About the recipes...

All recipes and ideas contain ingredients from the new IC diet "safe" list. Also, all ingredients are either low-oxalate content, or in small enough amounts where they can be considered low-oxalate. If there are any ingredients that don't fit these criteria, I have labled them, and you have the option to omit them from the dish. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Easy Fudge without the "Fudge"

As you already know from reading my previous post, my mother and I love to bake around Christmas time.  Every year my mother would make the most amazing dark chocolate fudge, but this fudge was special because it didn't take hours to make and didn't have to be heated to an exact temperature in order to turn out correctly.  Every year I would make the dark chocolate recipe to give to family and friends as presents, and look longingly at it knowing I couldn't eat it.  Sigh.  One thought kept popping into my head every time I made the fudge, why couldn't I try this recipe with a different baking chip that I could eat, say white chocolate?  Last week I finally gave it a go, and I ended up with two new great easy fudge recipes that I could even enjoy!  These recipes are so simple, turn out great, and make perfect gifts, oh and we can eat them too!  What more could you ask for in a fudge?!

Foolproof Fudge (White Chocolate Peppermint Variation):
3 cups (18oz.) white chocolate chips
14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk (I use Eagle Brand)
1/2-3/4 cup crushed starlight peppermint candies, or crushed candy canes
1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

1) In microwave safe dish, melt chips and milk.  Heat until melted (about 2 minutes on high) stirring every 30 seconds or so.
2) Remove from microwave once melted, and in same dish stir in peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies.  
3) Pour evenly into 9x9in square pan lined with wax paper.  Chill 2 hours in fridge.  
4) After chilled, turn fudge onto cutting board, peel off wax paper and cut into squares.  

Foolproof Fudge (Salted Butterscotch Variation):
3 cups (18oz) butterscotch chips

14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk (I use Eagle Brand)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Kosher Salt

1) In microwave safe dish, melt chips and milk.  Heat until melted (about 2 minutes on high) stirring every 30 seconds or so.  (The butterscotch chips don't melt as well as others, I heated for 3 minutes and still had some chunks of chips, but it gave the fudge some texture, so I just left them.  Just be careful not to overheat, chips will burn eventually)  
2) Remove from microwave once melted, and in same dish stir in vanilla extract.  
3) Pour evenly into 9x9in square pan lined with wax paper.  Sprinkle top with desired amount of Kosher salt.  Put into fridge immediately and chill 2 hours, to prevent salt from melting.  
4) After chilled, turn fudge onto cutting board, peel off wax paper and cut into squares.

**You can store at room-temp, in fridge, or freeze to keep for later.  If you freeze, be sure to defrost in the fridge to prevent too much moisture on fudge exterior.**  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Warm Christmas Memories

When I think of Christmas traditions, the one that immediately comes to mind is my mother and I making Christmas cookies in the kitchen when I was growing up.  The smell and warmth the baking cookies gave to the house was just heavenly.  We still make it a point to bake cookies every year, although it's now Thanksgiving weekend instead of early December since we no longer live in the same state.  This is a tradition that my mother shared with her mother, my mother shared with me, and something I plan on doing once I have children.

The first Christmas with my IC diagnosis was interesting.  All the cookies containing chocolate just seemed to jump out at me.  The funny thing about this was that I was always a vanilla and white chocolate fan, and never liked chocolate all that much.  I guess this was the classic wanting something that you couldn't have.  After sorting through my family recipe book, I started to see more and more of my favorite cookies that I could still eat, even with my IC.  Here are a few of my favorites.  I hope this will help you and your family start a Christmas cookie baking tradition that will last for years to come! 

