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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Aloha Salad (kidney diet)

I found this recipe in a cookbook for renal patients.  A lot of fruits and veggies are actually off-limits for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) because they're high in potassium (a good thing for the rest of us but with impaired kidney function, potassium will build up to dangerous levels in the body).  So finding CKD-friendly side dishes can be tricky.  Especially since I also have to balance a number of food allergies, sensitivities and preferences within my family.  One serving of this salad (pay attention to serving sizes!) is 112 mg potassium and 26 mg phosphorus.

This "salad" proved to be quite a hit (and about the only way I've found to get my 3 year old to eat carrots without squawking).  I am not a fan of describing anything with Jello as a "salad" but it seems to be a thing here in the Heartland (and also in many 1970's era cookbooks...but I digress).  However, this "salad" was more fruit/veggie and less Jello so I'll let it ride.

Since it's a gelatin "salad", you need to make it in advance so it can set up.  My favorite thing ;)  You can also prep this in stages if you need to, like if your baby is teething and NEEDS you to hold her CONSTANTLY except for when she dozes off for a few minutes at a time.  Just a hypothetical example.  Grate the carrots, measure and mix the dry ingredients, measure the liquid ingredients, and fridge each part until you're ready to put it together.

We are avoiding artificial dyes at my house (in addition to all the aforementioned food restrictions...I told you it gets tricky to plan menus), so I got to experiment with substituting a homemade, dye-free mix for the box o' Yellow 6, er, Lemon Jello.  It turned out very well.

The tricky bit about applying this substitute widely in recipes calling for a box of Jello is figuring out what to use for flavoring that doesn't skew the liquid ratio but still gives a punch of flavor, especially if you try to create flavors other than citrus.  In this recipe, I used a bit of lemon juice in place of some of the water called for in the OR as well as a lot of lemon zest.  To substitute for other flavors, I'd look into dye-free flavoring oils over juices or extracts...you'll get more flavor without adding liquids.  If your recipe calls for water, you can swap some or all for a juice or puree but you might need to pay attention to how the acid from your flavoring liquid impacts leavening reactions.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Cheeseless Pizza

It sounds like pure heresy, no?

Unfortunately, my little girl is dairy-intolerant.  She's also a little iffy with soy foods and I'm not a fan of pretend foods, so a store-bought cheese substitute (which is usually soy-based) is out.  And that soy cheeze stuff doesn't melt well anyway.

So I went looking for *something* that would give that rich, mouth-round texture and flavor to a cheese-less pizza and found this sauce here.  I have made this sauce a couple of different ways now, and I have to say, each way was worked wonderfully.

You really do not miss the cheese.  I mean, I am highly motivated to find alternatives to my favorite cheesy foods because of my daughter, but my other two kids will spit out anything they don't find up to snuff, and this pizza sauce passed muster with them.

Even though we don't need to be tomato-free at our house, I did not use any tomato sauce with this pizza.  The garlic sauce is, well, a sauce after all, not a firm cheese-like product and two sauces just seemed too much.  You could absolutely use some sliced tomatoes as a topping though.

Extra bonus, as a way to enjoy a cheese-loaded favorite without the cheese (and also can be tomato-free), it's a boon for the dialysis diet.  Feeding two birds with one stone, if you will ;)

As far as the garlic goes, I like this sauce both with roasted garlic and sauteed garlic.  The flavors *are* different, so I'd say use whichever you prefer.  To roast a head of garlic, slice the top third or so off the whole head, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, wrap in foil and bake an hour or more at 350F.  Or if you're grilling, put the foil-wrapped garlic on the top rack in your grill and leave it there while the grill cools.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dairy-free mac and cheese, Take 1

This cheese-free mixture combines with almond milk to make
the mac-sans-cheese sauce
My darling nearly 1-year-old daughter (Miss H) has an apparent dairy protein sensitivity.  It's not a true allergy, thankfully.  She can eat small amounts of "hidden" dairy products (like the amount of milk in a single pancake is OK), but yogurt, cheese, a cup of milk and we are in Digestive Distress Central.  Unfortunately that means that dishes are that are basic food groups at my house are off limits for her :(  Like mac and cheese.

So I am exploring the world of cheese-free mac and cheese.  As best I can tell, dairy-free mac and cheese recipes fall into 4 main categories...those that use processed faux cheese and plant-based milk for the sauce, those that use miso paste and plant-based milk, those that use some kind of nut puree and plant-based milk and those that use a product called nutritional yeast and plant-based milk.

