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!

Dairy Free Fruit Dip


I am so excited about this post! I was so excited about this recipe I was even sending texts about it to other dairy intolerant family members.  Move over cream cheese dips -this is Dairy Free Fruit Dip!

Earlier this year I was getting our family ready for a mini-Super Bowl Party at our house for just the four of us.   My beloved Green Bay Packers weren’t in the game so I was way more interested in the food than the football.   In years past I’d made a cream-cheese based fruit dip and strawberries for game days, but decided to experiment a little so Colin could eat our party treats.   I mixed up some marshmallow crème, coconut milk vanilla yogurt, a bit of powdered sugar, and vanilla.  I whipped it together with hand held mixer and decided it could be even better with a little lemon zest and lemon juice.  The result was a delicious fruit dip that everyone in our family loved.  My husband he said he preferred it to the old cream cheese based one.   The texture of the dip was great and didn’t get runny like my coconut whip cream does after standing a while.  I can even see myself using it as a frosting substitute for Colin’s birthday treats.

Do yourself a favor and try this dip!

Here is the yogurt I used but feel free to experiment if you have a dairy free yogurt you like.  I’d go with vanilla or plain yogurt.  Try adding a little vanilla extract into the recipe if you use plain yogurt.



Dairy Free Fruit Dip


7 0z Marshmallow crème (also known as marshmallow fluff. It comes in a jar)

6 oz. Vanilla flavored coconut yogurt  (if you can only get plain -add more sugar and vanilla to the recipe)

2 tablespoons Powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Zest of half of a small lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Mix all ingredients together with a hand blender or whisk.  Serve with fruit for dipping.




Freezer Meal #1: Honey Sesame Chicken

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my recent cooking ventures was to attempt to make freezer meals to pull out for dinner on busy nights.   I read a lot of Once-A-Month-Cooking websites, a lot of freezer-meal websites and came up with a collection of meals.  It wasn’t a giant collection, as many of the recipes were impossible to make dairy/soy free, but a good number of recipes nonetheless.  I made a grocery list and headed to the store.  In addition to the meats and veggies and spices, I purchased two boxes of freezer friendly gallon size ziptop bags. (I like to double bag my freezer stuff in case a leak should happen).   Then when I got a 2 hour window of time I set it all up:

1.   A meat chopping station

2.  A veggie chopping station

3.   Lots of measuring cups and spoons (every set I had)

4.   My recipes all printed and laid out in order of assembly-  I tried to do all chicken ones in a row so I could chop all the chicken at one time.

I assembled five recipes in about an hour and tucked them into the freezer.  We’ve eaten most of the meals now and some of our recipes were total flops.  A few were good with some additional spices. The best by far was Honey Sesame Chicken.

I found the recipe Honey Sesame Chicken on Damn Delicious where the recipe had been adapted from The Comfort of Cooking.   It originally contained soy sauce, but I swapped it out for coconut aminos  and added some salt to the recipe.  My coconut aminos is much sweeter than soy sauce and lacks the salt that soy brings to the party.  Add a little salt to the recipe and my family never misses soy sauce.  I wasn’t sure about the ketchup in the recipe when I read it, but when we ate it we couldn’t pick out that flavor at all.  Seems crazy but don’t skip it!  Lastly, my kiddos can’t handle any heat/spiciness in food so we left out the red pepper flakes.  Red pepper usually just adds a great background flavor and I love it, but it always seems like my most heat sensitive child ends up with the flakes in her food and then refuses to eat any more.  So we left that out of our batch.

The recipe was super easy to prepare.  To make it for the freezer,  I set a freezer friendly gallon zip top bag in a large bowl to keep it from falling over.   I dumped in the diced onion, garlic, honey, coconut aminos, ketchup, oil, chicken, salt and pepper.   I pushed the air out of the bag, sealed it, double bagged it in another ziptop bag, labeled it and froze it flat in our freezer.

