Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Calzones... Without Cheese, With Garlic Aioli

I recently had a craving for pizza. A huge craving. Of course I can't have any, nor can Charlie. So I decided to make some simple calzones for dinner. I also didn't have any Daiya shreds around. So we did cheese-less calzones. :) When I told my husband what we were having, he wasn't impressed. But let's just say dinner was quiet because everyone was too busy eating :)

The calzones were very simple - I'm a big fan of simplicity. 

Easy Dairy-Free Calzones and Garlic Aioli (makes 5 calzones and about 1 cup of aioli)

Calzone Ingredients:
*5 Pocket-less whole wheat pitas
*200 ml Pizza sauce (make sure you check that it's dairy-free - many have parmesan or romano in them)
*Toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, bacon and others

Aioli Ingredients:
*3 to 4 cloves of garlic
*3/4 cups mayonnaise
*1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
*2 teaspoons olive oil


Spread pizza sauce on the pitas. Top with your favorite toppings. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, fold the calzone in half and wrap it up. It's BBQ season around here so I made my calzones on the grill, but you can use the oven, too. Preheat your grill or oven to 375 C to 400 C and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from grill/oven and let sit for two minutes before eating.

Mince or crush the garlic and mix into the mayonnaise. Add italian seasoning and mix well. Blend olive oil into aioli until well blended. Let flavors blend for a few hours before eating.

All I can say is yum yum yum. Dipped into the aioli, I didn't even miss the cheese! Try it, I promise you'll enjoy it too!

Enjoy your dairy-free life!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Our Trip to the Sugar Bush

This past week-end, we did what most Eastern Ontario families do in March - we visited the sugar bush. We went to Wheeler's - it's a bit further from Ottawa but that also means it's a lot less busy. With sugar bushes also comes pancake breakfasts - pancakes with milk. So in the morning I cooked up some dairy-free pancakes for Charlie to take with us. I use the Aunt Jemima mix to which you have to add milk and eggs. It doesn't have any dairy products in it which means Charlie can eat it. I mixed it with coconut milk and the pancakes came out nice and fluffy. Charlie sure thought they were good - he ate one and a half of them, and that was before the sugar bush. He also enjoyed his special pancakes at the sugar bush. And his sister enjoyed her pancakes full of dairy.

Here's something most dairy-free mamas wouldn't think of though... does maple taffy have milk in it?  You'd think no... obviously. Actually - not quite! When we were at another sugar bush in the fall, they told us they put butter around the rim of the container from which they pour the taffy. So we asked. And guess what? They put butter in the maple syrup to keep it from boiling over when they're boiling it down for the taffy!!! Can you believe it? Sadly, I can honestly say I wasn't really shocked because I've learned in the last year that dairy is in the oddest foods.
I resigned myself to the fact that Charlie won't be able to have any taffy this year and that Anna will have to eat it away from him. But the fine folks, the owner actually, at Wheeler's made him a special batch with no butter!!! He washed the pot to make sure there was no residual butter and made 10 taffys. We ended up buying all of them because we were so excited and happy that on a busy day the owner would do that for us. Sometimes people amaze me - in a good way! As you can see, Charlie really enjoyed his dairy-free taffy, as did Anna!

So thank you to the fine folks at Wheeler's for making our outing to their sugar bush so wonderful. Here's a photo of the three of us :) Enjoy your dairy-free life!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

I totally cheated and feel pretty guilty!

Cheated with my dairy-free status, that is. I went to Costco with Charlie today and I saw my favorites - La Trappe Cheese Curds. I've been good and have never once bought them in the last year. But for some reason today, I broke. And I bought them, mainly for Anna, of course ;)  Yeah - that lasted a whole 5 minutes once we got in the house.

The way I gorged, you would have thought I hadn't eaten cheese curds for a year.  Oh wait...  Don't worry, on top of the guilt I felt, I paid for it.  My body is just soooo not used to dairy anymore. And I'll pay for it again tomorrow when I'll have to change one of Charlie's absolutely disgusting diapers. Which I recognize is totally my fault.

