your own shells, this meal takes less then 10 minutes (start to finish) to get on the table.

Hope you found this interesting. I just did BOTH of these this week, so I thought I would share. I have more re-purposed meals I will share as the days go by.

Last night we had ranch pork chops from the crockpot (Dry ranch mix, chicken broth, pork, that is it) served with steamed veggies and a corn pasta. I layered it all on a plate and covered it in a marinara and called it Hobo Pork Primavera. It was fantastic. So tonight I have left over Ranch Pork I'm going to make some fried rice out of. Re-purposing is so fun!


Go to Seasoning Blends:

*NOTE: This page is ever growing as I find new blends I love and need to have in my arsenal.

Since my family is allergic to everything but air (Ha!), I have to make my own blends of seasonings for my meals. Often times I mix together these blends and leave them in small glass bowls so that I don't have to think too hard before I season my chicken, veggies, or really anything!

One thing you will find is that these seasoning all use vaguely the same general ingredients. Curious eh? It's all about the ratios and maybe one or two other additions. Enjoy!

Best Crockpot Chicken (Hot or not)

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • For optional spice: 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Dry Onion Soup Mix

  • 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium beef bouillon granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 1/2 tsp paprika 
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 5 dashes cayenne pepper (or less if you don't like it very hot)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 3/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt 
Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
Fajita Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
  •  2 teaspoons chili powder
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon paprika
  •  1 teaspoon white sugar
  •  1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Taco Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. chili powder 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika 
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin 
  • 1 tsp. onion powder 
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt 
  • dash cayenne or red pepper flakes
Italian Dressing
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried celery flakes (I have used celery salt in a pinch and adjusted the salt)
Ranch Seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Copy Cat Emeril Essence
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (give or take)
Italian Herbed Seasoning

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Cream of anything...

You guys, I just came across this recipe today and just about died. DIED. What?! I have been wthout my cream of anything for a long time... this just makes me giddy as a school girl. Original recipe found on But a quick search on the internets will turn up several! I didn't realize people had figured this out... WOO HOO!

Now, I was skeptic at first, but after trying a few of the recipes I've decided this one is the winner!


  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • 3⁄4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot 
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

Mix and store in a glass jar until needed.

To make cream of beef:. Add 2/3 cup mix to 1 cup beef broth.

To make cream of chicken:. Add 2/3 cup mix to 1 cup chicken broth.

To make cream of vegetable: Add 2/3 cup mix to 1 cup vegetable broth.

To make cream of Mushroom: Add 2/3 cup to broth of choice and add dried or sliced mushrooms

You guys... PERFECTION! And best of all, you can literally make cream of anything this way!


General Tso's Chicken (Grain Free, Soy Free, Diary Free)

If you want to read the story behind the General who came for dinner, click here. Otherwise, here is that fabulous recipe I promised you!

When we gave up grains, soy, dairy, I thought for sure my life and love of food was over. But lo and behold, the internet is a fabulous place and when you cook, you can recreate anything with the help of your net-buddies.

Here is our favorite recipe for General Tso's Chicken.

¼ cup coconut oil
2 cups cooked chicken (or use my recipe for Chik-Fil-A chicken here).
1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Sea salt / black pepper

¼ cup coconut oil
1 medium onion sliced thin
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups sugar snap peas
4 medium/large carrots peeled with julienne peeler or just sliced really thin

1 Tablespoon raw honey
⅓ cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
¼ cup water
½ Tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch

¼ cup coconut oil
1 head cauliflower, pulsed in a food processor into “rice” sized bits
Sea salt / black pepper to taste

Instructions for Chicken:
1. Put cooked chicken into a bowl and mix in the coconut aminos and red pepper flakes.
  • Some people refry the already cooked chicken, but that really dries it out. But if you are using left over chicken and want that crispy texture, coat in tapioca starch and fry in coconut oil after you soak in aminos. Then set aside. 
  • If you are using my Chick-Fil-A recipe then fry the chicken up before hand and allow it to rest while you bring together the rest.
2. Whisk together your slurry and set aside

3. Add coconut oil to your pan or wok and sauté the onion with a little salt.

4. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.

5. Add the sugar peas and red pepper flakes and sauté about 10minutes or however long you'd like for the texture of your veggies.