I defrosted the meal still in the bag. and in the fridge, the night before I cooked it in the slow cooker.  I do want to note that I’ve started cheating in this part of the freezer meal recipes.  Most freezer meal recipes say to defrost in the fridge starting the night before.  Well, I often don’t have my act together that far in advance.  After cleaning up a dinner, getting two tired kids through the bath and bedtime routine and finding an hour to regain my sanity, I rarely think ahead about dinner the next day.  (Gotta work on this, I really do.)   So since I usually wake up and think, “Oh no!  Forgot about the freezer meal again!” I’ve started defrosting a double-bagged freezer meal in a sink half full of water with the tap dripping slightly.  (The dripping breaks up the cold water around the frozen item.)   In an hour most of my meals are completely defrosted and ready to dump into the slow cooker.   This procrastinator-friendly strategy is a time saver, but if you try it for any recipes make sure your meat is fully defrosted so it cooks evenly and fully.

My family ate this meal over rice.  This recipe calls for cooking the chicken for 3 and a half hours and then removing the chicken to cool and shred it.  When I took the chicken out I immediately started a pot of rice on the stove.  The recipe for the chicken says to cook an additional 30 minutes with the shredded chicken added back into the slow cooker, so my rice and chicken were ready right about the same time. My family loves jasmine rice.  Check it out if you’ve never tried it.

Honey Sesame Chicken


1 small onion diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup honey

½ cup coconut aminos

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper to taste


Garnish for serving day (optional)

1 green onion, thinly sliced

sesame seeds, for garnish


For Freezer Meal Preparation:

In a heavy-duty gallon sized ziptop bag, combine the onion, garlic, honey, coconut aminos, salt, ketchup, oil, and red pepper flake (optional).   Place chicken thighs inside the bag. Seal bag tightly.  Gently squish/massage bag to combine the ingredients.  Place inside another ziptop bag, label and freeze flat.

When ready to make the meal:  Defrost.  Add to slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3 ½ hours.  Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred with forks.  Return chicken to the juices in the slow cooker.  Cover and keep warm fro 30 minutes.   Great served over jasmine rice.


A Challenging Fall

I’ve been absent from my blog for two months but it hasn’t been absent from my mind.  At Halloween I wanted to share the idea I saw online of having food-free options in your treat bowl. Before Thanksgiving I wanted to share the dairy free menu I made for Colin.  But I was a bit overwhelmed and I didn’t make it to the computer.  Since my last post, I’ve had the most challenging weeks in my life since Colin was little and we were in the throes of colic, elimination diets and finding him diagnosis.

In the last two months we had two deaths in our family and some concerning medical issues arise in an immediate family member.   Stressors like this have their way of spiraling outward, throwing our family off of center and affecting other parts of our life.  I often felt like I was failing as a mother and captain of the ship, but some good people in my life helped me to see that it was the rough waters and not my lack of steering that were causing these other problems and to give it some time.  They were right and things are improving all around.   Our hearts are healing and doctors say the scary medical stuff has been ruled out, that the medical issues will be manageable.  I pray that we are on the other side of this rough patch and that we can fall into the easy peace of normal day-to-day routines again after the holidays.

So onto the holidays.  I wanted to share two of my favorite cookie recipes I am making again this year that are dairy and soy free.  Hopefully they will bring you or someone in your life joy this season!

1.  Puffy Sugared Cookies – I make them in holiday colors and let the kids do the colored sugar.  A great family activity!

2.  Pecan Cookies – my husband’s favorite dairy free cookie I make.  I often make a half batch of these since it makes quite a few! I find I like to use a variety of butter substitutes so I don’t taste just one in my cookie but if you can’t find these ones, try Spectrum shortening or a variation of things you can find/can eat!


Pecan Cookies

adapted from original on AllRecipes


1/2 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Spread

1/2 cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread

1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup white sugar for decorating


Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cream together the Soy Free Spread, Coconut Spread, oil, 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.  Mix in the pecans.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll ball into remaining 1/2 cup white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Flatten dough balls slightly with your finger.   Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden.


From our family to yours- Have a Happy New Year!

