Monday, March 28, 2011

Imagine Organic Tomato Soup -- Review

My little ones used to love eating their grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (Campbell's), so obviously we haven't had that since the diet change.  I know, I could just make soup, but, the whole point of even having the soup was having an easy throw together lunch that requires little effort.
Well, Saturday when I was grocery shopping and buying more of my favorite chicken broth (Imagine Organic Free-Range Chicken Low-Sodium Broth), I found this soup (Imagine Light in Sodium Creamy Garden Tomato Soup).  My older son was so excited to try it, I didn't realize he was missing tomato soup so much. 


So, this soup was really incredible.  It's just a heat and serve, so no adding water, etc.  It's gluten, soy and dairy-free, and really, really yummy.  My older son loved this soup so much, he not only dipped his sandwich in it, he actually ate the soup by itself as well (which never happened with the Campbell's soup, back in the gluten days). 

I got the soup on sale for $2.87/quart and it was worth it.  It's getting 10 out of 10 from me.  Also, if you go to their website, you can get a $1.00 off coupon. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blondies

I love blondies, or butterscotch squares, which is what we called them growing up.  They are so versatile, a simple bar cookie, or change it up with chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, anything really. :) This recipe is super easy, and it's really tasty.  My favorites are still the corners, so nice and chewy, just like I remember. :) 

Funny thing about this recipe, I totally forgot about the whole, melt the butter and add in the sugar thing that is typical for blondies, and it still tasted incredible.  So, you know what, I'm leaving that step out, because it's less work for me. :)


Blondies
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup dairy-free margarine
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups gf flour blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
optional add-ins: 1-1 1/4 cups of total of dairy-free chocolate chips, walnut pieces, coconut, etc.

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 13x9x2 pan, set aside.  Cream together brown sugar and margarine.  Stir in eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix together flour blend, baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture.  Stir in any additional add-ins you desire.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool slightly in pan.  Cut into bars while warm. Makes 24 bars.
 

Friday, March 25, 2011

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

I have a lot of cookbooks from my past life, and I still like to look through them and try to convert those recipes that I really like.  Tonight, I happened to be looking through my copy of Favorite Brand Name Bake Sale Cookbook and found this recipe that uses no flour and is so easily adapted for our allergies.  I have it below with the allergy friendly ingredients, but you can see from the ingredients that it really is already pretty easy to convert, and really easy to make.  The really awesome part about this is that its a whole grain (quite literally) treat.  I figured it out, and if you cut your pan into 16 bars, one bar will contain about 18g of whole grain (that's a full serving of whole grains!), how awesome is that!?!

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup dairy-free (soy-free if needed) margarine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups uncooked gf rolled oats (pulse a few times in a food processor to make them more like quick oats)
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter

Directions
Grease a 9-inch baking pan.  Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add sugar and vanilla, mix well. Stir in oats.  Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, until ingredients are well blended.  Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan.

Melt chocolate chips either in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir in peanut butter and pour the chocolate mixture over the oat mixture in the pan, make sure it is spread evenly. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight to harden.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

S'mores Cookies

I have a problem...I really like cookies.  So, when I should be cleaning the house, or looking for my son's library book, or any number of other things, I'm baking cookies.  At least my family doesn't hold it against me, they in fact enjoy eating cookies as much as I enjoy making them...I don't know if that's good or not, but at least we're having fun, right?

I had an open box Kinnikinnick Smoreables in the cupboard that has been sitting there for too long, and I just can't throw them out, they just cost too much to do that, so it was time to get a little creative.  Or have someone get creative for me, then I can convert the recipe and use it. ;)  I found this recipe and knew I had to try it.  There are some major changes, obviously making it gluten-free, but I added twice the amount of flour, more cinnamon, and of course made it dairy and soy friendly as well.

By the time I finished making them it was nearly bedtime, but my little ones still managed to down two cookies a piece, and my husband tried one and shockingly said, "Wow, these are really, pretty good!"  And had at least 4 or 5 more. :)  So, they are pretty good, and they do taste like a cookie version of s'mores.

I have this on Cybele Pascale's Allergy Friendly Friday post for March 25th, check out the other allergy-friendly links here. :)


(And yes, the marshmallows are even toasted on top...s'more perfection!)

