Monday, December 31, 2012

Chicken Pasta Salad

I had to come up with something to take to a church potluck a few weeks ago.  I wanted to take something that I could eat, so that means it had to be dairy-free and could not contain beans or gassy veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.).  I also wanted it to be a somewhat complete meal if I needed it to be.  This was the first potluck at church that we have participated in, so I also wasn't sure if I would be able to keep anything warm (in a crockpot) while we were at church.  I debated and debated over what to bring and ended up deciding that a pasta salad would probably be my best choice... even though I can't even tell you the last time I ate any pasta.  :) 

So I went looking on the internet and decided to use a recipe on AllRecipes for inspiration.  I eliminated the cheese, increased the amounts of vegetables, sauted the mushrooms, used chicken that I shredded myself instead of canned, and used homemade mayo.  I did use store-bought italian dressing because I had some in the refrigerator, but it did not contain HFCS, at least.  This was really good!  I'll definitely make it again when I need a pasta salad.  I have posted it below as I made it.

Chicken Pasta Salad

1 pound rotini/corkscrew pasta
8-oz package mushrooms, chopped
1 can pitted black olives, chopped
3-5 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing, preferably homemade
3/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1 1/2 cup shredded chicken
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta to al dente in heavily salted water.  Pour into a large bowl. 

Saute the mushrooms in coconut oil until softened.  Add to pasta, along with black olives, celery, corn, peas, bell pepper, and chicken.   

In a separate bowl, whisk the Italian salad dressing and mayo together.  Pour over pasta salad and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kettle Corn

Last week, I randomly DVRed a couple Rachael Ray shows and had the chance to watch them briefly (meaning, I fast-forwarded through most of the show..).  On one of the shows, she was featuring some ideas for homemade Christmas gifts.  I decided to try out her recipe for kettle corn to go along with an ornament I had ordered for our neighbors.  I don't normally like kettle corn, but I really liked this version a lot!  It's super easy and fast to make, too.  I did modify it a bit for our standards - I will post it as I made it.  And really, I didn't measure anything... just tasted as I seasoned.  But I'll post RR's quantities below, because they are probably pretty similar to what I used.  I'm planning to try out another of the popcorn recipes from the show sometime this week. 

Kettle Corn

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place the oil in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat.  Once oil is melted, add popcorn kernels.  Cover with lid.  Once the corn begins to pop, give the pot a shake here and there - no need to shake constantly.  When the popping slows, remove the pot from the heat.  Remove lid and quickly sprinkle with salt, cinnamon, and sugar.  Place lid back on pot and holding the lid on tight, turn the pot upside down and all around, tossing to coat all of the popcorn.  Pour into a serving bowl and enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dairy-Free Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

I've been wanting to make some dairy-free sugar cookies all month and finally had the chance to make some with my son yesterday.  He loves to cook with me, especially when we get to bake or make some of his favorite things.  I found a recipe online awhile back - but I don't know where I found it... I only saved the text.  It was for soft sugar cookies, which are my favorite kind of sugar cookies.  I'm not really a fan of crispy sugar cookies.  So I used that recipe as a base and subbed out ingredients a bit to bring them up to our standards.  These aren't super soft, but they're still really good.  You'd never guess they were whole wheat or dairy-free.  They have a crisp crust and a soft interior.  I want to try them again with some whole wheat pastry flour to see if that lends a softer cookie, but I didn't have any on hand yesterday.  We had planned to roll the dough and do Christmas cut-outs, but my infant daugther wasn't allowing for that yesterday morning.  :)  So we just used a cookie scoop and then flattened them a little with a glass.  They still taste just as good as they would as cut-outs... and they're way less work!  :)

Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies

1 cup palm shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat palm shortening, sugar, almond milk, eggs, and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add baking soda and salt.  Slowly beat flour mixture in to make a smooth dough.

Now you may either use a cookie scoop like we did, and flatten slightly with a flat-bottomed glass.  Or roll dough out 1/4-inch thick on a floured work surface and cut into shapes.  Arrange cookies on baking sheets.  Bake in the preheated oven until cookies are firm, about 8-10 minutes.  Let cool.  Frost and decorate once fully cooled.


Beat palm shortening, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and almond milk in a bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frosting is spreadable and slightly fluffy.  Frost cooled cookies.  Add sprinkles or colored sugars if desired.