Friday, October 18, 2013

Chicken Nuggets

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

(All measurements are estimates. I eyeball everything)

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into 2x2 inch pieces (approx.)

In a gallon-size freezer ziploc bag, dump generous amounts of:

- Onion powder (2 tbs)
- Paprika (2 tbs)
- Salt (1-2 tsp)
- Herbs de Provence (1 tbs) (or whatever assortment of dried herbs you have handy)
- Olive Oil (1/2 cup or so)

Throw chicken pieces in and shake vigorously to coat.

Toss in scant 1/4 c rice flour and shake again.

Place in single layer in roasting pan.

Bake for 8 minutes, turn pieces, bake for additional 5 minutes, or until done.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Coconut Muddy Buddies

(Also known as "Puppy Chow")

I've made this with Sunbutter in lieu of peanut butter and my kiddos loved it. I'm not a Sunbutter fan, so I didn't care for it. When I stumbled across the concept of Coconut Butter, I made it with this very recipe in mind.

We were not disappointed. Oh. My. Goodness. If possible, this is actually *better* than the original recipe! Think Mounds Bar + Crunch Bar.

There's a bit of leg work in getting the ingredients together, if they're not readily available in your pantry. That aside, this recipe is just as quick and easy as the original found here.


Follow the recipe for original Muddy Buddies, in the link above.

Substitute Coconut Butter for peanut butter

Substitute Coconut Oil for butter


Note on sourcing ingredients:

-Trader Joe's Chocolate Chips are dairy-free, $1.99/bag

- If you don't want to process your own coconut butter from scratch, you can either:
a) Buy Coconut Butter from (no, I don't get a cut of that)
b) Buy plain coconut flakes and blend it into butter yourself.

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Source for Coconut Oil

I bought the 40 lb tub from I love it. I store the tub in my utility room and keep a quart-size mason jar of it in my kitchen, refilling it as needed.

Including shipping, the price breaks down to just shy of $2/lb. Yes, you read that right. Did I mention I love it? It's about the same price as butter!

Eggless Mayo

Yep - eggless!

It's essentially salad dressing, but it looks and acts like mayo and for those members of my family who can't eat the real thing, I now have "mayo" that I can mix with tuna, potatoes, etc. for "salads" of those varieties!

Recipe here: Eggless Mayo, thanks to Jane's Healthy Kitchen.

Note: I only used about a teaspoon of granulated sugar for the "sweetener." I don't like sweet mayo.

The "mayo" looks just like the picture on  her webpage. I'm impressed!

And the verdict? Well, my egg-allergic son is busily licking out the food processor bowl right now. Need I say more?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Seasoned Rice

My attempts at homemade seasoned rice have always failed, being too bland. This time I upped the quantities of the herbs/spices, wasn't afraid of salt, and added my new good-in-everything ingredient: Paprika. Finally, success! It was a huge hit with everyone.

I made this to go with a freezer meal of marinated bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs.

(Chicken thighs were frozen in a single layer in a large zip-lock vacuum-seal bag, together with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and onion powder. I defrosted them and cooked them in a roasting pan at 400 degrees F for about 40 minutes. I deglazed the pan with some white cooking wine, added some water to cornstarch&onion powder, mixed it into the pan juices and voila, instant gravy.)

Seasoned Rice:

1-2 Tbs Olive oil in med saucepan over med-low heat

Approx equal amounts (1 tbs?) of:

- Paprika
- Dried Basil
- " Oregano
- " Parsley
- Onion Powder
- Salt
- about 1 tsp. sugar

stir until warm and fragrant but *don't burn!*

Add dry rice (I used about 1 1/3 cups), stir until thoroughly coated

Add 2x amount of water as rice. Cook as usual.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cookie Dough Truffles REVISED

EFDFGF (everything-but-taste-free)
Some days, you don't want cookies, you want cookie dough. For those of us with food allergies or sensitivities, we can't just grab a log of the good stuff from the store and it may seem overwhelming to modify a regular recipe. That's where I come in...

