Three Cheese Squash Casserole

We have a ton of squash and zucchini coming out our ears right now.  Unfortunately, I found out AFTER I planted several plants that my husband hates both! So, I’m left with a ton of squash to eat up (or give away). This has me on a mission to find a way that my husband will eat squash and zucchini.

I mean, really? Doesn’t this look delicious?

Three types of cheese make this squash casserole irresistable. A perfect side for a Trim Healthy Mama S meal.

Truth be told, I was hoping that the cheese would be an attraction for my husband and that he would miraculously fall in love with squash and this casserole. How you could NOT want to dig into this cheesy casserole? How could you not love it?
Well, if you’re name is John, then it’s apparently pretty easy! As of right now, I am still a failure with my husband’s taste buds, but I am able to scarf the leftovers without feeling like I’m greedy!

Don’t let my husband’s warped palate discourage you. This is so yummy and I had more than my fair share at dinner.
For all my Trim Healthy Mama‘s, this is a great side for an S meal if you use the almond flour topping.

What you need to start:
6 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 stick, plus 2Tbs butter
1 sleeve gluten-free crackers or 2 cups gluten-free corn flakes or 1 cup almond meal
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Heat oven to 350.
Saute squash and onions in butter, until soft and onions are beginning to caramelize.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and mix with cheeses and sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place in greased/sprayed casserole dish.
Crush crackers or corn flakes and mix with 1 stick of melted butter. Spread over the top of the squash.
*If you are using the almond meal, only use 1/2 stick of butter for the topping mixture.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden. (Note: The almond meal will still remain pale.)

If you liked this side, try these other family favorites:
Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin
Broccoli and Blue Cheese
Mango Cilantro Salad
Spicy Jicama Fries with Chipotle Aioli

Hasselback Chicken with Spinach and Pepper Jack

I love stuffed foods – chicken kiev, chicken cordon blue, stuffed burgers, Hot Pockets. Well, maybe not Hot Pockets! But, I do love cutting or biting into stuffed meats and having the cheeses and spices create an explosion of flavor in my mouth.

The only bad thing is having to do the stuffing. It can take the majority of your prep time to stuff and roll the ingredients into a burger patty or chicken breast. Then, you have to contend with the mess that oozes out that may or may not leave the meat dry and tasteless.

This is where “hasselback” comes in. This is a term that is generally associated with potatoes – named after the Hasselbacken restaurant in Sweden which was known for the fan-cut potato dish. I find, though, that this technique makes cutting and stuffing chicken so much easier!

Seriously the easiest and fastest way to enjoy stuffed chicken breast. You won't believe how easy it is!

 

To start, make width-wise cuts along the chicken breast and approximately 1/2 inches apart. (Be careful to not cut all the way through the chicken.) There should be about 6 incisions, depending on the size of your chicken breast.
You will want to go slowly on the first chicken breast; but once you get the feel of cutting the first, the rest of them will go very quickly.

Cut width wise, being careful not to cut through the chicken breast.
Using approximately 2oz of spinach and 1 slice of pepper jack for each piece of chicken, stuff the spinach into the cuts, leaving a bit of room for the pepper jack cheese. Then, break up the cheese into smaller bits, placing on top and beside the spinach.
It’s ok if the spinach and cheese are not completely in the cuts. This gives it some character!

Easy breezy - stuff and bake!
Place each chicken breast into a 9×13 dish. Salt and pepper to taste.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. (I cover with foil for the first 15 minutes, then cook uncovered for the last portion.)
We love this served up with broccoli, rice pilaf, and salad.

Hasselback Chicken with Spinach and Pepper Jack

4 chicken breasts
8oz frozen spinach (thawed and liquid wrung out)
4 pieces Pepper Jack cheese
salt/pepper to taste

1) Make incisions into chicken, 1/2 inches apart, being careful not to cut through the chicken
2) Stuff each incision with 2oz spinach and 1 piece of pepper jack, broken into pieces
3) Salt and pepper to taste
4) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked

If you liked this recipe, check out these other Trim Healthy Mama friendly recipes:
Apple Pepper Jack Chicken
Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
Spicy Jicama Fries
Low-Carb Strawberry Shortcake
Egg Roll in a Bowl

This yummy recipe is linking up at Weekend Potluck. Check it out!

Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad

You'll never guess the secret ingredient in this delicious (and patriotic) fruit salad!
July 4th is a day for celebrating, being with friends and family, and, for most of us, a time for BBQs and lots of good food.
For me, when I got to a church potluck, family BBQ, or gather with neighbors to partake in the annual festivities, I always bring a standard dish. It’s expected. However, this year, I may just shake things up a bit and take this super light, festive, and incredibly yummy fruit salad.

Come join me at Mommy B Knows Best as I share my recipe and secret ingredient for this patriotic dish. Just make sure you save some of the berries, so you can take along these scrumptious cupcakes.

Linking up at Thrifty Thursday

Homemade Pesto

I have a love affair with basil – and since it was once considered to be the world’s most noble and sacred plant, and the Italians claimed it was an aphrodisiac, I’d say my love of basil is well placed.
Give me a bouquet of fresh basil and I will drink in the aroma all day. I love it. It makes me happy!

Needless to say, my husband and I love pesto. The simple combination of basil, olive oil, garlic, cheeses (and sometimes pine nuts) gives any dish a powerful punch. It’s amazing what a few ingredients can do for a dish, right?

For the longest time, I’d just go to the store and buy a jar of pesto to toss in with our pasta or use to marinate our chicken. No biggie – or so I thought! Have you looked at the ingredients of store-bought pesto??

Basil, Soybean Oil, Garlic, Romano Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Olive Oil, Spice, Salt, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors

Soybean oil? Torula yeast? Citric Acid? Natural Flavors? Shouldn’t the “natural flavors” be coming from the basil, garlic, and cheese?
I knew I could do better, so I combed through a lot of recipes and they seemed pretty simple. A few tweaks here, a few tweaks there, and we had ourselves some yummy, fresh from the garden pesto!

You'll never believe how quick and easy this is! Just a few simple ingredients is all you need.
To begin, you will need:
2 cups (packed) basil leaves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup olive oil
“splash” of lemon juice (I just did a quick squeeze of one half lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

(How simple is that? No weird-sounding yeast. No citric acid (the lemon takes care of that). And most definitely, no nasty soybean oil. That stuff is bad for you!)

To make it, place the first 5 ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (I used my Magic Bullet and it worked just fine.) Add in salt and pepper  to taste, then give it a few spins to incorporate into the pesto.
So easy and the taste is well worth the bit of time it takes to make!

I will note that my first batch was pretty bitter. I was sure I had messed up somewhere along the way. However upon digging, I discovered that it could be 1) your basil or 2) your olive oil. Since I had just used some of this basil for another dish, I knew it wasn’t bitter. That meant my culprit was the olive oil – granted, it was somewhat cheap, but it was brand new. So it had not gone rancid. That’s when I discovered this interesting tidbit from Cooks Illustrated:
“Extra-virgin olive oil contains bitter tasting polyphenols coated by fatty acids, which prevent them from dispersing. If the oil is emulsified in a food processor, these polyphenols get squeezed out and the liquid mix turns bitter.”

They say that with the extra ingredients in the pesto, that this shouldn’t matter, but I disagree. The bitterness was overpowering for me. So, how do you avoid bitter pesto?  One way you can combat this is to put a small amount (1/4 cup or less) of water in with the ingredients (minus the olive oil), just enough to make a paste. Then, after processing, transfer the paste to a bowl and gently mix in the olive oil. The original way was with a mortar and pestle and a bowl, so it’s not too far off from the original process!

If however, you decide to mix it all in a food processor or blender and the pesto becomes bitter, it’s a pretty easy fix. Add a bit more salt and a bit of sugar until the bitterness goes away. I just added the salt and sugar until my first version was delightful again – and all was right with the world!

If you feel the need to use your pesto for more than dipping your bread in (and I admit, sometimes that’s ALL I want to do), try marinating your chicken or creating Pesto Rotini Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes.

