Funk

We are eight days away from Christmas and I am one bag of Dum Dums suckers away from being DONE with my Christmas shopping.  Literally, I have to purchase a bag of suckers to fill the remaining space in my child’s stocking and then I can finally relax.

Well…relax is a relative term.

In my last post I was gushing about ice cube tray truffles and how easy and delicious they are.  I decided I would make a platter of them to take to my office Christmas luncheon, and while I was at the craft store for some other things I found this silicone gingerbread man treat mold.

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I will admit now that I know NOTHING about using silicone molds.  I read the label on this particular one and it mentioned something about being freezable, so I thought, THIS WOULD MAKE THE CUTEST LITTLE TRUFFLES!

Unfortunately I’ll never know whether or not this mold produces the cutest little truffles.  The last batch I made didn’t set–at all–and I still don’t know which wrong turn I took that ruined them.  The first two batches I made using the ice cube trays turned out fabulous.  Here’s what I did differently with this latest batch:

  • I used the silicone treat mold rather than the ice cube tray
  • I used caramel sundae topping as filling instead of cookie butter
  • I used milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate
  • I thinned out the melted chocolate using rice milk instead of full-fat coconut milk

It could be any one of those things, or all of those things, and maybe someone can tell me but I should know better than to pretend to know what I’m doing when it comes to cooking.

In other kitchen-related news, I’ve been in a bit of a cooking funk lately.  Without being able to use dairy or eggs, paired with the world’s pickiest husband and a toddler who hates something today that she loved yesterday, it feels sometimes like we eat the same thing over and over.  I finally told my husband that once a week I’m going to cook something I know he won’t like, to try and mix it up a bit for me and Emily, and he can eat cereal on that night if he so chooses.  I’ve also been brainstorming my own recipes to try and break out of the funk.

On top of it all, I’m trying to eat a little healthier these days.  It was the wrong time of year to commit to such a crazy idea, but I am FIFTEEN pounds heavier now than I was before I got pregnant.  Some nights I consider serving bowls of frozen peas for dinner.  And yes, my daughter would eat that.

The chocolate is strong with this one

My toddler is a true chocoholic, much like her mama.  On the one hand it’s great because who doesn’t like having a chocolate buddy, but on the other hand it poses a challenge because most things chocolate also contain dairy.

For dessert on Thanksgiving I tried out a 3-Ingredient Dairy Free Fudge from the Pretty Bee.  It didn’t set as well as I’d hoped but popping it in the freezer helped in a pinch.  Emily LOVED it.  The best part was that it took five minutes to prepare.

Last weekend I took it a step further and made ice cube tray truffles.  If you’ve never seen these, they’re little truffle-like candies you make using ice cube trays.  I studied a few different tutorials and combined the steps/methods from several of them, but in a nutshell here’s what I did.  I melted dairy-free chocolate over the stovetop and filled each “cube” of an ice cube tray about 1/3 of the way with the melted chocolate.  Then I dropped a small dollop (about 1-1.5 tsp) of cookie butter into each cube, and then I filled them the rest of the way with more chocolate.  I put them in the freezer for several hours and took them out to thaw about ten minutes before serving.

THEY.  WERE.  AMAZING.

Keep in mind it was pretty dark chocolate, being dairy-free and all, but Emily took one bite and immediately demanded more.  She ate two full ice-cube sized truffles and sobbed furiously when I cut her off because her bedtime was right around the corner.

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The truffles, like the fudge, were a five-minute project.  I’m going to make more this week to give out as Christmas gifts and I plan to fill them with a variety of things, like caramel sauce and almond butter.

Clearly I’ve spent a lot of time cooking with chocolate lately.  I’ve considered making some vegan sugar cookies to decorate for Christmas but I tend to ruin them even when they’re not vegan so I’m still on the fence.