Note: This is a modification of a regular cookie dough recipe, but it contains no eggs and I have never attempted to bake it into cookies. This recipe is intended to be enjoyed raw.

1/2 cup butter equivalent:
Option B: 1/2 c. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
CAUTION this contains pea protein.
Option A: 1/2 c. Coconut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp Butter Flavor Extract                    
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2-3/4 cup Rice Flour 
1/2-3/4 cup Oat Flour

I grind oats in my food processor .

I recommend white rice flour from the asian food aisle.
 It's finely ground and inexpensive.
1. Cream butter and sugars
2. Add Vanilla Extract
3. Mix in Rice and Oat Flours

After the addition of the flours, it should look like this.
If it needs more flour, add more. 

4. Form into small balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze until firm.

5. Melt 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate in the microwave, 30 seconds and a time, stir, repeat until smooth. Spoon into a ziploc bag, clip one corner. Drizzle chocolate over cookie dough balls. Refrigerate until chocolate is set.

Refrigeration is not necessary for spoilage reasons, but temperature does affect consistency.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easy Roast Chicken Dinner

My roommates and I decided to cook Easter dinner for ourselves since none of us would be spending Easter with our families this year. I was craving turkey earlier in the week, but decided on roasting a chicken instead because I discovered a very juicy, delicious, and easy roast chicken recipe last year. 

Heat oven to 450 degrees


Whole Chicken (generally 3 lbs, though I used a 6 lb for Easter dinner)

1-2 Whole Lemons

1 Whole Garlic Head

1 Large Onion

1 cup Chicken Broth

1/4 cup Butter, softened (or substitute oil)

1 1/2 tsp Salt

Pepper (to taste)

Garlic Powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

Slice the onion into medium thickness slices and layer the bottom of a roasting pan with the slices. 

Remove the giblets and any fat from the chicken cavity and then rinse chicken. Thoroughly pat dry. Then place the chicken on top of the onion slices in the pan. 

Combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sprinkle 1/4 of the salt mixture inside the chicken cavity. 

Cut the garlic head in half and add one half to the rear of the chicken cavity. 

Roll the lemons on the counter with your hand to soften, then prick with a fork, going all the way through the rind to the flesh. Add both lemons to the chicken cavity (if both fit). Then add the second half of the garlic head to the cavity. 

Rub the softened butter over the outside of the chicken until it is completely covered. Sprinkle the rest of the salt mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle a little of the salt mixture under the skin directly onto the chicken breast for added flavor. 

Pour the broth into the bottom of the pan.

Roast for 60-65 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees F, juices run clear when pricked with a fork, and the drumstick moves easily in its socket. Cover the chicken and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

They. Ate. Thirds.

I was floored, flabbergasted and ecstatic. Two of my three kiddos are light eaters and one in particular generally takes aaaaaaas looooooong aaaaaaas possible to finish his dinner, even if he likes it. Having thirds of anything - really, anything - is unheard of.

We've never read Calvin & Hobbes to the kids, but as my oldest climbed the basement stairs and entered the kitchen, his first question, wrinkly nose and all was, "What's that smell?" 

Who knew Italian sausage could smell repulsive. I personally think it has a pleasant comfort-food aroma. Much to his chagrin I announced that it was dinner and yes, he would be eating it.

Dinner was actually a variation on a theme - the adults in the house being the only members of the family who could actually enjoy the entire dish (due to allergies).

Roasted Potatoes:

Med. Red Skin potatoes (roughly 2-3 lbs) cut in large-bite-size pieces (skin on)
Tossed in:
Olive oil
Onion powder 
(basically every savory herb I could quickly grab, except garlic which one of the kiddos is allergic to)

Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 min, on parchment covered baking sheet. Turn a couple times for even roasting.

Italian Sausage:

Bulk-style (no skin). Pan-fried over med-low until cooked through and crumbly


Sunny-side-up (2 each for the adults, 1 for a non-allergic child)

Shredded cheese for non-dairy allergic folks.


