Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Gluten and Top 8 Free)

I'm not a big fan of pie, but I do like chocolate pudding pie. Not to mention it's the easiest kind of pie to make. In years past I would buy a pre-made graham cracker crust and make instant pudding mixed with Cool Whip for a little piece of heaven in my mouth. Unfortunately, that won't work for my little ones with food allergies.

Last year I made a chocolate cream pie, but it didn't go over as well as I had hoped. But thanks to a little help from my SIL at Making it Milk Free, Enjoy Life Foods, and So Delicious I was able to successfully recreate my favorite pie recipe.


Pie Crust

1 package Enjoy Life Sugar Cookies, crushed
3 Tbsp milk-free butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)

Combine crushed cookies and melted butter and press into pie dish.  Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to completely cool before adding pudding.

Chocolate Pudding

Click here for the full recipe.  I used rice milk instead of almond milk.  My pudding turned out a bit runny, but perhaps I should have cooked it a bit longer.  Also, using almond or coconut milk may help make it thicker. 

I made a double batch of pudding for this pie.  Once it is thickened, cool at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before refrigerating.  Let completely cool in refrigerator, about 4 hours or overnight. 

Spoon half of the pudding mixture into the pie crust.  Mix other half of pudding with half a container of So Delicious CocoWhip.  Spoon on top of pie.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Just prior to serving, top with remaining CocoWhip and Enjoy Life chocolate chips.  Enjoy!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spaghetti Sauce (Top 8 Free)

My family LOVES spaghetti!  And actually anything that has red sauce in or on it.  But buying healthy sauce that is safe for my kids can really add up (sometimes it's over $5 a jar!).  I decided to try my hand at making my homemade sauce tonight.  It turned out to be quite flavorful, easy to make, and cheaper than the store bought variety.  


Spaghetti Sauce

3 cans (14 oz) tomato sauce 
1 can (12 oz) tomato paste
1/3 c oil
1/3 c dried minced onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 c water
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


If desired add some top 8 free meatballs and let simmer for an additional 30 minutes before pouring over some gluten free noodles.  Serve it up with your favorite safe bread, and voila, a delicious, safe meal that can be enjoyed by all.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meatballs (Egg, Dairy, and Gluten Free)

As I walk through the grocery store each week, I always pass the bags of frozen meatballs.  But guess what!  They all have either milk, eggs, or wheat.  And we are avoiding all three!  But it would be nice to have meatballs once in a while.


Tonight I finally decided to make some meatballs for dinner.  I actually made a double batch so I could freeze some for a later meal.  But, of course, my little monkeys devoured the entire double batch in one sitting.  Luckily they are really simple to make, so making another batch will be a piece of cake.


Meatballs

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
2 Tbsp bread crumbs (I used Ener-G brown rice bread)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 c dairy-free milk
1 "egg" (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix all ingredients together and form into balls (about 1" in diameter).  Place in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

I simmered the cooked meatballs in some store-bought spaghetti sauce for about 10 minutes then served it on a bun to make a meatball sandwich.  Next time I'm planning to make some homemade sauce and let the meatballs simmer for a bit longer to really absorb the tomato flavor.  Stay tuned for that recipe.

One piece of gluten-free bread made more than enough bread crumbs

Ready to bake

Meatball sandwich on a hot dog bun

Meatball sandwich on gluten-free bread (with dairy-free provolone)


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chocolate Covered Sunbutter Cups (Top 8 Free)

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is my all-time favorite candy.  But now that we have two kids with a peanut allergy, and neither one of them can have milk, they don't get to share in my joy of a Reese's.  I have seen lots of pictures of homemade peanut butter cups and safe alternatives as well.  I thought I would try my hand at it tonight.  And I don't mean to brag, but these turned out a-ma-zing!  It's worth your 15 minutes to make some for yourself.

I used Sunbutter for the filling, but you could easily use whichever type of butter you like.  Wowbutter or other nut butters would work just as well.


Sunbutter Cups

1 bag chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips)
1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 c Sunbutter
1/2 c powdered sugar 
2-3 Tbsp butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)

Line a mini muffin pan with mini muffin liners (This will make about 12 mini cups).  Over low heat melt chocolate chips and coconut oil.  (The coconut oil helps keep the chocolate from being so messy.  It can create a "shell" if you use enough.)  Mix together sunbutter, powdered sugar, and melted butter.

Fill muffin cups about half full with melted chocolate.  Scoop a dab of the sunbutter mixture into the middle of each cup.  Top with chocolate.  Let set in refrigerator or freezer.  Enjoy!   


Cheesy Mac and Cheese (Top 8 Free, Gluten-Free)

Well, it's back to noodles tonight, but I thought I would at least be a little more gourmet with our noodles for this dinner.  Mac and cheese is a favorite in our house.  I usually just cook some gluten-free noodles and mix in a bag of Daiya cheese shreds until it's somewhat melted.  When I'm feeling facny, I make this recipe of mac and cheese.  But I decided tonight to try a different version of mac and cheese.
This version is much more creamy that the above options, and I added some seasonings for a little extra flavor.  You can use whatever seasonings suit your fancy.  I also used Enjoy Life Plentils because it's what I had on hand.  But any type of chips, crackers, cereal, or breadcrumbs would work nicely.

