“Not to sound too much like Christopher Guest in ‘Waiting for Guffman,’ but on Thanksgiving you’re putting on a show!” – Ted Allen

I’ve been away for a while, working on two other sites which took my spare time away from my own. But just because I’ve been away from the keyboard doesn’t mean I’ve been out of the kitchen. This past weekend, Thanksgiving, I created a dish, somewhat by fluke, that has become a side dish staple.

We cooked our turkey two days in advance and were having people over for dinner on Friday night (you guessed it, our T-Day was Sunday), but since I have so many food issues I couldn’t eat what was being served. So I started to make a mini turkey dinner for myself, which meant I needed some veggies. Rather than dirty several pots, I put the potatoes in the bottom and tossed a veggie steamer on top for the carrots. Originally my plan was to do up a batch of Make Ahead Potatoes, but the carrots gave me a better idea.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 small to medium sized potatoes (peel to preference)
  • 3-4 good sized carrots peeled
  • curry (to preference)
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese
  • Tofutti Sour Cream
  • margarine

I made this twice over the weekend, once with steamed carrots, the second time was done with carrots that were sliced into dollars and cooked in a pot all their own. Both worked quite well, the steamed, of course, mashed better and the dollars kept their form. How you cook the carrots depends on whether you want to have a completely smooth consistency or a more chunked, rustic, feel. I do prefer the latter and, as such, leave the skin on the potato and mash rather than use a hand mixer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll give the recipe with dollared carrots and then, if you’d rather, all you need to do is steam the carrots and use a hand mixer to marry it all together before tossing it in the oven.

Peel the carrots, halve or quarter the potato according to size and slice the carrots into dollars. toss both in separate pots to cook. Once the veggies are done, put in a large bowl, add in some margarine to make the mashing easier and have at it. After you get a good mash on the potatoes and carrots, add a couple spoonfuls of the sour cream, your preferred amount of curry and a handful of the Daiya Cheese. When the mix is mashed to your desired consistency, transfer to an 8×8 pan, flatten it out, layer on some more Daiya, and put in the oven @ 350 for 25-30 minutes.

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While it does LOOK like the Make Ahead Potatoes, it tastes completely different and an excellent addition to your dinner table.

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Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later. – Og Mandino

Back in action!

As I mentioned previously, the past few weeks have been incredibly hot and humid here, so I’ve had to stay away from the stove as much as possible. Otherwise I would have overheated the whole house, and I didn’t want to have to deal with that.

This meant I was very limited as to my choices, especially since take out isn’t an option. I decided to break out the slow cooker, which still kicks off a fair amount of heat but my system worked out quite well. The best way to beat the heat is to do all your prep, load the slow cooker, then find the coolest place in your house and plug it in. Since you don’t need to do much other than leave it be, and occasionally twisting a knob or two it doesn’t need to be on the kitchen. Keep it somewhere cool, and let the smell waft through your house.

We got a good rain storm, so I can use the stove again, but I wanted to pass on my personal favorite of the recipes I came up with.

Here’s What You Need

  • 1.5 lb ground poultry
  • 1 medium sized zucchini
  • 6-7 mushrooms
  • 1-2 scallions (depending on size)
  • 1 orange pepper
  • cayenne
  • sea salt & herbs
  • 1 pkg brown rice pasta (shape to preference)
  • 2-3 green onions
  • tomato sauce (2 cans)
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese

This can become a vegetarian dish very simply, just ditch the poultry & double up on the veg. =)

There is still some stove work required, but not much.

Put some olive oil in a pan big enough to cook all the poultry, and dice all the veggies. Set the green onion aside, and toss the rest in the pan once the meat starts to change colour. Season everything as you see fit (cayenne + sea salt & herbs, for me.) Keep it at a medium heat and let it all cook down, until the meat is browned slightly.

At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil, put in a few drips of olive oil and the package of pasta.

