Monday, October 24, 2011

"Extending the Table" with Curried Peas and Potatoes

As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I are working our way through a special cookbook called "Extending the Table". We found this gem of a book at Ten Thousand Villages, which is a store that sells fair trade, handmade products from countries all over the world. The proceeds from the sales of the products always go back to the artisan and the village it came from. My favorite item from the store is a pendant in the shape of a Peace Dove. It is made from bomb shell casings that are found all over the countryside in Cambodia. The word Peace is engraved on it in both English and Khmer. I keep it on my key chain (since I use them several times a day) as a constant reminder of how truly blessed and lucky I am to raise my daughters in a peaceful nation, and to not complain about the small unimportant things because I really don't have a reason to complain, even on my bad days.

On one of our visits to the store I came across this cookbook. I really liked the messages of this book- More with Less and generous hospitality. More with Less started with another cookbook put together by Doris Janzen Longacre in 1976 in response to the world food crisis. She compiled recipes that encouraged people to look at how they ate and reduce how much food they used and wasted in meals. The other message is about sharing what you have, regardless of how little you do or don't have. There are stories throughout the book of families sharing their meal with missionaries, even though they barely have enough for themselves.

The beauty of these recipes is that they do not use a ton of ingredients, nor are they difficult to prepare. They usually come from villages where Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart don't exist. The ingredients are basic, and if it is something that is not common in the States (or Canada), the author has listed a substitute.

This week's recipe is Curried Peas with Potatoes from India.

2 Tablespoons Oil
2 1/2 teaspoon ginger root, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (Cayenne pepper)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped OR 2 cups canned tomatoes
1 1/2 Tablespoon cilantro OR 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1-2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup water
3 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

1.In a medium saucepan, (I used my cast iron pot) heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add and saute the 2.5 teaspoons of ginger root, 2.5 teaspoons of garlic, 1/2 cup of onion, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

2.When the onions are brown, add 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and the 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and the cilantro or coriander (I used coriander).

4. Cook that for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid evaporates and then add the potato and water. If you use canned tomatoes, use less water- about a 1/4 cup.

5.Stir well, bringing it to a boil. After 10 minutes add the peas. Cook until the potatoes and peas are done. At this point I added the Garam Masala as well. I let it simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes on low.

Serve over rice as a main dish, or as a side to another curry meal. We had it as a meal, and it was quite filling.

My husband suggested that it would also be really good as a side with my South African Sweet and Sour Chicken .

"Kindness does not go rotten"
~Swahili proverb

Friday, October 21, 2011

Flash Back Friday: Ginger Carrot Slices

I am going to start a new weekly post: Flash Back Friday. It seems I have a lot of new followers (thanks to my Twitter and Facebook) and I am so excited about that!! I want to make sure my newest readers get to see some of my favorite recipes from the past.

Today's Flash Back: Ginger Carrot Slices.

As you'll see from the post I got this recipe from a South African cookbook I borrowed from my dear friend, who has since returned to South Africa. I made these slices for my in-laws and friends of theirs that were visiting from France. I served them with an assortment of tea and coffee after an evening of wine tasting at the Williamsburg Winery. They are easy to make, not overly sweet, and not heavy like most desserts can be. I am going to be making these again soon!

On a side note: apparently I missed my 1 year Blog Anniversary-oops! (With 3 kids and a husband to keep track of, things like when I started blogging tend to pass by unnoticed.) According to my blog list, my very first post was on October 5th, 2010. I can't believe I have already been at this for one full year! In that time I have gotten to connect with some awesome Dairy Free Bloggers. In another post coming up soon I will list other Dairy Free resources and share which ones I follow most often. But, I do owe a HUGE Thank You to Dairy Free Betty- she has been so very helpful and supportive of my little blog and I am very grateful to her for that!

Until next time: Happy Cooking!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bi-Weekly Meal Planning

Another week has started, and with that comes a hectic schedule to keep up with. Saturday afternoon we sat down and put together our grocery list and a bi-weekly menu, then hit the grocery stores. (I know, what a fun way to start the weekend). Feeding 5 people for 2 weeks takes planning, especially with all the activities thrown in.

When we plan our menu I always sit down with our activity calendar, a couple of cookbooks (or food magazines), and several pieces of paper- one for the menu, one for the grocery list, and one to rewrite the menu when I'm done scribbling on it.
We try to plan simple meals for our busiest nights, like soccer nights, and try to overlap a few meals and use the leftovers. For example, we're having breakfast for dinner on Monday so we'll save some of the bacon and use that for BLT's the next night since we have soccer. It saves time, money, and keeps us from wasting food.