The kiddos who ate thirds had potatoes with sausage on top. They LOVED it. Yes, that grouchy boy who knew he was going to hate dinner, loved it.

It was one of those moments where you want to bang your head on something because you try to make elaborate meals that everyone can eat (and will like) and apparently all it takes is a 99 cent bag of potatoes and some sausage. Well, what's not to love, right? No head-banging ensued because honestly, thirds?!?!?!?! I really can't complain!

Hubby and I had the Potatoes, sausage, shredded cheese and eggs on top. Delish! Garlic-allergic kiddo had potatoes, cheese and an egg (no sausage for her). She had seconds on potatoes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Meatless Friday

This recipe for Smoked Salmon Hash with Guacamole was in the paper, recently.

I thought it would be a good Meatless Friday meal. I like that Wolfgang Puck suggests dicing and sautéing the veggies the night before - he sounds like my kind of cook!

I'm including the recipe here, in case they remove the link at some point in the future:

1 c. red pepper
3/4 c. red onion
1.5 c potatoes
All diced fine
Saute peppers and onions first, set aside
Saute potatoes, covered for 5 min until tender (season with salt&pepper to taste)
Add to peppers/onions

1/2 lb cold smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
1 Tbs minced fresh dill
4 eggs, whisked
Scoop mixture, 1/2 cup at a time into saute pan drizzled with olive oil (med-high heat) cook 2-3 min, flip, repeat.

Garnish with Guacamole (he includes a recipe for this, but I prefer a simpler version)

1 avocado, mashed
squirt of lemon juice
salt&pepper to taste
(may throw in some red pepper or garlic powder)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Chipotle" Burrito Bowls on the Cheap

This is definitely a multi-step meal. It's one of those recipes that only seems manageable if all the stars align. Apparently they did, today.

One of my children is allergic to garlic, so when I had a bunch of tomatoes that needed to be used, fresh garlic-free salsa seemed an obvious choice. I bought fresh cilantro and lime juice for the recipe, which sparked the idea for the rest of the meal...

SalsaFresh Tomato Salsa - I omitted the jalapeños. I made this in the a.m.

Roast Beef* seasoned to taste with cumin, dried oregano, a bay leaf, salt & pepper.

Basmati rice, cooked as usual, with an added bay leaf.
After cooking, squirt lime juice over rice (to taste). Add finely chopped fresh cilantro. Fluff rice with a fork.

Black Beans:
Open can, warm.

Fajita Veggies:
Green pepper and onion, sliced and sautéed in olive-oil.
(Not normally something I'd bother with, but what else do you do with a leftover 1/2 a green pepper?)

Put everything on the table and assemble in your own bowl! Sour cream, shredded cheese and chopped lettuce were available to add as desired.

This was a huge hit, especially with the kids since they never get the real deal from Chipotle. My garlic-allergic child was over the moon about "her" salsa!

*Roast Beef:
I had previously crock-potted a 3 lb. beef chuck roast overnight on low, with a bit of beef stock, a couple bay leaves, salt & pepper.

In the morning I divided the roast into 6 wide-mouth pint-size canning jars (3/4 full), distributing the juices among the jars.

I put these in the chest freezer for later use.

To use: run lower part of jar under hot water for about 30 seconds. The frozen meat/juice then slides out easily to be thawed/warmed in a covered pan over low heat, stirring occasionally. At this point, you can add whatever seasonings you like to make the beef suit your meal.

Why a canning jar? - No plastic flavor!

For this recipe I used 2 jars for 2 adults and 3 young children. This was more than enough; in the future I'll stick to 1 jar.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Meatless Friday

Pancakes and fish. Not normally recipes I would put in the same post, but since they're amazing, I'm eating both of them today (for different meals) and they're meatless, here you go!

High-Protein Gluten-Free Pancakes
*contains eggs and dairy products*

Follow this recipe from Whole Foods website with the following changes:

substitute 1 cup of wheat flour for 1 cup of gluten-free flour (link found here).

