Subscribe to Life of a Happy Mom Subscribe to Life of a Happy Mom's comments

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ category

Lately, my son has gotten tired of the same-ol’ beans and cereal day in and day out. I don’t blame him. That’s nearly all he has eaten for 2 solid years. Add to that the fact that he seems moderately allergic to beans, as well as the facts that we are a vegetarian family, and that he is allergic to eggs and dairy and nuts, and, well, you have a problem.

That is, a protein problem. Granted, grains like quinoa and amaranth are complete proteins, as is hemp, which he drinks every day (but not a lot, because it’s expensive). But he doesn’t get quinoa and amaranth every day. And I don’t want to give him the same foods every day, because that will just make him more susceptible to sensitivities to them.

So I’ve been working on new ways to fix his food. Of course, cooking a batch of cream of rice or amaranth or millet cereal in the morning and adding several cubes of pre-cooked and frozen beans is very simple and easy, but I always knew I would eventually have to start actually cooking and baking for him. Well, the time has come.

The first grain to get changed into something other than cereal was Teff. I invented a recipe for teff pancakes. I’m sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

We also decided, after much deliberation, to add a little meat to his diet. Right now, that looks like chicken once a week added to shredded yuca (cassava). I am also sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

However, there are several recipes that I have found that he likes. I love the simplicity of some of  them!

This Baked Amaranth Cracker/Flatbread is made from the grain, not amaranth flour, and is very simple to make. I mean, very simple. I added a little basil to the mix, since he can’t have the topping (I’ve never tried pumpkin seeds, but I’m really afraid to). I still need to come up with some kind of topping for them. That is hard, since nuts and avocado are all out, and those make the best creamy vegan sauces. But he will eat these, and he likes them. I served it with some slices of cucumber, and he enjoyed the meal very much.

This GF Biscuit recipe was a real hit. Since he can’t have eggs or egg replacer, I used quarter mashed banana, because I only made a half a recipe. You can use 1/2 a banana plus 1/8 tsp of extra baking powder for egg in baking, but I didn’t think 1/16 of baking powder was really necessary! I wanted to use a little less starch, so I replaced 1/4 of the starch with sorghum flour (doubling the sorghum called for). They turned out better than the last batch did (where I put in too much banana and otherwise followed the recipe, and now have more whole grains in them. I also threw in a scant tablespoon each of chia seeds and hemp protein for extra protein, and he didn’t even notice. Chia seeds are a complete protein and really a powerhouse. Research them sometime. I am very excited to discover that my local WinCo carries them! Manny will eat chia seeds by the spoonful (2 or 3 baby spoonfuls), and they have very little flavor. I think they actually improved the texture as well (since they tend to gel, kind of like flax seeds).

When you can’t have wheat or corn, tortillas become almost impossible. Rice tortillas leave much to be desired, as do most GF tortillas you can buy. But these millet tortillas are so easy, especially if you have a tortilla press. I do, but it’s in storage, so I improvised with a flat-bottomed skillet. It worked almost as well. Unfortunately, Manny only liked the first two, and then he didn’t want more. If there was something I could dip them in or roll inside of them… maybe beans? I’ll have to experiment. But he’s not very good at eating stuff with toppings… he just licks off the topping! We might make them once in a while for ourselves, though, and they are perfect for those who can’t have gluten or corn!

And for dessert, well, this Blueberry Crumb Cake was the bomb! My husband said he couldn’t tell it was gluten free! I used the banana/baking powder trick in place of eggs, and it rose beautifully. I made two batches: one as a cake, and one as muffins (which of course cooked in about half the time as the cake). It’s good with and without the topping. This site also has many GF cooking and baking tips (it’s where I learned about the banana-instead-of-egg idea). I highly recommend browsing it if you are on a GF diet. Many of the recipes are vegan (because the author cannot tolerate casein), though some do include meat (usually with vegetarian variations). She makes GF look so easy! Indeed, this cake was my first attempt at GF baking without a boxed recipe (Betty Crocker has about 3 GF mixes that you can buy at most grocery stores, and I made a couple at a friend’s house once), and I really expected it to flop. Instead, it turned out lovely, and my son had a delicious cake for his birthday, and muffins for dessert once a week since!