For the new recipes this week I have a couple of cookbooks that I have been wanting to try out:

This South African cookbook my friend Rochelle gave to me last year. I have not yet tried anything from it, but there are so many recipes I have bookmarked. This menu includes two from this book: African Spiced Soup and Layered Mushroom Bake. I can't wait to try them!

This cookbook I picked up at Ten Thousand Villages a long time ago. The idea behind it is more with less. Each recipe is from a different country, and there are stories of extreme generosity shown by those who have nothing to give, but still find a way to through a simple meal. We have already tried a few really good recipes, and we plan to include at least one recipe on our weekly menus from now on.

After about 30 minutes here's what we came up with:

Saturday: Pizza Night (Friday turned into Sushi night)
Sunday: Chipotle in Charlottesville (we went Apple Picking)
Monday: Brinner- Belgian Waffles with apple topping, bacon and eggs
Tuesday: BLT's - we have a soccer practice so we'll use the leftover bacon for sandwiches)
Wednesday: Oven Roasted Chicken, steamed broccoli, and rosemary potatoes
Thursday: Chicken Salad Pitas (using leftover chicken), carrots sticks, and chips- we have drama class and a soccer game
Friday: Family Fun Night-Homemade pizzas and a movie
Saturday: Curried Peas and Potatoes with Rice (new recipe)
Sunday: Marinated grilled chicken, veggies, fries
Monday: Brinner (Monday is now breakfast night- the girls' favorite)
Tuesday: BLT's - we have another soccer game
Wednesday: African Spiced Soup (new recipe)
Thursday:Slow cooker Italian chicken with pasta
Friday: Family Fun Night- Homemade pizzas and a movie
Saturday:Layered Mushroom Bake (New recipe)
Sunday:Pumpkin Carving Party
Monday: HALLOWEEN- I haven't decided yet but it will be something fun!

We also plan for breakfasts and lunches.
Overnight Oats, Slow cooker Oats, cold cereal, bagels.

PB&J or mac and cheese for the kids, lunch meat sandwiches or leftovers for my husband, and I have some Amy's Lentil soup or open face avocado sandwiches.

So there you have it- our meal plan for two weeks.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cooking with Cat- "Purple People Eater" Smoothie

I have been meaning to get Cat back in the kitchen but there hasn't been a good time to until last week. Since she does an online charter school now she's home all morning. She seems to be in a bit of a growth spurt again so she wants a mid morning snack by 10:30. The other day out of the blue, she asked me to make her a smoothie. She was feeling tired from her trip to Charlotte with my parents and needed something to help wake her up. She's turning into my little "health nut" (Just like her Mommy)so she knows that fruits and veggies are a necessary to feeling good, and she does eat a ton of both! I always keep frozen organic berries in the freezer so I had plenty of ingredients on hand to make just what she wanted.

Cat wanted to try and make hers and the Little One's on her own, so I let her. She picked out raspberries, blueberries, banana, spinach (Yes- she picked the spinach), and Vanilla soy milk. I offered her coconut milk but she wanted the soy. I let her put all the ingredients in food processor and work the button until she thought it was pureed enough.(still working on getting a blender- every time we're out I forget to pick one up! I used to have 2 but both got lost in a move.)

She had a great time getting to make a treat for her little sister, and an even better time drinking her own smoothie!

She's nicknamed this the "Purple People Eater" Smoothie:

1/2 cup organic raspberries
1/2 cup organic blueberries
1 half of a ripe banana
small handful of fresh spinach
Vanilla soymilk (or non-dairy milk)

Put all the fruits and spinach in a the blender (or in our case food processor).

Cover with soy milk. The less you use, the thicker it will be, use more and it will be thinner. It's all up to your (or your child's) taste. Cat liked hers like a milkshake.

Blend until all the fruits and veggies are pureed.

Pour into a glass, or a sippy cup for the Little One.

It's the perfect healthy snack for kids! And they love it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dairy Free Meal Planning For a Busy Family

We have such a busy life these days. Much busier than ever before, as do most parents with school aged children. Our oldest is in sports and has either a game or practice 3 days a week, takes a drama class one night a week, and is in Brownies.