6.  Add the carrots and cook a couple minutes longer, or until your carrots are the right consistency.

7. Add the coconut amino slurry to the pan and simmer a few minutes.

8. Add the fried chicken to the mixture to heat through and turn off the heat.

Instructions for Cauliflower Rice
Add the cauliflower to a hot skillet with melted coconut oil. Add sea salt/pepper and stir for about 5-7 minutes. Test at this point for texture and decide if you want it softer.

Serve General Tso Chicken over Cauliflower Rice (or real rice if you aren't grain free)! Enjoy!

Chick-Fil-A Copy Cat Nuggets (Grain Free)

Earlier in the year my grain free friends were raving about this amazing copy cat recipe for Chick-Fil-A nuggets. But like any good friend, I was a doubting Thomas. I love  Chick-Fil-A and saying you have an amazing grain free copy cat recipe is just pretentious. Right?

Well, I'll eat crow now, because holy amazing... it is just that. And without the grains to bog it down, I don't get a belly ache after eating 500 pieces.

 Chick-Fil-A nuggets

Youll Need:
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup dill pickle juice
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp buttermilk or cream (coconut milk okay)
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 tbsp paprika (smoked paprika kicks it up a notch)
2 tsp each salt and black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 dash ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup coconut oil for frying

  1. Combine the chicken pieces and pickle juice in a resealable plastic bag or large enough pyrex container that the all the pieces can marinate. If needed stir often to ensure every piece soaks up some yummy juice. Marinate for at least 1 hour to get that key taste but you can marinate over night.
  2. When the chicken has finished marinating, strain it through a colander to drain out the extra pickle juice. Put the chicken back into the bag and cover with buttermilk and beaten eggs and allow to sit a few minutes. Alternately you can just put it all into a bowl and draw out the chicken when you coat it.
  3. As the chicken marinates again, prepare your breading by combining the starch, paprika, black pepper, and salt. Usually I combine this mixture in a sheet pan so I can dredge the pieces quickly and pile up on the side. 
  4. Preheat your oven to 250F for keeping the pieces warm you finish.
  5. Melt coconut oil in a cast iron skillet (or high pot to prevent splatters) over medium heat for 3 minutes. Resist the temptation to add more oil then called for. The oil should reach halfway up the chicken pieces while cooking but not cover the pieces. You can add more oil if needed while cooking.  Be sure to watch the heat, as the skillet will get warmer over time; adjust heat as needed. Youre looking for an oil temperature around 350F.
  6. With your fingers, dredge chicken, then carefully add it to the oil. Repeat until you have filled your skillet; be careful not to overcrowd. Resist temptation to move the chicken before 2-3 minutes has passed. This will ensure a beautiful crispy coating! Turn and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken) or until done.
  7.  Place the cooked pieces on a plate lined with paper towels and put them in the oven to stay warm.

The General came to dinner.... (story)

You know how sometimes recipes are written beautifully? And then sometimes they are just written adequately (like mine)? And then, there are the moments that they are just written wrong. The recipe itself isn't wrong, but the way they wrote it throws the whole thing into a conundrum and you get it wrong.

This my friends, is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Never mind the fact that you should always READ THROUGH a recipe before you try it.
Never mind the other fact that your brain should scream red flags and flashing signs when you think it says to add in 1/2 cup (CUPS) of thickening agent.
And we won't even mention the fact that I realized an hour before we had to leave that I hadn't started said meal yet.
No no, it was just written way wrong.

And this is how it went down. Don't judge.

Lil-kid turned 12 on January 22 and with any child's birthday, they are allowed to make a food request for dinner. And because we eat so differently then years in the past, that means extra work for me because if I don't have a recipe in my arsenal, then I have to find one and hope for the best.

Enter General Tso. He's a cheeky old Asian fellow with a little kick in his step. And wouldn't you guess it, Lil-kid wanted the General over for dinner.

Okay, self, we can do this. We will do this! Oh crap, look at the time! We have to do this quickly because they need to go to youth group tonight! Now like the obviously heathen mom I am (said tongue in cheek), I had an idea.

Me: Well, do you want to skip church to have your birthday meal?
Him: Heck no! You can do it!
Me: *panic* Mid-kid, you're my Sioux Chef, let's go!

Luckily I'd already printed the recipe for us and we were able to get to prepping. Brilliantly so. In fact, I believe we could have won some cooking show with the speed and beauty of the dish on the stove.

Fast forward to ten  minutes before the kids need to get into the car -- still my final ingredient add. To thicken the sauce so it sticks to the chicken like white to rice. Oh yeah--- DUMP.