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

Cheddar Peppers from Sonic Drive-In have always been a weakness of mine. I miss them. I really do. I miss the crunchy breading; I miss the burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth melted cheese; I miss the way you’d take a bit and the jalapeno would come out whole, leaving you with a breading shell filled only with melted cheese. Chase it with a Dt. Vanilla Dr Pepper and you’ve got yourself a delicious fast-food snack, albeit completely NOT gluten-free. So, I’ve been going through withdrawals.

Then, my sister made some jalapeno poppers the other day and everyone raved about them (via text, no less. What torture!). I knew I had to make them for myself.

Don’t they look delish? (And for all you Trim Healthy Mama‘s out there, these are a perfect S snack!)

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers from Gluten Free with Southern Charm

I googled a lot of recipes and most of them looked the same.

All you need are a few ingredients:
8 jalapenos
8oz cream cheese (depending on how much you want)
shredded cheddar cheese
garlic powder
4 slices bacon (cut in half)

The construction process is pretty simple as well.
1) Halve your jalapenos, removing seeds
2) Fill with cheddar cheese
3) Cover cheddar cheese with cream cheese
4) Sprinkle with garlic powder (to taste)
5) Wrap with half a bacon piece and secure with a toothpick

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers from Gluten Free with Southern Charm

See? You really don’t have to do a lot of work!
To bake, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
I prefer to line my cookie sheet with foil and place my jalapeno poppers on top of a cooling rack. The cooling rack allows the bacon to get crispy; the foil catches all the bacon grease and makes for easy clean up.

These were so good,  I whipped up my own batch in very little time, and made another batch that same afternoon. Perfect for a upcoming tailgate parties, the 4th of July, or that fast-food fix.

My sister also suggest mixing up the cream cheese and cheddar cheese with two chopped green onions, then wrapping in bacon. Definitely on my list to try next time.

Linking up with Thrifty Thursday and Weekend Potluck. Come check it out!

Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes with Blueberry Cheesecake Frosting

Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes with Blueberry Cheesecake Icing from Gluten Free with Southern Charm

In my opinion, cupcakes are the perfect treat. Fluffy little, held-in-your-hand cakes with swirly tops of icing. Mmmm. Nothing better. It’s like you get to eat a whole cake, but not really. I think the fact that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to cupcakes is enough to tell you, I’m serious about these little guys.

In my secret life, I wanted to be a chef. A pastry chef to be exact. Actually, I was enrolled in a culinary school once upon a time, but never actually went. (I blame any and all food failures on this fact!) So, what’s a wanna-be pastry chef do when she has an abundance of blueberries, strawberries, cream cheese, and a box of gluten-free cake mix? She channels her inner Sandra Lee and, with some inspiration from a friend, does her best rendition of Semi-Homemade.

Now, I made the strawberry swirl from scratch. However, if you absolutely needed to, you could thin out some strawberry jelly and it would have the same effect.

Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes with Blueberry Cheesecake Icing   from Gluten Free with Southern Charm

 

Strawberry Swirl Cupcakes with Blueberry Cheesecake Frosting

Strawberry Swirl:
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch

In a small pan, combine chopped strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and water. Stir well, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 10 minutes, or until strawberries are soft and syrup has thickened. Allow to cool while you mix up the cupcake batter.

Cupcakes:
1 box gluten-free  yellow cake mix  (or regular if you don’t have to eat gluten free)
Accompanying ingredients for cake mix

Follow directions on the cupcake box, then fill cupcake wrappers 3/4 of the way with batter. Scoop 1 tsp of strawberry swirl into each cupcake, lightly swirling with a butter knife. (Don’t mix all the way through as it will turn pink.)
Bake according to directions on the box.
When done, allow to cool completely before icing.

Blueberry Cheesecake Icing
1 8oz cream cheese, softened
8Tbsp butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if icing is too thick)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, pureed  (I find that the frozen gives off more color)

In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese and butter, mixing until well combined. Sift in powdered sugar and lemon juice. Continue mixing until icing is a smooth consistency. Stir in blueberries and refrigerate until ready to use.

When cooled, ice the cupcakes and garnish with a blueberry or lemon zest.

