Super Bowl Jalapeno Poppers

Living in Texas, football is kind of a big deal. People are die-hard fans of either high school, college, or professional teams – and sometimes of all three! I became a football fan when I moved to Texas the first time, way back in 1994. High school football is a really, really big deal and my high school was no exception. Home of the “Fire-Breathing Dragons”, we had several state championships we unsuccessfully defended during my four years. High school football is so important in Texas that you will find parents in the stands that haven’t had kids in school for over 20 years!

During football season, we are a house divided. I am a New England Patriot’s fan (haters gonna hate 🤣) and Brad is a Houston Texan’s and a New Orleans Saints fan. Neither of us are Cowboy’s fans, despite the fact we live in Big D. We typically spend football Sunday’s at home, on the couch watching our favorite teams. If it’s a big game, we invite our families over to watch with us. Last weekend, I made a big pot of chili and Brad made chicken wings in the air fryer. We have yet to master anything in the air fryer except for chicken wings, but we are working on it.

The playoffs were really stressful for us. The Texans fell in the first round and the Saints experienced a heart-breaking loss to the Rams. The Pats also had a tough game, finally claiming victory in overtime. I’m always sad the first Sunday after the Super Bowl – our day seems so empty without having any games to watch. But, the weather starts to warm up and it’s not long before we would rather be outside than inside watching TV.

Even if you aren’t entertaining friends or family, you can still have a fun Super Bowl viewing party. If you are having a party, you can serve delicious food that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. It can be as simple as homemade guacamole or salsa with corn chips, chili with gluten-free, vegan cornbread, or recipes that require a little more time in the kitchen. Pizza and beer is classic football watching food. You can make gluten-free pizza served with gluten-free beer. Another idea is turkey pinwheels with gluten-free tortillas and Boar’s Head turkey.

We haven’t yet decided if we are going to stay home or go up to my parents house to watch the game, but either way, we will be having Brad’s bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. He made them for me last year and I was surprised how flavorful they were! I admit, I had never had a jalapeño popper in my entire life before last year. It’s not like I can order jalapeño poppers in a restaurant since a main ingredient is cream cheese. I also was under the impression jalapeño poppers were really spicy but they aren’t since the seeds and insides are removed.

Preparing these poppers takes about 30 minutes. For added flavor, you can brine the chicken breasts before assembling the poppers. Mix 1/2 cup of Kosher salt with 3 cups of water in a large mixing bowl. Submerge the chicken breasts in the water and let soak for 30 minutes. During this time, you can prepare the jalapeños and spice mixture. Once brined, rinse the chicken breasts under cold water. You want to make sure to remove all of the saltwater.

When you are working with jalapeño peppers, it is recommended to use disposable kitchen gloves. It will help prevent the spice from the jalapeños sticking to your hands. Simply washing your hands won’t always remove all of the oils from the pepper and you definitely don’t want to rub you eyes after handling peppers.

To prepare the peppers, start by cutting each in half, lengthwise. Think of the pepper as being a little boat that you are filling with cream cheese and chicken. I don’t recommend using thick-cut bacon because each slice is wrapped a few times around the jalapeño. When cutting the chicken, you wan to make sure each pice is the same length as the jalapeño, as you don’t want the chicken to be sticking out the end of the popper.

The best way to cook the jalapeño poppers is with a cast-iron grill pan. But, it’s not required and any grill pan will do. If you are using a cast-iron pan, pre-heat it in the oven. It does not need to be super hot, just warm enough that the entire pan is heated through. Transfer to the stove and continue heating under medium heat. You don’t want the pan too hot because the chicken needs to cook and you don’t want the bacon to be cooked before the chicken.

If you are lucky enough to live in a state that you can grill outdoors in February, then dust off the barbecue and grill the poppers outside (side note, these are great for any type of party, so these can make an appearance at your summer barbecue, too!).

The poppers take about 15 minutes to grill. If you like to have your poppers with Ranch dressing (and you can eat eggs), try Primal Kitchen’s Ranch Dressing. It is made with cage-free eggs, doesn’t contain gluten, dairy, or soy, and is Palo-friendly. Personally, I don’t think the poppers need anything extra 🙂 Enjoy and may the team you are cheering for be victorious!

