Grilled Cheese with Spinach, Chicken & Pesto

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I’ve been trying to stick to salads for lunch to up my daily veggie intake, but yesterday I had almost an entire vegetable day purely by accident. I love vegetables, but all day? I must have had a lot going on because typically I’m a protein lover.

After walking the dogs late this morning I couldn’t get my mind off of a grilled cheese sandwich. I also had chicken breasts that needed to be grilled and leftover vegan pesto from the sandwiches I made over the weekend. After the dogs got their “you were good on your walk” treat, I rummaged around and also remembered I had organic tomatoes and a nice bunch of organic flat leaf parsley. I’m crazy for parsley. I don’t know why, but I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I used to eat everyone’s parsley off their plate when we went out to dinner.

So, once I realized I had the makings for a delicious sandwich, I shoved the salad I made yesterday to the back of the fridge and told myself I would eat it for dinner instead.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach, Chicken, & Pesto

2 Slices Gluten Free Bread (I used Udi’s Whole Grain)

Slices of Grilled Chicken Breast

Spinach Leaves

Vegan Pesto

Diaya Cheese

Dairy Free Butter

Fresh Tomatoes

Flat Leaf Parsley

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

I’m sure you know how to make a grilled cheese so I will just give the basics. Grill the chicken first, or use leftovers, your preference. Spread pesto on the insides of both pieces of bread. Place the cheese on the bottom piece of bread, closest to the heat. Layer everything else however you like and cook until nice and toasty.

Individual Scalloped Potatoes

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Ahhhh…comfort food.

It’s been raining here for what seems like years.

I think we’ve only had one full day of sun in something like 4 or 5 weeks.

I’m still in winter comfort food mode.

Can you blame me?

Some people think it’s the end of their world when they’ve been diagnosed with food allergies. Being dairy free and gluten-free isn’t really all that difficult. It can be done, and it can be done well. You don’t have to deprive yourself of all of the comfort foods life has to offer. Scalloped potatoes are definitely one of those comfort foods I would certainly hate to say goodbye to forever and now I don’t have to.

If you have a favorite holiday food or special side dish that you can no longer “have” because of allergy limitations, get creative. Carve out a little time in your schedule once every couple of weeks to experiment with your favorite dish. Do some research, use the original recipe as a starting point for measurements, etc. This recipe is adapted from Food Network Magazine’s recipe for Mini Scalloped Potatoes. I used it as a starting point so that I would have a balance between the solids and liquids. Then, I added garlic, green onion, thyme, paprika, bacon, sheep’s milk cheese and exchanged the dairy ingredients to non-dairy ingredients. It’s really just as easy as that.

 

Living allergen free does mean that a little more work and patience is required on your part. But it certainly does not mean that you will need to learn to be happy with less tasty and satisfying meals. These scalloped potatoes are 100% dairy and gluten-free. Perfect alongside your upcoming Easter ham.

Individual Scalloped Potatoes

About 1 Tablespoon Dairy Free Butter, melted for the ramekins

1 1/4 Cups Daiya Vegan Cheddar Style Cheese

1/2 Cup Dairy Free (Vegan) Parmesan Cheese

About 2 Tablespoons Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled

(Next time I would also add Manchego…)

1 Green Onion, finely chopped

1 Large Clove Garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme, finely chopped

About 1 Tablespoon Crisp Bacon, crumbled (if you have it leftover from breakfast)

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, (4 to 5 mini ones) sliced about 1/8 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon Paprika

A Healthy Pinch of Kosher Salt

Several Grinds of Pepper

1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Creamer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously brush ramekins (I used 3 oversized, their recipe calls for 6 – 6-8 ounce ramekins) with the melted butter and set aside. I don’t think it would quite fill an 8×8 baking dish though. If you plan to have it with a holiday meal, I would double the recipe.

Combine the vegan cheddar, vegan parmesan, sheep’s milk cheese, onion, garlic, thyme, paprika, salt, pepper, and potatoes in a medium bowl.

Divide half of this mixture among the ramekins, arranging the potatoes around each ramekin and distributing the cheese mixture as evenly as possible. Top with half of the non-dairy cream.

Repeat with the remaining potato and cheese mixture and cream. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove tin foil, increase oven temperature to 425, and bake for another 20 minutes.

Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Zucchini & Corn Fritters with Tomatillo Sauce

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Another Super Bowl Sunday treat. These were a delicious addition. Crisp and flavorful, everyone loved them. The sourness of the tomatillo sauce was a nice contrast to the sweet corn. If I could eat sour cream I would have also served them with a spicy sour cream dip. Next time I’ll try to do a creamy Mexican dip with a mayo base along with the tomatillo sauce.

