Archive | dairy free RSS feed for this section

Monday Musings: Carrying on a family tradition

9 Mar

To me, this photo means that nothing is impossible with a little extra effort, and a family tradition will be carried on.

Each year at Christmastime, my grandmother on my mom’s side would make her mini cherry cheesecake tarts. They were always a favorite dessert of mine, and for years even after she moved into an assisted living facility, she would still come to my mom’s house before Christmas and make them. Recently though, as she approaches her 100th birthday in May, it’s become impossible for her to make that trip and my mom had taken over making them. However, in recent years we’ve also been dealing with gluten and dairy food allergies at our house, so this year when my mom said she didn’t think she’d be able to make them, I told her not to worry, that I wanted to play with the recipe myself and make them gluten and dairy-free so that we could all enjoy them.

This past weekend my parents were coming over for dinner and I was thinking about what I could do for a dessert. I always like to make something special and I always like to make something with cherries at this time of year because it’s around the time that they had their first date more than 50 years ago, and my dad always says it was my mom’s homemade cherry pie with the perfect lattice top crust that made him fall in love with her. So as I thought about that, I remembered the cheesecake tarts and I decided now was the time. I’d attempt to make over the recipe.

The Enjoy Life brand has been a favorite and when I saw this new flavor cookie, I thought it would make a great crust for my tarts.

I searched online for a typical cheesecake tarts recipe to see what I was up against. The first one I found from Taste of Home called for vanilla wafers as a crust. I remembered that at the allergy-friendly bakery we go to often, they told me that they used Snickerdoodle cookies for their cheesecake crusts and that I’d done a raspberry swirl cheesecake last April for Easter and done just that, with great success. I decided to get some allergy-friendly vanilla wafers and follow the recipe. However, when I stopped at the store late last week, they didn’t have gf/df vanilla wafers, but I spotted a new flavor cookie I hadn’t seen before from one of my favorite brands, Enjoy Life. It was a crispy cookie, Vanilla Honey Graham, and it sounded like it could work. Since they were priced two for something, I bought four boxes, two to crush up and two to have on hand to eat later on.

I have used a couple of different kinds of dairy-free cream cheese for recipes in the past, and I had an unopened container of Tofutti on hand already. Any time I have cooked with dairy-free cream cheese I have had great results and most will say they can’t tell the difference between my finished product and ones they’ve had in the past. To me, that’s a sign of success.

When I’ve used dairy-free cream cheese in recipes in the past, I’ve been told that you can’t tell the difference.

On Friday afternoon I got to work on the recipe, putting the cookies into the blender and making crumbs out of them. I use a vegan buttery baking stick for butter when I bake since most dairy-free butter comes as a spread, which is fine to cook with but hard to bake with.

I keep several boxes of this on hand since I can only find it in one store near me.

I tasted the cookie crumbs and decided to throw some sugar in with them, so I threw in about 1/4 cup of sugar plus the butter it called for in the recipe, turned on the blender again and mixed it all in. My kids gave the final version a taste and said they were good to go.

From there, I followed the Taste of Home recipe below, and instead of following the recipe for the topping, I used canned cherries for the tops of the tarts, just as my grandmother always did.

When the tarts cooled, my daughter put the cherries on top and I put them in the fridge for the final chilling. We had a great dinner that my husband had cooked, and then it was time to bring up the dessert. I was so excited for the big reveal. I hadn’t told my mother that I was making them for dessert, only that I had a really good dessert on deck. I wish I had a camera to capture her expression when I came around the corner with the platter of cheesecakes. I had even chosen to use my grandmother’s platter to serve them on. That look alone made my day, but tasting the tarts, and having everyone declare them delicious made my night.

Oftentimes having food allergies can be challenging, but over time we’ve found that almost nothing is impossible. It takes some time and some research and planning, but most times it can be done. This dessert means a lot to me. It is a family tradition and it holds memories dating back to when we would eat that at my grandparents’ house and when they’d bring them to the Christmas Eve dinners for dessert. It’s something we only have this one time of year, so knowing that we are capable of carrying on tradition makes me happy. Further, I was able to combine that tradition with my nod to my parents’ more than 50 years of history that all started with that one cherry pie with the lattice topping that sealed the deal. Thank goodness for that or none of us would be here.

Below is the Taste of Home recipe just as it is found on their website before all of my modifications, and here are some photos of where my mini cheesecake tart recipe has come from, which stems from more than just an internet search.

Grandma Grello with our three daughters, just three of her many great-grandchildren.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup crushed vanilla wafers (about 30 wafers)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • TOPPING:
  • 1 pound pitted canned or frozen tart red cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Red food coloring, optional

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Combine crumbs and butter; press gently onto bottoms of 12 foil-lined muffin cups. In another bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined. Spoon over crusts.
  • Bake until centers are almost set, 12-15 minutes. Cool completely.
  • For topping, drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice in a saucepan; discard remaining juice. To reserved juice, add cherries, sugar, cornstarch and, if desired, food coloring. Bring to a boil; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Cool; spoon over cheesecakes. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours.