Brad’s Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 12 poppers

Serves: 4-6 people (2 poppers each)

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Recommended equipment: disposable gloves for working with the peppers

Ingredients

6 medium-to-large jalapeno peppers, halved, seeds and insides removed

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 package of bacon

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

ÂĽ teaspoon cumin

ÂĽ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 package of dairy-free cream cheese

Toothpicks

Directions

  1. Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator to let come up to room temperature. You want the cream cheese to be easily spreadable.
  2. Fill a small bowl with water and soak the toothpicks while you are assembling the poppers. This will prevent the toothpicks from burning when cooking.
  3. To prepare the jalapeno peppers, cut the peppers in half, longways. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and white skin inside the pepper. This is where all the heat lives and by removing this, the peppers won’t be spicy.
  4. Combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground black pepper, cumin, and Kosher salt in a small bowl. 
  5. If you have decided to brine the chicken, wash and pat-dry. 
  6. Cut the chicken into strips that are the length and width of the jalapeno pepper. 
  7. Generously season the chicken strips with the spice mixture. Reserve about 1 teaspoon to lightly dust the peppers once they are fully assembled prior to grilling. 
  8. Using a knife, generously fill the inside of each pepper with cream cheese.
  9. Once the pepper is filled, place one chicken strip on top.
  10. Using one piece of uncooked bacon, wrap the bacon around the filled jalapeno. Once wrapped, poke the toothpick through the entire pepper so that it pokes out the other side. You want to make sure the chicken doesn’t fall out or the bacon comes unwrapped during cooking.
  11. Once all of the jalapenos are ready, sprinkle the rest of the seasoning over the top of the poppers.
  12. Warm a grill pan on the stove under medium heat, between 325-350 degrees. Grill for about 25 minutes, turning every 5-8 minutes to ensure the bacon is crispy all around and the chicken is fully cooked.
  13. Optional: once the bacon is about halfway cooked, you can remove the toothpick so that it is easier to grill all sides. You want to make sure the bacon won’t unwrap during cooking. 
  14. Plate and enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

As with so many of us, we used January as a time to reset our healthy eating habits. I feel like we really feel off the rails from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and by December 31, we both felt like rolly pollies! This month we have been focused on clean eating and dry January.

We were doing great with our clean eating until we had to go to New Jersey for my grandmother’s funeral. While it wasn’t unexpected, it wasn’t planned either. Needless to say, we took a detour on clean eating, as we couldn’t not have breakfast at the diner or enjoy a glass of wine in memory of my grandmother.

My grandmother and me at her 90th birthday party

My grandmother was an excellent cook. She wasn’t a fancy cook, but everything she made tasted delicious. Maybe it was because love was always sprinkled in whatever she made. When I was living in New Jersey, we had dinner together weekly, where she would always send me home with a container of lentil or escarole and bean soup. She also made the best cheesecake! It never cracked, just like what you find in the dessert pastry counter at the diner or bakery.

Grandma making homemade ravioli

Acorn squash is another versatile and healthy vegetable that, while is considered a winter vegetable, is grown and eaten year round. The health benefits of acorn squash make it a great clean eating food.

Health Benefits of Acorn Squash

  • Boots immunity with vitamin C
  • Help keep you eyes and skin healthy with vitamin A
  • A single serving contains 9g of fiber – great for keeping blood sugar levels regulated
  • Regulates blood pressure with high levels of potassium
  • Keeps your bones strong with a wide variety of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron

This stuffed acorn squash recipe is delicious. I use two ground meats for additional flavor – beef and pork. If you don’t eat beef, blend turkey and pork; or just use one type of ground meat. The acorn squash may take up to 40 minutes to roast. I like to start with the squash face down. I check the squash at 15 minutes, where I flip it over and let it continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes.

This is a good weeknight dinner, as it doesn’t take long to cook and assemble. While the acorn squash is roasting, you can prepare the stuffing. You may have additional stuffing left over, which makes for an egg-free, high protein breakfast or lunch.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

2 acorn squashes, cut in half and seeds removed

ÂĽ cup of melted coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 shallots, minced

1-1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, finely minced

1-1/2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, finely minced

1 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground beef

2 cups of kale, coarsely chopped

Kosher or Sea salt (to taste)

Ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. To prepare the acorn squash, cut each squash in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard.
  3. If need, melt the hardened coconut oil. You will need about ÂĽ cup of melted coconut oil. I usually just place my glass jar (with the lid removed) in the microwave in 30 second increments until the oil has softened and become liquid. You could also scoop out the hardened oil and place in a separate glass container to microwave and soften.
  4. Using a pastry brush, oil the inside of the squash. Make sure to get inside the middle, where the seeds have been removed. Generously salt and pepper the squash halves. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with alumni foil or parchment paper. Place each squash half cut side down on the baking sheet. 
  6. Roast for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip the squash so the cut side is facing up. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the insides are soft. The squash will be done with the inside is soft and can easily be scooped out. 
  7. While the squash is baking, prepare the stuffing. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and ground pork. I used my hands to combine the meats, like you do when preparing meatloaf. 
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet. Add the minced shallots and garlic and let cook until the shallot is translucent and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  9. Add the ground meat to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until the majority of the meat is no longer pink. Add the rosemary and thyme. Stir to combine.
  10. Let cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale and stir to combine.
  11. Let cook an additional 5-10 minutes, until the kale is wilted and the meat is fully cooked.
  12. Once the acorn squash is cool enough to handle, gently scoop out the inside of each half and place into a large mixing bowl. The skins will become very fragile as you remove the inside, so be careful not to tear the skin. 
  13. Add the cooked meat to the squash and stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  14. Scoop the squash and meat mixture back into each half of the squash. You may have leftover meat; if so, this can be stored and used in stuffed peppers or as a healthy egg-free breakfast.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

