Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pizza Cups

Convenience foods are a mama's best friend, and the king of all convenience food is, of course, frozen pizza! Unfortunately, most frozen pizzas don't fit into the MSPI diet. (Although, Amy's Kitchen makes a pretty decent Roasted Vegetable Pizza that's MSPI-friendly, but it's pretty expensive.) So that means making your own frozen pizza, and this recipe works great!

You can easily adapt each individual pizza to your family members' preferences. Some with veggies, some without. Some with MSPI-friendly cheese -- or real cheese for those who can have it -- some without. Have fun! Let your kiddos make their own!

I highly recommend making a double batch ... one batch to eat right away and another to freeze. Trust me, you'll love having these on hand!

Pizza Cups

½ lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ cup regular or palm shortening
¾ cup rice milk
1 jar MSPI-friendly pizza or pasta sauce
Chopped pizza toppings, such as pepperoni, onions, green peppers, olives, etc.
MSPI-friendly shredded cheese, such as Daiya, optional

Crumble and brown the ground beef or Italian sausage. If using beef, season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, etc., to taste. Set the meat aside to cool.

To prepare the biscuit dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shortening into flour mixture using a pastry blender or crisscrossing two knives, until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Stir in rice milk until dough leaves side of bowl. (The dough will be soft and sticky.)

Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat dough to ½-inch thick. Cut with floured 2½-inch round cutter, rerolling the scraps until all the dough is used. (You should end up with 12-14 biscuits.) Using an ungreased muffin pan, place one biscuit in the bottom of each cup. With floured fingers, push and flatten the biscuits up the sides of the cups.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Divide ground meat between the cups, about 2 tablespoons each. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of sauce on top. Sprinkle with pizza toppings and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuit shells begin to brown and toppings are heated through. Remove from oven and allow pizzas to rest a few minutes, then remove pizzas to a serving dish and enjoy!

To freeze: Arrange pizza cups on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer overnight. Once frozen, pizzas can be stored in a freezer-safe container or wrap, such as foil. To reheat frozen pizzas, heat in the microwave one to two minutes, or until hot.

Tip: Short on time? Use MSPI-friendly biscuit mix, such as Bisquick, and follow the package directions to prepare the dough with rice milk. Or if you can find ones that are safe for you, use MSPI-friendly canned biscuits.

Vegetarian: Replace the ground meat with sauteed vegetables, such as spinach, mushrooms, onions, etc. Or try this MSPI-friendly meat substitute.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rollout Sugar Cookies

Yesterday was Libby's last day of school until January, so we are in Christmas vacation mode at our house. She is determined to squeeze in a million activities while on break, and decorating sugar cookies was at the top of her list.

I must admit, I groaned a little when she told me this. I really don't like rolling out cookie dough, but this recipe was surprisingly easy! The dough holds together quite well and shakes free of the cookie cutters without disintegrating. I was quite pleased! (I also utilized a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover. That made the rolling much easier! I highly recommend it!)

I didn't include a recipe for icing. We just used MSPI-friendly store-bought icing, but there are several recipes on the internet available. Just use MSPI-friendly margarine and rice milk instead of butter and milk. There's also a glaze-like icing recipe included on the page where I found the original recipe for these cookies.

Now these cookies won't win any awards for being the best tasting or best looking, but my kids had a fun, fun time decorating them and we will share this sweet memory long after the cookies disappear into our tummies. And that, my friends, is what matters! Merry Christmas!

Rollout Sugar Cookies

1½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup MSPI-friendly margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
1 large egg
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. salt

Cream together powdered sugar and margarine in a large mixing bowl. Mix in vanilla, almond extract and egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add the flour mixture slowly to the wet mixture and mix until properly combined. Cover and refrigerate four hours (or overnight) until dough is thoroughly chilled.

Remove ¼ of the dough from the bowl and return the bowl to the refrigerator. Roll the dough you removed to ¼-inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Once cookie sheet is filled, place it in the refrigerator. Continue to roll out and cut the remaining dough.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a clean cookie sheet lightly or use a Silpat. Arrange cookie cutouts that are in the refrigerator on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are just barely golden. Remove from cookie sheet to cool while baking the remaining cookies.

Decorate with MSPI-friendly icing and sprinkles. (If you prefer to skip the icing all together, you can sprinkle the cookies with colored sugar prior to baking.)

Tip: Can't use margarine because of the soy oil? Try substituting palm shortening for the margarine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats

Whoever came up with the idea to make flavored marshmallows should get a medal. They're so fun! And MSPI-friendly!

This recipe, which comes from Our Best Bites, takes the humble Rice Krispie treat to a whole new level by utilizing peppermint marshmallows and drizzling it with chocolate. Genius! And delicious! Perfect for a platter of Christmas treats.

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats
Source: Adapted from Our Best Bites

1 10½ -oz. bag Jet-Puffed Peppermint Mallows (See tip.)
4 tbsp. MSPI-friendly margarine
6 cups Rice Krispies-style cereal
⅓-½ cup MSPI-friendly semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ tsp. canola oil
a few drops peppermint extract, optional
3 6-inch candy canes, crushed

Grease a 9x13 pan and set it aside.

Melt margarine in a very large bowl in the microwave. Add marshmallows and stir to coat. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. (You can do that whole process on the stove top as well.) Add cereal and stir to evenly combine. With greased hands, press mixture into prepared pan.