Swedish Spritz Cookies:
*note-for these you need a cookie press.  You can get them at any home store, like Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  They come with multiple cookie shapes and recipes for you to try as well.  It's a great investment if you love making cookies.  My Mom still has her's from the 1970's*

1 cup butter softened (use the real stuff, it's Christmas!)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour (I prefer the unbleached all purpose variety)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1) preheat oven to 375.  cream butter and sugar.  beat in egg and extracts.
2) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually beat into egg mixture.
3) Pick your cookie shape, I usually the wreath shaped cutter, or the Christmas tree cutter.  If using the Christmas tree cutter, you can add some green food coloring to the dough as desired.  This is optional.
4) Place dough in cookie press and press onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Decorate cookies as desired with sprinkles, nuts, etc...  Place cookie sheet on middle rack in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
5) Keep unused batter in fridge, the press works better with cold dough.
6) Remove cookies from oven and place immediately on cookie rack to cool completely.
7) repeat with remaining dough.

Russian Tea Cakes:  This cookie is my all-time favorite!
1 cup butter softened (again use the real stuff, it's so much better!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cups finely chopped almonds (optional)
extra powdered sugar
1) preheat oven to 400.  Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla.  Mix in flour, salt, and nuts until dough holds together.
2) shape dough into 1 inch balls.  Place about 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place on middle rack and bake until set but not brown, about 8-10 minutes. 
3) roll in powdered sugar while warm.  Cool completely on cookie rack then roll again once cool in powdered sugar. 

**note-almonds are high in oxalates, but safe for the IC diet.  If you eat a couple cookies, the amount of almonds is minimal, and shouldn't irratate you.  Also, you can omit the almonds if you are very sensitive to nuts and the cookie will still taste great!** 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reinventing Leftovers

There's nothing I love more than the good 'ol open-face turkey sandwich smothered in gravy and stuffing the day after Thanksgiving, but even that can get old after a couple of days.  Last year I came across a wonderful holiday leftover recipe for an easy turkey pot-pie.  When I brought the pot-pie in for lunch at work, it smelled so good that my colleges asked for the recipe!

Leftover Herb-Crusted Turkey Pot Pie 
1 egg
1Tbsp. water
6 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
5 cups frozen mixed veggies (I use green beans and corn)
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups Chicken Broth (I use Pacific Chicken Broth-it doesn't have celery or carrot juice which are high in oxalate like other brands)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 of a 17.3ox pkg. Frozen Puff Pastry (1 sheet) Thawed (Pepperidge Farm makes a good puff pastry)
2 tsp.dried herbs of choice (parsley, thyme, oregano) or 2 Tbsp. fresh herbs chopped

1) heat oven to 400 degrees.  Beat egg and water in small bowl.
2) Stir turkey and veggies in 13x9" baking dish.
3) Heat butter in skillet, add flour and stir until combined and golden.  Stir in broth, and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently until mixture boils and thickens.  Stir in pepper.  Pour stock mixture over turkey.
4) Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surface.  Roll pastry sheet into 13x9" rectangle.  Place pastry over filling.  Press pastry to rim to seal.  Brush pastry with egg mixture and sprinkle with herbs.
5) Bake 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Another great way to use your leftovers, is using them as filling for a quesadilla.  Simply fill half a flour tortilla* with your favorite shredded cheese (mozzarella, jack, or mild cheddar).  Add turkey or chicken, and any veggies you have on hand like corn and chopped red pepper.  Fold quesadilla shell to close and place in skillet and heat until cheese is melted.  Flip halfway through to allow to bake evenly.  Slice with pizza slicer into 4 triangles, and serve with green salad or fruit of your choice.
*whole wheat is high in oxalate, so stick with a white flour burrito shell.  I like Mission brand.  When checking ingredients, wheat flour is the same as white flour, but steer clear of whole wheat flour.

I usually find I have leftover pumpkin puree, but never enough to make another pie with, nor do I want to make another pie after eating one.  Some pumpkin recipes use the entire can on puree, where others use only half.  What to do with that other half so it doesn't go to waste?  How about making a pumpkin spread, much like apple butter, to top toast and pancakes.

