Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken and dumplings, dairy free cream of chicken soup

I'm not sure what made me want to make this. It's not at all something I normally make or eat but I had a craving so I made it and it was soooo good, if I do say so myself. It was also super easy, which I love on a Saturday night. The base of the casserole is cream of chicken soup. There is not a commercial non-dairy cream of chicken soup that I have ever found. I'm pretty surprised because it's so versatile and really easy to make. Here's all you need:

2 Tbsp dairy free butter or margarine
1 cup unsweetened soy milk or other milk sub, plus 2-3 Tbsp
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp herbs (whatever goes best with what you're making)
1 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon (be careful most have dairy in them. I use the organic Better than bouillon)

Mix corn starch with 2-3 Tbsp milk alternative until dissolved. Set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan. Slowly add milk alternative and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add the cornstarch mixture. Add onion and garlic powders, herbs, and bouillon. Stir constantly until thickened.

This makes a one to one substitution for a can of condensed cream of chicken soup. If you want cream of mushroom just omit the bouillon and add a small can of mushrooms.

So once that was made ( I used herbs de Provence just because I had them and it's an easy mixture for chicken, use what you've got) the rest was a total breeze.

8oz frozen mixed veggies
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk alternative

Mix the veggies and the chicken into the soup and heat until veggies are not frozen. Mix the Bisquick and the milk alternative until a soft dough forms. Pour soup mixture into a casserole and drop dough on to soup mixture by large spoonfuls. Cook at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until soup is bubbly and dumplings are golden on top.

Note: When I make a whole chicken I take whatever is leftover, bones and all, and throw it in a stock pot with ends and pieces of carrot, onions, and celery. Cover it with water and cook for a couple hours. Then I have about 8 cups of chicken stock and a bunch of chicken that I would normally have thrown away that falls right off the bone. What are you talking about ends and pieces of carrots you might be asking. Yeah, I'm crazy, I don't throw away the ends you cut off those veggies. I put them in a zip lock bag in the freezer for this or vegetable stock. Mushroom stems are another good thing to save.

This dinner was a big hit. The kids loved it. Charlie ate his whole plate and then came over and finished what Patrick hadn't. Hope your family enjoys it as much!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday night Pizza

I'm not a chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for dinner type of mom so, on Friday nights, I like to make dinner a little more fun and kid friendly. We eat dinner in the living room and watch a movie. Most of the time Patrick picks pizza for Friday night dinner. There are a couple of non-dairy frozen pizzas on the market. Amy's is one that I always have in my freezer for emergencies. It's about the size of a personal pizza so it's perfect for my boys to split if Matt and I are going out or eating something they won't or can't eat. This pizza is also gluten free. Tofurkey makes a larger size non-dairy pizza. They also have more flavors, pepperoni and supreme, that I can think of. These are meat substitutes, but very good. These are not the flavors of pizza we want to eat each week so I've started making our pizza. If I am in a hurry I use Pillsbury pizza dough in a can. It does not have any dairy in it and is very convenient. Recently I've been trying to learn to make bread. Someone told me making pizza dough was a good way to get used to using yeast. So I tried it and it was very easy and so tasty. Here's the recipe I use:

1 1/3 cups warm water
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (if you want to be healthier you can substitute whole wheat flour)

Put water, yeast, and honey in the bowl of mixer. Let sit until foamy. Add flour. Turn mixer on low, with bread hook attachment. As dough forms increase speed to medium. When ingredients are completely combined and dough starts to cover dough hook it is ready. Place dough on greased baking sheet. With greased hands spread dough out to desired shape and thickness.

From here you just cover it with what you want. I make sauce sometimes, use leftover spaghetti sauce or use jarred (making sure it is dairy free of course.) Then we use the Daiya mozzarella and out toppings. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes and then broil for 3 minutes (this helps the Daiya have a more cheese like texture for my husband and me.) Let it rest for about 5 minutes before you cut it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My favorite Green Smoothie