Lastly, there are these delicious GF Molasses Cookies. Manny wasn’t terribly fond of them, and I think it was mostly because of the ginger (which he can’t seem to tolerate in the quantity that is in the cookies). They turned out perfectly, though, and I took a dozen to a friend whose son has a lot of allergies. The whole family tried them, and she informed me they are better than store-bought cookies. I totally agree. Granted, they aren’t super healthy. I mean, 3/4 cup of shortening (palm oil, not hydrogenated oils) is quite a bit of fat. Maybe I could cut it down by increasing the applesauce. But I usually like to do a recipe the way it says the first time–especially baked goods. Then experiment later. I think Manny would like them better without the ginger. He loves molasses, after all.

I tried split pea soup on him, but he seemed to react to the peas. I had suspected that he would, being legume and all. But he enjoyed it a lot. I think I could make a veggie soup with quinoa using the same seasonings I used in the pea soup (garlic, sweet basil, marjoram, bay leaf, salt). I’ve been avoiding onions, because touching them and then rubbing his face made him break out. Whether that was an allergic reaction, or simply sensitive skin, I don’t know. But for now, I don’t feed them to him directly. Though he did eat some carrots I had cooked in a stock made of scraps of veggies used to make dinner (I put 3 baby carrots in the stock for variety), and he loved them, as well as the bits of zucchini my husband didn’t eat from his salad. They were cooked with onion, and he seems fine with it. So maybe he is okay. I’m going to play it by ear at this point!

What simple GF recipes do you use? I’d love for you to share them!

Have you noticed that food prices have been going up? Even with all the bulk buying that I do, it seems that it is getting harder and harder to stay within my budget. Some months I have to supplement a few dollars of my personal money to get us through the month–or ask my husband for a little of his.

There are certain meals that are rather popular in our family, but some of those are a little pricier than others. For instance, we all like scrambled tofu on sweet potatoes, but sweet potatoes are not cheap. I almost always buy them for my son, who is on such a limited diet that I get him whatever he can eat even if it’s not exactly cheap (and since he’s little, he doesn’t require large quantities, thank goodness!), but for the rest of us, I change things around.

So instead of tofu over sweet potatoes, I’ll cook some cornmeal the night before and put it into a glass bread pan. In the morning, I slice and bake. Voila! Baked cornmeal!

Another favorite meal is seasoned oven fries dipped in sunflower seed sour cream mixed with avocado. When avocados get too expensive, I use tomatoes and cilantro instead (if my daughter liked spicy hot, I’d throw in a serrano pepper, but she doesn’t yet). When I run out of red potatoes (the best kind for oven fries) and money is short, I cook a pot of savory oatmeal. That is, I use a powdered chicken or beef style powdered broth to make it savory, then pour the plain sour cream over it, and add some onion rings. These onion rings are sauted in little oil with a couple dashes of salt and a quirt of lemon juice. My daughter does not like onions, but she loves this style, because the lemon juice takes the oniony taste right out. She calls them worms. That makes a rather tasty and nutritious breakfast that sticks a little longer than the oatmeal/milk/fruit breakfast that most Americans eat. Of course, we still eat some fruit if we have it, just not in the oatmeal.

When I get tired of regular lentils, I grab some spices and change the flavor. Add curry powder, cumin, tumeric, and ginger powder to the fresh onions and garlic and celery that I would normally put in a pot of lentils, and suddenly they are Indian style lentils! I like to put some extra cayenne pepper on mine, especially on a cold day (of which Oregon has had a lot this summer). Serve over rice. I especially like to do this with red lentils, though it will work for just about any kind of lentil.

When I decide I can’t afford to buy tofu and I’m too busy or lazy to make it (right now I have a good excuse–my tofu mold is an hour’s drive away and I don’t have a car), I make a soy souffle. This I serve over millet or quinoa or buckwheat or whatever whole grain I feel like cooking up (those 3 are our favorites for eating with souffle, though I suppose you could use rice or Bulgar wheat too).

We like to eat eggplant sliced and breaded with pasta, but I only buy it once or twice a month. Pasta alone does not satisfy my husband–he needs more protein. So I found a delicious recipe for Italian white beans. My slow cooker is about 10 feet away from my tofu mold, so I just cook the white beans in my pressure cooker, add extra water and all the other ingredients, and cook on low for about half an hour or until my husband gets home. He is picky about white beans, but loves this style. I use dried tomatoes I get in a bin at the grocery store instead of the ones canned in oil, because they’re cheaper, so I find that soaking them in hot water for a while while the beans cook helps (and I can add the water to the beans too). I also use manzanilla olives instead of the olives they call for (because that’s usually what I have on hand, other than regular black olives, which would add nothing to the flavor!). Rice pasta (since I’m trying to avoid wheat) with a cheap pasta sauce doctored a little (usually extra onions and dried basil, maybe some mushrooms or olives if I feel like it) and these beans makes a complete meal.

