Category Archives: Appetizers

Irish Nachos

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irish nachos titlesI have to thank my friend, Meghan, for giving me the idea for this post. She is highly qualified to make these being both Irish (on her dad’s side) and Mexican (on her mom’s side).  There are enough recipes out there for the traditional Irish foods like corned beef and cabbage, or sausage and boxty (I did those last year). And since we are a No Artificial Colors blog having something faux-green is right out. I was captivated by this fun, light-hearted take on St. Patrick’s Day food since it uses lots of real food in a delicious, fun, family-friendly way.

The idea is simple yet brilliant. Make a big pan of oven-fries (the inspiration for my fries comes from Lidia’s Italy) and then top your fries with traditional nacho ingredients. To keep the Irish theme be sure to use plenty of Kerrygold butter and cheese. (We love Kerrygold, not because it’s Irish but because they pride themselves on using milk from grassfed cows.)  Be sure to use plenty of fresh cilantro and/or parsley on top because it is both green (can you wear cilantro instead of a shamrock if you don’t want to get pinched?) and it’s also really good for you. irish nachos potatoes title

Irish Nachos

for the potatoes

6 good sized organic Russet potatoes

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 Tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter

1 teaspoon sea salt or herbed season salt such as Rosemary Celtic Sea Salt

preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and slice them into thin wedges, at least 8-10 per potato, maybe more depending on how big your potatoes are. Thinner wedges get crispier. Thicker wedges are more like steak fries. Melt together the butter and olive oil. Toss the potatoes with butter mixture and sprinkle on the salt or seasoned salt and toss well. Place the wedges skin-side down in a large cast iron skillet or stoneware baking sheet or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It may take more than one pan to fit them all in. Cast iron or stoneware help the potatoes brown better. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning the potatoes over once or twice to help them cook. If you’re using two pans be sure to rotate pans during the cooking. While the potatoes are cooking assemble the rest of the ingredients for the topping so you will be ready as soon as the potatoes are done.

for the toppings

1 lb. grassfed ground beef (or make the Irish sausage recipe and use that to top your nachos)

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (no-MSG! use my recipe to make your own)

8-10 ounces Kerrygold cheese, shredded

3 green onions, thinly sliced

salsa (make your own probiotic salsa here)

sour cream (read the label, nothing but cream and cultures should be in it, we like Daisy)

chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Brown the ground beef. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and mix well. Assemble the remaining ingredients. Feel free to add any other nacho toppings you want like black olives, jalapenos, or bacon. Mmmmmm, bacon….

for the nachos

When the potatoes are done pull them out of the oven and turn on the broiler. While the broiler is heating up, spread the seasoned ground beef evenly over the potatoes. Evenly spread the shredded cheese over the ground beef. Slip the potatoes, beef and cheese back into the oven and broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melty. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining toppings. Serve at once.

Irish Nachos
Cuisine: Irish and Mexican
A fun spin on nachos to make your St. Patrick's Day, or any day, more festive!
  • 6 good sized organic russet potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Kerrygold Irish butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or herbed season salt like Rosemary Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 lb. grassfed ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (no-MSG)
  • 8-10 ounces Kerrygold cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • other nacho toppings as desired
  1. To make the potatoes preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Scrub the potatoes and slice them into thin wedges, at least 8-10 per potato, thinner wedges make crispier fries.
  3. Melt together the butter and olive oil and toss with the potatoes along with the salt.
  4. Place the potatoes skin-side down in a large cast iron or stoneware baking pan, or a parchment-lined baking sheet using more than one pan if needed to fit the potatoes in a single layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes turning once or twice to help brown evenly.
  6. While potatoes are cooking assemble the remaining ingredients for the toppings.
  7. Brown the ground beef and season with taco seasoning and/or more salt if needed.
  8. When the potatoes are done pull them out of the oven and preheat the broiler.
  9. While broiler is heating top the potatoes with the ground beef and the shredded cheese.
  10. Return potatoes to the oven and broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.
  11. Remove from the oven and top with remaining nacho toppings and serve at once.

 Tell us how you like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at your house. Leaves us a comment here and don’t forget to pin this recipe to use again – there’s no rule saying you can’t have these anytime!

irish nachos title closeup







Gluten-free Tabbouleh

I love tabbouleh.  I had to look up how to spell it; apparently it can be tabouli, tabouleh, and a few more variations.  Makes sense since the salad itself has several variations. Traditionally it is made from bulgur wheat, parsley, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil.  But bulgur wheat (which is made by taking grains of wheat, steaming or partially boiling them and then drying and cracking them up ) has gluten in it. Bad for me as gluten gives me a tummy ache so I avoid it whenever I can.  But what’s a girl to do when she still craves the lemony fresh green taste of a good tabbouleh?

Quinoa to the rescue!  Quinoa (keen-wa) is a pseudo-cereal meaning it’s not really a grain since it doesn’t come from a grass-type plant. Instead it is more closely related to beets or spinach, so it doesn’t contain gluten.  I buy quinoa from the bulk bins at my local health food store which saves a couple dollars per pound over the grocery store packages, but either way you will probably still need to rinse it before you cook it. Quinoa has a naturally bitter coating, so I just put the quinoa in a wire mesh strainer and rinse it for a few minutes in cold water before draining it and then cooking it. Sometimes you can find pre-rinsed quinoa so you can skip that step. Either way, quinoa is cooked like rice. 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water plus a little salt and butter, bring to a simmer, stir, cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Cool, fluff and serve.