Place chocolate chips, oil and peppermint extract in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Drizzle chocolate on top of the Rice Krispie treats and sprinkle candy canes on top.  Let sit until chocolate is set, place pan in fridge to speed process along. Cut into squares and eat up.

Tip: If you can’t find the peppermint marshmallows, use regular marshmallows and add ¼-½ teaspoon peppermint extract (or to taste) and a few drops red food coloring to the melted marshmallow mixture.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix

Now that I have two kiddos in school -- Libby in first grade, JD in preschool -- I have a whole lot of teachers and staff members that I would like to give a little something at Christmas. I try to keep the treat simple but oh-so-tasty.

This year, I'm planning to make this snack mix and package it in cute little baggies. It's perfect to nibble on morning, noon and night. I have the feeling the teachers are going to love it. I know I do!

Cinnamon Sugar Chex Mix
Source: Adapted from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

¼ cup MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch salt
3 cups Corn Chex Cereal
3 cups Rice Chex Cereal

In a small bowl, whisk together the margarine, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine cereals. Pour margarine mixture over the cereal until evenly combined. Microwave entire mixture for 3-4 minutes or until it just starts to brown. Stir every minute while cooking.

Spread mix on a large rimmed cookie sheet to cool and then store in an airtight container or bag.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nearly Free Chicken Stock

I have a confession to make. I am in LOVE with Costco. As I mentioned on my Facebook page a  few weeks ago, I finally broke down and got a membership, and I haven't looked back since. Ummm, $16.59 for 12 quarts of Rice Dream rice milk? Yes, please! And their organic vegetables and fruits? Fabulous, just fabulous!

But, my favorite thing of all has to be their rotisserie chicken. Yes, it's MSPI-friendly! And it's just delicious. Tender and juicy. Yum! (Yes, I know rotisserie chickens aren't anything new or special. But Costco's is so good!) I can get two to three meals for our family out of one chicken. I use it in soups, salads and other yummy dishes. And it's less than $5! Such a great deal! But I take the savings a step further. I use the bones and scraps from the chicken and use it as the base for homemade chicken stock. And it's "Nearly Free" to make this, since you're using items you would normally throw away.

This really doesn't even seem like a recipe that I'm sharing with you, more like a method. Adjust to what works best for you. If you're having turkey for Christmas dinner, you can use this method to make turkey stock.

Nearly  Free Chicken Stock
Source: MSPI Mama

Chicken bones, skin and scraps
Vegetable scraps
Bay leaf

Whenever cooking a meal, place the leftover bones, skin and scraps from the chicken and the scraps from vegetables, such as onion and garlic skins, carrot peelings and celery tops, in a large Ziploc-style bag in your freezer. Continue to add to the bag as you prepare meals.

Once the bag is filled, empty the contents into a slow cooker. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss in the bay leaf. Pour in water until all the contents are fully submerged. Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn the cooker on Low. Cook 8-10 hours.

Remove the large scraps from the broth and throw them away. Pour what remains through a fine sieve or colander into a large bowl. Taste the stock. Add more salt, as needed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and cool for several hours. Skim off any congealed fat. Use broth immediately or divide it into freezer-safe containers and store in the freezer.

Tip: If the idea of using scraps creeps you out, then follow this recipe, which starts with a whole chicken and vegetables.

Vegetarian: To make vegetable broth, use only vegetable scraps.

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cocoa Crinkle Cookies

What would Christmas be without cookies? And these cookies, my friends, are right at the top of cookie perfection. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Bursting with chocolate flavor that's only heightened by a roll in powdered sugar. Seriously good stuff.

Oh! And this is one of my Quick Start recipes. Yes! No soy oil or lecithin in these little gems. 

Now, I am going to warn you. These cookies aren't difficult but they are labor intensive. And you have to be patient. The dough needs to chill before you form the cookies. But it's worth all the work!

Speaking of chill. The recipe for these cookies originally says to refrigerate the dough. Don't do this! Put the dough in the freezer! Trust me on this one. The dough will be much easier to work with if it's super cold! And don't worry about the dough freezing solid. This won't happen.

Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
Source: Adapted from Hershey's Kitchens

2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup canola oil
¾ cup baking cocoa
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
powdered sugar

Combine granulated sugar and oil in large bowl; add cocoa, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to cocoa mixture, beating well.

Cover; freeze until dough is firm enough to handle, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 

Working with one batch at a time, shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar to coat. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Put remaining dough back in freezer while first batch bakes.

Bake 13 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly and tops are crackled. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Prepare next batch of cookies.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.

Tip: If you need to avoid eggs, Food Allergy Mama substitutes 1 cup of applesauce for the eggs in her version of the cookies.

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

Salmon Chowder

Thanks to my dad, who goes salmon fishing every year, and my mom, who likes to can, I have several jars of canned salmon on hand at all times. This salmon is a lifesaver on busy days, especially during the crazy holiday season. And my kids LOVE salmon. No one ever complains about dinner when I serve salmon.

At a moment's notice, I can throw together recipes like Salmon Cakes and Tuscan Salmon Pasta. They both contain ingredients that I regularly stock in my pantry and kitchen.