New Year’s Eve Pasta Aioli

Happy New Year’s Eve! I can’t believe that the last day of the year is here. Where did 2018 go? It’s been a pretty amazing year for me – one of the best, in fact. I launched this blog, saw my favorite Broadway play, Les Miserables, when it came to Dallas, took Brad to New York City and showed him a little piece of my old life, and traveled to see friends and family in New Jersey, Atlanta, and Phoenix.

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We are celebrating tonight with a small group of friends but calling it an “early bird special” because we will be home by 10 pm. By the way, did you know that the TV stations don’t delay the ball drop?! My first NYE in Dallas I was all prepared to watch the ball drop at midnight and it dropped at 11 pm! Now, I DVR the broadcast so I can watch the ball drop at midnight.

This past week I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming year and all that it has in store for us (I’ll post more on that as the exciting events unfold). I’m also thinking about some things I want to improve upon to help make 2019 even better. For the first time ever, I put pen to paper and wrote down my vision for the new year. I spent about an hour really thinking about each area of my life, including my career, personal growth, spiritual health, finances, and home, and what small steps I can do to make positive improvements in my life. I’m really blessed and have a pretty amazing life. It wasn’t always easy, as I have lots of setbacks, but coming out of the other side, I can really appreciate how fortunate I really am. I have an amazing partner for life, supportive family and friends, and this blog that was a dream for so long is now a reality.

Resolutions are easy things to make and hard things to keep. I didn’t want to create a long list of things to change about myself only to give up by the end of January. That’s why I took a different approach and wrote down my vision for the year. And the motivation is a bit different for this year, as if I want certain things to happen, I have to put in the hard work. What is your vision for the new year?

If you are looking for a delicious and easy meal this New Year’s Eve, try my Pasta Aioli. It’s super easy and only requires a few ingredients. It doesn’t take long to cook and won’t keep you in the kitchen while your friends and loved ones party it up in the other room.

Pasta Aioli

PastaAioli_FAF

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

1 package of gluten-free spaghetti or linguini
8-10 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
ÂĽ – ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like things hot!)

Directions

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. For additional flavor, add 1 tablespoon of Kosher or sea salt to the pot prior to boiling.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slowly heat the olive oil in a medium to large sauté pan. There should be about 1/8” of oil in the pan, as this is your sauce so you want to have a good amount of olive oil in the pan.
  3. To test the heat of the oil, add one or two little pieces of minced garlic. When dropped into the oil, you should see a few small bubbles around the garlic. You don’t want the oil to be too hot or else you will burn the garlic. If the garlic immediately begins to fry, your oil is too hot. Turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Turn the heat on low and re-test the garlic to make sure the temperature has come down.
  4. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta. Bring back to a boil and cook according to the package instructions. Typically, gluten-free pasta cooks between 7 and 10 minutes.
  5. Once the oil is at the right temperature and your pasta is cooking, add the minced garlic. Let the garlic cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well and turn the heat to low. Keep an eye on the garlic and if it starts to look overcooked or starts to brown, turn off the heat.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the stove, but don’t drain the pasta. The little bit of pasta water will be good for the sauce. Using tongs or a pasta fork, remove the pasta from the water and transfer to the hot oil and garlic sauce. Stir to coat the pasta well.
  7. Transfer to serving plates and enjoy with your favorite red wine.

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day to reflect on the past year over a delicious meal with friends and family. But for those of us with food allergies or sensitivities, this food-filled holiday can be anything but enjoyable. Don’t worry – I have you covered this year!

My mom loves Thanksgiving – it’s her favorite holiday. She has a Thanksgiving folder with all her recipes, notes, and menus from years past. Most years, she hosts and for a few days leading up to Turkey Day, she is busy prepping and cooking. Food is overflowing from the kitchen and you won’t be surprised to find non-perishable foods in the laundry room, waiting to be brought into the kitchen. The dining room table is set with her fine china and crystal. Cooking duties and chores are divided up between us and we all pitch in to help.

The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, my mom made me my own Thanksgiving folder. She made copies of all of her recipes and taught me how to plan for cooking such a large meal with so many different dishes. We made a checklist and assigned duties to everyone. Luckily, she was there to help, guiding me along the way.

