Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

Posts tagged ‘cooking’

Cooking from Scratch – with food allergies

COLLEGE YEARS AND BEYOND

Over the course of my lifetime, I have come to appreciate homemade food and have found I cannot tolerate processed mixes and foods and, quite frankly, I simply don’t like them. From what I remember, a lot of them tasted like cardboard and/or were quite flavorless. Dehydrated onions vs. freshly chopped onions sauteed in olive oil? No comparison. Fresh for me!

There’s another reason I cook from scratch: both my husband and my son have food allergies. Our son’s are more extensive than my husband’s so as a result, I am a detailed-reader of food labels, triple-checking before I buy anything. I even have to be careful about buying a turkey for Thanksgiving! Did you know some turkeys have milk/dairy in the “flavorful injections”? Who knew?

Luckily, I already knew the basics of preparing, cooking and baking, I simply had to discover substitutions and create my own variations! The most difficult part for me? Remembering to write down the amounts of certain items for the next time I make the dish. ๐Ÿ˜€

WHAT ALLERGIES?

My husband is allergic to raw green peppers but can eat them when they are cooked. My son is allergic to raw celery but can eat it once cooked. Cooking apparently breaks down certain proteins and changes them in such a way that their bodies can handle the green pepper and celery just fine! Amazing, huh?

They both are allergic to most, if not all nuts; our son is allergic to all things dairy and eggs along with some fruits. My husband is allergic to most fruits but can eat apple pie since it’s cooked, but he can’t eat cherries at all. Bananas? No problem.

These are just some of the restrictions I’ve had to learn to cook around for more than 25 years, and thanks to my parents’ appreciation of fresh produce and homemade meals and my mother’s love of cooking, it’s been an easier challenge for me than most.

Did your parents cook from scratch too, and do you now? Or do you cook from scratch now because they didn’t while you were growing up? Does your family have any food restrictions which have helped you become a more creative cook?

Please feel free to share your story in the comments below, or if you’d like, start to comment and link to a blog post to finish your cooking story. I’d love to read them! ๐Ÿ™‚

Copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 – All rights reserved.

My Mom’s Apple Pie And Cooking With Food Allergies

MOM’S APPLE PIE

My mom cooked almost everything from scratch. The first house we lived in had a good-sized garden and the second house had a barn and acres of farmland. This meant LOTS of fresh produce to eat, freeze, can, and cook with daily. Of course, on the occasion when she was pressed for time, she’d use a box of say, cake mix but always added an extra something to it to make it special. Other than that, she always preferred cooking and baking from scratch when possible.

One of our favorite baked goods was apple pie using Red Delicious and Winesap apples (half and half) from our own trees. Since Winesap apples are not available here in the south (something I am very upset about), I cannot seem to duplicate the flavor and texture of my mom’s apple pie.

Sometimes, though, a pre-made crust can come in handy. ;)

Homemade Apple Pie With Pre-made Crust

I find Granny Smith apples hold up well, though, and my son loves the slight tang of their flavor. The Red Delicious apples areย usuallyย too mealy and simply turn to mush by the time the Granny Smith apples are cooked so I simply removedย them from the pie altogether. I remember making our own crusts half the time and the other half of the time, we used pre-made crust. Depending upon my mood, I use both as well.

Leftover Single Crust? Chop up apples, add a little sugar and cinnamon, and voila! Homemade Apple Turnovers.

Leftover Single Crust? Chop up apples, add a little sugar and cinnamon, fold over, and voila! Homemade Apple Turnovers.

COOKING FROM SCRATCH

As far as cooking from scratch goes, I cook from scratch now and have for about 25 years with rare exceptions. During my college years, I came to appreciate homemade food and have found my body is better for it.

Besides the many health benefits of cooking and baking from scratch (and incorporating as many organic items as money allows), I love the flavors of fresh produce. Dehydrated onions vs. freshly chopped onions sauteed in olive oil? No comparison. Fresh for me!

One other very important reason why I cook from scratch is food allergies. Both my husband and my son have food allergies.

Our son’s are more extensive than my husband’s so as a result, I am a detailed-reader of food labels, triple-checking before I buy anything. I even have to be careful about buying a turkey for Thanksgiving! Did you know some turkeys have milk/dairy in the “flavorful injections”? Who knew?