Tomatillo Sauce

This makes a medium sized bowl of sauce. Plenty for the corn fritters and enough for chips.

16 Tomatillos, husked and washed

2 Poblano Chilis, seeds and membranes removed

1 Whole Jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed

2 Tablespoons Garlic, chopped

1 Cup Chicken Broth

1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro, snipped

A Generous Pinch of Sugar

Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Preheat broiler. Place the tomatillos and poblano peppers on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Broil until charred and blistered turning once halfway through the broiling process.

Place the broiled poblano peppers in a plastic bag, close, and set aside. (I also placed the tomatillos in a bag because I had to run a short errand. It was perfect, by the time I returned they were cool enough to handle and the bag had steamed the juices out of them nicely.)

Once the poblanos have cooled enough to handle, remove the charred skin and discard. Add the poblanos, tomatillos (with the juices), and the jalapeno pepper to a large blender. Blend until smooth.

Drizzle a large skillet with about 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil. Heat to medium low and add the chopped garlic. Cook until they begin to turn golden.

Add the tomatillo mixture and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Add the chicken broth and simmer for another 8-10 minutes or so. Stir in the snipped cilantro, season with salt and pepper and a generous pinch of sugar. Pour into a serving bowl and allow to cool.

(I made my sauce the day ahead and brought it to room temperature before serving it with the fritters.)

Zucchini & Corn Fritters 

Makes about 20-25 fritters

2 Zuchinni, about 1 to 1/2 cups when grated

4 Eggs, lightly beaten

About 2 Cups Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese

2/3 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

2/3 Cup White Rice Flour

(whisk almond flour and rice flour together)

2/3 Cup Chopped Green Onions

4 teaspoons Cumin

2 teaspoons Dried Oregano

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

2 Cups Frozen Whole Kernel Corn or Fresh Corn grilled and removed from cob

Canola Oil, for frying

Place frozen corn (if using) in a colandar in sink or over a bowl and allow to defrost (about 2 hours). When corn has completely thawed, coarsely shred zucchini and drain on several layers of paper towels, patting dry with another layer of paper towels.

Line a baking sheet with several paper towels and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. This is where I love a convection oven because the hot air will keep them crisp.

In a large bowl, add the zucchini, eggs, cheese, flour, green onion, cumin, oregano, and sea salt. Stir well, fold in the thawed corn.

Fill a large skillet with about 1 1/2 inches of canola oil and heat on medium. Test by adding a tiny drop of the corn mixture. Once it has a strong sizzle, it’s hot enough to begin adding the corn mixture about 1 1/2 Tablespoons at a time. I put 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture onto a spatula, spread it with a spoon (thick – about half the size of the palm of my hand and I have small hands) and then scraped into the oil with a knife.

Cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove to paper towel covered baking sheet and keep in preheated. Repeat process with the remaining batter.

Chicken & Veggie Flat Bread

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This flat bread is gluten-free and dairy-free. Super easy and very versatile. I’ve made it numerous times with different types of ingredients for dinner, lunch, parties, you name it. The flat bread can be made ahead of time which makes assembling the other ingredients and cooking it a breeze if you’re hosting a party.

1 Bag Chebe Focaccia Mix

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Eggs

5 Tablespoons Almond Milk

About 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano

About 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil

About 1 Tablespoon Dried Garlic

(Your favorite veggies and meats, dairy-free cheeses, olive oil.)

Place all of the above ingredients in a medium bowl.

Stir with a fork until mixture starts to come together.

Remove the fork and knead with one hand until dough is completely incorporated and formed into a smooth ball.

Measure a piece of parchment to fit a baking sheet and cut.

Remove parchment from pan, sprinkle with a little gluten-free flour (I used almond flour) and pat dough out into a small circle.

Flour rolling pin and roll dough out thinly, to about the size of the parchment.

Prick with a fork and brush with about 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic and several Tablespoons of olive oil.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 16-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

At this point you can cover it and set it aside to build later, or you can go ahead and start adding ingredients. This time I added spinach, peppers, mushrooms, chicken, tomatoes, drizzled it with more olive oil and sprinkled Daiya mozzarella style “cheese” all over it, then put it back in the oven and baked it until the cheese was melted. Or as melted as dairy-free cheese ever gets. In the past I’ve used goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce…there are many different ways you can do it. Just use the basic guidelines and add your favorite ingredients and you really can’t go wrong.