Making Do

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It seems like much longer than it really has been since we’ve had appliances. I think it’s been about 2 1/2 weeks but it seems like months. I of course, am used to using my stove every day and bake things at least four times a week so the delivery of our new appliances today has me very excited!  The stove won’t be hooked up to the gas until next week…but even still, at least they’re here.

We’ve been making do quite well, I think. It hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be to live without carpet, flooring, appliances, and living basically in one room for a while. I’m not used to the chaos and mess, but that will be easily fixed by Friday of next week. We are blessed to be able to do a little remodel and life could be much, much, worse so it’s pretty hard to complain too much about a slight inconvenience for a few weeks.

This morning I started my day off with a turkey sandwich (leftovers from our wonderful dinner at my in law’s), potato salad (pre-made Reser’s from the local grocery store), and a nice steaming cup of Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate (via the microwave). A great breakfast, if you ask me!

Million Dollar Stuffing

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re still living without appliances or carpet until next week. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to be able to go over to mom’s house and do some cooking!

Stuffing or dressing? Does stuffing mean that it’s cooked in the bird and dressing mean that it’s cooked outside the bird? Or does it just depend on which part of the country you’re from? We’ve always called it stuffing. Maybe because we have always cooked it in the bird, I’m not really sure. This year we’re headed out to my in law’s for Thanksgiving and I’m bringing the GF DF stuffing and GF DF Pecan Pie Bars. (Which already have an entire missing row, by the way.)

I decided to name it Million Dollar Stuffing because basically, it’s very spendy to make. About $25.00 for an 8 1/2 by 11 pan. You could probably cut the cost a bit by making your own gluten free bread, but probably not by much. The flours that go into making homemade gluten free bread are also expensive.

It is Thanksgiving after all, and stuffing is by far the food I look most forward to today. So with that said, and a warning about the cost…stuffing it is! Or is that dressing?

Million Dollar Stuffing

Preheat Oven to 350°

2 Loaves Udi’s Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread (or your favorite gf bread, or homemade gf bread)

1 Package All Natural GF Bacon, partially frozen

4 Stalks  Celery, sliced lengthwise and diced

1 Medium Sweet Onion, diced

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

1-2 Boxes GF Chicken Stock (I used 1 whole box and will take the other box to pour a little over the pan before re-heating)

Dairy Free Butter, about 2 1/2 Tablespoons

1 Jar Poultry Seasoning (or your favorite stuffing seasoning or fresh herbs)

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

Slice and cube the gluten-free bread. The amount will depend on how many people you are serving, of course. I thought I would need three loaves but only ended up needing two.

Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet, sprinkle 1/2 the jar of poultry seasoning over the top,  toss with fingers.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, remove. Toss, then bake for another 15 minutes or until the cubes are browned and crisp on the outside with a little softness on the inside.

While the bread cubes are toasting, get the vegetables and garlic ready.

Dice the bacon and fry in a skillet until it is crisp on the outside but still a little chewy. Yes, the entire package! This isn’t “diet day” it’s Thanksgiving.

Remove the crisp bacon with a slotted spoon onto paper towels. Reserve 2 Tablespoons or so of the bacon fat to saute the onions, celery and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent and the celery only has a slight crunch.

Place the toasted and seasoned bread cubes in a bowl, top with the sautéed veggies and bacon.

Add the remaining half jar of poultry seasoning. Season generously with sea salt. Pour 1 box of the chicken stock in a 4 cup glass measuring cup and add the 2 1/2 Tablespoons of  dairy free butter. Microwave for about 2-3 minutes or until stock is hot and butter is melted.

Pour 1/2 of the heated liquid over the top of the other ingredients in the bowl and toss carefully until liquid is absorbed into the bread cubes. Repeat with the remaining liquid.

Drizzle olive oil in a nice baking dish and rub around the bottom and sides with a paper towel.

Fill with the stuffing, cover with tin foil,  and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. This stuffing can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. When you’re ready to heat it, pour a little more chicken stock over the top, cover with foil and heat for about 30 minutes or until it is heated through in a 350 degree oven.

