Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken Dip

Yes, you read that right- DAIRY FREE Buffalo Chicken Dip. When I started my search for this dish, I came across a lot of variations. This recipe is the one that was the most like the original recipe. I found it at Adventures of a Minnesota Girl written by Melissa. This dip is cheesy, gooey, indulgent... everything a dairy free person misses. It tasted just like the original dairy full dish- just with a lot less grease and oil.

I first made this for our New Year's Eve party. The dip was a huge hit with everyone- and they were all dairy eaters except me. In fact, we finished off two of them! The ingredient list is short, the method is super easy, and it comes together beautifully.

~Cooked and shredded *chicken. You can use leftover rotisserie or boil up a couple chicken breasts. I boil up two breasts for 1 dip.

~4 oz.of your favorite dairy free cheese plus a little more for the top. You can use cheddar or mozzarella- I used cheddar. I use Veggie Shreds because I do not have a casein allergy. I suggests using Daiya if you have an allergy instead of an intolerance.

~8 oz.dairy free cream cheese. I used Trader Joes brand.

~1/3 cup *mayo

~1/3 cup Franks Red Hot sauce. More if you want it hotter.

~1 Tablespoon lemon juice

~Salt and pepper to taste.

1.If cooking the chicken, boil it until it is cooked through and easy to shred.

2.While the chicken is cooking mix up the Mayo, lemon juice, cheese, and salt and pepper.

Add the cream cheese, then the chicken and hot sauce.

3.I sprinkle the top with extra cheese as well.This is optional

4.Bake at 350F for about 15-20 minutes or until hot.

Melissa told me that you can also do this in a slow cooker. I have not tried it that way myself though. But I plan on trying it soon!

**You can make this Vegan by using tofu instead of chicken, and Veganese instead of mayo.

A HUGE thank you to Melissa at Adventures of a Minnesota Girl for sharing this recipe on her blog, and for allowing me to share it on mine. You should definitely head over to her blog and check it out!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Whenever we have a gathering my husband always asks me to make my homemade Pico de Gallo.  Even the kids love it. 
I am well aware that there are several recipes like this out there on the web. I promise this recipe is my very own- I made it up one summer afternoon years ago in my kitchen with absolutely no help from any cookbooks or Internet sites. So if it is similar to another, that is pure coincidence. My mother also makes a similar recipe, but she adds a small amount of garlic to hers.

I do not measure anything with this recipe- it is all according to personal taste.

Serves: 4-6 as an appetizer

3-4 large fresh tomatoes
1 medium purple onion
1 jalapeno
juice from 1 lime
large bunch fresh cilantro
Kosher Salt

Cut or dice each veggie the size you want it. I chop them as small as I can stand to, with the onion being the smallest. I also sometimes only add in half the onion depending on how much tomato I use. It really is all according to taste. We like it pretty spicy so we use a whole jalapeno with the seeds. If I know the kids are going to be eating a lot I will cut back on the heat for them. Once all the veggies are added, squeeze the fresh lime juice over top.

As for the salt- I add about a teaspoon to start with and adjust that if needed. Remember- you can always add more salt but you can't take it away once you have too much. Mix well.

To pack it up and take it over to our friends' I used a Ball jar. It looks so pretty in a jar, and if you are going to a party you could even dress up the jar with ribbon or some sort of decoration for the occasion.

The trick with this recipe to make sure you have the freshest ingredients you can find. The fresher, the better.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cranberry Apple Bread

My daughters have been asking me to bake something new for a couple of weeks. After the holidays I was on baking burn-out so I took a break (and we still have goodies in the freezer). On Friday afternoon I had some spare time (ok, who are we kidding? Of course I didn't, I was just putting off other things that needed to be done). Since the baby was napping and the girls were working on some art projects I had some spare minutes to try out something new in my kitchen. I had a basket of apples on my counter and a bag of cranberries in my freezer. I have been wanting to try an apple bread that I had a recipe for and since I had the cranberries, I decided to incorporate them as well.

I used the basic dry ingredients measurements from another of my bread recipes, but fiddled around with the other ingredients. What I came up with is now my daughters' favorite bread.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups chopped, peeled apples
1 cup cranberries- finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat your oven to 350F and spray your loaf pan with cooking spray.

2.Peel and chop your apples. Chop your cranberries in a food processor- I made mine very small. Zest your lemon. Set these aside until you are ready to use.

3.In your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl) combine sugar, eggs, and oil. Beat well.

4.In a separate bowl combine your flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, allspice, and cinnamon.

5. Gradually add to the wet mixture. It will be thick. Once the dry ingredients are blended in, add your apples, cranberries, and lemon zest. The liquid from the fruit with help thin the batter a little bit.

6.Pour into your bread pan.

Bake a for 60-65 minute, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took exactly 65 minutes.