 

  • My parents’ wedding day, which was 50 years ago this past October 18.

    My parents celebrating 50 years together on October 18, 2019.

    Two more of her great-grandchildren, my niece and nephew learned how to make the tarts at my mom’s house a few years back.

    My brother looks on as they learn the secret of putting just the right amount of cherries on top.

 

 

A new muffin recipe: Bakery Style Banana Bread Muffins

2 Mar

These were a perfect Saturday morning breakfast.

I was recently searching for an applesauce muffin recipe I’d posted a while back when I realized that I never posted the new banana bread muffins I tried in January. It had been an early Saturday morning when I was craving warm muffins straight from the oven. I decided to do a search to see if I could find a new gluten and dairy-free muffin recipe to try.

In my search, I stumbled across a new blog, The First Year Blog, and their Bakery Style Banana Bread Muffin recipe. I had all of the ingredients including the right number of frozen bananas, I didn’t need to do a ton of ingredient conversions to make it fit our needs, and I decided to make them and not mention the name of them. I wondered if they really would taste any different than other banana chocolate chip muffin recipes I’ve tried before.

Sure enough, the first person to taste them mentioned right away that these muffins tasted just like banana bread, which we actually make quite often. I was surprised that it was that evident, that quickly! I didn’t need to say anything. The muffins were definitely different and I do believe it was the tip about letting the batter rest before scooping it into the muffin tins. When you visit The First Year blog to see this recipe, you will notice that she provides lots of other great tips for freezing the muffins, for making them gluten-free, and for creating a high-domed muffin. Be sure to check it out and be sure to peruse the site for other recipes while you’re there!

Now that I’ve remembered this recipe, I’ll have to make it again soon! It was definitely one of my top favorite banana chocolate chip muffin recipes to date!

These were delicious! Thanks to The First Year blog for sharing!

 

Ingredients

  •  3 large ripe bananas, 1 cup mashed
  •  1/3 cup vegetable oil
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  1 egg
  •  
1 tsp vanilla
  •  1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  
1 tsp baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp cinnamon
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  •  optional: 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mash the bananas in a blender, mixing bowl or with a potato masher.
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Stir to combine with a spatula.
  3. Add in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, stir together with a spatula.
  4. If adding chocolate chips, mix them in now.
  5. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes. During this time, preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  6. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners. Fill the liners to the top with batter.
  7. Bake for 7 minutes at 425ºF, then keeping the muffins in the oven turn the temperature down to 375ºF and bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

They definitely lived up to their name!

Fun Friday: Baked Apple Oatmeal

31 Jan

This was so delicious on a cold winter day.

It’s the weekend and there’s something so great about having a nice, homemade warm breakfast on a weekend morning. Today’s recipe is a perfect one for this weekend or any day.

We originally had this for breakfast earlier this month on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Being a Monday morning, I knew we could eat it that day and then have it leftover for breakfast or snacks after school during the week too. and baked oatmeal is something my family requests frequently so I knew they’d enjoy waking up to the smell of this baking in the oven on their day off from school.

My initial plan had been to make the same baked oatmeal recipe I always do, substituting in frozen blueberries for the strawberries. But, we were out of blueberries. Then I thought we had frozen peaches, but we didn’t have enough. So, I started searching for a baked apple oatmeal, since I knew we had a few apples on hand. I’m so glad that I did, as this recipe was completely different than the usual one and everyone loved it. I’d definitely do it again. I did one and one-half of this in order to make it fill a 9×13 baking dish and it was a perfect amount.

We opted to add whipped cream on top (we have both regular and dairy-free whipped cream on hand) and I also tried it with maple syrup on top and that was great too. The oats I used were gluten-free and we used soy milk to make it dairy-free but I’ve also used almond milk to make allergy-friendly oatmeal in the past as well. This recipe also calls for walnuts but we don’t usually keep nuts on hand so I didn’t put any in. I happen to also really like pecans and I think chopped pecans would’ve been a good addition to the recipe as well.

I found the recipe on this site, called Once Upon a Chef, and it’s described as a traditional Amish breakfast casserole, which was a perfect description. It was such a great comfort food and it took about an hour total to prep and bake. I encourage you to check out the site itself because it includes all of the nutrition information also, but the ingredients and instructions for a single recipe are copied here as well. I hope you’ll head on over and see some of their other recipes too.

 

I made one and one-half recipes in order to have enough for breakfast and for leftovers.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the dish
  • 2 tart yet sweet baking apples, such as Honey Crisp, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the nuts, raisins, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk; then whisk in the milk and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the oat mixture, along with the melted butter.
  5. Scatter the apples evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture over top and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup nuts on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Pizza-stuffed chicken from Clean Eating Magazine

22 Jan

This was a savory new recipe that we can’t wait to try again.