This is Miss Penelope. My mother is “babysitting” her for my son for a while. We can probably all see where that is going! She’s adorable and such a talker. Watched me the entire time I made the stuffing. Shared a little bacon with her and now I have a friend for life.

Happy Thanksgiving to you from the Policani Family and Miss Penelope!

The View From Over Here – My Corner Of The World

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We’re on day 5 of the “make-over”. Day 5 without a kitchen, day 2 with all of our furniture living in the garage, I can’t even remember how many days we’ve been without carpet and flooring (steer clear of the tack strips – ouch!), and day 1 without usable bathrooms. The trailer is our new home for the next few days until the new tile is able to be walked on and we can re-install all the potties. Soon we’ll have new carpet and new appliances. Painting is almost done. There’s nothing quite like having your entire house torn apart at once. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

I’m really looking forward to doing all of my holiday baking in the new “ish” kitchen! That is, once we purchase the appliances. Um, yah, we better get on that. At the beginning of this process things were moving so slowly that we felt like we had all the time in the world to figure out what we were doing. Paint colors, appliances, etc. The pace has picked up dramatically and we are still running in slow motion! That might be in part, due to this (the photo below)  and the fact that we’re sore, tired, and not the young, agile little chicklets we once were….

Yep. Seems that the builder didn’t want our floors to squeak…ever. So they glued, screwed, and nailed the underlayment flooring to the  sub-flooring. Quite the task involving hammers, crow bars, and some kind of small jack hammer tool we had to purchase. This was just the first area of 5 that had to be scraped and beaten into submission. Unbelievably dusty, messy, and incredibly loud. With the trailer in front of our house and the sound of the air compressor and jack hammer for several days in a row…I’m sure our neighbors are loving us.

On another somewhat separate subject, someone so “lovingly” keeps posting the Christmas Countdown on Facebook (37 Days, 9 Hours, and 20 minutes in case you were just dying to know).I’m trying to ignore it, I keep telling myself, “Look away! Look away! “. I love the Christmas holiday, it’s by far, my favorite time of year. But for some reason, now that we’re living in a trailer in our front yard, our house is gutted, and I just put on the first pair of clean jeans in a week…I’m not liking the Christmas Countdown reminder, at all. I just want everything to come to a screeching halt so I don’t miss any of the Christmas fun. Then, once we have the house back together, it’s fully decorated for Christmas, and I’m nibbling on frosted gingerbread cookies…THEN I’ll be ready to look at the Christmas Countdown clock without feeling like someone has their hand around my throat.  I mean seriously people, it’s not even Thanksgiving!

Abigail sat in the window almost the entire day today (notice nose smudges) keeping an eye on every move the tile guy made as he ran in and out of the house. She may be small but she’s definitely the Queen and the one that thinks she needs to keep an eye on things.

And then…there’s Romeo. Romeo, who is 1 year older, weighs about 25 pounds more than Abigail, and is several inches taller. Hiding under the blankets in the bedroom of the trailer. Thoroughly irritated that we have disrupted his routine.

We’re hoping almost everything will be finished the week after Thanksgiving. Then it’s time for some Christmas cheer!

Banana Apple Muffins

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This will probably be my last post for a couple of weeks, unless I get really creative with the toaster and microwave. Right now our refrigerator is sitting in our dining area and our oven and dishwasher are in the garage. We’ve been working hard removing all of the flooring in the house in anticipation of new, beautiful, flooring and appliances. My organized world has now been turned upside down and covered with a thick layer of construction dust. A small price to pay for the excitement of what’s ahead!

Yesterday, I was able to squeeze in one more recipe before my husband and brother-in-law hauled my oven to the garage. Maybe I should have called them construction muffins!

Banana Apple Muffins (AKA Construction Muffins)

Preheat oven to 350° 

3 VERY Ripe Bananas

2 Large Eggs

1/3 Cup Canola Oil (or Olive)

2/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 3/4 Cup Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose)

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

3/4 of a Honey Crisp Apple, diced

*more brown sugar for sprinkling

Add the bananas, eggs, oil, brown sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt to a mixer and mix on medium until incorporated (about 10 seconds). Scrape down bowl, mix for another 10 seconds. Do not over mix. Fold in the diced apples with a spatula.

