Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wheat Buns

My assistant baker making her own rolls.  

Anyone who is on a dairy-free diet will tell you that finding hamburger or sandwich rolls that don't have some form of dairy in them can be tough.  The only rolls that I had found at the grocery stores near me that were safe were Dutch Country potato rolls, which don't get me wrong they are delicious.  The only problem is that we can't find them at all grocery stores and sometimes they can be expensive!

In an effort to pinch pennies I decided to go about researching how to make them myself.  The recipe that, now does not even resemble my recipe except for some of the instructions, are King Arthur Flour's Onion Buns.  To fit my needs of being dairy-free and nutrition wise I did a lot of changes.  But don't worry it worked out and has now become the bun of choice in my house.

Because I make a menu for the week's meals it just means that on either Saturday or Sunday I'll have to make enough buns for the week.  Next I think I'll start looking at hot dog rolls.  Italian sausage with peppers and onions are popular items in my house.  Well that will have to be another post!


1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 tbsp Spectrum Non-hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening
2 large eggs
2 cups (1 lb)* unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (12 oz)* wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder

1 egg white with 1 tbsp water
sesame seeds, poppy seeds or whatever else you would like to top them with

1.  Combine all dough ingredients together.

 2.  Lightly dust counter with flour and knead dough for about 5 minutes making a soft, somewhat tacky dough.

Dough before kneading.  I put a little too much flour on the counter which you can see on the top of my ball of dough.

Dough after kneading.

 3.  Place dough in a lightly greased bowl large enough to let it increase at least double in size.  Make sure that you get oil on both sides of the dough.  Let the dough rise in a warm draft-free place for 70 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

 4.  Lightly grease counter and roll dough out into a 12" x 17" rectangle.  sprinkle the dough with thyme and garlic powder.

5.  Starting with the short end, for me you can see it is the bottom of the dough, roll the dough into a log, sealing the ends and side seam.

I know the side seam could be neater.
6.  Using kitchen shears, trust me you will want to do this it is easier than cutting with a knife, cut the log into 8 or so slices.  Place slices onto lightly greased baking sheet and press each slice down so they will be about 3".  Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

This is one of two baking sheets and I think I got 10 and a little one.

7.  When there are about 15-20 minutes left to rise preheat oven to 375*.  Brush buns with egg/water mixture and sprinkle on desired toppings.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until buns are golden brown and soft when poked.

8.  Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack and then wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.  Enjoy!

These are sooooo yummy!  The little one I noted is missing because MJ and I split it!


Naked Pizza

I don't know about your family but my family had a tradition that on Friday we didn't cook but went out for pizza.  Since having to give up dairy I've had such a hard time finding a crust that didn't have dairy in it or wasn't produced on the same equipment or in the same factory as dairy products.  Not wanting to give up my love of pizza I decided that I was going to have to make it myself.

View from our balcony at Roxanne Towers in Myrtle Beach the first night of our 2012 trip and the night I found out dairy is now a no-no!

We were a 1/2 mile from the boardwalk.  MJ says when we go back next year she is going on the big steering wheel (the Ferris wheel in the distance).
Yes MJ is petting a snake.  This was at Alligator Adventure, her fav place in Myrtle Beach, between two trips she petted 2 snakes, a blue tongue skink, a baby crocodile and 2 baby alligators.  Great place she can't wait to back to next year!
I tried a recipe for a cornbread crust and vegetarian mozzarella and it was OK but nothing to write home about.  I remembered while on vacation, that's when I found out about the dairy issue, that we had gone to Ultimate California Pizza and I had a personal pizza with red sauce, Canadian bacon, sausage and fresh thyme on it.  It was delicious!!!  I decided to try and recreate that recipe at home and after a few try's I was came up with something pretty amazing!  You can top it with anything you want and this time I made it with sausage crumbles, ham, caramelized peppers and onions, basil and thyme.  I loved it!!  If you would like to make it vegan you can just change the toppings.

Trust me after making your own pizza just once you won't want anything else!


