Monday, December 28, 2009

Mashed Potato Soup

This post is not so much a recipe as a suggestion. This is the time of year for creamy, wonderful mashed potatoes, made the allergy free way your family likes them.

Know what? You can freeze what you don't eat. Put them in a baggie, squeeze the air out, press them flat, pop them in your freezer. Instant side dish for any dinner in a hurry.

They also make a wonderful base for soup. Fresh or frozen, soup from leftover mashed potatoes is wonderful. I'd share my recipe, but I can't seem to find it. Drat! Add some grated carrots, some onion and celery, some broth of your can wing or just google it. There are tons of good recipes out there, and soup is pretty darn forgiving with substitutions.

Warm and hearty, mashed potato soup can be vegan, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free, allergen free and very filling. Give it a whirl.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Squash Sauce

This recipe has quickly become my go-to dinner on crazy or lazy nights when I need to get dinner served quickly with minimum effort. I can get this on the table in 20 minutes, start to serve. And everyone in the family loves it. Everyone. How often does that happen? (Although, I have found that if you serve it as a 'build your own' event, the kids love it more. They will eat three servings if they get to pile on the pasta, add turkey, and douse it in sauce all by themselves.)

This recipe is dairy, egg, nut, and soy free. With care it can be vegan and gluten free. Serve over your favorite pasta, or for added protein serve over quinoa. Feel free to brown some ground turkey, sausage, or beef and toss it in if you like. Make it yours, you'll be glad you did.

Squash Sauce

1 bag frozen butternut squash (or about 2 cups cubed butternut squash)
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 c additional broth or milk of choice

Put squash in small sauce pan, add veggie broth, cover and simmer about 10 minutes or until very tender. (This will take a bit longer if using fresh squash.) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in small skillet. Add onion and saute until translucent and golden brown, about 5-7 minutes, add garlic and cook until the fragrance changes from pungent to slightly sweet, about 2-3 minutes. Add this to the squash pan. Use a few spoonfuls of the liquid from the squash to deglaze the onion pan and add this extra flavor back into the squash. Add seasonings and puree until smooth, adding additional broth or milk to achieve the consistency you like. I like to add coconut milk (surprise!) to make this a bit creamier, but you can use any liquid that you have on hand. Pour over pasta and enjoy!

*Cook's Note: Sometimes to change up the nutritional content, I add a handful of frozen carrots or frozen cubed sweet potato to the frozen squash and cook it all together. As long as it is orange in color the kids don't notice. I've even been known to add a handful of white beans to give it a little protein bump.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunbutter Dreams Pie

Do you remember peanut butter pie from your childhood? The kind made with peanut butter, cream cheese and whipped cream? Often with a layer of chocolate? Oh man. Yum. Ok, not that I EVER had that as a child. I didn't discover it until college, when all of the really sinful foods are discovered.

I was dreaming of a slice of said pie when I thought to myself: "Why not remake this to be allergy friendly?" Because around here, no one eats nuts. I googled it, and looked through a few recipes to get an idea of what the basic concepts were. Then I dove right in.

The following is an example of my cooking on the fly style lately. I rarely follow a recipe, seldom measure, and don't focus on accuracy when I do. This time, though, I really tried. Really. I didn't eyeball much.

The end result was FANTABULOUS! Says me. And my husband. Haven't taken it for a test drive with the kids yet, but I think it'll be a hit. This just in: all three kids love it.

Try it out. But only if you have a few pounds to spare, because you're not going to want to put this back if the pie plate isn't empty yet. Despite it being super rich. And bear with me on the directions, there are a lot.

Sunbutter Dreams Pie

Whipped cream:
  • 1 can coconut milk (NOT light)
  • 1/3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 single serve packet Vance's DariFree (or other powdered milk substitute- this is optional but does help a bit with the texture)
  • 2 tbsp Spectrum shortening
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 c Sunbutter Creamy (the kind with a red lid- it has a thicker texture than the yellow lid kind)
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 2/3 graham cracker crumbs (or cheerios, or chex, whatever you can do)
  • 1/4 c sugar (maybe a touch more if using unsweetened cereal- or use a bit of brown sugar too)
  • 1/4 c earth's balance soy free margarine