I'm starting with the last one.

You might remember that I said I wasn't going to make a special trip to get nutritional yeast to make this recipe awhile back...I apparently shoulda gone ahead and done it.  So off to my local natural foods store I went.  $4.50 for half a pound and it looks like it might last forever.

I've also had to try plant-based milks...we've settled on almond milk mostly because she doesn't barf it back up and that's good enough for us.  I was surprised to see that most plant milks have added sweetener.  When I compared the nutritional information on these milks with cow's milk though, I realized that without the additional sugar, most of these milks (the ones made from protein sources like nuts anyway) are far lower in calories and natural sugar than cow's milk.  Great for adults who want to cut calories, not so great for growing babies.  There are flavored versions of most non-dairy milks, and those have LOTS more added sugar which we *will* be avoiding.  Just a tidbit for you.  Back to the recipe.

I tried this recipe from the Bad Mama Genny blog.  I liked that it was easy, fast and could sit on the shelf like the boxes of mac and cheese do.  Nice and easy for me or my Dear Husband to throw together for a quick kid-friendly meal.  And it absolutely was.  And Miss H LOVED her cheese-free mac.

Full disclosure...the boys did not like this.  They were 100% rock-solid prepared for Kraft and were disappointed.  I thought it needed a little acidity from, say, some white wine vinegar or tomato paste, but otherwise I'd absolutely eat it again.

Full disclosure...I'll probably make up a few small jars of this mix (as recommended here, though I prefer the sauce-to-pasta proportions of the above-linked version) and make it just for Miss H while continuing to keep the boxed stuff, the "real" stuff for the boys.  And I'll keep trying other recipes too.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Honey Oatmeal Pie

Warning: big fat brag to come.
The honey pie is the one dead center on the table

I won a blue ribbon at the State Fair for this pie this year ::pop my collar:: I'm quite pleased with that fact alone, but even better is that the honey pie category was the one of the few in which this year's Grand Champion pie maker (and one of the top ribbon winners for DECADES at the State Fair) entered and did not take 1st place.  So good on me :-D.

Bragging done now.

I think the "secret" to this pie is three-fold...

1) Use very flavorful honey.  The best is going to be a locally harvested honey rather than a commercially-available national brand.  I use a wildflower honey from a producer two counties south of where I live. You can use this locator to find local producers in your area.

2) Use quick-cooking steel oats instead of conventional rolled oats.  Rolled oats will come out, well, mushy-feeling.  You know, like oatmeal.  The steel-cut oats will be chewy and a bit like finely chopped nuts.

3) Use bourbon in your pie crust.  Oh yeah.  Trust me.

I totally understand using a prepared crust (in fact, I have posted several times about using those guys without *any* shame *at all*), but I have sworn off store-bought crusts personally.

Not because I am a crust snob though.  I am a homemade crust convert because a) as a competitive baker, it seemed appropriate to learn how to make them and because b) I found a recipe I cannot screw up and because c) all brands of store-bought crusts I have found have artificial dyes in them which we have cut out of my son's/our diet.

So use whatever you like, but really, the homemade crust will make a difference...not so much because of the homemade-ness of it, but because you can put bourbon in it.

And really, the pie itself is so freaking easy to make that you have plenty of energy for making homemade crust.

Finally, you may not, absolutely not, make this pie on the bottom shelf with something else baking away above it.  I didn't have a fancy scientific convection-current-tracking setup in my oven, but I'm *pretty* sure that having something on the top shelf forces heat back down into the pie that would otherwise move and circulate more freely.  I am *completely* sure that if you try this, you will wind up with a pie volcano.  I screw up so you don't have to.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Zucchini "pizza" slices

Oh my goodness, these were tasty!  They were the "light entree" at our meal with hearty grain and veggie side dishes, or I could see making these as snacks for the kids too (and yes, the kids ate them up!).  I can also imagine using other pizza toppings like mini pepperoni, sliced olives and other veggies as well as the tomatoes.