WHAT ALLERGIES SPECIFICALLY?

My husband is allergic to raw green peppers but can eat them when they are cooked. My son is allergic to raw celery but can eat it once cooked. Cooking apparently breaks down certain proteins and changes them in such a way that their bodies can handle the green pepper and celery just fine! Amazing, huh?

They both are allergic to most, if not all nuts; our son is allergic to all things dairy and eggs along with some fruits. My husband is allergic to most fruits but can eat apple pie since it’s cooked, but he can’t eat cherries at all. Bananas? No problem.

BEING CREATIVE IN COOKING

These are just some of the restrictions I’ve had to learn to cook around for more than 25 years and when I read this post to my husband just now, his reaction was, “Oh my God! That’s overwhelming!” I think he finally got a glimpse at the conversation that occurs in my mind when I’m grocery shopping and adapting recipes! ๐Ÿ˜€

But, thanks to my parents’ appreciation of fresh produce and homemade meals and my mother’s lifetime love of cooking, baking, and experimenting, it’s been an easier challenge for me than most.

Thank you, Mom!

And because of my mom, I already knew the basics of preparing, cooking and baking from scratch; I simply had to discover substitutions and create my own variations. The most difficult part for me? Remembering to write down the amounts of certain items for the next time I make the dish, something my mom did very well. She wrote her reviews and adaptations into the cookbooks themselves. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Since it’s May and the month to celebrate your mother, did your mother have a favorite dish you’ve tried to replicate? Any success or adaptations?

Do you cook from scratch too? Did your parents?

Does your family have any food restrictions which have helped you become a more creative cook?

Please feel free to share your story in the comments below, or if you’d like, start to comment and link to a blog post to finish your cooking story. I’d love to read them! ๐Ÿ™‚

Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013 – All rights reserved.

Comfort food: Chicken Veggie Noodle Soup!

We live in Florida, North Central Florida to be exact. Today was only 50 degrees F. and tonight we have a freeze warning from 11pm-9am tomorrow morning. We had unseasonably warm weather just 4 days ago, reaching 80 degrees F. As a result, I feel like I’m on a roller-coaster ride through the seasons!

On cold nights like tonight, I like to make homemade soups. Here’s one of our favorites to get us all toasty, inside and out. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

I think I used too many noodles but that's okay. The soup was still yummy!

Chicken Veggie Noodle Soup

  • 3-4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large celery sticks, sliced
  • 8 cups of chicken broth (I love Kitchen Basics myself; great because they care about allergens, no msg, no preservatives, etc. Read label. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 6 to 8 oz. of noodles, (depending upon how much you like)
  • 2 cups of cooked leftover chicken, cut up bite-sized

Instructions

  1. Heat large stockpot on medium heat until water skittles across the bottom. Add olive oil, enough to coat bottom then add onions. Saute onions until translucent (about 5-10 min).
  2. Add carrots, celery, and if desired, salt and pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth and bay leaves. Cover with tight-fitting lid and bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Add noodles and chicken and stir. Once the soup comes back to a boil, cook for 10-12 minutes (with no lid on). Serve hot!

I usually make biscuits with this but I totally forgot tonight which is alright because it turns out we didn’t have the shortening I needed to do so. ๐Ÿ™‚

Substitutions: If you cannot use egg noodles due to an egg allergy, use 2-3 cups of cooked rice (white or brown). Simply add it with the cooked chicken and heat through, 5-10 minutes.

What is one of your favorite comfort foods for cold winter nights?

P.S. Sorry that the photo is kinda’ dark. I just looked at our light over the dining room table and yup, the light bulb on my side is out. Oops!

Copyright 2012 – All rights reserved.

Gingerbread cookies are done!

My son and I made Gingerbread cookie dough yesterday to refrigerate overnight. Thank you, Betty Crocker for the recipe which I have followed to the “T” for years. These cookies come out beautifully plump and soft every single time. The flavors of ginger, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon dance in your mouth. ~drool~ (oops, excuse me.) I get rave reviews from my son, my husband and everyone who tastes them!! ๐Ÿ˜€

We decorate them with raisins, cutting the raisins in half to form the eyes, and keeping them whole for the buttons. You can, of course, decorate them any way your heart desires.

