Incredible Dairy Free Caramel Sauce!

Well, I must say there are times I’m pretty happy with the results of my experimentation, and this is one!

To start with:
My husband and I have had a wee bit of life changes since my last post. My oldest daughter wrote and produced her first EP album (check her music out: Here), moved to Denver and became an interior designer. My youngest graduated college, fledged the nest and is now working in the computer coding field.
Both are totally ‘rockin’ adulting.
In July hubby and I celebrated our 30th anniversary with a 12 day trip cruise along the Alaska inner passage. We lived in a teeny tiny space w/ 1 suitcase of clothing for 12 days. It was a bit of a revelation for me that I could happily live in a small space with so little, for an extended period of time. (Don’t judge me if you are already a minimalist, I have lived in our home for 20 yrs!)

Liberating actually.

With a fresh mental frame of reference, returning back home to a beast of a house and yard, I had the itch for change, and a desire to have the freedom to pick up and GO! Also, hubster has been bearing the brunt of a horrific commute from our little sleepy suburb into the city. While that commute has increasingly become unbearable for him, I won’t lie, I was terrified of change. However, the wonderful house I enjoyed raising my daughters in and entertaining many friend with now felt like a giant burden of maintenance and work.
With that mental ‘shift’, I proceeded to spend the next 3 months purging and prepping the house for sale. Fortunately my husband travels often, because it was a whirlwind and I was a crazed woman on a mission.
In the process I discovered WOW! We have accumulated a whole lot of CRAP in 20 years!

We had a buyer straight away with a request for a (less than) 30 day closing. We agreed and made arrangements to put the bulk of our stuff in storage and move into an apartment until we could decided what we wanted to do.

So Now:
Here I am. In an apartment. It’s just me, hubby, and our two furry kids.

It is a teeny tiny space, so I have very little to clean and maintain, best of all…no yard! With so much time freed up, I have the the luxury to reacquaint myself with the things I used to love, but became yet another chore: cooking and baking.
Our unit has a tiny but efficient kitchen with a gas stove. The layout is the perfect cooking triangle and with a step stool always at hand to reach the very high cupboards, I’m learning to make use of the most basic of equipment and tools to craft meals.

Hubby took off this weekend for a boys outing, so I invited my daughter to come and have a sleepover.
We went to the local apple orchard and got fresh baking and eating apples. We stopped at the store to get ingredients for a GF/DF Pizza as well as to make an apple crisp. While we were waiting for the crisp to bake and the pizza dough to rise, I made her a ‘snack’ of honey crisp apple slices and yes….a dairy free caramel sauce!

I was skeptical that I could make it work, but wow! I was so pleased! It was really, really, REALLY good!
I’ve always loved Nigella Lawsons Sticky Toffee Sauce from a decade ago. Its super easy and hard to mess up, but it is made with butter and cream.  I used her recipe as a platform to springboard off of for my DF caramel sauce.
I’ve raved about the Miyokos Vegan Butter in previous posts, but let me tell ya, if you can tolerate cashews its’ a real game changer! It is a worthy substitute for the butter. Dairy cream was replaced by coconut cream and no, I don’t mean the stuff from a carton. I mean the firm layer of solidified coconut that comes from a can of coconut cream. (Do not use the liquid at the bottom, nor stir it together, only use the solid ‘cream’.)
My daughter in the photo is dipping while it was still warm. It thickened up properly after it sat for a good hour.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. I think I’ve struck gold on this one, and I will be using it on homemade GF/DF cinnamon rolls, ice ‘cream’, and in our caramel apple cider in the future.

Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 c Lyles Golden Syrup (there is no substituting this, but it is now easy to find)
2 tbsp Miyokos Vegan Butter
1/2 C coconut cream (the solids from the can, not the liquid, see notes in post above)
splash of vanilla

Melt the sugar, syrup and ‘butter’ in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and let it bubble for 3-5 min. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Add the cream and vanilla, remove from heat and stir until combined.
It will thicken as it cools.

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
(And don’t forget to check out my daughters music – Here!)


Delish Dairy Free Half-n-Half

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Ripple is non-dairy product that came out not long ago.
When my daughter was for sure diagnosed dairy intolerant, we were thinking she might have nut issues also. Other than soy, coconut and rice, there were few options. Even fewer she was crazy about consuming. I wasn’t crazy about having my girls consuming large amounts of soy. Soy mimics estrogen and I have no desire to mess around with natural hormone levels. So that limits the amount of soy we choose to consume. My daughter doesn’t much care for coconut milk, rice milk is watery, and oat milk is oddly sweet. Fine for cereal, not great for savory applications.

I then noticed Ripple appear on my local grocery refrigerator shelf. This is a plant based ‘milk’ that is extremely good and very creamy, mimicking whole fat dairy milk. (FYI: their chocolate milk is delish)

Being aware of (finally) a good tasting milk brand that fit all the parameters, helped me to notice when they released a Half n Half.
Finally.
I’ve struggled with the texture of dishes that require the richer and thicker taste/texture of a cream. You know, like a good french toast, Christmas quiche, and really amazing (GF) bread puddings.  When it comes to replicating half and half, this comes pretty dang close. In fact, with the exception of uses that are exclusive to cream, this is a bang up excellent substitute.

