Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coffee Braised Pot Roast with Roasted Veggies

My husband and I have recently started buying our beef from a private farm in West Virginia. The beef is organic, free range, grass fed beef but since it's from a private farmer and not once of these larger farms the price is excellent. And the quality- it's the best beef I have ever had in my life! I will never buy beef from a grocery store again. This time around we split a whole cow with my parents so I currently have a deep freezer full to the top of several different cuts of beef.

Tonight I wanted to make a roast, but I never make just plain pot roast. I have a few different recipes I love ( I will share them all) but I think this is one of the best. I got it from Eating Well Magazine and it's definitely one we will be making again. The special ingredient is 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee. Since we always make coffee in the morning, this is something I always have on hand.


1 arm roast ( you could use a chuck roast too)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2-4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

1.Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, turning from time to time, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Place in slow cooker

2. Add onions to the pans, reduce heat to medium and cook until softened and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in coffee and vinegar. Bring to a simmer. Pour over the meat in the slow cooker.

3. Set slow cooker on high for 4 hours.

4. To make gravy- bring juices from beef to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, whisking, until the gravy thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper if desired. You can strain out the onions if you want.

For variety I served this with Roasted Carrots and Cauliflower with Thyme, Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary, and a cucumber and tomato salad with a balsamic and olive oil dressing.
Carrots and cauliflower:
toss cut carrots and cauliflower with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, pepper, and dried Thyme. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray and spread veggies out on sheet. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies start to brown slightly.
Red potatoes:
cut potatoes into chunks, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and either dried or fresh Rosemary. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes.

(A side note for Moms- my kids both cleaned their plates tonight and even the 4 year old asked for a second helping of the meat and cauliflower so that makes this a kid friendly recipe in my book!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Breakfast Made Super Simple

In my journeys through cyberspace I have come across several recipes for overnight oats. If you've not yet heard of it, this is a fabulously easy breakfast that you make the night before and is ready the minute you are ready to eat in the morning. The only problem I've run into is that most, if not all, the recipes I've found add dairy- usually yogurt. It's so hard to find dairy free yogurt that's not outrageously priced and that tastes somewhat good. So I decided to go ahead and try my own, omitting the yogurt and other dairy products and just make it the simple way.
Usually I make it the night before, after I finish with the dinner dishes and while I am making the kids' lunches for the next day.

Here's the super simple recipe that I made up.
For 2 people:
1 cup oats -I use either the Quaker Old Fashioned Oats or the Trader Joe's Organic Rolled Oats ( I prefer the Trader Joe's but both work fine)
handful raisins
teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
tablespoon ground flax seed- I use the blueberry flavored.
soy milk- enough to completely cover the oats. (You could use rice or almond milk)
Mix together, put it in a covered container in the fridge, and forget about it until the morning.

In the past I have added honey and dried apples.I might try a little pumpkin in it one of these days. The beauty of it is you can make it anyway you want. My husband likes to heat his in the microwave, I eat mine cold. For Moms - even the kids like this!

Thai Chicken & Coconut Soup

Being dairy free means giving up a lot of foods that have that creamy goodness we all love. I haven't had chowder, fettuccine Alfredo, or cream of, well... anything, soup in at least 3 years. And I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it. I do! I thought I was done with creamy soups until the day my Mother in Law made this soup for us. I must have asked her a hundred times if she was sure there was no dairy in it because it was so good I was convinced there had to be. She showed me the recipe and sure enough, there was only coconut milk. The flavors that really make up this soup are ginger and lemongrass. The coconut milk is what gives it the creaminess, and the lime juice added at the end gives it a little tang.
My Mother in Law was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and I have made it quite a few times for my family. Even my 4 year old loves it. That says a lot, because she can be very picky about certain foods. According to both kids and the husband this dish gets the highest rating- 2 thumbs up and "do-over" status ( which is what my kids say when they want me to make it again). Hope you enjoy it!

3 pieces dried lemongrass
6 coin sized slices fresh ginger, unpeeled
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
handful crushed pepper flakes ( or you can also use 2 fresh Serrano or jalapeno peppers)
2 14 oz cans chicken broth
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus sliced lime for garnish
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 scallions, sliced
fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
Fettuccine noodles ( or noodles of your choice)- based on 4 servings

Prepare pasta while the soup is cooking
Smash each lemongrass stalk with chef's knife and place in large soup pot
Slice ginger and crush ginger and garlic with chef's knife. Add to soup pot, along with red pepper flakes.
Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Add chicken breasts to the broth. Cover and simmer gently over low heat until chicken is cooked through. About 10 minute or more, depending on the thickness of each piece.
Remove chicken from broth, and set aside.
Bring broth to a rolling boil and let boil for about 5 minutes. If some of the broth evaporated, you can add more chicken stock.
Strain broth into a saucepan, press on the solids to get all the flavors and juices into the broth. Stir in the coconut milk and heat through.
In a small bowl or measuring cup stir together the cornstarch, 3 tablespoons water, lime juice, and soy sauce with whisk. Add to the soup, stirring until the broth thickens slightly.
Slice the chicken and add to the soup. Let simmer for a couple minutes to reheat chicken and let all the flavors mingle.

Season with additional lime juice if desired

Serve soup over fettuccine noodles, garnish with cilantro and scallions
(This time I chose to serve it over penne pasta. Just as good!)