May Food Find- Krusteaz Apple Muffins

I haven’t done a Food Find post in a while so I thought I’d share a store-bought muffin mix I found recently: Krusteaz Fat Free Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix.

Before I begin though, I thought I’d mention that I’m in no way connected to any of the foods I review, nor do I get any kind of free samples. These are things I find while spending an inordinate amount of time reading labels at grocery stores.  I post these things solely to help other families find options that might work for them and maybe spend a little less time grocery shopping.


So I saw this Krusteaz muffin mix on the shelf at the grocery store and decided I would give it a try.  I love making homemade apple muffins but it takes a lot of time to prep all the apples and the whole process makes quite a mess.  That level of commitment to making muffins is often more than I want to deal with in the morning.   I’m always on the lookout for a box mix I can stash away for an impromptu breakfast or even better – to travel with!   I love my food processor but it doesn’t make the list of travel items.  Sooo… Krusteaz was up to bat.

The Krusteaz muffin mix cost $2.99.   Not crazy expensive like some of the specialty box mixes I’ve purchased in the past, so that was nice.

The ingredient list did not contain dairy or soy.   It does warn that the mix is made on the same machinery as these and other allergens, so I probably wouldn’t have given it to Colin in his worst days, but we take the risk now.   Although the ingredient list seems pretty allergy safe for us,  it isn’t a perfect option.  It includes a lot of things that wouldn’t be in muffins made from scratch, like high fructose corn syrup,  so I wouldn’t make it a weekly breakfast choice,  but I think that is par for the course with most boxed mixes.



The box comes with a bag of dry mix, a pouch of apple filling and only requires water to mix it all up.  I loved that I didn’t need a milk alternative, which makes them even more convenient and travel friendly.   It was easy and crazy fast to prepare, so I had my doubts about the quality of the muffins.


My little kitchen elves helping stir it together. They are so simple to make – the muffins that is.



The apples come in a pouch. They taste like apple pie filling.

To my surprise the resulting muffins were very moist and flavorful.   The apples have a bit of the “apple filling” taste- probably from being cooked and having high fructose corn syrup in them, but they weren’t a deal breaker.   The muffins were overall good and I’d definitely eat them again.


If I have the time and patience for homemade apple muffins, they would still be first in my book but this is a great option for convenience.  I actually purchased another box to take on a trip with me since they were so simple to make and good enough to share with family.

If you’d like to read more about the Krusteaz products or locate their products you can visit their website here.   If you can’t find this muffin mix at your store you can buy it here.

You Won’t Miss The Cheese Stromboli



It has been way too long since my last post.  I used to write once a week when Colin took two naps a day.  Now my goal is one a month. Colin has taken to skipping naps if there is anything interesting going on and when Hannah is home, his nap hour is our dedicated read-together time.   It is really tough to find an hour or so in the evening to sit at the computer. With both kiddos doing some sort of school in the fall, I know this crazy time will pass and I will miss being so busy with them.  So although I’m paring back a bit, I’m not disappearing. Bear with me!

Speaking of days when I had more time:  Before Colin was born I used to go to one of those meal making places where in one hour I could make 12 meals for my family and fill my freezer.   It was such a time saver but these days it just doesn’t work for our diet needs.  A few months ago I tried to make my own “Freezer Meals” but I just couldn’t find a lot of recipes that didn’t involve Cream of Something soup or lots of cheese.   It wasn’t a total failure though.  I did find a stromboli recipe that we love at a site called Freezer Friends, written by a group of girls who work together to make freezer meals each month.  Genius!  I would love to do this someday.

Anyway, at first I made two different stromboli, a cheesy one for my husband and daughter, and a cheeseless for Colin and I, but after trying our dairy-less version, my husband said to just make the dairy-free version in the future.  He didn’t miss the cheese.  That is a HUGE win in our house.

I think the key to this stromboli is the egg yolk and herb mixture that is spread on the dough before the rest of the toppings.  It brings the fat, richness and moisture to the party that keeps us from missing cheese.

