Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Fudge

Hello friends! It's been a long time since I last posted. Please forgive me; life has been crazy! The hustle and bustle of the holidays, sick kiddos, an uncooperative Caroline in the food department (she would much rather nurse instead of eat solids), potty-training JD and to top it all off, the passing of my grandpa have all pushed blogging to the bottom of my to-do list. However, I really wanted to get a few recipes up before Christmas, so here you go!

This fudge is phenomenal! I've been thinking about experimenting with my usual fudge recipe and substituting coconut milk for the evaporated milk, but before doing that, I decided to see if anyone out on the web had done that already. And, of course, they had! So I used this recipe from Go Dairy Free. If you don't care for peppermint, there are several variations of the basic recipe available on their website, including coconut, pecan-pumpkin spice and ginger. Happy fudge making!

Holiday Fudge
Source: Go Dairy Free

1 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips
3-1/2 cups confectioner’s powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine or shortening
1/2 cup regular coconut milk -- Do not use light versions!
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. peppermint extract
9 candy canes, crushed

Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the chocolate chips, sugar and cocoa. Separately, place the margarine or shortening and coconut milk in a small saucepan, and stir together over medium heat. Cook the mixture until the margarine has melted, and bubbles just begin to break at the surface. Remove it from the stove, and immediately pour over the chocolate mixture. Let everything sit for a couple of minutes, and then stir vigorously to melt the chocolate and incorporate the dry ingredients. Continue stirring until a completely smooth mixture forms.

Mix in the vanilla and peppermint. Once those are incorporated, stir in half of the crushed candy canes, and quickly pour everything into your prepared pan. Smooth out the top and sprinkle the remaining candy canes evenly over the entire exposed surface. Press the candy bits gently into the fudge with the palm of your hand. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tip: If the chocolate chips do not melt completely when you mix in the coconut milk mixture, you can microwave it on low power for a few seconds, stirring often, until you reach the right consistency.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cottage Pie

I'm always willing to try a new twist on an old favorite, so I was excited to see the cover photo of the November issue of Everyday Food. I have yet to make a recipe from Everyday Food that I don't like, so I knew this twist on Shepherd's Pie would be excellent. And I wasn't disappointed.

The filling is super tasty, and the roasted potatoes on top add a lovely crispness that you obviously would never get with mashed potatoes. Plus, this recipe cuts way down on calories by eliminating all those heavy mashed potatoes!

And although I haven't tried it, the magazine said this recipe can be made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Just replace the meat by adding two cups of finely minced cooked turkey along with the peas. Yum! And speaking of holidays, this would be great for St. Patrick's Day. See my tip below on how to make it even more Irish.

Cottage Pie
Source: Adapted from the November 2010 issue of Everyday Food

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp. dry thyme
2 cups MSPI-friendly beef broth, divided
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 large russet potato (about 3/4 pound), very thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in tomato paste.

Add meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until almost cooked through, about three minutes. Add thyme and one cup beef broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced, about two minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir to combine. Add the remaining beef broth and cook until mixture thickens, about two minutes. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer mixture to a two-quart baking dish. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices. Season potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil. Bake until potatoes are browned around edges and tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Want to make this for St. Patty's Day? The original recipe uses one cup dark (porter) beer (or try using a stout like Guinness) and one cup water instead of the beef broth.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Taco Pasta Toss

I got a lot of good feedback the last time I posted a Rachael Ray recipe, so I figured, let's do another one! This recipe is a great way to satisfy your pasta and Mexican cravings all in one meal. It's a real crowd-pleaser!

I left out the jalapeno, because I wanted to keep things on the milder side for the kids, and the coriander, because I didn't have any on hand.

Taco Pasta Toss
Source: Slightly adapted from Rachael Ray

1 lb. penne rigate pasta, regular or whole grain
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef sirloin
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded if desired and thinly sliced crosswise, optional
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander, optional
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
1-1/2 cups MSPI-friendly chicken or beef stock
Your favorite MSPI-friendly taco toppings

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, the jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, cumin and coriander; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onion is softened, 6-7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the stock.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss. Place lid over the pan for a few minutes, which will give the pasta time to soak up the sauce. Divide pasta onto plates and top with your favorite taco toppings.

Tip: Got leftover chili? You can use it as your sauce. Warm it up on the stove, add some stock to thin it out and toss it with pasta. Quick, easy and cheap -- two meals in one!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Just in time for Halloween! These little two-bite cookies look impressive but are super easy to make. Your kids (and you!) will love them. I made a batch for a Halloween party during Libby's gymnastics class, and they were a huge hit. Run out and pick up a bag of candy corn before they're all sold out!

The original recipe calls for butter. I substituted half MSPI-friendly margarine and half butter-flavored shortening. I do that with cookies because I prefer the results and texture of the cookies, however, you can use all margarine or all shortening.

And just a little FYI about candy corn, there's a chance for dairy cross-contamination on some brands of candy corn, so read labels carefully if that is a concern for you!

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
Source: Adapted from Everyday Food

2 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine, very soft
2 tbsp. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
About 36 candy corns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place margarine, shortening and sugar in a medium bowl; beat until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add flour, and mix until a dough forms.

Using a teaspoon-sized measuring spoon, scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly if it becomes too soft to handle). Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Chocolate variation: Reduce the amount of flour given in the recipe to 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 1, and proceed.

