Friday, January 6, 2017

Sunbutter Balls (gluten free, dairy free, peanut free, nut free)

When two of our friends got married last year, they had an amazing dessert bar filled with all sorts of yummy candies and cookies. My favorite were some chocolate covered peanut butter balls. I finally got around to making a version Tommy can make. We gave these out as teacher, bus driver and aide gifts for Christmas. My pictures really don't do these justice. They are delicious and look beautiful in a cute Christmas tin.

They take some time but aren't difficult. I've found most organic powdered sugar uses tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. I started with a recipe from Two Twenty One for Peanut Butter Balls and made modifications to make it safe for Tommy. When I was last minute grocery shopping I couldn't find the normal vegan butter we use, so I used part light vegan buttery spread and part shortening. If you can use dairy, you can substitute 3/4 cup softened butter for the Smart Balance and shortening. 

I love how cold it here this time of year. Instead of having to find space in my fridge, I was able to set these outside instead. These are best kept cold so they don't melt. 

Sunbutter Balls

16 oz jar Natural Sunbutter
1 lb powdered sugar
3 cups Rice Chex
1/2 cup Smart Balance Light with Flaxseed Oil
1/4 cup palm shortening
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

1. In a sealed plastic bag, crush the Rice Chex and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, combine the Sunbutter, powdered sugar, Mix until smooth. Add the Rice Chex and mix until it well blended.
3. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Carefully form balls of the dough roughly 1 inch in diameter or smaller and place on the baking sheets. The batter may be crumbly, but you should be able to push them into balls.
5. Refrigerate or freeze the balls for at least an hour.
6. After the balls have hardened, add 6 oz of each type of chocolate chip in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave for approximately 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, just until the chocolate melts.
7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer a couple balls to the melted chocolate. Stir until coated, then place the balls back on the baking sheet. 
8. When you run out of melted chocolate, repeat steps 6 and 7 with the remaining chocolate and balls. 
9. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Steak and Veggie Stir Fry

I haven't been that great about updating the blog, but I'm still cooking a ton. Last night I made one of our favorite dinners. Since it used leftover steak and roasted zucchini, dinner came together really fast. Great for a weeknight meal.

I think I like having leftover steak more than eating fresh grilled steak. Whenever we grill steaks we usually cook up a couple extras to use for breakfast burritos, stir fry or sandwiches. This is our favorite steak stir fry recipe. After we take some out for Tommy we like to add some pickled baby corn. You can use whatever leftover veggies you have or cook something fresh for the dish. Zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, green onions, broccoli, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and baby corn are some of our favorites.

Be sure to check the ingredients on the hoisin sauce to make sure it's gluten free.

Steak and Veggie Stir Fry

1 lb leftover steak, cut into bite sized pieces
4 cups mixed veggies

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tsp gluten free soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients.
2. In a dutch oven sized pan, reheat the steak and veggies over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the sauce. Stir until well combined. Heat until sauce is warm.
4. Serve over steamed white rice.

Tip: To save money I usually buy the plain canned baby corn and pickle it myself. It costs quite a bit less than the jarred pickled kind. Just microwave 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt for 2 minutes. Add the drained baby corn. Cover and let sit for a couple hours. Once the mixture has cooled, you can store them in the fridge.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Whole30 Beef Stew

Well, this time my Whole30 journey ended after one day. I've been having some digestive issues and it's apparent now that Whole30 and my stomach just don't get along anymore. But I'm still going to try to incorporate the spirit of the program into our lifestyle. Forgive the picture quality. It's tough to capture how truly delicious this stew was with a camera.

I've made beef stew many times, but this recipe was particularly delicious. If you're doing Whole30, be sure to use balsamic vinegar instead of the Worcestershire sauce.

Whole30 Beef Stew

1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1.5 lb beef stew meat
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (6 medium)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or balsamic vinegar for Whole30)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp black pepper
4 cups chicken broth

1. Add the ingredients to a 6 qt crock pot in the order listed.
2. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Whole30 Sweet Potato Quiche

Whole30 Day 1

Some of my family and I are starting a round of the The Whole30 Program today. If you haven't heard about it before, it's a program based on whole foods and is designed to refocus your relationship with food and kick the sugar and snack cravings. I did the program about two years ago, and I'm not going to lie, it was challenging. But by the end I felt great and had lost several pounds. You cannot eat certain things like dairy, grains, sugar and alcohol, but there's no calorie counting and plenty of protein, veggies and good fats. 

A while back I had a quiche at a friend's house that used sliced potatoes as a crust. It was delicious. So I decided to try making it myself this morning. This quiche tastes great and looks beautiful. We didn't have any leftovers, so next time I'll make two. 

For the crust I followed the instructions on Cooking Light Sweet Potato Crust is a Must with just a couple modifications. I don't have a deep dish pie pan, so I only used one sweet potato. And instead of nonstick spray I tossed the slices in oil, salt and pepper. I don't have a mandolin, so I sliced the sweet potato by hand. 

