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
¼ – 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 ¼ 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.

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
¼ 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.

 

Oven Baked Beans

Backyard barbecues are a fun way to bring together friends and family during the summer. Last weekend, while my parents were in town visiting, we had my future father-in-law over for a barbecue. There are several side dishes that just go with barbecuing – like potato salad and baked beans. We smoked pork and beef ribs and I made mayo-free potato salad and my dad made his famous baked beans. He has tweaked this recipe over the years and made adjustments when I discovered I had gluten sensitivities. I love his baked beans. They are not overly sweet and have a thick sauce that doesn’t run into other foods on your plate.

Have you ever read the ingredient label on canned baked beans? I was shocked when I discovered many brands use additives such as modified cornflour or corn starch, caramel coloring, dextrose, and soybean oil. While some of these items contain traces of gluten, and don’t contain dairy or eggs, they are still really bad for us.

Many homemade baked bean recipes call for soaking the beans overnight. You can do this, but we have found it’s not a necessity. If you boil the beans for about 40 minutes, you can get the same results as soaking the beans. The important thing is to have the beans cook until they are al dente. You don’t want them to be too mushy because they will continue to bake in the oven.

Homemade baked beans are not hard to make – it just takes several hours to bake. But, the end result is do delicious it’s worth the long cooking time. These beans also travel well and are a great dish to bring to a pot-luck barbecue or summer party.

Oven Baked Beans406

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie’s Father
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 hours
Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

3 cups of French Navy beans
9-10 cups of water (enough to cover the beans)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce“>Worcestershire sauce
2 cups of Ketchup
1/2 cup of Yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup Molasses
1 yellow onion, peeled with the ends cut off
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3/4 cup of gluten-free beer
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add the three cups of French Navy beans to a 2-quart saucepan with 9-10 cups of water. You want enough water so the beans are covered. Bring the beans to a boil and let cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the beans are al dente. The beans should be a bit firm to the bite and not too soft or mushy. Stir the beans periodically, about every 15 minutes while cooking.
  2. Once the beans come to a boil, preheat the oven to 325°.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked beans into a Dutch oven or stockpot that is oven-safe. Reserve the cooking water, as you will use that as the beans bake in the oven.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients with the beans in the Dutch oven. Mix well to combine. Place the yellow onion in the center of the pot.
  5. Cover the beans and place in the preheated oven. Bake for three hours. Check the beans every 30 minutes and add a ladle-full of reserved cooking water as needed. The sauce should be thick so only add as much water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.

 

Pizza Party!

What a crazy two weeks it has been! Time management is one of my stronger skills but trying to balance working, blogging, and entertaining my parents who were visiting for 10 days was definitely a challenge! Luckily, I’m finally caught up and getting back into my routine.

If you haven’t heard, we are having a bit of a heat wave here in Dallas. Last week, my car temperature got up to 116°! We have had over 10 days in a row of 100°+ heat. You know when you open your oven and get a burst of hot air? That’s exactly what it feels like when you step outside. So, we decided to cook inside a few days last week to try and stay out of the heat. A fun family-friendly activity is making homemade pizza. My parents have their own “pizza night” on Friday, so we decided to have one during their visit.

When I was diagnosed with my food sensitivities, I had to give up or make adjustments to a lot of my favorite foods. One food that I thought I had to say good-bye to was pizza – it has all three of my allergens. However, I have found that while I can’t go out for pizza or order it for delivery, I can make it in the comfort of my own home. It does take a little bit of prep but making your own pizza is fun and can be creative.

I have found the best pizza dough is Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix. I can usually find it in the gluten-free aisle at my local grocery store, but you can also order it on Amazon. It is easy to prepare, but just remember that the dough needs to rise for at least 20 minutes. I usually make the dough and then prep all the ingredients while the dough is rising.

The fun part about a homemade pizza party is getting to pick your own toppings. I love lots of veggies on my pizza and Brad likes a meat-lovers style pizza. My parents like fresh mozzarella and basil. We each got to make our own pizza and enjoy it just the way we like it.

While I don’t ever use jar tomato or pasta sauce for my pasta, it does work really well for pizza. Just make sure to read the ingredients! Like so many canned and packaged foods, there are lots of ingredients that don’t belong in it – like added sugar and soybean oil.

The size of the individual pizza crust makes about six medium slices so you will have enough for leftovers. Anyone else like cold pizza for breakfast?

Pizza Party!

Ingredients:

APC_00221 package of Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix (note: one package makes two individual pizza crusts)
3 teaspoons of Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer plus 4 tablespoons of warm water (the equivalent of two eggs)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1-1/2 cups of warm water + one package of yeast (included in the pizza crust mix)
1 8-oz package of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce. I personally like Muir Glen Organic Pasta Sauce with Italian seasonings.

