A Post for the Kiddos

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When I got married eighty billion years ago in 1991, Taste of Home and casseroles were all the rage.

In particular, Tater Tot Casserole.

It consisted of tater tots (bet ya didn’t see that coming!), a can of cream of mushroom soup, broccoli or green beans, cheese and ground beef.

I used to make it once a week when the children were little because:

  1. A 9×13 pan in those days fed our family for a few days.
  2. It was cheap.
  3. They loved it.

Of course, that dish is full of things the allergic soul should not consume.

But now…NOW….thanks to the frenzy of gluten free everything these days, I was able to reconstruct Tater Tot Casserole into an allergy free dish.

And my seventeen year old men children like it better than the original!

One disclaimer, though: You’ll see in the pictures that it looks like I went down to the local sewage plant and plopped the remnants there into my casserole dish. It is not a pretty meal. Not even a little bit. But it is delicious, and, in my freaky little world, that is all that matters.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with spray. Spread a layer of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy gluten free tater tots to cover the bottom of the dish. Next, spread a layer of frozen green beans or chopped broccoli over the tots.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with spray. Spread a layer of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy gluten free tater tots to cover the bottom of the dish. Next, spread a layer of frozen green beans or chopped broccoli over the tots.

“Napoleon, give me some of your tots!”

“No! Go get your own!”

Next, layer one pound of seasoned ground beef over the other ingredients. I had leftover taco meat - bonus!

Next, layer one pound of seasoned cooked ground beef over the other ingredients. I had leftover taco meat – bonus!

Next, layer about 1/2 cup (or more if you like) Daiya cheese. Make sure to sprinkle it evenly.

Next, layer about 3/4 cup (or more if you like) Daiya cheese. Make sure to sprinkle it evenly.

Here's where it gets really unattractive. But yummy all at the same time. Pour half a carton (32 oz) of Imagine Creamy Portobello soup into a bowl. Add two Tablespoons corn or tapioca starch and whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over casserole, then pour the remaining soup over that.

Here’s where it gets really unattractive. But yummy all at the same time. Pour half a carton (32 oz) of Imagine Creamy Portobello soup into a bowl. Add two Tablespoons corn or tapioca starch and whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over casserole, then pour the remaining soup over that.  Spray foil with cooking spray so it won’t stick to the Daiya and cover casserole tightly. Bake for 35 minutes at 375, removing the foil at the 30 minute mark.

I must clarify once again that if you are allergic to soy, the online ingredients of the soup may disappoint you as it says the soup contains soy milk. However, the boxes I have purchased do not contain any soy at all, so go figure.

Then pull it out of the oven to the remarks of your children saying, "We're eating THAT?" (One of my kids actually called it 'The Poo Poo Platter', made famous in the movie 'Bug's Life'.)

Then pull it out of the oven to the remarks of your children saying, “We’re eating THAT?” (One of my kids actually called it ‘The Poo Poo Platter’, made famous in the movie ‘Bug’s Life’.)

Trust me here. It looks like a science project, but it is really, really tasty.

And once your family gets over the shock of its appearance, they’ll ask you if you can make it again.

And again.

It’s that yummy!

Tater Tot Casserole: Allergy Free Style

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with spray.
  • Spread a layer of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy gluten free tater tots to cover the bottom of the dish. Next, spread a layer of frozen green beans or chopped broccoli over the tots.
  • Next, layer one pound of seasoned cooked ground beef over the other ingredients. 
  • Now layer about 3/4 cup (or more if you like) Daiya cheese. Make sure to sprinkle it evenly.
  • Pour half a carton (32 oz) of Imagine Creamy Portobello soup into a bowl. Add two Tablespoons corn or tapioca starch and whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over casserole, then pour the remaining soup from the carton over that. You will be using the entire carton.
  • Spray foil with cooking spray so it won’t stick to the Daiya and cover casserole tightly.
  • Bake for 35 minutes at 375, removing the foil at the 30 minute mark.
  • Remove at 35 minutes, or when casserole is bubbly and hot.

 

Happy Eating the Classics Without the Worries!

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Last Minute Christmas Dinner Preparations

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It can happen just like *that*!

“I need one more dish! Aunt Gertie asked me to bring one more covered dish! Aaaaauuuggghhh!!!”