Tip: I made a full batch of plain and a full batch of chocolate at the same time in separate bowls. That way I can get all the measuring out the way and keep my workspace a littler tidier.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Black Bean & Corn Salad

Recipes like this one leave me asking, "Is this a salad or salsa?" Honestly, who cares? Just eat it!

You could easily serve this as a side salad or as a salsa with tortilla chips or on top of your favorite Mexican dishes. It's all good!

Black Bean & Corn Salad
Source: Slightly adapted from Delish

1 (15.5-oz) can, black beans, rinsed & drained
1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed or 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Toss lightly until well mixed. Let stand at least 15 minutes if using frozen corn, for corn to fully defrost. Can be served immediately, or best when refrigerated at least 1-2 hours, or overnight, to allow flavors to meld.

Tip: Got some tomatoes on hand? Feel free to throw them in, too!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Monday, October 4, 2010

Super Easy Kielbasa Bites

It's football season, which means you'll probably be invited to a party or two where copious amounts of food will be present. What's a girl on the MSPI diet to do? Bring something yummy she can eat!

Don't be fooled by this not-so-great picture, these little bites are delicious and only two ingredients! You might even want to make a double batch -- they will disappear incredibly fast!

Super Easy Kielbasa Bites
Source: Lauren's Kitchen (Her pics are much more tastier looking!)

1 package MSPI-friendly kielbasa sausage
12 oz. can ginger ale

Chop the kielbasa into half-inch slices. Place in a medium to large skillet and pour the ginger ale over the top. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer until brown and caramelized and all liquid is gone, stirring occasionally -- about 45 minutes to an hour.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

I love fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. (Oh, who am I kidding? I love just about any fresh-baked dessert!) But, I must admit, I really don't like to bake cookies. I hate having to stand around and wait for each individual tray to bake and in the process, giving up an hour or two of my time to get them all done. That's why I absolutely LOVE bar cookies. The entire batch gets done all at the same time. I just set the timer and pull them out of the oven when they're done. No standing around necessary!

I saw this recipe over at Food Allergy Mama a while back and just knew I had to make them. Quick and easy -- they turned out great. The oatmeal makes them nice and chewy. Yum!

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)
1 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pan with foil and coat with baking spray.

In a mixer, combine the shortening, brown sugar, vanilla and applesauce. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Add to shortening mixture. Stir in oats and chips. Spread mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Cool slightly and cut into bars.

Tip: Don't have applesauce on hand? Use one egg instead.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Fall is here! I love fall ... the cooler weather, the hay rack rides, trips to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard, campfires, Halloween, the colorful leaves and the comfort food! It's time for soups, stews and casseroles, and the king of casseroles (at least in my book) is lasagna.

I've avoided making lasagna for a very long time, since I figured, "What's the point? I can't have the best part: cheese!" However, my friend Tina changed that for me. When Caroline was born, Tina brought me a lasagna that replaced the ricotta cheese filling with ... chick peas! I know, it sounds a little strange, but it really works. You gotta give it a shot!

Anyway, I came up with this recipe, taking what Tina made and adding a white sauce, which is the way my mom always made lasagna. (The white sauce on top also helps disguise the lack of cheese.) Feel free to adapt the recipe to your personal taste. Don't like spinach? Leave it out. Want vegetarian? Leave out the meat and add sauteed veggies. Can't have eggs? Leave them out -- the bean mixture just may not firm up as well.

There's a lot of steps that goes into making this lasagna, but don't let that scare you away. It isn't difficult to make!


1 lb. ground beef, turkey or bulk Italian sausage
2 jars MSPI-friendly pasta sauce
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cans white beans (such as chick peas, cannellini or great northern)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup flour
2 cups rice milk

Cook meat in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until no longer pink; drain. Mix in pasta sauce and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook and drain noodles according to package directions. Arrange noodles in a single layer on a clean dish towel and set aside.

Drain and rinse beans and place in a blender or food processor. Add eggs, oregano and salt and pepper, to taste. Blend until mixture is smooth, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Set aside.

Prepare white sauce by heating oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in rice milk. Boil one minute, stirring constantly. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. (If you like, add a pinch of nutmeg. It goes well with the spinach.)

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1 cup pasta sauce in a 9x13 baking dish that's been coated with cooking spray. Top with four noodles. Spread with half the bean mixture. Sprinkle with half the spinach. Then one-third of the remaining pasta sauce. Top with four more noodles. Repeat. Top the last of the noodles with the remaining pasta sauce and then pour the white sauce on top of the red sauce.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. (It's tempting but don't skip this step, the standing will help the lasagna hold together.)

Tip: The bean mixture will firm up in the baking process, however, if it seems too thin after you blend it, you can thicken it slightly with a tablespoon or two of MSPI-friendly bread crumbs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Granola Balls

We all struggle with finding nutritious and delicious little snacks. Most prepackaged snacks (such as granola bars) usually aren't MSPI-friendly. So we're left having to make our snacks. But we want them to be easy to make! No baking -- even better!

Here's a recipe I slightly adapted from Everyday Food that fits the bill. It makes a great snack for any time of day -- morning, noon or night. You can easily substitute sunflower butter for the peanut butter, if peanuts are an issue in your home.

Peanut Butter Granola Balls

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly peanut butter
2 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine 
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a mixture of cranberries, blueberries and cherries.)

In a small saucepan over medium, heat honey, peanut butter and margarine. Stir until loosened and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cereal, oats and dried fruit.

