Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guacamole Pasta

I was inspired by a recipe from the blog Oh She Glows, which I found on Pinterest. Maybe you saw it? It was called Creamy Avocado Pasta. I tried it out and loved it, then decided to take it a step further with some of my favorite pasta ingredients. I had a fresh bag of avocados and had recently made a delicious batch of guacamole. Most of my usual pasta toppings are also in guacamole, so they'd go perfectly well with avocado pasta, right? That was my hypothesis. I collected materials and then experimented in my lab (kitchen). My conclusion? A work of art both in taste and appearance. I was satisfied. It's an excellent comfort food if you love avocado. Next time I might add a bit of Toffuti Sour Cream to make it creamier, as the dish loses some of it's creamy texture when adding all those other ingredients. I bet it would go well with gluten free corn and quinoa pasta--like chips and guac!

Dice the grape tomatoes after cooking at your preference. I like my grape tomatoes whole and bursting with juiciness in every bite, but this recipe would be great with the tomatoes a little more blended. It doesn't store for very long since it's avocado, but the acidity of the tomatoes should help preserve it a little. Store in a super airtight container if you must store it, but this dish is best eaten right away.


1/2 lb. uncooked pasta
1 package grape tomatoes or two cans diced tomatoes (drained)
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 avocado
dash lime juice
fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (for topping)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add onions, whole grape tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper in a medium size casserole dish (I used a glass loaf dish). Mix well, then place in oven cook for 30 minutes.

2. Timing this perfectly so your pasta is ready when your sauce is ready, cook your pasta according to package directions. While your pasta is cooking away, cut your avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the creamy green fruit into a large mixing bowl, mashing it a bit. Add a dash or two of lime juice.

3. When your pasta is cooked, drain it and then toss immediately into the soft avocado. Also add the oven roasted tomato sauce. Make sure you add all that hot, garlicky olive oil! Mix thoroughly until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve and top with cilantro, sea salt, and black pepper. Superb said the herb.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Chicken and Rice Casserole with Almond Milk

I'm still waiting for Campbell's to come out with a soy or almond milk based cream canned soup. I'd be able to make all of my favorite comfort food recipes in a cinch. Although, making it yourself is probably healthier and more delicious, even if it's a bit more time consuming. I love this chicken and rice casserole dish because it's basic and simple. The almond and broth base is just what I use in my Dairy Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Green Bean Casserole recipes, and it's applicable to any recipe that calls for a cream based condensed soup.

I usually stick with the simplest form of this recipe since I am a busy working girl and have little patience for vegetable peeling and chopping, but you can add other vegetables to this dish to make it colorful. Chopped celery is an easy one, but I also thought of using frozen mixed veggies, broccoli, kale, and even sun dried tomatoes. Mixing in some fresh chopped herbs makes it fragrant and pretty. The recipe I used here is the most basic way I would make it. 

The most important aspect is the flavoring and thickening of the almond milk, to give it the consistency and taste of a cream of chicken soup. I definitely recommend almond milk over another dairy free milk for it's flavor.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
*Optional: shredded carrots, chopped celery


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and paprika and cook for about five minutes or until onions are tender. This is also where you should add any other vegetables you wish to include in the dish. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to the onion and spices mixture, stirring quickly to combine. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, and then slowly whisk in chicken broth until well combined.

3. Next, stir in almond milk and 1 cup of uncooked brown rice. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a large casserole dish.

4. In a nonstick pan, heat additional olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and a dash of chicken broth and sear until lightly browned, about 2 minutes each side. Remove from heat and place chicken breasts on top of rice mixture in casserole dish.

5. Cover the casserole dish in foil and cook for 45 minutes. Rice will be fluffy and chicken moist. Top with fresh parsley.


Dairy Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

Cheesy, gooey, hot spinach and artichoke dip with a little kick. It's okay lactose intolerant person, this is for you. This recipe is made fresh and flavorful to taste better than your average restaurant style artichoke dip. I served it to a group of cheese-loving, dairy-eating ladies and they ate it all up! It's a lot healthier than an average dish of the dairy version of this dip, as the soy cream cheese and dairy free shreds are low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. I even used light mayonaise to make it healthier.

Just know, real mayonaise is completely dairy free. I try to point this out as much as I can, because I've noticed a general misconception that mayo is associated with dairy. Either people associate eggs as being dairy, or just mayo as being made with cows milk, but real mayonaise is made only with eggs--no cow products at all. The Best Foods mayonaise I used contains the ingredients: soybean oil, water, whole eggs, vinegar, salt, sugar, and lemon juice. No lactose whatsoever. It's an important ingredient in most artichoke dip recipes.

The other dairy free ingredients I used were Trader Joe's This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese, This is a Tub of Non-Dairy Spread, though I also recommend using either Tofutti Cream Cheese and/or Tofutti Sour Cream. I used Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds to substitute real cheese, but I recommend Trader Joe's Soy Mozzarella as well. For the second cheese ingredient, I used real Parmigiano Reggiano, which is said to be completely lactose free due to the process it is made and aged. To keep this dish dairy free, use Galaxy Foods Vegan Grated Parmesan or Parma! instead. Last but not least, in every recipe that calls for butter, I replace it with Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, which is completely dairy free, yet still tastes amazingly like real butter.

Cooking all these non-dairy ingredients together really brings out their dairy flavor. Eating them all separately and cold makes you never want to buy them again-so don't do it! Combine them by cooking with other ingredients and spices to get the same level of comfort food satisfaction. I absolutely love this spinach artichoke dip.


1 large bag fresh baby spinach
2 cans artichoke hearts, chopped
1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 6oz containers This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese
1 cup real mayonaise
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or Vegan Grated Parmesan
3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup Daiya Mozarella style shreds
3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


1. Chop up your onion, artichokes, and garlic. Melt the Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread in a large saucepan over medium heat. 

2. Once melted, toss in the onions and cook until translucent, about five minutes. Throw in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds with the buttery onions. 

3. Add red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper to the pan, immediately followed by all of the spinach. Spinach takes up a ton of space when first added, so it will be easier to add it to the pan in portions. It will cook down quickly. Cook spinach in butter, onion, and garlic mixture for 2-3 minutes once all added. 

 4. Remove pan temporarily from heat. With a slotted spoon, remove the spinach, onion, and garlic from the pan, leaving as much flavored butter behind as possible. Set spinach mixture aside.  I set my spinach on a cutting board and chopped it up to make it more manageable to eat.

5. Add the artichokes to the remaining flavored buttery liquid in the pan and return to heat. Cook until the liquid is cooked off and the artichokes begin to brown. Add more Smart Balance if needed.

6. While artichokes are cooking create the base for your dip. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Soften the tubs of non-dairy cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds. You want them to be easy to work with. Add the non-dairy cream cheese to a large mixing bowl.

7. Add mayonaise to the non-dairy cream cheese and combine until smooth.

8. Next add 3/4 cup mozzarella shreds and 2/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan alternative, spinach mixture, and browned artichokes to the cream cheese and mayo mixture. Stir until well combined. 

9. Transfer to a large baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cook for 15 minutes, or until mixture is hot and bubbly. Cooking these non-dairy ingredients together is the key to their delicious dairy taste. When I served this dish, no one could tell it was dairy free.