Leftover Pumpkin Breakfast Spread:
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp. real maple syrup
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp coarse salt
Beat all ingredients in a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy.  Store spread in fridge up to two weeks!

Whatever you decide to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers, I hope everyone has a wonderful, pain-free holiday shared with family and friends!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thanksgiving...On The Side

Ever since I was a teenager, my extended family gathers at my Aunt's house for our annual Thanksgiving feast.  The eclectic group changes every year, but you can always count on amazing food, good conversation, and a warm inviting atmosphere.  This to me is what the holidays are all about.

Like I said in my previous post, this time of year also creates anxiety for myself and my fellow IC'ers.  Lucky for me, my Aunt loves for everyone to bring their own dish to contribute to the feast.  Two years ago, I started bringing my classic green bean cassarole, which to my surprise my cousins had never had before.  Prior to making the cassarole, I would plan on eating turkey and rolls since I didn't want to burden my Aunt with my special diet requests.  It finally dawned on me after getting married that I too could now bring a dish, since I was no longer considered one of the kids.  I'm glad I started doing this for two reasons, I could guarantee that I could eat more than just turkey and I was contributing a new dish to to mix!

Most Thanksgiving dishes can be IC safe, like the turkey, pumpkin pie, and stuffing.  However, not everyone makes things the same way, and something like stuffing can easily become a problem for IC'ers, especially if it's a sausage or cranberry stuffing.  Another problem dish for those who also follow the low-oxalate diet is mashed potatoes, which have a high oxalate content, and the celery that is usually included in most stuffing recipes.  So whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner or if you're planning on bringing a dish to someone else's feast, I want to share my favorite sides and dessert that are both IC safe and low-oxalate.

Jenny's Famous Green Bean Cassarole:
This recipe is actually based on the French's recipe that is printed on their French-Fried Onion box.  I always felt it was too soupy, so I tweaked their recipe by adding more green beans, and decreasing the amount of milk used.  Feel free to tweak to your liking!

10 3/4oz. can Campbell's Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4-3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp white pepper
4 cans green beans (14 1/2 oz. cans)
1 1/3 cup French's French Fried Onions

1) Mix soup, pepper, beans, and 1/4 cup milk in 1 1/2 qt. baking dish.  Add additional milk for desired consistancy 1/4 cup at a time.  Make sure milk does not exceed more than 3/4 cup total.  Stir in 2/3 cup onions.
2) bake at 350 covered for 30 minutes.
3) Stir and top with remaining 2/3 cup onions.  Bake uncovered 5 more minutes until onions are golden.
**I've never had a problem with French's Fried Onions, but if you feel you might, then omit onions from step 1, and top cassarole with breadcrumbs and some butter to help breadcrumbs brown.  Bake as above**

Herb-Apple Oven Stuffin':
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2-1 medium yellow onion (use as much as you desire)
4 gala or fuji apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp each dried sage, thyme, marjoram
1/2 tsp white pepper
12 cups (1 loaf) Pepperidge Farm White Sandwhich Bread, dried and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cups chicken broth
3 egg whites, beaten
1 tsp salt
**To dry bread, place each slice in a single layer on baking sheets and let sit overnight, then cut into cubes**

1) preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter 9x13 baking dish
2) heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Reserve 2 Tbls after melted and set aside.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  (about 8 minutes) Stir in parsley, sage, thyme, and marjoram and cook for 1 more minute.  Stir in apples and cook until apples are warm, about 2 more minutes.  
3) Add bread cubes, broth, eggs, and salt to large mixing bowl.  Add onion, apple, herb mixture from pan.  Gently toss to combine.  Be careful not to over-stir, it can make the bread mushy.
4) transfer mixture to baking dish and spread evenly.  Drizzle reserved butter over top, cover with foil, and bake for 25 minutes.
5) Remove foil an bake 15-20 minutes longer until top is golden brown.
**serves 10-12**

Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake:
1 1/2 cups (30 cookies) crushed gingersnap cookies (I like to use food processor to crush)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 8oz. pkgs cream cheese, softened (use neufchatel cheese  for 33% lower fat option)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 caramel topping (I buy this from whole foods in a jar)
3 Tbls. flour
3 eggs
Topping: (use recipe below to make topping, or you can use cool whip, or make without the topping)
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbls brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1) heat oven to 350.  Spray bottom of 9-in springform pan with cooking spray.  Wrap foil on exterior of pan, make sure foil covers bottom and sides (this will prevent the water from seeping into pan during cooking).
2) In small bowl, stir crust ingredients until combined and press into bottom of pan.  Bake crust 10-12 minutes until set.
3) Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in butter until creamy.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Beat pumpkin until blended.  Beat in caramel topping and flour.  Beat in eggs one at a time until blended.
4) Reduce oven to 325.  Pour filling into baked crust.  Place springform pan in large roasting pan.  Fill roasting pan 1/4 full with hot water.  Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes until edge of cheesecake is set at least 2 inches from edge.  Center of cheesecake should still jiggle when moved.
5) cool in pan on cooling rack at least 30 minutes.  With sharp knife, loosen cheesecake from side of pan.  cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours.  
6) For topping, beat cream, brown sugar, and vanilla in small bowl on high speed until soft peaks form.
7) To serve, remove side of springform pan and cut into wedges.  Serve with dollop of whipped cream topping on each wedge.   

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chips 'n Dips & Things

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it's time for holiday parties, family gatherings, and what can easily be considered the "most wonderful time of the year."  As if this season didn't come with enough stress, us IC'ers also have to deal with the big question of "what if they don't have anything there I can eat?"

There are a couple of ways you can deal with this.  First, you can eat something before you go.  Last year I attended an engagement party where there was literally nothing I could eat, except rolls.  The salad was already tossed with vinegrette, and the main courses all consisted of pasta or meat with tomato sauce.  I snacked on rolls until I finally was dizzy with hunger, and we had to end up leaving so I could get a burger at the hotel bar.  I'll never do that again!  Before you go, eat something light.  Heat up some leftovers, or make a cheese sandwich and have a sliced pear.  At least you'll have something in your stomach before you go, and if they do have something you can eat, you can still indulge.

Another option is asking the party host if you can bring something.  Growing up, at most family gatherings the host would provide the main dish, and everyone would bring a side dish of their choice.  This is a great way to not show up to a gathering empty handed, and you'll ensure that there is something you can eat.

The last option is to host the party yourself.  You can control the entire menu, and have as many IC safe/low-oxalate options as your heart desires!  Why not host an appetizer party?  The food is bite-sized, and you can serve multiple dishes instead of one full meal.  The problem is, what to make that is safe for you and tasty for others?  Here are a few of my personal appetizer favorites that have also been a hit with the guests:

Faux Boursin Cheese Ball:
This recipe is from Bev Laumann's "A Taste of the Good Life", which was one of the first book's I bought after being diagnosed with IC.  This is a party staple for me, and has also become one for my friends and family.  Every time I've served this, I've had at least 2 people ask for the recipe.  Yes, it's that good!
1 8oz package cream cheese (use neufachel for a low-fat option) softened
1 tsp milk
1/4 garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp drie thyme
1/4 tstp onion salt
1/4 dried basil
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 black pepper (or white pepper for low-oxalate option)
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/2 finely chopped almonds (optional)
Blend together the cream cheese, milk, and remaining ingredient, except the nuts.  Mix until smooth.  Wrap in plastic wrap in general shape of a ball.  Chill for at least 1 hour.  Remove from fridge, and roll in nuts to cover.  Serve in a round platter with IC safe/low oxalate veggies or crackers, and spreading knives.
**you can also omit the nuts by serving the cheese ball right after chilling, before rolling in nuts**

Texas Caviar:
This recipe is adapted from the VP Foundation's Low Oxalate Cookbook-Book Two.  This dip tastes much better than it looks, trust me!
1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp. black or white pepper 
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp olive oil
Cover lentils with water and simmer until mushy, about 35-40 minutes.  In a food processor, add the mushy lentils and remaining ingredients.  Blend until combined.  Serve with pits chips or tortilla chips.