Our middle daughter is in preschool and takes a drama class.

Sam as a Blowfish last year in their winter show.

And being a Stay-AtHome-Mom by choice, I have also chosen to be involved in my kids activities so I am the Team Mom for her soccer team this season and her Brownie Leader. As for the middle one, I volunteer in the Art room throughout the year, help with class parties, and volunteer for other various classroom activities throughout the year. I will also volunteer to help with their performances when the time comes. At this point the Littlest One just tags along when she can, but soon enough she will also be in activities.

On top of all of that we also home school/online charter school the oldest one, the middle one will start next year as well.

So is this point of all of this to brag- absolutely not. The point is that, like every other mother of multiple kids in activities I am BUSY. But around all those activities I still have to find time to clean (I'm a closet neat freak and can't stand a dirty house, although some days you'd never know!) and do daily chores around the house, keep up with the laundry for 5 people (which I am not very good at), and most importantly, feed my family healthy, dairy free meals.

An example of some of the craziness: here is what tomorrow night is looking like for us:

Middle daughter's Open House from 5-6pm
Oldest daughter's soccer game at 5:45-6:45
Girl Scout Service Unit meeting at 7pm.

When in there are we supposed to eat dinner? If we eat at 4, everyone will be hungry by 7, if we wait to eat after my meeting, that interferes with the baby's bedtime. So I am going to have to have something ready for after soccer, while I am at my meeting, and I will eat when I get home. This is how a couple days in the week often go lately. Now, we could just eat fast food or out somewhere but 1.)we aren't a fast food family, and 2.) eating out with a dairy issue isn't easy. So weekly menus are a must and take a lot of thought and planning in our house. I know I am not alone in this, and there are a lot of other Moms out there either with food allergies/intolerance or with kids with food allergies asking the same questions every week so I thought I would add a weekly (or Bi-weekly) meal planning post to my blog that will include easy to make/make ahead meals for a busy family.

Since this week is almost over, it will be a short one. But here's the plan:

Overnight oats: I mix them up after I clean up the dinner dishes. Saves time both at night and the next morning. Next week we'll do more slow cooker oats too.

Morning Snack:
Smoothies for myself, and the two girls at home.

Middle One: takes a sandwich, applesauce or goldfish, and a juice to preschool.
Big One: PB&J, goldfish, yogurt, and a drink
Little One: She's on a scrambled egg kick lately so she'll probably have that and fruit or veggie.
Me:Hummus with veggies and pita bread, or an open face avocado sandwich with veggies.
Husband: He takes the leftovers to work.

Monday: We had Vegetable Fried Noodles
Tuesday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (Leftovers are in the freezer for another night next week)
Wednesday: Meatless Black Bean Enchiladas
Thursday: Easy Italian Chicken - I'll start it on the stove and move it to the slow cooker so the family can eat after soccer and before I get home.
Friday: Pizza Night.

I also want to show you all that yes, I do actually make the recipes I post. These aren't one timers, the meals that make the cut are ones that have been kid tested and husband approved for the blog (It's a family affair).

Saturday we'll all sit down and plan out the next 2 weeks for meals- all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for 14 days. Not my most favorite thing to do, but a definite necessity. The menu will then go on the fridge for the week. (Except this week because I forgot-oops!)
What do you do for dinner on super busy nights?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

If you've been following previous posts or my Facebook page, you know that earlier this week my slow cooker died on me, in the middle of making dinner! My husband knows that it is my favorite kitchen appliance (aside from my coffee/cappuccino maker) and that I needed a new one ASAP. A busy Mom of 3 cannot live without a slow cooker (at least this one can't!) I use it at least once a week, especially in the Fall and Winter months.

Since I had this shiny new Crock Pot to try out, I decided to try out a brand new recipe in it for dinner the other night. (After all, who can resist trying out a brand new kitchen gadget?)
I am always on the search for new slow cooker recipes, and came across this site in my search. From here I found a recipe for a super easy BBQ chicken. The only problem, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. So I decided to use what I did have, items that I felt were similar and would have the same results.

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups Barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Rays because it's the best!)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp.smoked sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

Wash the chicken. I ALWAYS wash chicken before I use it.
Mix together the barbecue sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.

Place the chicken in the slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce mixture over it.

Set the slow cooker on low for 4-5 hours and let it cook.