Getting kids to eat vegetables has been a battle fought for ages. Last year I started getting concerned about the number of vegetables Patrick was taking in. I have a friend who juiced and was able to get her daughter to drink "Green juice." This was some combination of fruit and kale. I looked into juicing but not having a juicer I also looked into alternatives. I came across this book, Green Smoothie Revolution: The Radical Leap Towards Natural Health by Victoria Boutenko. I tried one the next day and I was hooked. I've made them almost everyday since. We all drink them, Patrick and Charlie included. The boys don't balk at the green color of them. They don't even question it. I also freeze the leftovers into popsicles and they eat those up too. When Charlie was still eating baby food I mixed the smoothie with his rice cereal. He loved it. The best part is that it isn't just any vegetables. It's the vegetables we should be eating most, dark leafy greens. Spinach and kale are the two greens I use the most. Spinach is the easiest because you don't even taste it. Kale is also pretty easy to disguise the taste but it is more fibrous. I also use chard, collards, dandelion greens, or regular old lettuce. Whatever I have around. Chard has an odd sweet taste, dandelion greens a bitter taste, so these are harder to get kids to eat but worth a shot.
This morning I made my favorite smoothie. It's tart but sweet enough that every bit gets finished. Here it is:

2 oranges, peeled ( I've used clementines also)
2 cups spinach or 1/2 bunch kale cut to fit in blender
1 cup water
1 container peach soy yogurt (I don't always put this in, it's sweeter with it)
1 banana, frzn
1/2 pkg frzn peaches

Put the oranges, spinach or kale, water and yogurt into the blender and blend until greens are completely pureed. Add the frozen fruit and blend until smooth.

Try it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Non-dairy Ricotta cheese, Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Tonight for dinner I made a non-dairy version of a recipe I found in Williams-Sonoma's Vegetarian for All Seasons. They call it Grilled stuffed portobello mushrooms on porcini cous cous. I couldn't find porcini mushrooms at the grocery today so I just made cous cous in vegetable broth. The Portobellos are stuffed with veggies and ricotta cheese in their recipe so I had to make a non-dairy ricotta. This is so easy and yummy. My 1 year old Charlie was standing on a stool being my taste tester as I made it! Here is the recipe for the ricotta:

1 pkg firm tofu, pressed
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
2-3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

In a large bowl mash the tofu with a potato masher. Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Mash until mixture resembles the consistency of ricotta. (it will not be as creamy)Add 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, taste and add more as needed.

Note-Pressing tofu is a pain. You can just put it between two pieces of paper towel and set a skillet on it, just squeeze it, or use a contraption. I have a contraption that gets all the liquid out, but some people like a bit of the liquid.
       -Nutritional Yeast is not the same as what you use for baking. Not really sure what it is to be honest but it makes things taste like cheese and has a lot of vitamins that you don't always get if you aren't eating meat or dairy. You can usually find it by the supplements, in the baking isle (I don't know why,) or just kind of stuck in with the organic foods.

Here is the recipe (the way I made it, not the way the cookbook says to) for the Stuffed Portobellos:

4 Portobello mushroom tops, stem and dark gills removed
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 med sweet potato, peeled and grated
2 cups baby spinach
salt and pepper
1/2 the ricotta from above recipe
1 cup cous cous
1 1/4 cups vegetable stock

Since it's winter I used a grill pan inside but this would probably be even better on a charcoal grill. Heat whatever grill you're using. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the shallot and cook until softened. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the sweet potato. Cook until tender. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Add the ricotta to the veggie mixture and combine. Spoon into the mushrooms. Place mushrooms filled side up on the grill until heated through. Meanwhile bring vegetable stock to a boil and add cous cous. reduce heat and continue to cook until all stock is absorbed. Serve the mushrooms on top of the cous cous.

Pat had a dentist appointment today and he was such a trooper I decided to make him some dessert as a treat. I had left over phyllo dough (I did end up making that Turkish eggplant pie) that I wanted to use up so I figured I'd just wrap it around something sweet. This is what I came up with:

For each phyllo pocket

3-4 sheets phyllo
cooking spray
2 Tbsp chocolate hazelnut butter ( I used Justin's because Nuttella has milk in it, and a TON of sugar)
1/4 of a banana sliced

Lay out one sheet of phyllo and spray it all over with cooking spray (you could use melted margarine and it would be super good, this is just way easier.) Continue until all sheets are layered. Put the chocolate hazelnut butter and the banana slices in one corner of the dough. Fold dough in half length wise and then do a flag fold into a triangle pocket. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for 15-18 minutes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Non-dairy conveience foods

Yesterday I made a trip to Whole Foods. It's about an hour away so a bit of a trek but definitely worth it. I love going there to get hard to find veggies and herbs, really good fish and poultry, and non-dairy convenience foods. Yes I could plausibly make everything we need from scratch, but who has the time? There are some convenience foods that I rely on day in and day out and then I love to find new things that I've never seen before but make life that much easier or fun. Here are some of the things I picked up yesterday.