This bread is great as a snack, a treat to have on hand for company, as dessert for kids, or for breakfast.
~Happy Baking!~

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DairyFree Detox

Over the past 2 weeks or so I've been feeling kind of... blech. Not sick, just not well. Those with food intolerances or allergies probably understand that feeling. I normally eat all organic and natural foods, I seldom eat processed anything since most of it contains dairy. Occasionally I will find a treat that has no dairy in it, like Oreos, Sweet Spicy Chili Doritos, or some coffee creamers. But after a couple of days of eating that treat I will start to not feel well. I've had a headache for 2 weeks (those are always fun) and it is apparent that something in my diet is not agreeing with me too. I am pretty sure I have narrowed it down to my coffee creamer. I was so excited that I found Dairy free creamer in flavors I love. Even though they are lactose free, there is obviously something in them that my body does not like. So I am going to have to toss them and go back to my organic soy and almond milk in my coffee.

In order to get back on track I am eating those foods that make me feel good- oatmeal, avocados, eggs, and lots of veggies. And water- lots of water. It's a way that I kind of detox myself after eating something that I should not.

Breakfast looked like this:

Organic multi-grain raisin spice oatmeal with banana, almond milk, and ground flax seed. Instead of coffee I opted for a cup of rooibos tea (rooibos is good for everything- digestion, allergies, it is anti-inflammatory, and promotes overall health. It is also a lot easier on the stomach than green tea.)

It was so good!

For lunch I had a white bean and veggie open faced sandwich with a side of organic baby carrots.
I made a quick and easy white bean spread. I didn't follow a recipe- I looked in my spice cabinet and picked out what I thought would tasted good.

1 can white kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
juice of half a lemon juice
2tablespoons or more of olive oil

Here's what I did:
Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a small sauce pan, add the cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and cumin (About a 1/2 teaspoon of each- more if you want a lot of flavor). Let the beans heat through, stirring often so they don't burn to the bottom of the pan.
When they are hot, put them in a food processor (I used my small Kitchen Aid for this). Add Olive oil and juice of half a lemon. Puree them until you get a smooth consistency. You may have to add more olive oil as you go. Once it is to the consistency and flavor you want, you're done.

To make my sandwich I toasted up two slices of bread, spread the beans on them, added some organic baby spinach, a little red onion (it was leftover from the previous night's salad), sliced avocado, and then sprinkled it with salt and pepper. This sandwich with a side a baby carrots, a little more of the bean spread/dip, and a huge glass of water was so good for lunch.

I skipped my smoothie for the day-I had a few cups of my rooibos tea instead.

Dinner was simple- just plain scrambled eggs and toast. I followed it up later with a Cliff Bar and a glass of water for a snack.

I also went to bed early- after watching the Season Premiere of One Tree Hill, of course!

It is amazing how much better I feel today than I did yesterday. My headache is still there, although not nearly as bad as yesterday. And part of that is most likely allergies. My energy is back and my mood is better (I get cranky when I don't feel well). I don't eat poorly often, but when I do boy does it make me feel gross. Hopefully this sort of detox will get me back where I need to be.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Meeting My Goals-1 Week In

We are now officially 1 week into the new year, and by this point a lot resolutions have probably been forgotten about or already giving up on. At least, that is usually how it is for me. This year I changed my resolutions and instead made them more like goals for myself in an effort to ensure that I actually stick to them. I wanted to write an update as to how well I am doing with them so far. Don't worry, I don't plan on doing weekly updates on these (that would be quite boring I am sure!).

Date Night: This month's date night is going to be to a Masquerade Ball for my husband's company. We'll have a night away, and we will be attending the event with friends. A little more extravagant than what I plan to do each month, but this is going to be fun and I am looking forward to a fancy night out.

Practice a more clean eating diet: So far so good! We are not doing this diet to lose weight, but rather to ensure that we follow a healthier lifestyle. My husband and I find the practice of clean eating to make sense to us. The only thing I have left to eliminate is my coffee creamer, and I have found a few recipes to try out. Either that, or I'll just go back to using almond milk or soy milk. All of our meals have been homemade, and there are no more boxed food items (in our case chicken tenders) in my freezer.

Read More: I have really been enjoying the book I am currently reading- "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Next up: "Hunger Games".

Run a 5K: Obviously I have not actually run the 5K yet, but I have started my training for it. I decided to do Couch 2 5k so I would have a schedule to follow and a set training plan. I went out running twice this week, once by myself and once with my husband and 2 of my daughters. My legs are sore, but I feel great! I have also picked out the 5K I want to do and will be registering for it this coming week.
My running buddies:

Knit more regularly: I found the blanket I was working on for my middle daughter and got back to work on it yesterday.(I had tucked it away in the art closet in order to keep my little ones from using the yarn for art projects) She is so excited that I am finally going to finish it. (and so am I!)

Start my day with a smoothie: This week we have had smoothies every day. I bought a Kitchen Ninja at the beginning of the week and I absolutely LOVE it! The best part- my girls and my husband love them too, so not only am I getting more of what I need, so are they! I even put spinach and flax seed meal in the girls' smoothies.

The goals I still have to work on:

Coffee Nights: My friend and I are still working the coffee night into our schedule.

Sewing: I do have a few sewing projects in mind, but will be probably be waiting a little while to get started on one of them. My Mom will be the one teaching me, and she has been out of town. But I do have this all set up and ready to go:

It's a hand-me-down, but what better to learn on than a free machine?

