Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Potato and Butternut Mash

I have been stuck in a rut as far as meals are concerned lately. One reason for this is because I've been introducing the girls to new foods and want to reinforce the idea that these are not just novel foods but regular on-the-menu foods, such as sauteed spinach with onions and beet greens with garlic (can you believe they eat beet greens? I can't!). So I keep presenting them with the same things to make them routine. Dinners lack a certain spontaneity lately, but I had fun the other night whipping up this Potato and Butternut Mash. The butternut hides nicely in the mashed potatoes and the girls were none the wiser. Someday I'll tell them that there is butternut squash in here, but for now ignorance is bliss!

3 - 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled
1 lb butternut, seeded and peeled

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup minced onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Earth Balance margarine
vegetable broth
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Chop the potatoes and butternut into equal pieces. Place in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down and simmer about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and butternut are soft and easily pierced with a toothpick. Drain the water from the pot.

While the potatoes and butternut are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Mash the potatoes and butternut together in the pot. Add the margarine and stir until melted. Add the reserved onion mixture and stir. Add vegetable broth to taste. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lasagna (Gluten, Casein, Egg, Soy and Yeast Free)

Life has been SO busy lately that I've had this recipe laying around for a whole month. What a crazy month it's been. This lasagna dish was a challenge - for a dinner where all in attendance had food allergies and sensitivities, this dish needed to be free of gluten, casein, soy, corn, egg and yeast. I could not use Daiya because it has yeast in it. How could I make a lasagna with no cheesy substance holding the whole thing together? Frankly the thought was a little sacrilegious. But I gave it my best, and goodness knows I love a challenge.

Ultimately, I combined two different lasagna recipes I remember from my childhood (minus the cheese) - regular ol' meat lasagna and spinach lasagna. For this, the spinach part morphed into a spinach-zucchini-carrot part. Red sauce and flax seed helped hold the meat part together, pine nuts in the veggie part gave it a nutty, buttery flavor without having to use cheese, and white sauce (inspiration here) stood in for the creaminess that cheese would have imparted. If you can't do meat, then double or triple the veggie part for a straight veggie lasagna.

The verdict? Everybody liked it. Most had seconds. I think somebody may have eaten it cold for breakfast. And that makes this home cook very happy.

First, make the White Sauce

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large clove minced garlic
1/2 stalk celery, minced
1/4 small onion, minced
3 tbsp. potato starch
1/4 cup white wine
14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
dash each salt and pepper
pinch each basil and oregano
dash lemon juice
2 - 4 tbsp. yogurt

Saute the garlic, onion and celery in the olive oil over low heat until soft. Stir in the potato starch. Whisk in the white wine, then whisk in the coconut milk. Add the salt, pepper, basil and oregano and whisk. Bring to a simmer and cook 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice to taste. Cool, then whisk in the yogurt. Set aside.

Next, prepare the veggies

2 small zucchini, shredded
10 oz package chopped spinach, squeezed dry
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, grated
2 large grated carrots
2/3 cup pine nut meal

Toss the zucchini with a little salt. Put in a colander and place a heavy plate on it. You want to get as much liquid out of the zucchini as possible so you don't have a runny lasagna - the salt will draw the liquid out. If you do this before making the white sauce, by the time the white sauce is finished the zucchini will be ready.

Toss the remaining ingredients with the zucchini. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set aside.

Prepare the meat sauce

2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. flax meal
crushed tomatoes
salt, pepper, basil and oregano to taste

Brown the meat in a large skillet (don't cook it all the way through). Add the onion and garlic and cook until meat is cooked through, pouring off liquid as necessary. Turn off the heat and stir in the flax meal and enough crushed tomatoes so that the meat more or less sticks together and looks like it won't fall out all over the place when you slice the lasagna (but don't add too much, you don't want this to be runny). Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

Prepare the noodles

While the meat sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook 1 package of gluten-free lasagna noodles (such as Tinkyada) according to the package directions. In fact, it's better to under cook the noodles a bit, otherwise they will fall apart into bits. They'll finish cooking in the oven. Rinse the noodles under cold water, then massage them with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.