Line a muffin tin (12) with muffin papers. Add the banana mixture, sprinkle with brown sugar, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Fresh Baked Cookies & Tea? Yes Please!

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I believe that sitting down with a few freshly baked cookies, a hot cup of tea, and a good book is a special treat. It is a true luxury to be able to set aside a little time during the day to just unwind, to take a minute to breathe and release ourselves from our fast paced lives. Even if you only have a 10 minute break or a few minutes of time to yourself throughout your day, it’s totally worth it to spend that time with cookies and tea sitting peacefully, instead of multi-tasking like your head is on fire.

All of you Type A’s know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you? In case you haven’t noticed, I was born one of those. Over the years I’ve had to teach myself that life doesn’t always need a “to do” list and the importance of taking little breaks throughout the day to unwind and enjoy my surroundings. Today, whether you’re at work, at home, running errands, whatever it is that you’re doing with your day…I urge you to set aside just a few minutes to unwind, relax, and enjoy the blessings this day has to offer.

Fruit & Nut Tea Cookies

*This recipe was inspired by a recipe in a book I just finished. The “Sugar Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke. The story itself was OK. The interesting thing about the book was that half of its pages were filled with recipes, which most of her series are. A fun addition to the typical murder mystery.

These cookies need to be chilled before baking, so no need to pre-heat the oven until you’re ready to bake them.

1 Cup Dairy Free Butter (I use Earth Balance Soy Free)

2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar, packed

2 Eggs

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Almond Extract

1 Cup Dried Cherries, diced

1/2 Cup Slivered Almonds, roughly chopped

3 1/2 Cups Gluten Free Flour (I use Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour)

Cream butter and sugar in mixer until very light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add almond extract and mix to thoroughly combine.

In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder, and xanthan gum. Whisk to combine. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture slowly until thoroughly combined. Add Cherries and almonds, mix to combine.

Split dough in half into logs on two pieces of plastic wrap. Roll up, cover with foil and freeze or chill for at least three hours. I like to keep cookie logs in my freezer, if wrapped properly they will last at least a month or two. Then, if you have company stop by or just feel like a couple of cookies, you can cut off the amount needed and then return the roll to the freezer for next time.

When you’re ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350° Remove a roll from the fridge or freezer and slice into thin discs. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes. They brown on the bottoms quickly, so you don’t want to over bake them.

This is our female Hungarian Vizsla, sweet miss Abigail Grace. We also have a male named Romeo who was lounging in his crate in our bedroom.

We can learn a lot from our furry friends. They play when it’s time to play, work when it’s time to work, and always take a few minutes to enjoy and rest in that sliver of sun beaming into their busy day.

Starting The Day Off On The Right Foot

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I’m not a fan of starting my day off with a bowl of cereal, toast, and a glass of juice. I know a lot of people love that, but beginning my day with a plate or bowl full of carbs  usually puts me on a fast paced road headed straight for a migraine. If I’m lucky enough to avoid the migraine then I’m typically faced with extreme lethargy and a need for a nap when I come down from all of that sugar.

I don’t always wake up and make myself a nice breakfast. Sometimes it’s almond milk yogurt mixed with nuts, dried berries, and oats. Sometimes it’s leftovers from the night before, oatmeal with nuts and fruit, or eggs and toast. And sometimes, yes, I will indulge in pancakes, waffles, hot chocolate, or some other sweet delight, but always with some type of protein along with it. I think people with food sensitivities or allergies quickly start to realize that although they may be a foodie, certain foods don’t always love them back. I have to try to strike a balance or I’ll feel terrible for the rest of the day.

After coming off of a few days of the flu, much of yesterday was spent taking large quantities of ibuprofen and laying on the couch on ice packs. It seems that I have “done” something to my hip, back, and neck. (Enter whining noise here…) I couldn’t even tell you what I did to inflame half my body, guess we’ll chalk this one up to getting old. Anyhoo. This morning I woke up feeling half way decent and was able to move without wincing and actually felt like making a nice breakfast. I don’t like it when life interrupts my need and love for all things cooking and baking.