Red Pepper Pinwheels
1 red bell pepper
4 medium flour tortillas (I like Mission white flour Tortillas for a low-oxalate option)
1/2 cup spreadable cheese (you can either use Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs cheese spread, or you can make the faux-boursin cheese ball above, and use 1/2 cup for this recipe)
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon, basil, or mint
1) roast the red pepper.  Preheat broiler, line baking dish with tin foil, place red pepper in dish.  Broil about 10 minutes, turning the pepper every 2-3 minutes to bake evenly.  Take out of oven, wrap broiled pepper with tin foil from baking pan, an let sit for 10 minutes.  This steams the pepper, and makes removing the skin easier.  Peel to remove blackened skin, core, and remove seeds.  Slice into thin strips.  
2) Stack tortillas on a plate, cover with damp paper towel then wax paper.  Heat for 30 seconds in microwave until warm.  
3) Spread 2 Tbls. cheese on tortilla.  Top with about 1/4 of pepper slices.  Sprinkle with herbs.  Roll up tortilla gently but firm.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, but not more than 4 hours.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.
4) Unwrap tortillas and slice off ragged ends.  Cut each wrap diagonally in about 5 slices, and serve on platter.

Coconut Chicken Skewers:
1 pkg. boneless chicken breasts (about 1lb.)
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs (use white breadcrumbs for low-oxalate option)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 Tbls. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (cinnamon is high in oxalate, but use in a low enough amount in this recipe)
salt and pepper (white pepper for low-oxalate option)
4 Tbls. Butter
1) Slice chicken into thin strips or in bite-size chunks.
2) Combine breadcrumbs, coconut, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a wide bowl.  
3) Dip chicken first in flour, then egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumb mixture until coated.
4) over medium high heat, melt 2-4 Tbls. butter to coat pan.  Add chicken and pan fry in butter until golden and chicken is cooked through.
5) Add chicken to skewers, or add toothpicks to each chicken bite.  Serve on platter with pear sauce.  

Pear Sauce:
1 cup pear jelly (you can order pear jelly from the IC network, or Braswells makes a low-acid pear jelly)
2 Tbls. pear juice (I use organic Knudsen's pear juice)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients.  For a chunkier sauce, stir with spoon and serve.  For a smoother sauce, place in blender or food processor and blend until combined.

Whether you decide to have your own party or bring a dish to someone else's, I hope you enjoy all your holiday gatherings and have a wonderful holiday season!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Maple Syrup...not just for pancakes anymore!

There's nothing better on a crisp fall morning than hot pancakes with real maple syrup.  I love maple syrup so much, I even top my oatmeal with it rather than brown sugar, and maple sugar candies were my favorite purchase at the local Fall Farm Days event. Yum!  The great thing about  maple syrup, other than it's sugary goodness, is it is naturally organic, a great source of antioxidants, it's IC safe, and low in oxalates.  Maple syrup didn't just jump on the organic band-wagon, it has always been there.  Maple syrup is made by tapping maple trees to extract the sap, then the collected sap is boiled without any added ingredients.  Maple syrup naturally contains manganese and zinc, which promote energy and antioxidant production in the body, as well as protect your heart and boost your immune system.  Who knew?

What's up with those grades?  According to the Official Vermont Maple Syrup Website, there are four grades of maple syrup, and most are available in your local grocery store.  Vermont Fancy has a mild flavor and light color.  This is used as a topping for things like ice cream. Next is Grade A Medium Amber, which is darker in color and has a pronounced maple flavor.  This is commonly used as table syrup. There is also a Grade A Dark Amber which has an even more pronounced maple flavor.  I personally prefer this grade.  It is strong enough to be used for cooking, but not so strong where you can not use it as table syrup.  Grade B is the darkest most concentrated grade, and is mostly only used for cooking.    

