Wednesday, January 21, 2015

beef stroganoff

 I have a confession to make:  I do not like beef stroganoff.  Why am I making it, and then advertising it, then?  My family is obsessed with it.  My husband, my mom, my kids, they all love the stuff.  I have a hard time stomaching the idea of making a sauce out of sour cream...blarg.  Sorry guys.  We also have struggled over the years making one that's comparable to a true stroganoff but dairy free for Nik, so we just don't have it very often.  It's the "what do we do with all of the leftovers?" meal.

That's where today's dreamy stroganoff comes from.  Let me tell you, as someone who has never liked the stuff much before, this recipe could convert me.  (It's probably the lack of hot melted sour cream sauce.  BLARG.)

Ingredient List:
- ground beef
- onions or shallots (I used shallots)
- mushrooms
- coconut milk
- vinegar
- wide ribbon noodles (I used egg-free, pictured below)
- bay leaves
- thyme
- salt
- pepper
- stock (I used chicken stock that I made, you can use any stock you prefer)
- worcestershire sauce
- Just Mayo (You could use any mayo you're using very little.  Just May is egg-free.)

I almost never measure when I cook, so I'm sorry.  I'll tell you how to make it, and estimate amounts as I do so.

First, you'll want to saute your aromatics: shallots/onions & garlic.  I added the mushrooms right away too, then the beef.  You could use steak or some other form of beef, whatever you have on hand or like.  We had an extra huge hamburger patty left over from a few nights ago, so I broke it up and used it.  Saute until browned. 

As your're browning your meat and aromatics, put about 1 cup of non-dairy milk of your choice into a cup, and add roughly 1 T of vinegar, then let it sit.  This will make it sour.  If you use white vinegar, this is a pretty good measurement.  If you use red wine vinegar, use a little less as the flavor will be more overpowering.  Balsamic vinegar is probably not right for this purpose, but hey, if you want...throw caution to the wind. 

Once browned, add the coconut milk mixture and about 1 cup of your stock of choice.  Add spices and bay leaves.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Then you'll let it simmer for about 15 minutes, it'll start to thicken up and become like a gravy.  Add worcestershire sauce once it's thickened so you don't cook out all of the flavor, it's kind of the punch you'll be looking for. 

Start boiling your noodles as it thickens up.  When the noodles are done, drain and set aside for just a minute.  Reduce your temp to low, and add 1 tablespoon of mayo to the sauce and watch it turn into stroganoff magically before your eyes.  Mix that in, and then add your noodles.  Now you have a magical dairy free bowl of stroganoff!  Right before you serve, add some parsley in for color and BAM.  Watch your three-year-old plow through THREE helpings of it. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

turkey enchiladas (dairy free)

So, Tex-Mex is pretty darn hard to do without cheese.  I'm going to put that out there right now.  The flavor profiles really need to be adapted and intensified to make up for the lack of rich, ooey gooey cheese.  I am not usually very thrilled with the outcome when I make many dishes.  They just feel thin and weary.  These enchiladas are the very first success I've had in 4 years of dairy free home cooking.  And you know what the best part is?  They don't use a cheese substitute, either.  They are filling and rich. 
In my head as I was making them, I was calling them "garbage enchiladas", not because of their flavor, but because of what I put in them.  If you've been reading any length of time you'll notice that many times I build my dinners around food items that are needing to be used up before they're wasted.  This meal was the perfect outlet for that!  So, I'll give you a list of items I used, but you can take it in a different direction and still follow the general idea.  You could also double the recipe easily, if you're feeding a bigger family.  This fed a family of four with about two servings left over, and everyone had second helpings.

For the filling I used:
- 1/2 can jalapeno corn
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- about 1/2 cup leftover cooked turkey breast, cut into small pieces but shredded would work too
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 can black beans
- shredded cabbage
- cilantro

Mix all of this in a bowl.  Add 1/2 can of green enchilada sauce (I used Market Pantry brand, it's dairy free), then add salt & pepper to taste.  I tossed in a dash of oregano and a dash of cayenne for good measure, but if you're not a fan of the spicy foods, it's not necessary.

Fill your tortillas with the mixture.  I overfilled because I ended up with not enough tortillas and extra filling.  Roll them up and add to your baking dish of choice.

Add the remainder of filling (if any) to the top, then dump the other half of the can of sauce on top.  Now, if you want a little more richness, you could make a quick white gravy or bechamel sauce.  I did, just to give it the extra creaminess, but it's totally not necessary.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 The gravy, which was very simple, gave it the look of enchiladas when it came out of the oven.  If you want to make the gravy, here's how:

Make a roux with flour and olive oil, then whisk in the non-dairy milk of your choice until it's the texture of a thin gravy.  I don't often use measurements when I make gravies and sauces, I just wing it.  Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  If you wanted this to mimic the umami of cheese, you could add some nutritional yeast, but I didn't find it necessary.  This gravy will give it a savory flavor, but not over powering.  I did throw in a dash of chipotle Tabasco, but that's totally optional. 