After making the quiche you will have leftover sausage. That'll make tomorrow's breakfast even easier. You can adjust this recipe to use anything you have on hand. For example, it'd be delicious with regular potatoes, bacon and Brussels sprouts.

Whole30 Sweet Potato Quiche

For the Crust
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the Filling
1/2 small onion, diced
4 eggs
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup Whole30 Breakfast Sausage Crumbles (recipe below)
1/2 cup arugula

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potato slices, oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Overlap the sweet potato slices along the bottom of the pie crust. Take some of the slices, cut in half and arrange around the edges. 
3. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375°F. 
4. Cook the sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon to preserve the sausage grease. 
5. Saute the onion in the grease. Remove from the heat and set aside.
6. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and coconut milk. Stir in 1/2 cup arugula, 1/2 cup of the sausage, and the onions. Carefully pour into the pie pan. 
7. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes or until the eggs are set. 

Whole30 Breakfast Sausage Crumbles

1 lb ground pork
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fenugreek, ground
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Grind the fenugreek in a coffee grinder. 
2. Mix all ingredients together.
3. Cook on medium heat until browned. 
4. Remove cooked sausage from pan and reserve the sausage grease.
Note: If sugar isn't an issue for you, feel free to substitute 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup for the fenugreek.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Empty Fridge Zesty Tomato Soup (Dairy and Gluten Free)

Some days I just don't feel like grocery shopping. Staring at an almost empty fridge, I'm determined to make it one more day. This zesty tomato soup is great for days like today. It's warm, full of flavor and super easy. 

If you don't have a super powerful blender, you can puree the tomatoes and cook the soup on the stove top. It will take a little longer and probably won't get as thick since the Vitamix whips in quite a bit of air. 

Zesty Tomato Soup

Serves 2-3

2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Balsamic vinegar reduction

1. Combine all ingredients except the vinegar in a Vitamix blender and secure lid. 
2. Start blender at Variable 1 and increase to Variable 10. 
3. Blend for 6 minutes. Turn down to 1 before turning off the machine. Be careful of the hot steam when you remove the lid. 
4. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Quick and Easy Magic Bars (GF and Vegan)

I've taken quite a break from blogging, but now I'm back. I have a ton of new recipes that I need to transfer from the backs of envelopes to a more permanent form. So to start, here's an updated version of my Gluten and Nut Free Magic Bars

I was shopping at the local health store yesterday and saw a can of sweetened condensed coconut milk. Oh man, it tastes amazing! I'm going to have to go back and pick up a few more cans to have on hand. The use of the sweetened condensed coconut milk really makes my magic bars easy. It's one whole less pan to wash too. 

You do need to make them a bit in advance so they have time to fully cool before you cut them, but the active prep time is super quick. By the time my oven was preheated, these bars were ready to go. 

If you don't have quick oats, you can run rolled oats through a blender or food processor to break them down a bit. 

Quick and Easy Magic Bars

2 cups gluten free quick oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth's Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
2 Tbsp SunButter or soynut butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
11.25 oz can Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
10 oz bag Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13" baking dish with parchment paper.
2. In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the Earth's Balance, SunButter and sugar until the butter is melted. (Microwave in 20 sec increments, stirring each time).
3. Stir in the oats, cinnamon, and salt.
4. Press the oat mixture into the baking dish using the back of a cup measure. 
5. Spread the chocolate chips into a layer on top of the oat mixture. Repeat with the shredded coconut. 
6. Carefully pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk over the top. Spread gently with a spatula. 7. Bake for 25 minutes.
8. Cool and then refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Then cut into squares.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Ben and I bought ourselves a Vitamix Blender for our birthdays. It's awesome. We used to occasionally make smoothies in our old blender, but I had to puree any greens with liquid first before adding the rest of the ingredients. They took way longer to make and never tasted as good as the ones we can make now. Here are some smoothie recipes we've made so far. 

The Silk strawberry soy yogurt is Tommy safe, but he won't eat it plain. But put it in a smoothie and he'll eat just about anything!

For all of the smoothies, layer ingredients in the blender in the order listed. Start blender on low, turn to high and process just until blended. 

Strawberry Banana Soynut Butter Smoothie
Makes 3 servings

1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 medium banana
1/4 cup creamy soynut butter
2.5 cups frozen strawberries
1.5 cups ice

Berry Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
Makes 2 servings

1 cup coconut milk
5.3 oz container soy strawberry yogurt
1/4 cup quick oats
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Blueberry Banana Spinach Smoothie
Makes 2 Servings

1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup frozen spinach
1 ripe banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
Note: This smoothie turns sort of a weird gray/green color, but it tastes delicious

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothie
Makes 1 Serving

5.3 oz container strawberry soy yogurt
4-5 frozen strawberries
1/2 banana

Very Berry Smoothie
Makes 3-4 Servings

1 cup fruit juice
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 bananas
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 cups frozen blueberries or mixed berries
1/2 cup frozen cherries
1 cup ice cubes