We have had the chance to try out lots of new recipes over the past year or so and this one was a family favorite. It’s somewhat similar to the one I posted a few weeks ago, in that it’s pizza-themed and it’s also one from Clean Eating Magazine, but it’s been on my mind so I wanted to share it. We actually have a whole binder of clean eating and gluten/dairy-free recipes we’ve ripped out of various magazine issues over the past year to try out, and this one is one we tried early in October.  It was particularly good as leftovers too, once all the flavors had really had a chance to set in for a couple of days. We’ve actually had success with just about all the new recipes we’ve tried and it’s nice to have new things to try.

The recipe was simple and had easy ingredients that we usually have on hand. It can also be tailored to the things you like or don’t like. We made a gluten-free/dairy-free version and a regular version so that we all could enjoy the new meal.

The magazine feature actually recommends prepping this meal on Sunday and then it’ll be ready to eat later in the week, and it recommends grilling the chicken. We baked ours in the oven.

Here is the recipe as found on the pages of Clean Eating Magazine.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
  • 1¼ cups marinara sauce, divided
  •  mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 12 slices uncured pepperoni
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano, divided

Preparation

Prep Ahead

1. Cut each breast through the middle to form a 2- to 3-inch pocket, taking care not to cut all the way through. Spread 1 tbsp sauce on inside of each pocket. Divide mozzarella, pepperoni, basil and ½ tbsp oregano among pockets. Close pocket and use a toothpick to secure. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

The Day Of

2. When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium-high. Pat chicken dry. Brush chicken with oil; season all over with salt, pepper and remaining ½ tbsp oregano.

3. Place remaining 1 cup marinara sauce in a small pan; warm over medium-low heat. Grill chicken until cheese has melted and chicken is cooked through (a thermometer inserted into thickest part of a breast should read 165ºF), 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve chicken with warmed marinara on the side.

Fun Friday: Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

17 Jan

These cookies were so delicious and contain one of my favorite combinations.

Happy Friday! I love a long weekend because it gives us more time to cook up something extra special, like cookies.

I found this recipe in Gluten-Free Living Magazine back in October and it was actually featured in a holiday cookie recipe spread in the magazine, in anticipation of the upcoming holiday baking season. However, I love the combination of chocolate and cranberries. In fact, it’s January now and I have a pumpkin-cranberry-chocolate-chip bread in the oven as I write.

Being gluten-free, the recipe calls for a one-to-one all-purpose gluten-free flour, (which means you can take a typical recipe and substitute the one-to-one GF flour for the regular all-purpose flour with no other substitutions or extra ingredients needed) and we do use their recommended brand below. However, I believe you could substitute back the other way too, and instead of using the GF one-to-one flour, you should be able to also use regular all-purpose baking flour in this recipe.

I always use a Pampered Chef small scoop to scoop out the batter, so oftentimes my cookies are particularly round if I don’t think to flatten them out a bit after I scoop them onto the tray. That’s why they are seen this way in my photo above.

This was a quick and easy recipe and it would make a great treat with coffee, tea, milk or whatever your favorite beverage. They also made a great school day or after school snack.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour is recommended by Gluten-Free Living Magazine)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly (to also make this dairy-free I used Earth Balance baking sticks)

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (to make this dairy-free I used Enjoy Life brand allergy-friendly mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)

3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, [using a mixer], combine the melted butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

Add the egg and mix until combined. The mixture should look like thick caramel sauce. Stop the mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on medium speed until a thick dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Stir until incorporated.

Drop dough, about two tablespoons each, onto prepared cookie sheet. Space cookies about two inches apart.

Bake until golden brown, about ten minutes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking.

Allow the cookies to cool for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

A quick and easy holiday side dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash, Pecans and Cranberries

30 Nov

This was a delicious new roasted vegetable recipe we tried this Thanksgiving. It would also be great for Christmas!

There is an old saying that you never try out a new recipe for company, but generally, that’s when we always do. This new recipe came across my virtual desktop on social media a few weeks ago, and I saved it to try out on Thanksgiving. If you like all of the veggies that are on the ingredients list and you enjoy a desserty side dish, this is a great one to try out.

I had never visited the Julia’s Album site before, it’s another new one for me, but this recipe intrigued me. I was not only drawn to it by its ingredients which were all my favorites (butternut squash, cranberries, and Brussels Sprouts) but also the fact that the recipe seemed quick and easy. I cheated and bought my squash already peeled, cut, and cubed, so I only had to trim the ends off the Brussels and cut them in half. You could roast both sets of veggies in the oven at the same time and after everything is roasted you toss it all together and it’s done.