Anyhow, all this to say, I broke and I cheated. But I won't be doing it again anytime soon, I felt so sick afterwards. I'm not looking for sympathy, just stating a reality.

I did however put the Daiya mozzarella-style shreds on my pasta tonight and they reminded me that dairy-free can be yummy and satisfying!  They melt so creamy and really taste like mozza on pasta!  Now I just have to remember that when I see those curds and Costco again... 

I'll be back with a new recipe soon.  For now though, enjoy your dairy-free life :)


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Epic Fail! Dairy-free Mac and Cheese...

After my successful dairy-free lasagna, I thought I'd use the Daiya Shreds to make dairy-free macaroni and cheese. The Daiya website mentioned that they could be melted in a milk substitute to make a cheese sauce. So I tried it. The Daiya cheddar-style shreds did not taste as good as the mozzarella ones. But I figured they would taste alright when cooked.

First I tried coconut milk.  I made the mistake of using sweetened coconut milk and that just didn't smell very good... It didn't taste very good, either. I chalked it up to the coconut milk.

Second I tried unsweetened almond milk. I melted some more of the cheddar-style shreds in it. It still smelled awful - sickly sweet and made me nauseous. And it tasted even worse. So I gave up and poured it out. I then made a pasta bake with the mozzarella-style shreds instead :p

So it was a total and utter epic fail. Luckily the pasta bake with the mozzarella shreds was great and I haven't given up on the cheddar shreds quite yet. I will likely try to melt it in fajitas or tacos and see if it goes a bit better.

Next up - chocolate chip muffins. And they were YUMMY! Enjoy your dairy-free life :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Dairy-Free Lasagna

One food I've missed the most while being dairy-free is lasagna. It's my favorite food. I had it once just before Christmas and my body was not happy... it wasn't used to all the milk and let's just say what ensued was not pretty ;) Charlie loves his pasta and I thought he'd love lasagna. I'd heard about Daiya cheese-style shreds a few months ago but I only recently had the courage to try them. I've tried other dairy-free 'cheeses' and they've all been pretty awful. I finally got desperate and bought the shreds. The company claimed that the shreds melt and stretch. They're made of tapioca and/or arrowroot flour, oils and a few other all-vegan ingredients. Best of all - NO SOY! An 8 ounce package cost me $5.99, which isn't too bad, I think.

I made a pretty simple lasagna, with the mozzarella style shreds on the top layer only, just in case they weren't good ;)  But you know what? They WERE good! Charlie loved the lasagna, my husband admitted it was pretty darn good and I thought it tasted pretty close to the real thing. My daughter didn't care for it, but that didn't surprise anyone... The 'cheese' did melt and stretch.  The only difference I noticed was it wasn't 'rubbery' like mozzarella - it was more creamy.  I would definitely put it in the middle layers next time. Even though it isn't recommended to be eaten without cooking, I tried it and it wasn't bad.

There's no real recipe here - but I'll tell you what I did anyhow :)

Dairy-Free Lasagna (makes a 9x13 tray)

Looks like a real lasagna, doesn't it?
1/2 package of lasagna noodles
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion
500 to 750 ml pasta sauce
10 mushrooms (and any other veggies you like, like peppers, spinach, etc.)

1/2 to 3/4 package of Daiya mozzarella style shreds
Splash of olive oil
Salt, pepper and other seasoning to taste


Cook lasagna according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Heat olive oil and cook onion until soft. Brown ground beef and add pasta sauce when cooked. Season to taste. Place a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Add another layer of pasta sauce, top with mushrooms, noodles and another layer of noodles. Add one last layer of pasta sauce and sprinkle with the Daiya mozzarella style shreds. Bake covered for 35 minutes.  Uncover, bake for another 10 minutes. Let sit for another 10 minutes before serving.

I'm now dreaming up all the other dairy-free cheese dishes I'll make.  I may try mac 'n cheese tomorrow!  But for now, enjoy your dairy-free life with this yummy dish :)


Friday, March 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

One thing my 'poor' little Charlie has been deprived of during his short little life is cookies. Well, he sometimes gets cookies, but they aren't the really good, chewy, gooey, chocolatey, yummy cookies. Let's be honest, it's hard to make a good cookie without butter. And most chocolate chips have milk.  After discovering the milk-free PC Decadent Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, I knew I'd finally be able to make chocolate chip cookies for the little guy.