In my quest to find a substitute for wheat bread, I discovered this tasty recipe for 100% rye bread. I use carob powder instead of espresso powder, but other than that, I follow the recipe to a T. It looks like a lot of work, but actually, you only have to stir it for about 3 minutes, then turn it into an oiled mixing bowl and let it rise twice before transferring it to a greased bread pan to rise again, then bake it. It actually rises quite nicely, and the flavor is, well, if you like rye bread, you’ll love this! It holds together well enough to work for sandwiches, and it rises enough to not be too heavy (for me, anyhow). Sure, it’s not gluten free, but I don’t seem to be bothered by gluten. Just wheat. Hasn’t stopped me from eating it entirely, but I do best if I eat it no more than once a week (of course, if I stopped eating it completely, I’d probably do even better, but I’m doing well enough to be content for the moment). I buy organic rye flour in the 10-pound bag, so it’s actually really good bread. And even though rye flour is not as cheap as wheat, homemade rye bread is cheaper than a good loaf of whole wheat–or rye bread, for that matter!

Well, I think the souffle we’re having for tomorrow’s breakfast has cooled enough. That means I need to get off, go brush my teeth, and hit the sack. I hope you enjoyed my musings, and hopefully you’ve gotten some ideas on how you can save money when the end of the month hits again in a few weeks and there seems to be more month than food-budget money. If you’re in the habit of buying cheap food in bulk, you’ll be sure to make it!

As I mentioned last week, my husband got tired of the plain tofu with chicken seasoning that I grew up with. So he got creative. This recipe is pretty much his creation. And you will have to forgive my estimates… I never measure for things like tofu–I just taste a bit to see if it has enough seasonings or not. This recipe is also gluten free!

My Favorite Tofu

1 lb tofu, diced
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin
mild chili powder to taste
2-3 tsp chicken seasoning
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
several squirts of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce will give a different flavor, but would probably work)
salt to taste (if needed)
squirt of lime or lemon juice (optional)

Mix together in a bowl and set aside to marinate. I usually test a piece to see if it has enough salt and seasonings, adding whatever I feel it needs. In the mean time, chop or dice the following:

1-2 tsp coconut oil
2 roma tomatoes or more
1/2 yellow onion
bell pepper (as much as you wish of any color you need)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion and tomato. Saute until tender, then add the bell pepper and tofu. Add water as needed to make it “juicy,” as my husband calls it–I use the rinse water from the bowl the tofu marinated in. Simmer for a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to blend well, then turn off and add the cilantro. Serve hot.

This goes well in place of scrambled eggs… we eat it over sweet potatoes, diced potatoes, baked cornmeal, whatever we feel like. Last time we had it, we added sunflower seed sour cream. Was that ever tasty!

Note: I originally meant to post one of my favorite tofu recipes here, but I forgot to buy tofu and didn’t have time to make it when I realized I didn’t have it. So I couldn’t get pictures. Then I heard of a friend on Twitter who was thinking of going dairy free, and thought I should post this recipe instead. I will continue with the tofu theme next week.

I like cheese. I will admit that it is one of the hardest things to avoid when I am vegan. And many foods seem to require cheese. I mean, what would pizza be without cheese? Sure, I’ve eaten cheeseless pizza… but I don’t really like it all that well.

I should clarify that this recipe does not taste like cheese at all. Although I use it as a substitute, I don’t expect it to taste like cheese. I feel it should stand alone on its own value. And I must say, it’s downright tasty!

Cashew Cheese Sauce

Blend until smooth:

2 cups water
1/2 cashews
1 small jar pimentos (I sometimes use canned red bell pepper, because it’s cheaper)
1/4 cup heaping of nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

When nice and smooth, dump in 3 Tablespoons of potato flour. This will thicken it instantly. Use raw sweet red pepper and fresh lemon juice, and you have a raw food recipe.