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We baked 15 large gingerbread people and 9 mini ones (this size is great for holiday parties or school events). ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  We have about half of the batch left so we can bake some more cookies either tomorrow, Christmas day or the day after. I just dropped off some of these cookies to our neighbors. Merry Christmas!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Special Note: Never be afraid to split the baking over a night or two…or three! I’ve found, over the years, this prevents “burn-out”. Once the dough is made, you can always freeze or refrigerate until you’re ready for more.

Extra Special Note: This recipe is dairy-free and egg-free. Check it out in your Betty Crocker cookbook! ๐Ÿ˜‰

There really is nothing like a freshly baked gingerbread cookie, warm from the oven. Yum!

How is your holiday baking going?

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

I saved $41.22 at the grocery store with only 1 coupon!

Yup. You read that correctly. I saved $41.22 at the grocery store yesterday. Woo-hoo!! ๐Ÿ˜€ย  This is a personal best for me. Here’s proof:

**Happy Dance**

And the kicker?? I used only ONE coupon! **gasp** Yes, that’s right. Only ONE 50-cent coupon.

I used to shop once a week when both of us were producing steady, reliable incomes. For several years now, my husband’s income has been intermittent (more steady recently but still we never know if he’ll get a full week’s worth of work-he’s a carpenter), and my income has been negligible so we shop on a daily basis.

I also stopped using coupons years ago on a consistent basis because 1) my Mac couldn’t print out online coupons; 2) we stopped buying the Sunday paper long ago; 3) my husband or I would forget them or would take them and forget to give them to the cashier.

I’ve gotten back into using coupons again because I now have access to online coupons (thank you to the coupon people for programming this ability for the Mac computers!). I am also following the weekly sales at our grocery store more consistently.

Double coupons

As a side note, unfortunately, no one in town has a double coupon day. When I was out west in Washington state, it was wonderful! Not only could you shop at discount grocery stores but they would have double coupon days every Wednesday.

A few times every year, I call up a few of the local Publix stores, and ask if they have a double coupon day and sadly, they’ve never said, “yes”. I keep telling them they really should have one but to no avail. It’s been 15+ years now and it doesn’t look like they will ever change. Also, the other two local grocery stores don’t have them either. I checked. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

How did I save all this money then?

The weekly ad this week just happened to be filled with Buy One Get One Free offers on products we use regularly: olive oil, pasta sauce, cheese, ketchup, pasta, crackers, sour cream, baked potato chips, and salad dressing my husband likes. Then, items like flour, orange juice, and sugar were marked down in price. Add to that, sale prices on broccoli, cauliflower and apples and I made out like a bandit!

I saved $40.72 on store sales alone!

The 50-cent coupon was for the crackers which brought the total savings to….$41.22!! Woo-hoo!!

The only things I had to pay full price for were the toiletries and paper goods (paper towels, toothpaste, floss, band-aids), but I’ll get them on sale in the next few weeks, I’m sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you like to save on groceries too? Tell me about your savings success stories! I’d love to hear about them.

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

Herbed Stuffing with Sausage and Apples

Stephanie aka @skinnyjeans asked me for this stuffing recipe. I serve this mainly on Thanksgiving but it’s good any time of the year.

Stephanie (and any other vegetarians/vegans), you can simply leave out the sausage and substitute gluten-free bread for my herbed French bread. If you’re making your own bread, I encourage you to add the herbs to the recipe. It makes a world of wonderful goodness!

I’ve also heard many people substitute cornbread in place of regular bread because cornbread is gluten-free apparently, (but please check it out for yourself to be on the safe side). Anyway, play around with the recipe, have fun and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Ingredients

  • Homemade herbed croutons (see recipe below)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 oz. of ground pork sausage
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large red delicious apple, peeled & chopped
  • 2-4 cups of low-salt chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • In large heated stockpot, add olive oil (just cover the bottom, 1-2 Tbs.) and sausage. Separate and brown sausage until cooked through. Remove sausage to bowl and set aside.
  • Add onion (and a little olive oil, if needed) to pot and saute until translucent.
  • Add celery (and a sprinkle of salt and pepper), saute for about 10 minutes until tender.
  • Add chopped apple. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add cooked sausage to pot.
  • Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth (or veg. broth), stir to get all the great flavor from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add croutons, stir/fold gently & add more broth til moist but not wet (1-2 cups).
  • Pour stuffing into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350 deg. oven for 30-45 minutes.