Find a Church: We have one we want to go to, we just need to clear out our Sunday mornings to go. This is going to sound so selfish, but Sundays are our only down days of the entire week, so we all (including the Littlest One) like to sleep in or hang out in our jammies for a while. We just need to break that habit, but it is going to be hard to do.

So far, I am feeling really good about meeting my personal goals. I have one more, but it's a secret and you'll just have to wait a few more days to see what it is;-)

Did you set goals or resolutions for yourself this year? If so, how are you doing keeping up with them?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Old Family Recipe~Party Mix

For as long as I can remember my Mom has been making this party mix around the Christmas Holiday. This year I convinced her to share the recipe with me (probably because every time I was over there I ate quite a bit of hers!) I actually made this on Dec. 23rd, but with all chaos surrounding Christmas and New Years I am just now getting around to posting it. It's not that I haven't sat down to write this post, I just keep getting sidetracked (that tends to happen a lot with 3 kids!)

Although this is generally a Christmas treat for us, it is good all year long. And the best part- you can make a couple batches and freeze it! I still have a bag in my freezer and I plan to make another batch to get us through the winter months.

The original recipe is called Scramble and comes from the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook which was in it's 4th printing in 1971.

Party Mix~ AKA Scramble:

2lbs mixed salted nuts
11ounces spoon size shredded wheat
10 & 1/2 ounces Cheerios
6 ounces crispex or crisp rice squares
7 ounces small pretzel twists
5 & 3/4 ounces slim pretzel sticks

2 cups Canola oil
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
1 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt

These are the original measurements from the recipe. I basically eyeballed it. For example: I believe the shredded wheat comes in a 16 oz package, so use about 3/4 of the bag and so on with the rest of the ingredients.


Preheat oven to 250F.

Evenly distribute the cereal and nut mixture between two large baking pans. If you try to do it all in one pan it will not cook evenly.

Mix up your oil mixture. I do mine in a shaker to ensure it all gets mixed very well. Pour the mixture evenly over the cereal and nut mixture.

Bake at 250F for 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool completely before putting into either storage bags or containers. It will fill roughly 3 gallon storage bags. You can freeze the bags you are not going to eat right away.

This is such a good snack mix, especially if you find the premade kind too salty, or do not like sweet snack mixes, like me.

*This recipe is from my Mom and adapted from the New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, c1971.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back to the Grind~Weekly Meal Plan

For two glorious weeks we were on a break from reality. The girls had a break from school and my husband either had time off or worked from home. I did follow a menu plan, but not like we do on our normal schedule. But now holidays are officially over. The girls are back to school, activities have started up, and events are quickly filling up the calendar. That means I must get back into the habit of writing out our bi-weekly menu or else no one eats dinner. I am also going to get back in the habit of sharing our meal plan. (Or at least try to!)
Our normal weekly routine is going to be changing for a while because my two oldest daughters are in a musical production with their Performing Arts school. We will have rehearsals several times a week, including Saturdays, from now until the end March. So for our first 2 weeks back into reality here's what I have come up with.

Smoothies ( I got a new Ninja- so much fun!)
Cereal (Cherrios or Rice Krispies- no sugary cereal)
Overnight oats
Scrambled eggs and toast

PB&J's for the kids
Grilled "Cheese" Bites for the Little One (She eats Veggie Shreds cheese slices)
White Bean, avocado, carrot, and cuke sandwiches
Baked potato with salsa
Chicken sandwiches (all made up and in the freezer)

Wednesday: Beef Stew with crusty bread ( I need to share this recipe)
Thursday: Vegan Pad Thai
Friday: Clean Eating Minestrone Soup (it's already in the freezer)
Saturday: Slow Cooker Stout Chicken Stew (New recipe)
Sunday: Homemade Chicken Tacquitos
Monday: Easy Italian Chicken
Tuesday: Slow-cooker Swedish Split Pea Soup (New Recipe)
Wednesday: Beef and Black Bean Enchiladas
Thursday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and veggies
Friday: Stromboli (homemade pizza sauce in the freezer)
Saturday: Moroccan Stuffed Peppers

Homemade Party Mix (Recipe to come today)
Apples and peanut butter
Fruit- bananas, tangerines, oranges
Popcorn with Olive Oil

Emergency Meals:
My freezer is stocked with homemade soups, stews, and sauces for those nights we need to deviate from our planned meal.
Spaghetti with meat sauce
Vegan Moroccan Stew
Beef Stew
Minestrone Soup
Kale Pesto (Makes a great EASY meal when served over pasta)

Most of my meals are either done in the slow cooker, can be made in the morning and heated at dinner, or put on the stove early in the day and left to simmer for a couple hours. I also made sure to include a couple of meatless meals per week.

Now I am off to enjoy my Very Berry smoothie:-) If you like smoothies check out the recipes for the Green Monster, Soothing Blueberry Banana, or Cat's Purple People Eater

Do you do a weekly meal plan to help keep your week more organized and to help save on your grocery bill?