This tabbouleh recipe makes enough for a side dish for a family of four. It can easily be doubled or tripled to make more for a crowd. It keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator so you can make extra and take the leftovers for lunch.quinoa tabbouleh 2

Gluten-free Tabbouleh
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Quinoa is substituted for the gluten-containing bulgur wheat found in traditional versions. The bright green lemony minty flavor of tabbouleh is retained.
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked as directed below
  • 4-6 large sprigs of fresh mint
  • ⅓ cup chopped sweet onion such as Vidalia
  • 1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice plus some of the zest as desired
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse quinoa in mesh strainer until the water runs clear, drain.
  2. Bring 1 cup of water and quinoa to boil in small pot along with pinch of sea salt and 1 tsp butter or oil if desired.
  3. Stir quinoa, cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  4. While quinoa is cooking, remove the mint leaves and parsley leaves from the stems discarding stems, and chop them.
  5. Halve or quarter the tomatoes.
  6. Toss parsley, mint, chopped sweet onion, and tomatoes together in a bowl.
  7. Mix together the olive oil, fresh lemon juice and zest, sea salt and pepper and drizzle over the vegetable mixture.
  8. Toss well to coat the dressing over everything, then taste and adjust for salt and pepper if needed.

quinoa tabbouleh 1Some links may be monetized. This blog is for informational purposes only.

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Lime and Fresh Mint

The weather here in Central Florida has been spectacular this week – blue skies, fluffy white clouds, temps in the mid-70s to low 80s, cool breezes in the palm trees – it’s like living in a vacation postcard 🙂   The mint in my yard is growing like crazy, I picked enough peppermint to dry and use for peppermint tea, and I’m using the English mint in a great salad recipe that I can’t wait to share with you today!  Grapefruit season stretches on at least through the end of this month and it’s getting to that time of year where people are tired of it and are leaving bags of it in the back hall at church or on people’s front porches.  My avocado tree is already blooming, getting ready for next year, but I did find a big bag of five avocadoes for $4 at Sam’s Club.

English mint

English mint

I love all the different tastes and textures in this dish with juicy tart grapefruit, creamy rich avocado, and the mojito magic of the lime and mint all come together to create a salad that makes its own dressing.   I’ve used spring mix, and I’ve used different kinds of head lettuces, but I also think arugula might be good with its peppery bite.  Sturdy Romaine holds up well if you want leftovers.  Peel and supreme the grapefruit right over the bowl you will use for the salad so you catch all the juices.  Never supreme a grapefruit? It’s easy, but you need a sharp knife! Just peel the fruit including the white pith, then use the sharp knife to slice out the individual sections and tossing the membrane (but not before squeezing out any remaining juice into the bowl!)

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Lime and Fresh Mint
Recipe type: salad
Bright flavors and contrasting textures in a salad that makes its own dressing.
  • 2 large pink grapefruit
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from one lime (and a little zest if desired)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 or 2 Hass type avocadoes
  • 1 head of lettuce or bag of spring mix, washed and spun dry
  • big handful of fresh mint leaves
  1. Peel and supreme the grapefruit catching the juices in the bowl.
  2. Peel, pit and chop the avocado.
  3. Chop or slice the lettuce into fork-size pieces.
  4. Finely slice the mint leaves.
  5. Combine all the ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss well to coat the lettuce and distribute the ingredients.

fresh farmer's market finds

fresh farmer’s market finds






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Warm and Creamy Crab Dip

Goodings groceryLong-time Florida residents will recall Gooding’s supermarkets.  Started in the 1960s, Gooding’s was at one time the premier grocery chain in Central Florida.  When we first moved into our neighborhood Gooding’s was the closest grocery store. I remember the first time I walked in I was stunned by the large gold chandelier hanging in the center of the frozen foods section.  Always immaculately clean and filled with friendly people, as a brand new mommy I depended on their prepared foods deli during those first months when I could hardly get a shower much less figure out how to make dinner!  But then the owners retired and closed our store. The building sat vacant after Winn Dixie failed to Wow the neighborhood. Now it’s turned into LA FItness. I still miss Goodings. In its heyday they were the ones to turn to for holiday and party catering.  I remember one snazzy party given by a friend that included several dishes from Gooding’s catering department. One in particular was so delicious that I had to have the recipe. I wrote a letter to Gooding’s and received a hand-written reply from one of their chefs along with the surprisingly simple recipe.  If you are in need of a little something special for your Valentine’s Day table this one will come together in a flash, and taste like you spent a long time in the kitchen. In addition to the serving suggestions given it would also be good with fresh vegetables like yellow and red pepper strips, snow peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets or fresh mushrooms. Be careful when choosing the crabmeat. Many canned varieties are preserved with heavy chemical preseravatives. If you can find fresh or frozen that would be great.

Warm and Creamy Crab Dip
Recipe type: appetizer
Rich and creamy dip perfect for any party
  • ½ lb lump crabmeat
  • 2 lbs organic or homemade cream cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 2 Tblsp white wine
  • garnish with green onions, red pepper slices or toasted almond slices
  1. Place crabmeat and cream cheese in a sauce pan, cover and heat gently about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir until blended.
  3. Add salt, pepper, cayenne and wine, mixing gently.
  4. Serve in chafing dish or small crock pot with desired garnishes.
  5. Serve with toasted slices of sourdough bread, fresh vegetables, or crackers.

Serve in chafing dish (or fondue pot or small crockpot), garnish as desired. Serve with pretty round crackers or small round slices of sourdough baguette or canape bread.

From Jim Butler, Gooding’s Catering (1997) crab Lump meat