The original recipe called for 1lb defrosted bread dough.  I couldn’t find any soy free varieties so I always use fresh dough.  I’ve tried various things and usually use either the olive oil dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day (the recipe is down a bit in their post) or I use Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust yeast and follow the directions on the back of the yeast packet.    The olive oil dough you have to make a few hours in advance.  The Fleischmann’s dough you can whip up and use in 5 minutes.

I tend to stick to the meat and veggie ingredients in the recipe below, for no other reason than we like it.  When I find something that works, I go with it.  Feel free to swap things out, just try to not to overload the dough with filling or with extremely wet ingredients or you might run into trouble sealing the dough.  If yours starts to have a life of its own, don’t panic.  In the past I’ve had ugly, patched up and messy looking stromboli going into the oven but they bake up delicious.


Adapted from Stromboli By Jackie


1 lb defrosted frozen bread dough or fresh pizza dough (my favorite way is using this yeast)

12 oz. italian pork sausage (we use mild, light turkey sausage)

1/2 onion, diced

2 egg yolks, save the whites

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil

2 oz. turkey pepperoni

Italian Seasoning

Directions  (photos below to help with construction)

Have dough defrosted/ready to use.  Place the pork sausage and onion in a medium-sized pan and cook over medium-high heat, chopping sausage into small crumbles while cooking.  Cook until sausage is cooked through and onion is translucent. Turn off heat and set meat mixture aside.  In a small bowl beat the egg yolks and combine with the next four spices and the 2 tablespoons oil.  Next, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat mat or just grease your cookie sheet generously.  Use a rolling pin to roll your dough into a large rectangle (about 8×12).   Spread the egg yolk mixture on the dough but leave a half-inch border on the sides a 1 inch border at the bottom with nothing on it.   Now add toppings: spoon the sausage mixture over the egg yolk and herbs, again leaving the sides and one inch border at the bottom empty.  Spread pepperoni evenly over the sausage mixture.  Using two hands start at the top (where it is covered with toppings)  and roll the dough in on itself until it reaches the bottom.  Roll up that bottom 1 inch and stop, so that the seam is on the bottom of the stromboli.  Gently beat the egg whites in a bowl and then give the stromboli a light brushing of egg white.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  Cut into slices.  Serve with warmed marinara or spaghetti sauce for dipping.


Spread the herb mixture over the dough

Spread the herb mixture over the dough

Add toppings

Add toppings everywhere but the bottom 1 inch.  I put the pepperoni on first on this one.  As long as the egg mixture is down first it doesn’t matter.


Roll up from the long edge- use both hands to roll evenly

Roll up from the long edge- use both hands to roll evenly

Finish rolling seam side down. Tuck ends in and bake.

Finish rolling seam side down. Tuck the ends in. 

Slice and serve with marinara

After baking, slice and serve with marinara




Eggo Dillema

It can be tough having children with very different dietary needs and preferences. When we are planning meals/snacks/treats we are always trying to balance nutrition, convenience, cost, allergens, and feelings.   Most of the time we buy and cook things that everyone in our house can eat.  Cooking “Colin Friendly” saves time but I also like to think it keeps Colin from feeling “left out” more than he has to.  He is definitely aware of what he can and can’t have, and is also aware of what his sister is eating.   If Colin had been our first child, we’d always have been eating the Colin Diet and Hannah wouldn’t even know what we are NOT eating.  But she was born first and knows what is missing from the table.

For the longest time after Colin was born, I held out on purchasing those Oh So Convenient Eggo brand Nutri-Grain wheat waffles, even when Hannah asked for the 100th time if we could buy them.  I don’t know why she loves them but she does.  Is it that they are circles? Who knows.  I was making homemade waffles and enjoying our lack of processed foods.  But as time has gone by, the kids appetites have increased and time seems to be decreasing.   I finally gave in and bought Hannah her frozen waffles.  I won’t lie- they make the before school breakfast debate a lot easier.  I top them with a smear of peanut butter, chopped fruit or even a slice of Canadian bacon for a quick breakfast sandwich and she is good to go.