Or I can make this chowder. This soup is warm and satisfying on a cold evening, and like the other recipes I mentioned, it's easy to keep these ingredients on hand for a last-minute meal.

Salmon Chowder
Source: Inspired by

3 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. flour
3 cups MSPI-friendly chicken broth or water
1½ cups rice milk
2 cups potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dill weed
2 (16 oz.) cans salmon, drained and flaked
1 (15 oz.) can creamed corn

Heat olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Saute onion, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in the flour. Continue to stir for a few minutes. Stir in broth and rice milk and bring mixture to a slight boil. Stir in potatoes, carrots and seasonings. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in salmon and creamed corn. Cook until heated through and adjust seasoning to taste prior to serving.

Tip: The smaller you dice the potatoes and carrots, the quicker they will cook.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Balsamic Chicken

Some of you occasionally like to share recipes with me, and I think that's great. I love to hear what's been a success for you! Since I'm not very quick about getting around to trying out those recipes and posting them here on the blog, the best way for all of you to share your recipes with each other is over on my Facebook page.

When I originally began my page, I included a thread on the Discussions tab for Readers' Recipes, but Facebook has recently removed Discussions. Boo! But don't let that stop you from sharing your recipes. You can just post the recipe on the Facebook wall or share a link, if the recipe is from another website and include any MSPI changes.

Fortunately, before Facebook closed Discussions, I was able to save a copy of this recipe. It was posted by MSPI Mama reader Lindsey. Thanks, Lindsey! The recipe is yummy and super easy to make in the slow cooker.

Balsamic Chicken
Source: Slightly adapted from the version Lindsey shared on Facebook

2 tbsp. olive oil
4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (fresh or frozen)
ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
hot cooked angel hair pasta or rice

Pour the olive oil into a slow cooker and swirl to cover the bottom. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then place them in the slow cooker. Layer sliced onion on top of chicken. Sprinkle herbs and garlic cloves over the top. Pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes. Cook on high three to four hours. 

Serve chicken breasts whole, chopped or shredded with vegetables and sauce over angel hair pasta or rice.

Tip: The size of your chicken breasts, how many you are using and whether they are fresh or frozen will greatly determine how fast they cook. Cook it too long, and the chicken will dry out on you. I made this with four frozen chicken breasts, and four hours was more than enough time to completely cook the chicken.

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cranberry-Apple Oatmeal Crisp

Cranberry sauce is a must-have on every Thanksgiving table, yet it often gets overlooked when it comes time to fill our plates. Sure, we all take a little spoon of it, but people rarely go crazy on it. (Gotta save room for the turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes!) So that means you're left with lots of cranberry sauce when the table is cleared.

What to do with that leftover cranberry sauce? Add it to apple crisp! And if you don't have cranberry sauce leftovers, just crack open a can. Works great!

Cranberry-Apple Oatmeal Crisp
Source: MSPI Mama

1 14-oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce or 1½ cups leftover cranberry sauce
1½ tsp. lemon juice
3 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
Sugar, to taste
1⅓ cups quick-cooking oats
2 tbsp. flour
½ cup walnuts, chopped
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the cranberry sauce and the lemon juice. Add the apples, stirring to combine. Taste the mixture. Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the sweetness you prefer. Pour mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish that has been rubbed with canola oil or coated with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, walnuts, brown sugar and salt. Drizzle in the canola oil. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Spread the oats mixture over the top of the cranberry-apple mixture in the casserole dish.

Bake the casserole dish, uncovered, in the oven for one hour. Set aside to cool before serving.

Tip: Make sure you taste the mixture! The amount of sugar you use will greatly depend on the sweetness of the cranberry sauce and tartness of the apples. I only added 1 tablespoon of sugar when I made this.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

I seem to have gone a little pumpkin crazy lately ... Pumpkin Muffins ... Turkey Pumpkin Chili ... Baked Pumpkin Spice "Donut Holes" ... but it's all so good! I can't seem to help myself. I hope you all don't mind me posting another one.

This bar recipe has just enough sweetness to satisfy your sugar cravings but it won't send you into a sugar coma either. It would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving dessert spread!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin-pie spice (See note.)
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup butter-flavored shortening (See tip.)
1¼ cups sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1-2 cups MSPI-friendly chocolate chips (I used 1 cup of Enjoy Life mini chips.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream shortening and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

Note: If you don't have pumpkin-pie spice, substitute 1½ teaspoons cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon allspice and ¼ teaspoon cloves.

Tip: If you are avoiding soy oil, instead of using regular shortening, try Spectrum Palm Shortening, coconut oil or even canola oil. I can't guarantee the results, because I haven't tried this recipe with those products, but I don't see why it wouldn't work!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sausage and Kale Soup

I recently picked up a bunch of kale at the store. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it, but I was confident I could figure something out. After coming home and perusing the web for a few minutes, this is what I ended up making.

This soup warms you through and through and is quite tasty. If you can't find kale at your store, toss in some fresh spinach instead.

The original recipe doesn't call for any grain or pasta, but I had some leftover brown rice on hand, so I tossed it into the soup.

Sausage and Kale Soup 
Source: Slightly adapted from Budget Bytes 

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 large carrots, cleaned and chopped
3 stalks celery, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale
1 (15 oz.) can white beans
4 cups MSPI-friendly chicken broth
2 cups water
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. cumin
Pinch crushed red pepper, optional
1-2 cups cooked brown rice or small pasta, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage. Break up the sausage into pieces and cook until no pink remains. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Stir and cook until the onions are soft.