As if cooking from scratch daily and working full time and being a rockstar allergy mom all wasn’t enough, I recently opened an Etsy shop and also launched the Idaho Food Fighters Facebook page.  My husband just got sucked back into the Candy Crush realm and I refuse to go down with him, so I’m trying to be more productive instead.  *Laughs maniacally as I drink another pot of coffee*

And is anyone else floored by the fact there are only 15 days left until Christmas?  My shopping is DONE (it’s a Christmas miracle!) but I still have to wrap everything….or rather, I still have to double-wrap everything because the toddler is anything but gentle with the gifts currently under the tree.

Hope you all have a great week ahead of you!  If you have any good vegan sugar cookie recipes, send them my way.  I promise I’ll try not to ruin them.

Catching Up

WHERE HAVE I BEEN?

Between a nasty sinus infection, a cat who decided to develop asthma, and a huge project at work, finding time to blog was next to impossible.  But here I am.  I made it.  Let’s catch up!

Muffins (Baked Milk Challenge): The muffin game is still going strong over here.  Emily won’t touch a bowl of oatmeal, but she LOVES oatmeal muffins.  My last three batches have all been variations of oatmeal muffins.  Emily BEGS for her “muffies” and it’s hard because she’s only allowed one every couple of days.  We’ll have to do this until January and then we’ll retest her IgE levels.  In the meantime, she likes to “help” me bake.

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Cooking: YOU GUYS, I’ve finally started cooking pork chops!  First I followed this recipe for Glazed Pork Chops, and last night I used Shake & Bake (shhhhh…).  My hubs is grateful to be eating something that’s not chicken, and Emily appears to be a big fan of pork.  YAS.

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Other shenanigans: I’m plotting a ginormous organizing spree at home.  (Side note: Since when is “ginormous” considered an actual, proper word? I think I missed a memo.)  I have a list of small projects that will hopefully make life in a small house more tolerable.  I started a Pinterest board for home organization and I’ve got items in my Target and Amazon carts stacking up.  It’ll be a ridiculous amount of work but worth it in the long run!  I’ll be taking before and after photos and I’ll be sure to share my favorite organizational hacks.

Lastly:  Let’s talk cheese.  Or, “cheese.”  I have a handful of vegan “cheese” recipes to try for Emily, but since my last two cashew-based cheese attempts were flops, I’m emotionally scarred and I’m afraid of trying again.  We recently tried Heidi Ho, a plant-based “cheese” I found at Whole Foods, and both Emily and I enjoyed it but it’s so…damn…expensive and it doesn’t have a long shelf life.  I’m not ready to admit defeat yet, so I’m gearing up to try a new vegan cheese recipe.  If you have one that you think is foolproof (remember who you’re dealing with here), please share!

So there’s a few weeks worth of stuff crammed into a 400-word post.  Now that my cat and I are both breathing again, I’m hoping to be back here this weekend.

Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Chicken Pot Pie

It’s FINALLY FALL, Y’ALL.

Okay, technically I’m writing this post on the last day of summer.  But it’s been cold, rainy, and windy, and I’ve been wearing scarves and sweaters.  As far as I’m concerned, fall has begun, and that means it’s time for comfort food cooking.

Comfort food around this house isn’t as easy as it used to be.  Most of our favorite comfort foods involve cheese, heavy cream, butter, and eggs, which are all off-limits when cooking for my family.  My daughter, Emily, has multiple food allergies.  She can’t eat dairy, eggs, peanuts, or pumpkin.  Peanuts and pumpkin are easy enough to avoid in our own house (in fact, peanuts in any form do not even enter this house), but milk and eggs can be tricky.

I’ve been in the mood for chicken pot pie.  Can you imagine cooking chicken pot pie without milk and/or eggs?  Well, I went for it.  I made up a recipe on the fly using our go-to substitute ingredients, and as with many things I cook these days, I kept my expectations low.  Here’s what I did:

1. I made a basic white sauce using dairy-free margarine, flour, and unsweetened rice milk.  When it started to thicken, I tossed in a chicken bouillon cube and sprinkled in some pepper.

