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.

Tomato Salad with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Fresh Basil

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I found the cutest little organic tomatoes the other day at Trader Joe’s. I was also excited to run across white balsamic vinegar. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! It opens up a whole new wave of ideas where a dark balsamic can’t be used.

Trader Joe’s is new to our area. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with its tiny size and lack of a gluten-free aisle. I think I was secretly hoping for a Whole Foods experience. Whole Foods it’s not, however, their organic produce prices cannot be beat.  Now I make a trip up there just about every Friday to stock up on fresh, organic, veggies for the week ahead.

This is a simple salad that can be eaten alone or served as a side. I think it would go wonderfully with gluten-free focaccia bread with a little side of balsamic and olive oil…maybe some roasted garlic…

Tomato Salad with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Fresh Basil

Organic Cherry Tomatoes (variety)

Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Fresh Basil

Olive Oil

White Balsamic

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Slice some of the larger tomatoes in half. Tear a couple of basil leaves into small pieces, drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic, season with sea salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Crumble the sheep’s milk cheese and fold into the tomato mixture.

Meatless Monday – Sheep’s Cheese Bruschetta & Veggie Salad with Marinated Chickpeas

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This is a new adventure for me. Like a lot of people, we are major meat lovers. In an attempt to cut out some of the red meat in our lives, I’ve decided on Meatless Mondays and Fish Fridays with a couple of chicken or turkey dishes in between on the weekdays. And who knows? Maybe we’ll like this whole meatless thing so much we’ll have a few days during the week where we go “vegetarian”. We’ll save the red meat and delectable desserts for the weekends!

There are all kinds of depressing statistics out there that you can Google. People who eat red meat several times a week have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all different types of cancers. It can double your risk of arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and endometriosis. And I won’t even go into the whole organic versus non-organic thing. Hormones, genetically engineered corn feed…EEK! Anyway, as much as I love red meat, it’s time to switch it up a bit and it’s a welcome change. I’ll get to try a variety of new recipes and if I think they’re good, I’ll pass them on to you.

Tonight’s meal was wonderful (if I do say so myself!), and I don’t feel like I was missing out on anything by having a meatless dinner. The salad was refreshing and the marinated garbanzo beans added a lot of flavor. The bruschetta was amazing and the goat cheese mixed with the tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar? Delectable!

Marinated Chick Peas

1 Can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Drizzle of Olive Oil

Drizzle of Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped

Ground Pepper

Place the chickpeas, herbs, olive oil, vinegar, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Veggie Salad

I didn’t write down measurements for this. It will depend on how large your family is, and pretty much everyone knows how to make a salad.

Baby Spring Mix

Baby Spinach

Romaine Lettuce

Red Onion

Yellow & Orange Bell Pepper

Sugar Snap Peas, sliced in half lengthwise

Broccoli

English Cucumber

Compari Tomatoes, quartered

Sheep’s Cheese Bruschetta

1 Box Gluten Free Pantry French Bread & Pizza Mix

1 Tbsp. Dried Basil

1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano

1/2 Tbsp. Dried Garlic

4 Compari Tomatoes On The Vine, diced

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped

2 Cloves Garlic, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp. Red Onion, diced

Drizzle of Olive Oil

Drizzle of Balsamic

Crumbled Sheep’s Milk Cheese, about 1/4 block

Preheat oven and mix the boxed bread mix according to the directions, except use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. I also used almond milk.  Stop mixer and add the dried basil, oregano, and garlic. Mix on high for 1 more minute. I placed my dough in a french bread pan. If you don’t have a french bread pan you can try to make a mold out of heavy-duty aluminum foil (it makes 2 loaves) or bake it as directed on the box. This is what a french bread pan looks like:

Once the bread is done, allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Slice into bruschetta size slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toast the bread on each side until it is lightly golden brown. While it’s cooling, prepare the topping.

Place the tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, red onion, drizzle of olive oil, and drizzle of balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Stir and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Place about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each slice of toasted french bread.

Next, add the crumbled sheep’s milk cheese.

Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and browning on the top.

Serve warm with a beautiful salad and your favorite wine.

Mediterranean Salad

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It seems like it’s been a really long winter around these parts. Last summer went by much too quickly and wasn’t as warm as usual. Then fall and winter hit and now we’re into March with rain and still having some pretty chilly days. We’re starting to get into camping mode and really wanting to spend some more time outside, so my husband thought it would be fun to plan a little road trip and picnic today. It was just what the Dr. ordered to get rid of the winter blues! Even though the weather was a bit chilly, it didn’t rain until we were on our way home. It was wonderful to just sit and chat during our picnic and watch the dogs play in the sand and water.

I filled our picnic basket with sandwiches, veggies, sea salt chips, a couple of Cutie oranges, fresh-cut pineapple, a Mediterranean salad, water, a couple of beers, and a few of the jam thumbprint cookies I made a couple of days ago. It’s so much easier and healthier to pack our own food for a nice, relaxing, picnic than to try to find some greasy spoon out in the middle of nowhere where I can get something gluten and dairy-free.