If you don’t have potato flour, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot and cook until thickened. Of course, then it won’t be raw. I prefer the first method, but have used the second on occasion, when I ran out of potato flour (or thought I had, because I couldn’t remember where I had stored the extra!).

Such cheesy deliciousness!

I grew up eating this once or twice a week on macaroni. Mac & cheese–my brother’s favorite food. Here are some other ideas good uses for it: pizza, tacos, haystacks*, nachos–the sky’s the limit!

So try it and let me know what you think!

*Haystacks, in my culture (religious culture), are layers of chips, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, cheese, sour cream, olives, and other related toppings–sort of like a big plateful of a taco on chips. They are a favorite at potlucks at my church.

We like to eat our Curried Tofu with baked cornmeal. It is very simple to make, but does take a little forethought and preparation the day before. This recipe is gluten free and great for anyone trying to find alternatives to wheat and gluten. Here is the method I use:

1:3 ratio of cornmeal to water and salt to taste (about 1 tsp per 3 cups of water). I like to use medium grind cornmeal, but anything coarser than flour would work. Bring most of the water to a boil. Mix the cornmeal with the remaining cold water. Stir well into boiling water. Return to boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for a while. If you were going to eat this as mush, you would want to cook it longer, but because it’s getting baked, 10 minutes is probably plenty.

Fresh out of the oven! Mmmmm!

Turn it out into an ungreased bread pan. (I have found that 2 cups cornmeal to 6 cups of water is maximum capacity for the normal bread pan, and will also fill a large cookie sheet). I prefer glass. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes uncovered, then cover and put in the fridge overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 450°F while you turn out the “loaf” of cornmeal onto a cutting board and carefully cut 3/8″ to 1/2″ slices. Arrange on a greased cookie sheet (I spray with Pam). Bake for 25-30 minutes, turn, and bake another 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with whatever topping you enjoy best. Most people like butter and maple syrup. We prefer more savory toppings.

Curried Tofu

I grew up eating crumbled tofu seasoned with McKay’s Chicken Seasoning, sautéd until it started to brown. That’s how we had it every time we had tofu. And I was happy.

Then I married my husband. And that was the end of such simple tofu. He didn’t care much for it, and set to work making a style of tofu that he did like. From that point on, there was no looking back. I have developed at least three fairly unique styles of cooking tofu, and I will be sharing all three of them this month, starting with my most recent version (because that’s the one I have pictures for!). And please forgive the approximates; I never measure anything in this recipe, so I’m guessing on some things.

Curried Tofu

1 lb tofu, cut in 1/2″ cubes
2 tsp mild curry powder
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger or several dashes of powdered ginger
1-2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
4 tsp chicken style seasoning (I use Bill’s Best)
1-2 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce would work, but has a stronger flavor)

Mix the above well with enough water to moisten all the seasonings. Set aside to marinate until ready (overnight is really good, but not necessary).

Heat 1/3 – 1/2 cup strong veggie broth. I use broth left over from making gluten. Slice an onion in strips exactly like this, as much as you want (I use probably 1/2 a medium/large onion) and add to broth just as it comes to a boil (don’t let it boil away before you get the onion ready!). Cover and steam onions until tender and most of the broth is gone.

Now, add tofu mixture and 1/3-1/2 can of coconut milk. The thicker the milk, the less you need. I used coconut cream last time and it was really good! Add a little water the marinating container to rinse the seasonings off the sides and pour that in too.

Just seeing the picture makes me hungry!

Stir and allow to simmer until all seasonings are well blended. We like it a little juicy, so we don’t let all the liquid evaporate.  Serve over baked cornmeal or whatever you wish. I have served it over sweet potatoes before, and we all liked that too.

At least, that’s what I think Manny would say if he could talk. I found a recipe for Sweet Potato Pancakes the other day and made them for my son this morning. At first he didn’t want to try them. He’s not used to eating anything that looks like things he never eats… that doesn’t make sense. Let me try again. He’s only used to eating beans mixed with cereal, with either fruits or veggies. So at first he refused them. But I poked a bit in his mouth and he decided he liked them! He ate 4 for breakfast and almost 5 for lunch! I decided to snap some pictures:

As you can see, they seem to be disappearing! Oh, and yes, he does use his sisters old bibs. At least they have green on them! [Ducking and running for cover]

Just thought you would like to see that!