Because Julia shared that she likes to post easy-to-make weeknight dinner recipes, I think I’ll be visiting her blog often. I hope you’ll head over and check it out too.

I’ve linked to the recipe twice above, rather than listing out all of the ingredients and directions here because she has some good tips and tricks for prepping (like cooking both sets of veggies at the same time) and some substitution ideas as well. You can see it all at once by clicking on the links above.

Additionally, a reminder to use your leftover turkey! We made turkey noodle soup from scratch last night with some, and I plan to make open-faced turkey pot pie this week using this recipe from years ago. I plan to use the ingredients for the filling and skip the crust, and we’ll put it on top of our leftover mashed potatoes with a side of veggies.

Next week I’ll start reposting my “Your Tray or Mine” Christmas Cookie recipes. I will do a few a week for three weeks until they’re all reposted. Before we know it, I’ll be wishing you a Happy New Year!

Enjoy the rest of this long weekend,
Jen

Our Thanksgiving recipes for you all in one place

25 Nov

These were a delicious after school snack on Friday and breakfast on Saturday.

Happy Monday! For many of us, myself included, this is a short week. I am thankful for the short week as it was such a busy weekend.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking these past few days and digging up some older recipes on my blog. Each time I’ve made something, I’ve made a mental note to repost some of these older recipes, so today I’ve decided to post them all in one place.

The Peanut Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins shown here were first posted in 2015, and I made them on Friday afternoon. It had been a long time since I was able to make something for the kids after school, but I had some time on Friday between getting home from one job and heading out to the other. Everyone would be home before me, so I left them with a note that said 1) Yes, these are for you. 2) Yes, you can eat them now. 3) Peanut Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Chip. 4) Yes, they are gluten and dairy-free. 5) Two each. That answered all the questions I knew they’d come in asking me if I were there. They made a great after school snack for them and breakfast in the morning on what would be a busy Saturday with people going in all directions.

Last week, our office had a Friendsgiving, and I decided to make a dessert that I like to make every year, crustless Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes. You serve them with a dollop of whipped cream on top and it’s just like having a little taste of pumpkin pie, minus the crust. I have made these gluten and dairy-free in the past, and I will do that again this week for Thanksgiving. We use a Reddi-Whip dairy-free whipped cream on top. I first posted this recipe in 2012.

These have been a family favorite for years. They can be made jumbo-sized as I did here, or slightly smaller.

Yesterday, my daughter hosted a Friendsgiving at our house. It was a perfect-sized group, not too big or too small, and everyone brought something, which made it manageable for her to host. We made a turkey breast using the Instant Pot, which was phenomenal and cooked in about 40 minutes. In addition, I opted to contribute a gluten and dairy-free option so that our other daughter could have dessert too, even though we had so many others coming. It was not her event, but I knew she’d want to partake in the dessert course. My husband loves these Pilgrim Pies and has been asking for them for a few weeks, so that’s why I chose to make them. I used my Pampered Chef medium scoop to make them but I could have used my small scoop to make even more of them if I wanted to. These have been a favorite for years, and last year my oldest even made a batch to bring back to school with her for all her dorm friends at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.

One of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions involves this next recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Bread.  It was a recipe given to me by my mother, and I know that she makes it too. I will start baking up batches of this today and bake several over the next few days. Each batch makes two loaves or one loaf plus three mini loaves. Sometimes I will swap in chocolate chips instead of cranberries for some of the loaves since not everyone loves cranberries. On Thanksgiving morning we slice this up, butter it and grill it for breakfast. When the kids were very small we would line them all up in our bed, pillows propped up behind them and breakfast trays in their laps. They’d eat their bread, drink out of their sippy cups, and watch the Macy’s parade. I have a favorite photo of them doing just that, our littlest one propped up in the middle of the two older ones, and I think of it every time I make this bread.  Now, some sleep through the parade, or we record it to watch later, but we always have the bread. This year we will be at our school’s football game as our youngest is in the marching band and they will be performing. No matter what we do on Thanksgiving morning though, there will always be bread.

The final recipe I will share with you today is also a tradition for our family. It comes from my mother inlaw Marylou and we’ve been making it ever since I had it at her house many years ago. Marylou’s Sweet Potato Casserole is my kind of recipe. It’s got butter and sugar and vanilla and brown sugar. It’s got a root vegetable in there too, so maybe it’s good for you? It doesn’t matter, because it’s Thanksgiving and we eat this just once a year. I am excited to bake this on Wednesday night, but even more excited to eat in on Thursday afternoon. You can make this with nuts or without. In the past, I’ve done both versions, but this year since we have a smaller crowd, most of whom do not like nuts, I will just do one version and skip the nuts.

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving and enjoy some time to relax and reflect. The weeks ahead will again be busy, but it’s the time we get to spend together as well as the special family traditions we’ve established over the years and look forward to every year,  that makes it all worth it in the end.

-Jen