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting cooking sheet, rolling pin & counter)
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray
cornmeal, for dusting (optional)

My Toppings:
caramelized peppers & onions (see below for recipe)
sausage crumbles
6-7 slices of ham, cut up into pieces
dried thyme, to taste
dried basil, to taste

1.  Mix yeast and a small amount of warm water and set aside for 10 minutes.

2.  Mix flour, yeast mix, oil sugar, salt and water together until dough is formed.

Flour, yeast mix, oil, sugar, salt & water

Dough after mixing
3.  Lightly dust counter with flour and turn dough onto counter and knead dough for about 3 minutes.  You want it to be smooth yet a little tacky.

dough before kneading

dough after kneading

4.  Coat bowl with a little olive oil and then place the dough in it coating it on both sides (trust me you want to do this otherwise have fun getting the dough out of the bowl after it rises) and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Place bowl in a warm place out of a draft.  Let it rise for about an hour or until it has double in size.

5.  The last 15-20 minutes the dough is rising preheat oven to 375*.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour and cornmeal (optional, but I like the texture the cornmeal gives the bottom of the crust).  Place the dough onto the lined baking sheet and roll it out to fit the baking sheet.

6.  Add pizza sauce and toppings of your choice and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp is golden.  Cut and enjoy!

Before baking

Done and oh so yummy!

Caramelized Peppers and Onions


1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp grape seed oil or olive oil

1. In a skillet over medium heat place oil, onion and green pepper.  Do not constantly stir the onions and peppers!  I mix them every couple of minutes for about 10 minutes.  You will know when they are done when green peppers are soft and onions are translucent.

I love my cast iron cookware!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Grilled Southwest Potato Packets

There is nothing better during the summer than grilling!  I remember growing up whenever we grilled whether it was at my grandparents house or at home there was always a packet of potatoes on the grill. The way that my grandmother made it was by cutting up potatoes and wrapping them in foil along with about a stick of butter, salt and pepper.

MJ & Rambo Myrtle Beach 2011

My brother & MJ, Myrtle Beach 2011

MJ my goofball! There was a song playing that MJ liked so she decided to dance!  Myrtle Beach 2011
I came up with this recipe last year when MJ, Rambo (hubby's army nickname), my brother and I were on vacation in Myrtle Beach.  We had rented a villa on the beach and it was my turn to cook dinner, yes  hubby did cook and it was very good, I decided to cook up some potatoes to go with the round steaks I had planned.  So this recipe was first cooked in a frying pan on the stove top and we all thought it was pretty good.  When we got home I decided that I wanted to try it on the grill in place of the potatoes that we traditionally ate.  I think I originally took the butter out because we were out of it and I only had Country Crock.  It worked there were no crunchy (burned) pieces of potatoes stuck to the foil.  The potatoes came out softer and more flavorful! 

 I am happy to say that these have now become the potatoes that we grill and the others have now become a happy remembrance of the time we had with my grandparents.  Sorry there aren't any measurements for the spices but it's all a matter of taste.


5 lbs red potatoes, diced
4 tbsp Smart Balance Light Dairy Spread
Mrs Dash Southwest Chipotle
garlic powder
chipotle chili powder (unless you like it spicy go easy on the chipotle chili powder)

1.  Place half of the potatoes on foil and add seasonings and half of the Smart Balance.

2.  Wrap potatoes in foil and then wrap a second time.  Next repeat steps 1-2 for second packet.  Each packet should have two layers of foil.

3. Start grill and get wait to put potatoes on until grill is at 350*.  Turn packets every 10 minutes making sure to keep temperature stable at 350*.  When I've cooked them it takes about 40 minutes until they are completely cooked.  It's well worth the wait!