RecipeFolder

The first year I was diagnosed with food allergies, I didn’t think we would be able to cook our traditional dinner. Gravy – made with flour; mashed potatoes – has milk and butter; stuffing – made with a loaf of bread; dessert – forget about it! I thought my plate was going to be filled with turkey with no gravy, sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. Luckily, I have an amazing mother who took her recipes and converted everything she could so I wouldn’t be left out. There are still some dishes that I can’t eat, like green bean casserole, but I don’t mind because I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Some years we serve soup, other years we omit that course so we have more room to enjoy the main event. Every year we start out with Pistachio Cheese Crisps. OMG, they are so delish!

Planning ahead is the key to a successful Thanksgiving. A few weeks leading up to the big day, plan your menu. Gather all of your recipes; print them out and put them in a folder. If you are converting family favorites to be gluten, dairy, and egg-free, make notes on what changes need to be made. You can swap dairy milk with whole-fat coconut milk, substitute butter with Earth Balance buttery spread (remember, if you are avoiding soy, Earth Balance has a soy-free spread), and replace wheat bread for cornbread.

After reviewing your recipes, determine what can be made ahead of time. I like check lists, so I make a big list, writing out everything that needs to be accomplished, who is responsible for it, and when it needs to be completed by. Many of the foods can be baked at the same time, since the baking temperature is the same.

The week of Thanksgiving is busy and fun. We go grocery shopping on Monday or Tuesday and start cooking on Wednesday. Since we do a lot of prepping and cooking on Wednesday, we have time to enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and ease into cooking on Thursday. We typically eat around 3pm, so our turkey goes on the grill around 10 am. By grilling the turkey, our oven is free for baking everything else. The kitchen is a beehive of activity – we are all cooking and the dogs are underfoot, waiting for something to drop their way.

The following menu is delicious and I promise you won’t be able to tell there isn’t any gluten, dairy, or eggs anywhere to be found. Just follow the links to the individual recipes but scroll down for the main event – the turkey and gravy!

Menu

Appetizer:
Pistachio Cheese Crisps

Main Course:
Turkey with Gluten-Free Beer Basting and Giblet Gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Broccoli with Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Dessert:
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Thanksgiving2018_Gravy

Grilled Turkey with Giblet Gravy

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: approximately 20 minutes per pound
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

1 (approx. 12-lb) turkey
1 celery stalk, with leaves
12 ounces of gluten-free beer
8 tablespoons of honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small aluminum pan filled with water
1 medium aluminum pan for under the turkey to catch the drippings for gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

Directions for Cooking the Turkey:

  1. If using a frozen turkey, follow the package directions to defrost the turkey. A good rule of thumb is to thaw at a rate of 1 day per 4 lbs. of turkey. A 12-lb. turkey will take about three days to defrost.
  2. One day prior to cooking the turkey, remove the innards and giblets to make homemade stock (recipe follows).
  3. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 350 degrees. Place the medium aluminum pan under the grate in the center of the grill and place the small aluminum pan with water on the grate.
  4. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and wash under cold water. Pat dry. Do not let the bird rest at room temperature for an extended period of time.
  5. To make the basting, combine the gluten-free beer and honey in a tall glass. Mix well to combine. Place the celery stalk leaves side down, into the basting mixture. You will use this to baste the turkey as it cooks.
  6. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the cornbread stuffing. Use kitchen twine to close the cavity of the turkey.
  7. Lightly coat the bird with a thin layer of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the turkey.
  8. Place the turkey on a roasting rack and transfer to the grill. Close the grill and let the temperature rise back to 350 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes and then baste the bird.
  9. Baste the turkey in 15-minute increments, using the celery as a basting brush.
  10. Keep an eye on the aluminum pan with water. Refill if needed. The water helps to keep the turkey moist.
  11. Cooking times will vary, but it usually takes between 15-20 minutes per pound. A 12-lb turkey will take approximately 3.5 hours to cook. The turkey will be cooked when a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
  12. Once the turkey has cooked, remove the bird from the grill. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.
  13. Carve and serve with the giblet gravy (recipe below).

Giblet Gravy

Author: Originally printed in the November 20, 1980, edition of the Contra Costa Times; modified to remove gluten and dairy.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 ½ hours
Resting Time: 24 hours
Serves: 6-8 people

Step 1 – Make the Stock 1-2 Days Before Thanksgiving

Ingredients:

1 celery stalk
1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Kosher salt to taste
The innards that come with the turkey, except the liver

Directions:

  1. At least 24 hours before roasting the turkey, make the broth for the gravy.
  2. Coarsely chop the celery, onion, and peeled carrot.
  3. Remove the giblets that come with the turkey. Discard the liver and place the remaining giblets in a stock pan or deep sauce pan. Add the celery, onion, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns, and Kosher salt.
  4. Add water to the pan, covering the entire contents of the pot. The water should fill the pot but not be too full that it will overflow once the liquid comes to a boil.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Let simmer 3-4 hours.
  7. Transfer to an air tight container and cool overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 2 – Make the Gravy When The Turkey Is Cooked

Ingredients:
2-4 tablespoons of corn starch
1/4 – ½ cup of full-fat coconut milk
Turkey stock