When the ingredients in the pan finish cooking, put them in the slow cooker, and when the pasta is done, drain it and add that in too. At this point I added in a healthy amount of cheese and then mixed everything together with the tomato sauce. Topped it off with a layer of cheese, cranked the slow cooker to high and put it in the coolest place in your house for 4-5 hours. Then toss on the green onions, and leave it for another hour or two.

Now is about the time to carry this amazing culinary pot pourri back to the kitchen and serve it up!

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I’m about as tired as my little one, so I’m calling this blog sufficiently entried!

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Failure is success if we learn from it. – Malcolm Forbes

My mother always made the best Mac & Cheese growing up, and I would request it regularly. But when you develop both IBS and an intolerance to dairy, your diet gets tweaked ever so slightly.

I can no longer eat pasta, one of the joys of IBS is everyone reacts to it differently and the triggers are different for everyone. I have no problems with bread, or wheat, or flour, gluten is not my enemy. But for some reason Pasta just does not agree with me. So I just considered Mac & Cheese to be a write off. I figured I had eaten my last one long ago and didn’t even savour it because I had no idea it was my last hurrah.

Over time I found some pasta alternatives, there’s brown rice pasta, corn pasta, rice vermicelli, udon noodles, and one made of bean sprouts and peas that is white raw, but cooks clear. When you’re not warned about something like that it can catch you off guard pretty quick!

Finding an alternative to run of the mill pasta was easy, as the first one I tried didn’t taste like cardboard. I wasn’t so lucky with an alternative to cheese.

I tried many different types of dairy free cheese and none of them tasted anywhere close, some claimed they “melted” but they didn’t. They ended up with a film over top and just molten particle board tasting lava underneath. I had almost given up, I thought I had tried them all, with no success, but then I noticed Daiya for the first time as I passed by it in the deli. It wasn’t with the other dairy free or vegan cheeses, but around the corner with the “normal” cheese, so I hadn’t paid it much attention. I saw those magic “Dairy Free” words, and tossed it in the cart. When I got home I also noticed the claim that it “melts and stretches”, but took it with a grain of salt. Fast forward to a year or two later, and there is always at least two bags of the shredded in my fridge. It is the best alternative I have found, it DOES melt, it DOES stretch, & most of all IT TASTES LIKE CHEESE!

To me it’s a wonder product, it was a game changer for me, it was with this product that I realized being dairy free wasn’t all that horrible, there were work arounds and they tasted great.

It’s because of Daiya cheese that I’ve been able to make a lot of the recipes that are on this blog, including the one I’m about to share.

I’ve obviously had to tweak the recipe a bit as far as ingredients go, I’ve also added some stuff too because I can never leave well enough alone, this is Mac & Cheese 2.0

The zucchini is something that, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have in my fridge. However, the always fantastic Susie Jimenez sent out a battle cry to pick up a new vegetable, you normally wouldn’t cook with, and incorporate it into your night’s meal. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have figured out just how awesome zucchini is and how much it added to this recipe. I suggest you all give her a follow on Twitter, she’s got some great ideas!

Side Note: If you want to make this dish vegan, all you have to do is omit the bread crumbs and chicken, also use the vegan margarine that Becel has.

The Goods

  • 8×8 pan
  • 1 3/4 cups macaroni (brown rice pasta)
  • 2 tsp margarine (olive oil or vegan becel)
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • bread crumbs (omit for vegan)
  • Daiya Dairy Free Mozzarella or Cheddar style shreds
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 4-5 mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1-2 small chicken breasts (omit for vegan)
  • curry powder
  • sea salt & herbs

I tend to cook the chicken in the afternoon so that its cooked when I’m prepared to get everything else ready. Just very simply chop it up into chunks, season it lightly as you wish, over the dish in tinfoil and cook it at 350 for 30 minutes.

Put the pasta in a pot with some salt, water and a little bit of olive oil to keep it from clumping.