*wrings hands furiously*

Never fear. Here are a few ideas:

Green Bean Casserole: No gluten, dairy, egg or yeast (recipe created by my daughter, Courtney)

  • 1 box Imagine Foods Creamy Portobello Mushroom (the ingredients on the internet sometimes say this is made with soy milk. However, the boxes I purchase at my local grocer never have any soy. So if you are allergic to soy, go check it out at the store. I think Imagine may be a little behind the times on their ingredients update)
  • 1/4 cup corn or tapioca starch plus enough water to thin starch
  • 1 – 16 oz bag of frozen, french cut green beans, thawed
  • 1/4 cup shredded Daiya mozerella
  • 4 green onions, chopped finely
  • 2 Tbs sunflower (or your favorite) oil
  • Dash salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Grease a medium casserole dish. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, blend with whisk the soup and starch until smooth. Add Daiya and green beans.

Transfer soup and green bean mixture to casserole dish. Place in oven and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat oil. Add garlic, salt and chopped onion. Saute until onion begins to caramelize. 

Top casserole with green onions after the 15 minutes are up. Then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until casserole is bubbly.

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  • And if you simply want to bring a dip along with some veggies, never fear!

Simply click on this link to see my recipe for a quick, easy ranch dressing and dip.

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  • And if you are dying for a cheese and cracker tray, EASY!

Get on down to the natural grocer and buy a package of allergy free lunch meat, such as Hormel Naturals, this Daiya cheese and a box of allergy free crackers, such as Mary’s Gone Crackers. Arrange on a cute little plate and hoard it all to yourself at the family gathering. Unless there are other food challenged people there. Then share, and you’ll be the star of the night.

Happy Christmas Eve!

I Love Amy!!!!!

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amy's veggie lasagne

LOOK! Just LOOK at what she has made now!

I haven’t actually tasted it yet, but I almost ran my tongue over the computer monitor.

I am not making this up.

In fact, I’m looking for my car keys so I can go to the local freak food store in search of this tasty treat.

Sure, I can make my own. But it’s too much fun to buy a box of frozen something, like I’m perfectly normal in the area of food toleration like the other folks at the store. Sauntering with my cart, as I casually throw a frozen dinner into my basket, like I haven’t a care in the world what the ingredients say.

It’s like a little secret, held between Amy and me.

I will say that the one drawback to this lasagna is that it does contain tofu. Why they had to add that pesky little critter in there, I’ll never know. But if a small amount of soybean doesn’t bother you, you can be in on the ‘Amy and Me Secret’ too, with our clandestine grocery cart contents.

Thank you, Amy. And thank you Daiya. You have just brought a smile to this cold, blustery, winter’s day.

Happy Instant Gratification!  

Flu Season. Yuck.

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I have been kidnapped by the flu. Really.

It all began three weeks ago, when I took my 90 pound dog, who should be 80 pounds (we’re working on it), to the vet. You see, he had torn his ACL (well, the dog version of his ACL) and he was not cooperating for the vet. So I had to hold him down. And promptly threw out my back.

THEN, just as my back was getting better, I came down with a stomach virus. Nice. Bad back plus stomach virus equals not very comfortable at all.

I had a few days of feeling pretty good after that and then about a week ago, I got slammed again! This time, the dreaded influenza.

It was seriously just like Grover’s Bad Awful Day. Only it was Jaime’s Bad Awful Three Weeks.

So that’s where I’ve been: Sick and huddled under my covers with Good Earth tea and library books.

But it did yield a nice surprise in the process! Allow me to explain. Because I’m explaining whether you allow me to or not.

My dear, sweet oldest daughter went to the store for me and came home with a package of this:

 

This Amy’s Rice Macaroni and ‘Cheeze’  was shamelessly displaying itself in the freezer section at our local health food store! So what could my daughter do but buy a few boxes?

And not only is it gluten free, it’s dairy and soy free, prepared with Daiya cheese! It does have a small amount of nutritional yeast, so do not partake if you cannot have yeast.

I usually prepare my own mac and cheese using Daiya, but isn’t it nice to sometimes have something quick on hand? Especially when you’ve been sick?

And, thankfully, this mac and cheese passed the critical taste tests of both my daughter and myself.

In fact, it kind of reminded me of the old fashioned (listen to me…’old fashioned’, sheesh!) mac and cheese that came in those foil tray T.V. dinners back in the seventies and early eighties. You know, the kind you actually baked in your oven and it usually came with that awesome apple dessert? And then you ate it along with a cup of nice, cold Kool-Aid? Remember?