So, here it is. A nice, healthy, balanced breakfast, with a chocolaty treat on the side.

Egg on Bed of Sautéed Spinach, Red Onion, & Red Bell Pepper with Baked Delicata Squash, Whole Grain Gluten-Free Toast, & Pumpkin Spiced Hot Chocolate

For the Baked Delicata Squash: Wash and slice squash in half. Scoop out seeds and strings. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and garlic pepper. Bake at 350° for one hour. (Mine was leftover from the previous night. I simply warmed it in the microwave for 2 minutes and sliced. The skin is edible.)

For the Sautéed Veggies and Egg:  Drizzle olive oil in a medium skillet and warm on medium to medium high. Saute the onion and pepper until aldente. Add a handful of spinach and toss until wilted. In the same skillet or another skillet, crack an egg and cook to over easy, or any way you like your egg. Place on top of the bed of spinach and vegetables.

For the Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate: You can go here for the recipe. It is very quick and easy!

*I used Udi’s Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread for my toast and buttered it with Earth Balance (Dairy Free) Soy Free Natural Buttery Spread. 

Unbelievably Easy Shepherd’s Pie

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It was 27 degrees this morning when we woke up.  Time to start thinking about all of those wonderful, homey, and comforting winter dinners. Shepherd’s pie is one of my favorites. However, my husband and I have been battling the flu for the past couple of days and even though we were hungry for dinner, I certainly didn’t feel like slaving over the stove for very long.  A traditional Shepherd’s pie isn’t all that hard to make, just time-consuming because of the mashed potatoes and then can be even more time-consuming depending on the type of meat you want to use.

I used Betty Crocker boxed potato flakes (go ahead and gasp…I can handle it), frozen mixed vegetables, boxed beef broth, and ground beef. Easy, easy, easy, and totally delicious and satisfying. So judge if you will, but sometimes even us foodies don’t feel like standing in the kitchen all afternoon preparing dinner.

I put this recipe into 4 oversized ramekins (Pier 1 – $2.95 ea.). They are the perfect personal size. It would also work just fine in an 8 1/2 x 11 baking dish. The cooking time may increase a bit. You can also make this a couple of hours ahead of time, cover, and refrigerate. Allow to sit on counter for 1/2 hour before baking.

Unbelievably Easy Shepherd’s Pie

About 1 lb. of High Quality Ground Beef

1 Small Bag Frozen Vegetables (about 2 Cups)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano (you can use whatever herbs you like, this is what I had fresh on hand)

1 Small Onion, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and diced

1 Box Beef Broth (make sure it’s gluten-free, I use Pacific Organic Beef Broth)

1 Tablespoon Dairy Free Butter

Potato Starch or Corn Starch

Betty Crocker Potato Buds (follow directions for serving size for about 8, I also used dairy free butter and almond milk )

Sea Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Diced Green Onions

*Individual Oversized Ramekins or an 8 1/2 x 11 Baking Dish

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 425°.

Drizzle olive oil in a large skillet and heat on medium to medium high heat. Saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add the beef and oregano and cook until done, season generously with sea salt and pepper (I also added a little garlic powder). Add the frozen vegetables and toss until heated through. Fill 4 oversized ramekins 3/4 full, set aside.

Next, add the butter to the same skillet and melt. Add the box of beef broth and bring to a boil. In a small glass add about 2 Tablespoons potato starch or corn starch (I prefer potato). Fill the glass with enough water or beef broth (I had another box) to cover the corn starch and stir with a fork until completely combined. Turn the broth down to a low boil and slowly whisk the potato starch mixture in. It will thicken pretty quickly so you’ll be able to see within about a minute or two if you want to add more or not.

Pour a couple of large spoonfuls over each meat filled ramekin and set aside.

Make the potatoes according to the instructions on the box. I use water, dairy free butter, and sea salt in the pan. Then when the potato flakes are stirred in I add warmed almond milk to think them out to a mashed potato consistency. It’s really a  no-brainer and so easy. Sometimes you might need to add more potato flakes and sometimes you might need to add more warmed milk.

Place the ramekins on the covered baking sheet and top with the potatoes.