Drop mixture by the tablespoon into mini paper cupcake or candy liners. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Tip: The mixture is pretty sticky to work with, but I found success using a small ice cream scoop to form the balls. Or you can just try pressing the mixture into a mini muffin pan that's been coated with cooking spray. (Coating your hands with cooking spray will make this option easier!) Whatever you do, don't skip the refrigeration! That's what keeps everything sticking together.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chocolate Pots de Creme with Whipped Coconut Milk

Oh, I've been a bad blogger. My updates have been rather infrequent lately, but can you blame me? Libby started kindergarten, and we're just now finally settling into our school-year groove. However, I have been cooking, and if ever there was a recipe worth waiting for, this is it!

My parents just recently moved back to my hometown of St. Joe, Mo. That's only two hours away from Omaha, so we can easily get away to see them over a weekend. Which is just what we did this past weekend, and while there, I used my mom's super-duper blender (mine is such a dud!) to make this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. (Thanks to my buddy Tysha for telling me about it!)

The trick to this awesome recipe is to make sure your coffee is screaming hot. Boiling hot! That's what melts the chocolate chips and cooks the eggs. So don't skimp on the heat! And make sure your eggs are room temperature. That's super important, too!

My entire family went crazy for this recipe. My kids were clamoring for it -- good thing I used decaf coffee!

Chocolate Pots de Creme

12 oz. package MSPI-friendly semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 whole eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
8 oz. strong hot coffee

First thing to do is to take your eggs out of the refrigerator ahead of time and let them come to room temperature before starting.

When eggs are at room temperature you can begin by placing the chocolate chips into a blender. Follow this with the eggs and the vanilla. Add a pinch of salt. Turn on the blender.

While it is blending, remove the circular disk from the blender lid and very slowly pour in 8 ounces of strong, VERY HOT coffee. It is essential that your coffee be extremely hot in order for the final product to be the right consistency and texture.

Blend for a minute or so until mixture is smooth and fairly free of visible bits of chocolate.

Pour the mixture into your serving glasses (I used seven half-cup glass bowls) leaving plenty of room to add a heap of whipped coconut milk later. Place in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours so the mixture has a chance to set. Serve with a dollop of whipped coconut milk.

Whipped Coconut Milk

1 can whole fat coconut milk
powdered sugar

Store the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for a minimum of seven days (make sure it is upright). The longer the better, as this will better separate the fat from the liquid.

After it is refrigerated for a number of days, open the can with the can opener and you will find that all the fat will have risen to the top of the can, with the liquid at the bottom.
Scoop out all of the coconut fat and place into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Take a hand mixer and blend the coconut on high speed, working around it in a circular motion. After a few minutes it will start to get fluffy. Continue doing this until it becomes very light and creamy, adding in a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar to taste. 
Tip: Make sure you plan ahead and get that coconut milk in the fridge for several days. I didn't leave mine in the fridge long enough, and that's why mine is non-fluffy in the pic -- but it sure still tasted good!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Foolproof Playdough

Libby started kindergarten this week. (Yes, we start early here.) She's been loving it! However, my little man JD is struggling with her being gone. So I've been trying to do some extra fun things with him. Since I also have an infant who needs to be home napping, we're pretty limited on what we can do, but I've come up with a few things. One of them is make (and play with!) playdough. As you can see by the photo, JD loves it!

I realize this recipe is not food, but it's such a good one that I just had to share it. It came straight from Libby's kindergarten teacher, and it's fantastic. The playdough smells soooo good, but one taste and your child likely will never try to eat it again. Very salty! The Kool-Aid flavor you choose will determine the color.

Foolproof Playdough

1-1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
1 pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix
1-1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup boiling water

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and water. Stir quickly with a wooden spoon, mixing well. When cool, mix with your hands until everything is incorporated and smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep the playdough fresh.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sloppy Joes

Do you have any go-to meals that you can make when you haven't been smart about planning ahead? Sloppy Joes are definitely one of those meals for me. In a pinch, I'll use Manwich, which is MSPI-friendly, but homemade Sloppy Joes definitely taste better than the canned sauce.

I adapted this recipe from My Favorites. I cut the recipe in half and substituted plain tomato sauce for the tomato soup. (By the way, canned tomato soup is usually MSPI-friendly, I just prefer using tomato sauce.)

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup
1-1/2 tsp. white vinegar
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. MSPI-friendly Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
MSPI-friendly hamburger buns

Place ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until evenly browned, stirring to crumble. Add the celery, cover the pan, and cook until tender and transparent, about 5 minutes. Drain off any grease.

Stir in the onions, tomato sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce into the beef mixture. Season with salt and garlic powder. Heat to a simmer over low heat, and cook until thoroughly heated and onions are tender, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning on the bottom. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Spoon the hot beef mixture onto buns and serve.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Like" me, please!

Everyone's on Facebook nowadays, so is MSPI Mama! I've set up a fan page as a way for all of you to connect, discuss and support each other. I don't have all the answers, so make sure you head over to the Discussions page and start talking. MSPI can be lonely and frustrating when no one around you has been through it, so open up and share! Feel free to post questions and recipes while you're there. I'll occasionally post thoughts and ideas to get you talking, but I promise I won't jam up your feeds either! So "like" me, please!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Savory Dijon Ham Muffins

Hams are a great buy. They're big and provide tons of leftovers. But then you find yourself wondering what to do with those leftovers. Well, you can make all sorts of things, including soup, fried rice, a casserole, a breakfast bake or these muffins.