While the vegetables are softening, pull the kale leaves from the stems and tear into small pieces. Place the torn kale leaves in a colander and rinse well. Once the onions in the pot have softened (the other veggies may not be soft, that's okay), add the kale. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes or until the kale is wilted.

Drain the can of beans and add them to the pot. Also add the chicken broth, water and spices. Stir to combine and heat through (about 10-15 minutes). If using the rice, add it now. Adjust the salt and other seasonings, to taste.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Corn Pudding

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and unfortunately, that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone on an elimination diet. Yes, the opportunity to spend time with your family is wonderful, but doing that while sitting around a table filled with foods you can't safely eat, is, well, unpleasant at best. So what's a girl to do? Make sure some of those foods ARE safe for you to eat. Here are a few strategies to get you through the holidays:
  • Host the big meal. If you're the one in charge of the menu, you will know for a fact what you can and can't eat.
  • If hosting isn't an option, talk to the person who is hosting about the menu. Explain your situation. Chances are they will happily work with you on the menu and let you know what's safe. (For example, instead of slathering the turkey with butter prior to roasting, ask them to use olive oil.)
  • Offer to supply several dishes. If dressing is your favorite Thanksgiving dish, then make it yourself! That way you won't feel deprived. And of course, bring a dessert you can eat!
  • If all else fails, fix a small Thanksgiving meal at home prior to the big day with all your favorites. Roast a turkey breast or even a chicken. Save some leftovers and fix yourself a plate to take to the real deal. Heat it up when everyone is sitting down to eat, and you won't miss out on anything. 
Those are some of my tips. Now it's your turn! Leave a comment here or on Facebook letting everyone know what you're doing to make Thanksgiving a wonderful experience for everyone at the table!

In order to get you ready for the big day, I'm sharing with you a recipe I created that would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving spread. If you've ever had corn pudding made with one of those boxes of Jiffy corn bread mix, this was inspired by that!

Corn Pudding
Source: MSPI Mama

1 16-oz. pkg. frozen corn, thawed
1 14¾-oz. can cream-style corn 
1 red pepper, finely diced
2-4 green onions, finely diced
1 egg
⅓ cup rice milk
cup all purpose flour
½ cup yellow corn meal
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup canola oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the corn, cream-style corn, pepper, onion, egg and rice milk. In a second bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking pan that’s been coated with cooking spray. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Baked Pumpkin Spice "Donut Holes"

Who doesn't love donuts? They just melt in your mouth, but of course, they rarely fit into the MSPI diet. So that means making them myself, but I'm not a big fan of deep-frying. (I got burned once from attempting to make apple fritters in college. I didn't like that and don't want to repeat it!) However, I've been seeing lots of recipes for baked donuts, but those recipes require a special donut pan, which I don't have. I want one! But I don't currently have one. Oh, Santa -- a.k.a. my hubby (we'll see if he reads this post!) -- wouldn't this be lovely under the tree? Wink. Wink.

In case my Christmas wish doesn't come true, I'll just have to settle for these "donut holes," which are made in a mini muffin pan and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. The kids loved them. I loved them. We were all quite happy!

Baked Pumpkin Spice "Donut Holes"
Source: Adapted from The Craving Chronicles 

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
 tsp. ground cloves
 cup canola oil
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup rice milk

For coating:
1 stick MSPI-friendly margarine, melted
 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Coat each cup in a 24-cup mini muffin tin with baking spray or grease generously.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices (through cloves). In a separate, large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and rice milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the donuts bake, melt margarine in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl or a large Ziploc-style bag. Remove donuts from oven and cool for 2 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle. Dip the cooled donuts in melted margarine, then roll in cinnamon sugar or shake in bag to coat.

Repeat steps with remaining batter. Add extra cinnamon sugar as needed. Recipe makes approximately 4 dozen donut holes.

Tip: I ran out of cinnamon, so the donut holes in the top of the photo are coated in cinnamon sugar, while the ones on the bottom are coated in sugar. Both are equally delicious!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

I know what you're thinking (cause I thought it, too!) when you saw the name of this recipe: Pumpkin? In chili? Guh-Ross! But my friends, it's good. Really good!

First off, you don't taste the pumpkin! The spices completely neutralize the flavor. Secondly, the pumpkin adds a wonderful silkiness to the chili. Similar to how it would feel if you melted a block of Velveeta into it. Thirdly, pumpkin is sooooo good for you. Extra nutrition for you family, and they won't even know it!

I served this with corn bread. Yum! To make this vegetarian, just leave out the meat and add another can of beans and more veggies.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Source: Whole Foods

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped, optional
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ground white or dark meat turkey
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup water
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, if using, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes more. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Tip: Whatever you do, make sure you use plain pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling. Yuck!

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beef Curry

I am always on the lookout for simple and delicious recipes that are made with ground meat. Why? Because it's inexpensive and thaws quickly when I pull a pound from the freezer and need to get dinner on the table quickly. I have my usual repertoire of tacos, spaghetti and hamburgers, but that gets old really quick. So it's nice to try something new.

