Delicious Dairy Free Appetizer

So it has been a long while since I posted but I am back to writing now that both kids have settled into a school routine.   My youngest is now in preschool a few days so I have a little time to sit down at a computer before trying to get a bunch of stuff done around the house.  Better type fast!

As far as food goes, Colin still doesn’t eat dairy, soy proteins or chocolate.  I don’t know if he will grow out of it but we’ve accepted it, built accommodations into our life and don’t worry about it too much.  We had another milk trial this summer but it didn’t go well, especially after a few days of eating small bites of it.  His reactions are 24-48 hours later and really show themselves at nighttime.  He stops sleeping and cries all night.  He also usually has an eczema flair up and GI symptoms.   As a family we are used to this lifestyle and don’t feel as limited or concerned as we once did.  Colin can have soybean oil so that makes our life a lot easier since everything outside the house seems to contain it.   Although he has moments he feels he misses out, like ice cream at parties, for the most part we have yummy substitutions ready for him and we try to always make meals that he can eat.   Colin is growing and gaining weight well.  He has come a long way and we have become less stressed about food over time.

Although we have a good collection of dairy and soy free recipes to choose from, I am a recipe hunter.  I am always on the lookout for something new to make.   With tomatoes in season here, I am sharing one of my favorite summer appetizers.   It’s great when the tomatoes are ripe and have real flavor, but if you can’t get great tomatoes that is okay too.  The recipe is DOUBLE tomato- meaning it has sundried tomatoes in it that really pack a punch of intense tomato flavor which can help overcome lackluster fresh tomatoes.

The original recipe for this bruschetta had cheese on top of it but the one time I tried it, the cheese was really unnecessary.  It think the appetizer is better without it! I use roma tomatoes if they look good at the grocery store but if you use another type that is very watery/seedy, scoop some of the seeds out before you add them to your bowl of ingredients.   Also any balsamic vinegar will work but if you get some sweet aged balsamic, like a 25 year aged bottle where it is thick and sweet,  it is even better.   Lastly you can serve this bruschetta on top of bread or serve it in a nice bowl with bread around for guests to top it themselves so it doesn’t get soggy.



adapted from


6 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped  (or other tasty tomatoes in season)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive or canola oil  – chopped or julienned

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon salt  (I use kosher salt)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 loaf French bread


Preheat oven to broil setting.

Combine the chopped roma tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, salt and pepper.  Allow it to sit 10 minutes for flavors to mingle.

Cut your French bread into 3/4 inch slices.   Place them on a baking sheet in a single flat layer.   Broil for 1-2 minutes until toasted. Remove from the oven.

Spoon the tomato mixture on the top of the toasted side of the bread.  Serve immediately and enjoy!


Avocado and White Bean Dip

guac dip croped


Missing creamy dips because you live dairy free? Definitely give this quick dip a try!

Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network calls this one “Avocado Hummus with Crispy Pita Chips” but I think “Avocado and White Bean Dip” is a more accurate title.  When I hear hummus I think chickpeas and this is chickpea-free.  Also, homemade hummus that I’ve had usually has a slightly rougher texture while this dip is very creamy and smooth due to the avocado.  This dip was one of the foods on my Easter Menu– yes, I’m just now getting to writing it up.  Time just keeps getting away from me.  It’s good- we are busy- but I wish I had more time to blog lately.  Speaking of short on time, this dip is great when you need an appetizer in a hurry.

The dip part of this recipe is dead simple.  Throw everything but the olive oil in the food processor, process a good bit and then start adding olive oil until it reaches the smoothness and consistency you like.   The result is a beautiful green delicious dip.

The pita chips in the recipe are good, nothing beats a warm toasted pita,  but if you are in a time crunch use Stacy’s pita chips or bagel chips.  If you need safe pita bread, try Kangaroo brand pitas.

NOTE:   This dip does have beans in it.  I usually stay away from bean recipes since beans are in the legume family – same family as soybeans.  So if you have soy concerns just be aware.  Some soy intolerant people can eat other legumes and some can’t.    I didn’t feed this dip to Colin since we haven’t  trialed beans in a long time but I ate some of it and he was fine.

Click here for the dip recipe!

Tomato Caper Spread

Eating dairy/soy/whatever-else free is really tough when it comes to parties or get togethers with friends.  We tend to gather around food so coming up with a list of appetizers and snacks has been really important to me.  I try to bring one or more “safe” items so there is something I can munch on, but I also want it to be something everyone else will enjoy.  One of the positives to this ongoing food challenge is that I’ve found some great new recipes that have been big hits in our house and at parties.   One of my favorites is Tomato Caper Spread.

The inspiration for this appetizer was actually from an Anthony Bourdain show.  I don’t remember where he was, but someone on the show with him made this dip, causally throwing things into a food processor and the end result blew Anthony Bourdain’s mind.  When I realized there was no dairy in dip, I quickly wrote down the basic ingredients: bread, garlic, red wine vinegar, tomato paste and capers.  I tucked it away in my recipe files to experiment with later.

One afternoon before I was supposed to have people over for dinner, I pulled the notes out and decided to see what I could come up with.  I literally threw all the ingredients I’d seen in the show in the food processor and whipped it up.  The resulting dip/spread was fantastic and unique. I’ve made it over and over and even though it changes a bit each time, it is alway delicious.  The bread in the recipe gives the dip some body. The red wine vinegar, capers, garlic and tomato are the big flavors with emphasis on the garlic and tomato. The olive oil smooths it out and makes it spreadable or dipable.

Every time I make this and take it somewhere, at least one person asks me for the recipe.  Coming up with a “recipe” has been tough because I make it a little different every time and add things to taste.  I vary the bread I use in it, usually any safe bread I can find.  I’ve used pitas, french bread, challah bread, and often whole wheat bagels I had stashed in the freezer.  I also vary the amount of garlic I use.  The garlic flavor seems to intensify after sitting a few minutes and the flavors have a chance to mingle a bit.  I usually start with one medium clove of garlic and if its needs more I use a sprinkle of garlic powder instead of throwing in a whole other clove.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients.

I serve the dip with some type of bread or cracker.  My favorites are crostini- little slices of bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted on each side in the oven, or pita bread cut into triangles and baked until slightly crunchy.  In a pinch I use Back to Nature whole wheat crackers.

Tomato Caper Spread


About 1 cup of safe bread, torn into large chunks

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 medium clove of garlic

1/2 tube of tomato paste

2 tablespoons capers

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic Powder -optional -to taste


Place the chunks of bread in the bowl of a food processor and sprinkle with the red wine vinegar.  Then add the garlic clove, tomato paste, and capers.  Pulse the food processor 5 times and then continue to process until all the ingredients are combined. Stop and scrape down the sides as needed.  Slowly add olive oil through the feed tube/hole in the top of the food processor until the dip becomes a smooth spreadable consistency.  The amount needed will vary depending on the type of bread used so just stop and check the dip.  (Try spreading it on a cracker.  If it is crumbly and difficult to spread, continue to process and add more oil.)  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Taste and season with extra garlic if desired.

Serve with toasted pieces of bread, toasted pita wedges or crackers.