Friday, July 27, 2012

One Pot Chicken Oven Stew

This is a very easy meal that would be great to come home to especially on a nasty winter day. I tried to make this meal very colorful so I added whatever vegetables that I had on hand that I could fit into the pot. The greatest compliment I received tonight was when I was asked if I had enough left over to pack for lunches tomorrow. By cooking the chicken and veggies in a oven-proof dutch oven I was able to leave it in the oven after it was finished cooking and I was waiting for the noodles to finish cooking. I think next time I am going to serve this with rice with a nice warm biscuit or maybe a nice slice of fresh made cornbread.

2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut up
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
5 large potatoes, diced
1- 16 oz. bag frozen carrots
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 1/2 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 bags of egg noodles (or gluten-free noodle of choice)

1.  Preheat oven to 375*.

2.  In a large oven-proof dutch oven over medium heat add olive oil and mined garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Next add  the chicken and cook for about 10 minutes stirring constantly. I cooked the chicken until it was mostly cooked I didn't cook it all the way because I was afraid of over cooking the chicken.

3.  Next add the vegetable stock and the potatoes and the remaining ingredients and mix well.

4.  Cover and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes.  Turn off the oven and leave the stew in the oven with the lid on while you cook the egg noodles or rice according to package directions.  By doing this you are letting the meat rest as well as finishing the vegetables by steaming them.  I do this for both the stew recipes and it has turned out very very tender meat.

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Accidental Applesauce

When Mj was just starting to eat solid food I really got into this kick that I was going to make my own baby food and life was going to rock!!  And Mj would love anything and everything I would make because I am the greatest mom in the world!  I wonder how many other mom's felt the same way.  Making homemade baby food wasn't really that hard but unfortunately she didn't like everything that I made and than there were things that she just couldn't get enough of and I now pay the price of having to make it for the rest of my life.  Good thing I really love to cook!

Applesauce so yummy!!!!
One accidental recipe that I made was applesauce in the slow cooker when Mj was about 4 or 6 months old.  I remember that I found a really delicious and easy sounding recipe for apple confit on Eating Well's website.  It was so simple peel and core some apples, toss in a little sugar, some cinnamon and some vanilla extract and let cook for a couple of hours.  Well I did everything that the recipe says but I didn't know that my mom's crockpot had a mind of it's own.  I let it cook on high for 2 hours and when I took the lid off it didn't look like the picture on their website.  Like so many times in life I decided to improvise.  The apples were wedges but not.  When you tried to pick up one with a spoon it would fall apart so while trying to figure out what to do I spied in my canister that I keep the spatulas and spoons and such my potato masher.  
I took the potato masher and said screw it and mashed it all up let it cool and put it in the fridge.  Usually for breakfast I gave her some fruit mixed in with her rice cereal.  It was the only way I could get her to eat it.  Can't say I blame her rice or even oatmeal baby cereal doesn't look really that appetizing. So I decided that I would give her a taste before I mixed some in with her cereal.  No use wasting a bowl of cereal if she doesn't like the applesauce.  I gave her a taste and she couldn't get enough of it!  Mixed it in with her cereal and life really did rock that morning!  
Not wanting her to get too much sugar I decided to play around with the recipe a little.  The first change I made was substituting raw sugar for the white sugar in the original recipe.  I did that for about a month and than when I was really busy when I was making a batch of applesauce I put everything in the crockpot except the sugar.  By the time I figured it out the applesauce was already half done and decided that this time I would leave it out and hope that no one noticed.  When it was finished I nervously decided to take a taste and greatfully found that it tasted wonderful.  Now here is where I screwed up in reverse as my dad would say.  I gave her my "accidental applesauce" exclusively.  I even learned how to can it which was a skill I never in a million years thought I would ever learn.  One night when Mj was probably 18-months old or so and I had to work late Jeff took her to dinner at Applebee's. He ordered her the usual chicken fingers that she loves and knowing that she love's applesauce he was trying to be the really good daddy and ordered that as her side.  When dinner came she ate all of her chicken fingers and started eating his too.  When Jeff tried to give her some of the applesauce she took a taste and gave Jeff a dirty look while it started to dribble out of her mouth and down her chin.  So to make up for it dessert that night was a bowl of mommy's applesauce!