Linking up with Thrifty Thursday

Spicy Jicama Fries with Chipotle Aioli

Spicy Jicama Fries with Chipotle Aioli

I love fries – home fries, steak fries, seasoned fries, waffle fries, even crinkle-cut fries. But, with the new diet I’m doing, potatoes are out. They raise your blood sugar too much, so they are a big no-no. (Insert very sad emoji here.)
Needless to say, I’ve been desperate to find a comparable replacement for my starchy french fries. So, I grabbed a jicama (HICK-ah-muh) the other day and decided to see if it would pass the replacement test. I’d seen plenty of jicama fry recipes online, so I was hopeful.

To be honest, it still doesn’t fool me enough to think that I’m eating real American fries; but it does make a unique side dish, especially if you are in the mood for something different. Give it a try the next time you grill burgers or have a BBQ. It will definitely get the conversation going!

For all of my THMers out there, this would be a perfect side for an S-meal!

Spicy Jicama Fries

1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into medium french fries
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Cover a cookie sheet with foil, and grease lightly (enough so the fries will not stick).
Combine the spices in a small bowl.
In a mixing bowl, drizzle olive oil on jicama and toss, sprinkling spices onto fries as you go, until well coated.
Place jicama fries onto cookie sheet and bake for approximately 40 minutes.
While jicama fries are baking, begin mixing up your Chipotle Aioli.

Chipotle Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tsp chipotle powder
2 Tbs fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Refrigerate until time to use.

The first time I made jicama fries, I over-baked them. I was trying to get them to have a crisp outside and soft center. Jicama does not do this. It stays somewhat crunchy on the inside. Just a note, so that you don’t burn your first batch like I did!

Mango Cilantro Fruit Salad

Mango-Cilantro Fruit Salad l Gluten Free with Southern Charm
I can’t remember where I first discovered this delicious fruit salad. All I know is that I try to make it every summer for my family, BBQs, and well, I really don’t need an excuse to make it. It’s that good! There is just something about the marriage of cilantro, chili powder, lime and mango that makes me crave a huge bowl! Even my husband loves it despite “the green stuff” in it.

Also, a huge money saving tip – look at the sale ads of the stores in your area. Mangoes are often on sale in the summer, and if you are like me and hate running from store to store just to find the best deal, you can price match at Wal-Mart. I got my 8 mangoes for $4 by pricematching!!! Not too shabby.

Mango Lime Fruit Salad

8 mangoes
2 limes, juiced (or about 4Tbsp of lime juice)
2-4Tbs chopped cilantro (we used roughly 4Tbsp since we love fresh cilantro)
1tsp chili powder (this had plenty heat for my family, but you can always add more or less to your taste and heat sensitivity)

1) Cube the mangoes and place into a large bowl. (If you have never cut a mango before, it’s really not that scary once you know what you are doing. Check out this video and become a pro. )
2) Combine mangoes, the juice of 2 limes, about 4Tbs freshly chopped cilantro, and 1Tbs chili powder.
3) Toss to combine.
4) Allow to chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

If you are following the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, this would be an E side. Use in moderation, though, and definitely have some protein on the side.

Linking up at:
Time Warp Wife
Mandy’s Recipe Box

Low Carb Strawberry Shortcake

Low Carb Strawberry Shortcake  from Gluten Free with Southern Charm
Strawberries have always been near and dear to my heart. I loved watching Strawberry Shortcake when I was younger. I had the Strawberry Shortcake doll which I loved to pieces (literally). I could eat myself sick on strawberries. I even begged my mom to take me strawberry picking so I could get real strawberries – which she did, at 9 months pregant.

Side note: The woman deserves a round of applause, y’all. She was scooting along the ground picking berries when she was 9 months pregnant – at the end of June! And she did it because it was my birthday wish that year.

So, strawberries. For me, nothing is better in the summer than strawberry shortcake. Our traditional strawberry shortcake included frozen berries, Cool Whip, and the Hostess shortcake cakes (that you really can’t find anymore). Later, we moved on to Sara Lee pound cake. Oh so delicious. I drool just thinking about it!