My old standbys:
Daiya shredded cheese
This is the best shredded cheese style product I have found. It actually melts and it tastes good. Mix the cheddar style with unsweetened soy milk and microwave and you have a quick, pretty darn good, sauce for mac and cheese. The mozzarella is great on pizza. Patrick eats both kinds out of a bowl as well.

Vegan American Singles

This is what I got yesterday and they are good, but I prefer Tofutti single but the Whole Foods I go to does not carry them. These are great for grilled cheese or just handing them a slice to eat. Patrick goes to preschool and cheese is a pretty popular snack so he can bring these and not feel totally different.

The individual flavored type is great for eating right out of the package. The large vanilla I use in smoothies or with granola. The plain I use in cooking or if I'm out of flavored I just mix some jelly into it and my kids are none the wiser. I really couldn't live without these. I've tried the coconut milk yogurt and I think it's too sweet. Pat likes it but it should be dessert not a snack. The almond milk yogurt has a bad consistency, too think almost jello like, and the taste is iffy. Pat wouldn't eat it.

This is definitely not something I "need" on a daily basis or at all I guess, but treats are great and kids love a pudding cup. These are good. The plain chocolate is great too. The vanilla or the banana cream are not big hits at my house but if you aren't into chocolate they are still good. This stuff is so good my husband eats it up. Making pudding from a mix (most powdered pudding mixes on the market don't have dairy in them) with soy milk is extremely easy but it doesn't keep as well and is not as easily transportable. It is a good and less expensive option though.

My new finds
Hot chocolate mix
OK so this is totally unnecessary. I can make hot chocolate with baking cocoa and soy milk and it's really good. Much more time consuming than a mix of course.  Really Patrick doesn't care if I just heat up chocolate soy milk in the microwave but this is fun. It tastes more like traditional hot chocolate. And everyone loves a cup of hot cocoa when you come in from a cold day outside.

Cashew Ice cream
I was hesitant to buy this. It's not at all as flashy as the other non-dairy ice cream brands, which shouldn't be important but you know you just wonder about it. I had never had cashew ice cream. I have made a cream substitute with cashews that was great but didn't last very well. It's also sweetened with agave not sugar. I like agave when I am controlling the amount. It can really make things sweet if you're not careful. I bought it just to try something new and what an awesome surprise. This is the BEST non-dairy ice cream I've ever had, hands down. Amazing.

I live in a small town so finding these convenience foods is difficult. Luckily we are close (with in an hour) to two Whole Foods. Still, I only go about once a month. The cheese I buy about four bags of each flavor and freeze it. It keeps perfectly and you don't have to thaw it to use it. The yogurts shelf life is pretty long. I continue to use it at least a week after the date. Same with the pudding.

I love finding and trying new products and brands. If you have any you can't live with out let me know. I'd love to try them too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Non-dairy "pediasure type" drink challange

Since Patrick stopped nursing, at about 11 mos, his weight has been an issue. For awhile I was having to take him to the doctors every two weeks for weigh ins. As annoying as that was, it was more frustrating to not understand why your child isn't gaining weight even though he is eating well and quite a bit. After a visit to a dietitian that told us to feed him hot dogs, gross, and Instant Breakfast, first ingredient dry milk, I decided to get really serious about his food and write down everything he put in his mouth. At his next weigh in when the doctor saw what he was eating and still not gaining weight he sent us to another allergist. This time we found out he is intollerant to beef (makes sense that it's the whole cow,) pork, and lamb (not really an issue, but good to know.) This explained A LOT. So we cut those meats out of our diet and continued to refrain from dairy. He gradually began to gain some weight. He still is only in about the 25th percentile for weight but that's a massive improvement from the 3rd.