A couple years ago, my brother who is very creative in the kitchen, challenged his friends to come up with their best recipes using maple syrup.  The results proved that maple syrup isn't just for pancakes anymore!

Maple Vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup pear juice (I use Knudsen's Organic Pear Juice)
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup (I use Grade A Dark)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup olive oil (I've found that extra virgin is too strong-try a milder olive oil for this dressing)
1 tsp salt
1/4 pepper (can use white pepper for low-oxalate option)

In a bowl whisk together pear juice, maple syrup, and olive oil.  Add basil, garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together until combined.  Can store in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.  To make in a salad dressing shaker, pour all ingredients in, put top on, then shake to combine.  Can also be store in the fridge.
**I love this dressing over a romaine salad with feta and pears, but works on almost any salad**

Maple-Glazed Squash:
2 acorn squash
2 Tbls veggie oil
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (white pepper for low-oxalate)
5 Tbls. maple syrup (either Grade A Dark or Grade B)
4 Tbls. unsalted butter

1) Preheat oven to 475.
2) Halve squash, remove seeds, then cut each half into 4 equal wedges.  Toss with oil, sugar, salt, and pepper in bowel.  Arrange cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake about 25 minutes until deep golden brown color.
3) Bring syrup to boil in saucepan over medium-high heat.  Reduce to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Off heat whisk in butter until smooth.  Cover to keep warm.
4) Remove cooked squash from oven.  Flip and brush with 6 Tbls. glaze.  Put back in oven and bake another 15 minutes until golden all over.
5) Brush with remaining glaze and serve warm.

**I like to serve this dish as a side to a roasted chicken**

Maple Salmon:
1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade A Dark or Grade B)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (use Kikkoman's low-sodium.  I don't have a problem with this type)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt/pepper (or white pepper for low-oxalate)

1) in small bowl, mix maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
2) Place salmon in shallow baking dish and coat with syrup mixture.  Cover and marinate for 30 minutes.
3) Preheat oven to 400.  Bake salmon with the marinade uncovered for 20 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.  
Note: you can also discard marinade before baking if soy sauce bothers you.

**I serve this dish with white sticky rice and cooked brocoli**

Chicken with Maple Sauce:
1 pkg dried pasta (fettuccine or linguinie)
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 lbs)
salt and pepper (white pepper for low-oxalate)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 red bell peppers
3/4 cup chicken broth (I use Pacific organic broth.  it's the only broth that doesn't contain celery which is high in oxalates)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade A Dark or Grade B)

1) cook pasta according to directions on pacakge.  Drain and set aside.
2) season chicken with salt and pepper.  In skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken and cook for 10-12 minutes until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees).  Remove chicken from skillet and tent with foil to keep warm.
3) meanwhile seed and core red peppers and cut into thin long strips.  After removing chicken, increase heat to medium-high and add red pepper to skillet and stir fry for 6-8 minutes until crisp.
4) In small bowl combine broth, cornstarch, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Add to skillet, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Stir for 1 minute longer, then stir in maple syrup.
5)  Serve chicken over warm pasta, then top with maple red pepper sauce. Add your favorite veggie or salad to complete the meal.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football?!

It's football season again, and that means entertaining friends and family for the big game.  When hosting a super bowl party a few years ago, I was challenged with creating an IC friendly menu along with keeping non-IC's happy with your typical football foods.  How do you make IC friendly nachos, wings, or salsa?

First I concentrated on the nachos, and thought about the ingredients that were IC safe, beef, cheese, lettuce, tortilla chips, etc...  Most restaurants add jalapenos peppers, black beans, and salsa to their nacho creations, but are those ingredients really necessary?  I quickly found the answer to be NO!  My nacho recipe has become a favorite at family gatherings, and I've even had non-IC'ers ask for this recipe to make at their own parties!

