Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Pizza and a Movie" Night

Friday night we made plans to have a movie/pizza night with our dearest friends. Since this is what the day was shaping up to look like:

It was going to be the perfect night to stay in with friends. And, since it was forecast to be a dark and stormy night we decided to watch Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (not with the little ones in the room, of course!)

Since we were feeding 4 adults, 2 teenagers, 4 elementary aged kids, and 1 toddler and I was the only dairy free person in the crowd, I had to come up with food that would please everyone.

The menu for the night looked like this:
Make-Your-Own Pizzas
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Brownies

And the usual "junk food":
(All of it is dairy free!)

We had our 13 year old nephew visiting us for a couple days, and his Dad is a professional chef, who has taught our nephew a lot of culinary tricks. I took him and our oldest daughter to the grocery store to get the much needed supplies for our pizzas and snacks. He convinced me to make the pizza dough from scratch rather than buying premade ones- and I am so glad I did! He also picked out some toppings I never would have- fresh pepperoni from the deli (I usually get the stuff in a bag but not anymore!), fresh ham, and jalapenos. I wanted green peppers and mushrooms as well. We also grabbed regular cheese for all the cheese eaters who were coming.

As the afternoon wore on and the rain came down harder, I got to work in the kitchen baking.
First up were the Peanut Butter Cookies (I will share the recipe soon)

Then came the double chocolate fudge brownies:

While I was busy in the kitchen, my girls spent some time painting rainy day pictures.

Meantime my husband and nephew spent some quality time playing video games.

About 45 minutes before everyone was set to arrive I got to work on the pizza dough. I will post this recipe at the end of this week. I did not take many pictures (mainly because I was covered in flour).

I made 4 crusts- 1 pizza for the kids, one for my husband and nephew, one for Aimee and Adam, and one for me.

We made sure to keep the cheese far away from my pizza- setting up two areas to assemble the pizzas.
This was the "Non-Stephanie-Friendly" area:

And here's the "Stephanie Friendly" Area:

If you have an allergy to Casein, do not use Veggie Shreds. I recommend using a completely Dairy Free cheese such as Dayia instead.

(I prefer to make my own sauce, but was lacking time to get that done so we opted for the easy way out and just bought the stuff in a jar. I had a bunch a homemade sauce in my freezer, but Hurricane Irene took care of that for me a few weeks ago.)

We all got to work building our pizzas, while Aimee put on a pot of "Pecan Pie" flavored coffee from The World Market. Between that and the pizzas baking my house smelled heavenly!

I put my pizza in last so I took my time building my masterpiece.
Sauce, mushroom, green pepper, red onions, fresh pepperoni. I will definitely be making this one again!

Once all our bellies were happily full of our homemade pizzas, we settled in with the rest of the snacks to watch our movie, while the younger kids got to watch a movie in their room.

We all had a great time, and we are looking forward to our next get together.

People always ask me what do I eat for "fun" food if I can't eat food with dairy in it. Well, this movie night was just one example. There are still a lot of options out there for the dairy free crowd, you just have to go searching and be creative. A lot of the time we have to bake our own goodies using dairy free subsitutes. But in the end most of us like to eat the same things everyone else does, we just have to be a little more creative.

When having people over, what do you serve that pleases a crowd but is still dairy free?

Monday, September 19, 2011

(You'll Never Know They're Dairy Free) Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't have much of a sweet tooth but when I do get a craving for sweets my one weakness is definitely Chocolate Chip Cookies. I LOVE fresh home baked chocolate chip cookies- chewy, not crunchy. I have found lots of recipes for healthy vegan chocolate chip cookies, but that just doesn't seem right to me. I mean, a cookie isn't supposed to be healthy, it's supposed to be a treat. It's a COOKIE after all! And unless you have serious allergies to eggs or are a vegan, I don't see the point to making them vegan.

As most of you know I am a huge fan of Trader Joes, and have started doing about 80% of my grocery shopping there. On my last trip I picked up some chocolate chips (Not reading the back, because I knew no matter what my kids and husband would want cookies at some point). I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the Trader Joes Semisweet Chocolate Chips are DAIRY FREE!!

I had been a little hesitant to try making chocolate chip cookies using dairy free margarine instead of butter. But since it was a yucky rainy weekend and I had time on my hands (well, as much as I could have with 3 little ones running around!) I decided to give it a try. And to my surprise they turned out PERFECT! I could not wait to share the recipe with all of you!

I got this directly from the back of the chocolate chip bag. I am sharing it especially for my friends who do not have a Trader Joes near them. ;-)

2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use turbinado)
1 cup softened dairy free margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package Trader Joes Chocolate Chips (Or other Dairy Free ones)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

2. Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, softened margarine, and vanilla in a a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer (or use your Kitchen Aid if you have one) until creamy. Add in the eggs and beat.

3. Add in your dry ingredients and beat until combined.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips.

5. Drop mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.(It says teaspoons, but I like bigger cookies so I always use a tablespoon.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Although I found that they needed a little longer than 10 minutes because I made them tablespoon size instead of teaspoon size. I recommend setting the time for 9 minutes and watching them closely.

These are sooooo good! To me I can't tell they are completely dairy free and neither could my husband. They taste just like Nestle Tollhouse cookies. I made them for a girls' movie night this weekend and shared them with friends- who also loved them! I have found that storing them in a Ziploc bag is keeping them very fresh. If you don't make anything else from this blog, I do hope you try these. They are just that good!
Happy Baking!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

Every season seems to have it's signature fruit or vegetable, that one food that says to us that season is here. For me, Fall's signature fruit is the Apple. I know apples are available all year long, but we don't really use them in cooking in other months like we do in the Fall. The beginning of Fall is the start of tons of tasty apple dishes- apple pie, apple crumble, pork chops with apples, baked apples, and my daughter's favorite- Homemade Apple Sauce. I am sure I will have several apple recipes to share with you over the coming month, but I thought I'd start with this one.

Last week our CSA came with a huge bag of fresh apples. I had so many (because I had also grabbed some from Trader Joes when I was there) that I needed something to do with them. My oldest asked me if I would make my cinnamon applesauce so ,of course, I did. It's so easy, and is a recipe you can definitely play around with.

8 large Apples of your choice. (I used Fuji and Pink Ladies this time)
1/4-1/2 cup Water
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (Less if you want to cut down on the sweetness)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (if you want a stronger flavor)

Peel, core, and slice all your apples. Place them in the slow cooker.

Pour in the water

Add in the brown sugar


Pumpkin Pie Spice

Gently stir the apple to distribute the spices. Set Slow Cooker to low for 8 hours.

Once the apples are soft, mash them with a potato masher. If they mash easier, set to warm and serve when ready. If they don't mash easily, let cook until the apples are cooked down.

We served this warm with a roasted chicken and veggies. My daughters love it, and prefer it warm. You can also eat it cold, of course. If you like less of a cinnamon flavor, just decrease the amount you put in. It's totally up to you as to how you want this to taste.

What's one of your favorite Fall foods?