3 lbs of Gala apples, peeled and cored
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp real vanilla extract (optional)
1.  Mix all ingredients  together in a large mixing bowl.
2.  Place ingredients into a crockpot and cook on high for 2.5-3 hours or until apples are soft.
3.  If you like chunky applesauce you can use a potato masher to mash it.  If you like smooth applesauce put it into a blender or food processor until you reach the consistency you desire.
If you like applesauce that is sweet you can add 1/4 cup raw sugar.  I usually can the applesauce and I find that I can usually put up 4-6 pint jars.

Beef & Bean Chipotle Chili

One dish I love to make when it starts to get cold is a nice big pot of chili.  I like to put all of the fresh ingredients into the slow cooker and let it cook for  couple of hours.  Then we have it for dinner with a little Daiya dairy-free cheese shreds and some corn bread and I have leftovers for lunch the next day.  Life can't get any better than this.  Since my daughter started eating the chili we have had to tame it down so it isn't too hot for her to eat.  I hope you enjoy and please feel free to let me know any changes you made to it.  I am always open to trying new variations!

3 lb. lean beef stew meat (trimmed of fat). cut in 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic minced (to go in crockpot)
1 clove garlic minced (to get browned with meat)
1 large onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper
4 lbs tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
3 cans kidney beans, drained

1.  Place 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove into a large skillet and brown the garlic.

2.  Once the garlic is browned, about 1-2 minutes, add the stew meat and brown for about 2-3 minutes.

3.  Next add the green peppers and onions and cook until meat is no longer pink on the outside and onion is softened.  I cook it for about another 2-3 minutes.  The nice thing about the crockpot is that it will make everything nice and tender!

4.  Before placing meat mix into the crockpot drain it in a drainer to remove any fat that was produced from cooking it.  After you have done this place the meat mix into the crockpot and stir it.

5.  Next add the diced tomatoes and stir.

6.  Next add the drained kidney beans and stir.  If you are concerned about sodium and can't find low sodium canned kidney beans after draining them rinse them.

7.  Finally add the remaining minced garlic, chili powder and ground chipotle chili pepper and stir really well.

8.  Cook in crockpot on high for 3 hours or until meat is cooked.  Serve with some fresh made cornbread and some Daiya cheddar shreds and enjoy!

Chocolate Brownies

One of the recipes that I have been working on for a while has been chocolate brownies that are moist yet have that little crust that brownies are supposed to have.  Having to eat dairy-free I'm kind of scared to use brownie mix and have you looked at the side of a box of brownie mix and seen the long list of ingredients?  It's such a pain trying to decipher what half of the ingredients listed are and I think I'm coming to the conclusion that if I can't pronounce it should I really eat it?

Like I said I've been working on this recipe for about a month and it seems every time I would try it would end in disaster.  I used melted coconut oil and it really had a sweet coconut flavor to it, I used less sugar and it was spongy, just to name a few.  Last night I had a hankering for brownies and decided why not try it again?  So I enlisted the assistance of MJ my little chef/taste tester and the below recipe is what we came up with.  The greatest thing was when I pulled the brownies out of the oven and we were able to take a taste and MJ smiled and said "Mama theses good!!"

The Victory Dance!!!

These brownies are easy and very delicious.  Enjoy!!


1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup flaked coconut

1.  Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease a baking pan, couldn't find my round cake pan so I used a loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla.

3.  In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

4.  Gradually combine the flour mix into the egg mixture until well blended and then fold in the coconut.  Pour into the greased pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from edges of pan.

5.  Let cool on wire rack before cutting into squares.

How to Smoke Baby Back Ribs

Ribs after approx 2 1/2 hours smoking!!  Enjoy😃

I don't know about you but my favorite time of year is summer!  This is when I start doing a lot of grilling and now smoking.  One of the summer foods that I really love is smoked baby back ribs.  This is something that up until about a month ago if I wanted I had to go to my local barbecue carry-out to get.  Now I have a smoker and have started to smoke a lot of stuff.  Ribs were the first thing that I smoked and then came whole chickens which will be another post (watch out for Apple Wood Smoked Chicken Pot Pie).

