Tag Archives: getting kids to eat

Pasta Primavera – Gluten Free, Dairy Free

4 Jan

When I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to adapt it for my family.  We love pasta in this house and are always looking for new ways to get this.  This is rich and creamy and full of veggies too, but was chalked full of dairy and gluten, so with some tweaking and adjusting we had a creamy, hearty dinner.  How can a girl go wrong?

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What I like about this recipe is it is easy to adapt from whatever veggies you have on hand.  And easily make it vegan by omitting the ham and using veggie broth!
Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pasta Primavera – adapted from Ree Drummond’s recipe

What You Need

butter substitute – I personally like Earth Balance
1 cup chopped carrots (I used heirloom)
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed
4 ounces white mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup diced cooked ham (I used turkey ham)
1 TBSP dried basil
1 pound gluten free spaghetti, broken in to 3rds and cooked according to package directions
Sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk (or milk substitute of your choice, plain, unsweetened)
Salt & Black pepper to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella rice cheese
What you do ::

Melt 1 – 2 tablespoons butter substitute in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minute, then add the green beans and cook for an additional 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add 1 additional tablespoon of butter substitute to the skillet and allow it to melt. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are starting to soften. Remove from the skillet and add to the other vegetables. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to the skillet and allow it to warm. Add the onions to the skillet and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, or until they start to brown. Pour in the wine and the chicken broth and stir.  Return to a gentle boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, allowing it to reduce by about half. Stir in the milk, bring to a very gentle boil and then add cheese to melt. Season with black pepper and salt to taste. Let the sauce thicken for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add all the vegetables to the sauce, then add the frozen peas, diced ham, and basil. Stir to combine and allow the veggies to warm again.

Toss with pasta and serve!

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Dairy Free Chicken and Dumplings

30 Jul

I love comfort food.  I love working over a stove, stirring, adding, making it taste just right.  I love how it fills you, leaves you feeling satisfied, full.  It usually simple yet full of flavor.  I think that good comfort food can calm worries, ease anxieties, and give strength.

We have a lot going on right now – as summer comes to a close and school looms around the corner, I wanted to fill the bellies of those I love with something simple yet fulfilling.

What you need ::

1lb chicken – really any will do, I opted for boneless/skinless chicken thighs (I like how dark meat retains moisture)

1 – 2 carrots, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

1 small white yellow onion, diced

5 cups chicken stock

2 cups flour, plus additional for dusting

2 tablespoons shortening, I prefer all vegetable

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk substitute + a dash

salt, pepper, oil

What you do ::

In your cast iron dutch oven, pour in enough oil to lightly cover and heat to a medium heat.  Cook the chicken until no pink remains, set chicken aside.

Using the pan drippings, cook vegetables until soft, about ten minutes or so.

While your vegetables are softening, chop your chicken.  Once veggies are good to go pour in stock and add chopped chicken.  Generously season with pepper.  (I think the stock makes it salty enough but hey, if you like uber salty then by all means…)  Bring stock to a boil.

While you are waiting for the stock to come to a boil combine flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl.   Cut the shortening in to your flour mixture using a fork or one of the pastry cutters.  Mix in milk and stir until a dough forms, I used vanilla almond milk.  Mine was a little dry and I needed to add an extra splash.


Generously flour a working surface and a rolling pin.  Roll out your dough nice and thin.  Cut in to one inch squares, you can use a knife or a pizza cutter.

Gently drop the dumplings, 2 or 3 at a time, in to the your boiling stock, stirring as your work.  Cook for 20 minutes.

To finish this off I dunked a coffee cup in to the boiling stock and stirred in a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch and then mixed it back into the pot.  This helped to thicken it up .

That’s it!  It truly is easy and real comfort food.  My family of five finished off this entire pot, next time I will make a double serving!

Dairy Free Greek Meatballs and Tzatziki Sauce – Simply U Simply Me

23 Jul

Dairy Free Greek Meatballs and Tzatkiki Sauce is something kids will like?  You betcha!

It has been a long weekend, the Soldier had his drill this weekend, Sis has been sick, we are gearing up for VBS at church, it is hot out, and I am beat!  I was looking for something simple, refreshing, easy, but good too.  The Soldier will have had MREs all weekend, so he needs something to refuel him too.  And let me tell you, I love Greek food.  Tzatziki, Dolmas, olives, pitas, I love them all!  If I had to eat one style of food to eat for the rest of my life, and only one, it would be mediterranean  for sure!

So I opted to make this simple dinner for tonight.