Step one: Make the coconut whipped cream. This is easy, but requires a little advance preparation. Put your can of coconut milk in the back of the fridge and leave it there for a few days. This gives it time to really separate and the cream to really thicken, making it easier to spoon just the cream out of the can. I originally thought: cold is cold. How much can it really matter after 24 hours? It matters. Twice I have tried this with just over 24 hours of refrigeration, and while the coconut milk has separated, the cream at the top is not thick enough to spoon out as easily as I like, with no extra liquid. Keeping the can in the fridge for a few days really allows the cream to get thick, almost like shortening, and the liquid under it will be almost clear and very thin. Very easy to spoon out the part that whips easily into soft peaks of heavenly yumminess. Yes, it will still work if the can is only in overnight. I just like it to be super easy. (Oh! And really, put it in the back of the fridge. Putting it in the door allows for frequent shaking, which keeps it from separating fully.) Also, I pop a glass bowl and my beaters into the freezer for 20-60 minutes before I whip the cream, to get a really good chill on them. Coconut whipped cream will last 2-3 days in the fridge, so you can whip it up in advance if you want. It is super easy once the coconut milk is chilled, so I wait until I need it. Less likely for some to 'evaporate' in the fridge overnight that way. LOL. That was the long, scary part of the directions, the rest is smooth sailing. You can do this!

Open the can of coconut milk. (DO NOT SHAKE!!) Take bowl out of freezer and spoon the thick layer of cream from the top of the can into your chilled bowl. Be careful to avoid getting the thin liquid from the bottom of the can, as it will make your cream too soft to whip well. Now whip on high speed with chilled beaters 1-2 minutes, until it starts to get fluffy. Add 1/3 cup powdered sugar and one packet DariFree and whip another 1-2 minutes on high, until soft peaks form. Put back in fridge. Done! Don't taste it. You won't want to stop.

Step two: Prepare the crust. Pour 1 2/3 cups graham cracker or cereal crumbs into pie plate. Add 1/4 c sugar and stir to combine well. Melt 1/4 c margarine and drizzle over crumbs. Mix to combine well. Press mixture evenly across bottom of pie plate, and up the sides as far as you like. Set aside. (Chill if you would like. You can do this in advance too, if you want.)

Step three: Prepare the filling. This is the part where I really just guessed, so there is no science behind why I did it this way. It worked, though, so I'm not gonna question it.

Melt 2 tbsp shortening and 1 tsp coconut oil in microwave or small saucepan. Stir in 3 tbsp brown sugar. Heat and stir until smoothish. Allow to cool 10 minutes. (Really, I stuck it in the fridge for about 5 minutes.) Pour into mixing bowl and add 1 cup sunbutter. Mix well. Add powdered sugar, 1/3 c at a time, beating well after each addition. Mixture should be very thick. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of the leftover coconut milk in with the last 1/3 c powdered sugar to increase creaminess. (And keep my poor little hand mixer from catching fire.) Mixture should be very thick now. It would roll into balls very nicely for dipping in chocolate to make home made buckeyes. But I digress. Now, add that lovely chilled coconut whipped cream. Mix about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Pour into graham crust and chill for 1-2 hours until serving. Keeps well overnight. Can't vouch for how long it holds up after that because it was gone!

That was A LOT of explaining, but it really goes together very easily. And it would be sooo good with a little chocolate shaved or drizzled on top. If the allergic kiddo could do chocolate. You can serve this to anyone, even without allergies, with no apologies or explanations. It is that good.

If careful, the above recipe can be dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free, wheat free, gluten free, calorie free heaven. Ok, maybe not calorie free. But SO worth every one of them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

2 Bean Burrito

What family doesn't need a super quick, super simple meal on standby for chaotic nights? Especially during the holiday season when it seems that everything seems to be moving faster! This is one of my favorite quick fix dinners, because it can be made with things that are usually in the pantry and be on the table in 30 minutes or less. And, it is easily adaptable to the spices on hand. I have even done it with no spices and it comes out fine. Not that I ever wing it with a recipe. Never.

2 Bean Burritos

1 can organic pinto or red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c vegetable broth
1 tsp Garlic Garlic seasoning (from Tastefully Simple), or garlic powder to taste
2 tsp Sweet Bell Pepper dip mix (also from Tastefully Simple), or random seasoning of choice
1 c fresh baby spinach
6 tortillas of choice

Put beans, broth, and seasonings in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, return to heat if needed, just to wilt the spinach. (Your bean mixture should be very thick. If it is not, simmer uncovered until it thickens.) Warm the tortillas slightly so that they are more pliable. Spoon 1/6 of the filling into each tortilla, fold up ends and then fold in sides to create a nice burrito. Put seam side down on pre-heated non-stick pan (no oil needed, just the warm naked skillet) and toast until golden brown and crispy. Turn and brown on other side. Serve warm.

Add a fruit and veggie of choice, viola! Dinner. Warm, quick, and easy. Gotta love that.