 A big part of keeping him at this weight is a pediasure type drink. The brand Pediasure does not make a non-dairy version that I have found. For awhile the only one I had found was Bright Beginnings. This is a great product! A life saver for us. My only criticism is the price. I pay $9.99 a six pack at a local grocery store. I have not found it any cheaper online. Then one day I was in the baby section at Wal-Mart and I happened to look at their generic pediatric drinks and they had a soy version and it was $7.99 a six pack. I started buying that and Patrick didn't know the difference. My Wal-Mart stopped carrying it so I went online and unfortunately, they are not making it anymore. So I went back to Bright Beginnings and started a new search for a similar product at a less expensive price. That is when I came across PediaSmart. It is powdered which is kind of a pain but a big bonus is that it's organic. It is $10.39 a can plus shipping. I just received my first can yesterday. I was surprised to see that you need a 1/2 cup of the powder to 7oz of water for a serving. Each can makes 56oz of drink compared to 48oz in the 6 pack of Bright Beginnings. Now the really important factor, will Patrick like it. I'll keep you updated.

Busy night Fried Rice

My kids are still very small so our activities are still pretty limited but Patrick started basketball last week.  His practice is on Tuesday so this is a somewhat hectic night for dinner.
My plan for dinner was Turkish Eggplant Pie and salad. Not sure what I was thinking when I planned that but luckily I didn't have any phyllo dough so I had to improvise.  Fried rice is always a quick and easy meal for me. I use up lots of leftovers in it also which I love. I'm slightly compulsive so when I make brown rice I just double what I need and freeze the extra for nights like this. Not to worry if you don't. White rice takes 20 minutes so you can still make this quickly.
Sweet and Spicy (my 1 yr old ate it so not too spicy) Fried rice
2 Tbsp peach jalapeno jelly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 pkg tempeh, cut into small cubes (you could use tofu, chicken, pork, whatever you have to use up)
1-2 Tbsp canola oil
1 to 1 1/2 cups leftover or frozen veggies or a mixture there of
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked quinoa (again I cook a big batch and freeze but it cooks very quickly either way)
Soy sauce to taste
Mix the jelly and soy sauce in a bowl. Marinate the tempeh for 10-15 min. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the tempeh, reserving the marinade for later. Cook until most of the liquid is gone and tempeh is slightly browned. Add veggies, rice, quinoa, and reserved marinade. Mix to coat. Taste and add soy sauce according to your tastes.
I served it with a salad and made Martha Stewart's orange miso dressing, and no my kids won't eat salad either. Don't worry they'll eat enough vegetables in the fried rice.
I think this could easily be gluten free also if you use tamari soy sauce.

I wrote this on my phone Tuesday night, doing a million other things, and I guess I saved it instead of publishing it. Oops!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My milk free adventure

Hi, I'm Megan and I'm Patrick's mom. Patrick is three and extremely allergic to cows milk. We found out when he was 9 months old. I fed him yogurt and he swelled up and broke out in hives. After that trip to the ER I started looking into dairy free eating. It's amazing how many products contain cows milk or a milk protein. Since then we have gone to nutritionists and numerous allergists and I have read tons of information on food allergies, and eating dairy free.

I know there are other moms and dads out there that are just finding out their child is allergic.  I know how daunting it is to come home from the the doctors office with the diagnosis of a milk allergy and look in your fridge and cupboards and it seems like all you see are dairy products. It takes some time but it becomes second nature to look at labels and question EVERYTHING.

I'm starting this blog to show how easy and yummy dairy free cooking can be. Each post I'll put a recipie I made that day. Some are naturally dairy free, others use common substitutes, then there are my experiments. I'll only post what works. There are some disasters but mostley things turn out pretty well if not excelent! Here's todays recipie:

Pear Cinnamon Pancakes

1 1/4 cups unsweetend soy milk (or other non-dairy milk if soy isn't your thing)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 pear (peel on, cored and quartered)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Put all ingredients in a blender jar (a food processor would also work.) Secure top and blend or process until smooth. Pour batter onto hot skillet in desired size. I make about 2 or 3 inch pancakes and it makes about 16 pancakes.

Hope you enjoy this as much as my family did this morning! We had it with vegan sausage and some cut up fruit.