Assemble the lasagna

Smear the bottom and sides a 13x9 inch baking dish with olive oil. Put a layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom. Spread about 1/2 of the meat sauce over the noodles. Thinly spread about 1/3 of the white sauce on top of the meat.

Top with noodles. Spread about 1/2 of the veggies over the noodles. Thinly spread about 1/3 of the white sauce over the veggies.

Top with noodles. Spread the rest of the meat sauce over the noodles, top with the remaining sauce and scatter the remaining veggies over all.

Bake the lasagna at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes, or until heated through. Let cool a few minutes before cutting into large pieces for serving. This is good served with a side salad and French Bread for those who can do yeast, or Tomato Rosemary Muffins for those who can't.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crock Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

(Yogurt drizzled with maple syrup...yum, yum.)

Well, I cannot believe how busy I've been these past couple of weeks! Many apologies for being so quiet lately. I have had NO time to post recipes, what with the start of school, meeting with Megan's school counselor and trying to pin down her teacher for a discussion about her classroom accommodations (sadly, the discussion still has not materialized), the plumbers coming out twice to flush our drain lines, the handyman coming out twice to fix leaky faucets, the masons coming out twice to fix our crumbling mortar and broken bricks, both toilets breaking and the car needing clutch service...or transmission service - one of the two, at least. Hopefully not both (though everything seems to be breaking in two's so I should just prepare for the worst). After getting a shockingly high quote from the dealer for repairs, we're taking the car to a local independent garage to get their take on our situation.

So anyway, it's been crazy busy over here. It never rains but it pours! And that's entirely figurative...we have not had any sort of substantial rain in months. Although our triple digit heat has been broken, hopefully for good until next summer. Yesterday it was fabulously cool and breezy, with temps only in the 80's! DH spent the day digging up our garden to put in raised beds and we planted seeds last night in the dark by flashlight. I now understand why people freak out and start wearing sweaters and boots in 80 degree weather...I think it's the relief from the heat and a desire to welcome cooler weather and a change of seasons. Although it's possible that the heat has baked everybody's brains to the point that 80 degrees feels frigid. I would not be surprised by that at all really...the heat was extreme and it lasted a long time. I'm so glad to welcome autumn. Apple pies and hot cocoa, here I come!

In a recent bit of spare downtime, I finally managed to make a second batch of homemade yogurt, this time with a crock pot instead of an insulated cooler. I also used one can of full-fat coconut milk and one can of lite coconut milk. This batch is the one I prefer - it was easy and it tastes a little lighter (not as rich). I bought a special small slow cooker instead of a yogurt maker because it was cheaper and I could make a smaller batch of yogurt that was not so overwhelming. I also felt like I had more control over the process. I need to make some more yogurt this week and I can't wait! It's really a lot of fun to do this myself!

Crock Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 can lite coconut milk
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 capsules probiotics (such as Bluebonnet)
1 tsp. pectin (if using Pomona's Universal Pectin, include 1 tsp. calcium water)

Pour the coconut milk into the crock pot. Turn heat to low and let sit 2 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, another 3 hours or till the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Pour about a cup of the coconut milk mixture into a blender or food processor. Break open the capsules and add the probiotic powder to the coconut milk, along with the pectin and calcium water (if using). Blend until smooth. Return the coconut milk to the crock pot and wrap in a heavy towel or two. Let sit for 12 - 18 hours.

I started this process at 2pm in the afternoon. I let the yogurt sit overnight wrapped in towels. In the morning, I transferred the crock pot to the oven and left the oven light on. By 4pm, 26 hours after starting the whole process, the yogurt had thickened a bit and tasted pleasantly tangy. I put the yogurt in the fridge and it thickened a bit more. The next day, we enjoyed fruit and yogurt for breakfast!