I adapted a recipe I found over at -- the site formally known as Recipezaar. The muffins are great for breakfast, brunch, as a side to a cup of soup or even as an afternoon snack. Try serving them with a little apricot jam. I know it sounds a little weird, but it's good! (Think about it: Baked hams are often basted with apricot jam.)

Savory Dijon Ham Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup cooked ham, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, dry mustard, salt, baking soda and ground cloves.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, rice milk, oil and Dijon mustard; combine the wet and dry mixtures, stirring until just moistened; fold in ham.

Fill nonstick or paper-lined muffin tins, approximately three-quarters full; bake 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Cool in pan five minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Asian Cabbage Slaw

I was at the store recently and decided the napa cabbage looked really good, so I bought some and brought it home. But then I was left with the question: "What should I do with this cabbage?"

I've used napa cabbage in the past for a favorite salad, but that recipe had soy in it and wouldn't work now. So, I started to search the internet. I ended up slightly adapting this recipe from good ol' Martha Stewart and Everyday Food. It's a great side for grilled chicken or pork. You know you can never go wrong with one of Martha's recipes!

Asian Cabbage Slaw

2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 small head shredded napa or green cabbage
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 grated carrot
1/2 fresh jalapeno, minced, optional

In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, rice vinegar, oil and sugar; season with salt and whisk.

To dressing, add the cabbage, cilantro leaves, green onions, carrot and jalapeno, if using, and toss to combine.

Tip: If you've never used napa cabbage before, don't be scared by the tiny black dots you often see on its leaves. That's normal!

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So blessed

When people find out I'm on a dairy- and soy-free diet, their reactions are usually pretty similar: "Oh my! I could never live without milk! How do you do it? That must be soooooo hard!"

I usually reply with: "Yes, it's hard at times, but I'm used to it. And I know it could be so much worse. I feel so blessed that it's only dairy and soy protein and that I'm able to continue nursing my baby."

There are many wonderful mamas out there who have reduced their diets to practically nothing for months, if not years, in order to nurse their babies. And there are many wonderful mamas who have tried so hard to nurse their babies, but it just didn't work out. Thankfully, there are elemental formulas available for these babies, but the expense is so high and most health insurance plans won't cover the formulas.

I was contacted by one of these wonderful mamas, Melody, and she shared her 19-month-old son Andrew's story with me. He suffers from eosinophilic esophigitis and is unable to eat anything other than Neocate formula. The expense for their family is daunting, and Melody is in the process of lobbying her state representatives to pass a law that would require health insurance providers in Wisconsin to cover the costs of elemental formulas. You can learn more about their story by watching this video that aired on their local news station.

It would be wonderful if all insurance companies covered elemental formula! If you happen to live in Wisconsin, please consider contacting your legislators and encourage them to get behind this law. I know Melody and her family would truly appreciate it!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Cookies & Cream Rice Crispy Bars

Rice crispy bars are the perfect summertime treat. No oven. No stove. It's all done in the microwave in only a few minutes, and cleanup is a breeze.

You can vary the bars so easily with different types of cereal, marshmallows and add-ins -- such as Oreos!

I adapted this recipe from Picky Palate for a get-together with some friends. Kids and adults gobbled them up!

Cookies & Cream Rice Crispy Bars

4 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows or 40 large marshmallows
8 cups rice crispy cereal
12 MSPI-friendly Oreo cookies (or more if you like a lot!), lightly crushed
cooking spray
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips
1-2 tsp. shortening

Place margarine and marshmallows into a large microwavable bowl. Microwave for a few minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until marshmallows melt and combine with margarine. Remove bowl and stir in cereal and Oreos.

Pour into a 9×13-inch baking dish that's been coated with cooking spray. Coat your hands with cooking spray and press and smooth treats into dish.

Place chocolate chips in small dish with 1 teaspoon shortening. Microwave for a few minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate melts. Add in more shortening, if needed, until chocolate reaches a drizzling consistency. Drizzle melted chocolate over top of treats and let cool. Cut into squares.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turkey and Bean Burrito Burgers

Who doesn't love a juicy burger? You can never go wrong with the old standby of a beef hamburger, but every once in a while I like to change things up a bit.

I saw the original recipe on "30 Minute Meals" and knew I just had to make it. The next time you're in the mood for a burger and Mexican at the same time, you'll have to give this one a try!

Turkey and Bean Burrito Burgers

1 cup prepared white or brown rice
1 lb. ground turkey
1 (15-oz.) can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. chili powder
1-1/2 tsp. cumin
1-1/2 tsp. coriander (or 1 tsp. oregano will work, too)
1 tbsp. grill seasoning, such as Montreal Seasoning from McCormick
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 ripe avocados
1/2 lime, juiced
4 lettuce leaves
1 ripe tomato, sliced
4 MSPI-friendly hamburger buns

Combine rice, meat and beans with spices and grill seasoning. Form four big patties from the meat and bean mixture then heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties 7 to 8 minutes on each side.

While burgers cook, mash avocados in a small bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice and add salt to taste.
Place burgers on buns with lettuce and tomato and top with mashed avocado.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Non-Dairy Ice Cream

My super friend Laura just stopped by my house a few hours ago bearing two containers of homemade non-dairy ice cream. The kids and I didn't waste any time digging in -- as you can see from the photo above of JD!

The chocolate ice cream was surprisingly creamy for a non-dairy version, and the strawberry ice cream reminded me of a sorbet -- so cool and refreshing!

Laura also sent me her recipes, which were adapted from Elana's Pantry. I immediately put my ice cream maker's canister in the freezer. I'm going to be making my own batches of this yummy stuff all summer long!