Slice up the onion, zucchini, and mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with some olive oil and some Sea Salt & Herbs and once the veggies start to get some colour, toss in the chucks of chicken. Keep it at a low-medium temperature and let it cook, while keeping an eye on it, and get everything else ready.

In a small microwavable bowl, melt the margarine then, in a larger bowl, whisk it together with the flour, almond milk, salt, pepper, and curry. Now the curry is a recent addition, and we loved it! For those who aren’t familiar with it, you don’t need a lot of curry for big flavour, so be careful not to make it too spicy. We use a yellow curry and keep adding it in bit by bit to avoid a mishap.

The veggies and chicken will be done before your pasta, so feel free to transfer them from the stove to the 8×8 pan. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse it off, and drain a second time. Then add it into the pan with your other goodies. This is where the cheese comes into play. I didn’t put an amount on the list of ingredients for the simple fact that it all comes down to preference, we like it quite cheesy. Put your desired amount of cheese and mix it all together, and pour in your liquid. After everything is in the pan, give it another mix to make sure everything is coated, sprinkle on a layer of bread crumbs and some more cheese and into the oven it goes @ 350 for 30 minutes. The cheese and bread crumbs crisp up and everything else cooks perfectly to the point where it all melts in your mouth.

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Once again, if you try this, please send me an e-mail with pictures and any revamps to the recipe you’ve made. My next entry will be Barbara‘s take on the Breakfast Pizza =)

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, I was watching Chuck’s Day Off on the Food Network and he was making this really yummy looking spinach dip. Going on about the different cheeses that go into it, and the beer base and I slowly started to check out mentally. A beer based spinach dip sounded great, but when you’re lactose intolerant and they talk about how great the flavors of the different cheeses are, and the boost that they give to the recipe, you just sort of lose interest. But for whatever reason I decided I was going to make it work with my ingredients, I was going to make it dairy free, and it was going to be excellent…I was right!

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Los Ingredientes

  • Round loaf of bread (I find Sourdough works best)
  • 1 bottle of beer (We swear by Stella) (here’s a list of Gluten Free Beer to use instead. Note that I have not tried these, but have friends who drink Redbridge)
  • 1 pkg Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds (amazing dairy free cheese, best I’ve found)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 4-6 mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium sized onion
  • roughly 4 cups of chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sea Salt & Herbs

Before I get into this, I have to expand on the Sea Salt & Herbs as it can be found in almost every recipe I make. It’s a mixture of, you guessed it, sea salt & herbs that can be purchased at the Bridgewater Farm Market from Rumtopf Farm for $5 a bag. If you live in my general area I strongly suggest picking up a bag and trying it for yourself. I barely make a meal without it.

First thing’s first, put your cheese in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons of flour and mix to make sure its all coated so they don’t clump together and put it to the side.

Next, take a bread knife and cut the top inch or so off the top of the loaf of bread and, taking a paring knife, cut out the inside of the loaf, leaving about an inch the whole way around. Scoop out the bread from inside the loaf as you would a pumpkin when making a Jack-O-Lantern and chop them up into little cubes doing the same with the top you cut off earlier. Spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, along with salt & pepper over top and mix to make sure they are all coated. Make room for the newly formed bread bowl and put them all in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes. Afterwards, take your cubes and put them on a plate, or tray, or in a basket if you’d prefer but keep the bread bowl on the pan, you’ll need it again .

While all this is going on you can fry up the yellow pepper, mushroom, and onion in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and whichever spices you prefer. Keep it at a low heat, you won’t need them until after the spinach goes in with the beer & cheese.

In a pot, bring the beer to a very warm temperature without bringing it to a boil and add in the cheese. This will take longer with the dairy free cheese than normal cheese just because it’s a different consistency. Add in the Sea Salt & Herbs, or your go to seasoning, and with a wooden spoon keep mixing it slowly until it becomes completely melted, then comes the audience participation. Get the person who’s been standing there holding up the counter while you’ve been working to slowly add the spinach to the pot while you keep stirring.

Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for since I mentioned it, I know you have! The veggies you fried up earlier can now be added into the pot too! Once it’s all had a chance to get properly acquainted, take the contents and pour it into your bread bowl. Then it’s back into the oven for another 15 minutes, still at 350, and you can dig in and enjoy.

Remember, if you run out of the cubes, you can always start ripping the bowl apart!

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Be sure to check out the other recipes on the blog too, as all of them are dairy free! =)

PS – If you want to make this more of a meal, you can always fry up some ground chicken or turkey, or stick with the veggie theme and double up on the mushrooms. peppers, and onion. Zucchini is also a nice addition =)

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. – Bertolt Brecht

As with any recipe, there are changes over time. Either you want to try some new twist or you are out of an ingredient, you sub something in and never look back. They are ever changing and, as such, some of the recipes from earlier posts aren’t made the same way anymore. This can only mean one thing……..

RECIPE REVAMP!!!!

First up we have the Lasagna Cupcakes, which have become a big hit in this house. As I mentioned with that recipe, Josh Lyons (@JoshLyonsPhotos) suggested a game changer. He suggested folding the corners in on top of it and making it a parcel almost. We went a step further and decided to add in another layer entirely. Start with the wonton wrapper, meat, sauce, cheese method same as always. then put another wonton wrapper on top and press down the middle. This gets meat and sauce, then fold the four corners in and stick them to the sauce. This keeps them in place and allows the cheese to cover the top. We tried it once and haven’t looked back, it kicked the recipe up to a whole new level. Also, even though I haven’t tried it yet, you can also switch out the meat for pan fried veggies just as easily and make this a vegetarian dish. I would suggest zucchini, mushroom, and peppers as they are what I use when making meat free lasagna.

This is what I love about cooking, there’s always a new way to do it, and it brings people together.

For those visual learners, this is what you’ll end up with

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Yes, the cheese looks different than yours, I use Daiya Dairy Free Cheese. Honestly, even if dairy was tolerable, I think I’d still use it. I love the stuff.

Next on the docket is the Make Ahead Potatoes and that is as simple as taking the risk and leaving it in for a bit longer, or turning up the heat to 375. This does require a bit of a close eye, but the results are well worth it. We also added green onion and mixed it throughout. But, unlike the rest of the veggies, the green onion went in raw, which I believe yields a better and sharper flavor.

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When I first made the Any Meal CasSurreal I said that it you can really put anything in it. It’s a culinary building block and a lot of fun to experiment with. My favorite tweak to date was when we have some of the Loaded Chicken Burgers in the fridge, so we broke them down and fried them up and used it as the base for the CasSurreal. Since all of the veggies we normally put in are already a part of the burgers it cut down on prep time. Everything else is done the same. We also made one with the shrimp that is in the same entry as the burgers, its a long entry, which turned out quite good too. My houseguests at the time preferred the shrimp version, whereas I really liked the chicken burger base, so enjoy experimenting with it!

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To date, these are the tweaks and modifications that have been made to the recipes within the blog. As I make changes, I’ll post them here. As well as new recipes.

Also, there seems to be a small but loyal group of readers, so I thank you immensely as I would be the only one reading these otherwise & I already know what I do, I don’t need updates.

I would also like to ask you all to take a look at this blog and send me any questions/complaints/criticisms/suggestions that you may have.

Either e-mail me  iam@tonylantz.com or simply leave a comment below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Also, tattoo is fully healed.

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“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” – Roger Ebert

*NOTE* – Both of these recipes have had additions/tweaks made to them and the additional info can be found Here!

normally I’ll go full tilt for one meal a day, and Saturday, that meal was Lasagna cupcakes and Make Ahead Potatoes. Neither are all that labor intensive and both taste awesome! I think I’ve stepped up my game a bit because I have friends staying with me from Vancouver and they’ve seen all the pictures I post with what I’ve cooked and now they get to try it, so I don’t want to miss any chances to impress.