S'mores Cookies
1/2 cup dairy free (soy free if needed) margarine
1/2 cup palm oil shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups gluten free flour blend
1 cup gf graham cracker crumbs (I used Kinnikinnick smoreables that I put through the food processor)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 package (~2 cups) Enjoy Life dairy-free chocolate chips (mini ones)
1-1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
5-6 Enjoy Life Rice Milk Chocolate Bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, cream margarine, shortening, and sugars. Add vanilla and eggs, and mix well.  In a separate bowl mix together flours, crumbs, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Slowly beat in the flour mixture until well mixed.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Roll into 1-1 1/2" balls (or drop by tablespoons) and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes and remove from oven.  Push 2-3 pieces of candy bar and 2-3 marshmallows into each cookie.  Return to the oven and bake for another 3-4 minutes until fully cooked.  Cool cookies on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies...with Oreos

For those of you that know me, last year I made these cookies for St. Patrick's Day.  So, I converted my recipe and made them again this year, but I had to up the ante--I stuck a kinnitoo (gf oreo) in the middle of some of them....holy cow, yum! But, yeah, you shouldn't eat more than one of those, because each one is pretty much three cookies...just so you know. ;)  I also had a bunch that were just regular mint chocolate chip cookies and they are excellent that way as well. Here's also the Allergy Friendly Friday link to Cybele Pascal's blog, so you can view other fantastic finds as well.


Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup dairy-free margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg (I actually was out of eggs, so I used Ener-G egg replacer: 1 1/2 t mixed in 2 T water)
3/4 teaspoon mint extract
~14 drops food coloring
3 cups gf flour blend
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream margarine and sugars together. In a separate bowl mix egg, mint extract, and food coloring, then add it to the margarine mixture. In a medium bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt, then slowly add it to the cookie dough. Stir in chips and roll into 1-1 1/2" balls and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes. Yield: 3 dozen. :)

Note: If you want gf oreo centers, take two 1" balls and sandwich the oreo in the middle, and press the cookie dough together around the cookie until it is completely covered. I cooked mine for 13 minutes and they were done, so they don't need to be cooked that much longer, if at all.

Dairy-Free Shamrock Shakes

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! This year we didn't to a ton of things for St. Patty's Day, but we did do a few.  We of course had corned beef and potatoes, but we needed some fun things to eat, too.  So, I made Shamrock Shakes.  Below is the dairy-free version, if you don't have dairy issues you can of course use regular ice cream and milk.  It is rather thin, so if you want it thicker add in some ice cubes.



Shamrock Shakes

1 pint Purely Decadent (made with Coconut Milk) Vanilla Bean Icecream
1 1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk or other non dairy milk
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
8 drops green food coloring

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Banana, Mango and What!?! Smoothies

Okay, I love my smoothies and I love Bountiful Baskets, so my smoothies are always based on what is in my basket.  This week I had a lot of bananas and mangos for good smoothie ingredients.  But I also got a bunch of spinach, and so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try adding them into my smoothie.  It worked out amazingly well, you add enough to give a nutrient boost, but you don't taste it, especially with bananas and mangos present. :)  And it gives it an awesome green color, just in time for St. Patrick's Day, too. :) This is also on the Sumply Sugar and Gluten Free Slightly Indulgent Tuesday for March 22nd, here's the link back to that site. :)


Banana, Mango, and Spinach Smoothie

2 bananas, broken into chunks
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 handful of spinach leaves (I had ~6 medium sized leaves)
1 6oz container So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt (I actually had the Mango flavor, mmmm)
Extra dairy-free milk for thinning out, if needed

Blend all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bacon and Turnips

I had turnips for the first time last night.  I was quite worried I wouldn't like them, because they get a bad rap, but surprisingly I did enjoy them.  But it may have been because they were cooked with bacon and brown sugar...that combo makes everything taste good. :)  But really, these turnips were amazing.  This recipe would also work with potatoes, or a combo or potatoes, turnips, and even some apples thrown in there...mmm, I may have to try that out. I got the recipe for here and only did slight adjustments based on what I had.



Bacon and Turnips
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
2/3 lb bacon and bacon drippings
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Directions
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add turnips and cook until tender but still firm (I cooked mine 4-5 minutes, I think).  Drain and set aside.