I have a friend (Hi if you are reading this) who has a dream of learning to make good bread by hand. I admire her. But I do not share her dream. I love my bread machine! I mean, I have two little kids. That explains everything, right? To save time, I decided to make an audio post–a blogcast?–about it. I recorded it on my iPod, so you will need Quicktime to listen.

Here is the recipe I use:

1 c water (I use a scant cup)
2 1/2 c fleshly ground whole wheat flour*
2 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp soy flour
1 Tbsp gluten flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp light Smart Balance spread
2 Tbsp molasses (or honey, or mix of both)

I put these into the machine roughly in this order. Of course, now I mix it first, so that there is no water to leak out of the pan. I set it to the fast rise wheat setting, which I have tweaked to allow a little more kneading time and a little extra rise time. Then when it beats it down after the 1st rise, I take the paddle and dough out, shape the dough, and put it back in, minus the paddle. Voila! Delicious bread with very little effort! Works for me!

Doesn't that look delicious?

* I actually use 2 cups of flour as finely ground as I can get it in my Champion Juicer grain grinder, and 1/2 cup of more coarsely ground flour–my husband likes it better that way. If you like lighter bread, use 1/2 cup white instead. When I make dinner rolls, I use 1 cup white and 1 1/2 cups wheat. I also find that I need to use a little extra because of the flour I use; maybe my wheat is more moist than store-bought flour would be.

Tofu Month

Sorry this is late getting out, but I have a few good excuses. First, my mom is here visiting. Second, until just this last weekend, our computer was not functioning. It is now, so now I just need to find some time to spend on it. In fact, I’m actually writing this post on my iPod, and will post it later when I have an Internet connection. I’m not home right now.

This month I planned to share my favorite tofu recipes. To start the month out, I want to refer you to the post where I showed step by step the process of making tofu. I’m not sure which recipe I will post next week. Guess we’ll find out when it posts!

This is the best recipe I’ve found yet for gluten steaks. I have tried making gluten several different ways, including the laborious process of washing the starch out of flour until I had gluten. That was too much work, and with small children I don’t like to be tied down for too long. Plus it seems like a waste of water. So I went about searching for a recipe that uses gluten flour, and found this. I especially like it because it has soy flour, which makes the protein more complete. I imagine that if you are allergic to soy or wish to avoid it, you could use garbanzo flour, though I have never tried it.

2 cups gluten flour (also known as do pep and vital wheat gluten)
¾ cup soy flour
1 ¾ cups water

Mix together and kneed for about 3 minutes or until the gluten is formed. You will know when it is, because it will resist your efforts to properly kneed it. Divide it into two pieces. Wet breadboard and hands, and roll out two logs. Slice off sections (I do about 3/8” thick) and drop them in boiling broth (see recipe below). Set at medium heat with lid on for about 10 minutes, then take the lid off and simmer for about an hour or maybe less. I like to make sure they are nice and done, so I usually do at least an hour.

Once done, they can be eaten a number of ways. I sometimes bread and pan fry mine. When a recipe calls for fry chick, I dice up my gluten and toss it in. They are delicious in a casserole dish with cream of mushroom soup over them. I have even chopped it up fairly fine and used it in place of ground beef.

They freeze well, so I always make a full batch and freeze whatever I don’t use. I freeze them on a cookie sheet, then bag them once they are hard—makes it easier to take out a few as needed.


Water (enough to more than cover the steaks)
Lots of soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos
A whole onion, chopped
Several cloves of fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
Some nutritional Yeast
Chicken or Beef Seasoning (I usually use beef)
2 or 3 stalks of celery, cut in 3-4” long sections
A couple of carrots
Any old or wilted veggies that are still edible
A beet helps give the steaks a darker color
Vegex or miso would also add color or flavor

All of this should be in the pot before adding the steaks. You will cook a lot of the water out, concentrating the broth. It should be tasty but not too salty when you start. When you’re done with the steaks, remove them, strain the chunks of veggies out, and save the broth. I usually freeze it in an ice cube tray, then bag it in a gallon freezer bag. Then when I want to sauté onions without oil, I can grab 2 or 3 cubes of broth, and it won’t spoil that way.

That concludes my veggie meat series for the month of October. Next month I’m going to talk about Tofu and share a few of my favorite recipes for fixing tofu—if you can call them recipes. I never measure anything for my tofu, but maybe I can give you some idea of how I do things!