As I've mentioned here and here, when I was eating dairy/soy-free (MSPI diet), I had to completely revamp our meals. Several of the dairy/soy-free dinners were so good that they have stuck around as staples in our rotation. This Chicken Fried Rice is one of them. You can serve it with soy sauce on the side if you don't have a sensitivity to soy, or if there are members of the family that can tolerate it. Bob usually puts soy sauce and sriracha sauce on it.
Authentic fried rice is made from day-old rice. Since I usually serve the Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs with rice, I make a double batch so I have leftover rice for this recipe the next night.
I prefer chicken thighs for this recipe but have used chicken breasts before and they work too; it's just a matter of personal preference.
Soy-Free Chicken Fried Rice (MSPI Friendly)
2 tablespoons Canola oil, plus extra for cooking chicken
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons water
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 cups cooked rice (day-old leftover rice is best)
1. Drizzle Canola oil in a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place in pan "pretty" side down. Cook until starting to brown and then flip to finish cooking completely. Remove chicken to a plate until cool enough to handle, shred, and set aside in a warm place. Set pan aside for use in step 3.
2. In a smaller (medium-sized) nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat; swirl to coat pan. In a small bowl, lightly beat together eggs, 2 teaspoons water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour into pan; cook, pulling in egg from edge of pan, until set, about 2 minutes. If desired, carefully flip over for a few seconds. Transfer to a plate; when cool enough to handle, cut into strips.
3. In large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice; season with salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until very hot, about 5 minutes.
Add vinegar, peas, eggs, and shredded chicken; cook until very hot, about 2 minutes.
I mentioned in this post that I had to be dairy-free soy-free for several months when Ella was a new baby. One of our favorite dinners that I found when searching for MSPI Friendly recipes is this recipe for Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs. We all love these, and I continue to make them despite no longer having to be dairy/soy-free. I usually serve them with plain, steamed rice and sautéed sugar snap peas. I will soon post my favorite MSPI Friendly Fried Rice recipe that I make using the leftover rice from this dinner!
Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne - can reduce if sensitive to spice)
~ 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Canola cooking spray (that does not contain soy) or Canola oil
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1. Preheat broiler. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with Canola cooking spray or brush with Canola oil.
2. Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on pan.
3. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.
4. Meanwhile, combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well.
5. Remove chicken from oven; brush half of the honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute.
6. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.
Now that Halloween is officially over, it's time to start getting our Thanksgiving menus together. We always have our traditional Thanksgiving Dressing on Turkey Day, but a few years ago when my we started having a December "Dickens Dinner" with my sister's family, I started making this New England Sausage and Dried Cranberry Stuffing. Since I don't eat pork, I substitute chicken or turkey sausage and even the pork-eaters love this stuffing. Whether you're looking for a new recipe for Thanksgiving or one of the many holiday dinners ahead of us, this recipe is worth trying!
New England Sausage and Dried Cranberry Stuffing
Serves 5 - 6
6 cups white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 pound sausage, casings removed (traditional, chicken, or turkey)
1/4 stick butter
3 cups onion
1/2 pound tart green apples (or your choice), peeled, cored, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 1/2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup chicken broth
1. Place bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake until slightly dry, about 15 - 20 minutes. Cool completely. You can also leave the cubes out overnight to dry.
2. Sauté the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a large bowl. Pour off any drippings from the skillet.
3. Using the same skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions, apples, celery, and poultry seasoning to the skillet. Sauté until onions are softened, about 5 – 8 minutes.
4. Mix in dried cranberries. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the bread, eggs, and parsley. Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth to moisten stuffing depending on how most you like it (can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate).
5. Butter a baking dish (I used a 7 x 11-inch glass dish). Transfer stuffing to the dish, cover, and bake at 350F until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Notes: I halved the original recipe, which serves 10. It calls for 4 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary (so that would be 2 teaspoons for the half batch) and the parsley to be fresh. Due to personal preference, I omitted the rosemary and substituted dried parsley.
When Ella was a month old, she had a very scary vomiting incident that resulted in us taking her to the pediatric ER. Thankfully, she just had severe acid reflux. Medicine helped a little, but the most dramatic change happened after I removed dairy and soy proteins from my diet. I was happy to do what I could to help her while still nursing, but it was so difficult! Try finding prepared food that does not contain soybean oil or soy lecithin***(see note below). Even my favorite pasta sauce from Trader Joe's was off limits. My saving grace was stumbling across the blog called MSPI Mama.
MSPI stands for Milk Soy Protein Intolerance. This is not lactose intolerance, which is the inability to break down milk sugar, but rather an intolerance/allergy to milk proteins, which are closely mimicked by those in soy. It's actually pretty common in young babies and they usually grow out of it and are able to tolerate dairy proteins just fine. I had to be dairy/soy-free for about 4 months before being able to introduce them in small quantities. For what it's worth, Ella is now completely tolerant of dairy and soy - one of her favorite foods is cheese!
During those months, I had to completely overhaul how I cooked. Most of my recipes were off limits or had to be majorly revised. I never thought of myself as heavily dependent on dairy, but I guess I am. I felt very overwhelmed at the beginning and finding MSPI Mama was the biggest help. She has so many recipes that are MSPI friendly - even desserts! Once I identified a core group of recipes, I felt more in control and things became easier. Eating at restaurants, however, did not become easier and is one of the biggest challenges of MSPI. So many restaurants use soybean oil or butter (dairy) in things you wouldn't suspect.