Ta-da!  Dairy free enchiladas without a vegan cheese substitute.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

cold brew coffee

Have you had cold brew coffee?  I think it's all the rage right now.  I'm not exactly up on a ton of trends, but I have seen cold brew coffee at Trader Joes in the dairy section, so it must be trendy.  I'm ok with that, because cold brew coffee is so good.  I don't like hot drinks particularly, so when I have a cup of coffee in the morning I usually let it sit forever until it's cooled...then I drink half and forget about it.  But with cold brew coffee, it's a different story.

So, you can buy it.  It's a concentrate, and fairly reasonably priced if you go to Trader Joes, but I'm a DIYer.  I think we've established that already, haven't we?  So, you need 3 things to make it.

You need:
Coffee grounds
A glass jar

I use a large mason jar, and add about a cup of ground coffee to the bottom.  Then I fill the jar with water and shake, shake, shake.  Place it in the fridge, and 24 hours later you have coffee concentrate.  Strain out the grounds and store it in a glass jar in the fridge.  Make an iced coffee by pouring some in your cup and then adding milk and sweetener.  You may want to dilute it with some water, it's pretty heavily concentrated coffee, but that's up to you.  You can also use it to make Ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese Coffee) which is my favorite coffee drink in the world.

When you're brewing it, you can also add things to it.  You could add a cinnamon stick in to infuse it with that flavor, or some vanilla extract (or a vanilla bean, if you were so inclined) like I did to get some vanilla coffee.  Play around, find what you like, and get your caffeine with a smile.  

So what's the deal with cold brew anyway?  Well, I'm no coffee enthusiast, so I can't say I know really except it's good.  It's a little sweeter, it has less bite to it than hot brew coffee.  I've read that not using heat reduces the acidity, but I can't vouch for that.  Let's just go tastes better to me.  It'll last ages in your fridge...not that it'll take long to go through it.  If you get started now, you could be having some this time tomorrow. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

lemon chicken broth

Sometimes I like to get a little crazy in the kitchen.  I like to think of my kitchen as party central.  And chicken broth...well it can be anything but a party if it's just chicken and water, am I right?  I mean, sure, it'll be good enough.  But do we really want our soups to be good enough?  No.  No we don't.  We want some Bang Bang!  We want some Firework!  We want a loud and proud soup full of flavor!  So, next time you're making a boring old chicken broth, try throwing in some parsley and a lemon.  BAM.  Now that's what I call flavor. 

Oh, and if you're so inclined, pump up some jams and dance while you're doing it.  Except don't dance while you slice the lemon, ok?  Let's not dance with knives.  We're partying, but were not reckless.  Right?  Right.

Monday, January 12, 2015

monday sweet tooth

A little flashback to Christmas baking for your Monday morning.  These cookies!  Oh, these cookies.  They were supposed to be lime meltaways, but I let them get a little big so I used them instead as sugar cookies.  Let me tell you something, ok?  I may never make sugar cookies again.  These tasted UNBELIEVABLE, and they looked ok too.  And they were totally vegan, so Nikola got to enjoy them as well.  And he certainly enjoyed his fair share of them, let me tell you. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Do you buy granola?  Stop it.  It's so expensive!  Ok, I know, not everyone has time to make everything...I get it.  But seriously.  Oats are SO CHEAP, and all you have to do is toast them.  You can add any spices, flavors, nuts, grains, etc...and it'll still be so much less expensive than store bought granola.  And forget it if you're looking for store bought granola that is safe for people with peanut allergy...that's like, impossible. 

What do you need to make granola?  Oats, a small amount of oil, seasonings and about 10 minutes.  You can do it on the stove top, or in the oven.  I heated up a tablespoon of coconut oil until melted, stirred it into 2 cups of oats, added some brown sugar and cinnamon, and baked for 10 minutes at 350.  Let it sit out for just a little while to cool so it gets that crunch, then store in an airtight contained.  It'll keep for quite a while.  Ours doesn't last long, so I can't say exactly. 