Place in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes until it is bubbling and the potatoes are beginning to brown. They are hotter than heck when you take them out of the oven, so be careful!! Sprinkle with the diced green onions.

Fall Lunch

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Well, after feasting on Mexican food and indulging in multiple slices of coconut cake and lime tart over the past two days, I figured it was time to get back to reality. Luckily, reality can still be beautiful, delicious, and satisfying.

Fall Salad

1/2 Chicken Breast, cubed

1 Big Handful Fresh Spinach Leaves

1/4 Honey Crisp Apple, cut into bite size chunks

1 Clementine, peeled and sectioned

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Pecan, broken up

About 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Seeds

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil Mayo (for the dressing)

Juice of 1 Clementine (for the dressing)

Ground Pepper (for the dressing)

Prepare all of the salad ingredients.

Place the parsley, chicken, apples, and pecans in a small bowl.

Stir the dressing.

Add the dressing to the chicken bowl, stirring to coat.

Place a bed of spinach on a pretty plate. Add the chicken mixture. Top with the clementine sections and pomegranate seeds.

A Delicious Mexican Halloween

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I love the “day after” feeling of a dinner party. I always feel so relaxed and satisfied. It turned out to be a really great night. The three days of cooking and preparing paid off. And even though we were missing a few guests that couldn’t make it, we all managed to put a very large dent in all of the dishes I prepared. Everyone left stuffed and happy, just the way I like it!

So, here’s the menu I posted yesterday, with as many pictures and instructions as possible. Some of the dishes I had to prepare right before the dinner party so trying to remember to take food pictures while visiting and cooking was a little hairy. Under each recipe header I’ll let you know if it was something I made ahead of time or if it had to made right before the party.

Halloween – Mexican Style Menu

Starters:

Coconut Shrimp

Stuffed Jalapenos

Tortilla Chips with Homemade Pico & Guacamole

Main Dishes:

Steak, Chicken, and Shrimp Fajitas

Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Beef Enchiladas

Side Dishes:

Corn Souffle

Mexican Sweet Potato Hash

Cocktails:

Lime Margaritas On The Rocks

Wine

Sparkling Cider

Desserts:

Coconut Cake

Lime Tart

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Coconut Shrimp

This recipe was adapted from The Complete Mexican, South American & Caribbean Cookbook. No pictures of these, sorry! I prepared the dredging ingredients and put the shrimp in the marinade about an hour prior to the party, put the oil in the pan, and set aside a plate covered with paper towels for draining. Began dredging and frying about 10 minutes prior to the time I wanted to set out the rest of the food.

About 20 Jumbo Shrimp (make sure you use jumbo, I could only find the medium so had to settle with that, and make your life easier by either having them cleaned and deveined at the seafood counter or buying them that way.)

3 Garlic Cloves, crushed and diced (I use organic jarred garlic that is already minced…so easy!)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

About 1 1/2 Cups Dry Shredded Unsweetened Coconut

1 Cup Fresh Chives, minced

About 1/2 Cup Almond Milk

2 Eggs, lightly beaten with fork

Sea Salt & Freshly ground pepper (which I forgot, but they tasted great anyway!)

Oil for “Deep Frying” (I used canola in a large skillet, about an inch and a half of oil)

Lemon wedges and Italian parsley for garnish.

Mix garlic and lemon juice with a little sea salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and marinate for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place the coconut on a plate, dice the chives and mix them with coconut. Crack the eggs into a cereal sized bowl and whisk with a fork, set aside. Pour the milk into another cereal sized bowl, set aside.

When shrimp has marinated for 1 hour, heat the oil. I didn’t test the temperature, I heated it on medium-high. When the oil is ready, dip the shrimp in the milk, then the egg, then the coconut and chives. I dipped several and set them aside before putting them into the oil, so I could do several at a time and they would cook evenly. Don’t crowd the pan though, it will lower the oil temp and they won’t cook well and will absorb too much oil.