So Hannah was happy with her waffles but Colin wanted in on the Eggo fun so I needed to have something quick on hand for him.  Why not freeze our Colin-safe waffles in individual potions?  So I began making a full batch of waffles once a month on a Sunday morning.  Whatever we don’t eat get’s quartered and frozen.   These frozen waffles are “Colin’s Eggos.”  I pop a frozen quarter into the toaster and then breakfast is ready in a jiffy.   Our toaster has a “Frozen Food” setting that works well but if I forget, I just toast it twice on a very light setting.

It is so nice to have another “Go-To” breakfast option for Colin. Colin is happy with his waffle, Hannah is happy with her Eggo, and we get through our morning rush with a little less drama.  That makes me extra happy.

This old waffle iron has cranked out a lot of waffles in her day.

This old waffle iron has cranked out a lot of waffles in her day.


Dairy Free Waffles

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens


1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour  (*see note about alternate flours)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups rice milk (others will work, rice is our favorite)

1/2 cup canola oil or other neutral oil

1 teaspoon vanilla


1.   Preheat your waffle maker.  Spray with oil/grease with canola oil if needed.

2.   Combine the dry goods-   In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3.   Combine the wet goods-  In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.

4.   Mix it all up –  Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.

5.   Pour waffle mix into waffle maker.   Check with your waffle maker instructions/use a little trial and error.  Mine takes a hefty 1/3 cup of batter.   Cook according to your waffle maker’s directions.   If waffle top and bottom separates try cooking it slightly longer or thicken batter with 2 -4 tablespoons flour.

** Using alternate flours:   I love to use 3/4 cup almond flour in place of 3/4 cup AP flour. The end result is even crispier.  Sometimes I have to add 2-3 tablespoons of extra AP flour to thicken the batter when using almond flour.   I’ve used also made it with whole wheat pastry flour, using half of the AP flour and half whole wheat pastry flour.   I have to be better about greasing my waffle maker with these alternate flours, especially almond flour.

Udon Noodle Stir-Fry


We make a lot of stir-fry dishes these days since they cook quickly once the prep is done, and I can use whatever veggies I have lying around.   Here is my basic stir-fry procedure:

1.  Prep all vegetables, meats and sauces, making protein bite size and cutting vegetables thinly and uniform in shape

2.  Cook the protein over medium-high and remove it from pan

3.  Cook veggies until soft

4.  Add sauce and protein to the vegetables in the pan.

5.  Serve over rice or add in noodles

So using this formula I create new stir-frys with whatever we’ve got.  I use about a half cup of coconut aminos as a base for my sauces and add things like chicken stock, ginger, salt, pepper, garlic powder and/or sesame oil to change the flavor.  Coconut aminos taste a lot like a sweeter soy sauce and I find them at Whole Foods or other natural foods stores.  If I add a little salt to the recipe to compensate for the sweetness, it is a great soy sauce substitute.

The recipe I’m sharing today is for the stir-fry we had this week.  Feel free to play around with it and add/subtract veggies based on what you like.  My husband hates water chestnuts and sesame oil so I leave them out of the pan, adding some to just my portion.  Just remember to cut veggies thinly so they cook quickly and cut them all about the same size so they cook evenly.  When I’m short on time I pick up a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies.  They seem a bit softer in texture than fresh ones, but will do in a pinch.

One of my favorite parts of this dish is the udon noodles.  Udon noodles are a thin wheat noodle and I find them in the Asian foods section of our grocery store.  Other thin noodles, unflavored ramen or serving it over rice would work too.


Here is my stir-fry plan in action this week:

I cut onions, mushrooms, carrots, and butter lettuce all very thin.  I have a prep bowl handy to dump them in as I chop, which keeps them from taking over the counter.   I made a sauce of chicken stock, coconut aminos, salt and garlic powder in a two cup glass measuring cup.

Food Pics

I cooked the chicken and set it aside.  I check the temp often while it cooks or cut pieces in half to check for doneness.  I think it’s really important not to overcook it.