You could preroast the veggies and prep the "pizza" in advance and only have to do the final stage of baking at dinnertime.  You might need to bake a few minutes longer if you have a straight-from-the-fridge, cold, prepped baking sheet to get the cheese good and melty.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mirepoix: Beef Pot Pie

Here's another way to use the wild rice soup starter from Julie Languille's Meals in Jars.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Pie Crust

I made a lot of pies for the State Fair this year (20, to be exact).  I took ribbons for half of them.  This is the pie crust I used for all the pastry pies.  It's an adaptation of the America's Test Kitchen Foolproof Pie Crust...they call for vodka, I use bourbon because I like the flavor it gives the crust.

This is a much wetter recipe than you may be used to.  It works.  Don't fiddle with it.  Don't skimp on the liquid or add more flour.  Trust me...20 pies' worth of experience talking here (plus all the test pies that came before Pie Day).  Believe in the Test Kitchen.  They never disappoint.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicken/Turkey Noodle/Rice Soup

Another one from Julie Languille's Meals in Jars.  Another one involving pressure canning.  Again, if you have the freezer space, you can absolutely package this up as a freezer kit using vacu-seal bags.  I really, really recommend vacu-seal bags instead of ziptop bags when dealing with cooked chicken to ward off freezer burn.

If you prefer not to use bouillon or soup base, omit it and plan to substitute broth for water in the same amount when you cook the kit.  You could freeze homemade broth, can homemade broth or keep shelf-stable store bought broth on hand to finish the meal prep.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Canned Mirepoix

Our garden has produced very well this year and since I am not spending my autumn pregnant or caring for an infant for the first time in a few years, I am really committed to harvesting, using and putting up what's out there.

Hence the canning.

We harvested 5 gallons of carrots, something I would want in the bleak midwinter for making delicious soups and stews.  So I've canned them and dehydrated them as elements for starters for soups and stews.  This involves pressure canning which I know is not everyone's thing, and these recipes could be preserved by freezing if you prefer.  I personally am running out of freezer space, egads.

The first thing I tried was the starter for a wild rice soup from Meals in Jars by Julie Languille.  It's a good basic mirepoix, although I choose to can it with regular strength chicken stock instead of concentrated soup base as the OR calls for.  That way, it's more versatile and can be used to start soup, pot pie or chicken and dumplings equally well (recipes to come...stay tuned).

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Monday, October 7, 2013

On this day...

Honey Beer Chicken

http://dinnerdoneyesterday.blogspot.com/2012/10/honey-beer-chicken.html Pin It

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Roast Beef Roundup

A collection of roast beef recipes...these recipes let you cook once for two meals by making enough for dinner with leftovers to use in other recipes.

Looed Crockpot Beef

Baltimore Pit Beef

Russian Dressing Beef Pin It

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Oxtail Scrapple

Scrapple gets a bad rap.  Full disclosure: I've never had any but homemade, so maybe it's on account of packaged store-bought versions.  Full disclosure: I'm not squicked out by the idea of making foodstuffs out of all edible parts (like ears, feets and tails), and in fact, I rather think it's irresponsible consumership not to.  Full disclosure: I'm not from Pennsylvania (whence hails scrapple as a regional dish), so I haven't a clue whether what I make is anything like "the real thing".

I think it's largely a linguistic problem..."scrapple" is a hideous-sounding word.  I've successfully served this dish as "breakfast meatloaf" to people who squeal like five-year-olds at the word "scrapple".  When you frame it as "fried herbed polenta with braised pork", it sounds like something out of Food & Wine Magazine.  Words matter, yo.

At its core, scrapple is nothing more than a grain (like cornmeal) cooked with broth and herbs (this is called "polenta" if you're Italian or "cornmeal mush" if you're Southern American, and I never hear "Jimmy's in my AIR SPACE!" squealing about those dishes) and some finely chopped meat, usually from a very bony part that's hard to cook in any way other than boiling (i.e. the "scraps" of the animal), then chilled in a loaf pan, then sliced and lightly fried.  The exact blend of grains (sometimes buckwheat is used), the particular herbs and what meat "scraps" are used may differ.  

I've made this recipe with pork neck bones, pork shoulder and beef oxtail. I like oxtail the best...the more bony the part, the more gelatin is extracted in the cooking process and the richer the final dish is.  I've not done it, but I would imagine this would be an ideal way to use parts highly gelatinous parts like trotters or pig ears without the dish being too, well, trotter-y or ear-ish.

I also like getting the meat part cooked in a crockpot because who has time to sit around for 2-3 hours babysitting a simmering pot o' oxtail?  Crockpot-ing also keeps the meat especially tender and easy to pull off the bones.

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