Flip when they are golden on one side, then remove when they are evenly golden. This only takes a couple of minutes. Don’t overcook them! Overcooked shrimp is rubbery and very unappetizing. Remove to paper towels to drain and then place on platter with lemon wedges and garnish with Italian parsley.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

I made two versions of these. One dairy free and one with dairy. I had never made a dairy-free version and I have to admit, I was shocked at how delicious they were! So good. So good in fact that I can’t wait to make them again for the next gathering we have. For this dish, I made the cheese stuffing and cleaned the peppers two days ahead. One day ahead I stuffed all of the peppers, and then about a half hour prior to the beginning of the party I put them on the grill. I covered half of the grill with tin foil so as they were done I slid them over to the foil to stay warm. Then, turned the grill off, allowed them to sit while I did the shrimp, then removed them to a platter to serve.

About 30 Large Jalapenos

1 Cube of Goat’s Milk Cheese (7 oz.)

1 Small Tub of Dairy Free Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese (Daiya), heaping

About 2 Heaping Tablespoons of Fresh Cilantro, chopped

About 3 Green Onions, diced

1 Heaping teaspoon garlic, finely chopped

A Couple Grinds of Sea Salt & A Few Grinds of Pepper

Rinse and dry the peppers. Slice just the top quarter off of the pepper with a sharp knife and set aside. I used the tops in some of the other recipes I made. If you have leftovers, which I did, you can freeze them fresh or even grill them and freeze them for future recipes.

A lot of people wear gloves when dealing with hot peppers. I didn’t, and I was fine. But…you’re taking a chance of having burning hands even if you wash them repeatedly and if you forget and touch your eyes, you won’t be a happy camper…for hours. It kind of depends on how sensitive you are to the oil. I was also careful to let the knife and spoon do the work and avoided the urge to grab anything with my fingers.

Using a small spoon (I used an iced tea spoon) and paring knife, cut out the membrane and scoop out the seeds.

In a medium bowl, combine the goat’s cheese, dairy free cream cheese, dairy free cheddar, cilantro, green onions, garlic, and salt and pepper.

Stuff each pepper generously and refrigerate for at least an hour. Because I stuffed mine a day ahead, I removed them and allowed them to come to room temperature (about an hour) before grilling.

When you’re ready to grill them, set the grill to medium high. Place peppers carefully on grill and cook until they are sizzling, slightly charred on the bottom and the cheese is melted.

Incredibly good and had I not said anything, no one would have ever known they were dairy free!

Homemade Pico De Gallo & Guacamole

I didn’t get a picture of the guacamole but I’ve made it before, you can see what it looks like here. I made the pico the night before the dinner party and the guacamole the morning of. It’s fine to make it ahead of time, but when you cover it to refrigerate, make sure you put the plastic wrap on it so it is touching and covering the entire top surface of the guacamole. This keeps the air out and stops it from browning.

Guacamole:

The amounts very for this recipe depending on how many people will be eating it and whether its a snack party or you’re using it for an hors d’ oeuvre. This recipe made about two full cups.

4 Ripe Avocados

About 1/4 Cup White Onion, diced

About 1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped

About 5 Sun Dried Tomatoes, diced

2 Jalapenos, diced

1 Heaping teaspoon Minced Garlic

Juice of 2 Large Limes

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Slice avocados in half, remove pits, and place flesh in a large bowl. Smash the avocados with a potato masher until smooth. I like mine smooth with small chunks. Add the onion, sun dried tomatoes, jalapeno, and lime juice. Stir to combine. Season to taste, and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Pico De Gallo:

The amounts in this recipe vary as well. Make it to suit your needs. This recipe made about 4 full cups.

About 4-5 Medium Vine Tomatoes

About 1 Medium Onion

About 3/4 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped

About 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced

About 2 Jalapenos, minced

Juice of 3 Limes

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Stir to combine and refrigerate.

Steak, Chicken, & Shrimp Fajitas

This picture doesn’t really do them justice. Trying to take pictures during a party is crazy and then figuring out the lighting and the settings on my camera…well, you get the gist anyway. The night before the party I sauteed the chicken, steak, peppers, and onions until the meat was cooked but rare. I refrigerated it over night and then right before the party started, I placed them back in the frying pan on medium high heat to heat through and then added the shrimp to cook.