This recipe from Whole. New. Mom. is unbelievable! The first time I made it, I nearly swooned! If you've never had curry, please, please, PLEASE try it! So stinkin' good! And it's easy and made with ground beef. Seriously simple stuff here.

The recipe is also easily adapted to the foods you like or have on hand. You can use any type of ground meat -- turkey, chicken, pork, venison. (It would be really good with wild game because the spices would help disguise the gaminess of the meat.) Or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian version. Clean out the fridge and use a variety of vegetables. Carrots, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, etc. would all be good in this. Just make sure you chop the vegetables to the size of peas. The version pictured below was made with ground turkey, asparagus and a handful of peas. We loved it!

Beef Curry
Source: Slightly adapted from Whole. New. Mom.

2 tbsp. oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef (or other ground meat)
1 ½ tbsp. curry powder
2 ¼ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. cinnamon
⅛ tsp. ginger
⅛ tsp. turmeric
3 cups tomatoes (about 1 ½ 14-oz. cans)
3 potatoes
3 cups combination of vegetables, chopped to pea size
Hot cooked rice

Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion softens. Add meat and cook thoroughly. Add curry, salt and spices. Stir well.

Dice potatoes (keep the skin on). Add potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables to the pan -- unless you are using peas. Bring to a simmering boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Add peas to pan and heat through.

Serve over rice.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crock Pot Ham and Beans with Quick Corn Bread

Crock pot recipes are all the rage right now. And why not? We're all way too busy to be slaving over the stove every evening. And now that fall's chilly weather upon us, crock pot meals are comfort food at its best. And an added bonus? Recipes like these are super inexpensive!

Crock Pot Ham and Beans
Source: Adapted from

1 lb. dried great northern beans
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1½ tsp. dried parsley
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2-3 ham hocks
6 cups water

Sort beans and soak in enough water to cover overnight. (Quick soak method: Sort the beans and place them in a saucepan with 2-inches of water to cover. Bring pan to a boil, boil for 3 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for one hour after boiling -- don't lift the lid.) Once beans are soaked, rinse, drain and then place them in the crock pot.

Add remaining ingredients to the crock and stir together. Place lid on crock, and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until beans are tender and creamy. Remove ham hocks from beans and allow to slightly cool. Remove ham from the bones and add meat back to the beans. Adjust seasonings to taste. Skim any excess fat, if necessary, before serving over corn bread.

Freezer Instructions: Place cooled-down mixture in a freezer-safe package. Freeze. When ready to use, thaw mixture in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then reheat in a pan on the stove. (If you don't have the time to allow the mixture to thaw completely, you can still go ahead and reheat from frozen, however the beans will likely break down. They'll still taste good, just be a little mushy!)

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

Quick Corn Bread
Source: Adapted from Kroger Corn Meal package

¾ cup corn meal
1 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup rice milk
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch round pan. Blend all dry ingredients. Stir in remaining ingredients until dry ingredients are moist. Pour batter into greased pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

My first-grader, Libby, came home from school a few weeks ago in a panic. "Mom! Mom! It's my teacher's birthday this weekend. We HAVE to make her something." I quickly thought through the options of things I could make, taking into account what ingredients I had on hand, and quickly settled on these Pumpkin Muffins. (The recipe makes two dozen muffins, so we were able to keep half the recipe for ourselves. Yay!) Libby and I mixed them up, baked them and then sent them off to school the next day.

Evidently, they were a hit with Libby's teacher. If you love pumpkin-flavored treats, this will make you very happy!

Pumpkin Muffins
Source: Adapted from my trusty "Betty Crocker's New Cookbook"

1 16 oz. can pumpkin puree
1-⅔ cup sugar
⅔ cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. baking powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins and set aside.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour flour mixture into wet mixture and stir until combined. 

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Loosen muffins from pans and remove to wire rack until completely cool.

Tip: I adapted this from a Pumpkin Bread recipe. To make bread instead of muffins, divide mixture between two 8-inch loaf pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack before removing loaves to wire rack to cool completely before slicing. ... Make muffins. They bake and cool much faster!

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

I love it when I can make one meal for my family then turn around and revamp the leftovers for an entirely different meal a few days later. Case in point, this recipe: I threw in a few more chicken thighs and saved the leftovers for soft tacos. No muss, no fuss. Just perfect!

The original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of red pepper. I only used half that -- in order to keep my family from disowning me -- and I've listed that here. Adjust the recipe to your personal preference.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
Source: Slightly adapted from Cooking Light

2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray or canola oil -- use oil for Quick Start
6 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray or brushed with canola oil. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush ¼ cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The all new MSPI Mama ... and a brownie, too!

Welcome to the fully revamped MSPI Mama! Yes, the blog has been quiet over the last few weeks, but I've been feverishly redesigning the site to make it more user-friendly. (I'm still working out a few kinks and updating a few things, so please be patient as I finish things up.) For those of you who are reading this post in an RSS feed or via email, make sure you hop on over to the site to see everything! While there, check out a few of my favorite things:
  • Recipe Index: I've finally compiled a full list of all my recipes (more than 300 of them!) and organized them according to type of recipe. Hopefully, this will help you in your menu planning and make it easier to find recipes.
  • Web Resources: I've compiled a list of websites that have been helpful to me over the years. I've even included links to restaurants' allergen and ingredient information!
  • Grab a Button: For those of you who have a blog of your own, let the world know you're a proud MSPI Mama by adding my button to your site. If you do, drop me a line letting me know, including a link to your blog, and I'll link back to your site! Link Love!
  • Quick Start: Check out my full list of Quick Start recipes! 
And speaking of Quick Start, this brownie recipe is super-duper easy (almost as easy as a mix!) and completely free of dairy and soy. Perfect for Quick Start. What better way to celebrate the redesign than chocolate!