  1. Remove the turkey stock from the refrigerator.
  2. When the turkey has finished roasting, pour the drippings into a fat separator. Once separated, pour the drippings into a sauce pan over low to medium heat.
  3. Add one tablespoon of corn starch to the sauce pan. Whisk consistently to incorporate the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Slowly pour about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk to the gravy. Continue to whisk.
  5. Slowly pour about ÂĽ cup of broth into the gravy mixture. Continue to whisk.
  6. Continue to whisk and add the corn starch and coconut milk until the gravy thickens. If the gravy becomes too thick, add more broth. If it needs to be thicker, add more corn starch and coconut milk. Remember to continually whisk the gravy so it doesn’tburn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the gravy has thickened to your likening, transfer to a gravy boat and serve. Pro tip – add hot water to the gravy boat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Pour out the water and add the gravy. The boat will be warm and the gravy will stay warmer a little longer than adding to a cold gravy boat.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I have always loved ice cream. When we lived in Michigan, we would always go to The Yum Yum Tree for ice cream. It was one of my favorite spots and I would always order mint chocolate chip in a cup so I wouldn’t get my fingers sticky. My grandpa loved butter pecan ice cream and every time I see it in the grocery store, I can always picture him sitting at the table having a bowl of ice cream after a long day at work. When I lived in Hoboken, I could always find the Mr. Softie ice cream truck cruising the streets around 3pm when school was finished for the day.

Whenever I need a good laugh, I watch the Eddie Murphy stand-up routine where he talks about how excited you got as a child when the ice cream man came down the street. If you haven’t watched the clip, I highly recommend it. But don’t watch it with young kids around or at work without any headphones – it’s when Eddie Murphy was doing stand-up back in the early 80s and there are lots of swears.

Last year for Christmas we received a Cuisinart ice cream maker. It was a fun “couple” gift and one of the few kitchen appliances we don’t have. We have dabbled with making ice cream over the past year and I’ve finally figured out how long to let it churn to get a creamy consistency.

In the recipe below, I used two cups of full-fat coconut milk (one can) to get the milk-like consistency of real ice cream.  I also added sugar, a little dash of salt, and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. When you are preparing your ice cream, make sure to keep the bucket in the freezer until you are ready to start churning. I have found that the ice cream doesn’t come out as creamy and tasty if you assemble the ice cream maker first and then mix the ingredients. For the caramel sauce, I used Califa Farms Pecan Caramel Creamer. It has a similar consistency as half and half, which is one of the main ingredients in traditional caramel sauce. Califa Farms has a lot of different flavors, I’m sure you could swap out the creamer with another flavor.

Vanilla Ice Cream

IMG_7329Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Special Equipment: Ice Cream Maker

Ingredients:

1 can of full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup of organic white sugar
2 tablespoons of gluten-free vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar, vanilla and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Whisk in coconut milk. If needed, slightly warm the coconut milk in the microwave to remove any clumps.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  4. Remove from the refrigerator and whisk coconut milk mixture.
  5. Assemble the ice cream maker. Pour the ice cream mixture into the freezer bowl and turn on the ice cream maker.
  6. Churn for 20 minutes.
  7. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for 1-2 hours, or overnight.

Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:
3/4 cup of organic brown sugar
1/2 cup of Califa Farms Pecan Caramel Coffee Creamer
1 teaspoon of gluten-free vanilla
1/2 cup of Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

Directions:

  1. Combine the coffee creamer and sugar in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and place a metal or glass mixing bowl over the boiling water. Make sure to use an oven mitt or pot holder to hold onto the bowl – it will get hot!
  2. Add the sugar and butter. Stir continually until the sugar and butter are melted and well combined, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a glass or plastic container and refrigerate for at least one hour before using. The sauce thickens as it cools.
  4. Remove from the refrigerator and stir well. Pour over homemade ice cream or any other dessert of your choosing.

Warm Chicken Stew on A Rainy Day

I love cooking with butternut squash. It’s a good substitute for sweet potatoes and it can be used in a variety of dishes. When I can, I usually buy butternut squash pre-cut because it’s just so difficult to cut a whole squash. I was in Trader Joe’s last week and I saw they had fresh, whole butternut squash – and it was almost $3 less than the pre-cut packages of squash! Cutting a whole butternut squash is so hard, which is why it is one of the few vegetables I buy pre-cut. But after realizing I was paying way too much, I decided I would buy the whole squash and hopefully cut it without cutting myself.

I was talking to my Mom about my struggles and she told me to microwave the squash for a few minutes and it would be soft enough to cut. I was a bit skeptical but gave it a try. I pierced the outside of the squash with a fork and put it in the microwave for three minutes. When it was done “cooking”, I was able to easily peel and dice the squash. It was a miracle! And no fingers were cut in the process!