IC-Safe Nachos
1lb. ground beef
1 red bell pepper
small yellow onion (can use green onions if you can tolerate or omit onion all-together)
1 pkg. Velveeta Cheese, cut into small cubes
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese (I use Sargento)
1/2 head iceburg lettuce, chopped
1 bag tortilla chips
oil, salt, and pepper
sliced black olives, chopped fresh or dried chives (both optional) 

1) preheat oven to 375.
2) add 1Tbsp. oil to skillet and brown ground meat.  season with salt and pepper as desired.  remove to separate bowl when browned, and tent with foil.
3) dice red pepper and onion.  Add 1Tbsp. oil to empty saute pan, saute pepper and onions until onions are translucent.  Add meat back to pan, and mix well.
4) In 9x13 glass baking dish layer tortilla chips, then meat mixture, then two-thirds of the cheese, lettuce, then top with remaining cheese.  You can add sliced black olives to the top if you can tolerate. (black olives are high in oxalate but are IC safe)  You can also add fresh chopped or dried chives to the top as well for extra flavor. 
5) Back at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and browned slightly.

What are nachos without sour cream?  For IC'ers sour cream is a big no-no.  I know I really miss it and found that the cottage cheese substitutions just didn't fill the void.  I tried using cream cheese, and found it had more of a bite like real sour cream does, and had a creamier, thicker texture. 

Sour Cream Substitute
4oz. cream or neufachel cheese (1/2 package) chopped into cubes
3-6 Tbsp. skim milk

In a food processor, add cream cheese cubes and 2 Tbsp milk.  Blend until smooth (about 1 minute).  If mixture is too thick, add 1 Tbsp. of milk at a time until it becomes your desired consistency.  Add dollops on top of the nachos after baking, or serve as a side dish.  The recipe can be easily doubled

My next goal was to make an IC-friendly wing.  In college, after a big game we would go to a local wing place called Sharky's.  They had over 100 varieties of wings, varying from ultra spicy to sweet wings.  I decided to concentrate on the sweet wings, and try to re-create them at home.  I had come across a recipe for maple-ginger glazed chicken, and decided to try to sauce on wings.  The sauce is so yummy, you don't even miss the blue cheese dip!

Maple-Ginger Glazed Wings:
1 1/2-2 lbs chicken wing pieces
3/4 cup real maple syrup
3 Tbls. low-sodium soy sauce (make sure it is MSG-free)
1 tsp. dried ginger
salt and pepper to taste

1) preheat oven to 374 degrees
2) place chicken on lined 9x13 baking dish, add salt and pepper to taste, bake for 20 minutes.
3) mix maple syrup, soy sauce, and ginger in small bowel and set aside.
4) with pastry brush, brush glaze on chicken and bake 10 minutes.
5) flip chicken and brush with glaze from baking dish.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until done.
**You can also serve with the sour cream substitute to dip the wings in**

My last goal was to tackle (get-it!!) salsa and chips.  While most salsa recipes are not IC-friendly, avocado is.  So why not have some jarred salsa for the guests and some IC-safe guacamole for your and any other IC'ers at the party?!

IC-Safe Guacamole
1 ripe avocado (you might want to buy a few days early so it's soft enough on the day you want to make it)
2 Tbsp. Pear Juice (I use Knudsen's Organic Pear Juice)
onion salt to taste
lemon zest (these are high in oxalate, and you can omit from dip)

1) peel and core avocado
2) in a food processor, blend avocado, 2 Tbsp pear juice, and onion salt until creamy.  You can add more pear juice if desired.
3) Place in serving bowl and add lemon zest on top if desired. 
**serve immediately, the dip will turn brown in a few hours.  Keep the pit in the guacamole to help prevent browning**

Adding these dishes to your Sunday football line-up is a great way to please your guests, and please your bladder as well!! ;)