Then I cooked the veggies until they were soft.

Steamy veggies blurring up the pics a bit

Steamy veggies blurring the picture a bit

Then I began cooking the noodles in their pot of water, added the sauce and chicken back to the vegetables and went to break up an argument about a couch fort in the living room.  Sooo no pictures here.  I obviously struggle with being mom, photographer and cook all at the same time during the dinner rush.  But here is the end result!


It was a big hit with everyone at the table!

What combinations of veggies does your family like?

(Forgive me for the title – I’m coming up blank on this one so I’ll name it for what it is)

Thursday’s Stir-Fry

1/2 cup Coconut Aminos

1/2 cup Chicken Stock

1/8 teaspoon Sesame Oil – optional, add more to taste

1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

A good pinch Salt

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts – cut into bite sized pieces

8 oz  white button mushrooms – sliced thinly

1 large portabella mushroom- cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 carrot or 4 baby carrots – cut very very thinly

1 small onion – cut into thin slices

1 head butter lettuce or cabbage – chopped (about 2  1/2 cups)

1 small can water chestnuts – optional

6 oz Udon Noodles (dry weight)


Start heating a large pot of water for boiling the noodles.  Prepare the sauce by combining the coconut aminos, chicken stock, sesame oil (optional), garlic powder and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.   Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the chicken.  Cook the chicken 5-6 minutes or until cooked through and there is no pink inside.  Place the chicken on a plate.  In the empty skillet add one more tablespoon of oil.  Add all of the vegetables.  Cook 6 minutes on medium high heat or until the vegetables are all soft.  Add the udon noodles to the boiling water and set your timer for 4 minutes.  Add the sauce mixture to the vegetables in the skillet.  Cook one minute and add the chicken back in.  Cook one more minute to warm the chicken.  When the timer goes off for your noodles, check for doneness and if cooked through, drain and add the noodles to the stir-fry.  Stir to combine and serve.

Beef and Broccoli over rice

Things are going well at our house.  Holiday season is in full swing.  The Christmas tree is up, I’ve got most of the presents bought, a few wrapped and I”m narrowing down this year’s list of cookies to make.

Colin is doing great. He has found his appetite!  Although the pediatrician said a toddler’s appetite usually slows a bit at this age, Colin is just finding a new interest in food.  He is asking to eat and eating quantities that make my husband and I do a double take.   He still  has a lot of foods he doesn’t want to eat, including most vegetables, but he is slowly broadening his diet.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are his all-time favorite.  He wakes up in the morning and asks me to make him one for breakfast every day.  We haven’t been doing as many smoothies, therefore very little Neocate Jr., but we found some gummy vitamins and gummy calcium supplements that he seems to tolerate.

Yes, food is going better, which always feels good.  I also found a new recipe last week that I couldn’t wait to share.  I was hungry for something that tasted like Chinese food and so I Googled “Beef and Broccoli.”  One of the first results was a recipe from Food. com.  I decided to give it a try, making it soy friendly.   I substituted coconut aminos (which I buy at Whole Foods) for the soy sauce.  Since the coconut aminos are a bit sweeter than soy sauce, I used less brown sugar than the recipe called for and added salt.   The recipe called for a whole teaspoon of ground ginger, which is a lot more than I use in other gingery dishes.   While cooking it I thought the ginger was going to be too intense for my family, since it smelled so strongly of ginger, but by the time it hit the table the ginger had mellowed and it was delicious.  Both kids gobbled it up and my husband said it was the closest to real Chinese food we’d ever made at home.

I served the beef and broccoli over rice.  I used jasmine rice, since it is my husband’s favorite, but use brown rice, quinoa, couscous, or whatever your family prefers.  Just start the rice before starting the stir fry.  Cooking a stir fry usually goes quick and it needs your attention.

Two more notes- If you can’t use cornstarch try arrowroot starch or leave it out.  It thickens it but leaving it out won’t ruin the dish completely.  It has lots of great flavor going on! Maybe cut out the water that goes into the sauce in Step 2.    Second- make sure to cut your beef thin and against the grain.  A cheap cut of meat can be pretty good if you cut it right.  Look for the lines running in the meat and cut perpendicular to them.

