Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monkey Munch

I'll admit it, I watch a lot of bad reality tv. I watch way too much of it, much to Paul's disdain. One of the shows that I watch is Jon and Kate Plus 8. It's pretty cute, even though the mom can be a real wench. In one episode I saw Kate making a snack called Monkey Munch. I was curious as to what this was, so I googled it.

Monkey Munch is a chocolatey and peanutty covered cereal mix that is so addictive. It's so tasty that it's hard to stop eating it. I usually make a half batch, but my mom uses a whole box of cereal.

The recipe is very easy to make. It starts off with microwaving chocolate chips, margarine (instead of butter) and peanut butter in a bowl until melted and then you pour it over the cereal. The recipe says to use Chex cereal, but since it's not available in Canada I used Crispix. The recipe also says to use 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar to coat the cereal. That's way too much sugar in my opinion, so I use maybe half a cup. The mixture is already sweet enough from the chocolate and peanut butter.

This stuff never lasts long in my house and since it's dairy free and gluten free, anyone can enjoy it! Paul can't give me flack for watching horrible tv shows because it brought him delicious Monkey Munch!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dairy Free Crispy Crunch/Butterfinger Bar!

While trying to find a recipe for my all time favourite chocolate bar (Wunderbar), I stumbled across a recipe for Butterfinger bars. Butterfingers are basically the American equivalent of Crispy Crunch bars. I always loved getting bite sized Crispy Crunches at Halloween when I was younger. Since they are coated in milk chocolate, I've sadly had to give them up.

Since Crispy Crunch bars seem to only exist in Canada, I used a recipe for homemade Butterfingers. This recipe was pretty easy, and pretty similar to the sponge toffee recipe I had made a few weeks before. When the writer talks about making the candy in a non-humid environment....she's right! I was boiling a pot of chicken broth when I made these, and I'm pretty sure it was too moist in my kitchen and then mixture didn't turn out as crispy as I would have liked. Next time I make them I'll be sure to do it on a dry day, and I'll make it in a smaller pan. I used a large pan like the recipe suggested and it made the candy too thin and not as flaky and crispy. I think I'll use an 8x8 pan when I make them again.

This recipe is dairy free if you use semi-sweet chocolate chips. I melted the chocolate chips and thinned it with a little oil and then dipped the pieces. I let them rest on a piece of wax paper. There was no way I could wait as long as the recipe suggested for cooling and cutting and all that. I was too eager to taste the treats! I made the candies into the size of Halloween candy and it made close to 60 pieces. For having 60 pieces of candy, they didn't last very long! They tasted very much like a Crispy Crunch/Butterfinger. I still crave Wunderbars, but atleast now I have a dairy free Crispy Crunch and Crunchie substitute!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dairy Free Dirt Cups

When my brother, sister and I were little, my mom made us a dessert called Dirt Cups. It was a dessert that we didn't have very often, but it was delicious. Dirt Cups are a mixture of chocolate pudding, whipped cream and cookie crumbs topped with a gummy worm.

Since I can't have dairy anymore, pudding was pretty much out of the question. All of the boxed pudding mixes have powdered milk or some kind of milk ingredient. While browsing through The Joy Of Cooking, I found a recipe for old fashioned chocolate pudding that is made on the stovetop. I had always thought that pudding was ridiculously hard to make, hence the creation of boxed pudding, but it was actually quite easy! The hardest part was waiting for the chocolate to melt in the warm soy milk. The rest was pretty much just stirring!

Once the pudding was made and cooled in the fridge, I whipped up some Nutriwhip. I found this in the dairy section at the grocery store and it's lactose free! I don't know if it's entirely dairy free, but it didn't seem to bother me. It tastes pretty much like Cool-Whip, but it's better than waiting for a frozen tub of oil to defrost!

To make the dirt cups, all you do is mix the pudding with the whipped topping and add a bit of cookie crumbs. For the cookie crumbs I used boxed Oreo crumbs, they are dairy free! In small dishes add a layer of cookie crumbs, then a layer of pudding and then another layer of crumbs. Repeat until you reach the top of the dish. About halfway up the dish add a gummy worm and cover it with the pudding mixture. It's always fun to find a gummy worm buried in the dirt! Top it with a gummy worm and you're ready to serve!

I loved this dessert as a kid, but I can see why we had it so rarely. It's labour intensive to layer the pudding and crumbs when you have three sets of hands trying to sneak a taste!

Chocolate Soy Pudding

1 3/4 cups soy milk (I used original flavour)

1/2 cup sugar

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/8th teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine the milk, sugar, chocolate and salt in a saucepan. Heat it over medium heat until the chocolate melts.

2. Mix the cornstarch and milk until smooth.

3. Slowly add the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Stir until mixture reaches a simmer. Cook for one minute at a simmer and them remove from heat.