Yeah…and I wonder why I have so many food allergies now. Hmmmm. It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact I loved Tab and Doritios. And TV dinner macaroni and cheese.

But now, thanks to Amy’s, I don’t have to feel guilty about eating their version of a true American delicacy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pretty intense housework to catch up on. And a kazillion doses of vitamin C to take, just in case.

 

Happy T.V. Tray Night!

♫♫ Imagine all the Souuuuups and the Tasty Stews…♫♫

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If I were a betting woman (I’m not…not even the one dollar scratch game lottery tickets. I am not making this up.) I would be willing to bet you want to make stew and soups with delicious beef broth.

But you don’t.

Because you cannot have yeast. Or gluten. Or any number of other ingredients traditionally found in beef broths.

Until now.

Because our friends over at Imagine Foods have created some mighty tasty broths which contain no yeast, gluten, dairy, egg, corn or other nasty critters that interfere with your allergy health.

They also make an array of creamy soups that are nice for making chicken and rice bakes. Some of the creamy variety unfortunately are made with soy milk, so be careful to read the ingredients.

I also absolutely LOVE their tomato soup:

This is the only commercially made tomato soup I have found that is not only free of gluten, but free of dairy, soy and yeast as well! It is a little acidic, so if you like your tomato soup creamier, simply add an unsweetened milk alternative of your choice as you stir it to heat on the stove.

Sure, I can make my own, but it is so nice to have a box of this in the pantry on those cold, blustery days.

And along with a loaf of this bread:

And a container of Earth Balance:

And a small serving of Daiya:

I’m set to enjoy a nice, steaming bowl of tomato soup along with my ‘buttery’, scrumptious grilled ‘cheese’ sandwich.

Food allergies?

Psssshhh. Not a problem.

 

Happy Imagining the Possibilities!

 

Alfredo Sauce Without the Dairy? But of Course!

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This recipe comes from an original post (June of 2012) at my old blog home.

So, I cannot take all the credit for this scrumptious dish as it was my hubby (coincidentally, also a scrumptious dish!) who actually came up with the idea and made the first batch we ever ate.

But the following is my own rendition that I made for HIM!

Turn about is fair play, as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re not a seafood fan, I won’t pretend to understand you, but you can leave the seafood out.

Simply serve with any other meat you would like to be involved in this Alfredo relationship.

Or if you’re vegan (I…cannot comprehend, but, hey! We’re all food freaks here and respect each others weird, freaky food issues.), just serve it all by itself or with your favorite veggies.

But the recipe is my traditional one. So that means we must begin with the bacon.

Such as:

Fry up half the package in a skillet.

Remove and drain on a towel when the bacon is nice and crispy. When it is cool, crumble it all up.

Drain *most* of the grease and reserve just enough to saute’ mushrooms.

I guess I should warn you at this point that this recipe is in no way, shape or form low fat or pretending to be.

Next, add your mushrooms to all that bacony goodness.

I guess I should also make the disclaimer that while I own a really nice camera, I think I was in just too much of a hurry to fiddle with all the settings and used my crummy phone camera instead. Either that, or I just skipped editing. Either way, we got the pics and that’s all that matters.

Then, add about 1/2 cup of burgundy cooking wine to the skillet. This is optional for those who either cannot tolerate the ingredients or just don’t realize that whatever alcohol is in the cooking wine simply cooks off  anyway, leaving just its awesome flavor behind.

Chop up some green onions and throw them in there too. Do not cover the skillet at any time. Let those shrooms absorb as much of that liquid as possible. And stir up those bacony bits into it also.

The next part is your choice of meats.  Since I was making this for my hubby, he requested shrimp, crawfish, (which he affectionately refers to as ‘sea bugs’. Nice.) bacon and ham.

An important step is to always rinse, thaw and drain any frozen seafood first. Otherwise you will have a big mess of liquids you did not want in your Alfredo.

You may add any other protein you may want here at this point.

Saute’ all the meats (except for the draining bacon) until they are heated through and/or cooked. I also added ham (Hormel Naturals).

Drain off any liquid (toss it!) and transfer the meats/shrooms/onions and bacon into a bowl.

Cover the bowl with foil to keep the meat warm.

Next, you will need an Original Unsweetened milk (almond, hazelnut, etc).

Also, you will need Earth Balance spread and one package of Daiya cheese.