Beef and Broccoli

3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

1/2 cup water, more if needed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 lb boneless round steak, sirloin or flank steak cut into THIN slices  (I used sirloin)

2 tablespoon canola oil

4 cups broccoli, cut into small florets

1 onion, cut into slices

1/2 cup Coconut Aminos

1 tablespoon brown sugar

A good pinch of salt  (about 1/8th teaspoon)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

(hot cooked rice for serving)



1.  In a Ziploc bag or medium-sized bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and the garlic powder.  Add the beef and combine.   Let it sit while you are chopping your onions and broccoli or just continue to step two.

2.  Combine the coconut aminos, brown sugar, salt, ginger, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and the remaining water.  Set aside (This sauce will go on near the end.)

3.   Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of oil.  Add the beef and cook until beef reaches desired doneness.  (For me this means all red is gone.)  Remove the beef from the pan and keep warm.

4.  Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the broccoli and onion.  If broccoli florets are large, add 2 tablespoons of water and cover pan to help it steam.

5. When broccoli and onion are cooked add the beef back to the pan.  Give the sauce you made in Step 2 a quick stir and pour it over the beef and vegetables.  Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken.

6.  Serve over rice.

Soy and Dairy free pizza


I love pizza.  Having to go dairy and soy free is really tough when it comes to pizza, since pizza just isn’t the same without the cheese.  Foregoing cheese meant losing one of our favorite foods, but also our family lost the convenience of an easy dinner, which sometimes feels worse.  There is no more “Oh dear, we are short on time! Let’s just order a pizza.”  That line of thought in our house is now “Let’s have pancakes because Mom is out of ideas.”

But really I couldn’t live entirely without pizza so I had a few options:

Order a cheese free pizza from a store and take our chances –

We rarely do this due to cross contamination fears.  A few times we have ordered a cheese free pizza from Papa Johns, but didn’t feed it to Colin.  It was just okay.  Unless I order a ton of toppings, it doesn’t feel worth the money.  Papa John’s allergy information is here  and some FAQ here but we couldn’t be 100% sure everything was free of soybean oil (soy category is unclear).   I have heard good things about Mellow Mushroom (thanks Karyna), which I saw in Florida but didn’t get a chance to try  They have a really helpful and easy to use allergy friendly meal planner.  If anyone else has info on pizza from big chain stores to share, please comment below!

Making my own pizza with fake cheeses

There are several fake cheeses in the vegan section of our grocery store and at Whole Foods.  The only one I found that does not contain casein, a milk protein, is the brand Daiya.  We tried Daiya with an open mind, hoping it could at least be a melty standby I would get used to, but I could never get over the flavor.  Both the yellow and white versions were awful, in my opinion.  If I’d never tasted cheese before maybe I could have eaten it.  Somebody must like it since they keep selling it, but no one in our house was willing to eat it a second time.

Make my own pizza without cheese

Is this really pizza if it has no cheese?  At our house it is called “Colin Pizza.”   Simply- any pizza made without cheese is Colin Pizza.   In the last two years I have made a lot of “Colin Pizza” for myself and for Colin.   We have a “Make Your Own Pizza Night” once a week at our house.  I make a large batch of dough and let the kids help shape and top their own portion with a little help.  It is actually pretty fast, a good use of any leftovers and I can cater to everyone’s dietary wants and needs.  The key to cheeseless pizza is the toppings.  You have consider moisture and flavor.  Cheese brings a lot of moisture, fat and salt to the pizza party so you need to add ingredients that will help fill in those voids.  I think moisture is the most important one.  Once I figured this out, I was much happier with my cheese free pizzas.  I add fresh tomatoes, extra sauce, a hearty drizzle of olive oil or flavored oil or dashes of a nice balsamic vinegar after cooking.  But flavor is really important too.  I’ve found that if I add a lot of toppings, like sausage, musroom, onion, green pepper, extra tomato sauce,  fresh tomato and italian seasoning, I don’t usually miss the cheese much since there is a lot to keep my taste buds busy.  If I use some leftover roasted chicken (which is bland), I add sundried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts to punch up the flavor.  Experimenting is great so think outside the pizza box (bad pun I know).

