Friday, April 25, 2008

Shall We Try Some Spice Cake?

Spice cake is usually not my first choice for dessert. Just hand me a slice of chocolate fudge cake and I'll probably be happy 90% of the time. However, now and again, I like to venture into less charted baked-goods territory and experience a change of flavor.

I came across this recipe recently and based on all the positive reviews thought I'd give it a go. It requires some very basic substitutions to make it dairy-free/egg-free/nut-free, but otherwise it's really quite easy to make. The recipe is actually written for a double-layer cake with frosting, but I decided to halve the recipe to make a simpler one-layer cake and quartered the frosting portion, adding just a bit more liquid so that I could just drizzle it on my cake. The resulting cake was quite good. It was moist with a good balance between the sweet frosting and the slightly less sweet cake. Raisins were a nice touch, but could easily be omitted if you don't prefer them. I would say this definitely makes a good alternative to your standard chocolate or vanilla cake.

Give this dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free spice cake a try if you're in the mood for something just a little different. I can easily see this working as cupcakes or muffins too (I think I just might try that next time). Just be sure to adjust the baking times accordingly.

RECIPE for Applesauce-Raisin Cake With Caramel Icing from Cooking Light

Recipe Notes:
  • To make this dairy-free, be sure to use dairy-free shortening and margarine (such as Earth Balance) and substitute soymilk for the milk.
  • To make this nut-free, omit pecans.
  • If you're going to try making this in another form such as cupcakes or muffins, use the trusty clean toothpick as your guide to when it's done (I would guess cupcakes/muffins would take about 25 minutes).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Braised Asian-Style Spareribs

Here's a really good dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free sparerib recipe everyone in my family enjoyed. It's sweet and sour Asian-style and fall-off-the-bone tender (yum, yum !). It makes a great addition to a multi-course meal or you can just serve it with some vegetables and rice.

RECIPE for Sweet-And-Sour Spareribs by Bon Appetit

(The recipe is for standard size spareribs, but I like to get my ribs cut smaller cross-wise. This makes the ribs easier to handle and easier to fit on any size or shape serving platter.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One Of The Best Dairy-Free/Egg-Free/Nut-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes I've Found So Far

I have been looking for a good dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free chocolate chip cookie recipe for a long long time. I've tried several recipes, even attempted to create my own, all resulting in cookies that fell below expectations. Either they were too thick and dense, too cakey, too doughy, looked unappetizing, or simply didn't taste like what I thought a chocolate chip cookie ought to taste like.

Well, I can finally relax from all the searching and recipe testing. Here is a recipe for an allergy-friendly chocolate chip cookie that I would gladly make over and over again. It's from the website for Amanda's Own Confections where I also found this great chocolate chip banana muffin recipe. I found the cookies to look and taste most like regular chocolate chip cookies and they also met my requirement for no obscure ingredient substitutions. Overall, a really really good cookie I'd recommend to anyone.

RECIPE for Amanda's Dairy-Free Nut-Free Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies by Amanda's Own Confections

Recipe Notes:

  • This requires a little bit of advanced preparation as the dough needs to sit several hours in the refrigerator to firm up. However, this added inconvenience is well worth it.

  • Watch the baking time if you want softer cookies. I waited until my cookies were golden brown which, for my oven, ended up taking about 5 minutes longer than the baking time specified. At that point my cookies had turned crunchy, but you know what, they still tasted great!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Meatloaf Muffins, Mmmmm

Recently, I've been experimenting with meatloaf. It used to be on my banned food list due to its egg content, but after making this egg-free turkey meatloaf, I started to wonder just how important eggs really were in traditional meatloaf. I figured eggs acted as a binding agent and perhaps enhanced overall texture, but were they absolutely necessary? After all, do hamburgers (arguably a flat form of meatloaf) require eggs? Would the taste, structure, or texture really suffer that much if I simply omitted eggs from the recipe? I decided to test this out on a favorite meatloaf recipe from my family's pre-food-allergy days.

The recipe is one for meatloaf muffins consisting primarily of ground beef, chopped vegetables, and crushed saltine crackers. Since I knew I would be omitting the two eggs called for in the recipe, I rounded up a bit on moisture-contributing ingredients, specifically, the vegetables and ketchup. After all was said and done, I'm quite happy to report that the egg-free end product did not stray too far from the original version. It still tasted good and kept its shape well. Perhaps this was a result of them being small muffin shapes versus a larger loaf which might have just crumbled and fallen apart. Whatever the case may be, I'm just glad that I can enjoy a once-favorite dish again and add another dairy-free, egg-free meatloaf recipe to the family meal rotation.

RECIPE for Diner Meatloaf Muffins by Cooking Light

Recipe Notes:

  • Omit eggs to make this egg-free.

  • If you find you have slightly more chopped vegetables than called for (i.e. rounded cup vs level cup measurements), go ahead and include it to boost the overall moisture content of the meatloaf. An extra 1-2 tablespoons of ketchup will also help in this regard.

  • I found that this recipe also works fine without Worcestershire sauce if you don't have it on hand or are avoiding seafood ingredients.

  • If your arteries can take it, consider making this with higher fat beef for even more flavor.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Something To Munch On

If you're just looking for something to munch on, here's a good dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free snack option that's relatively healthy, light on calories, and popular with both adults and kids. Fruity Booty is just one of the many natural snacks produced by Robert's American Gourmet. This one is puffed rice and corn with a mango and peach flavor. The flavor is actually quite subtle (I can't really distinguish that it's mango or peach), but regardless, it's still pretty good and I feel healthier eating this versus say a standard bag of potato chips. It's light and airy and would make a good replacement for popcorn.

(Robert's American Gourmet also makes Veggie Booty which is also dairy-free, nut-free, and egg-free, however, please note that the packaging for this product states that it was made in a facility that also produces dairy products.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yummy Yummy Yams

I really like roasted yams, especially the sweetened variety you typically find in a Thanksgiving meal. However, most candied yam or sweet potato recipes are laden with butter and not friendly to those with dairy allergies at all.

I was happy to come across this yummy dairy-free roasted sweet potato/yam recipe which delivers great flavor along with a perfect light touch of sweetness. It not only tastes better, but I believe you'll also feel better about eating this version instead of the super rich and sugary renditions out there. It uses heart-healthy olive oil and also happens to be simple to prepare. I think this makes a great side to accompany any meal and not just those that include a turkey.

RECIPE for Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges by Real Simple