Toppings:

Whatever you want! For this particular night, I loaded up my pizza with fresh basil from my herb garden, olives, turkey pepperoni, artichoke hearts, and fresh tomatoes. I also put my cheese on last for optimal melting.

Directions (based on the pizza crust package):

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the warm water and the package of yeast that is included in the pizza crust. Let rest for five minutes.
  2. In small bowl, combine the 3 teaspoons of the egg replacer with the 4 tablespoons of warm water. Mix well to dissolve any clumps.
  3. In the large bowl or stand mixer, add the olive oil and the egg replacer to the yeast. Add the pizza dough and mix well. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook and mix on medium for about 3 minutes. If you are making two pizza crusts, divide the dough in half and place in two separate bowls. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 425°.
  5. As the dough is rising, assemble your desired ingredients.
  6. Use either two 12-inch baking sheets or one 16-inch baking sheet. While the package says to put the dough on the baking sheet and use a piece of plastic wrap and a rolling pin to spread the dough, I find it easier to use my fingers. The dough will be sticky, so I dust my hands in gluten-free flour and work the dough to the edges of the baking sheet.
  7. Bake the dough (with no toppings) for about 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and add all of your yummy toppings and cheese. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. I usually set the oven timer for 15 minutes and then bake in 2-3 minute increments after to make sure nothing burns. The Daiya cheese can take longer to melt than dairy cheese but you don’t want to burn the crust. If you are enjoying your pizza party with someone who can eat dairy cheese, your pizza will take longer because of the way the cheeses melt differently.
  8. Once the cheese is melted to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and slide the pizza onto a cutting board. Slice the pizza and enjoy with a glass of wine or gluten-free beer.

 

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

It’s no secret that I love tacos. I could really eat them every day. Mexican food is one of the easiest cuisines for me to eat because so much of it is based on corn, not flour. The tortilla chips are corn and I order corn tortillas instead of flour. And, it’s easy to have the restaurant hold the cheese and sour cream.

I have two favorite taco places in Dallas – Velvet Taco and Gloria’s Latin Cuisine. We have two Velvet Taco’s close to us, which is great because it’s always packed. Velvet Taco serves delicious street tacos. We have a tendency to over-order and then feel obligated to eat them all because they are just so yummy!

Velvet_Taco_Dallas

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine is within walking distance to our house, and when it’s not a super hot summer night here in Dallas, we walk there for dinner. There are a lot of options on the menu for those of us with food sensitivities. I alternate between fish, tacos, the ceviche trio, or sharing fajitas with Brad. And the nice walk home helps us digest our meal.

Glorias_Latin_Cuisine_Greenville_Dallas

When not fried, fish tacos can be a light and tasty meal. I like fish in general, and a fish taco is a nice alternative to the traditional chicken or steak taco. I was in Trader Joe’s last week and saw a jar of mango salsa on the shelf and the light bulb went off – I need to make fish taco with mango salsa! You can use any white, flaky fish and I selected tilapia. It cooks ups quickly and not a lot of prep works is required to flavor the fish.

The mango salsa can be prepared a few hours in advance. Letting the flavors marinate help bring out the sweetness of mango and the spiciness of the jalapeño. I made two versions of the salsa – one with avocado and one with bell peppers. The tilapia was cooked in a cast iron skillet. If you are using a cast iron skillet, don’t forget to pre-heat the pan in the oven. I usually put the oven on 200 degrees and heat the pan while I’m preparing the fish and setting the table. That way it’s nice and hot when it’s time to cook the fish. If you like a little more spice, feel free to add more diced jalapeño. I used one teaspoon in the recipe.

Mango_Salsa

Tilapia Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Serves: 2

Mango Salsa #1

FullSizeRenderIngredients:

1 cup mango, finely cubed
8 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator and let marinate 30 minutes to one hour.

Mango Salsa #2

Ingredients:

1 cup mango, finely cubed
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon jalapeño, finely diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator and let marinate 30 minutes to one hour.

Tilapia:

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
2 tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing the fish
1 tablespoon of olive oil for the skillet
4 corn tortillas

Directions:

Combine all of the spices in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, coat each side of the tilapia with olive oil. Sprinkle the spice evenly on both sides of the fish.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Once heated, place the fish into the skillet and let cook about 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for another 4-5 minutes. The fish is done when it easily flakes apart with a fork.

While the fish is cooking, warm the corn tortillas. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper bowl and microwave for 15 seconds.

Transfer the fish to a cutting board. Rough chop the fish and place in a serving bowl.

Now it’s time to build your fish tacos with the mango salsa and enjoy!