Here are my tips for homemade pizza.

  • Dough – My #1 is definitely Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast.   This yeast has directions on the back for an easy dough with no rest time.  You mix it up and it is ready to go.  The yeast is formulated so the dough won’t spring back while rolling or shaping it.  It has good flavor and makes weeknight pizza night a cinch so I keep 3-4 sleeves of this stuff around.  The Fleischmann website has lots of good info on making pizza dough, materials and FAQ if you are new to the dough making process.  If you prefer using regular yeast, my favorite recipe is from the website Lauren’s Latest.  The  “Fail Proof Pizza Dough” recipe does need rest time, so you have to plan ahead, but the end result has great flavor and gets nice and crispy.  The pictures are great and walk you through the process with ease.  For any dough you use though, roll it out a bit thinner than you think you need to the first time you try it.  Remember, it will puff up as it bakes.
  • Sauce – Any good spaghetti or marinara sauce makes a decent pizza sauce at our house.  I always have jars of Prego Traditional (made with canola oil) on hand.
  • Materials –  I use a pizza stone for my pizza when I can, letting it heat up in the oven during the preheating cycle.  For the kids’ pizzas I put the dough on a Silpat and onto a cookie sheet.  No silpat?  Grease up a cookie sheet really well with olive oil.
  • Procedure–  Unless you own a pizza peel, make sure to have your dough where you want it before you add toppings.  I learned the hard way- making it all on the counter and then having to try to move a floppy mess to a pan.  Avoid that mistake!   While my pizza stone is heating up in the oven I am shaping my dough on a slightly floured board and prepping ALL toppings.   When the pizza stone is hot I take it from the oven, put it on the stove top, lay the dough on the pizza stone carefully and then VERY quickly add all the toppings.  For my kids I skip the dangerous pizza stone.  I put their dough on the silpat/pan and let them top the dough before I put it in the oven.
  • Cooking Time –  At 425 degrees F our pizzas take 8-10 minutes.
  • Toppings – For me I try to use leftovers or plan to have a little of this and that leftover from chopping ingredients to make pizza night easier. Here are my favorites

-Olive oil and garlic powder base, top with leftover steak, fresh spinach, mushrooms, olive oil, garlic and finish with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

-BBQ Chicken Pizza – BBQ sauce base, chicken, onion, corn and black beans

-Tomato sauce or olive oil base, top with lots of fresh tomato,  garlic basil and finish with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Balsamic is good on this too.

– Tomato sauce base, top with Sausage or turkey pepperoni, mushroom, onion, green pepper, italian seasoning

-Olive oil and garlic powder base, leftover chicken, sundried tomato, marinated artichoke, minced leeks/shallots, a little salt

  • Topping for kids –   For kids like mine who have lots of food sensitivities, try topping their pizza with whatever veggies they can eat, regardless of how odd it may sound to you .  Colin used to have steamed carrots and corn on his.   For a long time it was just pizza dough and tomato sauce.  It didn’t sound great to me but he thought it was heaven since it was something new.  Colin’s current favorite is a heavy tomato sauce base (for moisture) with chopped up turkey or chicken meat/lunchmeat, and minced mushroom, peppers and onions.   Note- he wouldn’t eat any of those veggies if they were bigger sizes, but when I mince them he will eat them on pizza.  He hates fresh tomato but will eat tomato sauce.  Crazy kid.  So don’t be afraid to experiment and cut veggies very small so they will cook and soften.

If you have a dairy free pizza idea or topping combination you like, I would love to hear from you!


A quick and terrible photo before eating it- One slice of tomato, basil, garlic and olive oil. The other slice is BBQ sauce, red onion, corn, and chicken