Enjoy the site. I hope you like it!

Source: Slightly adapted from

½ cup canola oil
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. 

Bake pan for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack then place in refrigerator to cool down even more. The brownies are best when they've had time to cool and develop their flavor!

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Magical Coconut Bars

A story about coconut appeared in the Omaha World-Herald a few weeks ago. (It even mentions MSPI!)

So the gist of the story? Basically, coconut is now the big "it" ingredient. Well, I've been enjoying the wonders of coconut for several years now, and I don't even like coconut -- at least not the dried coconut found in the baking aisle at the grocery store. I love coconut milk -- both the canned variety and the beverage. My mom waxes poetic about the wonders of coconut oil.

I must admit though, that dried coconut is beginning to grow on me, especially when it's used in yummy recipes like this one. The recipe was included in the article, but I've seen it before over at the Post Punk Kitchen. Seeing it in the paper reminded me to make it, and boy was I glad I did. It is decadent and oh-so good! After reading some reader comments about the recipe over at PPK, I changed the directions slightly, so this is my slightly altered version.

Magical Coconut Bars
Source: Slightly adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

1 14-oz. can (regular or lite) coconut milk
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups MSPI-friendly graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup MSPI-friendly margarine or coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 cups MSPI-friendly chocolate chips
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup slivered almonds, walnuts or pecans, chopped

In a large saucepan, whisk together coconut milk and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture may form a thin skin on the surface; just stir it back into the liquid. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the crust.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine or coconut oil and sugar; mix well to moisten crumbs completely. Firmly press mixture into prepared pan, pressing evenly from center to sides of pan. Place pan in oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.

Top base with an even layer of chocolate chips and flaked coconut. Pour warm coconut milk mixture evenly over toppings. Firmly pat everything down then sprinkle nuts evenly over the top.

Bake for 28-30 minutes or until coconut is deeply golden and filling is bubbling, remove from oven and let entire pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Transfer pan to the refrigerator to completely cool and firm up for at least 4 hours, even better overnight or until very firm. 

Use a sharp, heavy knife to run along the edges of bars, slide bars on parchment paper or foil out of pan onto a cutting board then to slice into 24 squares. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. These also freeze well, tightly wrapped.

Tip: If you are crushing MSPI-friendly graham crackers to make your crumbs, it would likely take about two sleeves of graham crackers to make two cups of finely crushed crumbs. Measure after you crush the crackers to get the right amount.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chili Mac

Although my seasonal allergies are starting to drive me crazy, I am more than willing to put up with them because it means fall is in the air! Yay for cooler weather and trips to the orchard and the pumpkin patch! I am so ready for autumn and all the wonderful activities it brings. And I'm ready for fall comfort food.

The next time you need something warm and filling, curl up with a bowl of this. Your tummy will thank you!

Chili Mac
Source: MSPI Mama

½ lb. lean ground beef or turkey
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. canola oil
8 oz. elbow macaroni
1 16-oz. can kidney or pinto beans, undrained
1 cup frozen corn
1 16-oz. can plain tomato sauce
1 cup water, plus more as needed
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large skillet coated with the oil, brown ground meat, onion and garlic. Drain off any extra fat and return pan to the burner. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, turn heat down, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid noodles sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add additional water, ½ cup at a time, until macaroni is properly cooked and to make sauce thinner, as needed. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Tip: Do yourself a favor and go ahead and cook a full pound of ground beef/turkey and double the onions and garlic. Once cooked, set aside half the mixture to cool while you continue with the rest of the recipe. Once the extra meat mixture has cooled, package it, label it, and pop it in the freezer. Next time you go to make Chili Mac, half the work will already be done!

Vegetarian: Skip the meat and double the beans. You also might want to add extra veggies, such as bell pepper, zucchini or whatever strikes your fancy.

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quick Start with MSPI Mama

I am so excited to introduce you to “Quick Start with MSPI Mama”!

I know how mind-numbing and awful those first few weeks on the MSPI diet can be for a mom. Trust me, I’ve been there. Not only are you dealing with the usual newborn baby problems of learning to nurse, crying, sleep deprivation and exhaustion, but you have the added issues of your baby’s MSPI symptoms, such as colicky behavior, reflux and even more sleep deprivation. And, oh yeah, you’re supposed to start a brand new diet that’s kind of complicated and filled with tons of label reading. You are literally petrified to eat ANYTHING because you don’t want your baby’s symptoms to get worse. Hello, rock bottom!

I get so many SOS emails from mamas begging for advice, and I honestly don’t know what to tell you other than: “Hang in there! You can do it!” Well, I’m hoping “Quick Start with MSPI Mama” will go a long way in helping you ladies.