1 Medium Steak (use a really good cut of meat), sliced thinly

2 Chicken Breasts, sliced thinly

About 20 shrimp, peeled and deveined

(The steak and chicken are much easier to slice thinly if they are partially frozen.)

1 Medium Onion, sliced

3 Bell Peppers, sliced (I used orange and yellow)

Garlic

Cumin

Olive Oil

Drizzle olive oil in  large skillet. Add the chicken and steak slices, season with garlic and cumin. Saute. When the meat is rare, add the onions and peppers. When the onions are beginning to turn translucent add the shrimp and toss until done. Don’t overcook the shrimp, they become rubbery.

Serve with tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. I served mine with flour tortillas for the gluten eaters and teff tortillas for the gluten free eaters.

Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes

You can make these at any time and freeze them until you need them. They freezer very well and only need to be thawed and then steamed to serve. I did mine about three days prior to the party. Making tamales is kind of a laborious process so you certainly don’t want to wait until the day you need them. I ran across a recipe on the internet for chicken tamales where the woman used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Ingenious! It saved me about an hour and a half and a lot of work and mess.

This recipe makes about 25 medium sized tamales.

1 Bag Dried Corn Husks (find them in the Mexican food isle in the grocery store)

1 Rotisserie Chicken, skinned, meat removed and shredded

3 Pablano Peppers, grilled until lightly charred and sliced thinly

1 Small Jar Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped (I used the Mezzetta 8oz. jar)

4 Cups Masa Mix (find it in the Mexican food isle in the grocery store)

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

2 teaspoons Sea Salt

About 4 Cups Chicken Broth, warmed

1 Cup Vegetable Shortening (or lard, if you want to get really traditional)

1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

1 Tablespoon Cumin

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

Seperate the corn husks carefully and place them in a big roasting or stock pot. Cover with boiling water and allow to sit while you’re getting all of the other ingredients ready. Place a plate or dish on top of them if they keep floating to the top.

Rinse and dry the pablano peppers and place them on a grill at medium-high heat until blistered and slightly charred. You can also place them on a baking sheet and put them under a broiler. When they are blistered and slightly charred, remove them from the oven and place them in a zip lock bag. Usually, this helps to steam them so you can remove the skin, but I like to keep it on and the steaming keeps them moist and supple while they’re cooling.

Meanwhile, shred the chicken and chop the sun dried tomatoes. Place each on a large cutting board or on separate plates creating an assembly line.

Next, make the masa mix using the directions on the bag. I also added the chili powder, cumin, and garlic. Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk.

Stir the shortening with a whisk or wooden spoon to fluff.

Using one hand to mix, slowly add the warmed chicken broth a little at a time until the masa is a smooth, but thick consistency.

Add the shortening and stir until thoroughly combined.

Lay a couple of paper towels out on the counter. Spread a corn husk out with the rough ridged side on the outside. Follow the picture steps below. Place a heaping Tablespoon of masa on the husk and spread.

Place a steamer in the bottom of a large stock pot, fill with water but just to below the rim of the steamer. Fill the pot with the tamales open side up, cover and steam on medium low for an hour and a half. You will need to keep an eye on the water in the pot and refill as necessary. Be careful not to get the water into the top of the tamales.

Once cooled, they can be frozen and then re-heated after thawing.

Beef Enchilada Casserole

This was assembled about an hour and a half before I wanted to serve it. It needs to bake for about 45 minutes or so, depending on what else is sharing the oven. Then, allow to rest and set up for 10 minutes before cutting. You can find the recipe here.

Corn Souffle

I removed this souffle from the oven about 1/2 hour before I put the enchiladas in. But I roasted the squash and sweet potatoes the day before and then set aside in the refrigerator. This is another adapted recipe from The Complete Mexican, South American, and Carribbean Cookbook. It is an impressive dish, light and delicious! Mexican souffles don’t puff way up like most but it is still light and airy. Think I’ll make it again for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

About 8 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

About 2  Cups Cubed Sweet Potato, peeled & roasted

About 2 Cups Blue Hubbard Squash, peeled & roasted

4 Cups Corn Kernals, fresh or frozen (if you use frozen, thaw)

6 Green Onions, chopped

About 10 ounces Dairy Free Cheese

8 Eggs

Sea Salt & Pepper

Preheat Oven to 350°

Peel and cube the sweet potato and squash, and roast until tender. Using 1 Tablespoon of the butter, grease a 9 1/2 x 11 baking dish. Put 3 Cups of the corn into a food processor, add the green onions and process until mostly smooth.

