At the time of publication, all recipes were free of the allergens listed as being free of in the title (i.e. soy-free, milk-free, etc.), and all other information shared was accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Though I strive to update outdated information quickly and work diligently to make sure you have the most accurate information possible at all times, it is your duty to double check labels EVERY TIME to ensure that the ingredients you use are SAFE FOR YOU.
Your doctor or allergist should also be your first go-to for information on how to handle your medical needs. That being said, if you DO notice an error, please send me an email letting me know (tell me what page or recipe the error is on, what the error is, etc.), and I will correct the error ASAP.
Thank you so much!

Please Be Advised:
I make sure all of my recipes use foods that are free of the allergens they say they are free of. You will need to do the same. For help with this, please see the appropriate "Alternative Names" page for the allergen(s) you need the recipe free of.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Family Favorites - March 2018: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Wheat, Soy, Milk and Fish-Free, Can Be Nut-Free)

This year, I decided to list a family favorite recipe from the blog (with any adaptions that we use regularly, if applicable) on the fourth Friday or Saturday of every month.  This recipe will be one that we make quite often and that we all enjoy greatly.  This post is the third Family Favorites recipe of 2018.

If you have a recipe on your blog that you consider a family favorite that you'd like to share, please comment below with a link to the recipe, and I'll make sure to pop on over and visit your site to check it out (and leave a comment), and hopefully some of my other readers will, too.

This month's Family Favorite recipe is Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, which is an adaption of my Peanut Butter Cookie recipe.  The awesome thing about these cookies is that they are SUPER easy and only FOUR ingredients!  Yes, FOUR!  They are also soy-free if you use all soy-free ingredients, fish, wheat and milk-free, and can be nut-free (see variations).  Any time my kids and hubby are craving cookies, this is my go-to.  They whip up in minutes, bake in minutes, are melt-in-your-mouth awesome, and they tick all the boxes flavor-wise for us.  I hope you give them a try and love them as much as we do!

(Note: The egg is crucial to this cookie, but if you wanted to try to make them egg-free, I'd suggest trying the flax "egg" on my ingredient substitutions page.  I can't guarantee they will turn out, but if you try it and they do, please let me know!)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 large egg

1 Cup smooth, soy-free peanut butter 

1 Cup white sugar
(We always use cane sugar.)

1 Cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
(We always use this brand and type.)

1. Preheat oven to 350oF.

2. Beat egg, peanut butter and sugar together until dough forms. (You can do this by hand with a wooden or metal spoon, or you can use an electric mixer.)

3. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

4. Shape the dough into small balls. (Note: The smaller you make these cookies, the crispier they are. If you make them larger, they are softer. Either way, they still melt in your mouth. :) )

5. Place balls on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and flatten them with your hand or bottom of a glass.

6. Bake for 10 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. (Note: This is crucial to these cookies!  Give them 10 minutes ONLY and pull them out.  They will burn if you cook them longer, though there are rare occasions that I have had them done in as little as 9 minutes or as long as 11 minutes, but I think that was due to the oven I was using.  That being said, if you oven cooks "hot", check them at 9 or even 8 minutes.  If your oven runs "cold", you may have to let them go until 11 or 12 minutes.  Either way, check them about 8 minutes to see if the bottom of a center cookie is light golden brown.  If it is, pull them out.  If it is not, leave it another minute, and re-check.  You should find that the time is nearly always 10 minutes.  Also, you are better off slightly under-baking this particular cookie, so err on the side of underdone if you are not sure.)

7. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet about a minute before moving them to waxed paper, brown paper (paper bags cut to lay flat is what I use) or a wire rack to cool.  (Note: These cookies are soft by nature, so they will fall apart if you try to remove them with a flimsy spatula/turner.  A metal fish spatula works well or even a clean pan scraper if you have nothing else.)

This recipe makes around 30 cookies, depending on size.