In a nut shell, “Quick Start” is the MSPI diet for beginners. I’m going to start labeling any of my recipes (including previously posted recipes) that meet a few criteria:

  • Every ingredient is completely free of dairy and soy. Yup, that even includes soy oil and lecithin. There are lots of fresh, whole ingredients, and you’ll occasionally see canned ingredients.
  • None of the ingredients are “specialty ingredients.” In other words, there’s no rice milk, because that’s not something you see in your average kitchen.
  • And you won’t see anything labeled “MSPI-friendly.” All the ingredients in these recipes are naturally MSPI-friendly and you shouldn’t have any worries about using them. For example, you won’t see Worcestershire sauce listed in one of these recipes, even though it’s pretty easy to find Worcestershire that’s MSPI-friendly. 

Basically, I’m trying to make the MSPI diet as easy as possible. The idea is that once you’ve mastered the basics of the MSPI diet and label reading you can move on to my other recipes that have more “complicated” ingredients and start adapting your own recipes.

Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read labels. ALWAYS read labels! You have to familiarize yourself with the process. And this doesn’t mean mistakes can’t be made, especially if you are completely avoiding soy oil and lecithin. They are sneaky little buggers! And cross-contamination is always possible. You are still ultimately responsible for the food you choose to eat, but I hope “Quick Start” will make the process a little bit easier.

And one other reason I’m doing this: It’ll come in handy when eating at other people’s homes or if they want to bring you a meal. You can send people to these Quick Start recipes when they ask, “What food can I make for you?”

Happy eating, ladies! Hang in there! You can do it! ;) 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mustard Greens with Ham

My parents always had a big garden when I was a kid growing up in central Washington state. Even though we lived in town, our home was on a big lot, and we had the space for a huge garden. In fact, one time a small herd of cattle got loose and wandered into town. The farmer corralled them in our garden! Needless to say, my parents were not happy about all those veggies getting stomped and eaten by a bunch of cows!

Despite having some pretty decent gardening genes, my green thumb is pretty pitiful. I'm doing good just keeping my pots of herbs alive. And our yard was not made for a garden. It's hilly and shady. So in order to feed my need for homegrown veggies, I joined a local CSA here in Omaha.

I have loved the variety of vegetables. I've received some of the usual suspects: tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peaches, watermelon, strawberries, lettuce and cabbage. And I've also received a few unusual items: kohlrabi, garlic scapes, beets, rhubarb and a variety of greens. This recipe was made with some of those lovely greens!

Mustard Greens with Ham
Source: Slightly adapted from

1 tbsp. canola oil
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups MSPI-friendly chicken broth
2 lbs mustard greens, thoroughly washed, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 lb. smoked ham, chopped
2 tsp. MSPI-friendly Worcestershire sauce
hot pepper sauce, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until onions are wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the mustard greens, a few handfuls at a time, adding more as the first batch wilts. Add ham and reduce heat to medium-low. Add Worcestershire sauce and a dash of hot pepper sauce. 

Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Cover and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes longer. Taste and add more pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. 

Serve with cooked brown rice or MSPI-friendly corn bread. (Try this recipe for Corn in the USA Muffins.)

Tip: Pretty much any type of hearty greens can be used in this recipe. I often see kale and collard greens for sale at the grocery store.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

To say "we've been busy" around our house is an understatement. It's been crazy. School started two weeks ago. Libby is in first grade, and JD started preschool. Egads! When did my kids get so big?!

At least I still have my baby girl, Caroline, to keep me company at home. So, yes, we've been busy trying to figure out the new schedule and what works best for us. Finally! Things are starting to even out, and I can get back to posting some recipes!

So here's a great little snack to give you and your kiddos some much-needed fuel in the middle of the day. JD will literally eat hummus with a spoon, but I prefer to eat it with homemade pita chips and fresh veggies.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Source: Cooking Light magazine

1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15 1/2-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Add more salt, to taste.

Tip: For a smoother consistency, add a few tablespoons olive oil.

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

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cherry Clafoutis

I know what you're thinking: "What the heck is a clafoutis?" Well, it's a little piece of heaven. (Yeah, I know that definition doesn't help.) According to the culinary arts glossary at, a clafoutis (pronounced kla-foo-tee) is "a rustic French baked dessert made by baking cherries in a custard-like batter similar to pancake batter." It also makes a decadent addition to breakfast or brunch.

And like I said, it's a little piece of heaven.

The definitive recipe for clafoutis in the U.S. is, of course, Julia Child's version, but there are many others lurking out there. And you can make it with other types of fruit, such as peaches or grapes. But the cherries are divine. I recently purchased a cherry pitter, after years of wishing I had one. (I'm still kicking myself for not buying one when I worked at Williams-Sonoma. That employee discount was lovely ... and dangerous!) Definitely worth the money if you love cherries ... and I've had a love affair with cherries since I was a small child living in Washington state.

Cherry Clafoutis
Source: Adapted from Joy of Baking

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp.salt
2 large eggs
4 tbsp. granulated white sugar, divided
3/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4-1 lb. fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1-2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. MSPI-friendly butter flavoring, optional
powdered sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the rack in the center of the oven. Wash the cherries, remove the stems and pits.

In your food processor or blender place the flour, salt, eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Process for about 45 - 60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl or jar as needed. Once the batter is completely smooth, let it rest while you prepare the fruit.