Do you have an ice cream maker? If you don't, then these recipes will make you want to go get one. Pronto!

Non-Dairy Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups rice milk
1/3 cup cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Add milk and vanilla, stirring together until sugar dissolves. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Makes 1 quart.

Non-Dairy Strawberry Ice Cream

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 cups rice milk
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients together in a blender or processor. Blend to desired smoothness.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Makes 1 quart.

Tip: To make the ice cream even richer and creamier, substitute coconut milk for the rice milk. Make other flavors of ice cream by substituting your favorite fruit for the strawberries. Wouldn't mango be fabulous?!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

South of the Border Pasta Salad

Summer is all about picnics and backyard barbecues with friends, family and neighbors. If we're hosting the get-together, then I have no problems making sure there's something for me to eat, but what to do when someone else is in charge of food? Instead of trying to explain my dietary restrictions to the host, I just offer to provide a few items.

I like to bring along a side dish and a dessert. Pasta salads are the perfect summer side dish, because they are quite hardy. If the main dish isn't MSPI-friendly, then I can load up on my pasta salad and not starve!

We headed over to our neighbors' house for the Fourth of July. They were serving tacos, so this pasta salad, which was adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations, was a perfect accompaniment.

South of the Border Pasta Salad

1 lb. rotini (corkscrew) pasta, cooked and rinsed under cold water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Toss together first eight ingredients in a large bowl. For the dressing, place the rest of the ingredients into a jar. Put lid on top and shake well before pouring onto pasta salad. Stir everything together.

Cover and chill salad in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Friday, June 25, 2010

Restaurant Style Salsa

If you're lucky enough to have access to homegrown tomatoes, then you're probably no stranger to making fresh salsa. But what do you do if tomatoes aren't in season or buying fresh tomatoes is just too expensive? I recommend trying out this great recipe from the Pioneer Woman.

It combines canned tomatoes with a few fresh ingredients to make a dip-worthy condiment. It's so easy to throw together in the blender or food processor. You'll be chowing down on chips and salsa in no time!

You can follow the Pioneer Woman's version with no MSPI problems, but what I have listed here tames the heat and cuts the super large recipe in half.

Restaurant Style Salsa

1 14-oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
1 10-oz. can mild Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies)
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup cilantro (or more to taste)
1 tbsp. lime juice

Combine tomatoes, Rotel, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dana's Brownies

Once upon a time there was a high school senior taking a tour of a liberal arts college in Iowa. This was her second visit to campus. She was pretty sure she wanted to go there in the fall, but this trip was meant to finalize her decision.

Since she had already seen the majority of the campus on her previous visit, her tour guide said, "We need to kill some time. Wanna go see my girlfriend's sorority house?"

"Ummm, sure," she said, although she considered it a pretty big waste of her time. After all, she was NOT the sorority type.

However, when she walked in the door of that house, the delicious smell of brownies wafted to her nose. The cook, a lovely lady by the name of Dana, was baking up a batch of her chocolate diet-killers.

"Hey," the girl thought as she chewed on one of those luscious, cake-like brownies. "Any place that has food this good can't be all that bad."

And wouldn't you know it. That fall, this young lady joined that very same sorority ... and she got a copy of that recipe!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, that young lady was me. ;)

These brownies are so good, and they can be made MSPI-friendly! (And for those of you avoiding eggs, they're egg-free, too!)

Dana's Brownies

1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup water
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine (I recommend Fleischmann's Unsalted.)
1/4 cup rice milk
3/4 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together the first five ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the oil, vanilla, water and vinegar then pour into dry ingredients and stir until blended.

Pour batter into an ungreased 9X13 cake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make the frosting, combine the sugar, margarine and rice milk in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and add the chocolate chips and vanilla. Beat the mixture with an electric beater for a few minutes or until it looks like the frosting will set up. Spread over the cooled brownies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Banana Waffles

My kids adore pancakes and waffles. Obviously, the store-bought versions are not an option in this house. I usually opt for using Bisquick, which is MSPI-friendly, and make it with rice or almond milk. However, I've had some issues with Bisquick and cross-contamination. With Caroline being so sensitive right now, I really have to avoid cross-contaminated items. So Bisquick isn't an option for the next few months.

But to be honest, I don't mind, because these waffles are fantastic! I found the original recipe over at Zupa's Cafe. If you don't have a waffle iron, then make pancakes.

Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. The best way to freeze them so that the waffles don't stick together, is to lay the waffles in a single layer on a baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer. Once the waffles are completely frozen, transfer them to a large resealable bag and place them back in the freezer. Just pop the waffles in a toaster to reheat.

Oh! And one super thing about this recipe, besides the fantastic flavor, of course, is that there are no "special" MSPI-friendly ingredients, which can be daunting for people who are not familiar with the diet. This is an easy, go-to recipe that anyone can make for you!

Banana Waffles

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 ripe medium bananas
2/3 cup water
4 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
canola oil for brushing waffle iron, optional

In a bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Quarter banana and in a blender puree with water. Transfer puree to another bowl and whisk in eggs and oil. Add flour mixture and stir until combined well.

Heat a well-seasoned or nonstick waffle iron until hot and brush lightly with oil, if necessary. Pour batter into iron and cook waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions. Make the rest of the waffles with remaining batter in same manner.

Serve waffles with syrup and MSPI-friendly margarine. Makes four servings.