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They are a cinch to make, and just so everyone felt involved we made an assembly line.

The Goods

  • 2-3 mini muffin tins (can also use regular muffin tins)
  • 24-30 Wonton Wrappers
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 pkg ground meat (we used chicken)
  • sauce of your choosing (we used Hunt’s mushroom & basil)
  • cheese (we used Daiya Dairy Free Mozzarella)
  • seasoning for meat, completely up to you

(To make these vegetarian, simply ditch the ground chicken and supplement veg of your choice. I have made them with zucchini, mushroom, peppers, and onion with excellent results.)

I’ll tell you right off the top, these babies are going in at 375, so turn your oven on when you think you should to be ready to cook. Put some olive oil in a pan and bring it to temperature. Add your ground meat and once it starts to break apart and get a little bit of colour add your onion and seasoning/spices. Cook on a low-medium heat for maximum flavor.

While it’s cooking get one of your houseguests/family/friends AKA prep cooks to put a wonton wrapper in each muffin tin. This is where you have a decision to make, you can either use a glass, cut circles out, and place them in the tins OR you can say screw that, and put in the entire wrapper, which is MUCH more fun!

By the time you’ve decided between circles or squares, your meat has probably finished cooking and now all you have to do is layer in the sauce, meat, and cheese.

Once again, we implemented the assembly line, meat, sauce, cheese, repeat. I will say, we didn’t heat the sauce, it went right from can to tin. It will cook during the 18-20 minutes spent in the oven, but it is your call.

The last decision you have to make for this dish comes between the first and second layer of meat,sauce,cheese, (when using the mini muffin tins) and that is whether you want to fold the corners back in and cover them with the mixture (Thanks to Josh Lyons for the suggestion, its a great one!) or leave them exposed to the elements (see what I did there?).

So these go in, as I said, @ 375 for 18-20 minutes, and come out looking like they do above.

Next on the docket is a little gem called Make Ahead Potatoes, reason being you can make it ahead of time and simply toss it in the oven before your meal. When I got IBS, I also managed to become lactose intolerant, which meant I couldn’t eat this one anymore, which SUCKED. But recently, I’ve found dairy free cream cheese, and sour cream and I was off to the races!

The original recipe is HUGE and feeds roughly all the players in the NFL, so I knocked it down a few pegs.

The Innards

  • 8×8 pan
  • 4-5 good sized potatoes, peeled and roughly cut
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 6 tbsp margarine
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • cheese for the top

This will be cooked @ 350 so, once again, preheat accordingly. Fry the onion and yellow pepper in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Boil the the potatoes, drain, and put in a large bowl. Put a little bit of margarine in with them and give them a rough mash, then switch to a hand held mixer, this will make the potatoes extra smooth. Mix in the other ingredients as they appear. Once the veggies have been added, transfer to your 8×8 pan. The potato WILL  go above the edge, that’s fine and half the fun. Just smooth out the top and generously apply a layer of cheese and that sucker is ready to go into the oven @ 350 for 40 minutes.

Let it be said that you can add any extras you would like to this dish, I think the next time we do it I’ll add chicken bacon for good measure.

These are the dairy free alternatives I used for this recipe:

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Making use of all of these still make it taste great and the three other people who were eating it said that they wouldn’t know that it was made with dairy free anything. This was the end result.

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If you want a bit more of a crust, you can leave it in a bit longer, or after the 40 minutes, switch it to broil. But be advised that if you choose the broil method, keep a VERY close eye on it as it can go from crust to crisp without notice.

That brings everyone up to date on the culinary goings on up until yesterday morning, but rather than bog one post down with a boatload of recipes and such. I’d hate for you to get too excited and try and lick/eat your screen.

To close this out, here is my step-kitten, Molly

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