Uh... hmm. Why did this starch turn immediately into a snot ball?

*Adds more liquid coconut aminos... chicken stock.... water....* Umm, it still looks like snot.
*Checks paper quickly, it did say 1/2 cup right? Yes, it did. (Or at least I thought it did... more than once!!).*

Tastes great... but, what the heck? Oh well, I have to serve it.

Rice goes on the plate, then the snot... err General Tso's Chicken goes on top and I serve and wait for the peanut gallery to comment.

Mid-kid, aka Sioux Chef, pressed right on through the snot texture and absolutely loved the flavors of the meal. WIN.

Big-kid, aka not picky about anything, ate a few bites and says, "Do I have to eat all this? I can't get over the texture."

SIGH, eyes switch to Lil-Kid, the birthday boy. THIS is his birthday slime!

Now, I need to pause and tell you that he is a very outspoken young man. In fact, he will tell you EVERYTHING that is wrong with ANYTHING every moment of every day. We've been working on the extending of grace thing, but usually he will tell you exactly what he thinks, feels, or might feel at the drop of a hat. Love the kid, but he has no filter sometimes.

Me: So how is it, Lil-kid? (I'm probably asking for trouble)
Him: Oh it's fine. *pushes some chicken around the plate*
Me: *Thinking--WHAT?! HOW? WHAT?!* But say: Oh good.

So I rise from the table and begin to madly rush around trying to get us out the door and we make it JUST IN TIME to church.

But something curious happened when I got home. Lil-kid loves food. I mean LOVES IT. He will probably be a chef someday if that's what he's called to do. So when I walked back into the house from dropping them off, my eyes land on his plate, still at the table. STILL FULL OF FOOD. It looked like he'd taken two bites and then pushed the rest around so it looked like he ate more.

Oh bless his heart. He didn't want to tell me it sucked. But what? HE SAID NOTHING? Oh my word, my heart just melted into a big pile of great tasting General Tso's goo.

MAN, what a kid, but now what? This recipe just single-handedly RUINED my kids birthday dinner. I mean the taste itself was fabulous, but the texture was something to never behold again. Never. Shudder.

*insert GRU's voice--- LIGHT BULB*

Quick as all, I snapped into action and to create the meal COMPLETELY all over again (Luckily I had gotten the first ingredients from Costco, so I had everything there again to do it). So I worked feverishly for the next hour (alone, since my Sioux Chef was at church) recreating this dinner so that my boy could actually enjoy his birthday.

I'll stop here to say that even my steel stomached husband who will literally eat ANYTHING could not eat this snot meal. It was seriously... seriously... snot on a plate. So gross.

So I'm tasting and watching as I go, reading everything carefully to make sure I didn't screw up again. And I decided that THIS TIME I'm going to leave out the thickener all together. Because without it, the sauce was AMAZ-ZA-ZING! Who needs it to cling? Not me... I'd had enough of that clinging for one day.

Fast forward to 8:30pm when my husband goes to pick up the boys.... and I'm waiting with a new plate of food on the table for everyone...

RELIEF comes in the form of HUGE SMILES when he walks through the door. Lil-kid looks at the table and says, "Why did you do that for? I'm not hungry anymore."

*face palm*

Needless to say, into pyrex containers the meal went and he had it for lunch the following day, to which he proclaimed, "THIS IS MY FAVORITE MEAL EVER."

Mom win.

I did have the opportunity to talk with Lil-kid about how he had extended grace to me and he recognized that he had made the choice to NOT say anything because it was the thought that counted. What a gem, that one.

So as I cleaned up the complete mess left in my kitchen from making two fancy meals, I thought maybe, just maybe I would reread that end bit of the recipe and see what it actually said. And yes, it was poorly written. And it didn't follow recipe etiquette with the right abbreviations. Now, had I not been in such a hurry, I would have realized it meant 1/2 tablespoon, not 1/2 cup, but alas, this is how we get fodder for life lessons. And this is why it's important to READ THROUGH the recipe before you start and never be in a hurry when you make something for the first time.

I will mention now that Mid-kid is requesting it for his birthday dinner, so really really, this recipe I will share with you tonight, is amazing. Gluten free. Soy free. Dairy free. Msg free. Grain free (unless you use the rice like I did). And certainly snot free.

Trust me. Snot free is a big deal. And I'm certain stories will be told tonight around the dinner table about General Snot.

So be it.