I eyeball the milk, adding a bit at a time, since GF flour takes different amounts of liquid than wheat flour. I'd guess I use roughly 1/3 cup.

I skip the oil ever since I forgot to add it once and it didn't make any difference whatsoever.

I also add 1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract. I love vanilla extract.

Cook on a griddle over med heat until the batter bubbles, then flip (2nd side cooks quickly!)

Dad's Amazing Swai (fish)**
*allergen-free, aside from fish*

I'm not sure if he invented this or got the recipe elsewhere, so credit goes to my dad. Thanks Dad!

Cover baking sheet in aluminum foil for easy clean-up

Heat oven to 400 degrees


Thawed Swai fillets, approx 1 per person
- bought at Aldi, $5.50 for a 2 lb bag

Olive oil heated with onion (I'm using powder) and dried parsley to infuse flavor

Crushed potato chips


Blot fillets with paper towel to get rid of excess moisture

Coat fish with olive oil and cover liberally in potato chip crumbs, both sides.

Tuck under smaller tail ends so they don't dry out

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

How tough is that?! ...and it's melt-in-your-mouth, tastes like a-million bucks AMAZING!

P.S. All 3 of my children had seconds!

**Never heard of Swai? I hadn't either. Here's a brief introduction to this delicious, inexpensive fish.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Amazing Slow-Cooker Potatoes

I needed a mostly make-ahead, quick-finish brunch recipe for after church yesterday.

Inspired by the skillets I love at Ann Arbor's Café Marie, and combining this family-favorite recipe with this technique, I ended up with mouth-watering potatoes and a great brunch-food base. Potato recipe first, and then I'll tell you how I made a meal out of it.

Amazing Slow-Cooker Potatoes

  • 2-3 lbs. thin-skinned (gold) potatoes, scrubbed, rinsed, and cut in 1/2" pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed fine [optional]
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • generous sprinkling of garlic powder [optional]
  • 2 teaspoons medium-coarse salt
Put olive oil or butter in the slow cooker and turn it on high while you wash & cut up the potatoes.

Mix the seasonings together in a bowl.

When the butter in the slow cooker is mostly melted or the oil is warm, add the potatoes to the slow cooker and stir around to coat with the butter / oil. Add the seasoning mixture and stir to coat.

Put the lid on and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours.

Slow-Cooker-Potato Brunch (serves 6)
  • Slow-Cooker Potatoes, as prepared above
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 package baby spinach
  • grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half (I use kitchen shears)
  • cheddar cheese, grated [optional]
  • butter / oil for cooking
When the potatoes are done:

Cook 6 eggs in butter / oil in a skillet, sunny-side up.

Melt butter / heat oil in another pan (I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven); add spinach and grape tomato halves. Cook until spinach is wilted. 

Add spinach & tomatoes to potatoes (or vice versa), and stir to combine, along with cheese, if desired.

Top serving of potatoes/spinach/tomatoes with a sunny-side up egg.

Finish with a slice of the apple pie that your brunch guests brought. Yum!

Friday, February 22, 2013

GF Flour & Perfect GF/DF Pie Crust

GF Gluten-Free, DF Dairy-Free

This flour mix is wonderful for quick breads, pancakes, roux, etc. Use 1:1 for wheat flour substitution.

Gluten-Free Flour Recipe

Note: I don't add the baking soda or baking powder, as not all recipes call for these.

I recommend multiplying the recipe and storing it at room temp in an air-tight container.

The following flours/starches are made by Bob's Red Mill, available at Whole Foods and

White Rice Flour

Sorghum Flour

Potato Starch

Xanthum Gum (a little goes a long way, so don't like the price shock you!)

For the Tapioca Starch/Flour I use Ener G brand - available at Whole Foods,,


I got the basis for the pie crust recipe from the bottom of a Morrell Snow Cap Lard box - yes, lard. yum.