Tip: If using a frozen banana, you can skip the blender and just mash it with a fork, after thawing the banana first. And because thawed frozen bananas are usually pretty watery, don't add in the water until you've mixed together all the ingredients. Add a splash of water, as needed, to thin the batter to your preferred consistency.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Corn and Kielbasa Chowder

Dairy-free chowder? Yes! There's no cow's milk, half-and-half or cream in my version of this Rachael Ray recipe. Granted, it's probably not quite as rich, but it's still mighty good!

Double the recipe and put the extra in the freezer. Just make sure you thaw the soup completely (preferably overnight in the refrigerator) before reheating, otherwise the potato will turn to mush.

Corn and Kielbasa Chowder

8 oz. kielbasa, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
One 14.5-oz. can MSPI-friendly chicken broth
1 large baking potato (about 12 oz.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup rice milk
One 1-lb. bag frozen corn, thawed
Salt and pepper

Heat a pot over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions and oil to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the broth and potato and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the rice milk and corn and cook, stirring, until heated through.

Using a blender or food processor, puree 1 cup chowder until smooth. Stir the puree back into the chowder along with the browned kielbasa and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tip: Want a thicker chowder? Puree an extra cup.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One-Pot Spaghetti

(Wow! I'm posting recipes two days in a row!)

Spaghetti is definitely near the top of the list of favorite family meals in our household. I usually have the ingredients on hand, and it's easy to throw together at a moment's notice. But it can get a little boring.

This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens uses the same ol' ingredients but jazzes things up a bit in the preparation department. Because the pasta cooks right in the sauce, a deeper flavor develops. Serve it with a salad and garlic bread. Your family will love it!

One-Pot Spaghetti

8 oz. ground beef or bulk pork sausage
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms or one 6-oz. jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14-oz can MSPI-friendly chicken or beef broth (water can be used here for Quick Start -- adjust seasoning as needed)
1-3/4 cups water
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 oz. dried spaghetti, broken

In a large saucepan cook the ground beef or sausage, fresh mushrooms (if using), onion and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain.

Stir in the canned mushrooms (if using), broth, water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning and pepper. Bring to boiling. Add the broken spaghetti, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 17 to 20 minutes or until spaghetti is tender and sauce is desired consistency, stirring frequently. Makes four servings.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Marshmallow Swirl Brownies

I'm baaaack!

Caroline is doing incredibly well. Since there was very little dairy in my own system, she was able to work it out of her system very quickly. We only had three to four rough days, instead of three to four rough weeks. It was definitely worth going on the MSPI diet early!

Since I haven't posted a recipe in ages, I thought I would start with something sweet. These are ooey, gooey and oh-so yummy. The recipe comes from Pillsbury. You can make it with a brownie mix, as is done here, or use a favorite brownie recipe of your own.

Marshmallow Swirl Brownies

1 family-size package MSPI-friendly brownie mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow cream
1/3 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate fudge frosting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package using oil, water and eggs. Cool completely.

Spread marshmallow cream over cooled brownies. Place frosting in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 10 to 20 seconds. Stir until smooth. Drizzle frosting over marshmallow cream. Swirl with knife to create marbling effect.

Refrigerate 15 minutes. To cut cleanly, lightly coat knife with no-stick cooking spray, as needed. Run knife around inside edge of pan to release. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quick update

Well, the honeymoon is over. Caroline has MSPI. :(

I've been on the diet, but I wasn't hardcore, i.e. I wasn't being super strict about not eating foods that could be cross-contaminated. So we're working that dairy/soy out of Caroline's system right now.

Her symptoms: She has reflux, but we're able to control most of that with medication. (And the reflux should hopefully improve as the dairy is worked out.) After eating, her projectile spit-up is quite impressive. She also has a lovely (not!) rough rash on her cute little cheeks and chest. And, she has periods of crying hysterically, i.e. colicky behavior.

But, she's improving! The next few weeks will be kinda rough, but we'll make it through and will be much happier on the other side!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Look what we've been baking!

Yes, I've been away for several weeks, but you can see that I've been busy!

Our little "bun in the oven," Caroline Mae, was born April 29. She's a wonderful baby, and we've been enjoying our little bundle of joy!

No idea yet if she has MSPI. I've been on the diet since the first week of April, so she hasn't been exposed to any major amounts of dairy so far. (I've had a little here or there, but no reaction as of yet.) Our pediatrician recommended staying on the diet for two months. If there's no reaction during that entire time, then we'll try a food challenge. I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Italian Pork Stew

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Life around here is picking up with the baby coming in only a month -- yikes! I'm trying to squeeze in some last precious moments with Libby and JD before No. 3 comes along to monopolize my time. Not to mention all the STUFF that needs to get done before the delivery. The list is endless! However, I'm still cooking; we gotta eat!

So here's a recipe that appeared in Taste of Home a few months ago. I just loved it! It was such a great, new way to use pork loin. I actually made it using about 1 pound of leftover pork loin roast that I chopped into bite-size pieces. If you want to do that, just start the recipe at the second paragraph. And since I was using already cooked and tender pork, I was able to cut back on the simmering time by half.

Italian Pork Stew

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 lbs. boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots, optional
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry red wine or MSPI-friendly beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, optional
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 tsp. each dried oregano, basil and sage leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Hot cooked bow tie pasta

Place flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a Dutch oven, brown pork in 3 tablespoons oil in batches. Remove and keep warm.