My sister whipped up this great strawberry shortcake pie the other day. The recipe is adapted from our family Mississippi Mud Pie recipe, but is now Trim Healthy Mama friendly and appropriate for an S dessert. So, not only can we eat this sweet summer treat, but we can lose weight doing it! (Keep the strawberry serving at 1 cup per serving or this will turn into a Crossover.)

Low-Carb Strawberry Shortcake Pie
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup almond flour (I sometimes use more if it doesn’t cover the bottom of the pan)
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cup Erythritol (or sweetener of choice)
1 pt heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 qt strawberries, sliced


For homemade whipped cream:
Chill a metal bowl and beaters prior to whipping the cream.
When chilled, beat 1 pt whipping cream, 1/4 cup Erythritol, and vanilla until you begin to get soft peaks.
*Do not over beat or it will become too stiff. Try to get to the consistency of Cool Whip.
**For best results, grind 1/4 cup of erythritol into a powder. Then, use 1/4 cup of the powder. This will make the whipped cream smoother.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

1st layer (shortcake):
Stir together the butter, almonds, and almond flour. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 dish.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool completely before adding additional layers.
**This should be a rather solid layer. If it looks too buttery, chances are you need to bake it longer.

2nd layer:
Mix the cream cheese, 1 cup Erythritol, and 1 cup whipped cream; spread onto the cooled shortcake.
(The original recipe calls for powdered sugar. You can put the sweetener into a food processor and it will come out a bit more smooth.)

3rd layer
Top with sliced strawberries

4th layer:
Top with left over whipped cream

Let cool in fridge until ready to eat

 

If you liked this recipe, take a peek at these as well:
Egg Roll in a Bowl
Apple Pepper Jack Chicken
Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

This recipe is linking up at Weekend Potluck, one of my favorite linky parties,
Home Maid Simple
Time Warp Wife
Mandy’s Recipe Box

Egg Roll in a Bowl (a Trim Healthy Mama S-Meal)

Egg Roll in a Bowl @Gluten Free with Southern Charm

So, I obviously haven’t been around in a long while.
Things have been crazy hectic at school and at home. Half the time I don’t know if I’m coming or going; if  I’m awake, asleep, or somewhere in the middle of Zombieland. I’m pretty sure that we have been at home one weekend out of the last 2 months. INSANE! Even for our normal schedule.
I’m so sorry for the absence. Here’s hoping this recipe will make it up to you!
(Also, school ends in exactly 27 days! So, I plan on sharing many more delicious treats and eats once that is over.)

I recently started a diet called Trim Healthy Mama. To simplify it in the easiest way I know how, it’s essentially a low-glycemic diet. You can pretty much each whatever you want, however you avoid eating carbs and fats together. I love it. I am eating delicious food, drinking yummy drinks, and snacking on cheese, fruit, and even chocolate muffins. The best thing about this diet is that the foods within the “S meals” (the fatty, or satisfying, meals) are naturally gluten-free. So, more than likely, you will see many more of these S Meals popping up here.

One thing that I have really missed since going gluten-free are egg rolls. There is just something so delicious in the mixture of fried wrapper, pork, cabbage, onions, and celery. So, you can imagine my joy when I came across this recipe at Intentionally Domestic. Thank you Pinterest for assisting in this discovery!! This recipe is so very close that if I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m having the real thing!
**I did add my own tweaks and per a suggestion from a busy mom, I opted for the precut and measured cabbage (probably the BEST suggestion I have received lately!).

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork
1 package coleslaw mix
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
3-4 Tbsp tamari sauce  **If you are doing THM, use Braggs Amino Acids
1-2 tsp rice vinegar

Directions:
Cook the ground pork until done and remove from pan, leaving the drippings.
Add onions, garlic and celery to the pan and saute until nearly cooked through.
Add the coleslaw mix and continue to cook about 15 minutes, then mix in cooked ground pork.
Add the freshly grated ginger, tamari sauce, and rice vinegar.
Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

**This is also nicely complimented with some Sriracha sauce. It gives it a nice kick!

This recipe is also linking up with all the lovely ladies of  Weekend Potluck and Home Maid Simple