When I was first presented with the smoker I was really really scared because it was something that I had never done before and it just seemed really scary!  I've now been using it for over a month, and with this being Memorial Day weekend it's going to be working over time.  You don't need anything fancy the smoker that we purchased was around $70 at Home Depot, and is electric which even though it is electric it must still be used outdoors, and then you need to purchase smoker wood chips or wood chunks.  I like to use fruit woods because they give off a nice sweet taste.  A couple accessories that we purchased, but aren't necessary but really really helpful, is a rib rack and a chicken roaster stand.  These keep the food off of the grill grate meaning easier clean-up!  Two other things that you will want to have that you probably already have in your kitchen are a meat thermometer (don't want to serve undercooked ribs) and an oven thermometer (my smoker didn't come with a temperature gauge and maintaining the correct temperature is very important).

The key to having your ribs turn out right is that you need to keep the smoker at a constant temperature of 325*.  The way that you are going to maintain the temperature is by keeping the smoker smoking, and that means that you will need to occasionally add more wood.  I have used both wood chip and wood chunks and they both work great the only difference besides the sizes is that with the wood chips you soak them in water for about 30 seconds and the wood chunks have to be soaked for 20 minutes.

Now let's get to the really really yummy recipe!

Barbecue Rub

1 1/4 cups Paprika
1 1/2 tbps packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
 1 tsp garlic powder

1. Mix all ingredients together.
Mix all ingredients and it's ready to use. I had to use my mortar and pestle because I ran out of ground cumin and had to crush some.  The original recipe came from Grill It app but I've Changed it
I only had cumin seeds so I made it in my mortar and pestle.

Baby Back Ribs
1 rack baby back ribs
Barbecue Rub (see above recipe)
Barbecue Sauce of Choice (We used Wegman's Brown Sugar barbecue sauce which is dairy-free and Gluten-free)
Apple Wood Smoker Chips or Chunks

1.  Do not skip this step, unless you like tough ribs!!!  Using a paring knife you will need to remove the membrane (or the ribs will be tough).  To do this take the paring knife and peel a piece of the clearish white membrane back and then carefully pull it off the entire rack.
Removing the membrane.
Removing Membrane

2.  Once the membrane is removed coat both sides of the ribs with the rub.  Then wrap in plastic wrap and let marinate in fridge for at least an hour.
Wrapped ribs that have been rubbed and marinated in fridge.
Ready to go in fridge!
3.  Before starting your smoker add water to the water pan (mine holds 2 liters) and add your smoker wood chips/chunks.  I also wrap my grills racks in foil for easier cleanup and helps to prevent flare ups.  Heat smoker to 325*.
Brinkman Gourmet Electric Smoker.  Fill water pan with 2 liters of water & for easier cleanup wrap bottom rack, the one that ribs will go on in, with foil.
Brickman Electric Smoker
Wet applewood chunks. You can also use applewood chips.
My applewood chunks

4.  Once the temperature of the smoker is up to 325* you can add the ribs.  Cook ribs until the meats internal temperature reads 170*.  Next you will brush the ribs with barbecue sauce and cook until internal temperature is 180*.  When done let rest on the counter for a minimum of 10 minutes before cutting.  If you skip this step when you cut into the ribs the wonderful juices will gush out onto your counter.

Adding the wood chips
Time to add more wood chunks/chips!
Ribs after half an hour in the smoker. Don't forget to keep an eye on temp which should be between 325 & 350. Add wet woodchunks as necessary to keep the smoke going.  Rub has turned into a crust.
Ribs after an hour.  The rub has turned into an amazing crust!
These are two racks of ribs that we cut in half to fit the rack.
Ribs after approx 2 1/2 hours smoking!!  Enjoy😃
Dinner Time!!!!
These ribs took around 3 - 3 1/2 hours to cook