In the same pan, saute onion in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil until crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes, wine, bay leaves, cinnamon, tomato paste, vinegar, anchovy paste, herbs, salt, pepper flakes, pepper and pork; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley. Cover and cook 30-60 minutes longer or until meat is tender. Skim fat; discard bay leaves and cinnamon.

Tip: I listed the cinnamon as optional because I completely forgot to include it in my stew, and the carrots are optional because they aren't included in the original recipe. I just decided to toss them in as a way to get some extra veggies in my kiddos.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Baba Ghanoush with Pita Chips

I have always detested eggplant. The texture. The taste. Yuck. But then I took a trip to Romania with my family for a wedding in 2001. While there, I was introduced to the most delicious eggplant spread. A whole new world was opened to me. I'm still not eggplant's biggest fan, but I don't shudder at the thought of eating it either.

This recipe from Tyler Florence isn't identical to what we had in Romania, but it is delicious. My mom makes this like crazy in the summer with eggplant from her garden. It even freezes really well! Just put the spread in a freezer-safe container and freeze. Just thaw completely in the refrigerator when you're ready to eat it. Delicious!

Baba Ghanoush

4 baby Italian eggplants (about 1 pound total), scored
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. tahini paste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Split the eggplants in half through the stem and score sides. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill eggplants on a very hot grill pan until skins are wrinkled and black and flesh side is nicely charred. When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, cut off tops.

In a food processor, combine eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and cilantro and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and pulse again to incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some roughly chopped cilantro.

Pita Chips

One package MSPI-friendly pitas, cut into chips
Cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out pita wedges on a tray, coat chips with cooking spray or brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in the hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes until warmed through. If you prefer a crispier pita bake for a further 5 to 7 minutes.

Tip: Tahini paste is made from ground sesame seeds. Depending on the store, it can be found with the peanut butter, international foods or natural food section.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Egg-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

One of the keys to surviving this diet is having friends and family that support you through it. They can be such an encouragement. Of course, if they have been through it themselves, then they are doubly wonderful. I'm fortunate enough to have so many friends right here in Omaha that have dealt with MSPI and can share their knowledge (and recipes!) with me. Many of them read this blog, and I want you ladies to know I love all of you very much!

Now, one of these wonderful friends of mine is Laura, who gave me this recipe, which comes from the Food Allergy Mama blog. Food Allergy Mama has a new baking cookbook. The recipes are free of dairy, eggs and nuts. Some of the recipes do contain soy, so either avoid those or find an MSPI-friendly substitute. The great thing about her recipes is that she doesn't use any unusual substitutions (like special egg replacers, etc.) other than making sure the "regular" ingredients are safe. And for anyone who avoids eggs, you know how hard it is to bake without eggs, but Food Allergy Mama's recipes are fantastic!

These muffins are great for breakfast, snacks and as a healthy dessert.

Egg-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 medium bananas, mashed
2 tbsp. water
1/2 cup MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
1/4 cup soured rice milk*
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF, and coat a 12-cup regular-size muffin pan or a 24-cup mini muffin pan with baking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine mashed banana, water, melted margarine and soured rice milk until well incorporated.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder with a wire whisk. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Bake 15-20 minutes for regular muffins or 12-15 for mini muffins, or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.

* To make the soured rice milk, mix together 1/4 cup rice milk with 1/4 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar and let stand 5-10 minutes.

Tip: If you want to use a frozen banana and didn't take the time to thaw it, place the frozen banana in the sink under a stream of hot water for a few minutes. Peel the banana, removing any strings, etc. If the peeled banana is still frozen, zap it in the microwave, about 1 minute, until it's soft and can be mashed easily.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fruit Salad

It's really easy to overlook "simple" recipes when writing a blog. I often find myself assuming that everyone already makes something similar. But you know what they say when you assume . . . ;)

Anyway, so I'm going to go ahead and post this uber-simple recipe. All you do is chop up your favorite fruits (My faves are apples, oranges and bananas but just about any fruit will work.) and toss it with a little bit of honey and lemon juice. Voila! The perfect side when making something for brunch or breakfast-for-dinner.

Fruit Salad

1 apple, chopped
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 banana, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. honey, or to taste
1-2 tsp. lemon juice

In a bowl, toss together the fruit. Drizzle with honey and lemon juice. Toss again.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Friday, February 26, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

I've been eyeing this Giada De Laurentiis recipe for quite some time but never got around to making it. But then I picked up a three-pound package of ground turkey at the grocery store at a great price and decided to make meatballs from it. This soup was a great way to use the meatballs.

I went ahead and made three pounds of meatballs, baked and froze two-thirds and put the rest in the soup.

The original recipe calls for ground beef and ground pork, but the ground turkey works great, too. Another obvious change is the omission of Parmesan cheese. I also added some pasta.

Pair this with a loaf of crusty Italian bread. So yummy!

Italian Wedding Soup

1 small onion, grated
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 large egg
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 slice MSPI-friendly fresh white bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces or use 1/3 cup MSPI-friendly dry bread crumbs
1 lb. ground turkey
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small pasta, such as orzo
12 cups MSPI-friendly chicken broth
1 lb. curly endive, coarsely chopped (escarole or spinach would also work)
2 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the meatballs: Stir the first six ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the turkey. Using 1-1/2 teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

Bring a small pot of water to boil and add pasta, cooking according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and curly endive and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the curly endive is tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the cooked pasta.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Tip: This soup is very dependent on a high-quality chicken broth. Do not skimp here by using a salty bouillon or base! But, if you must, check out the Better Than Bouillon line of products. I really like the reduced sodium products.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Italian Shepherd's Pies

I will be the first to tell you that the photo I took of this recipe is, well, gosh darn unappetizing. But, it really does taste good! It's really a great go-to meal for ground beef, when you don't feel like just plain spaghetti, tacos or sloppy joes.