2. Once the sauce had thickened to my liking, I added a couple of cups of shredded chicken and half a bag of frozen mixed veggies and kept on the heat until the sauce was warm.

3. I spread out a Pillsbury pre-made pie crust into a glass pie dish.  Strangely enough, these pie crusts don’t contain dairy OR eggs.

4. I dumped the sauce/chicken/veggie mixture into the pie dish and covered with another crust.

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5. I baked for 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.

The verdict?  My daughter cleaned her plate, if you don’t count the green beans she thinks are evil.  I had to go back for seconds.  My HUSBAND, who never goes back for seconds, especially not when I load up his dinner full of vegetables, went back for seconds.  The best damn pot pie I’ve ever made, and without any dairy or eggs.

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Say something about my dirty stovetop–I dare you.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get too cocky.  This is a rare victory for me.  *Has traumatizing flashback to the last time I tried to make vegan Alfredo sauce*  It is nice to have a good ol’ comfort food recipe to file away for later use, though.

Earlier this week I also baked a loaf of Dutch Apple Bread.  This one I actually made as a part of Emily’s six-month at home baked milk challenge.  Two months ago, her IgE numbers for casein (milk protein) dipped low enough that her allergist thought she could possibly tolerate baked milk.  When milk is baked, some of the milk proteins bake out. We started out with a baked milk challenge done at the allergist’s office so she could be monitored in case she went into anaphylaxis.  Unfortunately, she failed the challenge; she reacted to the milk, but it was a mild enough reaction that her allergist asked us to give her half of a muffin or slice of bread three times a week to help her body build up a tolerance for the protein.  The muffins and bread must contain a specific amount of milk so she’s getting enough, but not too much, exposure to those proteins.

LONG STORY SHORT…I baked bread.

I started out with this recipe, but I made several modifications.  First, I didn’t make the glaze.  Considering I have to make these things for Emily weekly, I figured she didn’t need all that extra sugar.  I did opt for a light sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on top.

Second, I omitted the walnuts.  Emily is only a year and a half old, so I’m still cautious about choking hazards.

Third, I added half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients.  Just ’cause.

Lastly, I substituted ground flax for the eggs.

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That brown goop?  That’s “egg.”

THIS BREAD IS SO DAMN DELICIOUS.

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All in all, I feel pretty good about this week’s creations.

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Never a Dull Moment

How do you even begin to catch up after 1.5 years away from a blog?

I’ll start out with an explanation of why I’m dusting off the ol’ cooking blog after 1.5 years away.

I started this blog almost six years ago when I couldn’t even chop an onion, and over the course of a few years I became a fairly good cook and I was afraid of getting boring.  The whole basis for this blog was that it was my way of documenting my journey as I learned to cook.  I had accomplished that and to be honest, I kind of lost my way when it came to writing things here.

Fast forward a few more years.  I have a daughter now–a TODDLER, say whaaaaaaa?–and it’s like I’m learning to cook ALL…OVER…AGAIN.  Here’s why:

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On the left is flaked nutritional yeast, and on the right is ground flax seed.  This is a picture of what “cheese” and “egg” look like in my house nowadays.

My daughter has severe dairy, egg, and peanut allergies.  I don’t know how many of you non-vegans out there have ever tried cooking with no eggs or dairy, but this is about how I feel at the stove quite often:

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Cooking without dairy and eggs is one of the most challenging trials I’ve experienced. Since my daughter, Emily, recently failed her baked milk challenge and we know now we are in this for the long haul, I’ve realized I have an opportunity.  I could either pull my hair out, or I can set out to accomplish the same thing I did all those years ago when I first posted on this blog.  I can learn to cook.  I can use this blog to share my adventures as I make cheese out of cashews, eggs out of ground flax seed, and ice cream out of bananas.  If you’ve been on this journey with me before, I hope you buckle in and enjoy the ride in this new scenery.  After all, you know there’s always a good laugh involved when I try new things.

xoxo
Hope