4. Add vanilla.

5. Transfer to bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lemon Dijon Chicken

Lemon dijon chicken is a classic meal in our family. We've been eating this dish for as long as I can remember. Back in the day I didn't like anything that had a sauce. Has that ever changed! Now if it doesn't have a sauce, I don't want it! I think I make this meal atleast twice a month, if not more!
Lemon dijon chicken is so simple to make. It's a great meal to make after coming home from work because all you have to do is make the sauce and throw it in the oven. The sauce is so good. The combination of dijon, lemon juice and tarragon always tastes good. One time Paul made this meal for me and he used grainy mustard, and it was delicious! You could substitute that for regular dijon if you'd like and it tastes just as good.
Since I love the sauce so much, I double it so there is more than enough to spoon over the chicken and rice. This meal makes great sandwiches the next day, but I usually just cut up the chicken and place it on a bed of rice and add the sauce and take it to work in a plastic container.
This recipe is dairy free and gluten free!

Lemon Dijon Chicken

*This is the original recipe and I usually double the sauce.
- 4 chicken breasts
-1/4 cup margarine
-3 tablespoons dijon mustard
-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 teaspoon tarragon
-1/2 teaspoon of salt (I never add this)

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a shallow baking juice. (I use a 9x13)
2. Melt margarine. Stir in mustard, lemon juice and tarragon.
3. Pour sauce over chicken.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.

I've always had this meal served with rice. I'm sure there are other grains that you could serve with it, but anything other than rice would be wrong!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

Nothing is better on a cold morning than a cup of hot chocolate. Unfortunately for the dairy free individuals, pre-made hot chocolate mix is filled with powdered milk.

I prefer to use almond milk in my hot chocolate. When soy milk is heated it tends to taste really grassy and pretty gross. Even when you add cocoa, you can still taste the soy. I bring the almond milk to a very slow simmer on the stove. Heating it quickly on the stove or in the microwave can make the almond milk seperate and chunk up.

Here's my recipe for almond milk hot chocolate:

a mug full of original almond milk

2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa

1 tablespoon sugar

Mix the cocoa and sugar in the mug. Heat the almond mix gently over low heat. Once the milk is warm, pour a little into the mug and mix the cocoa into a paste. Add the rest of the milk, stirring until the cocoa is completely dissolved. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sponge Toffee

There is one huge problem with being dairy free.....the lack of chocolate bars. Back when dairy didn't rip my gut up, I ate chocolate bars all the time. Crunchie bars were one of my favourites. I loved the sponge toffee centre wrapped with milk chocolate. I thought my Crunchie days were over until I found a recipe for sponge toffee.

The recipe was pretty simple. Boil a whole bunch of sugar until it reaches the hard crack (haha) stage and then add baking soda. The boiling part was pretty easy, but my candy thermometer was on the fritz and gave the wrong reading. I ended up using a meat thermometer, and that didn't work very well either. I knew my sugar had reached the right temperature, but I kept waiting to see 300 degrees anyway. Next time I'll trust my gut and not over cook my sugar. It still tastes great, just a little more dark.

When they say to use a deep saucepan in the recipe, they aren't joking! When you add the sugar mixture to the pot, it looks like nothing. Once you add the baking soda it really bubbles up! I used a stock pot, and I'm glad I did. I wouldn't have wanted to clean spilled toffee for days. The recipe also doesn't tell you when to add the vanilla, so I forgot to add it. Next time I'll add it to the sugar mixture before it starts to boil. Once the toffee set, I broke it into chunks using a serated knife.

To bring the toffee to the Crunchie level, I melted semi sweet chocolate chips and added a little canola oil to thin it out. I dipped the chunks of toffee in the chocolate mixture and waited for it to harden.

I must say, the toffee is pretty good! It really tastes like a Crunchie bar to me! If you don't have a problem with milk chocolate, I bet it would taste even more like the real thing. The recipe also made a tonne of candy, so it's perfect for sharing at Easter time! Next chocolate bar to tackle....Wonderbar!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Old Fashioned Donuts

My favourite donut has always been Old Fashioned Sugar donuts from Tim Hortons. I'd take one of those over a chocolate dop any day. I love how they are so dense, and slightly spiced. Unfortunately, donuts have milk in them, so I hadn't had a donut in a really long time. I had made churros to finish off a Mexican inspired meal, and I felt bad chucking a pan of perfectly good oil. I was thinking of things that I could fry, and donuts came to mind!

I found a recipe in The Joy of Cooking for cake donuts that sounded very much like the donuts I used to love at Timmies. The donuts are cakey with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. The ingredients were pretty standard. Instead of milk I used my old trusty President's Choice Organic Original Soy Milk. The recipe took a while to make since the dough had to chill for up to 2 hours (or 1 in the freezer) and then the formed donuts had to rest on the counter to crust up a bit. We fried them up in a frying pan with about 1 inch of oil, a lot less than the recipe calls for. I don't think it made much difference, since the donuts puffed up and ver nice and brown.

After the donuts came out of the oil, I let them drain a bit on some paper towel and tossed them in plain sugar and also cinnamon sugar. I tried to roll some of the donut holes (Timbits) in powdered sugar, but they were too warm and the sugar just melted into a glaze. They were still yummy, but I couldn't wait long enough for them to cool down before I wanted to eat them.

They were enjoyed by all, and I could finally have the donut I had been craving for so long! I think I'll make them again as an Easter treat!