Posts from ‘Cooking’
You know what’s amazing? Chocolate-covered Oreos. I had never had these before I made them on Valentine’s Day. I was inspired by a post from Kristi Winkels on her blog Eating with Food Allergies – a recipe for Allergy Free Chocolate Candy. I headed to Michael’s and bought a handful of chocolate molds. One of them was the Hearts Cookie Candy mold from Wilton.
They were pretty simple to make. First I melted down 1/2 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (which are both dairy-free and made in a peanut-free facility) mixed with 1 teaspoon of canola oil… in the microwave, stirring often until completely melted. See Kristi’s article above for complete instructions.
About a year ago, I made this dairy-free macaroni and cheese recipe for my daughter – it worked great, we loved it… but it took a long time. Noodles, sauce and baking in the oven with a cracker crumb topping… not so fast for busy moms and hungry kids.
This week when she asked for mac & cheese I decided to make the same recipe, but skip the cracker crumbs and the baking and see how it turned out. And you know what? It was even better. AND faster! So I thought I’d revisit the recipe here in it’s new simpler form:
Dairy-free Macaroni and Cheese
(for a faster, easier mac & cheese version – see my updated recipe the easier, faster dairy-free mac & cheese here.)
Last night, when picking up the kids from daycare, I asked, “what should we make for dinner?”
…just then another child at daycare piped in, “Macaroni and cheese!”
My response was, “Oh, we don’t eat that because it has cheese.”
Avery has never had macaroni and cheese. She has severe food allergies to eggs, milk and peanuts, so I typically make our food from scratch. And the thought of making macaroni and cheese had never crossed my mind.
But I had a strange feeling, an internal dissonance, the entire drive home. And then it hit me, I had seen a recipe for mac & cheese using the vegan, non-dairy Daiya Cheese online. We’ve had great luck making pizza, quesadillas and even lasagna with Daiya Cheese, so I suspected we might have luck with mac and cheese, too.
I easily found the recipe on their web site, and then adapted it a couple of ways to accommodate ingredients I had in the house. I used penne noodles, added chicken (Avery’s idea!), smashed up Ritz crackers for bread crumbs and left out yeast. I also cut the recipe in half, because I knew a half box of noodles would be more than enough for 2-3 people (and it was plenty).
4 ounces (1/2 box) Dreamfields Pasta (see why I like Dreamfields here)
1.5 tablespoons non-dairy margarine (we love Earth Balance)
1 cup non-dairy milk (we use Rice dream)
1.5 cups Daiya shredded cheese (I used both cheddar and mozzarella)
1/2-1 cup chopped, grilled chicken
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers (egg and milk free)
Avery and I both said YUM!
The only part she didn’t like was the pepper flecks, which she tried to pick out. That’s why I removed it from the middle of the recipe and suggested adding it at the end. I found it a bit bland for my adult tastes, and would add a bit of minced garlic and more salt and pepper while cooking if I were making it just for me. For kids, though, it makes sense to add salt and pepper at the end for those who might like it.
As a busy mom, I tend to gravitate towards what I know and make things I’m used to. This was a really good experience for me to push myself to try something new. I loved including Avery in the process so we could spend time together and, plus, it’s fun. It was her idea to add the chicken, which was awesome!
I hope this recipe encourages you to try new things and use ingredients you have on hand to make recipes work for you.
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I’m known for making a mean lasagna. Aunt’s Trudie’s super-delish lasagna recipe to be exact. You can make it and be a hero in your family, too.
But if you or someone in your family has food allergies, or if you are vegan, you may be interested in hearing that you, too, can make a delish lasagna.
Let’s talk ingredients. First, lasagna noodles. For those who can eat wheat, I recommend Dreamfields lasagna noodles. They are totally egg and milk free and are made in an egg-free facility, unlike many traditional pasta companies that make egg-noodles on the same equipment as their other pasta. (This information is NOT on the their web site, however I learned it by calling them and you can call them too if you’d like to verify it). Dreamfields is the only traditional pasta I feel comfortable giving my daughter. It tastes just like regular pasta (because it is regular pasta) and is also great for diabetics because of its low-carb count. This is the pasta we used in our family before food allergies and I’m thrilled we can still use it.
If you can’t have wheat due to a food allergy, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, try DeBoles Rice Lasagna noodles. I haven’t tried these, but I’ve heard good things about them.
The other tricky ingredient for food allergies is cheese. Until now the only casein free (milk protein) cheese alternative I’ve been able to find has come in slices… and doesn’t melt well at all. I’ve found shredded soy cheese, but has that pesky casein… and those with a true milk allergy typically need to avoid that.
But great news people, there’s a new dairy and soy-free shredded cheese on the market called Daiya and IT IS AWESOME! I read an article raving about Daiya in Allergic Living magazine and tracked some down at Whole Foods. The “cheese” tastes more like real cheese than other varieties I’ve bought — and the best part is it melts and even gets stringy. I tried it on nachos, quesadilla and melted into soup… so I felt confident giving a lasagna a try. And people… I was NOT disappointed!
Doesn’t this look like real cheese and real lasagna? YUM!
The secret to great lasagna, in my opinion, is to simmer the sauce as long as possible before assembling. Here’s how I make mine:
1 pound Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage (optional)
1 medium white onion chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tbsp fresh crushed garlic
1 tsp of dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes (undrained)
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
Cook sausage, onion together until meat is brown. Add remaining above ingredients, simmer in a big stockpot or in a crock-pot on low. Let the sauce cook for as long as you can – I usually let mine simmer for about 6 hours!
If you are making this for a toddler, you might consider reducing the garlic and omitting the onion. You can also use traditional beef hamburger – or no meat at all. Although I really love the pork in lasagna, it makes it taste more, well, Italian, instead of American.
I typically make a cottage cheese/egg/parsley mix to add as a layer to my lasagna to hold everything together and give it texture. I simply omitted this step. Some dairy and egg-free recipes add tofu for this step, but not me! I didn’t really miss it – although I did miss the fresh parsley and will add some next time to sprinkle through the layers and on top for garnish.
When the sauce was ready, I layered the noodles on the bottom, poured on a layer of sauce, then sprinkled a heavy layer of both the cheddar and mozzarella Daiya cheese. Repeat – noodles, sauce, cheese.
For reference, I used one full package of each flavor of the Daiya cheese.
Cover in tinfoil and bake at 350 for approximately 90+ minutes. Take off foil ½ hour before end – but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too brown or crispy for your tastes.
The cheese melted great, and look! The edges are crispy! My favorite part!