Original Recipe courtesy of Deborah McWee ( with some alterations made by me)

Monday, October 18, 2010

South African Sweet and Sour Chicken

We have recently been introduced to South African food, thanks to our friends who just recently moved here from South Africa. It's been a lot of fun learning about different styles of cooking and new ingredients that I've never used before. We've had several dinners together at each other's homes- we've made typical American food for them, and they have made typical South African food for us. She taught me how to make a traditional Sunday meal of roasted leg of lamb, potato crisps, and a green bean and potato mash (soooo good!) I made my BBQ, homemade baked beans, and coleslaw. They taught us about Braai's, we've had them over for a cookout. (basically the same thing). But one of my favorite dishes has to be the Sweet and Sour Chicken. It's just so good!

1 cup Mrs. Balls Chutney
1 Cup ( or a little less) mayonnaise
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4-6 potatoes, peeled and cut in half

Preheat oven to 350.
Place chicken and potatoes in baking dish.
Mix mayo and chutney together, pour over chicken and potatoes.
Place in oven for an hour or so, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thinned.
Spoon onto serving platter. Skim fat off top of the sauce if you would like to use the sauce as a gravy.

I served it with a green vegetable on the side.

Recipe courtesy of Rochelle Vermeulen

Curried Butter Beans

This year we joined a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) for the first time. The whole family loved it. Every Wednesday was like Christmas- we'd go get our bag of fresh veggies and the girls would be so excited to see what new things we would get that week. We got red potatoes, white potatoes, vidalia onions, black eyed peas, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, Pattypan squash, eight ball squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, cabbage, radishes, cucumbers, eggplant, strawberries, butter beans, homemade raspberry preserves, apples, green peppers, and more. In a couple weeks our Fall CSA will start and we can't wait. Even the kids are excited to see what we're going to get in our bag each week.

There are several reasons I loved being a part of the Clayhill Farms CSA. For one, we got veggies that we use on a weekly basis. There weren't any "gourmet" veggies that we would never use, or get the kids to try at the ages they are. It was mostly our staple veggies that we would normally buy, so we saved money on our grocery bill. That being said, there were also a few new veggies that we had never tried, such as butter beans and fresh black eyed peas. These new veggies led to trying a couple new recipes that were actually quite good! And the best thing of all- the kids liked them too!
One of these newer veggies was Butter beans. I had never cooked or eaten them, or even seen them before. So I started researching recipes to see what I could do with them. Most of the recipes I found were Southern, therefore calling for cream or cheese (or both). But I did come across a dairy free recipe that I used as inspiration but changed to fit the ingredients I already had on hand- Curried Butter beans. My husband and I love curry and I add curry powder to several of my dishes so we decided to give this dish a try. It was so easy to make and was very tasty. We agreed it makes a fabulous lunch dish- it's light and very tasty, but it's meatless and low fat so not high in calories.

1lb fresh butter beans, boiled until tender ( if not in season, you could use canned butter beans or Lima beans instead)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 white onion, finely sliced

3 medium tomatoes, pureed in food processor (if you don't have fresh tomatoes use canned tomatoes)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon crushed or minced garlic

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like spicy)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Curry powder to taste

White or brown rice

Boil butter beans until soft. Remove from heat and strain ( if using canned omit this step)

Heat oil in a pot, add onions and saute until soft and turning a golden color.
Add mustard seeds, until they begin to pop. Add pureed tomatoes and canned tomatoes.
Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, curry powder,salt and stir.
Let simmer for about 10 minutes, to let all the seasonings mingle. Add Butter beans. Stir and let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
Serve over rice of your choice.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why I am starting to Blog

I have tossed this idea to start a blog around for quite some time. It came about when I started searching for good dairy free recipes online. Most that I have come across are vegan- which of course means no animal products at all. So it's been difficult to find good recipes that are dairy free but contain meat.
Let me give you a little background into my reason for avoiding dairy like the plague. First of all, I used to live off of cheese. Everything I ate had some form of cheese in it. I LOVED CHEESE. Pizza, cheesecake, stuffed shells, ravioli, lasagna, enchiladas, nachos, 7 layer dip... the list goes on and on and on. A few years ago I started developing lactose intolerance. It wasn't bad and a couple lactade did the trick if I wanted to eat cheese. Then I had my 2nd baby and it got worse. Much worse. I was put on GERD medication. I thought I was developing an ulcer. I went to a my doctor a few times and they checked my gallbladder. It took a while but I decided to do the elimination diet on my own. I lived off of rice and plain veggies for a while ( lost several pounds too) but I started feeling better. Ever since anytime I eat anything that has any sort of dairy in it I get very sick. No amount of lactade helps. It was a difficult lifestyle change to make, but it had to be done. I am now totally dairy free. I don't have an "allergy" in the medical sense since I don't break out in a rash or stop breathing if I eat cheese, but it does make me seriously ill. It's really not all bad now that I have found new foods to love. I do miss pizza and crave it all the time, but I have also found a substitute for that. So the past year has been an adventure in eating and cooking, not only for me, but for my family. The hardest part to all of this is eating out and social gatherings. My friends and family have been wonderful trying to accomodate me, but I know it's hard for them. And it's hard for me since there are so many foods with hidden dairy. ( I'll get to that in a later post).
So the purpose of this blog is to share recipes that are totally lactose and dairy free with others who may be in my shoes. And also to share some healthier, but very tasty, recipes with those that are trying to cut dairy out for the purpose of a healthier lifestyle.
I hope you enjoy some of these recipes.