Cut bacon into 1" pieces and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.  Add brown sugar and turnips directly into skillet with bacon and drippings and mix together.

This post is featured on Real Sustenance's Seasonal Sunday.

Fried Green Beans

I really enjoy fresh green beans, however, fried changes things, I love, love, love them!  I think I pretty much feel that way about anything fried, but I really do love fried green beans, so I had to make a gluten-free version. :) I also had some asparagus in my fridge, and tossed those in as well, and discovered my absolute love for fried asparagus, as well.  So, I think you could coat about any veggie and it would taste fantastic! My recipe is adapted for this one, and is really so amazing.  And once again, from my lack of picture, you can tell I downed the plate before realizing I didn't take any pictures.  Sorry.

Fried Green Beans

Canola oil for frying
1 cup  yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon  salt
1/2 tablespoon  ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon  ground cayenne pepper
1 pound  green beans, ends trimmed
1 cup  So Delicious Coconut Milk
 
Directions 
Heat 2-inched of oil in a Dutch oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Dip green beans into milk, then dredge wet beans in flour mixture to coat. Then dip in milk again, and dredge with the flour mixture again. (I found that double dipping helped keep the coating on when it was fried)
2. Fry beans in oil, in batches, until golden and crisp, approximately 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and serve warm with Fry Sauce.
 
Fry Sauce: equal parts ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together (you can experiment and add in garlic, relish, etc., but I'm lazy and just like my ketchup and mayo combo)

Chicken Mango Curry

Anyone who knows me knows I love curries.  They are aromatic and spicy, and just plain delicious.  I found this recipe here, it is so easy and didn't require any adaptations.  I did, however, have changes, based on what I had in the house, so I didn't add red peppers and I used regular coconut milk not reduced-fat.  I'm putting the recipe below, but all credit goes to Reader's Digest.  It was incredibly delicious, and once again I totally forgot to take a picture, so you'll just have to imagine how good it looks. :)

Mango Chicken Curry

1/2 cup finely chopped onion'
1-2 T canola oil
1-2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts,  cut into 1 inch pieces
1 T curry powder
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hotter)
1 large mango, peeled and chopped
3/4 C coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen)
2 T tomato paste

Directions
In a large skillet, saute onion in oil for 2-4 minutes, add chicken curry, ginger, garlic, salt, and cayenne.  Cook and stir for about 5 minutes.

Stir in mango, coconut milk, and tomato paste; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve over basmati rice.

Caramel and Caramel Sauce

Okay, this recipe isn't perfect.  The caramel turned out more like sugar daddy's, so a caramel sucker, than soft chewy caramels.  But, my boys couldn't stop eating them, so I figured it was still a hit.  I cooked the caramel to about 240 degrees (the soft ball stage on my thermometer), but I think if you don't cook it as long it will turn out much softer.  I did however make a really yummy caramel sauce using half of the caramels I made, I have the recipe for that below as well.

Caramels (adapted from BHG)
1  cup dairy free (soy free, if needed) margarine
2 1/4 cups packed  brown sugar
1  cup dairy-free sweetened condensed milk
1  cup  light-color corn syrup
1  teaspoon  vanilla

Directions
Line an 8x8" or 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan. Generously grease the foil. Set pan aside.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt margarine over low heat. Add brown sugar, milk, and corn syrup; mix well. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until the thermometer registers 240°F (takes about 20 minutes or less). (Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil and watch temperature carefully during the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking as temperature can increase quickly at the end.)
Remove saucepan from heat; remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Quickly pour mixture into prepared pan. Let stand about 2 hours or until firm. When firm, use foil to lift it out of pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1-inch squares. Wrap each piece in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.

Caramel Sauce
1/2 batch caramels (from above)
1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk

Directions
In a double boiler melt caramels and milk together until smooth.  Store in a airtight container in fridge. (My boys absolutely loved this sauce with apples).  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Okay, I"m in the process of putting up my caramel recipe, which I'm sure I'll modify over time, but my family has more than enjoyed it, so even though it may need tweaking, it's definitely a winner how it is, as well.  So, in the process I thought I would post this recipe on making dairy-free sweetened condensed mil, I found it here, but used my trusty So Delicious Coconut Milk and didn't add vanilla or salt.  It's easy, just takes time.

Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk or other dairy free milk
½ cup White Sugar

Directions:
Add the milk and the sugar to a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until volume is reduced to 1 cup (it took me a couple of hours). Cool before using.  May be stored in the refrigerator.

Udi's Review

I am so incredibly behind on reviews, but this one, no matter how behind I get, really needs to be done.  I LOVE UDI'S!  They saved us when I changed my older son's diet, he has been the pickiest with the gf breads, and Udi's has allowed him to enjoy PB&J's again.

I recently got the opportunity to become a community ambassador for Udi's.  This means I get to share the love at Gluten-free meetings and at in-store demos, etc.  I'm not bound to only love Udi's, so I can still try and review other products, but I chose to affiliate myself with this company because of how they have helped us on our gluten-free journey.

Being an ambassador, I got to try everything in the product lineup: (1) Udi's Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread, (2) Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread, (3) Cinnamon Raisin Bread, (4) Udi's Gluten Free Plain Bagels, (5) Whole Grain Bagels, (6) Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, (7) Udi's Gluten Free Pizza Crust, (8) Udi's Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls, (9) Udi's Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins, (10) Udi's Gluten Free Double Chocolate Muffins, (11) Udi's Gluten Free Lemon Streusel Muffins, (12) Udi's Gluten Free Granola, Au Naturel, (13) Udi's Gluten Free Granola, Cranberry, (14) Udi's Gluten Free Granola, Vanilla, and (15)Udi's Gluten Free Granola, Original.


Fifteen products, and they all have been amazing.  When I conveniently switched my boys bread from their white sandwich bread (which they love!) to the whole grain, they didn't even notice.  What mom can say that about switching from white to whole wheat?!?!  So, yes, we are now big fans of the whole grain bread.  I already am a huge fan of their plain bagels, and their whole grain and cinnamon raisin do not disappoint.  My older son is loving bagels now, too.  I don't think he ever really ate bagels before our diet change, but he definitely does now.  I have to say with both the cinnamon raisin bagels, and the cinnamon raisin bread.  That option was always taken for granted.  I chose so many other types of bagels over cinnamon raisin back in my gluten days, but really I almost cried when I ate the cinnamon raisin bagel for the first time.  Being able to have an option at all, meant more than I could imagine.

The muffins are amazingly good, they are like those jumbo bakery muffins that I used to indulge in, I love them.  I've already raved about the double chocolate muffins, which by the way, I never get to eat, because my boys down them too fast.  But the blueberry ones are like eating fresh blueberries, they are so good.  But, I think my favorite is the lemon streusel, I love lemon and they have just the right amount in the muffin, with just the right amount of chewiness.  It's simply heavenly.

I think my boys two favorite things, beyond what they already have as regular favorites, were the cinnamon rolls and the pizza crust.  My older one begged me for cinnamon rolls for days when we tried them for the first time.  And the pizza crust is our new regular.  The first time we had it, my older son ate the crusts off of everyone's plate....he never eats the crusts!!!  It is a thin crust, and we usually go for thicker crusts, but they were so incredibly easy and so tasty, it definitely is a new regular in the house.

Now for the granola, can a just say how happy I am that I can snack on granola again...and how amazing it is that their original granola has pistachios, I love it!  All of their granola is really tasty, and I find myself looking for ways to add granola to everything, just so I have an excuse to eat it. :)

Quite simply put, all of Udi's gluten-free products get 10 out of 10 from me and my family, they have given us back some of that normalcy and convenience we have been missing.  Once again:  I LOVE UDI'S!!!

Another Book Review...Amazing Indian Food

As I said in a previous post, I've gotten a few new cookbooks and have been enjoying them.  I tested out The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes. Anupy Singla was done the impossible, and has taken recipes that I love and converted them to the crockpot.  I've made her cauliflower and potatoes and rice pudding, and both were amazing.  What I love about Indian food, besides the amazing aromas and tastes, is the fact that it's naturally gluten-free and very easily converted to dairy-free when necessary (it's also basically soy-free, too).  It makes dinner so much easier when I don't have to convert things, so I am very grateful to the cultures around the world that do not use gluten containing foods...thank you for your diversity and sharing that with us!