Put the remaining butter in a large pan, add the corn and onion mixture and cook on medium low until heated through. Add the sweet potato and squash, cook until heated through, stir in remaining corn.

Add the cheese, stirring until it melts almost all the way. Season generously with sea salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Separate 5 eggs. Then add the 3 remaining whole eggs to the egg yolk bow. Stir the egg yolk bowl with a fork until the eggs are combined and fold into the warm corn mixture.

Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peak. Fold into the souffle mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and place the dish in a large roasting pan. Place the pan into the oven and fill the roasting pan with boiling water to come halfway up the souffle dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the souffle no longer jiggles when shaken gently. A little jiggle is OK. I think I had to cook mine for about 4o to 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Sweet Potato Hash with Kale & Chorizo

The original recipe for Sweet Potato Hash comes from EatandRelish.com  with her help and advice, I adapted it to fit a Mexican dinner theme. I roasted the sweet potatoes and jalapenos the day before and then refrigerated until I was ready to saute everything.

8 Cups Sweet Potato, peeled & roasted

2 1/2 Tablespoons Jalapeno, diced and roasted with the sweet potato

2 Cups Spanish Chorizo, chopped

About 2 Cups Lacinato Kale, roughly chopped

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Peel and cube the sweet potato. Dice the jalapeno, drizzle the sweet potato and jalapeno with olive oil and roast both in a 425 degree oven until the sweet potato is tender. In a large saute pan add the chopped chorizo and garlic. Saute until the chorizo starts to release its oil and the garlic is cooked. Do not drain the oil. Add the sweet potato and jalapeno mixture. Toss until heated through and combined. Add the kale and toss until wilted. Serve warm.

Coconut Cake with Raspberry Filling

 

This cake is gorgeous and delicious and VERY easy. I made it the day before the party. Forgot to get a picture of an actual slice, it was very pretty with the raspberry in the middle.

2 Boxes Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

Eggs

Water

Dairy Free Butter

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Coconut Extract

100% Fruit

Raspberry Jelly

Powdered Sugar

Almond Milk

Shredded Sweetened Coconut

Prepare and bake the cake mix according to the directions and add 1 teaspoon each vanilla and coconut extract. Set aside to cool. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jelly between on the bottom cake layer. Pour about 4 1/2 Cups Powdered sugar into an electric mixer. Add about 1/2 cup butter, 3 teaspoons coconut extract, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined, adding almond milk a small amount at at a time until the frosting resembles a smooth and fluffy consistency.

Frost the cake and press the coconut over the frosting. Cover and place somewhere cool until ready to serve.

Lime Tart

This is very similar to the lemon tart I made a month or so ago. You can find the recipe here. I used limes instead of lemons, of course and didn’t add the figs. It’s very “tart” and limey, an absolutely perfect ending to a spicy Mexican meal. I made it the day before the party and refrigerated it.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Otherwise known as Pecan Sandies, these cookies are light and go well with a variety of meals. Instead of forming them into traditional balls, I rolled the dough and used a leaf cookie cutter, then sprinkled with powdered sugar. I made these two days prior to the party and stored in a tupperware container. This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook 1989.

1 1/2 Cups Dairy Free Butter

4 1/2 Cups Mama’s Almond All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

2/3 Cups Sugar

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Cups Pecans, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. In an electric mixer add the dairy free butter and sugar. Beat until thoroughly combined and fluffy, scraping down once. Add about half of the flour and the vanilla, beat until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining flour, xanthan gum, and pecans. Mix until thoroughly combined. Split dough into three discs. Using a little extra flour, roll dough out and cut with leaf shaped cutter. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove to wire cooling rack and using a small mesh strainer, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.