This brownie recipes is one that I made quite often while eating the MSPI diet. The sugar cravings while nursing are no joke and still being able to enjoy desserts was a must. I figured I needed to "pay it forward" to other moms out there, frantically Google-ing for MSPI-safe recipes (likely while their new babies scream in their arms). I will be posting a handful of my favorite recipes - ones that are so good that they continue to be in our meal rotation despite the restrictions no longer being in place. These brownie are one of those recipes. They are so chocolatey and fudgey and have a nice crisp top on them. You certainly won't feel deprived eating these!
***Note: many people with a soy sensitivity can still eat soybean oil and soy lecithin but at the beginning I had to eliminate everything and then add things back.
Dairy-Free Soy Free Brownies (MSPI Friendly)
1/2 cup Canola oil
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into the egg mixture until well blended.
4. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.
5. 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.
I started making this Baked Ziti when Bob and I were on a Sopranos kick many, many years ago. We had rented the last season from mail-order Netflix and watched multiple episodes a night. It was the influence of the Sopranos that led Bob to start referring to this recipe as "Meghan's Effing Ziti." Anyone who has seen this show will understand why. This makes a big pan of ziti - enough for the two of us for dinner and leftovers for lunch the rest of the week, so I like to make it on Sundays or Mondays. It's a great "Meatless Monday" meal!
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 ounces ziti (3 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I usually use milk or fat-free half-and-half)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475F.
2. Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet and saute over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, ziti, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Stir in cream, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (At this point, I transfer the pasta to a 13x9-inch Pyrex dish). Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over pan. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.
Source: Adapted from The Best 30 Minute Recipe cookbook
I made this cake for my mom's birthday a few years ago. She found it in a magazine years ago and thought it looked neat so she saved the clipping. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dessert, this came to her mind. I was a little worried that mine wouldn't turn out like the picture, but it actually did, and this was a very impressive-looking dessert but actually not difficult.
I almost always prefer chocolate cake over white or yellow, so if I were to make this again, I would use a chocolate cake as the base. The cream filling was really good, as was the ganache, so I would keep the rest of the recipe as is.
Mocha Cream Cake
Makes 16 servings
1 package (18.25 ounces) white cake mix
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (11.5 ounces) milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur
Chocolate Triangles (see recipe below)
1. Prepare cake batter according to package directions; bake in two 9-inch round pans as directed. Cool completely on wire racks.
2. For the filling: In a small bowl, combine gelatin and water; let stand for 2 minutes. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. Stir until gelatin is dissolved; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the 1 1/4 cups cream, powdered sugar, kahlua, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed while slowly drizzling in gelatin mixture. Beat util stiff peaks form. Chill for several hours or overnight until ready to assemble.
3. For the ganache: In a small bowl, combine the milk chocolate chips, the 3/4 cup cream, and butter. Microwave for 3 minutes on medium-high (~70% power), stirring halfway through cooking time. Stir in kahlua. Chill for 45 to 60 minutes until thickened but still pourable. Beat with an electric mixer until spreadable, about 1 to 2 minutes.
4. To assemble the cake: Split cooled cakes horizontally. Place one layer on serving plate. Spread half of the filling over the top.
Top with the second cake layer. Spread about 1/2 cup of the ganache over the second layer.
Top with the third cake layer and spread remaining filling over top.
Reserve about 1/2 cup of the ganache. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Use reserved ganache to make 16 evenly spaced dollops around top outer edge of cake.
Place Chocolate Triangles on top of cake, resting one edge on ganache dollop. Store in refrigerator. Let cake stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 16 triangles
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons solid shortening
1 1/2 squares (1 1/2 ounces) white chocolate
1. Cut a circle of waxed paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Lightly coat the outside bottom of the pan with butter (to keep the paper from moving); place waxed paper circle on bottom of pan.
2. Place semi-sweet chocolate and shortening in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on medium-high (~70% power); stir. Continue to microwave and stir in 30-second intervals until chocolate can be stirred smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Melt white chocolate in a similar manner to the chocolate in step 2. Transfer to a piping bag with a small tip or a resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off. Make a squiggly design of white chocolate over the surface of the waxed paper. Chill on the pan until firm, about 5 minutes.
4. Spread the cooled chocolate in a smooth, even layer over the white chocolate squiggles. Chill for 15 to 25 minutes.
5. Transfer the chocolate disc to a cutting board. Using a large sharp knife, cut the chocolate into 16 wedges. Chill until ready to assemble cake. Remove waxed paper before arranging triangles with squiggle side up on cake.
Each year, my sister and her husband join us for an Apple Cider Doughnut making day. It's one of my favorite days of the fall. In the last few years, we've decided that we may as well put the hot oil to good use and fry something else! We now follow up the doughnuts with these Onion Strings from the Pioneer Woman. They are so good, they may even beat the doughnuts...no seriously, they are that good! We only deep fry once a year, so you better bet we are getting the most out of it and making these. If you ever find yourself with a pot of hot oil, try these. They will not disappoint!
1 whole large onion, sliced very thin
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 scant tablespoon table salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 - 2 quarts Canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place sliced onions in a baking dish, cover with buttermilk, and soak for at least an hour.
2. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Heat oil to 375F in a Dutch oven.
Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and plunge into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown. Season with salt and pepper as desired and serve immediately.