The cost difference is enough to sell me alone, but the flavor is spot on.  It's customized to whatever you want!  And my kids LOVE to have it in their yogurt for breakfast.  Sometimes we add raisins or craisins to the granola, sometimes we toast coconut with it (add that with only about 5 minutes left to toast, otherwise it'll burn). Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

baked potato + broccoli + ham

Here's just a simple idea.  I'm in a potato phase.  I love a good baked potato.  Russet, Yukon Gold, Sweet Potato...doesn't matter.  I want them all.  Some nights, I throw a few potatoes wrapped in foil into the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour, then I just whip up some quick toppings.  I dream of cheese and sour cream, sure.  But that's not an option for us currently, so I search the fridge for something that will be flavorful and fun.  Some nights it's leftover soup or chili, some nights I just like to chop up mushrooms and red onion with a little truffle salt (my FAVE), and some nights I get crazy.  Like this night.  I had some broccoli, and a few slices of some Applegate Farms ham, which I had been using for sandwiches all week.  I tossed them both in the cast iron skillet with a little salt and pepper, and added some thyme and garlic and BAM.  Simple, flavorful, healthy.  The kids love broccoli, so they gobbled theirs up fast and it took a little longer for them to eat the potato...that they're not a huge fan of.  I drizzled some truffle oil (from Trader Joes) and truffle salt over the top of mine.  YUM.

Friday, January 9, 2015

from where i stand

My next post will be sharing the recipe (or how-to) for the meal I was cooking here, but I wanted to share a quick picture of what I have going on, even when making a SUPER simple dinner.  Because we're a single income family with multiple food allergies, we do best when we have very little waste and make our own...well, just about everything.  So, while I made our dinner (the topping for the baked potato), I was also making vegetable broth out of random freezer bags full of vegetable scraps, plus the scraps from the broccoli we had with dinner, and I was making some sweetened condensed milk (will share later as well) for coffee.  Never a dull moment around here!  I can't afford the time to spend all day in the kitchen, so I get as many things rocking at one time and hope for the best.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it's an epic fail.

cheater chow mein

So the holidays sure were busy, huh?  Sorry about that.  We've got a lot of birthdays mixed in with the holiday season, so things just get...well, you know the drill, I'm sure.  And we're still in the thick of it.  But I don't need to make excuses.  Back to the food, ok?  Because I've got some cool things in the works around here.  I started out my new year by jumping head first into fermentation!  More on that another day...but let me tell you, I'm loving it.

Here is something quick and easy.  I threw it together today for lunch, and though the boys hesitated a little...they cleared their plates.  We have a soy allergy in the house.  A supposed one, anyway.  See, it's positive (and highly so) on the blood tests, but he presents with no symptoms when eating soy of any kind.  Our allergist advised us to avoid it, just to see if it helped his skin any (he's also got terrible eczema) but it didn't.  We've since deduced that his eczema is related primarily to weather and emotion, not food.  That's neither here nor there...back to the soy.  So we went off of soy, but when we realized it made no difference, we reintroduced tiny amounts of soy here and there, primarily in the form of soybean oil/soy lecithin, because his diet is so limited already that cutting out all foods that contained those items really made it almost impossible to shop for him.  Still, we avoid it if we can, and choose other oils over soybean for cooking in our house.  So, while this meal isn't TOTALLY soy free (there is soybean and/or canola oil in the noodles), it's primiarly soy free.  We still stay away from soy sauce, tofu, soy flour, etc. 

This lunch was easy.  I mean, so easy.

You will need:

Vegetables (I used green cabbage, shallot, celery, carrot, mushroom, green onion)
Meat, if desired
Plum sauce, about 2 tablespoons is what I used, but just eyeball it and add to taste
Salt & Pepper
Chow Mein noodles, crispy (but you could use rice, rice noodles, or omit entirely if you desire)
Optional: sweet chili sauce, garlic chili sauce, sriracha, etc
Oil, I used about a tablespoon of olive oil just for sauteeing

I chopped a bunch of veggies and sauteed in a bit of olive oil.  I used cabbage, mushrooms, celery, carrots, shallots and green onions.  Use whatever you have on hand.  It's a stir fry over chow mein noodles, lots of room for you to play around with what you have.  I had a rotisserie chicken on hand from when my grandmother came over earlier this week (she brings a chicken, a veggie tray and oranges just about every time she comes, just for the kids), so I shredded some of the breast into the stir fry.  Use what you have on hand, use things that are about to turn, this is a very forgiving entree to make.  Once the veggies were soft and wilted in the pan, and the chicken was heated through, I added a dash of salt & pepper (how is that for technical?), and some plum sauce for flavor.  Check your labels, always.  I have yet to find a plum sauce that has soy in it, but you never know!  For mine, I also added a healthy dollop of sweet chili sauce and sriracha, but the kids were ok with just the plum sauce. 

It's not real chow mein, but it's good.  You could use rice instead of the noodles and make it gluten free, or avoid it all together and just go no carb.  I promise it'll still be great!  And best of all, even with prep time, it came together in about 20 minutes.  Now that's a great lunch!  And I won't feel so guilty, too, if I happen to give the kids popcorn for dinner tonight.  It's Friday!  Don't judge. 

[This post linked up at Sunflower Supper Club Weekend PotLuck.]