This was the first time I’ve made the salad and it was really good and extremely easy. It was fabulous as a  picnic salad, which means it will also work well for camping when the weather warms up a bit.

Mediterranean Salad

1 – 15oz Can of White Beans

1 – 150z Can of Garbanzo Beans

1 1/2 Tbsp. Basil, chopped

2 Tbsp. Oregano, chopped

2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. Garlic, chopped

15 Pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced in half lengthwise

15 Small Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

About 1/2 of a Small Red Onion, sliced

1/2 Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 – 1/2 Cup Basil & Oregano Rice Vinegar

About 2 Grinds of Sea Salt

About 4-6 Grinds of Good Pepper

Rinse and drain both cans of beans.

Once beans have drained, pour into a medium size bowl. Add chopped herbs and sliced vegetables, garlic and olives, stir with spatula to combine.

Pour olive oil and vinegar into a measuring cup and whisk to combine. Pour over salad.

Stir carefully to combine. Allow flavors to meld at least one hour before serving.

I’ll sneak in a picture of Romeo and Abigail, our sweet babies. Romeo is on the right and is 2 years old, Abigail is on the left and turned 1 on Valentine’s Day. ♥ Our other sweet baby is human and 18… and opted to stay home and hang out with friends instead. Us old people are a little boring. Wink, wink.

Lake Roosevelt.

Rustic Vegetable Tart

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Ahhh…it feels good to be back in the kitchen. For me, it’s so relaxing to putter around, look through recipes, and think about what I want to cook or bake. I’ve been helping out in my sister in-law’s medical office for the past week and haven’t cooked a thing! Well, besides a quick bowl of oatmeal or an egg in the morning before I’m rushing out the door. But that doesn’t really qualify and it certainly isn’t relaxing.

I’ve been wanting to do a savory tart for quite some time. I like to do rustic apple tarts in the winter and peach tarts in the summer but I’ve never made one with savory ingredients. And talk about easy. It was a cinch to make because I already had pie dough in the freezer and I just used whatever vegetables I had on hand. The options are endless.

This recipe calls for sheep’s milk cheese, you could also use goat cheese, or cow’s milk feta if you don’t have a problem with dairy. There’s a small controversy about whether people who are sensitive or allergic to dairy should eat sheep or goat cheese. Many people who have dairy allergies seem to be able to tolerate it. If I eat it too often it will start to bother me so I keep it down to a couple of times a month or less.

Rustic Vegetable Tart

1 Gluten Free Pie Crust, thawed. Go here for recipe.

1/2 of a Sweet Yellow Onion, sliced thinly

1/2 of an Orange Bell Pepper, sliced thinly

About 6 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

1/2 of a Small Zucchini, sliced thinly

1/2 of a small Yellow Zucchini, sliced thinly

1 small Tomato, roughly chopped

3 Sun Dried Tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/3 of a Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

1 Tbsp. Chopped Basil

1 Tbsp. Chopped Oregano

About 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Garlic Powder

1 Egg, beaten for egg wash

Pre-heat oven to 375°

Prepare the vegetables.

Chop herbs and garlic.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium-high. Add onions, and quickly saute until they start to brown lightly. Add peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and add both types of zucchini, the fresh tomato, basil, and oregano. Combine, season with a small amount of sea salt (the sheep’s milk cheese is already quite salty) and set aside.

Flour parchment paper and roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. You must use parchment paper or a silpat or you will never get the tart off your counter and onto the baking sheet in one piece.

Carefully place the sautéed vegetables in the middle of the tart leaving about a 3 inch diameter of plain dough. Lifting the parchment and going around the entire tart a section at a time, fold the dough over the vegetable mixture. Drizzle the top of the tart with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.

Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Tomato & Onion Salad

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It’s late February and I’m already longing for summer food. That can’t be good considering I’m sitting her watching the snow fall in huge, fluffy, flakes out of the sky. I suppose the snow and frigid temperatures they are forecasting means that we’ll be waiting quite some time for even spring-like weather. I’ve been craving tomatoes lately and found some today that actually smell like tomatoes are supposed to smell. Since I’ve been longing for summer food I thought I would make a simple tomato and onion salad with the garlic olive oil and balsamic vinegar that my husband bought me for Valentine’s Day. That combined with baked chicken breasts stuffed with sheep’s milk cheese, herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes is the perfect pseudo summer meal.

Tomato & Onion Salad

3 Medium Vine Ripened Tomatoes, sliced

1/4 Red Onion, sliced thinly

1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, sliced thinly (chiffonade)

Drizzle of Olive

Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar

Plate sliced tomatoes and onions, sprinkle with basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degrees.

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

1 Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese

4 Sun-Dried Tomato Halves, chopped

2 Tbsp. Red Onion, chopped finely

1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped

1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped

2 tsp. Garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme

Sea Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Rinse and dry chicken breasts. Place between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Set aside.

Place cheese, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, and basil in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with about 3 or 4 grinds of pepper.

Stir together thoroughly and spread on one end of the chicken breasts.

Fold the plain end up and over the filling, tucking in the filling as you go. Place in a prepared dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and the dried thyme.

Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven cover with tin foil and allow to rest for about 8-10 minutes before serving.