I recently got a subscription to Southern Living magazine. I was looking through the October issue and a few of the recipes looked really good. Of course, none were free of gluten, dairy, or eggs, so if I was going to attempt to make any of them, major modifications would be needed. There was one stew recipe that caught my eye and after studying it for a few minutes, I decided I could easily substitute a few of the ingredients and make this recipe.

The recipe is fairly simple to make but there are a lot of steps, so it took me about 40 minutes to cook before I could leave it to simmer. The recipe called for the stew to be made in a crock pot, but honestly, I’m not a fan of the crock pot. Besides chili, I haven’t really found a recipe that is flavorful enough to withstand the long cooking time required. Also, by cooking it in a large stockpot or Dutch oven, you don’t have to cook part of the soup on the stove and then transfer it to a crockpot to simmer. The recipe also called for pumpkin but I swapped it for butternut squash…. hence why I was buying it in the first place.

The stew is really thick, so if you want more liquid, add some more chicken broth. Personally, I like thicker soups so it was perfect for me.

Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Wild Rice

Author: Original recipe printed in the October 2018 issue of Southern Living magazine; modified by The Food Allergy Foodie to be free of gluten and dairy (and a few other adjustments)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: approximately 1-2 hours
Serves: 4-6

IMG_7296Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of coconut oil, divided
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 package)
3-4 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup of gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 (32-oz) container of unsalted chicken stock
1 whole butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes – or – 2 (12-oz) packages of pre-cut butternut squash
½ cup of wild rice
1 cup whole-fat coconut milk
Kosher or Sea Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat. While the oil is heating, salt and pepper both sides of the chicken thighs. Add the chicken and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for another 4-5 minutes. The chicken doesn’t have to be fully cooked because it will continue to cook as the soup simmers. It’s okay if some of the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan. It will just help add to the flavor of the veggies in the next step.
  2. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add another 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the Dutch oven or stockpot. As the oil heats, use a wooden spoon and scrape the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the celery, onion, and garlic. Stir well, continuing to scrape the chicken from the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion and celery soften.
  4. Add the gluten-free flour and stir well. The celery and onion will get a little clumpy. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly, until the four is completely incorporated and the broths begins to thicken.
  5. Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil. Stir consistently. Cover the pot if needed to bring to a boil, just keep an eye on it and stir every minute or two.
  6. Add the butternut squash and rice to the pot. Stir well. Add the chicken back into the pot. Stir well and make sure the chicken is fully submerged into the soup liquid.
  7. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and let cook for about one hour. If your heat is too high, use a diffuser to keep the soup from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir periodically while simmering.
  8. Remove any large chicken pieces and transfer to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the chicken thighs. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
  9. Add the cup of coconut milk, parsley and thyme. If needed, microwave the coconut milk for 15 seconds to remove any clumps.
  10. Stir well and let simmer a few minutes to warm the coconut milk.
  11. Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy!

Soup Season Has Arrived

Soup season is here! According to my Granda Mary, it’s always soup season but eating soup in 100+ degree weather isn’t very appetizing. The cooler temps are starting to make appearances in Texas and it’s a lovely break from the heat.

Soup is a fall and winter staple for us. I like to make a big pot of soup and freeze a few containers for those nights we don’t have time to cook. Lentil soup is one of my favorites and I’ll be posting that recipe soon; I made it but it didn’t photograph very well so I’ve got to make some lighting adjustments to make it look appetizing.

IMG_7279When my Grandma Esther discovered the America Girl Dolls, she immediately went out and bought me Molly. She is the American Girl from the 1940’s and my grandma was really excited to gift her to me. My grandmother was a World War II bride and that era in history had a life long impact on her life. I also received the American Girls Cookbook, with recipes from the eras of each of the three characters, Kiersten, Samatha and Molly. One of my favorite recipes was cream of carrot soup, from Samantha, circa 1904. It was creamy and sweet and for a few years, we added it to our Thanksgiving menu.

I recently found that cookbook and remembered why it was so good – it has lots of butter and flour! Needless to say, it isn’t the healthiest of soups. I wanted to recreate the recipe with more modern ingredients and eliminate the flour and butter. For the creamy consistency, I used a can of full fat coconut milk. I like Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk; just make sure to buy whole fat coconut milk so you get the consistency of dairy. I also added a leek and cumin for additional flavor. When you are preparing the leek, make sure to rinse the cut leek in a colander. Lots of times, dirt can get into the crevices and won’t wash away until the leek is cut. When it comes time to puree the soup, you can either use an immersion blender, food processor or blender. I like to sprinkle nutmeg on the top for a last little bit of added flavor.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

IMG_7274 2Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: approximately 1 hour
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium to large yellow onion, roughly chopped
8-10 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into larger pieces
1 leek, white part only, cut and rinsed
1 (13.5-oz) can full fat coconut milk
1 (32-oz) container of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare all of the ingredients. Peel and rough chop the onion, carrots, ginger, and garlic. When cutting the leek, only use the white part. Rinse thoroughly in a colander to remove any dirt.
  2. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the diced onion. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and fragrant. Add the leeks and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the leek is translucent and fragrant. Add the sliced carrots, garlic, and ginger and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the vegetable broth and cumin. Stir well.
  4. Let come to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 1 hour, or until carrots are soft.
  5. Add the can of full fat coconut milk and stir well.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. If using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. If using a blender or food processor, carefully ladle the soup into the blender and blend until smooth.
  8. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with a little nutmeg.