What you need ::

for the sauce ::

8 or so ounces of dairy free, plain yogurt (I used coconut yogurt)

1 Tbsp dried dill

1/2 cucumber, processed in the food processor

dash of sea salt

4 – 5 fresh mint leaves – optional (I found the coconut yogurt still so sweet that it didn’t need this step, but you may want it)

For the sauce :: Combine all ingredients and let sit in your refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to over night.

for the meatballs ::

1 lb ground turkey meat

1 cup bread crumbs (read your labels or make your own!)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of the following :: sesame seeds, dried oregano, powdered garlic, dried red pepper flakes

For the Meatballs :: combine all the ingredients, roll or use a cookie scoop and make 1 inch balls, place in a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cooked all the way through and no pink remains

To Serve ::

Find flat bread, naan, or rolls, slice if necessary and bake in your hot oven until lightly toasted – 5 – 10 minutes.  I spread mine with a little olive oil.

Spread with tzatziki sauce, using the remaining 1/2 of the cucumber, slice thinly and layer on bread, optionally top with thinly sliced red onions.

Serve with cooked meatballs and remaining tzatziki sauce.  Yummmmm…….

Now if I could just master the art of grape leaf rolling…

Simple Marsala Chicken – Dairy Free, Gluten Free

9 Jul

I love, love, love marsala chicken.  It is probably one of my favorite dishes, ever. I needed to make it the other day and it needed to be both dairy free and gluten free.  One of the characteristics of marsala chicken is the flour on the outside to give it a nice crust.  But by making sure you have nice thin chicken and a hot pan you can achieve the same taste without the allergens.

I also needed a side that fit that bill, so I picked one of my favorites, red quinoa!

What you need ::

4 – 5 thin cut (or pounded thin) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 – 4  Tbs your favorite dairy substitute (we LOVE Earth Balance)

8 oz fresh mushrooms

1 Cup Marsala Wine

2 – 3 Tbsp unsweeted coconut milk

1 cup red quinoa

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch green onions

salt and pepper to taste

What you do ::

Rinse you quinoa in cold water.  Heat your chicken stock or broth to boiling.  Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Drain any excess liquid.  When ready to serve mix in chopped green onions.

While the quinoa is cooking heat butter substitute over medium heat in skillet.  Salt and pepper chicken to taste and add to pan.  Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.  Each side should be nice and browned, and no pink should remain in the middle of the breast.

Remove chicken from pan and cover to keep warm.  Add mushrooms to pan and cook until soft, about five minutes.  Deglaze the pan with your marsla wine and cook down until reduced by half, about 2 – 3 minutes.  Stir in milk substitute and add chicken back to pan.  Cover and let cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

That’s it!  Easy peasy and super yummy!!!

The Mommy Files – My Kids Won’t Eat THAT

30 Jun

My kids are no different than any other person on this planet.  They have their likes.  They have their dislikes.

But more often than not I hear from so many moms, “you are so lucky, my child would never eat that”

I really dont’ think it has anything to do with luck, or my children being that different.  I think it has much more to do with the approach we take to dinner, and food in general.

So here are some things that we do that has nothing to do with the actual food we are serving but more a mindset about dinner.

1. I am not a short order cook, I do love to cook, but I cook one meal per meal.  We have allergies in this house but we still eat the same thing, I do not make special meals.

2.  We eat dinner together.  We do not eat it in front of the t.v., we sit at the table, and we talk to each other, not our phones or our electronics.  In fact we have always had a “no toys at the table” rule, it has served us well.

3.  We say grace.  Truly, it forces all of us to stop what we’re doing and offer up thanksgiving for the food we’re about to eat.  It re-focuses our energies from what we were doing to the task at hand.

4.  80% of the time you will like what I cook, I cannot always make five people happy 100% of the time.  But if you are in the 20% today please read rule 5….

5.  If you don’t like something you still need to try one bite, to see if you like this dish.  And if you still don’t like it, you can tell me without whining, complaining, fussing, pouting, shouting, crying, or being rude.  This is a life lesson that will serve you well in many areas, learn it now when you’re only a kid so it becomes second nature by the time you’re an adult.

6.  If you’ve tried dinner and do not like it and have told me in a polite way, you may be done.  But you are done.  No other food is available to you, I will not make you a sandwich, you do not get dessert.

7.  Children learn by example.  My husband, bless him, is very good about eating whatever is served.  No complaints.  If your husband is complaining about the food, what makes you think your children won’t?  Likewise SW knows that he is the oldest, he is the example.  He does not like mushrooms, he never has, I love mushrooms, guess what, mushrooms end up in our dinners.  He knows not to complain, that if he complains the younger two will not eat the dish either, but if he quietly pulls them out of the dish, the younger two are non the wiser.

8.  From the time my kids were old enough to walk, they help set the table and they take their dishes to the sink when they are done eating.  Engage them, make them a member of team family, when they feel like they matter and are a part of something bigger they’re a lot less likely to complain!

I know that this is sometimes easier said than done – this doesn’t happen over night either.  These rules stem from bad experiences on our end, don’t think it has always been easy!  But also don’t think it is hopeless!  Work at it, get your family on board!

There are few things I cherish like I cherish sharing food with my family and talking about their days.

Do you have tried and true tricks that work in your house?  Share them below!