EVERYONE deserves a special holiday so it is important to be prepared for friends and family who may have dietary preferences or restrictions. We all know that food allergies are no joke. Here are some tips for special diets.
When you shop read the labels for dairy free, gluten free, etc.
When making mashed potatoes or creamy soups for dairy free guests or vegan make sure to replace milk or cream with unsweetened almond milk, ricemilk or soymilk.
When baking and sautéing replace butter with olive oil, non-hydrogenated butter spread or margarine or coconut oil.
When making gravy choose gluten free cornstarch or arrowroot instead of flour. For vegan guests use vegetable broth, sautéed onions and mushrooms.
When making stuffing use gluten free cornbread or sandwich bread. For vegetarian guests swamp vegetable broth for chicken broth.
When making salads and desserts use toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead of nuts.
When making desserts and dips use tofu instead of milk, cream cheese or sour cream.
When serving dinner make sure to label each prepared dish for special diets or which ones contain ingredients that should be avoided.
Here is a great idea for either a picnic or taking your lunch to work. Put your salad in a French Jam Jar for easy storage and carry. You can layer mixed green salads, fruit salads or any kind of salad you want. Here I layered a simple vegetable salad.
Chopped Belgium Endive
French Jam Jars
Peel the cucumbers, slice the tomatoes, and chop the carrots and endive. Layer up the vegetables into as many French jam jars that you need. Put the salad dressing into a separate container. Seal up the jars and pack up for your picnic or work. Enjoy!
I always stock up on French jam jars. They are versatile and quite handy in a pinch. I also use them to store left-over food in the refrigerator. Trust me; left-overs won’t look so pathetic.
I love cooking in parchment packets or “en papillote.” It gives big rewards without much effort. Cooking chicken or fish with vegetables in a sealed parchment paper packet may look fancy, but it’s actually a great no frills technique. Just place a few ingredients into the packets and let them do their work. You can prepare most ahead of time. They lock in flavor and moisture and are impressive looking. You can fold pretty much any way you want as long as you create a tight seal. Create your own recipes with protein, vegetables and herbs that you have on hand. Cook in the oven or on the grill.
Technique: Fold a 14×12” piece of parchment paper in half. Using kitchen shears cut the parchment into a heart shape. Arrange vegetables and herbs on one side of the paper. Top with fish or chicken. Add olive oil or butter and a splash of wine to keep the meat moist and create a sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the edges of the paper with a beaten egg white for a tighter seal. Working from one end begin by tightly folding the open edge of the paper. Continue folding the paper’s open edge to form a seal. Transfer the packet to a rimmed baking sheet and bake or grill.
No pantry should be without these basic Italian meal ingredients.
- Dry Pasta of Various Shapes & Sizes
- Crusty Italian Round Bread
- Flat Italian Parsley
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Native Tomatoes or Canned Plum Tomatoes
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Cannelloni Beans & Chick Peas
- Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
- Fresh Fish
Natural Easter Egg Dyes
Coloring Easter eggs is a fun experience for children and adults, but it doesn’t need to be saturated in artificial dyes or chemicals. Here is a list of the best ingredients for making your own organic egg dyes.
Directions: Hard boil however many eggs you wish to decorate and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Prepare the dyes on the stove top using a pan. Use at least 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar plus the organic dye ingredients. Use 3 to 4 teaspoons of the spice ingredients and 3 to 4 cups of the whole fruit or vegetable ingredients. Boil the dye for at least 5 minutes. Remember the longer you boil the deeper the hue of the dye. Crush the ingredients in the pan to release the pigments and strain. It is best to use the dyes when they are hot. The longer you soak the eggs in the dye the better the colors will turn out. The most important thing is to have fun!
1. Yellow – Use Yellow Onion Skins
2. Yellow – Use Turmeric
3. Blue – Use Chopped Red Cabbage
4. Blue – Use Blueberries
5. Green – Use Chopped or Canned Spinach
6. Green – Use Parsley
7. Red – Use Rose Hips Tea
8. Red – Use Pomegranate
9. Brown – Use Coffee Grounds
10. Brown – Use Black Tea
11. Pink – Use Beet Juice
12. Pink – Use Fresh or Frozen Raspberries
13. Orange – Use Paprika
14. Orange – Use Chili Powder
Basic Chicken Stock
I like to include the bones as it makes for a better flavor.
Skin & Bones of A Whole Chicken Including Neck & Spine
2 Celery Stalks
1 Large Onion
1 Tablespoon Salt
In a big pot, collect the bones. Cover the bones so that there are four inches of water above the bones. Set over a high heat to bring to a boil while you chop the onion, carrot and celery into large diced pieces. Add all of the ingredients, including the skin, neck and spine, to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer for 6 hours. Strain and reserve the broth. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze. Makes 4 cups