Roast Chicken on A Rainy Sunday

Today is the first day in Dallas it actually feels like Fall! I don’t think the cooler temps are going to stick around, but I’ll take it, even if it’s just for a day. It’s been overcast and raining all weekend so we are spending a quiet day at home watching football…and catching up on blogging.

A rainy Sunday is the perfect day to roast a chicken. It can cook slowly in the oven and fill the house with delicious aromas. Served with mashed potatoes and green beans, it’s the perfect Sunday dinner!

When I buy chicken, I try and buy organic chicken. I know it’s more expensive, but as I’ve educated myself on non-organic vs. organic, I am learning there really are benefits to eating organic.

How Foods Are Labeled “Organic”

For foods to be labeled “organic”, it must adhere to the guidelines outlined by the USDA. These guidelines indicate how fruits and grains must be grown and how livestock must be raised. In order for livestock to be labeled organic, it must meet the following guidelines:

  • Live in healthy conditions with access to the outdoors
  • 30% of the feeding must be done in a pasture during grazing season
  • Be fed an organic diet that doesn’t include antibiotics or growth hormones
  • Live on a farm that doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides

Reading Organic Food Labels

Food labeling can be very confusing. Something labeled “all natural” or “free range” doesn’t mean that it is also organic. Anything labeled as “all natural” means there are no added sugars, preservatives, or flavors. Eggs or chicken’s labeled “free range” or “hormone-free” doesn’t guarantee the farmer followed all guidelines for organic farming. If a product has the USDA Organic label, the food manufacturer or farmer has adhered to all of the guileless and have been certified by the USDA.

USDAorganicThe USDA Organic seal can be included on labels if manufactures can verify the food item is:

  • 100% Organic – can only be used when fruits, vegetables, eggs, or meats are grown or raised using all organic means. Multi-ingredient foods may be labeled 100% organic if all parts are 100% organic.
  • Organic – can only be used when multi-ingredient foods are 95% organic. The non-organic items must be grown or provided by manufacturers that are approved by the USDA.

The following can’t use the USDA Organic seal, even though parts of the product contains organic items:

  • Made With Organic – this verbiage indicates that one or more of the items are organic. For example, some cereals use organic oats along with other non-organic ingredients.
  • Organic Ingredients – usually on multi-ingredient items, this indicates that 70% or less of the items are organic. The label will indicate which items are organic.

Non-GMO Project Verified – What Exactly Is This?

NonGMOThe other label found on many foods in the all-natural aisles of the grocery store is the Non-GMO Project. Founded in 2010, this non-profit organization works to verify non-GMO foods and products.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are basically foods created in a laboratory. These foods don’t naturally occur in nature and have been modified to withstand things such as frost or pesticides. For example, the Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzyme in Granny Smith and Golden Delicious Apples causes them to brown and scientists have figured out a way to remove this enzyme, thus causing the apples not to turn brown.

Below is a list of the most common GMO foods – I was shocked to learn that zucchini and yellow squash is on the list!

  • Aspartame
  • Alfalfa
  • Canola / Canola Oil
  • Corn
  • Papaya
  • Soy
  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash
  • Sugar Beets
  • Diary / Milk

I know many times is easier and cheaper to just buy “regular” chicken, but being aware of what goes into that chicken is important. For those of us with inflammation issues, eating more organic or natural foods can help keep inflammation away and helps to keeps us healthier in general.

Sunday Roast Chicken

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour + 10 minutes to rest
Serves: 4

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_75bIngredients
1 whole roasting chicken
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved and juiced
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Kitchen Twine (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove the whole chicken from the packaging. Some whole chickens include the liver and neck in a separate pouch inside the cavity; remove this and discard if you don’t want to make broth. If you want to make broth, reserve this for later use.
  3. Wash the chicken, making sure to rinse the inside cavity. Pat dry with paper towel.
  4. In a roasting pan, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil on the bottom of the pan. You don’t want standing oil, but enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
  5. Peel 10 cloves of garlic.
  6. Juice one lemon. Keep the lemon halves, as you will put them in the cavity of the chicken.
  7. Wash the bunch of thyme. Take half of the thyme and chop finely. Reserve the other half of the bunch of thyme.
  8. Place the chicken in the pan, breast side up. Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity.
  9. Using a knife, gently lift the skin off the chicken. You don’t want to fully detatch the skin, but find little pockets that you can insert the garlic cloves into. Scatter the garlic cloves throughout the chicken and if you have any left over, place inside the cavity.
  10. Using a basting brush, brush olive oil over the entire chicken.
  11. Lightly pour the juice of one lemon over the chicken.
  12. Sprinkle the minced thyme over the chicken. Salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemons, remaining thyme, and garlic. If you have kitchen twine, tie the chicken legs together.
  14. Place the chicken in the oven and let roast 30 minutes. After roasting for 30 minutes, use a pastry brush or baster to baste the chicken with the juices from the pan. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
  15. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
  16. You can put the cooked garlic in a bowl and use it as a garnish for the chicken or use it in your mashed potatoes.