Since I made this on a whim, I just used what I had in the house.  We were out of cheddar Daiya shreds, so I used mozzarella instead.  Pepperjack would also be tasty.

You may also notice that I rarely use macaroni noodles.  Again, I use what's in the pantry.  I had penne and rotini noodles, so I reached for the penne this time.

Creamy Mac and Cheese

1 box of gluten free noodles (I used Lundberg)
1 package of Daiya cheese shreds
1 cup dairy-free milk (I used So Delicious culinary coconut milk)
2-3 Tbsp dairy-free butter (I used Earth  Balance Soy-Free)
Garlic or garlic powder 
Minced onions or freshly chopped onion
Paprika
Chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 350º.  Cook noodles according to package directions.  I simply boil the noodles until they are tender (or "al dente" if you're fancy), then drain and rinse. 

While the noodles are cooking, melt over medium heat the cheese, milk, and butter.  Stir until creamy.  You may want more or less milk to reach your desired consistency.  Sprinkle in some garlic powder or freshly pressed garlic.  I used about 1 tsp.  Mix well. 

Creamy cheese sauce

Mix together rinsed noodles and cheese sauce and pour into 9x13 baking dish.  


Add onions on top of noodles.  I used about 2 Tbsp of the dry minced onions.  (I'm not really good at measuring, I just throw some on until it looks good.)  Add a layer of crushed chips, then top with paprika (about 1-2 tsp).  Bake for 30 min.

 

This would taste great with some veggies baked on top, such as broccoli, peppers, or peas.  Make it different each time to keep some variety at your dinner table. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Chex Chicken (Top 8 Free)

Our life has been rather hectic lately, and the chaos usually takes its toll in the kitchen.  We have been living on gluten-free noodles in one form or another for longer than I want to admit.

Tonight I had enough time to think about what to make for dinner and time to prepare it.  I had roasted some broccoli a few nights ago, and I wanted to serve the leftovers tonight.  I usually either heat up frozen broccoli or steam fresh broccoli, but I was inspired by a coworker to try roasting some at home.  I simply cut up raw broccoli into a 9x13 dish, spritzed it with some oil, and topped it with some freshly pressed garlic.  Then I baked it in the oven at 425º for 10-15 minutes.  It has a nice crisp texture and restaurant quality flavor.  This may be the only way we eat it from now on.   

Once I decided to serve the leftover broccoli, I had to figure out what to make with it.  We had a bag of frozen chicken in the freezer, so I thawed it out in the microwave to make the baking process faster.  I also spotted some boxed Lundberg rice (like Rice-a-Roni) in my pantry, and I knew I had a favorite meal in the making.

 

Chex Chicken
Chicken breasts
Melted butter (I used Earth Balance dairy-free, soy-free butter) 
Rice Chex (or any other variety of cereal/chips/crackers you like. Corn flakes would taste great too)

 Preheat oven to 425º.  Simply coat each piece of chicken with melted butter, then coat with crushed cereal.  Place in a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes (or until it is thoroughly cooked). 

Another easy-peasy dinner to add to our recipe box.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Fun

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday.  In fact, I could easily do without it.  I enjoy decorating for fall, and I refused for a long time to buy Halloween specific decorations.  My fall decorations would suffice until Thanksgiving when I would trade them out for Christmas decorations.  But beginning a few years ago, the kids began asking for Halloween decorations.  You know, witches, ghosts, spiders, etc.  So I have gradually added to my collection, adding a few small items each year.

Recently I have seen so many cute posts on Facebook and Instagram with great ideas to make school lunches seasonally exciting.  And when I was at Walmart last weekend, I walked past their $0.97 bin of Halloween items.  I picked up a few packages and decided I would add it to my kids' school lunches until Halloween, just to change things up a bit. 

The kid really enjoyed seeing what I packed for them each day.  The lunches themselves are not that exciting, but adding some vampire teeth or a snake makes all the difference. 


When I was wondering around Micheal's last week, I saw these cute spider muffin holders (on sale, of course) and thought that would add a little something special to a Halloween breakfast.  We also roasted pumpkin seeds following our annual pumpkin carving which has made for nice afternoon snacks.

We moved into a new house this fall, and we have already made great friends with the neighbors.  In fact, we got "Boo'ed" last night.  I'm pretty sure this usually involves candy rather than toys, but our super thoughtful neighbors included lots of fun trinkets for each one of my kids.  What a fun tradition!

Tomorrow we will go Trick-or-Treating, and we will gets lots and lots of candy.  But we hope to also see several teal pumpkins, and we will be sure to stop at those houses for non-food treats.  Once we have collected a mountain of candy, we will take it to our kids' dentist office for their annual candy trade-in.  For each scoop of candy, they earn a raffle ticket.  They can then choose which raffle items they use their ticket for.  And there are some pretty good prizes to be won.  The dentist office will send all the candy overseas to our troops.  It's a win-win!  The kids know they are collecting candy for the soldiers, and they get a chance to win some pretty great prizes.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and won't be too cold.  It's no fun to cover up the costumes with warm coats.  But I'm sure we will have fun no matter what.