The original recipe for this was in the February/March 2010 issue of Taste of Home. (The recipe won a contest, so unless you're a subscriber, you won't have access to the link.) They recommended making individual servings in ramekins, but, hey, I'm a busy mom and wanted to simplify things for myself. I just baked it all together in one casserole dish.

Want to get more veggies in your kids? Then saute some with the beef. Carrots and zucchini would be yummy!

Italian Shepherd's Pies

1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups MSPI-friendly marinara sauce
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup rice milk
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly margarine, melted

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the marinara sauce, salt and pepper; cook and stir for 8-10 minutes or until thickened. Spoon into four 8-oz. ramekins or one casserole dish; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and Italian seasoning. Stir in the rice milk and margarine just until moistened. Spoon dough over meat mixture. If using ramekins, place them on a baking sheet.

Bake at 450° for 12-15 minutes, if using ramekins, or until golden brown. Add a few extra minutes to the baking time, if using a casserole dish.

Tip: The topping is pretty thick and can be kind of difficult to spread over the meat mixture. I just dropped it on top, like dumplings. They'll puff up and cover the entire mixture during baking.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins

Who doesn't like to bite into a yummy baked good and find a yummy surprise inside? Not only are these muffins topped with cinnamon and sugar -- yum! -- but they have a jam filling -- double yum!

I adapted this recipe from Taste of Home. I think the next time I make it (and there will be a next time very soon!) I'm going to leave the cinnamon and nutmeg out of the batter. The muffins taste great as is, but I think leaving the spices out will give the muffins more of a "doughnut" flavor.

Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup rice milk
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a small bowl, combine sugar, oil, egg and rice milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full; place 1 teaspoon jam on top. Cover jam with enough batter to fill muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Place melted margarine in a small bowl; combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Immediately after removing muffins from the oven, dip tops in margarine, then in cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm. Yield: 10 to 12 standard-size muffins.

Tip: Do you ever have problems with your muffins sticking to the paper liners? Before pouring the batter into the muffin cups, spray the liners with cooking spray. After cooking, the liners will pull away from the muffins cleanly!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicken Breasts Diane

Do you have a favorite cookbook that you've been neglecting since going on the MSPI diet? I know it's easy to just assume that your old cookbooks are useless right now, but you would be surprised what you can make and adapt from "regular" cookbooks when on this diet.

I've recently started going through some of my favorite cookbooks page by page and marking recipes that are MSPI-friendly -- both in the index and on the recipes. I've even made notations about what I would change in the recipes to make them that way -- using rice milk, leaving out the cheese, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover well over half of the recipes in my copy of "The Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook" can be made MSPI-friendly -- and there are over 500 recipes in this book!

Here's a classic chicken recipe from the book. Make sure you serve the chicken with a side that can soak up the sauce. I went with whole wheat couscous (made with MSPI-friendly chicken broth) but rice, mashed potatoes or pasta would be equally good.

Chicken Breasts Diane

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup MSPI-friendly chicken broth

Place the chicken breasts between sheets of waxed paper and pound slightly with a mallet, if desired. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the chicken on each side until done, about 15 minutes total. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the green onions, lemon juice, parsley and mustard to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Whisk in the broth and stir until smooth. Return the chicken to the pan and serve with sauce.

Tip: I found the sauce to be a little too sour for my personal taste. I added a pinch of sugar to the sauce to combat the tartness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Broccoli Salad

My mom has been making this for years, and it has always been one of my favorites. The combination of sweet, salty and crunchy is a true winner!

It's easy to put together, although cutting up the broccoli can be time-consuming. To save time, you can buy packages of broccoli that are already cut up in the produce area of the store or even try using a package of broccoli slaw.

For a vegetarian version, leave out the bacon. (You may need to add a bit of salt to the dressing, though.)

Broccoli Salad

5 cups fresh broccoli, cut up
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 cup MSPI-friendly mayonnaise
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup salted sunflower seeds

In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, raisins and onion. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise until smooth. Pour over the broccoli. Chill several hours or overnight. Just before serving, mix in the bacon and sunflower seeds.

Tip: The original recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups of raisins and 1 cup of sunflower seeds. I personally find that to be too much, but feel free to adjust the amounts to your preference.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

So you want to know the trick to baking the softest, chewiest cookies? Just replace a half-cup of the sugar in your recipe with a package of pudding mix. It's that easy! Your cookies will stay soft and chewy, even days after baking -- if they last that long.

You can experiment with different flavors of pudding in your cookies, but vanilla is my hands down favorite.

And in case you're wondering, there are MSPI-friendly pudding mixes. JELL-O brand makes several -- do check the ingredients very carefully. But one word of caution, these puddings are MSPI-friendly, not safe. There could be cross-contamination during the production process, so only use these mixes if your little kiddo can handle it.

Here's my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe using pudding. It's based on the Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe found on the back of their semi-sweet chocolate chips packages. I also scale back the vanilla a little bit, since there's plenty of vanilla flavor from the pudding.

Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter-flavored shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1 box (3.4 ounces) MSPI-friendly vanilla pudding
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup MSPI-friendly chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated.

In separate bowl, combine flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: I highly recommend lining your cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. Much easier to clean-up!