French bread recipe

I make a French bread (no dairy, no egg) in my bread machine and turn it into herbed croutons for this stuffing.

  • 1-1/3 cups of warm water
  • 2 Tbs. of sugar
  • 2 tsps. of salt
  • 4-1/3 cups of unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps. active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsps. each of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

I like to mix the herbs into the last 1/3 cup of flour before putting it into the bread machine. Put the ingredients in the bread machine in the order above, set to regular. This produces a 2-lb. loaf of herbed French bread.

Croutons

Once bread is cooled, dice up the entire loaf. Yes, the entire loaf!! Okay, you can give the ends to your hungry spouse or munchkins but that’s it. Then spread the cubes on a cookie sheet and toast in a 400 deg. oven for 10-20 minutes until lightly browned & crunchy. Voila! Herbed croutons for your stuffing! ๐Ÿ™‚

This recipe usually fills two large cookie sheets. I then let the bread cool, pour into Ziploc bags and the croutons are ready to use later that day or the next. One added benefit, this process will make your home smell soooo good, you’ll have people drooling as they walk into the house! ๐Ÿ˜€

NOTE:ย  Chestnuts are a good addition to this recipe as well. I’ve simply stopped using them because for one or two years I couldn’t get any at the store, and then I simply forget to add them.

ANOTHER NOTE:ย  I know there is a meat substitute but I’m afraid I can’t remember what the heck it is since I’m not vegetarian.

Vegetarians and vegans, please help me (and the rest of the readers) and comment below with ideas. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.

Baking powder instead of baking soda

Several years ago, when I went to make my dairy-free, egg-less chocolate cake recipe, I discovered I was out of baking soda.ย  (The recipe called for baking soda and red cider vinegar.) I looked online to find the substitution measurement of baking powder vs. baking soda so I could use what I had on hand in the kitchen: baking powder.

On a cooking site (forgive me, I’m not sure which one it was), they recommend using 3 tsp. of baking powder to replace the 1 tsp. of baking soda (minus the vinegar).

Okay, fine.ย  Skip ahead to one or two years ago, I was running low on baking powder. I only had 2 tsp. of baking powder left.ย  My desire for cake won out and I used the 2 tsp. and baked the cake anyway. I thought I’d just have a denser cake, which was fine by me.ย  It would still taste just as good. ๐Ÿ™‚

‘Lo and behold!! My cake was as high, if not a little higher with only 2 tsp. of baking powder versus the 3 tsp. I’ve used all this time! I was pleasantly surprised!

Why? For two reasons. 1) This meant my baking powder would last longer, and 2) It decreased the amount of sodium in the cake. (We’re being careful about how much sodium we’re using in our diets.)

The calculations:

55 mg of sodium per 1/8 tsp.ย  = 440 mg of sodium per 1 tsp.

I was using 3 tsps. so…3 x 440 =ย  1320 mg sodium for a single-layer 9-inch cake!

Granted, you don’t eat one entire cake in one sitting but still, that’s a lot of sodium.ย  I broke that down to 220 mg per slice out of 6 generous slices, (remember, it’s only a one layer cake).

Versus: 2 x 440 = 880 mg sodium.ย  That’s about 147 mg of sodium per slice using the 6 generous slices example.

Now for the fun, money-saving part!

The container says there are 383 servings per container.ย  Remember, the servings are 1/8 tsp., so 383 divided by 8 = 47.875 or about 48 tsps. of baking powder per container. If you use 3 tsps. each time, you get 16 single-layer cake uses out of one container.

However…if you use 2 tsps. each time, you get to bake 24 single-layer cakes instead of 16 out of the same amount of baking powder from the same container!!!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Woo-hoo! 8 more cakes before I need to buy another container of baking powder!

In times like these, I’ll take that savings! ๐Ÿ™‚ย  LOLย  Life’s simplest pleasures.

Copyright 2011 – All rights reserved.