The next obstacle, of course, is butter. I am not too keen on shortening, it's just not the same. And most margarine is just too thin to bake properly. I'd used the Earth Balance Buttery Flavor Spread for Charlie's birthday cake icing last year and I liked it.  It's much thicker than margarine, much more like butter. So I thought I'd try it for these cookies. It was perfect! The cookies turned out so well!  Moist, chewy, just right :)  Everyone in my little family loved them - except Charlie, lol! He wasn't sure about this new treat he was suddenly allowed to have! It's really the first time he'd had chocolate (except for the few times he managed to grab something when I wasn't looking). And he hasn't really had a real cookie. I'm sure he'll be converted soon enough though ;) What kid doesn't love chocolate chip cookies?  So for the recipe... you'll notice there's no salt (which I typically omit anyways) because the butter substitutes usually have salt in them.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (makes about 2-1/2 dozen)

1 cup butter substitute, such as Earth Balance Buttery Flavor Spread
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used 2, but only because I LOVE vanilla)
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips, such as PC Decadent Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda or baking powder
1/3 cup boiling water
2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat together butter substitute, brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla until blended well, and as fluffy as you can get a butter substitute. Blend in flour. Dissolve baking soda/powder in the boiling water and blend into the mixture. Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the chocolate chips.

Form dough into approximately 1-1/2" balls and place on cookie sheet 2" apart.  Flatten balls. Bake 10-12 minutes, until golden on top. Take out of oven, let sit for 1-2 minutes and move to cooling rack. Store in airtight container.

Finally - enjoy your yummy, dairy-free chocolate chip cookie and helps you enjoy your dairy-free life a bit more :)


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inaugural Post...

It seems fitting.  I've been wanting to start this blog for about 5 months now, but just didn't have the energy.  Or I didn't really know *where* to start.  Now I'm starting it, finally, almost a year to the day when we realized that our little guy is more than likely allergic to dairy.  He was just over 10 months old and took a sip from a sippy cup with milk.  I thought "No biggie... he's almost 1."  But then his face swelled.  And swelled some more.  Then his eye pretty well swelled shut (as I was frantically searching for the Benadryl).  When I finally found and administered it, the Benadryl kicked in and the swelling slowly went down.  But a lot of things suddenly made sense.  The weight loss.  The rashes after eating yogurt and cheese.  The reaction to what we thought was brown rice infant cereal, but was actually to the whey in the cereal.

An allergy test confirmed what we already knew.  Charlie has a severe, anaphylactic allergy to dairy.  This means milk, casein and whey.  Right there my whole life changed and my whole family's life changed.  I was still breastfeeding full time, which meant my diet had to become dairy-free, too.  And because I refused to cook two meals for my family, our while diet changed.

Having a child with a severe, anaphylactic dairy allergy can be stressful.  A peanut or tree nut allergy would be a million times easier - the world is 'designed' for those allergies.  But dairy is everywhere.  The sippy of formula left on the floor, the kids' play-place where they ban nuts, but allow Goldfish crackers.  The child with a cheesestring at the mall wanting to share.  It's all my worst nightmare...

With this blog, I want to bring you some of the recipes I've come across, some of the recipes I've modified (dairy-free has forced me to be pretty creative!), and some of the dairy-free products I've come across.  My goal is to not spend too much at specialty food stores.  I've found that more often than not, I can't find much at these stores anyhow because they're all about gluten-free, but not dairy free.

I'll finish today's inaugural post with a product I recently found thanks to a good friend - milk-free chocolate chips!  Chocolate is something Charlie has never had because most times, even the semi-sweet chocolate which should be dairy-free, is not. But...  the President's Choice Semi-Sweet Decadent Chocolate Chips ARE dairy-free!!!

I did make some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  I modified a butter-filled recipe.  That'll be next time's post.  But for now, maybe some dairy-free people missing chocolate can enjoy some :)

Enjoy your dairy-free life :)