In a large 9- inch heavy oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium heat making sure the oil coats the bottom and sides of the pan. (The amount of oil will depend on whether your skillet is non-stick.) When the oil is heated, add the pitted cherries, and cook until the cherries have softened a bit and are coated with the oil, 2 - 3 minutes. If using butter flavoring, add that to the pan now. Then sprinkle the cherries with the sugar and cook until the sugar has dissolved and turns into a syrup, 1 - 2 minutes.

Pour the batter over the cherries and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffed, set and golden brown around the edges. Do not open the oven door until the end of the baking time or it may collapse. Allow to cool slightly, then slice and serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar. (I forgot to do this!) Also excellent served at room temperature. Store leftovers (if there are any!) in the refrigerator.

Tip: Despite the use of coconut milk in this recipe, the coconut flavor is barely detectable.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Red Cabbage Slaw

So I never thought I would live to see the day when my daughter Libby would actually ask me to make a dish that contains cabbage, but that day has come and I have this recipe to thank for it. It is such a simple coleslaw recipe, but it's different enough from your regular deli slaw that it's special.

And the fact it's purple doesn't hurt, either!

Red Cabbage Slaw
Source: Everyday Food

1/2 cup MSPI-friendly mayonnaise
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 small red cabbage, cored, quartered, and finely shredded
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise and vinegar. Add cabbage and apples; season with coarse salt and ground pepper, and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Tip: Depending on how sweet the apples are, you may want to add a pinch or two of sugar, if the slaw is too tart.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef Sandwiches

So here's a very important question: Coke or Pepsi? For me, Coke wins it hands-down. I love good ol' Coca-Cola. Pepsi doesn't do it for me. And none of that diet junk. If I'm going to drink a pop (and yes, it's pop, not soda!) I'm going to drink the real thing. And it's because I won't drink the diet stuff that I've pretty much stopped drinking pop and only drink it occasionally. Too many calories that I don't need! However, I still love the stuff!

Just because I no longer drink pop doesn't mean I have to completely strip it from my life, so here's a great recipe that utilizes Coke ... and I suppose you could use Pepsi, but why would you? Now, don't get freaked out about the whole pop-flavored-meat-thing. The cola flavor mellows during the cooking process. The flavor is savory and delicious, and people will be asking you, "What's in this? Whatever it is, it tastes great!"

Everything cooks in the slow cooker, which makes it super easy. And if you have leftovers, the meat is great for tacos. Just reheat the shredded beef in a saucepan on the stove with a little bit of water and some taco seasonings. Delish!

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef Sandwiches
Source: Slightly adapted from Crepes of Wrath

3 lbs. chuck roast (or a similar cut of beef)
3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly
3 carrots, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 can regular Coca-Cola
1/4 cup MSPI-friendly Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground mustard, or to taste
MSPI-friendly hamburger buns

Spray your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Add in the sliced vegetables, then the beef. Mix together the remaining ingredients (except the buns) in a bowl and pour over the meat and veggies. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

When the meat is ready, remove from the pot with tongs and place on a cutting board. Strain the juices from the vegetables and set aside. Slice or shred the beef (whichever is your preference) and add some juices if needed.

Layer the beef and then the vegetables on the buns, ladling some of the extra juices on top as needed or serve on the side for dipping.

Tip: If your family doesn't care for spicy food, use the red pepper flakes and cayenne sparingly. The heat intensifies during the cooking process!

Freezer-Friendly: Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe package. Completely thaw the package in the refrigerator for several hours prior to reheating in a pan on the stove or in the microwave. The vegetables will turn to mush if you don't completely thaw!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Asian Meatballs and Rice Noodles

If you're looking for an Asian cuisine that doesn't rely as heavily on soy-based sauces, take a look at Thai-inspired recipes. Many of these delicious recipes use a combination of fish sauce -- which is quite stinky but incredibly delicious when added to recipes -- chili sauce and lime juice to flavor dishes. The result is super yummy! And if you like your food spicy, Thai is the way to go. But for those of you who want a tamer heat, just take it easy on the chili sauce.

Asian Meatballs and Rice Noodles
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

3 tbsp. chopped shallots or other milk onion
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1-1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bacon slice
8 oz. ground sirloin
8 oz. lean ground pork
Cooking spray
1 lb. rice noodles -- I used Pad Thai noodles.
1/2 cup warm water
6 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
1-2 tsp. chili garlic sauce -- I used sriracha, which is available in the Asian section of most grocery stores.
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro and mint

Combine first five ingredients in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. If using a food processor, add beef and pork; pulse to combine. If using a blender, combine beef, pork and contents of blender in a large bowl until well combined. Shape meat mixture into into a 1-inch balls.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cook 8 minutes or until meatballs are nearly done, browning on all sides. Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package directions. 

Combine warm water and next 5 ingredients (water through 4 garlic cloves), stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add sauce to the cooking meatballs, allowing the meatballs to finish cooking in the sauce. Add noodles to saucepan and carefully toss with the noodles and the meatballs. Sprinkle with fresh herbs prior to serving. 

Tip: I took a trip to an Asian grocery store and was amazed at the variety of rice noodles that are available, however most grocery stores will only have one or two, such as rice vermicelli or rice stick noodles. Any of those varieties will work. In fact, you could use a wheat-based pasta, as well. Angel hair or fettuccine would be good.