  • Nut-Free/Tree Nut Butters/Flavored Peanut Butters: If you can have seed butter, you can replace the peanut butter with that.  If you can have almond butter, cashew butter, etc., you can use one of those in place of the peanut butter, as well.  You can even try a flavored peanut butter or Nutella.  There's a lot of possibilities with this cookie, as you can see!
  • Other Chocolates: If you can have other types of chocolate, you can try white, dark or milk chocolate or a combination of a few (just don't go over 1 Cup total).  You can even use M&Ms or chopped up candy bar (Reese's Cups, Hershey's, etc.).  So many options!

This is the perfect cookie to make when you want a treat that takes very little effort and time!
It's a great one to teach the kids how to make or have them make with you!

This is sure to become a family favorite recipe that you can enjoy and make together!
How perfect is that?

(This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Recent Reflections - March 2018: Heritage

This is the third Recent Reflections post of 2018.  Recent Reflections goes live the third Friday or Saturday of each month.  Each Recent Reflections post covers something that I'm reflecting on.  If you'd like to share a post with a similar theme, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post, and I'll hop on over and leave a comment (and maybe some other readers will, too).

This month, I will be reflecting on heritage.

My favorite back-to-school picture for this year of my kiddos.
Our children have inherited a lot of things from us.  The boys are both growing very tall, which is a trait they get from both sides of the family.  My oldest is built more like me and some of my cousins, my middle kid is built like my brother and his dad and his dad's dad, and my youngest seems to be built like my husband's grandma (his mom's side) for now.  If you look at them at different angles or at different times, you see both sides of the family pretty equally.  It's amazing how many people tell me they look like me, and then how many other people tell me they look like their dad.  I like to think they have the best of both of us.  They definitely all have my husband and my sense of humor as evidenced by the picture above. :)

Beyond the obvious, their is also the lesser known things they have inherited.  All of the kids are named after people important to us, and people who we believe they can look up to in some way.  We tell them often why they have the names they have, and that it is important for them to have "good names" (reputations).  Proverbs 22:1 (KJV) says, " A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold."  We always remind them that they will be remembered by the lives they lived, and we want them to be remembered as honorable, God-fearing, God-loving people who did what was right!  We'd much rather they have "good names" than riches any day!

Just like our children inherit the bad with the good (i.e. my oldest has my Hashimoto's and my other two are heterozygous for Factor V Leiden like me), they can also learn bad habits vs. good habits from us.  We parents pass down all of our traits - which, along with things like thoughtfulness, selflessness and being a great hostess, can include things like bad tempers, laziness and gossiping - if we aren't careful.  It is so important that we remember that there are always little eyes and ears watching and listening, and that our children will do what we do before they will do what we say.

What type of legacy are you leaving for your children?  What type am I leaving?  When your family and friends think of you, do they say your name in a good light or bad?

I want Proverbs 31:28 (KJV) to be true of me: "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."  That is the legacy and heritage I want to leave behind - a Godly mother whose life is worth of praise and emulation. 

I truly hope this post has been a blessing to your heart!  What has God done in your life lately to bless you?  What are you reflecting on?

Have a wonderful weekend!

(This post was originally posted on my original site, Fibro, Fit and Fab!)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole (Wheat, Nut, Egg and Fish-Free, Can Be Soy and Milk-Free)

So, in typical Michigan fashion, March is fluctuating wildly with her temps and precipitation choices, and has landed on "winter crazy" for now.  Though all the fresh, white snow is beautiful, I'm more than ready for warmth and flowers.  However, there is a benefit to cold temps - being able to use the oven without fear of overheating the occupants of the house! ;)  That being said, we've made the dish I'm going to share with you a lot over the past few months, and I'm sure we'll be making it again in the next few days.