The Perfect Pie Crust
yield: 2 single crusts or 1 double pie crust

2 c Flour (Wheat or the above Mix)

1 tsp Salt

2/3 c Lard or cold Butter (in pieces)

5 or so Tbsp ice water (see note)

Note: Before I begin the recipe, I fill a small bowl with cold tap water, put an ice cube in it and pop it in the freezer. By the time I'm ready for the water, it's ice cold


Mix flour and salt.

Cut in lard or butter with pastry blender or forks until mix resembles small peas.

Add water a small amount at a time just until mixture sticks together when pressed agains the side of the bowl.

Lay 2 baking-sheet-size pieces of plastic wrap on counter. Divide mixture between each sheet. Gather plastic wrap and press dough into a flattened ball. Wrap the plastic wrap around the ball. Place both balls in the fridge to chill.

Lightly flour a Pastry Cloth and Rolling Pin Cover.

Roll out chilled pastry dough to 1/8" thick. Trim to size and invert into pie plate or freeze for later use.

Bake in pie plate at 450 degrees for 8-10 min, or follow your pie's recipe.

TO FREEZE FOR LATER USE: Place rolled dough on parchment paper and roll up paper. Place in a freezer ziploc bag. Freeze. Defrost on counter in bag, until soft enough to unroll, about an hour.


Yes, I use lard as a butter substitute in crusts for my dairy-allergic children. I tried going to a local  butcher in hopes of buying real (non-hydrogenated) lard. Unfortunately, he explained, since everyone's scared of lard, I'd be lucky to be able to buy the leaf-lard fat (to render myself) from a butcher who does their own slaughtering. Who knew. Well, there's an education for you. Real lard: Rarer than gold.

If you know of a source of real lard in the Twin Cities, please let me know!

I did find one source in Mankato: Prairie Pride Farm...also as expensive as gold (ok, not quite).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wheat Intolerance, with helpful links

About two years ago I started feeling old. I mean, older than I am. Every morning I would wake up with painfully achey joints. In addition, I was a lovely sight: swollen face and fingers. These symptoms would subside throughout the morning, but it certainly didn't make this non-morning person any more inclined to open her eyes each day.

To cut a long story short, I unintentionally cut wheat out of my diet for a couple days. When I realized I was feeling better and reviewed what I'd eaten, I started to put the pieces together.

Some further self-testing* confirmed my suspicions. Additionally, I discovered that the rebound-hypoglycemia I experienced, especially after eating high-protein whole wheat bread, was part and parcel of wheat intolerance. 

No aches, no swelling, and stable blood sugar resulting in a stable me? Yes please!

BUT WAIT I LOVE BREAD! Yes, it was hard. I would drive past Little Caesars, home of those delicious morsels of Garlic Cheese Bread, crying inwardly about how I would never again taste them. Soft pretzels, pizza, pasta (oh how I LOVE pasta), donuts, subs, tortillas (a good tortilla can be the best part of the burrito!)

I'm sure you're getting a mental image of me as a 300 lb carb-a-holic. Fortunately, I have a healthy BMI and reasonable self-control (sometimes). But I do love bread and this was no small sacrifice. 

Nearly two years down the road of wheat-avoidance (yes, I indulge every one in awhile) I have made some discoveries that I'd love to share with others trudging along this path. And, if you have any hints or recommendations, please feel free to share them!

Gluten-Free Bisquick Mix - makes great pancakes, but I don't recommend the pizza crust recipe.

Heartland Gluten-Free Pasta - amazon sells this as well, but it's much pricier. 

Bob's Red Mill - sells all sorts of flours/starches that when combined appropriately make great quick breads and pie crusts! (that will be another post)

Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers - best price at Sam's Club, but also sold at grocery stores and amazon

Bittersweet Bakery - located in Eagan, MN. All items are wheat/gluten-free! The mint brownie I had was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!

If you're looking for more information about wheat intolerance Wheat Belly is an easy, if fad-ish, read. 

