Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sesame Caesar Dressing (Egg-free! Anchovy-free!)

I am a crazy Caesar Salad freak.  Anyone who knows me will easily agree.  Actually, the only thing better than a Caesar Salad is a Caesar Salad with capers all over it.  Gratefully Mia shares with me my love of the caper.  For anyone who knows her, this is the only true proof she is actually my kiddo, as her looks and personality are 100% Mike. 

Finding out I was allergic to eggs and cheese have put a major damper on my Caesar consumption.  I am delighted to have seemingly grown out of a strong egg issue, but still choose to take my hits when it really counts.  So this dressing is a total bonus.  On top of  being egg free, it is fish-free, too !  This is only because I was just too lazy to put anchovies in the salad and used Kalamata olives instead and it was flippin' dynamite.  My favorite Caesar dressing ever used to me adapted from a Cook's Illustrated Light recipe in which they incorporated buttermilk vs. oil.  It was amazing, but a major dairy bummer these days. 

So this recipe uses silken tofu and it works great!  I have been really enjoying how much the silken tofu adds to various recipes and with no offensive tofu-ness for the tofuphobics in the crowd.  It is super-smooth, much lighter vs. oil, and full of protein.

Sesame Caesar Dressing (makes about 1-1.5 cups)
  • 8-10 Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 heaping Tbls Dijon mustard
  • 6 oz silken tofu
  • 1/4-1/3c olive oil
  • 1/2 medium juicy lemon juice
  • 1 scant Tbls toasted sesame oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
In blender (I used a Magic Bullet), blend the heck out of the olives, garlic and mustard to make a paste, then plop in the tofu, lemon juice, olive and sesame oil and a dash of S & P.   Blend for several seconds until fully combined- adjust the flavor with more S & P and maybe lemon juice as you see fit.  It should have the texture of fluffy sour cream.

For Caesar Salad
Toss generously with romaine lettuce, Pecorino or Parmesan cheese and croutons!

That's right, it is a strange purplish color.  Don't be scared, it is darn tasty.

It is inspired by "Sesame Tofu Caesar Dressing" out of Simply Ming.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Banana Applesauce Muffins (Gluten & Dairy-free adaptable)

Actually, I made these into mini muffins.  The mini muffin is a curious item.  So cute and tasty, anyone would want to pop one in.  Or six.  Thankfully, Mia is no different from the rest of us in this department.  A muffin is a fabulous way to pack a billion tasty and nutritious things into a tiny package and feel good about what  you are selling and who you are selling it to.  The mini muffin just makes it easier. 

I didn't put any grated zucchini or carrot in these today out of sheer laziness, but you certainly could add a cup or more in when you mix the batch together.

And a note on gluten-free here.  Never before has gluten free shined brighter than in the quick-bread.  Really.  Any quick-bread recipe you read always says to 'not over mix' or 'mix just until dry ingredients are wet' and such.  This is so you don't over activate the natural gluten in typical flour.  With gluten-free flours, you can go to town and skip the xanthan gum.  They turn out great!

Banana Applesauce Muffins
  • 2 cups flour (you choose your type*)
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4c brown sugar & 1/4c agave syrup)
  • 1/3 cup milk or vegetable oil (I used almond milk)
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbls lemon juice
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 2/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
* for my gluten-free flour today, I mixed 1/2 cup each buckwheat, garbanzo, brown rice flour with 1/2c potato starch.  You can use what ever you want here!


1.  Preheat oven to 350deg.

2.  Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together well to fully blend.

3.  In separate bowl (I just use a 3 cup wet measuring cup), mix all wet ingredients together, then pour the wet mix into the dry ingredients and combine.  Again, if you are using standard flour, avoid over mixing.  Gluten-free?  mix it up. 

4.  Pour into greased muffin tins (or papers). See cooking times/amounts below:

42 mini-muffs (filled cups), cook 11-13 minutes
14-16 standard sized muffs, cook 20-22 minutes
1 loaf pan, cook maybe 45-55 min?

Let cool in pan 5-10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Mini-muffin, shown to scale in my hands.  So darn cute!

Mia appraises her mini.  Again to scale.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spinach Basil Pesto

So this was one of the original recipe ideas behind actually wanting to begin a family food blog over a year ago and only now am I getting to putting it in writing.  Not sure what took so long, but....

The back story to this comes from the lengthy pursuit to figure out just what in the world was wrong with our daughter's immune system.  After about a year and a half (now 3) of nearly continuous respiratory illnesses, coughs, allergies, sleepless nights and general tuberculosisness, we were tired of being offered antibiotics and various other things for her not-infections and found our way to an incredible Pediatric Naturopath (Dr. Molly Gray at West Seattle Natural Medicine).  Dr. Gray offered many great thoughts and ideas, but as any parent of a toddler knows, hearing that your toddler should "eat something green every day" can border on ridiculous.  She suggested making a spinach pesto.... so I did.  And I have never gone back. 

In my kitchen, I basically use pesto as salt anyway.  Really, what can't benefit from some fresh basil, garlic, oil, salt and pepper really?  Eggs? Salads? Sandwiches? Potatoes? Rice? Quinoa? Pasta?  Please. 

Initially it began as a priority in Mia's food, then after a few months we realized that there was no reason not to punch up the nutrients in all of our foods.   We use it in everything.  I typically make up a huge batch, then pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it all.  I just put a cube or two in a jar in the fridge when I use the last one and they thaw in an hour or so.  You could even pop out however many cubes you want a few minutes before you need them and you are set to go if they are going in a hot dish. 

As for Mia's health....after a year and half our family eats even healthier and more balanced than before but nothing helped her immune system significantly until we found the enormous mold reservoir crawling its way through all of our walls.  The good news, is she loves pesto.

Basil Spinach Pesto (makes 3-4 cups-a lot!)
  • 4 cups basil leaves (top stems OK), rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 big bag fresh spinach leaves (organic preferably)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts are traditional but I like almonds, pecans or whatever)
  • 1/4c finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan (optional) 
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Splash of something acidic- like vinaigrette dressing or lemon or whatever.  This gives a great zip to the pesto
Pulse/blend all ingredients together in blender or food processor until it is the consistency you are looking for. I prefer it to be fairly smooth, so I let it go for a several seconds after pulsing it several times.  This really will all fit in a standard food processor, but you can do it in batches and then mix them all together before using or freezing.

Optional next step to freeze in 1-2T amounts in ice cube tray for a few hours. You can either store them in the tray, or transfer them to a different container to keep frozen.

You can see I used cashews here.  I have never been accused of being traditional.