Melt 1/4 cup Earth Balance in the skillet with one to two cloves of minced garlic and a shake or two of pepper.

Next, add 1 1/2 cups of the almond milk. Heat for a few minutes on medium heat.

Then add the entire package of Daiya. See how liquidy it is? Never fear! It will thicken. I promise.

Now it is the waiting game. You will need to stir, stir, stir your milky, cheesy, Earth Balancy mess. I use a slotted spatula so I can squish all the cheese down as it melts and scrape the bottom of the skillet. Keep it on medium heat.

Keep stirring until the mixture thickens.

At this point, turn your heat down to medium low (or low if your range runs hot) just so that the cheesy mixture bubbles. Your cheese will be almost melted.

Once the cheese is melted, add your meats back to the sauce.

Sorry it’s not a Food Network worthy picture. I prefer reality here.

Keep it on low until ready to serve, stirring every few minutes.

Cook up some allergy free pasta….

….and serve your yummy sauce right on top of it.

And then leave a comment telling me of your undying love for me.

Here is the quick run down of ingredients:

Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Spread
  • 1 1/2 cups Original Unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Package Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Pepper

Meats and Such for the Sauce

  • 1/2 package allergy free bacon (such as Hormel Naturals)
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup cooking wine

Any amount of the following:

  • Green onions
  • Crawfish, thawed
  • Shrimp, thawed
  • Diced Ham (such as Hormel Naturals)

Happy Eating Cheesy Things Again!

Pizza and Allergies: Compatible? You bet!

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One of the first things I thought when the verdict of my food allergy panel was read was, “Pizza! How will I live without PIZZA?”

Well, I did. For a while.

And then desperation won out.

At the time, my boys had to be completely free of yeast in their diet and I was limiting it in my own diet as well.

Also, at the time, Daiya had not yet been invented.

So it really goes without saying that pizza was not much fun back in the day.

But now, thanks to Daiya, and limited introduction of yeast back into our diets, I can enjoy a pizza that rivals any parlor dish out there.

And no one would ever know it is allergy free:

Now, see that guy in the foreground there? See him? He’s the imposter. (He also doesn’t have any pizza sauce on him since I had run out of tomato paste. But that’s okay. He was a tasty little imposter anyway.)

The one in the background is the real deal, except for the fact that his crust is gluten free.

But no one would ever know that about him. He’s that good of an impersonator.

Ummmm….WHY am I referring to these pizzas as living beings?

I have no clue.

Let’s just move on with the recipes, shall we?

Alrighty then.

Here are the two crust versions (one with yeast and one without):

Pizza Crust – No gluten, dairy, soy, egg, yeast or corn

  • 1 cup GF flour
  • 1/3 cup milk (cow or unsweetened alternatives or water works well)
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 (or a little bit more) tsp salt
  • If desired, sprinkle in a little bit of garlic powder and crushed, dried herbs

Combine all ingredients with a mixer and knead for just a few seconds.

On a slightly greased stone or oiled pizza pan (I highly recommend the stone), with slightly oiled hands, press the dough into a pizza crust shape.  Pre-bake for ten minutes at 425.

Remove from oven and top with your choice of toppings. Return entire pizza to oven for another ten minutes or until toppings are ready.

Pizza Crust – No gluten, dairy, soy, egg or corn

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tb yeast
  • 1 Tb sugar or alternative sweetener
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 cups or more GF flour

Measure yeast into a large bowl and cover with warm water. Stir.

Next add the sugar and stir the mixture. Let sit for two minutes.

Add the salt and oil, then stir.

Gradually add the flour, mixing with a mixer. You may need to add just a little bit more flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

With oiled hands, press the dough onto a slightly oiled pizza stone (recommended) or an oiled pizza pan.

Pre-bake for ten minutes at 425. Remove from oven and top with toppings. Return entire pizza to oven for another ten minutes or until toppings are baked to your desire.

For a homemade pizza sauce, simply blend the following ingredients together in a sauce pot:

  •  12 oz  plain tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup cooking wine (optional, but it really makes the sauce.)
  • 1-2 tsp crushed oregano
  • 1-2 tsp crushed basil
  • 1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • Water to desired consistency*

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pot. Stir over medium low heat, adding water to desired consistency.

*Since tomato paste tends to be real ‘bitey’ , if you prefer your sauce to have a milder flavor, use thin, plain tomato sauce in place of the water. It will tame your sauce.

 

Happy Pizza Parties!