Easy Pesto

At the beginning of the past two summers, we planted a little spice container garden on the back patio. This year, we planted a lot of basil, thyme, and rosemary. We thought we had bought mint that we could eat, but discovered we actually bought catnip! That is supposed to keep the mosquitos away, but I’m not sure that it actually worked.

As the summer has progressed, the basil was very happy in it’s pots. In fact, it grew so well that I had trouble keeping up with using it. I was watering the plants, trying to figure out what to use all this basil for, and of course, pesto sauce came to mind. It is a great way to use a lot of fresh basil. Traditional basil recipe calls for parmesan cheese. I honestly don’t think it’s necessary for the pesto to still be tasty. This pesto recipe only has six ingredients and the most labor-intensive part of the preparation is peeling the garlic. If you feel the pesto is a bit too garlicky, then feel free to use less garlic.

Pesto sauce is super versatile. You can use it as a sauce over gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles, slather it on chicken, use it in place of tomato sauce when making pizza, make pesto bruschetta (on gluten-free bread, of course), toss it with grilled shrimp, or top it on a light white fish. For those that live in cold weather states and can’t get fresh basil year round, you can even freeze pesto in ice cube trays and have fresh pesto year round.

Pesto Sauce

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:IMG_7237

8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups of fresh basil leaves, washed
½ cup of roasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil

Kitchen Appliances:

Food Processor

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Process until all ingredients are finely minced.
  3. Store in an air tight container or freeze for later use.

Saying Good-Bye To Summer…sort of

I can’t believe that it’s September – where did the summer go? We had a great summer. We traveled a little, started some house projects, my parents came to visit, and I launched this blog. However, in Dallas it still feels like summer. Our summer temps usually stick around through September so it’s hard to imagine drinking a pumpkin spice latte and I can’t even think about buying candy for trick-or-treaters yet, even though Target and Kroger are both ready for Halloween.

IMG_6773

Boomer is helping plant the fresh herb 

One of the fun things about summer is all of the fresh produce that is readily available. While we don’t have a lot of independent farm stands here in Dallas (not counting the large Dallas Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s), our gourmet grocery stores carry a great selection of fresh fruits and veggies. And while the weather won’t feel like fall for another four or five weeks here in Dallas, fall veggies are starting to appear at the grocery stores. I was at Trader Joe’s today and the clerk told me the fresh butternut and spaghetti squashes would be arriving next week. Luckily, we still have a few weeks left to enjoy summer produce.

Fresh corn feels like summer staple. It’s sweet and when cooked right, a little crisp. I still see ears of corn at the grocery store but soon we are going to be eating corn out of a can if we want to be reminded of summer. Remember to read the labels when buying canned vegetables to make sure there isn’t anything added other than water and salt.

I also love avocado. It’s smooth and buttery when ripe and so delicious. It’s readily available year round since most of our avocados come from Mexico. Combining the two – corn and avocado with a little lime juice – makes for a refreshing salad. I made this several times over the summer when we grilled. It’s a great compliment to grilled chicken or fish. This is also a great potluck dish. It can be prepared a few hours in advance and can sit out for a few hours without needing to be refrigerated.

Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes + 1 hour for marinating
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

IMG_6959

Ingredients
3 ears of fresh corn (or 2 cans of corn)
1 avocado, diced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Dressing
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
ÂĽ teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. To shuck the corn, start by peeling away the outer leaves. Grasp the tops of the silk tassel and pull down in one swift motion. Break off the leaves at the bottom in one snap. Wash the corn to remove any silk strands.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the corn and boil for 10 minutes.
  3. While the corn is cooking, dice the avocado and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  4. To prepare the dressing, whisk together the lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a small bowl.
  5. Once the corn is cool to the touch, stand the bottom of the corn on a cutting board. Grasp the top of the corn and using a sharp knife, run the blade down the corn cob, removing the kernels. Repeat this until all of the kernels have been removed. Add to the avocado and tomatoes in the mixing bowl.
  6. Pour the lime dressing over the corn salad. Toss well and refrigerate for at least one hour prior to serving.