This recipe (one of my own design) is a definite family favorite, and actually fills up our two teenage boys and our going-through-a-growth-spurt-7-1/2-year-old daughter (which is a feat!), and my husband I even get our fill, too...normally. ;)  I like to think of it as being like a risotto without the fuss. :)  It is creamy and hardy, full of chicken and rice, and is easily customizable to include some good-for-you veggies, making it a one-dish, complete dinner!    It is also wheat, nut, egg and fish-free, and can be soy and milk-free (see variations below).  Awesome, right?  I hope you give it a try, and fall in love with it like our family has. :)

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole

1/3 Cup full-fat, salted butter

1/3 Cup gluten-free, cup-for-cup flour

2 to 3 Cups gluten-free chicken stock
(We normally use Pacific brand.)

2 to 3 Cups milk
(We normally use whole milk, but you can use what you have on hand.)

1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

cooked chicken breasts, shredded

1 1/2 to 2 Cups rice, white, brown or a rice blend (NOT cooked and NOT Minute Rice)

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF.
  2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour to the melted butter; stir and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken stock and milk to the butter mixture in the sauce pan, mix well, and heat the mixture until bubbly; remove from heat.  (Note: The amount of stock and milk you use depends on how much sauce you want in your rice.  If you want it saucy, use 3 Cups of each.  If not, use 2 Cups of each.)
  5. Add the liquid mixture to a large bowl with the other spices, shredded chicken and rice, and mix well. (Note: The amount of rice you use depends on how much you want.  If you want a lot of rice, use 2 Cups.  If not, use 1 1/2 Cups.  Also, I highly recommend using a wild rice blend which is just a few different kinds of rice vs. one type.  It tastes the best this way, in my opinion.)
  6. Pour mixture into a greased, 9x13 glass pan and bake in the prepared oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
Makes 1 9x13 pan, which is a minimum of 12 good-sized portions.

Variations (Please keep your individual dietary needs in mind when using substitutions.  Thank you!):
  • Milk-Free: Use dairy-free butter and milk (SoDeliciousEarth Balanceand Melt are some good allergy-friendly brands, and you can check out some more here).  You can leave the milk out, but you will need to up the stock amount to 4 to 6 Cups.  Make sure you use a milk-free option to grease the pan, as well.
  • Soy-Free: Pamela's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour that we use does not claim to contain soy, but it contains guar gum, which can cause issues with people who have soy sensitivities and allergies.  Because it is quite difficult to find a gluten-free flour blend that does not contain guar gum or xanthan gum (which can also cause issues for people with soy allergies/sensitivities), I won't claim this recipe is soy-free already.  You can use regular flour (if you can have it) or a soy-free, gluten-free flour of your choice.  I have also used potato starch or corn starch in place of the gluten-free flour with success.  You'll have to make sure all your ingredients are soy-free, too

  • Vegan/Vegetarian Options: If you are vegan/vegetarian, you can leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock, leave out the milk (as mentioned above), and use a vegan/vegetarian spread for the butter and to grease the pan with.
  • Add Some Veggies: If you desire, you can add frozen or fresh veggies to this casserole.  Broccoli and cauliflower are especially good additions.  I'd start with 8 to 16 oz. and adjust according to preference.
  • Add Some Cheese: If you want to put some shredded cheese on top, you definitely can.  I'd start with 1 to 2 Cups and then adjust according to preference.
  • More Meat: If you want to add more shredded chicken to this recipe, you can, but I'd not add more than one more cook, shredded chicken breast.
  • Add Some Almonds: If you like the idea of adding almonds to the dish or are used to adding them to rice dishes, you could add some slivered almonds when you add the shredded chicken and bake as directed.
  • Make Ahead: You can make this dish ahead easily.  Just do steps 1 - 5, pour the rice in the greased, 9x13 glass pan, cover with foil and stick it in the fridge until you are ready to bake!  I've only ever made it ahead in the morning, but I am sure you could do it the night before as well.  I'm not sure I would make it ahead any more than overnight, though, because I have a feeling it would mess with the rice's texture, but am not 100% on that (If you try it and find out otherwise, let me know!).  I have also not tried turning this into a freezer meal using a foil pan, but if you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Looks good, right?
It is, I promise!

Have a great weekend, and stay safe and warm both inside and out! :)

(This recipe was originally posted on my original site, Natural and Free.)