I served this with my (Almost) homemade baked beans and Trader Joes Organic Foursome vegetable medley. Next time I might make up a skillet cornbread to go with it too!

I actually left this in the slow cooker for longer than intended. We had to run out to do a couple very quick errands last night before dinner and got stuck in traffic for an hour! But I am happy to say it was still very good, and had not dried out at all. It just didn't leave me any extra time to take a good picture of the finished product.

So this is what you get. I had cut my daughters' meat on my plate first, not thinking about needing to take a picture. So it's an embarrassingly bad photo, but I promise it was DELICIOUS!

Here are a couple of my other slow cooker recipes with many more to come soon!:
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Applesauce

Coffee Braised Pot Roast

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Patches and Pot Pie- The Perfect Fall Day

Halloween is definitely one of our favorite holidays in our family (the only one better is Christmas of course!) Yesterday we celebrated the beginning of Fall and upcoming Halloween by going to the Pumpkin Patch to get our pumpkins, mums, and hay bale for outside.

The girls love decorating for Halloween as much as they love decorating for Christmas, and every year we add to what we have. I have a feeling that one of these days we will be that crazy house in the neighborhood that people drive by on purpose. Once we got home from our adventures at Pumpkinville, we set to work getting the house decorated. The kids and my husband got to work on the yard while I got to work on dinner. Here's a sneak peak at what they have come up with so far:

Meet "Mr. Bones". Yes we named him.

Huge hairy spider- we are going to light him up somehow.

This was my contribution last year- some days it's so fitting!
There are more decorations out than this, and still more to come I am sure. We also have purple lights up, tombstones in the garden, strobe lights, and the girls want a fog machine. Daddy's all for this of course! We don't (and won't) do anything gory or gross, but my kids like the creepy decorations, that's for sure!

Since it was a chilly, drizzly day it was perfect for a comfort food meal. I had come across a recipe for a vegetable pot pie that I wanted to try. I made some huge changes to the recipe- not just to make it dairy free, but I also changed some of the veggies called for because they aren't very popular with my kids. This is adapted from one found on

There are quite a few steps to this, but it really is not as hard as it seems. You have to cook the vegetables, make the filling, add the veggies to the filling, make the topping, and bake. But since there are a few separate steps, the ingredients list needs to be separated as well.



1 package frozen vegetable medley with peas, corn, carrots, and green beans
6-7 small red potatoes, peeled and chunk ed
Broccoli- about a cup
1 large carrot sliced (we like carrots)
1 small- medium Onion- quartered and sliced
1 cup Mushrooms- sliced

1 cup Soy creamer-plain ( or non dairy milk)
3 and 1/2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Dairy Free margarine
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
Salt and Pepper
1 and 1/4 cup Vegetable broth ( you can use chicken if you want)
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup soy milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.Start by preheating the oven to 400ºF (so you don't forget!). Put the potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and frozen veggies in a pan with enough water to cover.Salt the water (if desired), bring it to a boil, and then allow the vegetables to continue boiling for about 4 minutes. Drain the vegetables and set them aside.

2.While the veggies are cooking, melt the butter slowly over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the sliced onion and mushrooms. Sauté them, stirring often, until they're soft. Stir in the flour and cook the mixture, stirring continuously, for about another 30 seconds.

Add the vegetable broth, creamer, salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic powder. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens.

3.Add the vegetables to the sauce and combine. Add more seasoning, if desired. I found it needed a little more salt and pepper. Let the sauce and veggies come to a gentle boil for a couple minutes while you put the cornbread topping together. Be careful not to burn it though.

4. Make the corn bread topping. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the soymilk, egg, and oil and stir until evenly blended. Transfer the filling to a casserole dish. (I sprayed my casserole dish lightly with cooking spray first, to prevent sticking)

Spread the batter over the filling. Make sure it covers it completely- mine didn't and I had a couple holes-oops!

Bake until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbly- about 25-30 minutes.

Next time I will take more care to make sure the topping is spread evenly so it looks pretty.

Serves about 8. (or a family of 5 2 with leftovers)

While it was baking away in the oven, I got to work decorating the inside of the house for Halloween.
This is still a work in progress since I need something to go behind the wine bottles, but I love it already.

Once it was done, we sat down as a family and watched "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" while we ate our dinner and had hot apple cider. It was the perfect end to a perfect Fall day.

(This recipe was heavily adapted from the original found here. I omitted the cheese, dairy milk and made a few other changes)