I can tell you that there are many non-dairy creamers out there that are quite suitable for coffee and such, but they are all have a sweet note to them. Not a natural ‘sweet’ cream note, but a ‘sweet creamer’ note. Even the ones not labeled as ‘sweet’ have a sweet taste to them. One Christmas, I thought I was doing my daughters a favor by making a quiche with a traditional non-dairy creamer that claimed to be just ‘creamer’. Trust me, it was not good. The girls graciously ate it, but an oddly sweet ‘ham quiche’ was not what they were expecting for Christmas brunch.

Enter: Ripple Half-n-Half. They have 2 formulas as of today. Vanilla and plain.
I love this stuff.
Seriously…I’m using it every weekend!
I use it to make my GF/DF christmas quiche, french toast, egg bakes (both savory AND sweet), pancake mixes, and more. I adjust which one to use based on the application. French toast? Vanilla. Quiche? Plain. Savory Egg Bake? Plain. Pancakes? Vanilla!
My new sunday morning default is an egg bake I’ve prepped the night before, ready to bake off when we get home from church! Oh…this stuff has changed my life!

This product is amazing. I’m constantly encouraged by the great products that keep coming out to appeal to the dietary demands we have.
Whether you are vegan or dairy intolerant, the market is driving some great innovations in products, and this is one.
Love it.
And I highly recommend it if you can find it.

Note: when mixed in coffee as creamer substitute, there appears to be some sort of a strange reaction that causes the solids to precipitate out of the milk. We notice a slightly gritty sludge at the bottom of the mug. The drink tastes perfectly fine, but be aware of that small drawback. My daughters have only noticed it happening with coffee. Not sure if it happens with other hot drinks.

 

 


Perfectly ‘Creamy’ Perfect Dairy Free, Gluten Free Pea Salad

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My daughter and I recently attended an IF Table Event. If you have never heard of IF, you are not alone. I hadn’t either. Well, correction, I had HEARD of it, I’d just never thought of going. My daughter however, wanted to go and it was a perfect opportunity to not only do something together, but do it together in faith. IF Table is where women gather to share food, fellowship and faith. An introductory story or theme sets the stage, with questions posed for the group to share personal perspective on. It may sound corny but it can actually be quite cool. If (yes, a little pun intended) you have the opportunity to attend one, I recommend it.

With that ‘table set’ (yes, I did it again, LOL) I wanted to bring a couple of dishes that my daughter could eat, if there was nothing else available. (Watch for my super simple asian glass noodle shrimp salad recipe to be posted next)
I decided, with the blush of spring finally upon us, to make a perfectly creamy pea salad w/o the dairy. This was such a hit with the ladies, I’m sharing it here. I’m really glad I chose this because surprisingly, in the group of 18 women, sitting at my table were 2 others who were not only gluten free, but dairy free also! What are the odds? Well, there are no coincidences in the life of a christian, so there you go!
This salad is a snap (I just cant seem to get enough of wordplays!) to put together, and is easy to make to feed a crowd, or just your family. (If its just 1 or 2 of you, make just 1 bag of peas and adjust the other ingredients to taste)
Its also flexible. If you have fresh basil, parsley or even cilantro on hand, use that. If you want to make it more hearty, add a chopped hard boiled egg, ham or bacon. Fresh farmers market tomato, diced, would be yummy too.
Since we are flush into spring greens here in MN, this is a great way to take advantage of all the fresh produce, and get your healthy veggies in!
Enjoy!

Perfectly Creamy Pea Salad (dairy free & gluten free)

*Serves 4 generously as a side
*double this to make for a potluck or larger gathering.

2 bags Stringless SugarSnap Peas (or approx 1 lb total)
1 medium shallot (about 1.5 tsp) diced fine
1/4 c *Silk Plain Almond Yogurt (see notes below)
1 tbsp Mayonaise
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8-10 Leaves fresh Mint, chopped fine (I julienned)
1/2 Lemon, zested and juiced.
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a 4qt saucepan, set 2 quarts of water on the stove to boil. Prepare an ice bath: large bowl with ice and a small amount of water next to the stove.
Salt the boiling water, and add 1 bag at a time to the water. Allow to cook 1-2 minutes, just long enough to set the color. You are not cooking, but merely blanching the peas. They will retain their textural crunchiness, but take on a vivid green color.
Immediately remove, using a spider ladle (see example here) and dump the peas into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Repeat with the second bag of peas.
Remove the peas to a dry, clean tea towel and pat dry.
In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, and then toss with the peas.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Transfer to decorative serving container if desired. (I prefer lightweight plastic when I take to potlucks. Its easier to carry something light.

Note:
Because you shock the peas in ice cold water, this dish is ready to serve right away, awfully convenient when the opportunity to a last minute potluck invitation arises!
*I just started using DF plain yogurts. I know there are a growing number of brands of plain yogurts now on the market, just be sure there is no added sugar. You do not have to use Silk brand, that is what I used.