Oddly enough, this book pointed me in the direction of alternative wheats. I'm sure this wasn't the author's intention (especially since he highlights how we are all dying from any and all wheat ingestion). However, I have recently tried baking bread with two of the alternate-wheat-flours he mentions: Spelt and Einkorn. Surprise, surprise, so far so good! No aches, swelling, rebound-hypoglycemia...yet. I'm cautiously optimistic, but not ruling out the possibility of greater exposure causing symptoms.

*I need to be careful how I approach any self-testing - and so do you! I'm currently pregnant with our fourth blessing and this is the first pregnancy in which my hormone levels have been normal and I'm not experiencing pre-term labor symptoms. Could this be related to my wheat-free diet? I strongly suspect so. My wheat symptoms all fall into the auto-immune category, so it makes sense to me that my hormone levels would also be disrupted by the wheat-triggered auto-immune response, and corrected by the absence of the irritant.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Allergen-Free Granola

I must start by giving credit where credit is due. I follow the bulk of THIS RECIPE, omitting the nuts.

If you have an allergy to coconut, this is not the recipe for you.

This recipe was born out of prayers for inspiration for a nutritious breakfast that everyone in our multiple-allergy family could eat. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

At the bottom I've included a list of where I've some of the more expensive ingredients, at the best price. If you know of a better price, please let me know!

For ingredients and directions for this granola recipe please see the link above, with this exception:

Omit the almonds and sunflower seeds*, substituting 1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), chopped. Add these at the end, along with the dried fruit, so they remain raw. I use Craisins, chopped, as the dried fruit in this recipe.

*While my children aren't allergic to sunflower seeds, they have developed hives due to cross-contamination of the bulk seeds. Additionally, I feel the sunflower flavor is overpowering in the granola. I much prefer the neutral flavor of the raw pumpkin seeds.

Baking time - Since ovens differ, this require a bit of experimentation. I found an initial bake of 13 min followed by 7 minutes to be perfect for my oven.
*Note - granola crisps as it cools. The granola is done baking when it has a light honey color. If baked past this point it will be bitter.

I've been playing around with the quantities of the sweet ingredients, trying to get them down to a minimum without compromising taste. For a start, I use unsweetened coconut flakes.

Best prices:

Coconut Oil - $18 for 29 oz ($.50/oz)

I know Trader Joe's sells this, I think it's more expensive there, but to be honest I'm not sure.

Coconut Flakes - $15 for 4, 12 oz bags

Unsweetened coconut has been hard to find. Please let me know if you know of somewhere else to find it! Additionally, these flakes are rather large and require chopping prior to adding to the recipe.

Raw Pumpkin Seeds - Trader Joe's, $6.50 for 1 lb.

This is the best price that I've found. It seems they they are universally $9/lb everywhere else.

Craisins - Sam's Club - $8 for 48 oz

Monday, February 18, 2013

DF/GF Creamy Potato & Bacon Soup

DF = dairy-free
GF = gluten-free


1 lb (ish) bacon, chopped, grease reserved
8 potatoes, chopped 1/2 - 1 inch (whatever your preference is)
1 cooking onion, chopped fine
generous dash Celery Seed
1 cup UNSWEETENED Coconut Milk (So Delicious brand has no coconut flavor!)
5 cups Chicken Broth


Boil potatoes in salted water, drain (see note, below)

Fry bacon,
Pour 4-5 Tbs bacon grease into Dutch Oven over med heat
Add onion, cook for 5 min or so, reduce heat
Add celery seed cook for another min
Whisk in 4-5 Tbs gluten-free flour. Whisk until smooth
Pour in Coconut Milk (this will cause it to thicken rapidly)
Immediately Stir in Chicken Broth, stirring until smooth

Add chopped bacon and cooked potatoes


Note: I'm sure you could cook the potatoes in the soup, but I'm leaving the house and will be putting the soup in the Crock Pot on warm for a couple hours before dinner, so I cooked them separately to make sure they were thoroughly cooked before adding to the soup and heading out.